INTERVIEW BY KAT VISTI
Your book entitled “Don’t Sleep On Planes” was written because people kept asking you how you keep up with your diverse networks. How did you start your network and get it to reach such a large audience?
ZACHARY: "Starting off working in professional sports at 18 years old, I was fascinated by the incredible business leaders and community leaders that not only attended our games but we were able to interact with during our community impact projects. It was through this that I realized that I was being afforded an opportunity to connect with leaders in my community because of our common interest/passion for the local sports teams.
I took this opportunity to leverage what I was doing and the teams I was working for to start asking for business cards and lunches. Now, 12 years later still working in sports, it has not only continued but the ability to stay connected due to the growth of social media has made it an even stronger opportunity for me globally."
Describe your emotions to us when your book was first released and knowing the fact that your book would have influences on people not only in just Arizona but all over the country.
ZACHARY: "It has been quite the adventure. I have always enjoyed being able to share my energy and passion for life with strangers and writing a book about it has not only opened up doors I never knew possible but it has been the greatest business card I have ever had. The ability to set up a coffee meeting with a stranger or someone I am hoping to work with and sit down delivering my book, people tend to be blown away.
While I have spent my fair share of time in academia earning my bachelor’s degree from ASU and an MBA, I have felt the most gratified in being able to help impact people and businesses through 'Don’t Sleep on Planes' than any other form of experience or education I have attained to this point."
Take us through your writing process and how your began to develop your book and the ideas behind it.
ZACHARY: "When I finished grad school I was excited to see what was going to change about my life. You see billboards, commercials, internet ads, etc about how much an MBA will change your life. When I graduated, the only thing that changed was the piece of paper that I received for successfully completing the course load. It was at that point that I began writing in a journal about how I could help people build their networks and featured some stories along the way in what was kind of a diary of sorts. As I began telling many of my friends about my soul searching post grad school, many of them kept saying, 'you have this great network and you stay in touch with so many people isn’t that enough?' 'Don’t you know someone to help you?' And that is when I realized that even some of my closest friends didn’t understand why or how I was building my network. It was in June of 2016 that I realized I should dive deeper and write a full book. I was flying to Las Vegas for a conference on Southwest and was looking for a seat before departure (I was in the C group which as you know doesn’t leave you too many options) and decided to sit next to a guy wearing a Rolex as he had to be doing something right in life, or so I thought. In that 45 minute flight from Phoenix to Las Vegas we talked all things business, life, and even some life coaching. It was there that the idea sparked, 'Don’t Sleep on Planes.'”
You mention chance meetings and the power of a stranger -- did you have an instance where you met someone that influenced your life? Can you share it with us in a quick summary?
ZACHARY: "I was flying back from San Diego to Phoenix and was sitting at the bar before my flight when a couple businessmen were talking baseball beside me and happened to be on my same delayed flight. At one point I chimed in when they mentioned something about my favorite team the Arizona Diamondbacks, and they quickly brushed me off in a tad bit rude fashion, I accepted that went on with my meal and drink. After they left the waiter and I joked about how that guy was kind of rude to us both.. One of the gentlemen left his laptop at the bar and being kind I figured I would snag it for him and find him on the plane. I COULDN’T FIND HIM ANYWHERE. When we landed back in Phoenix, after I had committed what could now be a TSA Federal offense with someone else's belongings, hahaha."
You’ve gotten the opportunity to guest speak at multiple events -- what was the biggest message you wanted to get across to your audience? Was there one event in particular that really stood out to you and made you think “I’ve accomplished everything I’ve wanted to”?
ZACHARY: "Any time I get the chance to speak in front of an audience I love to begin with where I started and the path that lead me to where I am today working in sports and leading within my community. There were struggles, risks, mentors, and moments of truth along the way. But most of all I make sure to bring my enthusiasm to the stage whether I am speaking at an OB/GYN Doctors retreat or a Parking Garage conference I remind the audiences that no matter who you are or what your title says you do IT IS YOU that has the power to impact the customer. Through your own M.A.S.K. Locking in the right Mindset. Having the right Attitude. Embracing the appropriate Senses. Utilizing the right Knowledge."
You’ve also had the chance to work with multiple sports teams throughout Arizona, what are some of the similarities and differences between the fans and the different franchises?
ZACHARY: "Throughout my time working in sports, the main constant is the people we entertain and the impact we can have on our community. While professional sports are a form of entertainment, they are also a source of pride for communities, cities, and states. When disaster strikes, it is sports teams that step up to provide opportunities to find small forms of happiness. When families are in need, teams step up to help raise funds, and when schools or non-profits have an issue they need help with teams bring awareness and support.
At the end of the day, going to work for a sports team gives employees all around the country so much pride because while we may be accountants, lawyers, marketers, etc. We help represent a brand that has the ability to bring communities together within our seasons."
What are your goals for the future?
ZACHARY: "In 2018 I look forward to doing more corporate and college speaking. I have enjoyed speaking at college leadership programs and growing my M.A.S.K. I have recently launched my own podcast titled “Why Arizona” in which I look forward to further connecting with leaders within Arizona, visitors to our state, and athletes/entertainers that pass through willing to tell their stories as well.
In the future I look forward to writing my second book to be titled, 'Embrace Your M.A.S.K.' and running for public office one day as well such as City Council."