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Old Hat Tips n' Tricks - 2019 Book Recommendations

Welcome to Old Hat’s TnT, also known as “Tips n’ Tricks”. TnT is (ahem) an explosive list of suggestions and ideas shared by some of our colleagues in the sports industry on a variety of topics.

For our initial TnT, we asked our friends for one book they’d recommend to others. It didn’t have to be a sports-minded book, just a book they found interesting. The list contains a little of bit of everything so we hope you’ll find something on it to add to your own list.

We were hoping to share the book report that Clemson’s Graham Neff (likely) had to prepare for his recommended book, but he hasn’t turned it in yet (the dog ate it, he said).


Megan Caligiuri Assoc. AD, Content Creation / Fan Engagement UNLV Athletics

“It exemplifies how company culture can shape the whole company. Tony Hsieh talks about the birth and growth of Zappos and how their core competencies made them a one of a kind company. It opens a path for a completely revised way of thinking about running a business and delivering the best possible customer service. Applicable to athletics, continued success must be predicated on innovation, service (student-athletes, fans, students, community, and staff), belief in your why, and alignment with core values.”


Katie Cavender

Asst. Dir of Communications

College Football Playoff

This book hit home for me in several ways. Having grown up in a small town in rural Nevada where my grandparents ranched cattle, the word “grit” has always been ingrained in my vernacular. Our family values effort and attitude, perseverance and passion, so Duckworth’s theme that success has just as much to do with the characteristics of grit as it does will skill and intellect resounded in both my professional and personal life. So much can be accomplished if you are willing to endure, and in her anecdotes, Duckworth was able to drive home how crucial it is to “stick with it” when it comes to matters that have meaning and bring you joy and purpose.


Trip Durham

CEO/Founder, 2D Consulting

This book is a go-to for learning how to best structure your presentations and the variables involved. While you may think it will be stodgy in its writing style, its anything but. There are brilliant insights as to how and why an audience thinks and acts the way they do. When I am tasked with an upcoming presentation, I typically go back to this book to refresh my approach. If you spend any time in front of a crowd, no matter its size, this is a great pick up.”


Gerald Jones


Minor League Baseball

For whatever reason, this book hadn’t crossed my desk prior to 2018. A must read in terms of where we are today as a sports society & sports culture was predicated on those early years of Nike.

BONUS: I’ve just been handed EXTREME TEAMS by Robert Bruce Shaw, which illustrates why certain non-traditional/cutting-edge companies have succeeded where others have not been successful.


Kevin Kluender

Assoc. AD - Marketing

University of Wisconsin

I think everyone can relate to the concept. I have found the book so far to be less about time management, organizing your time, etc. and more so about thinking intentionally about the choices we make on how we spend our time and how the results of those choices impact our ability to focus and commit to whatever we deem as truly important in our lives, personally or professionally, on a given day, week or even hour.


Brandon Macneill

Associate Vice Chancellor for External Affairs

Denver University Athletics

“A fascinating look at how and why higher education, especially as it relates to public universities, has become so intertwined with for-profit corporations.”


Danielle Percival

Director of Athletic Communications

Piedmont College Athletics

This book is packed with valuable content and while these are all principles you may have pondered, Maxwell does a great job providing you with a breakdown of “fleshing it out.”

Because I am trying to encourage you to read the book for yourself, I won’t give away all 17 qualities, but here are a few that stuck out to me:

  • Collaborative: Working Together Precedes Winning Together

  • Enlarging: Adding Value to Teammates is Invaluable

  • Intentional: Make Every Action Count


Mary Pink

Associate Athletics Director for Marketing

Iowa State Athletics

The book provides ideas and insights on how to improve areas of your work and life in order become happier and a higher performer.

Nels Popp

Assistant Professor, Sport Administration

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

For sport marketers, I still think Jon Spoelstra's “Ice to the Eskimos” is the best read even though its 20 years old. I still use it in my class.

A close second, though, is “Fun is Good” by Mike Veeck. This one is more about management and culture than marketing, but a great book, particularly for those in the sport industry.


Graham Neff

Deputy AD - Clemson University

My mom’s an English teacher, so a bedside book has been a staple in my house since I was a young fella. Scroggins suggests a variety of techniques to help you take the initiative.

Zac Logsdon

CEO / Founder, Old Hat

I would suggest 'Winning is Not a Strategy', written by, well, me. Matter of fact, I can't believe none of the people on the list we've asked for recommendations haven't suggested it. It's thought-provoking, well-researched, and combines impactful strategies around driving attendance. It’s also written by me. Have I mentioned that yet?

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