By Frank Ewere
J.B. Bernstein, marketing pioneer and sports agent, addressed how he succeeded with the student body at this month’s Convocation.
“Success has to do with the only things you can control in life, which are preparation and execution,” Bernstein said. “If you do everything you can to prepare and to execute leading up to an opportunity, even if you fail, when you look in the mirror you will not regret it because there is nothing different you could have done. But if there’s anything different you could have done and you look in the mirror the next day after you fail, it will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
J.B. Bernstein said that creativity, passion, overcoming adversity, planning, and ethics were the principles of success. One of Bernstein’s biggest successes was his idea of the Million Dollar Arm. Bernstein set up an Indian reality TV contest called The Million Dollar Arm with the goal of bringing Indian athletes to the United States as professional baseball players.
However, after briefly viewing the progress of the two athletes (Dinesh Kumar Patel and Rinku Singh) he had brought over to the U.S., there were times when even Bernstein himself wasn’t sure of his idea.
“I almost walked out on the greatest idea I ever had because I didn’t see what he (2008-2011 USC pitching coach Tom House) saw,” Bernstein said. “I didn’t believe. I didn’t know.”
In spite of the doubt that Bernstein had in his own ideas, he continued to persevere with his idea and his inherent belief that his plan would work, even if nobody had ever tried such a plan before.
“Anytime you want to do something that has never been done before, you’re under an unfair microscope and people will exaggerate your failures and exaggerate your successes,” Bernstein said. “And the pressure that you will feel from being the first is going to be heavy. But the reward is going to be huge.”
Bernstein also emphasize that ethics were important for success because “cheaters don’t go very far.” He believed that building a good reputation without cheating might lead to a harder path, but is more gratifying in the long run.
Regardless of the messages Bernstein delivered to students, the most important message that Bernstein wanted to take home was a proverb from a fortune cookie.
“The greatest pleasure in life is doing things people say you can’t do.”
Later after his speech at Convocation, Bernstein taught a Master’s class to a small group of students in the McKay Archives Building in the afternoon.
Bernstein expressed some of his personal knowledge in the sports marketing world by telling the students that sales is “the hardest job on the planet” but that “anything you do is sales,” including selling one’s self.
He also gave some sports marketing and business instruction concerning creating common ground with the buyer and discovering the buyer’s motivation. But the most important point of the class that Bernstein wanted to drive home was that students need to really go after their hopes and aspirations in order to achieve success.
“Don’t settle for anything in life,” Bernstein said. “If you’re going to spend your career running, you might as well be chasing your dreams.”