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Transcript: Brett Yormark interview

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- At 39, Brett Yormark is the youngest CEO in the NBA, and possibly the most aggressive. In just two years on the job he's turned the New Jersey Nets into one of the most marketable franchises in the league.

Using innovative strategies he's brought in more season ticket holders and corporate sponsors, inking at least 84 new deals. But achieving this kind of success isn't easy. Yormark works 19 hour days.

CNN's Maggie Lake caught up with Yormark before an important game against the Miami Heat and starting by asking him about the challenge of running a sports franchise today.

Yormark: I think managing the revenue and expense side. Player salaries continue to escalate and we have to be creative about how to drive revenue. Bruce Ratner, our owner, and all of our investors are committed to putting the best product on the court and it takes quite a bit of where with all to do that from a financial perspective and my goal leading the charge is to drive revenue in all areas that I can to have a viable business.

Lake: You have become known as something of a turnaround person on the business side of sports, you did a lot with Nascar, you are doing a lot with the Nets. What is it that you think is key about getting the sponsors, getting the fans on board behind a franchise?

Yormark: Very seldom do you find a team out there in any professional sport where the front office if it is dysfunctional, then they are competitive on the court, they go hand in hand. So for me personally, it was coming in and doing the right thing, getting people to think a little differently, getting them to know that they can be very special in what they do, set a path and a direction. I have been able to do that.

Lake: Is it not enough to just have a winning team?

Yormark: I think you need to have the extras. Obviously people come here to come to see Richard Jefferson, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and the entire team but with the costs of tickets today, people come earlyand they want to stay late, they want to be entertained. We revamped our entire game operations, we have a drum line, we have team hype, dancers as you mentioned, but it is all about the overall experience. What I sell every day and what our organization sells every day is fun. And obviously the product is a part of that, but what you will see today that go around that product, make that fun, and make that value proposition what it is.

Lake: Getting big stars to go hang out and picnic with fans, changing the culture like that. It can be very disruptive, how do you do that and how do you describe your leadership style?

Yormark: I took a very grounded approach. I called them out and I said we need your help. You want to play in front of a large crowds, you need to extend the game with us.

Lake: What kind of things do they want?

Yormark: Whether it is an upgraded players' lounge, whether it is a certain way of travel, just little things that make a difference to them that are not necessarily mandatory, but they are wants not needs. We said help us and we'll help you. And it has been a great partnership. It has really worked for us and it's going to continue over the course of the long haul. This year we re-introduced the early bird program with Vince Carter's jersey, also a signed portrait of our 3 star players. Season ticket, new season tickets for next year are off to the best start in the history of the franchise, so I think we are going to be able to build on that.

Lake: You work 19 hour day, where do you find the energy day after day?

Yormark: It's genetic. I know I am not the smartest guy out there, I know what we do isn't brain surgery, but my goal is to out-work most people in similar jobs and since I am living my dream, I have to make sure I stay in this position and that's a commitment I have made to myself. My brother and I always talks about that, where do we get it from the passion, the drive, the energy, and we really come back to my mom. She has been the driving force in our lives, has been since day one, really motivated us to do things in a special way, to do things differently.

Lake: Why do you do it?

Yormark: I have been fortunate to work for good people that have compensated me fairly, And that is the trick, the trick is not to do it for money, Go out, find the career that you love, have the energy, have the passion, be committed and all of the good things will come.


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Brett Yormark

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