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Seeing Stars

From the Ground Up, Sports Fanatic Carie Goldberg Discusses Her Journey From Fan to Managing the Pros Herself

Written By: Kim Conlan

Photographed By: Michelle Kim

The Expert: Carie Goldberg

Credentials: Principal and Founder of Gold Standard Sports

On a bright and beautiful day in Manhattan Beach, I met with local Carie Goldberg, founder of the boutique sports and entertainment marketing and management firm of Gold Standard Sports. We met right where Manhattan Beach Boulevard turns into the Pacific Ocean at the pier—a main hotspot with all of the essentials for true California living, with a great selection of casual to high-class dining, boutique shopping, and a pristine beach buzzing with surfers, runners, cyclists, volleyball players and beauties basking in the sun. For Goldberg, this particular portion of South Beach perfectly exemplifies the active lifestyle that she and her clients have chosen. Whether they are involved in soccer, dance, modeling, sports broadcasting, or competitive marathons, each client Goldberg represents, like Cobi Jones of LA Galaxy and Anna Trebunskaya of Dancing With the Stars, all share something in common: they have chosen to lead careers based around health and wellness.

For Goldberg, her task is to serve as a fulcrum for the individuals, companies, not-for-profits, and organizations she works for and with to generate positive career opportunities for her clients. We sat down at a nearby outdoor patio to discuss Goldberg’s roots in the Major League Soccer organization in its infancy, her progression into the sports and entertainment management industry, and her bold step of starting her own firm during an extremely difficult economic time. Gold Standard Sports is currently progressing into its seventh year, proving that—as Goldberg will attest to—sometimes bigger isn’t always better, and success is reliant on building a strong relationship with your client, and is, of course, all about the hustle.

Q: Where and how did you grow up?

Carie Goldberg: I grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, right outside of New York City. It’s about six miles from Manhattan, so I grew up with more of the New York flavor versus the Philly flavor, and we loved to make that distinction. I was sort of the quintessential bridge-and-tunnel kid, going into the city on the weekends. It was amazing going to the theater and museums, but I think the linking factor for my family has always been sports, it’s how we’ve always bonded.

Q: Do you have an athletic family?

CG: I have an athletic family more on the fan side. I would say out of my brother and me, I was more of the athlete, but my brother was the most amazing coach. We came from a family where sports was a very prominent factor for us, so to this day I still watch the Giants games over the phone with my dad on whatever night the game is on.

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Q: That sounds like a good beginning! How did you end up in LA?

CG: It was about a boy and about a job, neither of which are in my life anymore. I worked at Major League Soccer right out of college, and I didn’t play soccer. It was always my favorite sport to watch, and it was very much a part of my family. My brother worked on the World Cup in ’94, and basically said to me when I graduated, “I can’t get you a job, but I’m going to give you my World Cup rolodex.” I took an unpaid internship with Major League Soccer right out of college. My parents were so upset with me. They were like, “You had an offer at NFL and MLB to be a receptionist.” Instead, I took an unpaid internship because I had to be a bit more forward thinking about what it could become. I took the internship, and after six weeks, I was offered a full-time job at MLS. The league was still in its infancy—it had only finished its second season. I was split between two different departments: player personnel and PR, and I loved it and feel like I started at the right time. I was at the league for about three years, and then a gentleman by the name of Richard Motzkin, who is basically like the preeminent soccer agent in this country, said to me, “What would it take to get you to move to LA?” I scratched my head a little bit and said, “Not too much.” At the time, the guy I was dating was working for the LA Galaxy, and my whole life had been in the New York City area. It wasn’t a hard decision outside of leaving my family, but that is what airplanes are for. I joke that a boy and a job brought me to LA. The boy is gone, the initial job is gone, but the education that I learned having worked for my old boss for eight and a half years was the best practical knowledge I ever got. I joke that it basically saved me $150, 000 in law school, because Motzkin really taught me the art of negotiation, drafting contracts, and also understanding being an agent isn’t just about negotiations. It’s truly about interpersonal communication and having passion.

Q: What was your role at Major League Soccer (MLS)?

CG: The internship only lasted for maybe six weeks. I ended up working in the player personnel department, working on the draft and on the combine, helping the coaches identify a lot of the top young soccer players in this country. At the time, it was called Nike Project 40, which has now transitioned into Generation Adidas. I also worked on the PR side of things, and soccer hadn’t really yet grabbed a foothold in the U.S. yet, so it was very much an uphill battle to make these guys and this league relevant. It was about telling a story, in hopes that people weren’t waiting for the story to end. But, clearly, the league started in ’96, and it’s now 2015, and this league’s story is still really just beginning. It’s amazing because I’ve been able to work with some of the top female athletes as well, so it wasn’t just about what the men’s game has done, but what the women’s game is doing as well.

Q: After MLS, what was your next step?

CG: My next step was getting on a plane on March 6th, 2000 and moving to Los Angeles and working for Richard Motzkin, and the company at the time was SportsNet. My job was to build the brand of the athletes off the field. So, it was working on the endorsement deals, the marketing opportunities, non-traditional PR, more lifestyle-type PR, appearances, and making these players relevant in the sports landscape, and in the traditional entertainment landscape. I loved it, and it has been so much fun.

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Q: Would you say it’s like being a life coach in a way?

CG: No, not a life coach at all. I mean, we take on that role of being a big sister often because these guys and girls become a part of your life. I’ve been at the hospital when babies have been born. I’ve been at weddings. I’ve been at parts of divorces—I’ve been there at such integral parts of people’s lives. At the same time, there were players that, when my mom passed away, were in the synagogue, and I looked out and saw them sitting at the service for my mom’s funeral. So, it’s not a life coach at all, but you do take on the role of managing what they’re doing off the field. I’m not going to tell someone how to score a goal from the 18-yard box, but I am going to tell them how to—and help guide them—through endorsements, marketing and PR. I’m going to help guide them off of the field, or out of the ballroom because I also work with folks from Dancing With the Stars.

Q: When did you decide to branch out and form Gold Standard Sports?

CG: I did not have an ‘ah-ha’ moment, I had an ‘oh shit’ moment—I lost my job when the economy tanked in 2008. The country was in an economic downfall, and we weren’t just in a recession, it was plummeting. I applied for jobs at all of the big sports marketing and entertainment firms, and I couldn’t get a job. So, I went home to New Jersey for a week. I cried on my mom and dad’s shoulders, and literally laid in my mom’s bed with her, and she said, “This is not who I raised my daughter to be. Start your own business.” When I took a step back, I realized I really had been given the best practical education. Having worked at MLS, and then working for SportsNet—which had been acquired a year and a half prior by a big agency called Wasserman Media Group—I realized that my former boss, Richard Motzkin, really was an amazing mentor. I quickly learned what I needed versus what I wanted, and I started Gold Standard Sports.

www.goldstandardsports.com

About The Author

Writer

A music collector, writer, photographer, and record store associate in the OC community, and a graduate in Literary Journalism/English at the UC Irvine. Works with local businesses like Port of Sound Record Shoppe, Detroit Bar, OC Music Awards, ACE Agency, The Observatory, Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, La Cave, and the late Avalon Bar. Has contributed to OC Weekly, Record Collector, Blisss!, HB Culture, OC Music Awards, Surfline, Sunset Publishing, and The Indie Peddler.