Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: Life is a Contact Sport by Ken Kragen

Life is a Contact Sport was particularly enjoyable to read because I know Ken, in fact, he is my coach. After having seen Ken present at the 2011 eWomenNetwork Convention in Dallas, I knew this man had an incredible degree of knowledge that would serve the world. He has managed some of the world's most memorable entertainers, including Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Trisha Yearwood, Olivia Newton John, The Bee Gees, Burt Reynolds, The Smothers Brothers along with many others. He was the creator and organizer of "We Are the World", "Hands Across America", and Cisco System's "NetAid". Amazingly over 95% of the acts he managed have become stars, and 90% of the projects he created and spearheaded have achieved success (source: Ken’s ability to create an experience, be memorable and work effectively with media is extremely important for businesses, entrepreneurs, speakers and authors to know more about.

What struck me the most in his presentation, and he talks about it in his book, is the Magic of Threes and creating a memorable experience. Right in the middle of Ken’s live presentation when he made this point, the doors to the ballroom burst open and a high school band marched through the doors, trumpets, drums, trombones, the works! You can guarantee when anyone in that room thinks of Ken, his presentation or message; they will not forget that experience.

In Life Is A Contact Sport, Ken talks about a ten point strategy that is key to success. The first being The Event Strategy. The Event Strategy involves holding several events in a short period of time. To simplify this Ken suggests taking a single event, then building other events and opportunities around it.

He also writes about the importance of optimism and enthusiasm and provides numerous examples of where his attitude and enthusiasm has created stronger business relationships, business deals, and event success. I particularly enjoyed Ken’s strategy of backwards thinking for forward motion- that is beginning with the end in mind, starting with the goal. This approach makes sense. When you start with the goal (and ending timelines in mind), you can create the plan and action steps with corresponding timelines. The benefit of this thinking backwards approach is that: a) you ensure that your plan is doable in the timeframe allotted; b) sometimes it is easier to think of the steps that got you to the goal instead of what you need to do to get to the goal. And, here’s the great part- you can figure out the gatekeepers that you need to get a “yes” from to progress further.

In Life Is A Contact Sport, Ken mentions the importance of giving and building relationships. This is critical. Building relationships is an effective form of marketing, but also in helping others achieve their goals and serving your purpose. I recommend this book for speakers, authors and businesses. This book will change how you think about your events, marketing and media strategies. Applying the Magic of Threes will multiply your success and the experience.

About Ken:

Ken is a graduate of Harvard Business School and his diverse career far transcends the music and entertainment. During the past few years, Kragen has devoted an increasing amount of his time to speaking, writing, coaching others as well as consulting work for leading corporations and many non-profit organizations. Ken Kragen has also produced a variety of film and television projects, ranging from the ground-breaking "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" on CBS to Kenny Rogers' "Gambler" movies, and numerous series, mini-series and films. Most recently, Kragen produced the "12 Dogs of Christmas" live action, full length feature film based on his daughter, Emma's, best-selling children's book. (

To find out more about Ken and to read Life Is a Contact Sport, visit:

Charmaine and Ken Kragen in Dallas at eWomenNetwork Convention July 2011