Executives Spotlight stories appeared on this website starting in 2001. Some of the executive's professional experience may have changed since they were published.
Spotlight - April 13, 2009
former CEO, USA Boxing
Today is your day
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!"
-"Oh, the Places you'll Go" by Dr. Seuss
By being in an industry so long, I'm fortunate to have gotten to know some of the most innovative people in the industry.Jim Millman will always be recognized as one of the best idea guys.
Jim grew up in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He went to Brush High School, right around the corner from my house and was sports editor of the school newspaper. With smile in his voice, Jim recalled a story about a summer job he had and upon listening to it anyone could tell he was going to be a leader in innovative ideas for sports.
It was the summer of 1964 and the PGA TOUR was hosting the Cleveland Open golf tournament at the Highland Park golf course in Cleveland. Jim's mother was a volunteer at the event. She suggested that Jim pursue a role as a caddy. So, early one morning, Jim walked to the golf course and lined up amongst a huge group of young men to hope to get the chance to caddy for the players. There were more aspiring caddies than there were golfers in the tournament, and Jim didn't get selected in the subsequent lottery. Dejected, head bowed, Jim slowly walked across the golf course home. While looking at the ground, Jim followed the television cables which led him to a television technician. Jim inquired about helping with the television production, and the fellow warmly welcomed him. So, Jim got his chance to work on the golf tournament as a runner and gofer - the bottom of the barrel in the TV business but a "foot in the door" none the less.
A day into the tournament, Jim picked up word that that one of the announcer assistants had called in sick and they needed someone to assist the ABC announcer Bill Flemming on the 16th Tower with scoring and spotting. The Tower assignment for an announcer was a quantum leap of responsibility from Jim's runner duties, and he quickly volunteered for the upgraded assignment. After a day on the job, Jim noticed that Bill reported the lengths of putts during the telecast on the basis of guessing their distance just by looking at them. Bill was accurate, but Jim wondered if more precision in reporting the lengths of putts wouldn't add to the quality of the telecast. After all, caddies were providing their golfers with distances for iron shots with carefully measured accuracy. So when Bill Flemming arrived at his 16th Tower position on the final Sunday of the event, Jim had prepared a detailed drawing of the 16th green, complete with scaled measurements from every angle. The rest, as they say, was history, and an important springboard in Jim's early career. Bill was hugely appreciative of Jim's initiative, and the helpfulness of the measurement idea. He approached ABC's senior golf producer at the time, Chuck Howard, with a proposal to have Jim serve as Bill's regular Tower assistant at ABC's full schedule of tournaments throughout each summer.
Jim later made a 2nd important contribution - giving ABC the idea to add "foot soldiers" to its golf coverage, in part so that the network would avoid the risk of a shot not being seen by its cameras on long dog-leg holes or when a golfer found trouble out of camera range. The "foot soldier" idea has since become common in golf coverage by all the networks.
"You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose..."
To keep life interesting and fresh, people re-invent themselves by taking a new job. Jim Millman kept reinventing himself with every new idea. His ideas grew a company he launched, Millsport, into a nationally recognized business. The business flourished for nearly 30 years, with Jim handling sponsorships for Pepsi, GTE and VISA, among others. Many of us would say it was the leading sports marketing agency that was one of the industry pioneers in providing integrated marketing management services and sports sponsorship consulting to corporate clients. The company was most proud of its record of long-term client retention, which hasn't been topped by any agency since. Millsport had offices in New York, Dallas, and San Francisco, and was also a pioneer in leveraging the strategic link between the sports and advertising businesses. Jim first positioned Millsport as a new Division of Compton Advertising, and later moved the agency under the roof of Doyle Dane Bernbach, one of the creative forces in the ad business. As DDB become part of one of the early advertising holding company powers, Omnicom, Millsport was purchased by Omnicom and now serves as the sports arm of one of Omnicom's other marketing agencies.
Jim's latest re-invention of himself is with USA Boxing. In 2007, Jim was asked to become the new CEO of this beleaguered national governing body as it headed into the Olympics in 2008. A strong supporter of the Olympic-movement, Jim's been charged to re-build this once prominent Olympic sport.
Jim recently told me, "Many years ago, a new client of mine at VISA, Michael Beindorff, said to me in my first meeting with him, 'Great ideas can come from anywhere.' Just last week, the new CEO of the USOC, Stephanie Streeter, repeated the same words to me. I've taken those words to heart, and love helping companies and organizations solve complicated problems with fresh thinking."
"On and on you will hike
And I know you'll hike far
And face up to your problems
Whatever they are...
Today is your day
Your mountain is waiting
So get on your way!"
Keep up the good work, Jim!
- Buffy Filippell
"I got to see Jim in action. He is extremely hard working, non-stop, can keep 2 secretaries busy. He's extremely creative in coming up with events like the Pepsi All-Star Softball Game and the GTE Academic All-America Program and more. His creativity is terrific."
- Jeff Cokin, Cokin Communications
What I do...
Jim was responsible for leading our effort to grow and govern the sport of amateur boxing nationwide, to select and lead the US Olympic Boxing Team, and to use Boxing to reduce juvenile delinquency by encouraging teens to get off the streets and into the ring. He manages 17 employees who oversee 35,000 members, 57 Local Boxing Committees, and 1400 local events.
HOW I GOT HERE...
USA BOXING; Colorado Springs, CO; 2007 - 2009
Chief Executive Officer
PNC, PARTNERSHOP NETWORK CORP.; New York, NY; 2004 - 2007
Founder & CEO
MILLSPORT LLC; New York, NY 1975 - 2004
Founder, Chairman & CEO
PHILIP MORRIS INC., New York, NY; 1973-1975
Coordinator, Sports & Special Events