Posted Oct 6, 2012
Written by Heather Salerno
2012 is a big year for Scarsdale’s Brandon Steiner.
His New Rochelle-based company, Steiner Sports Marketing, is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the country’s biggest provider of authentic sports memorabilia and collectibles. And he’s just published his latest book, “You Gotta Have Balls: How a Kid from Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire.”
Part memoir, part business how-to book, Steiner’s tome chronicles his journey from growing up in a poor New York City neighborhood — landing his first job at age 10 — to founding a hugely successful sports marketing brand and close relationships with many of the best professional athletes in history. The father of two says that the secret to his success isn’t that unusual, and that he wants readers to be inspired to “go to the next level” themselves.
Says Steiner, “The biggest a-ha that I hope for is that people say, ‘Well, I can do that. I can’t believe that guy did that. It’s crazy! All he did was put his head down and work really hard … He used a lot of assets that he had in different stages of his life, and made the most of it. I can do that.’ ”
Q: You and your two brothers were raised by a struggling single mom. How did your upbringing affect your future business accomplishments?
A: I always looked at it as an advantage. First of all, I don’t think there was anywhere to go but up … When you have no money, and things are really, really tight, obviously you’re the most creative. At the same time, you probably make the most out of everything you have. That’s the way I created my business: extremely creative, extremely diligent and extremely frugal.
Q: You worked at a lot of places before founding Steiner Sports, from a bagel factory to a hospital to the Hard Rock Cafe. Do you think it’s important to do your best at every job, even if it’s not your dream job?
A: It’s an easy thing to say: Do your best. Everyone’s always telling you to do your best. You have to make a commitment in everything you do. It’s the commitment, not the passion, that you need to get in the habit of making … and hopefully the passion kicks in and the intensity will fuel it all.
Q: What is the No. 1 thing that most successful businesspeople have in common?
A: There’s no question. The answer is to help others.
Q: As a kid, your favorite place was Yankee Stadium. What did it feel like to buy the old Yankee Stadium in 2008, dismantle it, and then sell seats, bricks — even dirt — to fans as mementos?
A: Believe it or not, the feeling I had was a lot of pressure. What’s the right way to do this? Obviously, there’s a lot of money involved — and I don’t ever do things based on the money, but based on how I can make the most amount of people happy. And that’s exactly what I did. I broke the thing down so the most amount of people could collect something … the big-wiggies were able to get the big items, and then we broke down a lot of items so (everyone else) could collect them.
Q: You list a number of “Steiner-isms” at the end of your book, including your theory that the first 90 seconds of a day determines the rest of it. What do you do first thing in the morning?
A: I look over at my wife, and I think about where my kids are going to be that day. So the foundation of my day is about the most important things in my life, which are my wife and my kids … so throughout the day, no matter how busy I get, I’ve got that in my mind. I’m really programming my mind in those 90 seconds to make sure that everything I’m thinking about to start my day is positive, or I’m figuring out a positive spin. And trust me, I’ve gotten out of that bed, and then gotten back in, to rework that 90 second thing!