Episode 35: Interacting With Fans…Using Game Changing Tech

There's a lot of dead history out there. So, how do you keep history alive? Just ask Jason Fiddler, Vice President, Marketing & Partnerships, as he oversees an $18 million technology transformation at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to introduce icons of the game to a new generation.
Listen More
All Luminaries Podcasts

Listen In To Learn:

  • How to deliver a user-based experience that leads to customer retention
  • How tech is being used to deliver an immersive experience
  • The team it takes to design a technological transformation that’s future ready
  • How emerging tech, like VR and AR, will come into play

Setting A New Standard for Fan-Focused Technology

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is more than a museum. It’s an experience. Thanks to an $18 million technology transformation, fans are now able to connect with their childhood heroes and honor the legacy of players past.

When the museum was built in 2002, the technology featured throughout was state of the art. But 15 years later, it was considered tired and outdated, and keeping the museum relevant and interesting to a new generation of people was the name of the game. Their goal, with technology transformation as a heavy part of their behind-the-scenes transformation, was and is to redefine how halls of fame represent their famers.

On this episode, Jason explains how the Hall of Fame is using technology to honor the living history of basketball, by delivering visitors an experience that keeps you educated, focused, and, most importantly, entertained.

Featured Luminary: Jason Fiddler, Vice President, Marketing & Partnerships, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

A graduate of Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, this Western Massachusetts native started his career as a golf professional. Following his time in golf, Jason began his business career in retail, managing a local Golf & Tennis retail location. In less than two years, sales had tripled from just over $1M annually to eclipsing $3M annually. Jason followed his passion for sports and business and accepted a position at the Hall of Fame in December of 2008. Now, Jason oversees all corporate marketing, partnerships and celebrity golf events. Current partnerships include Dell Technologies, Haggar Clothing Co., Mohegan Sun, Nike, Panini America and many others.

“I don’t think of transformation as a project. I think of transformation as a mentality. You have to mentally be prepared to stay up with the times”

— Jason Fiddler, Vice President, Marketing & Partnerships, Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Luminaries Hosts

  • Mark Schaefer Author, Consultant, College Educator. Mark is a leading authority on marketing strategy, consultant, blogger, podcaster, and the author of six best-selling books, including "KNOWN." He has two advanced degrees and studied under Peter Drucker in graduate school. Some of his clients include Microsoft, GE, Johnson & Johnson and the US Air Force
  • Douglas Karr Technologist, Author, Speaker. Pre-Internet, Douglas started his career as a Naval electrician before going to work for the newspaper industry. His ability to translate business needs into technology during the advent of the Internet paved the way for his digital career. Douglas owns an Indianapolis agency, runs a MarTech publication, is a book author, and speaks internationally on digital marketing, technology, and media.


ANNOUNCER: Luminaries, talking to the brightest minds in tech.

MICHAEL DELL: We are technologists and we share an awesome responsibility. The next three decades will hold even more progress coming more quickly than ever before. A new age of miracles is literally just around the corner.

ANNOUNCER: Your hosts are Mark Schaefer and Douglas Karr.

MARK SCHAEFER: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Luminaries where we talk to the brightest minds in tech. As usual, I am Mark Schaefer. I am still Mark Schaefer. I always have been Mark Schaefer. And with Doug Karr, my co-host.


MARK SCHAEFER: We’ve got the pleasure of actually doing it face-to-face. We don’t normally do that, but we’re having fun here and we’re getting to meet some of our guests face-to-face. Have you ever– were you a basketball player?

DOUGLAS KARR: Yeah, a terrible one.



MARK SCHAEFER: Well, OK. Basketball like was such a big part of my life, because I grew up in a neighborhood– we didn’t– it’s kind of a poor neighborhood, but all we needed was a ball to play basketball, and that was like the big social thing. Every day kids would like just show up at the court after school, and that’s how you had fun, it was the highlight of the day.

It’s become such a huge part of American culture and increasingly international culture. And that’s why I’m so excited about our show today. We’re going to be talking to Jason Fiddler. He’s the vice president of marketing partnerships of the Naismith Museum, which is the Basketball Hall of Fame.

And so this is going to be a lot of fun. Jason oversees all corporate marketing partnerships, and even does the celebrity golf events– that might be interesting to talk about today– related to the museum. Now that’s cool enough, but this is a show about technology and transformation, and there’s an interesting angle to our discussion today. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is undergoing an $18 million transformation, much of it dependent on technology. In fact, the hall aims to be the new standard for the way hall of fames connect with fans, and we’re going to learn about that today. Welcome, Jason, to our show.

JASON FIDDLER: Appreciate being here, it’s exciting.

MARK SCHAEFER: It is. I mean, this is going to be– we’ve never had a guest like you on the show before. So let’s start by defining the current state. So I like going to different museums. Just went to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, which is pretty new, right?

JASON FIDDLER: Great Museum.

MARK SCHAEFER: Pretty new, yeah. So let’s start about– let’s start talking about the current state. So when people mostly go to a hall of fame today, and even your hall of fame today, what do they experience and what’s going to be on the horizon?

JASON FIDDLER: Sure. I want to backtrack real quick. I appreciate the intro, and you talked about the brightest minds in tech, so I’m actually questioning if I’m in the right room or not.


I do appreciate that introduction. So we’ll talk a little bit about our museum. So the challenge that we have and the challenge of museums in general is it’s really easy for a museum to be stale, static, and stuffy. It’s kind of that overlying stigma of just the museum industry in general.

So when we talk about museums, I want to give a little introduction on who we are as an organization, who the Hall of Fame is, and why we are where we are. So the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Springfield, Massachusetts. So the first question we get is, why are you guys in Springfield, Mass? I mean, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere in Western Massachusetts.

So the fact that most people don’t truly understand, especially if you’re not a basketball enthusiast, is that the game was invented by Dr. James Naismith literally less than a mile away from where our building sits today.


MARK SCHAEFER: It was like a– was it a YMCA–

JASON FIDDLER: Yeah, it was a YMCA–

MARK SCHAEFER: –if I remember the story–

JASON FIDDLER: Yeah. It was a YMCA school. James Naismith of Canadian descent came over here to Massachusetts to go to school, that’s what is Springfield College now. So in 1891 he invented the game at the YMCA Boarding School. And it’s such an iconic location, it’s actually a McDonald’s drive-through today as we speak.


So we erected a statue there several years ago just to honor where the game was invented. And it’s cool, because we’re very proud of who we are, and we are truly the only sport that can identify the exact day, time, and location of where the sport was invented.


JASON FIDDLER: In respect to all of our other colleagues out there and all these other amazing sports, which I’m obviously a fan of

MARK SCHAEFER: –mishmash of other things.

JASON FIDDLER: They are. There’s kind of quasi-locations and quasi-dates and quasi-times, but we can pinpoint–

MARK SCHAEFER: Quasi-myths.

JASON FIDDLER: Quasi-myths, yeah. A lot of myths.


JASON FIDDLER: But it’s cool. I mean, that’s why our sport is so celebrated, that we can really pinpoint that historical component. And what differentiates us from the other museums is most museums, like the Baseball Hall of Fame, Football Hall of Fame, and Hockey Hall of Fame, truly represent their professional domestic sport. So they represent Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Hockey League. Whereas the NBA is a tremendous partner of ours, but that’s not just who we are. We’re not the NBA Hall of Fame, which a lot of people seem to think we are.

We represent the collegiate game through NCAA, we represent the high school game. We probably represent the WNBA– so both the men’s and women’s side and the international game. And we also represent the contributors committee. So for those folks that aren’t gifted enough to make an earning playing the game but have contributed their life’s work to basketball and to the promotion of the sport, we also honor them as well.

MARK SCHAEFER: Wow. That’s fantastic.

JASON FIDDLER: So the current landscape you mentioned, outside from being a complete construction site, is when you walk in the museum, it’s still– our building was built in 2002. So I don’t need to tell anybody to this audience–

MARK SCHAEFER: Was that the original hall?

JASON FIDDLER: No. The original hall was actually located on the campus of Springfield College right adjacent to where the game was invented. We moved over to the Springfield Riverfront . This is actually our third rendition now. So the building that we currently sit in was built in ’02. And it’s an 80,000 square-foot museum, and it also features retail locations and restaurants.

So the challenge is– I mean, this audience knows how quickly technology change– I think it just changed in the series of this conversation. But in ’02, what we had that was really tech forward in ’02 is so far outdated here in 2019. And the challenge we have like every other museum is staying relevant. And not just relevant, but as relevant to a younger generation. I mean, I don’t know how many kids are walking around with their face buried in their cell phone or playing games or texting and buying apps and all this–

MARK SCHAEFER: Fortnite sets the standard.

JASON FIDDLER: Fortnite is unreal.

MARK SCHAEFER: It’s for like anything now, right?


MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah. And that’s the standard for a museum, too. Yeah.

JASON FIDDLER: I was– a lot of our professional athletes play Fortnite. So from a partnership standpoint, Fortnite’s been a home run for everybody.


JASON FIDDLER: But that’s really been our drive and our challenge, is how do we one– I mean, our goal as a museum is to make you come back. And if you don’t have the desire to come back, then we’ve failed in whatever we’re trying to deliver. And that’s kind of the gold standard for any museum.

So it’s customer retention, but it’s also how do we capture a younger audience, because the die-hard basketball historians are getting fewer and farther between. People are aging themselves a little bit out of the game and aging themselves a little bit out of kind of the historical context of basketball, and it’s becoming a digital world and it’s how do you capture these kids at six, seven, eight years old and make them understand that basketball is not just Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, which they’re the icons of our game, but the history behind it, there’s so much more.

And that’s really what we’re trying to do, is deliver that message for customer retention and celebrating–

MARK SCHAEFER: It’s almost like your mission’s changing. Because– I mean, baseball is my big sport.

JASON FIDDLER: Sure, sure.

MARK SCHAEFER: And I love baseball, and I love the history of baseball and the traditions of baseball and the icons. But you’re right, the younger generation is probably looking for something else. That stuff is stale.

JASON FIDDLER: Certainly. You’ll appreciate this, and as a baseball fan, every sport now is trying to figure out how to speed things up, how to make things faster. Nobody wants to spend four hours watching a game or three hours watching a game.


JASON FIDDLER: And especially when you’re a younger kid that your attention span is so limited. It’s how can we deliver a user-based experience in our museum to deliver you something that keeps you entertained, keeps you focused, and still delivers that historical content? Because ultimately, our mission as an organization is to promote the living history of basketball.

And I say living history because I think that’s important. There’s a lot of dead history out there. History is– in any organization there’s history. But how do we promote the living history of basketball? And that’s really our mission, and I do feel like as a museum, we started losing sight a little bit of that because we just didn’t have the funds and resources to kind of keep up. We’re really fortunate now to be in a position as an organization that I feel very comfortable we can keep up, and not only keep up, but excel and really set a new industry standard.

DOUGLAS KARR: Well, it’s almost– the term museum is almost synonymous with– that you’re going to walk through and just read about history, you know? And so now customer experience is everything. So how is technology playing a role to really modernize what your museum is and make it that customer experience that people want to keep going back to over and over?

JASON FIDDLER: Sure. I mean, you walk through Dell Tech World and you see it. I mean, it’s no big secret, the newest innovative thing is VR.


JASON FIDDLER: How do you capture VR? How do you capture it appropriately? So those are some of the things that we’re starting to explore in the museum. We have some challenges in doing so, but that’s kind of like phase 3 and beyond, is really capturing that VR content. But it’s more than that. It’s more– for us, it’s we honor and celebrate the most fast-paced, exciting, diverse, and inclusive game in the world. So how do we keep up with that?

So one of the things we do by keeping up with that and part of this new tech story is how do we bring our Hall of Famers to life? I mean currently, not just our hall of fame, but every hall of fame is known for a static image. They’re home for a bust, or they’re known for a plaque, or they’re known for an image. And with that accompanies a very standard bio, and that’s basically how the greatest players in the game are represented.


MARK SCHAEFER: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm.

JASON FIDDLER: It’s a shame if you ask us and anybody else in the industry. So that’s why we’re excited. So the tech side of it is really, how do we bring these icons to life? And how do we do that so that the customer can immerse themselves in what they care about? So if part of the new– the tech story with us is, if you’re a fan of a certain player, if you’re a fan of a certain decade or generation or if you’re a fan of a certain team, or maybe you’re just a fan of the WNBA or maybe you’re just an international fan.

So with the new tech story of our museum, you’re going to be able to create that on your own user-based experience. So that how do we shrink that timeframe but get the most out of it, because the days of somebody spending eight hours going through a museum are non-existent. You try to do that with three or four kids by our side.


JASON FIDDLER: So how do we shrink that timeline a museum-based experience but get that maximum impact? And the first way we can do that is bring our legends to life. Now obviously many of our legends are in the past, but we still have so much content for them. Some of our legends are still alive and obviously we’re still gaining content on them.

So from a user-based standpoint, you can select anybody you want and get a deeper, more immersive experience. And the signature piece of this is our new Hall of Honor. So the way the Hall of Honor is going to work is, you’ll go in, it’ll be a very reverent experience. It’ll pay homage to strictly our Hall of Famers. Most of our museum will pay homage to some of today’s stars, but the Hall of Honor will really focus on our Hall of Famers.

So there’s going to be what we call our dynamic walls. So it’s about a 60-foot wall–


JASON FIDDLER: Yeah, it’s pretty impressive. It’s a 60-foot wall with about 50 digital monitors. So on each of those monitors we’re going to represent individual Hall of Famers on a rotating basis. So that we won’t represent all 392 at one point, but they’ll continue to rotate.

So what we’ll also have the ability to do is within those monitors, if you’re a fan of– pick your favorite Hall of Famer, pick Michael Jordan, pick Charles Barkley, pick any of those guys. Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, any of them. If you’re a fan of those Hall of Famers, you’ll be able to interact with those Hall of Famers a little bit. You’ll be able to call up their enshrinement speech, you’ll be able to call up highlights, and in some cases, you’ll be able to call up things off the court, like family pictures and–


JASON FIDDLER: –charitable initiatives, things like that most people don’t think of. And within this dynamic wall, we have what we call the VIP experience. Which basically takes the dynamic wall of individuals and turns it into one 60-foot wide mural, again, insert your favorite Hall of Famer.


JASON FIDDLER: And it turns into about a two-minute montage of images and video, and it’s all set to theatrical lighting, it’s set the theatrical music, in its– I can guarantee you, it is going to be the most immersive hall of fame experience known to man currently.

MARK SCHAEFER: Well you know, that brings up a very interesting question, because one of the things I’m always fascinated about is, how do you think of these things? I mean, how do you– it’s a creative process. You still have sort of the legacy responsibility of a museum to curate the past carefully and accurately. It merges with technology of like what’s possible.

So it’s like these three disciplines coming together. How was that organized? I mean, what is the creative process to think, we’re going to have a 60-foot wall, 50 screens, and then the content comes from the history side. The lights you talk about, the theatrical lights, that’s the– how do you do that? What’s the team look like to accomplish something like that?

JASON FIDDLER: So I think the appropriate term would be organized chaos. I think that probably sounds like what we’re doing. But it’s really twofold. I mean, we have the feat of trying to combine needs versus wants versus budget. And when you combine those three, it’s impossible to mirror those three, right?

So you basically start and you shoot for the moon. You think of– we’ve gathered an amazing team of executives, we gathered an amazing team of designers, we’ve tapped into everybody who works in our museum, from our part-time weekend kids that are in high school to our senior staff that runs the museum that have been with us for 25 years, and everybody in between. So we basically create a pie-in-the-sky dream list. If you can dream it up, what would this museum look like? And it’s everything from craziness. It’s everything from a 5,000-seat arena built around our court to making James Naismith come alive virtually. I mean, it’s everything in the middle of that.

So then when you start to see what that list looks like, you realize very quickly, well, I mean, we don’t have that kind of–

MARK SCHAEFER: So whose job is it to sort of prioritize? Is it a committee? I mean, where does the vision come from?

JASON FIDDLER: It is. I mean, it starts with a few people. I mean, the design team basically sets what can be a reality. We could think of things that maybe doesn’t even exist, so it starts there. But it’s really the work of two people. It’s our curator of the museum, Matt Zeysing, who’s been with us since our prior building. I mean, he has a vision, he’s very brilliant in museum work and what this museum can look like. And then obviously the president and CEO John Doleva.

The two of them kind of start seeing what’s a reality. One manages the experience versus one managing the budget and what we can kind of– to have in the middle. So the creative process is interesting. So you start with that that pie-in-the-sky idea, and then you try to get things in line a little bit of what the reality of what our spend’s going to be. I mean, we were very fortunate to have a very successful capital campaign. We raised in excess of $32 million over a two-and-a-half-year period.

And we’re reinvesting– I know we started the show by saying 18, which has crept up to $23 million, so that’s kind of the–

MARK SCHAEFER: I’m out of date in 24 hours.

JASON FIDDLER: Yeah, it doesn’t take long.

MARK SCHAEFER: I’m happy about that.

JASON FIDDLER: Maybe I just spent that $5 million, I don’t know.


MARK SCHAEFER: Well that’s what it cost to be on the show, sorry.

JASON FIDDLER: Absolutely.


JASON FIDDLER: Anybody who’s listening on our staff, I apologize for that. So it’s just a matter of balancing what’s a reality– needs, wants versus budget. So that creative process has been great. And then the other constituency that we haven’t really touched on who has input is our Hall of Famers. I mean, that’s our key asset. Every organization has an asset. And our Hall of Famers our hands-down our biggest asset because they’re unique to us.

So we get a lot of feedback from them, not just over this year, but it’s been years coming in what they want to see and if there’s frustrations on their end and how they’re being represented, or if there’s thought processes of what we could do better. So we tap into them. So it’s kind of just a major collaborative effort, and then we talk about our partners and in the NBA and the NCAA, what are they doing? What are our peers doing, our colleagues doing?

And then lastly, it’s really driven by– I mean, we talk about it– we talked about it earlier, but it’s driven by those eight, nine, 10, 11, 12-year-olds and what they’re into. And if they’re into VR and if they’re on their phones doing certain things, we need to make sure that we understand that and we’re not insensitive to that and we’re in tune with it. So it’s a really long, challenging process, but the finished product so far looks pretty good.

MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah, I’ll say.

DOUGLAS KARR: We happen to be sitting here at Dell Technology World where you have brought a portable immersive experience with you. I’m curious of the relationship with Dell. How is Dell helping you transform the experience digitally?

JASON FIDDLER: Sure. So our organization, the Hall of Fame is– we pride ourselves on being the best of the best. If we’re going to take on a $23 million renovation that’s going to be tech-heavy, we need to partner with the best of the best. So there was no questions asked when it came time to start doing this tech build, and it was no questions, it was Dell Technologies.

We’ve been working with them for about a year and a half now on not just the partnership side of things, but really doing the phase 1 of the build-out. So the phase 1 of the build-out for us is storage. You can’t have all this tech without having proper storage. So we’ve done some significant work in upgrading the back of the house with Dell Technologies, VxRail and things like that to really make sure we have the infrastructure to support what we’re doing. Because if we have all this glitz and glamor front of the house but we don’t have the support on the back of the house–

MARK SCHAEFER: –sort of like on-site there in the building–

JASON FIDDLER: Yeah. Everything’s on-site.


JASON FIDDLER: So the way our museum is set up, our museum is basically set up based on theatrics. It’s not a standard museum by any means. So we need to have that back of the house story. So that’s really where the partnership started, was bolstering what we’re able to do from a storage component.

And then we started looking at, OK, well then what else can we do? Where can Dell step in and really provide that user-based stuff? And obviously the technology that exists, you can see it right outside this door the technology that exists. We started tapping into some of that, so they’re very– becoming very immersive. And an exhibit that I’ll give you an answer of called our Coach’s Circle.

So a Coach’s Circle is basically part of our capital campaign, but we target 35 coaches that had not only contributed to our capital campaign, but want to tell their story– and I don’t mean their coaching story. The coaching story everybody knows. You can turn on the television to see what the coach’s story is. But what makes you either a Hall of Famer or what makes you separate yourself to be able to tell that story within our museum. And it’s off-the-court stuff. It’s charitable contributions, it’s who their inspirations were, it’s things like that.

So there’s an immersive exhibit now in the museum that you can go, and within these 35 coaches, there’s a series of questions. And you can cherry-pick any one of these coaches, ask them the specific question, and then they’ll literally respond to you as if you’re sitting next to them having a conversation. So that’s really where the Dell Tech started with those kind of things.

So we said, you know what? This is pretty cool. What can we do more? So then that’s where the conversation of the Honors Gallery– the Hall of Honor started coming into play, and how do we make that more immersive? And now we’re starting to talk a little bit down the road of VR and what we can do in those aspects.

So the majority of the museum is going to be powered by Dell Technologies. And obviously as our preferred tech provider, we’re going to use them any and all chance as possible. The secondary part of the partnership, which kind of breaking a little bit of the story here, because we haven’t even announced it yet, so that’s probably down the road here for you.

So we’re really excited to announce that Dell Technologies has partnered with us on our Collegiate Awards. So the Hall of Fame every year annually gives out Player of the Year awards both on the men’s side and the women’s side for all five positions. So we’ve been hosting that awards program, and each award is named after a specific Hall of Famer.

So one of the cool components that Dell Technology has partnered with is they’re going to be the title sponsor of our fan-voting platform.


JASON FIDDLER: So yeah. So the fans are actually going to get a vote, and that vote will count as a committee vote. So if you’re a fan of pick your favorite school, pick your favorite player, and you’ve got enough support behind that, and all the voting will come through Dell Technology’s mechanisms that you’ll have a say in and whose named the Best College Player of the Year. So we’re really excited for that portion of the partnership.

MARK SCHAEFER: That’s awesome.


MARK SCHAEFER: Congratulations on that.


MARK SCHAEFER: So, I mean, one of the things that just occurs to me is just the effort, just the huge effort to create a transformation like this with all these pieces coming together. Talk a little bit about the cultural hurdles. We often hear in these transformation stories that the technology is the easy part. You can make technology do anything. But bringing all these people together, talk about some of the organizational dynamics and what it takes to really lead and bring people together to collaborate on something like this.

JASON FIDDLER: Sure. It’s basically taking on an impossible task to be honest with you. So the challenge we have as an organization– it’s a pleasurable challenge, but as I’ve said earlier, we don’t just represent the professional sport of basketball. We represent the men’s game and the women’s game, the international game, the NBA, the NCAA, high school dynamics, contributors dynamics. How do we pick what stories are the most relevant to be featured in our museum? You could ask 1,000 people and you’re going to get 2,000 different answers.

So that’s really the biggest challenge. I don’t want to say it’s a political challenge because it’s not, it’s just–

MARK SCHAEFER: It’s a passion challenge.

JASON FIDDLER: It is a passion challenge. And if you’re– I mean, we talked about specific markets being more passionate in basketball and we talked about the Hoosier effect. I mean, we’re a museum is located in Massachusetts. We honestly catch a lot of flak for not being an overly Boston Celtics-centric museum.



MARK SCHAEFER: It’s a little bit of passion there.

JASON FIDDLER: Yeah. But you get local bias, you get regional bias. I mean, we have a section of our museum that’s dedicated specifically to dynasties. Now what– how do you cherry-pick specific dynasties? Because there’s hundreds of good stories out there. Part of the new museum is going to be what we call our moments gallery. So we’re selecting 18 moments, and those moments can be used literally and figuratively.

So what can a moment be? A moment can be the women’s integration of Title IX, which is a monumental movement for the sport of basketball, so that obviously gets represented. There’s the whole inclusion and diversity of the sport, and the rise of African Americans playing in basketball. I mean, those are all moments that we honor.

But how– if we’re limited to 18 moments, I can very confidently tell you there’s thousands more of that very well should be represented. So those are some of the challenges of how do we best represent our museum, represent our game, and make sure that we’re not going too NBA-centric or two NCAA-centric and we want to make sure we’re not leaving out key constituents– international, WNBA, things like that. So it’s really trying to find that nice mix of what we think is going to be the best possible experience and really the best storytelling aspect.

DOUGLAS KARR: This has been fantastic and I love– I want to visit the museum–

MARK SCHAEFER: Great story.

DOUGLAS KARR: Yeah, it is. I’m curious about you personally. So when we’re doing the background, I read that you had toured as a golf pro. You’re actually a certified golf club fitter. How did the road get you to where you are now where you’re designing this incredible museum experience? Yeah.


JASON FIDDLER: Well first of all, saying I–

MARK SCHAEFER: How can we be you?


JASON FIDDLER: Saying I was a touring professional might be the biggest overstatement of the year. So I sincerely appreciate that.

MARK SCHAEFER: You never let the facts in the way of the story.

JASON FIDDLER: Yeah, we don’t want the facts to get in the way.

MARK SCHAEFER: This is about storytelling, Jason.

JASON FIDDLER: Absolutely. Well I’ll be happy to twist the story then a little bit for you. So I did start my career in the golf industry. I did forfeit my amateur status and work as a club professional for several years, and did move down to southwest Florida part-time and really tried to make a run at the golf career.

And I left to this day– and I think about it every now and then, but I left to this day saying that was the most fun I’ve ever had making the least amount of money imaginable. So–

MARK SCHAEFER: We all have to do that sometimes.

JASON FIDDLER: You know, I’m glad I did it when I did, I’m glad I gave it a run, and I realized very quickly that if I was going to continue to pursue that career, I was probably going to starve to death, so it was time to find a real job. But throughout– and I am a certified club fitter still to this day, but if you look to my handicap, you probably don’t want me fitting you for anything, let alone golf clubs.

So I still do have a passion for golf, and that kind of ties into running our celebrity golf events for the Hall of Fame as well. But from the golf industry, I kind of expanded to running a retail location for golf and tennis product. So between my experience of club management and the retail side of things, I got a true grasp of just overall business knowledge. Everything from budget management to merchandising to what it means to close a sale to customer interaction.

And I always tell everybody to this day, you don’t have to like retail, but if you ever are looking for a good first job, go into retail, because it teaches you just about everything you’re ever going to need to know in a hurry. Now retail is not for everybody, it clearly wasn’t for me, but the experience I gained through that was remarkable.

And I was fortunate enough about almost 11 years ago that I had a really nice conversation with everybody at the Hall of Fame and kind of came on board here, and next thing you know, here we are. So it’s been a really good, fun, and exciting run, and it’s an amazing company to work for. I’m truly passionate about telling the Hall of Fame story, and it’s just been a really fun run so far.

DOUGLAS KARR: It’s an interesting parallel there that I didn’t think about. Because retail is suffering the same kind of challenges, right? You talked about customer experience and retention and use of technology.


DOUGLAS KARR: So I didn’t put that together, that’s fantastic.

MARK SCHAEFER: Well your enthusiasm and passion is so evident. So we just love having you on the show. We sure appreciate it. And we just wanted to end with one final question, because we tend to think about transformation as a project– you talked about having this successful capital campaign.

But how do you keep up with that challenge as far as this being something that will continue to evolve? I mean, transformation, it kind of goes on forever, right? So how are you thinking forward in terms of, OK, we get this big capital project done, what’s the plan to stay relevant for the next generation?

JASON FIDDLER: Sure. When I think of transformation, I don’t think of transformation as a project. I think of transformation has a mentality. You have to mentally be prepared to stay up with the times. I mean, we talk about the cell phone generation, but you know what? At some point, what’s next? There’s already technology out there. I mean, you see Twitter, you see Facebook, you see Instagram, all these social media sites. That technology is there, but there’s new technology right on its doorstep.

So you can’t– the first thing we do is when we’re designing this project, we can’t design technology for now. We have to design technology for years down the road. So we’re building in these capabilities, we’re building in the infrastructure so that something as simple as video footage and the definition and quality of video footage, we’re not building that into 4K and what we have now, we’re building that in with the capability of what’s down the road. Is it 8K? Is it 16K? Whatever the tech is behind it, but it’s just going to keep getting bigger and better and clearer.

From a VR perspective, we’re not– the reason we’re not putting VR in right now and this phase is because the technology in the grand scheme of things is still pretty new. And we don’t want to get into the same trouble we had when we created the museum back in 2002 is you put technology in, and tomorrow it’s outdated.

So that’s why we want to make sure that what technology we put in is, we’re not just here in the now, it’s what’s coming next and what’s down the road. And it’s listening to our demographics. It’s listening to– if our customers want quicker, OK, fine, we’ll deliver you a quicker experience, but we’re not going to sacrifice the experience of how do we deliver quicker and more efficient, more effective experiences.

And we’re kind of seeing the trend is all user-based. I mean, if you have 60 minutes to go through our museum and you’re a fan of one specific segment, how do we deliver you that segment, deliver you that experience that blows you away so you’ll come back again? So those are the things that we’re really thinking of, and phase 3 of this museum is all fine and great, but I think over the next five to 10 years, you’re going to see some pretty– more innovative and exciting stuff coming out of us.

MARK SCHAEFER: That’s awesome. Jason Fiddler, Vice President of Marketing, Naismith Museum Basketball Hall of Fame. Keeping the Basketball Hall of Fame Fortnite worthy, now and into the future, and we sure appreciate having you on the show. It’s just been a delight. Everyone, thanks so much for joining us and joining us on our constant adventure of transformation. We appreciate you, we never take you for granted. This is Mark Schaefer, Doug Karr, we’ll see you next time on Luminaries.

ANNOUNCER: Luminaries– talking to the brightest minds in tech. A podcast series from Dell Technologies.