Group Hand Fist BumpThe title of chapter one in Rick Jones’  book states “Mediocrity is excellent—to the mediocre.” In an exclusive interview with Jones last week, he added, “Remember the person who says he or she can and the person who says he or she can’t are both equally right. It’s all about your attitude in which way you chose.”

These phrases sound like something a beloved coach or a wise professor would say, right? Well, Rick Jones has been both. He began his career as a high school and college basketball coach and then went on to teaching sports and entertainment marketing at Georgia State University and The University of South Carolina. And he’s still teaching others today! This time though his book, Analog Advice in a Digital World.

Jones, Advantage Author of Analog Advice in a Digital World and founder and CEO of FishBait Marketing, which he started in 2002, has been in the business of marketing for thirty-one years, longer than most of the youngsters of the Gen Y target market he is trying to reach have been alive. However, when his kids suggested he write a book based on his favorite sayings, life lessons, and experiences, he did.

This entrepreneur and marketer has cast a wide net, making connections through speaking engagements, his work campaigning for top brands, and associations with various charities. We wanted to learn from all his experience, so we dropped him a line and found out how he brings in the big catches. Here’s what he had to say, ver-bait-’em:

Advantage: Who should read your book?

Rick Jones: Almost anyone who wants to improve their life, their relationships, and their career, but it’s aimed at millennials.

A: Millennials seem to be all about social media these days. What is your take on social media, and how do you recommend it be used?

RJ: I think it’s just another communication tool, but it allows for feedback and dialog. It’s kind of like having a conversation with your neighbor over the back fence, but since everyone may be able to hear and see the conversation, you have to be really careful about what you say and how you say it.

A: What are the main things that millennials do wrong that stunt their careers?

RJ: It’s really hard to make that kind of generalization about an entire generation. What I think is wrong might not be wrong for them. I do feel many don’t feel the need nor the importance to “pay your dues” and become excellent at one job or skill before moving on to another.

A: You’ve also taught classes at Georgia State University and University of South Carolina. What is one thing that you want all your students to remember about marketing?

RJ: My definition of marketing is “creating and sustaining consumer demand for goods and services.” All tactics need to make sure they create demand.

A: Your company, FishBait Marketing, has worked with tons of well-known sporting associations, like the Atlantic Coast Conference, the American Football Coaches Association, and Coach to Cure MD. How does sports marketing differ from general business marketing?

RJ: Sports marketing provides an umbrella platform for all the marketing communication disciplines, like advertising, PR, promotion, etc. It provides the theme for your campaign and, in many cases, involves a partnership with a third party, like a team, league, event, or athlete.

A: How do you think sports and marketing similar?

RJ: Both sports and marketing are similar in that they are both about competition and winning. We have a scoreboard in both.  

A: You’ve worked with some amazing clients and sold a few of your own agencies. If you had to pick just one campaign that you have worked on that you were the most passionate about, what would it be? In turn, what would you say was the most successful campaign you have ever run?

RJ: I had the privilege of handling the cause marketing fundraising for the national World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, which was probably the most gratifying thing I have ever worked on. I also created the daily countdown T-shirt auctions for Hanes for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

The most successful campaign was probably the Mastercard World Cup Soccer Program tied to World Cup 1994 in the United States. Our campaign was “Welcoming the World to America,” but it really was about welcoming the world’s money to America and how we could get most of it spent on a Mastercard. This was the first corporate sponsorship ever written up by the Harvard Business Review. Hugely successful!

A: What are the three biggest lessons that you have taken away from all your business experiences so far?

RJ: (1) It’s not the money you make. It’s the money you keep. Structure your business and your career to build wealth.

(2) It’s always about the customer. The term “FishBait” comes from the saying, “Bait the hook to suit the fish and not the fisherman.”

(3) The key to growth is getting the right people on the bus: people who are loyal to you and to your business vision, are talented, are motivated, and have great work ethic.

For more information on Rick Jones, visit his website.

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