A ZogSportsSF Vegas Vacation

Our special guest Zog blogger this week resides in sunny San Fran. Kyle Smeallie is here to tell us what really happened behind the scenes in Vegas.

“Have you seen the setup downstairs?” my teammate asked at Friday’s happy hour. I’d been distracted by the sun setting over the Vegas strip, Honey Gobbler cocktails, and that guy on team New Jersey whose hair was just so Jersey. “Look through the pool.”unnamed

From water’s edge, through the windows lining the pool’s base, you could see the display downstairs: ping pong tables, corn hole set ups, a dozen pool tables, the works. All for us. That’s when it dawned on me: we were in for an insane Vegas weekend.

The ten of us on team San Francisco were all the fortunate winners of social media contests put on by ZogSports. Our prize was a weekend trip to the City of Sin, where American Honey had invited social sports leagues across the country to compete in the first-ever Bar-sity Athletics World Championship. Airfare covered, two nights in the Hard Rock Hotel, a little somethin’ to throw down on the tables, no-cover at over-the-top clubs, all sorts of perks. (American Honey, your marketing team: Doing It Right.)

Saturday started with eye black, game planning (i.e., drinking) and getting pumped for the main event, a kickball tournament. Winning team would take home $10,000 along with a billboard (!) in their hometown. Sixteen teams from cities around the country, no one out-and-out saying it but there was certainly some regional pride on the line. This made it all the better when our team, the fearsome squad from San Francisco, tasted defeat immediately, after we gave up 10 runs in the first inning. We ended up bringing it back to 10-7, but in the end we couldn’t get past Frankenstein’s fat foot. (Looking at you, Dallas.)

In at least one other respect, though, we absolutely crushed. That was in the category of impromptu interview skills, because when the dudes at BroBible asked our teammate Charlie, “why is playing in a kickball league awesome?” he knocked it out of the park.

With our kickball dreams dashed, we did the only responsible thing we could: We rocked out, threw dice at the craps table, doubled down on Blackjack, went all-in on Hold ‘em, and downed American Honey like they were giving it away (because they were). Then we hit perhaps the wildest club I’ve ever been to, Surrender. There was a pool with little floating pads for lounging, a mini-casino in the club and Zed’s Dead on the decks.

Basically, it was Vegas Vacation, and we were all Nick Papagiorgio getting the royal treatment we didn’t deserve. (Am I right?) All because we play ZogSports.

So hey, thank you Zog, and thank you American Honey. But most of all, thank you, Nick in a Box.

Families That Zog Together – Stick Together

This week’s post comes from our Atlanta GM, Brian Caldwell. After having an awesome time in Vegas, Brian is here to share with you what it was like to be reunited with his Zog family once again.

As the Atlanta general manager, I’m the only full-time ZogSports employee for 640 miles, so it’s easy to feel like I’m on an island and disconnected from my colleagues in the other cities.  Since joining the Zog team in January, I’ve gotten to know the other remote General Managers, Kendra (DC), Matt (LA), Nick (SF) and the HQ crew in NYC, through our daily 30-minute video conferences and weekly General Manager calls where we learn, share, and brainstorm ideas.  Yet, there has only been one time in the last year when all twenty full time ZogSports employees were in the same place to learn and hang out together. Brian Vegas

When I found out Zog was sending the entire full-time staff to Las Vegas I must admit I had mixed feelings of excitement and reticence. On one hand, I was psyched to have the opportunity to spend time with the entire staff and support our kickball teams. On the other hand, the last time I went to Vegas was in college, and I found the place to be shockingly overdone and exorbitantly overpriced for my mid-western college town pedigree.  Yet, as weeks went by and excitement grew among the group, I told myself how blessed I am to have a job with a mission I support and awesome perks for its employees.

We hadn’t seen each other since March, but the chatter and inside jokes picked up as soon as the plane landed.  The mood among the staff reminded me of a college roommate reunion; you may go months or even years without seeing one another but you never miss a beat! Events like these make me realize how strong of a bond we have as ZogSports employees.

Continuous Improvement is one of the ZogSports core values, so part of our Vegas trip was spent learning new leadership tactics to take home and employ on the job.  Successful part-time staff management is the single greatest challenge of being a General Manager.  Mike, the ZogSports VP of Strategy & Expansion, shared with us the story of a US Naval nuclear submarine captain who was able to transform his crew from thoughtless followers into free thinking leaders by shifting the language he used to phrase his expectations.  We also learned how to maximize our “Return on Luck,” as Mike (also the resident gambling guru) led a statistics-based seminar on the popular casino game Craps.

The atmosphere was electric as the ZogSports participants competed in the Saturday kickball tournament.  There was a DJ spinning upbeat dance tracks, live play-by-play commentary from a St. Louis Cardinals announcer (“That One Guy”), and an American Honey bar with all of the cocktails a fella could want.

While Atlanta didn’t have a horse in the race, I was adopted by the San Francisco squad—quite fitting as the team colors were the same maize and blue of my alma mater (GO BLUE!).  Unfortunately the SF team was one and done, but the entire ZogSports crew, both players and managers, rallied around team New Jersey as they made it to the semi-finals.

I recall an amazing moment as I watched the game and realized nearly everyone surrounding the court was affiliated with ZogSports in some way, shape or form.  What a true “family” experience to wrap up our company trip to Las Vegas.