Website – https://www.jakekelfer.com
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @JakeKelfer
Jake Kelfer is the founder of the Pro Basketball Combine which helps NBA draft prospects turn their dreams of playing pro ball into their reality. The Professional Basketball Combine is a secondary draft combine designed to give players an opportunity to showcase their talents in hopes of being selected to play professional basketball. Each player who attends has the opportunity to participate in private workouts and scrimmages, do combine testing, and interview with NBA GMs, NBA scouts, G League coaches, and overseas personnel in what could be a life-changing experience.
Jake is a lifestyle entrepreneur, life elevator, and coach to ambitious entrepreneurs and freedom seekers, helping people create incredibly impactful and profitable businesses.
Kelfer is also a bestselling author and a high energy motivational speaker. His two books, Elevate Beyond and Elevate Your Network give readers the keys to building extraordinary
relationships in life and business, stand out in any job market, and discover their passion.
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Grab a notebook and get ready to learn from Jake Kelfer, founder of the Pro Basketball Combine.
What We Discuss with Jake Kelfer
- Early advice from his parents to “just go get the ball” from the other team
- His original career path of wanting to be a sports agent
- Interning experiences with Adidas & Relativity Sports
- Becoming a corporate partnership assistant for the Lakers in Kobe’s final season
- It’s up to us to decide how we respond to things that are out of our control
- Playing Dodgeball with Larry Nance, Jr. at a Lakers PR event
- His Jerry West “Elevator” story
- We have the power to make a difference in someone’s life, just by a single action.
- What do I know? How can I help people? Two questions he asked himself
- His first book, Elevate Beyond
- His process for writing and how he let people know that his book was coming
- How to differentiate your resume
- How to crush any job interview
- How to discover your passion
- The NBA creating two way contracts and how that sparked the idea for the Pro Basketball Combine
- The model and framework for the Pro Basketball Combine
- 23 players the first year that were candidates for NBA two way contracts
- Providing social media and interview training
- Partnering with IMG Academy as the venue for the first year of the Pro Basketball Combine
- Reaching out to agents, teams, and players to get people to participate
- If you want to achieve your dreams, you have to be willing to do it. Others won’t do it for you.
- Helping players achieve their dreams and get to the next level
- How he staffed the Pro Basketball Combine in the first year
- Why it was so important to execute flawlessly in year one
- Adding to the experience in year two
- Kendrick Nunn at the Combine
- The invitation and scouting process for the Pro Basketball Combine
- Adding Basketball 101 to the combine to help people who want to work in the sports industry learn and grow
- His professional speaking career and what he enjoys about impacting large groups
- The story of his first paid speech
- His latest book, Elevate Your Network
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THANKS, JAKE KELFER
If you enjoyed this episode with Jake Kelfer, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out on Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly NBA episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRANSCRIPT FOR JAKE KELFER – FOUNDER OF THE PRO BASKETBALL COMBINE & AUTHOR OF ELEVATE YOUR NETWORK – EPISODE 356
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast entrepreneur, speaker, author, director of the pro basketball combine Jake Kelfer. Jake. Welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast.
Jake Kelfer: [00:00:15] Man. It is great to be here. I’m pumped to get this thing rolling.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:20] We are excited to have you on just because of the wide variety of things that you’ve been able to do both in the game of basketball, but also in the entrepreneurial space. So let’s go back in time and start out with a question about how you got into the game of basketball as a kid.
Jake Kelfer: [00:00:36] Sure. I mean, from an early age, basketball has played a big role in my life.
I mean, I remember five years old playing on my first team and the only reason I remember this is because one, we were on the Lakers and I’m a Southern California guy. So the Lakers are going to play a big role into my story as we go through tonight’s episode. But also I have this picture that when I was five years old from this [00:01:00] team that was like from picture day that somehow made it through all the other pictures.
So I’m always reminded of that time. And the funny thing about this is obviously I love the game, but when I first played, I’ve talked to my parents about this, I hated the game. Like I truly sucked. And it was one of the most brutal things. Now, looking back on it, they’re like I have to come to grips with it.
I was terrible, but then my parents. After talking with them, they told me, I guess they sat me down and were like, Jake, just go have fun. Just go grab the ball when the other team has it, grab the ball and go put it in your basket. And literally overnight I became the Tasmanian devil and my love for basketball just took off.
And I only remember the game of basketball as someone who just loves it and was always trying to get better and finding new ways to get playing time on the court. So. Taking me back to that memory is just, I love that Mike. Appreciate it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:57] Somebody just to give you the freedom to go out there and [00:02:00] be that defensive stopper, you just needed somebody to unleash you and that’s what your parents did for you. So as you go up and you’re moving on in your life and you get up into high school and you start thinking about what you want to do with your life. How does basketball play into your decisions in terms of what you’re thinking about pursuing as a career?
Jake Kelfer: [00:02:23] Sure. So my, my dream, like most kids growing up is playing in the NBA.
I mean, if you don’t have that dream and you love the game of basketball, then what the heck is going on. Right. But, you know, I realized pretty early on that as I stopped growing as a five-eight Jewish kid from the suburbs, my career of playing for the Lakers is probably not going to happen. Now. It’s a good thing that even though my parents supported me and took me to every one of my games and wanting me to go to the NBA, of course, they always put a heavy emphasis on my education. And so for me, when I realized in high school that if I couldn’t be on the court with the players as a player, I’m going [00:03:00] to be on the court or as close to the court as possible working with the players. And so I set out to be in and my path was going to be going to you USC, to pursue business administration, sports media studies, and be an agent.
That was what I was going to do, because I thought that would be the fastest way to getting me as close to the action as possible. And also I thought being an agent, wouldn’t be just the most glorious thing that ever happened. You know, I was going to be the youngest agent lottery pick, make millions of dollars, be all over the news, you know, buy a house, buy an Island, even for all I know.
And then start writing, speaking, and giving back and doing all of these things. And, so it’s been a very interesting journey as well as we’ll discuss of going from this mentality of, okay. I can’t play on the court to knowledge, be an agent that’s the career. So then turning that into everything that’s happened as we move forward.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:51] Did you have a connection or somebody that you looked up to that you maybe had a direct personal contact with in terms of wanting to get into the [00:04:00] agent business? Or was that just something that you kind of looked at from afar?
Jake Kelfer: [00:04:03] It was something I looked at from afar. And I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I didn’t have any connection.
It wasn’t like my parents were super well connected with a top agent that I had been around my whole life. It was just for me as someone who studied the game of basketball on and off the court, it was literally just the next logical step for me. If I can’t play on the court, I should represent the players.
Because I knew so many guys growing up that were playing and getting scholarships. I mean, whether it be in basketball or baseball or football, I mean, the majority of people from my high school ended up playing at division one schools and have gone on to play in MLB the NFL or high level overseas basketball from my graduating class and the year above and right below me. So it was one of those things where it’s just like, that’s the next phase for me. If I can’t be on the court. Agents the next move. And I had to figure out how to build that network, how to create the opportunity and then learn as I went through my college experience.
[00:05:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:05:00] So as you start heading down that path in college and you have the ultimate insight of what you want to do. Just describe some of the twists and turns as you’re going down that path towards what you thought was going to be a career as a sports agent.
Jake Kelfer: [00:05:16] Well, I’m in college, right? And you know, I’m trying to figure it out, put the dots together. I get all these internships.
I’m working Adidas Nation’s one year I’m working all these events, right. To learn how that kind of goes through, trying to see where these agents meeting their players. I’m going to meet and greets. Working in the sports business association at USC, trying to call agents and invite them to come to try and get that personal connection.
I’m doing all types of these things. I’m working at interning at agencies, Relativity Sports at the time, that’s now Independent Sports and Entertainment. I was working at Washington media group. I did all these different things and when I got ready to graduate, I was actually supposed to be going to work for an agency and I won’t name them, but one of the agencies, we had a great rapport and I thought they were going to be the ones that me and gave me my first start. [00:06:00] And I was like, this is awesome. Everything is falling in alignment. And I was so excited and they couldn’t bring anybody on at the time of my graduation.
So right before graduation, a couple months, they said, I couldn’t bring anybody on. And I kind of panicked a little bit. Right. Because. For me growing up. I’m a very go, go go person. I like to plan things. I like to have things organized, situated. I like to be in control. And when that happened, I was thrown for a loop.
Because I didn’t have necessarily another agency that that was a backup plan. I didn’t want to go work for a team in their sales department. I wanted to do something that I really believed in, that I was passionate about. Well, it was a good thing that I spent so much time networking and practicing how to build relationships and learning how to communicate with people and making fast moves.
And fortunately, a few months later, after reaching out to a bunch of different NBA teams and specifically trying to connect dots between myself and the Lakers organization. I was offered a job to work as a [00:07:00] corporate partnerships assistant for what became Kobe Bryant’s final NBA season. And that was an opportunity that as a Laker fan was too good to pass up.
I mean, as a matter of fact, it was almost a full circle moment coming from that five-year-old kid on his first Lakers team to now working for the team and being able to pick the contestants to do the contest and being on the court pre and post game. and even during the starting lineups being down there for Kobe’s final 60 point game.
I mean, those are some of the moments that I remember the most, but it’s funny how life will throw things at you. And it’s up to us to decide how we respond to things that are out of our control.
Mike Klinzing: [00:07:38] So explain exactly what your role then was with the Lakers you’re down on the court. You’re getting contestants to participate in things that are going on during the game.
So are you part of the in-game presentation team?
Jake Kelfer: [00:07:49] So I’m a corporate partnerships assistant. And so basically what that meant is that the corporate partnerships team is responsible for any type of agreement that’s done with a brand partner. Right? So for example, [00:08:00] I think it was MGM grand orMGM resorts was a partner of the Lakers at the time. So they did the half court shot. So every game we would pick a contestant to do the half court shot. Then there are other sponsors and they would have meet and greets, with some of the announcers or with Julius Randle. At the end of a game, there would be a post game shoot around with like Verizon, for example, and their employees, right? Their guests would come onto the court and we’d escort them. Or there was a game ball delivery. There was a meet the ref type of thing. So we’d escort those contestants. And so I always accompanied, the more senior staff members.
So helping execute whatever needed to be done. the Toyota skills challenge, whether they’re doing the dribbling, passing the layups, then three point shots. And so I was responsible on game days, really helping out and facilitating all of those. And then in the office, you’re doing office work and just executing Excel docs, setting up meetings and those types of things.
But when I talked about this job, The part that just lit me up was being on the court [00:09:00] and trying to hold back my emotion to respect the game as an employee, but also just getting fired up. And we did win because the wins were a few and far between with the Lakers that season.
Mike Klinzing: [00:09:12] All right, so who in the Lakers organization did you sort of latch yourself onto or feel like you made the best connection with during your time that season, while you were with the team, was there one person that kind of stood out to you that you went to when you had a question or that sort of served as your mentor?
Jake Kelfer: [00:09:30] So there are three people, three experiences here that I’m going to, I’m going to run through. One is another one of the assistants who started with me at the same time. She’s one of my best friends to this day now, but she had worked the year before as a PR intern in college.
So she knew the lay of the land. She knew what everything was. She knew who to talk to. She knew people in the press box, knew the people in the food area, she knew everybody. and so she was great to learn from and to talk [00:10:00] to. And she didn’t have an ego that accompanied her, which I thought was really awesome because in sports, as we know, there’s a lot of egos players, coaches, executives, agents, I mean, people got egos and she was someone that I just had an incredible relationship with.
And we were able to talk about things, collaborate on a bunch of different projects and work together a lot of the times. So that was really awesome. There was another moment here, where we were doing a charity event and Larry Nance jr. Was there along with some of the other guys, but we were in a dodgeball, an outdoor Dodge ball game.
Okay. And we’re playing. And part of my job there was just to make sure that event went smoothly. All the kids were happy. We were doing, you know, physical exercise and some of the players jumped in this Dodge ball game. Well, Being the competitive person. I am, I had to jump in and of course I had to go against Larry Nance and some of the other guys, cause I didn’t want the kids to not have any of the guys on their team and I’m bigger than some of them.
Right. Because they’re little or they’re littler kids, but I’m not an NBA size guy [00:11:00] and we’re playing Dodge ball and we’re just going at it. I mean, like we are going at it, me and Larry are sweating and it’s just, it’s intense and everyone just getting fired up and it’s like turning into this awesome show.
And that was an unbelievable experience and something that I’ll remember. But the most pivotal thing that happened to me when I was with the team, was an interaction that I had with Mr. Jerry West. And anybody that’s listening to this podcast obviously knows who the NBA logo is. Right. And. I’m going into the elevator.
I was going down to the court level and while I was going down to the court level, I was going to go meet a contestant to bring them out for one of the contests now, right before this, I get on the elevator. The doors are about to close. I’m thinking. Okay. Just a normal day, normal elevator ride, but all of a sudden, yeah.
Jerry West stops the elevator and steps inside. Now, here I am. Okay. My heart starts to pound. I’m getting pumped up, right? Like bottom of the totem pole and top employee and me. And then the legend. Right. [00:12:00] And Jerry, just to put this in perspective, Jerry’s all over my family’s house because we have a room that I grew up in, in the house I grew up in called the Laker room.
Okay. We have the walls painted purple and gold there’s memorabilia everywhere. There’s a cardboard cutout of Kobe. I mean, every sports illustrated that has had a Lakers guy on the cover that is existing in that room. I mean, it’s unbelievable. So there’s tons of things of Jerry. So Jerry gets in the elevator and the person working in the elevator, he looks at Jerry. And he says, well, where do you want to go to, and Jerry obviously says the courts, the court level, right? He’s got courtside seats and he’s Jerry West. So the person who’s working in the elevator though, looks at him and he says, excuse me, sir, do you have a credential? Cause he clearly had no idea who Jerry was.
So do you have a credential because if not, I’m going to have to ask you to step off because then pointing at me, this gentlemen, he needs to get down. He’s got work to do. And in my mind, I’m like, Holy crap, no way is he telling Jerry that he can’t come down the elevator. Right? And so Jerry looks at him and says, no, I don’t have a [00:13:00] credential.
And so the guy says, well, I’m gonna have to ask you to step off. Now, Jerry slowly starts to step off. And for some reason, I just blurred out. I’m like, wait, he’s with me. He’s my guest. I got got him. And the worker in the elevator is totally confused because I didn’t seem to know who Jerry West was because I didn’t say anything outside of hello.
And he looks at me. I mean, and he’s like, are you sure he’s your guest? So I look at Jerry and you know, that very nonchalant way of kind of looking at someone kind of waiting for their, like not of approval. I look at Jerry waiting for that nod. He gives me the nod. I turn to the person working in the elevator.
I give that person the same nod. And for the next 14 seconds, Mike, we have one of the most glorious elevator rides that I’ve ever been on. And my heart’s just pounding the doors open. We walk out, Jerry looks at me and I’m wondering, what the heck, is he going to be pissed that the guy didn’t know who he was? What’s about to happen here. He shakes my hand and says, thank you. I appreciate what you just did for me. Boom. That’s the moment [00:14:00] Mike, where it started to make me understand a simple truth about us as human beings is that we are all just people and we all have the same basic desires to be loved, to be heard, to be valued, to be complimented.
It doesn’t matter how old we are. How young we are, how rich we are, how poor we are, how experienced we are, how new we are, how successful we are in terms of society’s weavers, how successful we are in terms of our, and it made me really realize that, that we have the power to make a difference in someone’s life, just by a single action.
And that experience has put me on a trajectory to truly understand how to give people the greatest experiences possible. And so I’ve made that part of my mission ever since that experience to give people that same incredible, positive feeling that Jerry gave me at a time where that was a really, really big deal to be talked to as an assistant from Jerry West himself.
[00:15:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:15:01] That’s very cool. That’s a cool story. And it’s one that I’m sure you’re going to continue to carry with you for the rest of your life. Just to have an opportunity. Not many of us are put into position to be able to help someone of Jerry West stature. And I think that based on your description of it, the way that he clearly handled it.
Also speaks volumes about the kind of person that Jerry West is, where he didn’t go crazy. He didn’t start screaming at the elevator attendant. He didn’t pull the, do you know who I am card? He was clearly, it sounds like from your story, he was going to step off the elevator because he didn’t didn’t have his credential.
And again, and there’s not a lot of people as you talked about with ego, there’s not a lot of people who wouldn’t have pulled out that, Hey, do you know who I am? Card now it’s kind of weird. The elevator attendant didn’t know Jerry West there in the Staples Center, but the fact that Jerry West was able to handle that diplomatically and then that provided you with an opportunity to help him. [00:16:00] You can see where that’s a powerful moment. And you wonder if you went back and you had an opportunity to speak to Jerry West, you wonder if he remembered that story from his perspective? Interesting to hear what he would have to say about it, and I can see where that could be a changing moment for you where you just looked at it and said, Hey, this guy needed my help. He’s clearly more famous than me. He’s clearly at that point in his life, more accomplished than me, but I have an opportunity to help him. And you did it out of a selfless thing. And I think so many times that we look at the world and we see people who do things, thinking they’re going to get something back from somebody.
And clearly that wasn’t the case here. And I don’t think you intended it that way. And Jerry West didn’t take it that way. And it ended up being a moment that clearly has had an impact on your life. So let’s take that moment, spin it forward. What did that inspire you to do?
How did that change what you were thinking at that moment, and as you looked at what you wanted to do going forward,
[00:17:00] Jake Kelfer: [00:17:00] So I’m with the Lakers.
I have this experience. Now I still want to be an agent. Remember this at this time, I still wanted to be an agent. So I’m constantly seeing who I can be communicating with seeing, can I get tickets learning the ins and outs of how a team operates, what the communication is like with agents, trying to figure out whatever I could to navigate how the PR work and all that stuff. So after that, though, I kind of have, this is where I start to add something into my journey, because that experience really had a big impact on me. So I came home the following week because I knew I wanted to give more people that experience.
I wanted to help more people. And I felt that I couldn’t do more than what I was already doing in my life role. So I came home and I asked myself two questions. What do I know? And how can I help people? And these two questions led me to understand, well, I know a lot about how to network, how to interview, how to get multiple different job offers, how to do good on social media and set yourself up for success in the job process.
You know what? I’m going to write a bunch of blog posts to help my brother [00:18:00] who was a freshman in college at the time, along with all my other fraternity brothers, I was like, I’m going to help them. I’m going to write a bunch of blog posts. Everybody will read it. It can help all these college students and people trying to figure out what the heck they want to do with it.
And it’ll be great. Well, I started writing these blog posts and nobody was reading and I was like, this is weird. And then I thought to myself, Jake, you just graduated one year ago. Would you ever have read these type of blog posts that were written in this format? And I was like, no, shall I talk to a mentor?
And he says, you need to turn this into a real book. Fast forward five months after going through a ton of doubts and wondering, and limiting beliefs that all of these things fast forward five months, the Laker season is about to end. I know Kobe is retiring at the end of the month.
So I say, you know what, that’s it. I can retire. I’m retired and I’m launching this book and it was all about how to help. It’s called Elevate Beyond how to stand out in the job market at discovery, your passion. Okay. And. That book, put me on an, another [00:19:00] trajectory. I’m doing what I was supposed to be doing out here, finding ways to elevate people to that next level.
And so at the end of the Laker season, I decided to leave the team, launched a book and start the next phase of my journey. Still with the expectation that I would do this. But also now find my way and navigate my way back into the agent world. Leveraging the fact that I now had an Amazon bestseller on my hands to add to my credibility, along with the Lakers on my resume thinking I’m going to be a more targeted, more valuable, a recruit for an agency at this point.
So that was what happened in the short term, following the Jerry West experience and moving into the next phase.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:40] What did the process of writing the book look like for you? How much time each day were you spending? How did you go about shopping it around and getting it out into publication? Just talk a little bit about the book writing process for you.
Jake Kelfer: [00:19:52] Man. So, here’s the thing. Now I’ll be straight up. I had no idea what I was doing, right. It’s not like I had been [00:20:00] waiting to write a book for five years and I had done all this research. I literally just picked up a pen and started writing, or I picked up my fingers and started typing. Right. I live in LA and I was living with my parents at the time when I would drive to the Lakers office, which is in El Segundo.
Now that’s, that’s about an hour and a half to two plus hours in the morning as a commute. I’m going on about that and traffic. So I would leave at 5:30 in the morning, or even earlier get to the Lakers office within like an hour or so, and then spend the next two hours writing and preparing and trying to start building out what the book would end up becoming.
So that’s what I did. A lot of my writing. I’d sit in my car and I’d write before I started work with the Lakers and then came the idea of like, okay, well, how do you get this out to people? So obviously I was starting to do all the research. I was trying to learn everything I was trying to figure out well, if I’m going to write a book, I might as well try to make it a bestselling book.
So sort of researching how to become an Amazon bestseller, learning all the different tricks, the techniques, the hacks and secrets. And [00:21:00] the most important thing that I did was I started to let people know in my circle what I was doing, and I didn’t have an email list. I didn’t have a huge social media following, but what I did was I went to all the people that I’d connected with.
And I started telling people, Hey, I’m releasing this new book, would you be willing to share it? And I just went one to one to everyone that I knew. Literally I spent hours texting every person in my phone book, letting them know what was going on. And by the day of the launch happened, I was as prepared as I possibly could.
The book shot to number one in multiple categories on Amazon, we had an unbelievable launch and it totally totally changed, the next phases of my life, because. It was such a eye opening and humbling experience that really showed me that, I can make anything happen if I’m willing to have a big enough dream, a big enough goal, and then also put in the action to get there and to put in the action.
And that was the biggest step. Because along this journey, there was plenty of times where I was like, who’s going to read a career [00:22:00] development book written by a guy one year out of school. Who’s gonna buy this book. What if only five people read it? Like I just spent six months in my life doing this.
What’s going to happen because of that. And when you have those things that can really make a big difference in your life and everything that’s happening. So that was the process for me, in terms of actually writing the book and then deciding on how to launch it, and getting it out there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:25] All right. Give us the 30 second pitch. If somebody picks up the book, what’s something or some things that they’re going to learn from reading the book. What are the big takeaways that you want somebody who’s going to read it to get out of the book.
Jake Kelfer: [00:22:42] You’re going to learn. I’ll give you a couple of ones.
You’re going to learn exactly how to differentiate your resume so that it will be at the top of every interviewer’s pile. So that’s huge. And being able to differentiate, especially when you’re trying to work with organizations that are high level organizations or sports teams or things that have a lot of. [00:23:00] applicants, you’re going to learn the eight ways to crush every single interview. You’re going to learn how an NFL player views the interview process and how important it is to take care of yourself on social media. And you’re going to learn how to discover your passion, using a few different techniques and tips and steps that’ll help you understand how to use what you’re good at to go find the jobs that will best suit your skill sets will have the most enjoyment.
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:23] Got it. Alright. So the book is in print and it’s again, something that has come into your life, I guess, sort of unexpectedly, not by the time it’s in print, you’re into the process, but initially you didn’t set out to write the book.
So once the book is out there, once it’s been successful, Again, now you’re still looking at what’s the bigger picture. Are you still looking at this point thinking, all right, now I can take this book. It gives me more credibility. I can go back. It’s going to allow me to be hired at an agency. Just explain where you are in [00:24:00] the career path at this point.
Jake Kelfer: [00:24:01] Yes. I’m wanting to be an agent still. So, you know, I have the book I started. I started speaking, that starts going well, I’m excited about this. And then the NBA announces that the creation of the two way contracts. And this was where I just got it fired up because right after I had launched book, I actually was able to attend a couple of pro days, seeing how they, how they went down, what went on with the agents, with the rookies, that draft prospects, how they coordinated with teams, what was great.
And then I had some ideas of what was missing and I talked to a few agents and when the two way contracts were announced, I was like, this is an opportunity. What if there was an entire second combine that was dedicated to prospectswho might not get drafted. But who could easily fill some of these two way roster spots?
Because now with the two ways it became so much more exciting for a guy to stay in America and try to play ball, right? Because the G league was paying 29 grand or something like that. But a two way had the potential for 275, that was [00:25:00] $275,000. And you could go up and down from the official roster and the G league roster.
So this was an enticing offer. And the NBA combine’s great. It’s one of my favorite events, but it only had enough spots for just the guys that were getting drafted. Then you factor in this idea that we’re seeing a now, it’s obvious, but then we were starting to see the rise of guys that weren’t coming from your top tier programs, per se, but coming from mid major ones, guys that were starting to get through the cracks and make it.
So now the pool is bigger than ever before. And I was like, what if there was an event where we could get a bunch of guys together? So that’s when the idea for the pro basketball combine came to be, which was essentially, let’s get 24 guys on the court over two days, we’ll get as many NBA teams possible.
It’s essentially a glorified combine right where we do everything that the NBA does. We do the vertical testing, the agility, all the physical testing and measurements. We’ll do [00:26:00] scrimmaging, we’ll do three on three scrimmaging, we’ll have NBA team interviews. Then we added a couple other things to help players perform better in their interviews.
We had interview training, we did social media training. We did all these things to give these guys an unbelievable experience. And that is what became the Pro Basketball Combine or the PBC as we like to talk about it. And that debuted. and of the 23 guys we had in year one, we had over half the league in attendance and we ended up filling up nine of those initial two way roster spots, including Antonio Blakeney, who became the NBA G league rookie of the year.
And a lot of that, It definitely helped because they were at our event and they had a chance to interview with teams and, and change opinions and validate opinions and, and help teams understand that they were really as good as advertised or better than advertised. And they belonged on a roster.
Mike Klinzing: [00:26:51] How do you go from having the idea for the event to. Reaching out to team contacts, to get the [00:27:00] teams to show up. How do you get and find the players who are going to participate in this? And, did you have a partner? Did you do it yourself? Explain how you went about just getting the whole thing off the ground, from getting the teams and the players there to securing the venue, to making people aware of it.
How did you go about going from idea to execution?
Jake Kelfer: [00:27:22] I credit this 100% to the ability to create relationships. So I had a few agents. I had a few mentors that one of them introduced me to my contact at IMG and the facility. We got lucky. It just happened right away. Right? A lot of times and basketball with events and stuff, the venues are tough.
One of the tougher things to find, because when you’re certain on a court, you need a certain amount of things, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But for me, I was introduced to IMG Academy and I was like, you know what, if they’re willing to do it, let’s go for it. We don’t have time to try to find all these other places.
And they were a credible place that already had NBA prospects trainings. So the place already was going to lend me [00:28:00] some credibility because again, I’m 24 at the time. I don’t have a Rolodex of every NBA, exec I don’t have a Rolodex of all these agents. I don’t have all the national media members, so I have to figure out, okay, how do I leverage what I do have, which is my drive and my resourcefulness, and my willingness to go out there and make something happen and challenge the status quo.
So as soon as we get the venue secured and that contracts done, I have to start getting players in. I have to start getting team members there. Well, I only know a couple agents, so of course I go to them first, but then I literally made a list of every single NBA agent that existed in the game.
And I called them one by one and tried to pitch them and sell them on the combine. And I started with guys who had players that would likely fit the mold of the type of player we thought we wanted to go after. So. I started doing that. And agent after agent is hanging up on me, telling me it’s never going to work.
They’re saying this is a stupid idea. They’re saying I’ve been in the business 20 years, that if it could have been done. It would have been done. Right. All of this crazy stuff. [00:29:00] And you know, I’m trying not to get discouraged here, but I’ve already committed to this. Right. And I don’t have a big bank account.
I’m funding this myself. I’m kind of putting this in as my gamble. But here was my thought process. I’m a big believer that if you want to achieve your dreams in life, you gotta be willing to do it. Other people aren’t willing to do. And for me, I wanted to be an agent still. I figured if I could pull this event off and execute this, not only am I going to have called hundreds of agents and learn their personalities, gotten to know them a little bit, gotten to work with them and gotten to see which agents I like, which agents I don’t like, but I’m also going to be one of the only 24 year olds that has a contact with almost every NBA team, a contact with multiple agencies as well as national media attention.
And I was like, that’s very valuable for an agency. And also my goal of being an agent was to change players’ lives. I wanted to be an agent so I could help players have their dream life and be able to take care of their families for the rest of their life. And this was my way of helping [00:30:00] guys without being an agent, get to the next level.
Right. This was my way of being able to do that. And so I’m calling all these agents, I get a couple bites and then they’re like, well, what teams are coming? Then I’m calling all these teams. And I’m like, these are the players that are committed. And then they’re saying, well, what players are in for sure coming, right? I’m going back and forth trying to get people to commit because everyone’s waiting for people to commit. But once we got a few commits, the dominoes started to roll and we started to execute and, you know, I was nervous literally the day leading up to it, but it ended up going off without a hitch.
And I was very fortunate. I’ll say this to have had mentors like Sergio Millis and, and Albert Hall from NBA summer league, because I had worked. NBA summer league, that I’d worked Adidas Nations. I had worked a bunch of these events where there’s high level players and there’s different people in the gym. So fortunately I knew how I wanted the event to be structured.
And then when it came to figuring out our staff, I was like this event is designed to give players an opportunity. [00:31:00] Well, this event’s also going to be designed to give staff an opportunity. And so we had everybody was in their teens or their twenties, except for one person who was in their thirties. And we pulled this off by guys who were hungry, who loved the game of basketball, who were willing to do whatever it could to, to produce the best result, the best workouts, and be a part of something that had the potential to be great.
And so that’s kind of how we were able to pull this thing off, but it was all about building the relationships and being able to connect the dots and seeing who knew who, and who would be willing to share contact and following all of these things and then getting people to fully buy into what we were doing and then having so much value that it was a no brainer. And that, that was how we were able to create a successful year one.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:43] So you had 24 players that first year is that right?
Jake Kelfer: [00:31:46] We ended up with 23 that year, 23. That year we had the opportunity to get 24, but the last minute.
23 was what ended up showing up. So that’s, we won’t go too deep into that, but that’s, that’s what we ended up with.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:59] Understood. So as you look out and after that first year, when you look back on it and you’re evaluating what you did well, what you didn’t do well, what are some things that you’re like, man, this really went off exactly the way that I anticipated it.
And maybe what were one or two things that you said, Oh, next year we got to really try to step up in this particular area.
Jake Kelfer: [00:32:22] So we did look at what we did really, really well. And this was the whole goal of year one. The whole goal of year one was to execute the event flawlessly. Right. Make sure it works.
That was the only goal that I really had. There was no bells and whistles, right? Nothing fancy about it. It was let’s execute it at the highest level that we possibly can because there’s only one shot at making this work. If I blow this this time, it’s not like I have credibility that they’ll say, Oh, well, he just, something went wrong.
We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m back. Next year, I had to execute this flawlessly with the team that we brought to the table. And that was something that we did really, really well. All of the [00:33:00] feedback that came back was that it was really well organized. It was very easy to know how the structure went.
And of course there were hiccups right there. There were interview mix ups there. There were all types of things that went wrong, but overall to the outside eye it went off without a hitch. And the logistics ran smoothly. The players got an unbelievable workout in front of the Scouts, which was also a really key component that we wanted to focus on.
So that was some of the stuff that we did really, really well. Then the idea was okay, we know this concept works. We know teams like this. We know players like this. We know agents like this. How do we make this better? And so the next year we tried to add a little bit more. So we added some workshops in there for the players.
We added product player packages, where we had brands give out different, different products to get in front of them. So the guys, they come and they get to their room and they just got a boatload of all types of stuff, ranging from beef jerky to movement watches, to liquid IV energy [00:34:00] to all types of things.
And that was something that was really cool. So we wanted to take what worked really well, do that even better. And then adds some of the other things we brought in a couple of partners in year two, and we started to really dive into it and, and focus on the growth of it. while still maintaining true to our core, which was put 24 guys on the court, in front of the best decision makers that were able to attend in order to give those guys the chance to compete at the next level.
And that’s exactly what we were about. We’ll do it again in year two, followed by year three.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:33] All right. So one of the things that is part of it is the interview process with teams getting a chance to interview prospects. Have you ever had an opportunity to sit in on one of those interviews and see what the teams are asking prospects?
Or have you talked to teams to find out what are some of the things that they asked the prospects? That’s one of the things that I’m always fascinated by is how do you, and clearly it’s the thing in the draft or in player evaluation, that is [00:35:00] probably the most difficult to figure out is what kind of a guy is this guy?
What kind of work ethics are you going to have kind of hard? Is he going to show out on the court?
Is he going to fold when things are tough or is he going to make it through and be one of those guys that can persevere? So have you had an opportunity to either actually view an interview or talk to someone, the people who conduct the interviews to find out what some of those questions might be that they ask of players?
Jake Kelfer: [00:35:22] Of course. So out of respect for all that, the teams, the interviews are very, very private, because that’s something that, that the teams it’s the team and the player, there’s no one else allowed in the room during these interviews. And we take great pride in respecting their privacy.
That being said, Over the years. Of course, I’ve talked to people about asking these questions. I mean, this is the part that fascinates me the most. Right. And you know, there’s everything from the most basic of questions. Right. So who do you model your game master? what type of player are you, why should we bring you into our organization?
Two other questions that our situation all about guys have, like, you know, something that’s happened in their past. Are they willing to [00:36:00] talk about it? Are they willing to actually tell the truth and admit when they were wrong? What type of player they give them situations. Right? There’s all these different types of questions. but those are just a couple of that that are top of mind that I know people ask and that they talk about outside of your basic questions. sometimes they talk about what would you do if you signed your first deal? What would that money go to? Say we’re on a road trip and everyone’s going out to party, but you got a big game tomorrow. What are you doing? They give real life situations, which is something that’s really cool. But. You know, for the, for the most part in some of the teams, obviously, and again, respect to their privacy, some of the questions they keep internal, right.
They don’t want people really knowing some of the questions they ask or at least they’re not being vocal about sharing that. And I respect. Yeah. and so those are just some of the more general questions that I know I’ve been asked that teams have given me those questions to share with other people, to kind of give an inside, look into the process and [00:37:00] help prep these guys.
Mike Klinzing: [00:37:01] What player that you’ve had over the years has been the most impressive. I guess we could say on-court player, somebody that when you watch them, you were just like, wow, this guy has a real chance to make it. Is there somebody that stands out? I know you’ve had multiple guys that have made it into the league and made it not just on the two way contract, but on to a regular contract.
But is there somebody that in the combine, their performance, you were like, wow, this guy, I think he can make it.
Jake Kelfer: [00:37:30] So one of the players and any, any totally man, is Kendrick Nunn. Kendrick Nunn ended up, I believe he finished third in this year’s rookie of the year voting, or you will soon, but Kendrick Nunn was a guy who I was really trying to get into the event. I thought he was a perfect fit for what we do because he had had some issues at his first college and then went to Oakland University and scored like 26, a game lefty. And I was like, we need this guy at the PBC. Like I [00:38:00] totally had a feeling that this guy was going to be able to do great things.
Also I’m a lefty. So I always love a good lefty stroke. And Kendrick Nunn was well, just a great addition to the PBC and he played well, he executed and they would’ve needed to do. And, you know, he ended up being with, the Warriors in the G league. And now he’s on, on the Heat and finishing third and rookie of the year.
So, so that’s a guy for me, who I was high on from the very beginning. And was really cool to be able to have him come through after his whole experiences, with everything that, that went on during his college years, to be able to now see him where he’s at today and having the success he’s had. And that was a really cool guy to experience.
and then there’s other guys that are really like awesome and kind of surprising. One of the guys that comes to mind is, is a guy named Todd Withers, Todd was a D two kid. And people gave us so much crap for initially having him on our roster of 24, because they’re like, how is this guy from a D two school better than all these other D1 prospects that wanted to [00:39:00] get into your event?
And we were like, well, we have our system. And internally we wanted to give Todd a chance. We believed that he had the skillset. And I give a lot of credit here to my director of scouting, one of the best scouting guys in the game. John chap, Kevin, and he has done an unbelievable job with our scouting.
We can talk a little bit about our process because it’s very unique, but Todd, we invited him to the event and he crushed. He did so well surprised a lot of people, turned a lot of heads, has played the last couple of years in the G league for the Grand Rapids Drive and has been a sharpshooter from three point range has had some incredible dunks.
And that was somebody who didn’t have all the love coming out of a D two school ends up coming to our events, ends up in the G league. And we were like, that’s what it’s about. Right? So there’s, there’s the Kendrick Nunns. There’s the Antonio Blakenys to become geography. There’s Troy Kupain from Cincinnati who ended up coming to our event and then getting in the league.
There’s all [00:40:00] types of stories like that from our guys that we’ve had. And it’s just been, it’s been wonderful to be able to watch these guys develop and grow and be able to follow their journey as the years go on. It’s so cool.
Mike Klinzing: [00:40:13] Alright. So you mentioned. The scouting process and how it’s used.
Talk to us a little bit about what your scouting process looks like. Like maybe how you start narrowing down the players that you want to target, that you may want to invite. Just explain the whole process to us.
Jake Kelfer: [00:40:30] Yeah, well, without giving a all of our secret sauce away here, you guys, the good stuff. No, no, no.
This is the good stuff. Look. And, and the reason I’ll share all this stuff too, is because people can go out and try to copy what we do. It’s not going to produce the same results I got. And that’s just what we’ve been able to build up. And I’m very confident that we’ll do it better than anybody else.
That being said the way we operate our processes, first of all, we have to think about, okay, of all the players in the world that they have to declare for the draft. That’s one of the stipulations that, that [00:41:00] according to NBA, well, they have to declare for the draft and we can’t take underclassmen who are going to be future picks unless they’ve actually declared for the draft that year.
So that’s really important to know. Secondly, as we’re starting to put our list together. We have to be very fluid because we have to not only guess who the NBA combine might invite, but then we have to start seeing, well, who’s going to go to Portsmouth. Who’s signing with which agents. And we start building out our lists.
So we have a very extensive database of every player that’s declared for the draft, every player that’s auto eligible for the draft, AKA seniors, every person that’s coming through, what agents are going to be signing with. are they invited to any. Post conference play, tournaments such as, Portsmouth or anything during the final four, the senior game.
Where, where are they going? We have lists of all conferencings and we start to evaluate, we also talk with all of our NBA personnel, because we’re like, Hey, who do you guys want to see? Who are some guys that you think might, might deserve a great chance here that maybe you couldn’t see as much as you [00:42:00] want it to during the season, or, you know, we start to leverage those contacts as well.
And then we talked to a bunch of agents. Right. And that’s partially how we create our scouting process says, and then myself and John, for the most part. We go through every single one of these players. And we talk about the potential, where they fit. Are they an NBA guy? What is their, how is their size compared to other people?
What are their measurements that we can find heir stats? And one of the things that’s really cool about our events is we can put guys in who had 30 points a game at a school, but the NBA may not be giving them love because there’s other players that have proven from a more recognizable program.
And then the other thing is we have guys that score six points, a game at a high major program that we can bring to, to our event and really start to execute on that. So we really tap into the network. We tapped into our database and we really tried to do an evaluation based off of who we believe is going to have the best chance at succeeding at the next level.
And of course, Mike, there’s a ton of other things that go on to it. But in a nutshell, that’s how we have to [00:43:00] kind of start doing it and kind of go through the cracks of seeing who the possibility. And then as the, as people sign with agents as the NBA, now the combine, we have to make adjustments, but at the end of the day, There’s 24 guys that get to be a part of our exclusive event.
And every year we produce results, they get more exposure, more money overseas, more opportunities, more NBA interviews than they ever would have had otherwise. And it’s really cool that our scouting process aids in giving people these opportunities. even if it just helps just a little bit, getting them closer to their dream of playing pro ball.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:35]All right. So not only though, are you helping players, but you also have a part of the combine called basketball one-on-one, which is helping people who are interested in having a career in basketball, not necessarily a playing career. So talk a little bit about how you came up with that sort of parallel track to, or complimentary track to the basketball side for the players and to the benefit of the [00:44:00] teams.
But you also have. Basketball 101, which helps people who are trying to break into the sports are basketball.
Jake Kelfer: [00:44:06] Yeah. So when you talk about this, right, Mike, we talked about what we did in year one and how we focus really on the basics. And then as we’ve grown, we focused on how do we make this better?
How do we create things around this event? And so what we did was we created basketball one-on-one and we teamed up with Steve Kyler of basketball insiders and Alex Kennedy of, who was with hoops hype. And these guys are great guys.
They’re in the media. They’ve been around the game. They’ve worked a lot of guys and they both really loved the combine from the start. And so we talked about putting together an event where people who wanted to work in sports could basically sign up for a three to five day program with us during the time of the combine coming day before be there for the combine and head out.
And they would actually get a chance to interact and learn different curriculum that I would teach them on networking and, and, and the job market. And then Steve and Alex were talking about [00:45:00] media side of things, and then all the agents and team exacts and, and the different media people that were there would come and talk to the group of people.
We would also give some of these people a chance to be our rebounders on court. We throw them in the mix and let them get in on the action. Right? If we believe that they were capable of doing it. So it was a really cool opportunity for anybody that wants to work in basketball or have a big breakthrough in basketball, basketball 101 is the thing.
It’s a place for you to do you get to see everything behind the scenes because the PBC is very exclusive. The only people allowed in the gym are the people that are, are relevant to making the event a success. We don’t allow outside fans or anything like that. So it’s a very intimate setting, you can hear everything your hands on. And so through this basketball 101 program, people are able to get networking experiences and opportunities to be right in front of the people that can hire them. They’re going to get on the court, they get a boost, their resume, they get a connection with Steve, Alex, you know, [00:46:00] everybody in the basketball space.
So it’s a really cool intimate program. There’s limited spots every year. And it’s unfortunate that this year, we weren’t able to have the combine, but that’s what 101 every year is just growing and more and more people want to be a part of it. And it’s been really cool to see that grow and develop because as you said, we’re not just helping players now, now we’re helping change people’s careers.
And you know, my life is around the word elevate and that’s what we’re doing for everybody, both on and off the court.
Mike Klinzing: [00:46:30] At this point, I think from a standpoint of providing value, especially to the people who are trying to break into the basketball business. To me, what I always say when I go to event and event, one of the things that is probably the most important to me is the quality of the people that are a part of the event.
The content is important without a doubt, you have to run a program that has good content that I’m actually learning. But ultimately I think what speaks to the value of an event yeah. Is the [00:47:00] quality of the people that you have both instructing. And the quality of the people that are on the guest list, who are actually the attendees and that’s where the real value in any conference or class or seminar or program like basketball.
One-on-one I think that’s where the real value is. So how do you go about, I’m assuming that you’re getting probably more people wanting to participate, then you can accommodate. So what’s the selection process like for determining who is able to attend basketball 101 in any given year.
Jake Kelfer: [00:47:31] For basketball 101, the selection process, it’s evolving, right?
Because in the first year it was whoever wanted to come was invited. And then now it’s, you know, becoming more exclusive, but basically, we’ll put it out there and it’s first come first serve in terms of, if you take action faster, rewarded, and you get a chance to talk with the people that are running the program for that given year.
And, from there, we make a decision based off of if you’re the right fit, to be honest, most [00:48:00] people who are coming committed and take action, tend to be the right fit. And, and so that’s how it is. And so as we expand, we’re finding new ways to try to get more people involved, but it is limited spots and it tends to go to people who take action and commit to their dreams because you’ll always be rewarded for taking action in this life.
Mike Klinzing: [00:48:20] All right. So looking forward, you, obviously, because of the virus, you didn’t. You weren’t able to hold the event this year. So as you look forward to hopefully what will be a return to normalcy at some point here, let’s just hopefully assume that next year spring, that we’re able to get back to being able to play basketball again in a normal fashion.
And you’re able to hold the combine. What are some things looking forward? What do you see as being the biggest challenges and what do you see as being the biggest opportunities with the combine?
Jake Kelfer: [00:48:51] Man, That is a loaded question, Mike. And it’s one that I’m really excited about. Because the [00:49:00] possibilities are at the same time with everything that’s happened.
I wouldn’t be surprised. I used to see some pre-draft changes every year that tends to be new pre-draft changes that happen. And so we will kind of have to see what the NBA decides to do with someone, their pre-draft routines and schedules and workouts they could very well say that the teams aren’t allowed to travel anymore to events, and it’s only limited to bring in a certain amount of people, period.
Well, that changes the whole landscape to the draft process. Maybe they say there’s no pro days. There’s no other outside events. You know, there’s a lot of things that are up in the air. but you know, we have a great relationship with some of the people that are at the NBA and I’m grateful for that.
And so for me, I’m just thinking, how do we continue to provide value and help everybody that’s involved? Right. And our big thing is like, okay, NBA teams, they get to get on one flight and see 24 guys that could fill up their G League or NBA roster spots. That’s huge value for an NBA team. And it’s huge for [00:50:00] their budget because they only have to travel one time to see these players.
And then they can decide, do we want to fly them in for a private workout? On the other side, agents are getting great value. So. We’re going to keep providing great value, great opportunities, continue to incorporate tech, continue to incorporate new things that we can try to give people new looks at these guys.
And also really just, you know, as many guys as we can, in a place where they have an opportunity to succeed. So in terms of like the challenges and opportunities, it there’s so much unknown as of this point today, but I am excited for the future. I am excited hopefully pre-draft and, and interaction, you know, coming back into play here and, you know, the things that we can control, that’s something that I’ve learned a lot as an entrepreneur, as a person is you can only control what you can control and things that you can’t control. You can control how you respond to those things. And so I’ve really embraced that and, you know, we’ll do the best that we can. We’ll set ourselves up. [00:51:00] We’ll continue to network. We’ll continue to do our scouting, we have been doing virtual scouting rooms for the draft to give these guys a platform to show why they want to be in the NBA right now.
And we’ll, we’ll continue to find ways to really showcase. the value of a lot of these players is that they belong in the NBA. And that’s, that’s what I’d say to that. As of, as of the time that we’re, we’re doing this.
Mike Klinzing: [00:51:23] So that’s going to obviously continue and be a success provided. We can all get back to some degree of normalcy.
And just from speaking to you for a little less than an hour at this point, I know that if it doesn’t work out where it can’t be the same as it was in the past. That you’re a resourceful enough guy that you’re going to figure out how to make that thing work. Not only are you doing the pro basketball combine, but you also do some speaking and you’ve written a second book.
So talk to us a little bit about those things, how you started booking yourself out as a speaker and what that process was like and just tell us a little bit about [00:52:00] the life of a professional speaker.
Jake Kelfer: [00:52:00] Sure. So I travel all over the country, and China I’ve been to China, to speak, which was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had in my professional career.
I speak all over. I talked to businesses, I talked to students, I talked to teams, I talked to athletes. I work with, Entrepreneurs and I speak on how to achieve personal success, how to pursue success relentlessly while also enjoying the process at the same time. and I also talk obviously a lot about my second book, which is called elevate your network, because I truly believe that I wouldn’t be on this podcast right now, if it weren’t for the power of relationships and the ability to connect the dots and grow with one another.
So, life as a professional speakers, I’m traveling all across the country. Talking to different people, talking to teams, businesses, students, conferences, leadership groups, and inspiring people and inspiring people to take action, take action that will move them in the direction that they are dreaming of going and helping them close that performance gap.
[00:53:00] And then also working with a lot of people on as, as a speaker, doing a lot of workshops and hands on work with a lot of people build their network, how to turn networking into a habit. And for me, you know, When I talk about all of these things, I tried to, when I was first starting to try to try to gamify it, right?
Like as an athlete growing up, I try to put everything I can in my business life, into the form of an athlete. So when I get ready for a speaking engagement, I’d lace up my shoes like it’s game day. Right. I take my pregame done, just like I did when I was playing, playing basketball. Right. Like I’m doing everything that I would do, do for a game to get ready for the speaking because in life and in business, you gotta have fun.
Right. And so here’s another example. When I get announced for my introduction for a speaker, they do a starting lineup introduction. So it’s standing five, eight weighing 160 pounds. I have them do all. I have all of these things because it’s about being fun. It’s about having a, an enjoyment in this pursuit, you know, because traveling on the road King of tiring, but [00:54:00] when you’re motivated, you’re inspired and you’re doing something that you really love and making a difference, man.
That’s wouldn’t be in speaker is such a fun life. And, and I’m very blessed to be able to have traveled as much as I have and seen some of the great places in America. I’m blessed to have been able to go to China on this, on this journey. I’m blessed to have been able to meet so many incredible people and see the impact, from the words and the messages that I’ve shared.
So that’s how I’ve built the speaking business and really talk all that. And the groups that I, that I typically work with.
Mike Klinzing: [00:54:31] What was your first paid speech?
Jake Kelfer: [00:54:34] Oh, my first paid speech was for a community college, because to be honest and now, and I’ll share this now is I hadn’t again. Just like when I wrote the first book, I really had no idea what I was doing when I first started.
I thought I could speak to anybody in anybody. I only started being a speaker because someone told me I could get paid to talk to people. I got it. I didn’t realize that this was a true profession that people got paid tons of money to do. And so. My first gig, I’m doing all this [00:55:00] cold outreach and I have a list of all the community colleges in California, and I’m starting at a, and I’m going to Z.
And literally one of the first colleges, I reach out to bites on my message. Now I’ve never done a paid speaking gig. I didn’t even know what I was going to charge. I was just like starting the outreach. I was selling it and then I’d figure out, okay, now that I’ve sold it, I’ll execute on it. Right? Because clearly they want the topic and the idea.
And so they do it and I’m like, okay, great. They bite, they’re excited. I’m like, let’s go. And, and the person that’s hiring me and she, she asks, you know, how many have you done a lot of these? And I’m like, Oh yeah, you know, I’ve done, I’ve done a bunch of speaking gigs, which is true. I just had never done this particular speaking gig in the past.
Right. And I never been paid to do it. Right. She asked me like, have you ever done this? And I go, yeah. And she goes, well, our events a little bit different. I just want to attend, let you know in advance. But we do a morning set. It’s two days. You’ll come in. We do a morning session, which is three hours an afternoon session, which is three hours.
And then you do it again the next day. And each [00:56:00] presentation, each session is different. So you’re going to have three different presentations in the morning. Repeat those same three in the afternoon, and then do it again. Totaling 12 presentations, 12 hours in two and two days. And I’m like, Oh, that’s no problem.
Right? Like, like I’m like, ah, easy. Got it. Totally have done that before. I’ve never done that before. Of course. Right. Like who has done that? Who’s talked for 12 hours in two days, unless you were literally a teacher. Most people don’t ever talk for that. And speaking requires a lot of energy and commitment, right?
Like, think about a coaching training session. Like you’re fully invested. You’ll give it everything you got. It’s physically and emotionally draining as a speaker. But I do it. And then I give her my quote and she’s like, Oh, no problem. And I’m like, dang, it could have gone higher, but I didn’t know. So, so I put in my fee of what it would, what I would take me to do it and I show up and I execute.
And that was my first gig. I did 12 hours of content in two days. Never having done a paid gig in front of that [00:57:00] particular audience before. And it was awesome. It was awesome. Looking back at it I’m like it was terrible, but in the moment it was awesome and it got the job done at the highest level that I possibly could with the information that I had at that moment and the skillset that I had at that at times.
And that was so that my, that was my first paid gig that I ever had as a real professional speaker.
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:23] Hey, and since then you probably haven’t had to create any content.
Jake Kelfer: [00:57:26] Yeah. Yeah. All that content has lasted me years just for the fact of that, but it was a great starting place for me, very grateful for, for the, for the person who gave me that opportunity.
I still stay in touch with her and I always will remember that. because that made a huge difference for me when I was trying to, you know, a struggling entrepreneur, trying to get my feet off the ground and, and get the business rolling. So I’ll never forget. that first gig. And I’m very, very grateful for, her, for believing in me and believe in and entrusting me with, with the idea and the belief that I could do that and be the right person for [00:58:00] them.
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:01] So obviously with the virus, it’s had an impact on in person events and people going and speaking in front of large groups gathering and. Spaces where people are all together. So how has that impacted that side of your business and what have you done to adjust to the fact that it’s just not possible to do as much speaking as you were prior to the pandemic?
Jake Kelfer: [00:58:27] I’ll put it to you this way when this whole thing first happened. I think I panicked along with everybody else because overnight, pretty much every live event was shut down. Which meant my entire speaking business was shut down for at least a short period of time. The combine I figured if I can’t go speak, I probably can’t do the combine.
So most of my business, I was like, Oh my gosh, what am I going to do? You know, like it, the panic button definitely went off for a little bit, but what I quickly [00:59:00] realized was that this. Is going to be a time where I’m going to have to power through. There’s going to be some terrible days. There’s going to be some days where I’m not as motivated as I normally am, just because of the situation.
But it also was a great opportunity for me to reflect, think about the person I am, the person I’m trying calm and everything that I’m doing. And particularly with speaking, you’re able to convert some of those gigs that are in person into digital gigs. Some of them are rescheduled, but what I really tried to do is I thought of this as look.
I’m a young guy. I’m single, I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I can still be on the road. And when everything comes back, it’s going to be more opportunities than ever before. So knowing that I’m going to continue to build on relationship and knowing that a lot of people were struggling, schools were getting shut down and teachers were panicking.
I was like, you know what, I’m going to really just continue to build relationships. I did a bunch of free talks for, for a bunch of schools and seniors as they got graduate, because I couldn’t imagine what it would be like if I was a student and that was my [01:00:00] senior year. And I was trying to figure out what to do next or what college to go to, and, and this happened.
And so I wanted to just share my love and my knowledge with everybody and really focus on building the relationships so that when this is done, I’ll be the person they remember for doing those things during this time. And it’s not that I’m only doing them to get future gigs. I’m doing them for the impact that I could have immediately, but that’s definitely part of growing a business and taking them, making the most of my opportunity because here’s the other truth.
And unfortunately, Coronavirus virus has hit every single one of us in a different way. And I’m not going to try to compare my situation to someone else’s because everyone’s been impacted in a different way. But what I will say is that coronavirus has forced a lot of speakers to shut their speaking business down and to go get a nine to five job.
Or to even think about, you know, what, I don’t really, I like not being on the road five days a week. I’m actually done speaking unless it’s done through a different medium, and this is going to mean there’s going to be less [01:01:00] speakers in there. We’re heading into coronavirus giving me, and some of the other speakers who are going to ride it out, a huge opportunity to.
Put ourselves at the forefront of a lot of gigs moving forward. So I’m excited about that. Also working on my digital presentations, I’ve really evolved that. And then most importantly, I’ve used this as a time to really extend, extend and create our flagship coaching program. for me as an entrepreneur and helping people, you know, as we’ve talked about, we’ve talked about book writing, I’ve got to speak and he talked about the combine.
I’ve built up a few pretty successful businesses. And so coronavirus has given me the time to reflect and create our flagship coaching program, helping people. Start their business, build a world class network and get to six figures in their life. And so that’s been an awesome, awesome, thing. That’s come out of coronavirus and, there have been some ups and downs, but I feel very blessed to have been able to maintain my personal health, my family’s health, a lot of my friends and family’s health.
so I’m very grateful for that and also grateful for [01:02:00] the, the opportunities that this has allowed me to realize about myself and the future of my businesses.
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:06] I think it’s a great point. It’s one that we’ve talked to a lot of guests on the podcast about in that you can either look at this situation in one of two ways, you can look at it pessimistically and say, everything’s shut down.
I’m an entrepreneur. And my business has been taken away from me. What was me. There’s not much I can do about it. I can be a coach and say, well, I’m not able to be with my players. There’s not much I can do. I’m kind of depressed. I’m just sitting around and just hoping that eventually we’re going to get back to play.
And conversely there’s people who say, boy, I have an opportunity right now of whether it’s time, whether it’s the ability to reflect, whether it’s just reevaluating, what I’m doing, trying to pivot and do something different, trying to grow and have a growth mindset. And that allows people who look at it, lovely and optimistically to come out of this thing.
Whenever we do come out of it fully in a much better place, which is [01:03:00] what you just described is you’re going to keep plugging away. You’re going to keep looking at different avenues to contribute and continue to provide value to people. And if you do those things and continue to grow and learn over the course of the pandemic, eventually.
When it ends, those are the people who are going to be in the best position to succeed. And I think that goes across industries, businesses, sports, students, anybody who’s trying to take advantage of it and grow during this time. And just maybe do it in a different way certainly than you would have had life continued.
As we all knew it before, it just provides opportunities to people who are creative and nimble and are able to go and do things and try to figure stuff out for themselves. That’s going to put them in a better position when it’s all over. I want to wrap up by talking about your latest book, Elevate your Network,and just tell us a little bit about that book, why it’s so valuable, why you felt like it was something that you wanted to get down on paper and share with people.
And then after you do that, [01:04:00] we’ll jump back and we’ll wrap things up and give you a chance to share where people can find out more about you.
Jake Kelfer: [01:04:05] Of course, man, I think you make some really great points, Mike, as you talk about it and you know, I, I don’t want to discredit to people are going through crazy stuff right now, right?
Yeah, for sure. And you know, Obviously, even if you’re the most optimistic person, I’m sure you’ve had some days where you haven’t been that same optimistic person during this time. Right? Yeah. And I want it to be very clear that that it’s totally okay to have those dates in these moments, but it’s the decision to get ourselves past those moments to experience them, accept them, and then to continue to move on, even in the face of this adversity, because there is opportunity.
We just have to go find it. I just wanted to make that note because that’s a personal thing that I’ve talked with a lot of people about, and they’re like, you know, abnormally show up the mystic and I’m not, does that mean I’m not the same person anymore? Does that mean like, I’m not going to be a successful anymore?
It’s like, no, everyone’s dealing with this in a different way. Maybe you had a family member who was affected by this. Like you [01:05:00] got to go through that and that’s part of life. Right. But at the same time, There are other ways there are opportunities to come out of this even stronger. And so, you know, when you talk about my book, elevate your network, it’s really all about building relationships.
I mean, it’s all about building extraordinary relationships in life and business. And the reason I wrote this book, it was because everything that I had done to build these businesses was because of the network I was able to build. And I believe truly that we are in the business of people. Because I’ve never seen a business succeed without customers.
I’ve never seen someone go on a date. Without another human being. Otherwise, it’s just you taking yourself out to dinner, right? Everything that we’ve ever done in life, it requires somebody else. And the way we move faster in life, the way we grow in life is by surrounding ourselves. Is that the right people getting the right introductions, learning from the right books.
Talking to the right mentors, hiring the right coaches and continuing to get better because of the people that we surround ourselves with. So this [01:06:00] book is 25 keys, 25 of my best tips that’ll help you build an extraordinary network, in your life and in your business. And there’s a bunch of different things ranging from a Weaver’s me mentality to understanding how to be a great listener, to, understand that you never know who you’re talking to until, you know, to how to add value to all these different things that we always hear about.
But we never are taught how to actually do them. And that’s what this book was designed to do is help you take your network so you can have more freedom and more fun and more wealth in your life.
Mike Klinzing: [01:06:32] All right. Before we wrap up, I want to give you a chance to share where people can find out more about you, about all the different things that you’re doing.
Share your social media, share your website. Just give people an idea of where they can find out more about all the things that we’ve been talking about tonight, Jake.
Jake Kelfer: [01:06:48] Sure. So the best place I’m on all social media @JakeKelfer, which is my first and last name Instagrams, the happeneing spot that I’m spending the most time on social media and that’s at Jake Kelfer.
And then my [01:07:00] website is JakeKelfer.com Keeping it easy for all you guys. And when you go to, when you go to my Instagram or my website, there will be links that you guys can grab a free copy of elevate your network. Just cover a small shipping fee. We’ll get the paperback delivered. We’ll send you a copy so you can get that if you’re interested in learning more about it.
And we also have a free guide called 71 things you must do to turn your network into a six figure business. So make sure to check those things out, would love to connect with anybody that enjoyed this, talk hoops, talk, whatever, Well, I’d love to connect with you guys. As I say, I love chatting with people, I believe in the power of people.
And so those are the best ways to connect with me. And I couldn’t be more appreciative and grateful. Mike, for you guys bringing me on the show tonight, it has been a true pleasure and a true blast.
Mike Klinzing: [01:07:45] Well, we’ve had a lot of fun too. It’s been really enlightening to be able to talk to you about the different things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball, but also in the entrepreneurial space.
And I’m always fascinated. And I told you, before we jumped on the podcast, [01:08:00] By that connection between basketball and business. And that’s one of the things that when I look at the confluences of my own interests, that’s something that I’m definitely interested in. So I love picking the brains of people who have been able to do that successfully.
And certainly you have already done that and are well on your way to continuing to do that as we move forward. So we thank you for spending an hour of your time with us tonight. We really appreciate it. And it’s everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.