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Sometimes, reaching success does not mean automatically finding fulfillment. You might still feel a bit of emptiness inside that neither fame nor fortune can fill. Co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing, David Meltzer, has worked for and led the most successful sports agency in the world, yet he suddenly realized that something was missing in his life. David soon came to the conclusion that he needed to tap back into himself and blend spirituality with business. In this episode, David shares why his multi-million-dollar enterprise suddenly collapsed into a rapid downward spiral ending in bankruptcy. He sits with Dan Clark to give us a glimpse into his miraculous turnaround, rebound, and recovery created by blending spirituality with business. Listen in and learn more from David as he shares how he regained his spot on the top of the sports, financial, and philanthropic worlds.
David Meltzer On Recovering From Failure By Blending Spirituality With Business
In this episode, my friend and mentor David Meltzer, Cofounder of Sports 1 Marketing, shares why his multimillion-dollar enterprise suddenly collapsed into a rapid downward spiral ending in bankruptcy. He’s formerly served as the CEO of the renowned Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment agency. He has spent many years working as an entrepreneur and executive in the legal, technology, sports and entertainment fields. He is giving us a glimpse into his miraculous turnaround, rebound and recovery created by blending spirituality with business. Having regained his spot on the top of the sports, financial and philanthropic worlds, David Meltzer was recognized by Variety as Sports Humanitarian of the Year. It’s no surprise that he and his organization were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Welcome to this episode that begins with some serious questions. What is a hero? What’s your definition of a hero? Mine is someone who lives in integrity, who has a service before self-mindset and heart set, and a commitment to excellence in all they do. I want you to think for a moment about a hero that you put on the bucket list that you’ve always dreamed of meeting or interacting with at whatever level possible.
I first met this hero of mine in a convention setting in Long Beach, California, where I had the privilege and honor of being a keynote speaker in his shadows when he took the stage and mesmerized and transformed the audience. From that day forward, I dreamed of making David Meltzer, my business coach. The next time I saw David Meltzer on stage was at a foundation charity event of a mutual friend of ours, Cynthia Kersey. Her foundation is called the Unstoppable Foundation. My hero, David Meltzer, was on stage raising millions of dollars to assist the poor and the needy in Africa.
It is when I decided that I wanted to make him my spiritual guide. I then had the privilege of being on Dave Meltzer’s famous international podcast. When he made me feel so important and made everybody he came in contact with leave saying, “I liked myself best when I’m with you. I want to see you again,” that’s when made Dave Meltzer my hero. That’s when I put him at the top of my friendship list.
Of all the guests that I’ve had and hope to have, Dave Meltzer is my hero at every level, physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, financially and family. Any male can be a father but it takes a special man to be a dad. While everybody is posting pictures of them with celebrities at the Super Bowl, Meltzer is in his 50-yard line seats posting a picture with his beautiful wife and his amazing children. That showcases who this man is to me and who he is to the world.
A formal introduction so you can get excited about this show as I share him with you, David Meltzer is the Cofounder of Sports 1 Marketing and the former CEO of the renowned Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment agency, which was the inspiration for the mega-hit movie Jerry Maguire. David’s life mission is to empower over one billion people to be happy. David has been recognized as Sports Humanitarian of the Year by Variety. He has spent many years working as an entrepreneur and executive in the legal, technology, sports and entertainment fields.
Here’s what you need to know about David. When he was at the top of his game as the most famous sports agency working and leading the most famous and successful sports agency in the world, he suddenly realized that something was missing in his life. This multi-gazillionaire went on a rapid downward spiral that ended in bankruptcy. It was only then that David realized that in order to revive and thrive, he needed to blend spirituality with his business acumen.
He’s the author of two books that I’ve devoured, Connected To Goodness and Game-Time Decision Making, which illuminate Meltzer’s mantra of helping a lot of people and you’ll make a lot of money and have a lot of fun. I want you to buy his books and read them. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, he gives you one. I’m telling you more than anyone on this planet, David Meltzer doesn’t practice what he preaches. He preaches only what he practices. Please, welcome to the show David Meltzer. How are you?
I’m in shock, to be honest. That is an incredible introduction. I appreciate your perception of me. With an introduction like that, it’s difficult to live in the context of radical humility. It inspires me to know that I’ve cleared a lot of the interference between me and the omniscient, all-powerful, and knowing source, God. For someone to have that perception of me, as they always say, “Some people think too highly of you and some people think too low of you. You live somewhere in between.”
To think that there’s one human being on Earth that has that perception of me, I will float out of this interview in deep appreciation and gratitude. It is the key component of happiness. The only common denominator of happiness is gratitude. I don’t care how sick or well, how tall or short, what religion or color you are, gratitude is the only common denominator of happiness. I’m so grateful to be here, which means I’m extremely happy. Thank you for having me.
Thanks, Dave. Let’s start at the beginning for those who have not had the pleasure of hearing your multiple award-winning stories. I call them award-winning stories because you’re like a walking movie. There should be nine movies of your life. It seems to me that you’ve compartmentalized so many lessons that you’ve learned, which allow you to teach not just from the stage but answer spontaneity with profoundness. Let’s go way back to the beginning. I’m curious. When did you discover your love of representing people, their brands, and affiliating with someone else trying to be that person in the background that makes that person everything that they were born to be?
It’s so interesting because, from the time my mom named me David Meltzer, which meant beloved servant, I was taught by example to be of service, especially by my mom. It wasn’t until law school that I saw the people that were underrepresented, and I understood the legality and the intellectual nature of being able to help other people truly in a pragmatic way. It’s not just volunteering as my mom always made us do since I was five years old, even though we had nothing.
We were the first ones to volunteer to give out food and do different things. It was part of our culture and our family upbringing. It wasn’t until law school that I realized that I was born or had inherited an intellect that would allow me to elevate others, protect them and represent them. Going to law school enhanced my knowledge and awareness of this through a variety of lessons and stories that have aggregated and amalgamated into a variety of different transgressions and promotions in my life.
I stand here now as a purposeful and inspired individual that has the full intent of empowering. Not necessarily representing anymore but empowering others, to empower others, to create an exponentiality of goodness, kindness, great light, love, and lessons, so that people can be protected and promoted the same way you and I have always been protected and promoted. Even though both of our journeys included a lot of pain, setbacks, failures, and mistakes, we are two individuals who are constantly protected and even promoted.
Gratitude is the only common denominator of happiness.
How did you and Leigh Steinberg meet and decide to create together this Leigh Steinberg Agency? How old were you when you kicked that baby off?
Leigh created it when he was 26. He was blessed to be with a great quarterback as he was in HR at Berkeley Law School and was top of his class. He even debated President Reagan. He was such great intellect and such a great scholar. As he always says, “Representing that great quarterback from Atlanta at 26 years old, the klieg lights were blinking.” He ended up representing the number one quarterback in the draft there in 1976.
Later on, I represented as a favor to one of my friends from high school. He was a VJ from MTV who had a reality show with Magic Johnson in the early 2000s. I had already run Samsung’s phone division. I had great technology, sales, and legal background. Because Samsung was a huge sponsor in sports, I had learned the agentry game from being a customer. Needless to say, in great abundance, I represented my friend as a favor because he said I was the best negotiator he ever had met.
I told him, “I’m not an agent,” but I went to Leigh Steinberg’s office. He had just lost his Chief Operating Officer, a man named Jeff Moorad. He had left Leigh Steinberg as the Chief Operating Officer to become President of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They had sold the baseball division for $90 million. Jeff had inherited half of his money from the Diamondbacks. I wasn’t looking for a job but Leigh Steinberg saw something in me. Within 48 hours of meeting me, he offered me the Chief Operating Officer position at Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment.
Within six months, I became the CEO partnering with Warren Moon, the Hall of Fame quarterback who got inducted in 2006 into the Hall of Fame. Later on, that was significant because Warren Moon and I founded and co-founded Sports 1 Marketing together, a global sports marketing company. To be partnered with one of the greatest athletes of all time, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but also one of the wisest people who host the spirit of excellence and utilize it in the lessons that I’ve learned from what I call QB-Wan-Kenobi.
For those that aren’t football fans, Warren Moon was number one. He had to play football in the Canadian League for six years because of the color of his skin. He ended up playing football, believe it or not, way back then. He started at 44-year-old like Tom Brady. Warren Moon is the Jackie Robinson of football as a lot of people note. I call him QB-Wan-Kenobi because of his wisdom and the lessons that I’ve learned.
How old were you when you started at Steinberg’s?
I was 38 years old.
Share your story about the top of the mountain and how you fell off the cliff.
I think it’s important. I grew up with nothing. I did listen to my mom. She had a philosophy of doctor, lawyer, or failure. I know you’ve experienced that in your life as well. I graduated from law school to be rich. I got an oil and gas litigation opportunity for $150,000, plus bonuses. I turned it down to sell legal research online in 1992.
My mom told me the internet was a fad. If I wasn’t going to be a real lawyer, it would be the biggest mistake of my life. Needless to say, just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they give you good advice. I tease my mom all the time because she doesn’t know anything about business but she knows a lot about being a mom. Those two things don’t always equate because of fear for your children.
More importantly, nine months out of law school, I was working on the internet and was a millionaire. By the time I was 30, I was running Samsung’s phone division and a multimillionaire. By the time I met Leigh Steinberg, I had everything I could ever dream of because not only was I a multimillionaire but I had access to things that even billionaires couldn’t afford, sideline passes at the Super Bowl. I could get into any party, any premiere, or any award show. I had surrounded myself with all the billionaires, millionaires, entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes, and entertainers at the highest level. I can afford to be there and do whatever I wanted to do.
From there, I lost what was most important to me, my values. I lost my gratitude, which we started talking about in this interview. I lost my forgiving nature and my empathy. I became a person of liability. I was in blame, shame, and justification. I would buy things I didn’t need to impress people I didn’t even like. This spiral was stopped because of one person, my wife. She’s the only person who was willing to tell me no and thank God. She told me I had lost those values. She told me I better take stock of those values, that she was leaving me with my three beautiful daughters who were under eight years old, and that I was going to end up dead because I had lost my way.
She told me, “Take stock in who you were and what you want to become to save yourself.” She said, “I can’t do it for you.” Thank goodness I listened because my life had taken a turn. Instead of searching for happiness, health, wealth, and worthiness, I now understood that I was healthy, happy, wealthy, and worthy. I had to figure out what I was doing to interfere with it. This paradigm shift in my life has utilized and helped inspire not only me but millions of people over many years. I make a lot of money helping a lot of people. As you know, Dan, what we get along about is we like to have a lot of fun.
Your desire determines your potential.
What caused your fall from grace? What caused you to lose it all? Share the details of jets, golf courses, and mansions. You lost it all and ended up renting a car or living in an apartment or something. Talk to us.
I had everything I could imagine, a golf course, a ski mountain, and 33 homes in San Diego alone. I ended up in a rented house with rented furniture and one car, yet I went back to happiness. It was amazing. I had no fear. I believe that there are skills, knowledge, and desire. Skills and knowledge determine your basement. I have developed extraordinary skills and knowledge. I wasn’t fearful of where my basement was. That didn’t bother me at all but it is the desire.
As you lie in a hospital and the doctors, one after another, were telling you that you’ll never walk again, your skills and knowledge give you the confidence that you would walk again, but it was your desire that determines your potential. You need to find a doctor that has the same desire, beliefs, and feelings that you have more than the skills and knowledge to rehab what had happened to you.
I think the same thing was happening to me. Although I wasn’t physically paralyzed in the same sense, I was spiritually and emotionally paralyzed. I needed to understand that I had the skills and knowledge, but I had to surround myself with people with the desire that I had. That five-year-old who had nothing. My dad had left and that five-year-old said, “I’m going to pursue and I can enjoy the consistent and persistent pursuit of my potential and nothing will stop me.”
That’s what I took. At 38 years old, all of that desire and I had many more skills and much more knowledge than I had at five. I put it to good use. I reminded, remembered, and recollected what I’m connected to and through. To this day, that faith that there’s something bigger than me that loves me more than my mom loves me or I love my children. It takes me and others to a level that I never could. I’m constantly promoted and protected beyond what I could even imagine. I know I’m ignorant and humble. I started out by saying that I’m ignorant and humble. I don’t know what I don’t know but I am blessed. There’s so much more than I don’t know that’s coming my way that’s even better than what I have.
What you’ve reminded me of is that what matters most is what lasts the longest. For all the entrepreneurs tuned in, what we have to do is focus not just on our skills and our knowledge, but we’ve got to focus on those intangible qualities of success that you’re famous for in finding an athlete so you don’t just represent anyone. Your reputation on the street is that you take this athlete and you don’t look at him or her for what they are currently. You look at them for what they have the power and potential to become. With your integrity and your service before yourself, you inspire them and teach them. You give them the skills, the heartset, and the mindset to take them to the next level so they’re the same off the field as they are on the field and that’s your rep.
As we wind down, I want you to talk about these levels of intention that I’ve heard you speak up so often. In my mind, if we could have you on 17 or 18 times, and I want to have you back, to start where we left off. What people are wondering is you fell from grace, and with that desire, work ethic, focus, and regaining of your faith and integrity, you are able to get back up and maybe even be bigger than you were before. How did you do that and tie it to these levels of intention that I’m so intrigued by?
I’ve been working so hard and diligently and understanding those levels of intention. In my rebirth, I’ve always had this mathematical equation of luck. I love the fact that people say, “David Meltzer is so lucky. That’s a lucky guy. Look at his wife, his family, his health, his wealth, and his work. Look at how lucky he is.” I always said, “I can teach you mathematically to be lucky. Pay attention. Focus on what you want but give it your intention and it will equal the coincidence is that you want in your life.” All these lucky coincidences that come about in my life are because of attention and intention, but I delve deeper into an intention.
I used to think, “Intention is what you do.” I started reading some books and it said, “You got to speak it out, Dave. You got to say it. You can’t just do it. You got to say it every day and these mantras.” Even my inner voice would change. All of a sudden, I started saying all the right things and doing all the right things. In this third level of intention, you read books like Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill or The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer.
It will change the way you look at things. The things you look at will change. I said to myself, “Not only am I going to do it.” When I was five years old, I was a little mule. I was the little train. There’s nothing that’s going to stop me. I know you are that way but I was going to say it out loud to people. I was going to say what I wanted and then I was going to now think about it at all times. To take it to the next level, I was going to believe it.
People like Sadhguru and Deepak Chopra understand another level of intention beyond what we do, say, and think. I believed it. I had faith that there was something bigger than me, protecting and promoting me. As long as I do the right things, say the right things, and think the right things, I could believe that they would come. Studying even further energies and frequencies is this fifth level of intention that I’ve realized, which is the way I feel.
Many people are telling me, “Dave, I do all that I can do. I say it. I think it. I know I believe it but why isn’t it happening fast enough?” It’s because you don’t feel it. You still have levels of interference. That ego is telling you, “You got to need to be right and need to be separate, inferior, superior, anxious, frustrated, angry, guilty, or resentful.” All of these things are not in reconciliation with the great source. You got to feel it.
This is what confidence, fulfillment, and purpose are. It’s a feeling. What I try to inspire others to do is to learn to do, say, and think what you want. Believe and feel through five daily practices, which I send to everybody. I’ll give out my email so they can get my books and get this exercise. It’s David@DMeltzer.com. I answer everything myself. It’s all free. You don’t need to buy it. I will give it to you. I promise. I’ll ship it to you. I’ll sign it. I’ll pay for shipping. Don’t worry. Email me. Learn to do, say, think, believe, and feel what you want, and it will come rapidly and accurately.
If you’ve got one hour to live, what’s your message to the world in a small intimate setting where you have a Tom Brady, a Warren Moon, or a Drew Breeze? Some of the greats have long careers, not just because of the strength of their arm and their intellect but because of what you’re talking about. Also filled with the Deepak Chopra and the Wayne Dyers of the world, also filled with those like Cynthia Kersey, our dear friend, who is so focused on service before self and charity. All of them are in the room with a bunch of teenagers from high school and middle school. You’ve got one hour to live. What’s your message to all of us?
What matters most is what lasts the longest.
Number one is to ask for help. Two, be more interested than interesting. Three, be kind to your future self. Simply do good deeds. If you can ask for help, be more interested than interesting, and be kind by doing good deeds. Those three things will equate to an enormous collective consciousness that will provide you with everything to elevate not only you but empower others to elevate others with those three simple actions.
What do you want them to put on your tombstone? Johnny Carson said, “I’ll be right back.”I’m thinking about that one on my headstone. Where do you want to be five years from now? What do you want people to say about you?
I want to be healthier, happier, wealthier, and more worthy than I am now. That’s what I want to be five years from now. As far as my tombstone, I’m going to say what my favorite one is because you said the Johnny Carson one. I apologize to everyone but Howard Stern told me this one and my wife is disturbed by it. I have to share. I must have a sixth sense of humor but I think this may be the best tombstone I’ve ever heard. It’s not what I want on mine but what I should have. It should say, “David Meltzer, hung like Einstein, smart as a horse.” My wife is turning now not in her grave but she is turning on her podcasts because she’s like, “I cannot believe you said that.” I would want on my tombstone, “David Meltzer, kind.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is my guest, David Meltzer. What’s your email and your website again so we can contact you and keep in touch with your wisdom and your righteousness?
Thanks, David. I appreciate you. I can’t wait to hang out off-camera again. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll be in a position to serve you more than you serve the other folks on this planet that we all are so grateful for. God bless you.
You’re making me feel better than I ever felt. We must share the same energy. Thank you for having me. Thank you, everyone. What a joy.
Thank you. David Meltzer, ladies and gentlemen. I’m serious about I showed your picture from the Super Bowl to hundreds of people. Go figure. Most people are like, “Here I am with, Joe,” and you’re like, “Here I am with my family.” I love you. I honor you. You inspire me.
That was a bucket list for me to be able to share that fifth-yard front row. It was a blessing. There’s no one I’d rather be there with than my family. Thank you for recognizing me. That’s all I got to say and I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.
Thanks so much.
- Sports 1 Marketing
- Leigh Steinberg Sports & Entertainment
- Unstoppable Foundation
- Connected To Goodness
- Game-Time Decision Making
- Think and Grow Rich
- The Power of Intention