The Boss: Pat McInnis Interview!!

July 29, 2009

Armando L. Sanchez / The Saginaw News

Photo by Armando L. Sanchez / The Saginaw News

Who says business isn’t a relevant topic to the sports community? If you still believe that than you’re obviously not aware of all the work put in behind-the-scenes. Without the business end in full tact not only would players not be marketed properly, they wouldn’t be as popular, and they surely wouldn’t be paid as much!  

Fathead CEO and minority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Patrick McInnis, is one of those business guys. He’s literally went from a businessman to a BUSINESS MAN!! (a la Jay-Z). This is a huge feat for someone who’s initial aspirations were none of the above.

Recently I caught up with the Flint native in an over-the-phone interview (via Twitter) to talk basketball, hard work, Fathead, and the King of Akron…

EW: Obviously you are a big sports guy, can you give me a little knowledge about your own personal sports background?

PM: In high school I attended Flint Powers high school. I played football, basketball, and baseball. My passion was football and from there I played football at Eastern Michigan and then from there I wanted to go to the NFL like every other kid’s dream (but) it didn’t work out.

I had a chance to go play in Europe, which ultimately became NFL Europe but my wife kinda gave me an ultimatum-either football or her- so I chose her which was the better move so unfortunately I didnt go over to Europe and play so that in terms of me playing is my background. But obviously I always wanted to be involved in pro sports so back in 2005, the opportunity came around for me to buy into the Cleveland Cavaliers so I did that and became a minority owner of the Cavs and really that’s a variation of my original dream of making the NFL. Then in 2006, I had the opportunity to buy into Fathead as an investor. So again, I took another step towards pro sports and in February of this year when the opportunity came to run Fathead, I jumped all over it and here I am.

EW: Do you feel as if your sports background has helped you become so successful with running your national organizations?

PM: Absolutely! I think it’s helped me throughout my entire career because when you play sports at the high school level and then at the college level, it creates a sense of discipline. Especially at the college level because that’s a job so you have to be very structured, obviously you’re on a tight schedule so it requires discipline, and to be able to juggle school, sports, and have social time and do it effectively and not drop out of school, I think that’s where the discipline comes in.

But with sports it creates that mentality that you have to play when you’re hurt, you gotta play through the injuries because if you dont and you’re a critical part of the team, they you’re gonna let your teammates down so those are principles that transcend over into business because obviously in business you go through tough times especially in the last year and a half where the economy has been absolutely horrendous! So it’s kinda the same mentality that you’ve gotta play through the injury and play through this tough economy and motivate people to bring the company through that.

EW: What’s usually a typical day for you in the office?

PM: The great news is that it’s different everyday but usually when I get in, we always have a meeting in the morning. So at 9:30, we bring the entire team together, just like sports and we talk about what we did in the previous day, what successes we have, where we can improve, so that’s just a quick 15-20 minute “huddle” as we call it and that’s how we start everyday.

Then from there it can be a variety of things. Usually I have 3-4 meetings a day with potentially new companies that we would wanna team up with or sell our product to as well as when you have a team, there’s issues on the team, you know that players want to talk to the coach and it may be a personal issue, it may be a issue that relates to the job, but those are all the things that you have to work through as a coach so that’s all I do.

EW: What’s your favorite Fathead that the company has came up with?

PM: My favorite Fathead is the LeBron James MVP Fathead which we just came out with.

EW: Have you showed it to LeBron? and do you two still talk even though you’re obviously so busy?

PM: Well LeBron is busy obviously playing basketball so it’s more of one of those relationships where it’s just ‘Hey! How you doing?’ But he certainly has seen the Fathead, he has one and he loves the product.

bron fatheadEW: Is he a pretty cool guy to work with generally?

PM: Oh yeah! he’s a great guy. I mean, he’s mature beyond his age. When you talk to him, you feel like he’s in his 30’s and then you remember that he’s only 23. It’s absolutely amazing. He handles his fame very well.

EW: So being an owner of the Cavs franchise, are you pleased with the new direction that the team is moving in? Especially with the addition of Shaquille O’Neal…

PM: Absolutely! I think last year was a huge dissapointment and that was a lesson that you cant believe your own hype. Sometimes you gotta ignore the noise and play. I think we had ourselves going into the Finals before we played all our games and that was a valuable lesson. But I think definitely adding Shaq brings a toughness that we didnt have without a doubt.

Now there’s been a lot of questions whether he’ll be able to run the court or not, but I’ll tell you this, last year he played 75 games. That’s the most he’s played since 2000 so that’s a good sign and on top of that, now he’s really trying to get in shape and I think he views this as his last ride for a chance to go out with a championship. So he’s taking it very seriously. In fact, he’s doing this reality show where he’s gonna do all the different sports. He’s gonna swim and play all these crazy sports and part of that is that he really wants to get in great shape for next year so that he can hold up for an entire season.

EW: How cool do you think it would be for a Lakers-Cavs showdown in this year’s Finals? Obviously it was big last year with Kobe-LeBron, but adding Shaq into the mix makes it even more dramatic…

PM: Oh that would be the NBA’s dream right now. Obviously like you said, this year would have been some great ratings without a doubt just because of Kobe and LeBron, but now with Shaq and his history with Kobe and being with LeBron and you’ve got Ron Artest over on the Lakers.

I just think that’s the NBA’s dream and based on the acquisitions of both teams, that could very well be the stage next June for sure.

EW: What advice do you have for the people who may be looking to make it out of the struggle in Flint and other small cities similar to that atmosphere, to ultimately be in your position?

PM: First of all I think one of the things that Flint doesnt get credit for is that yes it’s a factory town, a blue collar town, and I’m proud of that. Because If you think about it, it’s about work ethic. That’s what Flint’s always been about , blue collar, work hard and get it done and that’s one lesson that I’ve took away from that city and all the people that I’ve met in it is just hard working people. So I think if you work hard, and my dad has this philosophy that the harder you work, the luckier you get and I believe that to a tee so if you work hard, obviously good things will happen.

Number two, is you know I leverage Flint because of the hard times but when you bring up Flint everybody wants to talk about it because of the athletic history there. So I tell everyone where I’m from and I it’s a great conversation peace and relationships are key and I think if I were telling someone from Flint what to do is that you gotta align yourself with as many successful people as possible. Talk to everybody that you get the opportunity to talk to and form great relationships. So definitely expand your horizons, meet as many people as possible and work hard. There’s been a lot of young kids that come in and wanna be the CEO before they’ve become the salesperson. But one thing that you should remember is no matter how insignificant you may look at a job, you should take the job and be the best you can be!


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