In Going Pro in Life, Andy Dinkin shares a playbook on how to leverage the unique status, skills, and networking opportunities available only to college student-athletes to achieve success after college. Fewer than 2 percent of NCAA student-athletes go on to play professionally. But the college sports experience still has strong benefits for those who go on to become business professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, and educators. Student-athletes and those who support them will find valuable information to help young adults find their way in the world. Coaches, athletic directors, guidance counselors, teachers, professors, employers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and friends are all part of the network that helps students grow and realize their full potential.
Andy Dinkin is a commercial real estate broker and entrepreneur. He was a football scholarship athlete at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill playing under Coach Mack Brown. His athletic experience shaped the principles by which he lives: honesty, teamwork, and having a positive attitude. Andy is a member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte, the Metrolina Business Council, and the Charlotte Region Commercial Board of Realtors. He serves on the board of the Charlotte Torah Center and previously served on the board of Girls on the Run International. In his free time, he enjoys attending Bruce Springsteen concerts, taking road trips to Chapel Hill, losing his fantasy football league, playing with his kids, and completing his wife’s honey‑do list.
We asked Andy a few questions about his publishing journey and goals for the book.
Andy on working with SPARK Publications
With SPARK Publications, you work with really talented, laid-back, and delightful people who you truly feel have a vested interest in your success. When you work with smart people who care, the results are terrific. I found it to be a great value. It cost me less than I thought it would to get a finished product that will be a legacy. It’s something that I’ll have forever, and my kids will be able to show their kids. It’s just been awesome.
Did a particular moment SPARK your interest in writing a book?
Well, believe it or not, I started writing the manuscript within months after graduating college in 1992. I used to go and use an actual word processor, an antiquated computer at the secretary’s front desk at my first job.
I had the opportunity to meet with an alum who had a great interest in me because I was a student-athlete and fostered a relationship that I could leverage to genuine friendship and business opportunities. I knew it was something others could do if they were aware of it, so I started writing. I always knew I had a book in me.
This time last year, my old college football coach returned to the program that he used to coach in Chapel Hill and took the team back over. He invited me back to speak to the team; I was the first guy invited back that wasn’t a former NFL player. I went back to give my story to those who weren’t necessarily going to make it in the pros. After that, I dusted off the old manuscript and began reflecting on my notes. The athletes I spoke to received my message very well, so I decided it was time to get involved with SPARK Publications to get it started.
The core principles from what I wrote twenty-five years ago still held; it really came down to fostering meaningful relationships with people. I had to take into consideration the world of social media when I began to work on the manuscript.
Now that your book is published, are you looking forward to any particular goals or experiences?
I’d like to become America’s career coach for college student-athletes. I look at the book as a platform builder that will give student-athletes and their parents high-level information. I’m working toward building a whole coaching practice, so those that really want to dig in will have a game plan and a coach to help chart their path for success.
How did SPARK Publications help in championing and publishing your book?
I’ve known Fabi for over twenty years through different dealings and acquaintances in the business community. I always knew that when I was ready to do this in earnest, I would work with Fabi and her team. Once I knew I was committed to the capital investment to get involved, the SPARK Publications team gave me great confidence. Melisa was just terrific as a writing collaborator. But if there’s one thing I’m most happy with, it’s the design. You really do judge a book by its cover, and I think SPARK Publications nailed the cover design. I couldn’t be more pleased with it.
What advice do you have for other authorpreneurs and aspiring writers?
Collaborate with the right people to get it done. I have my strengths and shortcomings, just like anybody else. I would not have made it across the finish line without SPARK Publications. This would have been hard to do on my own. Having a book totally elevates your platform and makes it easier to build credibility and rapport. My biggest advice for aspiring authors is to just do it. You won’t regret doing it, but you might regret not doing it sooner.
Tell us about your future plans—what’s next for you?
Now that it’s out there and now that the world has changed so much, I’m trying to figure out my path forward on how to promote the book. With anything in life, there’s always a silver lining. If you look around, the whole world has quickly adapted to virtual learning and things of that nature. I’m working to build a subscription-based, remote-learning coaching program where student-athletes can really go deeper and make sure they have a strategy and the tactics for success. I have the ability to help a lot of people by getting more intimate in my coaching with them far beyond the high-level content provided in the book.
What does success mean to you?
There are a few different ways I’m going to look at success on this project. I’d like to sell a lot of books, and I’d be delighted to have financial success from it. Success beyond that would be using the book as a platform to provide a deeper level of coaching and, ultimately, build a whole practice with other coaches working under me to help teach this career launch plan to student-athletes on a regular basis. Success to me would be making a lot of money doing something I enjoy and giving great value to others.
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