The Blog of Jake Kelfer
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Before I talk about the trip to Syracuse, I have to ask a question. Why, in 2017, does Greyhound not have digital tickets that I can use from my phone?
It was 12pm so I headed to the bus station to make the 2pm bus to Syracuse. I took a Via which is a new form of Uber in NYC. It’s actually pretty cool. It’s a set rate of $5.95 and will supposedly take you anywhere in the city. If you are on a budget I recommend it.
As you read this, keep in mind that it was pouring rain and I had two bags to carry around. Oh, I forgot to mention but Via has specific locations they pick you up at to avoid having to get off the main streets. So there I was trying to walk and carry my bags in the pouring rain while answering the phone of my impatient Via driver. He turned out to be a great guy, but it was a bumpy start.
Coolest part about my ride was the driver took me through Times Square. It was amazing but I didn’t understand why so many people were walking around in the pouring rain on a Sunday.
I made it to the bus station with 45 minutes to spare. Chris and I headed to the Greyhound station so I could print my ticket and after ten minutes of waiting the lady says she can’t print it for me and that I have to got to a kiosk to do so.
We began the trek to find the kiosk and when I finally found it, the lady at the front directed me to a self check in. I entered my confirmation number and it came up as error. Now, I was starting to worry a bit. It’s 1:40pm and the bus leaves at 2pm.
I head to the customer support desk where there is a line of 5 people. Luckily, this woman named Cher offers to help print my pass so I don’t have to wait in line any longer. We made it!
I thought everything was going to be smooth sailing from there but boy was I wrong. Apparently, the gate was changed so as we check in they tell us to go to another gate. Fortunately, we made it and a nice lady switched seats so Chris and I could sit together.
Now we think we can sit back and enjoy the ride, but as soon as we get on the freeway, the door to enter the bus pops open. The driver fixes it and then it happens again and again and again. Eventually he pulls us over and we have to wait 30 minutes for a new bus. Once the new bus gets there, we have to move all of our luggage into the new bus in the middle of a storm and then get started all over again.
It was quite the experience.
5 hours later we arrive in Syracuse and we head to Chris’s apartment. The rest of the night is a breeze. I stretch since I didn’t earlier. I read Brandon Steiner’s book and then hit the hay only to miss the craziness of the final few innings of Game 5. I wish the boys in blue would’ve won but that’s why we play 7.
Day 1 in Syracuse
Today was the day I was going to explore Syracuse, speak to several sports management classes, meet with a professor for the PBC, and get my week started off right.
I woke up at my normal time to make sure I had time to get some work done before I headed over to Falk College (name of Sports Management school). This turned out to be a great idea as the day became quite the adventure.
My first meeting of the day was scheduled for 8:30am so I left around 7:55am to make sure I got there on time. I had to take the bus and then walk to Falk. I knew it was going to be cold and raining, but when I walked outside in the morning and felt the brisk winds and chilly raindrops on my face, I was frozen. It felt like it was 30 degrees which to me is freezing but I guess I should be thankful because apparently it gets to -30 degress with wind chill in the winter time.
So I’m on the bus doing my thing and my friend Chris had told me to get off at the second stop at College Place. He said there should be two big stops but silly me interprets a couple people getting off as a big stop and the University and College Place as my stop. I make the mistake and get off the bus only to find out later than I could’ve been dropped off a lot closer. I ended up having to walk a lot more that I wanted to. I’ll tell you one thing, though. I was wide awake by the time I had breakfast.
I was really excited for this breakfast because it was the first time I was going to meet Nicole, Francesco, and Tracy in person. I had been communicating with Nicole for a couple years since we first linked up to discuss details of how to get my book into her classes.
Breakfast did not disappoint. No, I’m not talking about the food. I’m talking about connecting with Tracy, Nicole, and Francesco. They were great and I was very thankful to have such great people believe in the power of Elevate Beyond.
After breakfast it was time to speak to the first class. The two biggest takeaways I left the students with were to add value in every relationship and to enjoy the journey of life while embracing the challenges and appreciating the successes.
I always love when students come up to chat with me after and one student in particular caught my eye. He is the punter for the Syracuse football team and we started chatted about his punting. As he was getting his copy of Elevate Beyond signed, he told me the story of how he started punting after he graduated high school. He watched videos on YouTube to learn how to punt and decided to go to a prep school to test it out. Once he had some footage he shopped it around and now, he is on the Syracuse football team as a preferred walk on. There’s much more to the story and I’m hoping to do an interview with him, but it was pretty remarkable to see someone take an untraditional path to being a college football punter.
Class one was over but my day was really just beginning. Chris showed me around campus and we went to Faegan’s for lunch. Luckily. it had stopped raining but the wind was still pretty harsh.
At 1pm, we had a great meeting with Professor Jeff Rubin who is also the CEO of Sidearm Sports which works with college athletics programs across the country. I can’t go into too much detail, but he was an incredible resource for us and a great guy to meet with.
It was time for classes 2 and 3. These two classes were all about sales in sports. The interesting thing about these classes was that I only had about 20 minutes to speak so I wanted to make sure I got across several important sales points.
The classes ended up going really well and what was awesome was that there were several students who I had spoken to earlier this morning or in the past through another class. It was a great feeling to be able to connect and influence some of the best sports management students in the country.
I thought I was done for the day, but I met up with Chris before his next class which is a class about wine. It sounded interesting and he said we could use our computers so I asked if I could go. The professor welcomed me with open arms as long as I had valid proof of my ID.
I did and I got to enjoy one of the coolest classes ever. We learned all about different wines from California and the Pacific Northwest. For me, wine isn’t my thing, but to take a class about it was pretty, pretty, pretty cool (Larry David voice).
Once the professor was done explaining, it was time to taste all the wines and eat. Part of the class is to experience the wines and to have a good food pairing. To prevent a huge mess we all made tacos in a bag with the wines which in itself was delicious. Then we got to taste 6 wines, 3 white and 3 red. I enjoyed a white reisling the best, but I still couldn’t believe that I got to participate in a class like this.
Now I really thought my day was over, but I was wrong again. Chris took me to the Carmelo Anthony practice center and I got to play some pickup with the rest of the Syracuse Basketball managers.
Several of the managers were people that had reached out about the PBC or had heard me talk previously so it was cool that they already knew me. I met one kid that really stood out to me. He was a freshman who I believe will do some great things in the industry and I will be sure to help him in anyway I can.
Practice was over and so was our day. We headed back to Chris’s and I did my #ElevateSports chat before watching my Broncos take another beating by the Chiefs.
I went to bed excited for what Halloween would bring in my last day at Syracuse.
Day 2 in Syracuse
5:32 the alarm went off, but I just couldn’t do it. I knew Halloween was going to be a long day so I hit the snooze. After the first time I woke up but stayed in bed to answer my morning questions. I typically avoid doing this because of the risk of falling back asleep but today I thought that if I couldn’t stay awake then I probably needed the sleep.
I stayed awake, answered my questions and then got to work. The internet didn’t work at all this morning but that actually was a positive. I wanted to get a lot of writing and creating done and I was able to focus without any distraction.
By 8am I had already accomplished a lot and was ready for my new #GratefulToGive challenge that I started for November,
I stayed at Chris’s for a few more hours until I went to meet him after his first class and to find internet so I could get a bunch of other work done.
At 12:30pm I met up with one of my best friend’s (Brandon Berman) brothers for lunch. I’m close with Eric and it was a great treat to be able to connect with him while I was at Syracuse. We grabbed food at this Thai place which actually wasn’t that bad.
After lunch I went to a meeting with someone I met last night from the basketball team. He was the young freshman hungry to learn about the sports and agency world I mentioned earlier. We chatted for 30 minutes and I gave him some advice and action steps to move forward with.
It was pretty funny because as we were meeting and as I was walking around campus, specifically Falk College, people started recognizing me from my book or speaking. Whatever it was, was awesome and it reminded me of why I do what I do.
Throughout most of the day and in between meetings I found spots where I could get some work done. It’s not always ideal to work from 5 different locations in a single day, but when I am on the road I have to adapt and figure out ways to get shit done. This isn’t a vacation. It’s work on the road and if I don’t continue to grow, I don’t get paid and I don’t make an impact.
Chris took me to basketball practice where I met the Strength and Conditioning Coach as well the Director of Basketball Operations. It was a great treat to have access to those guys through Chris and to get a behind the scenes look into Zephyr technology that the team uses for data analytics.
At the end of practice, Chris and I had a great conversation with the Director of Basketball Operations, Kip, about the PBC and it was great to know that he loves the event believes in its potential.
The day was coming to a close, but the night was just getting started. We were walking home to grab some food when a new apartment complex was hosting a Halloween party. They invited us in to have dinner so we obliged. Obviously, they were hoping to sign us up and get our emails but when I told them I was just visiting we ended up hanging out and eating a good meal.
To finish the night, we pregamed in the apartment with Chris and his roommates and then hit the town aka campus bars for an amazing Halloween celebration.
When I woke up it was time to hit the road back to NY!