Part 3 of our Take Flight Roundabout series is here! It lasts 20 minutes, the majority of which has leaders from the event discussing ideas promoted by Joey’s question, “How do you make a living from Parkour?” The discussion, however, quickly focused in on the meaning of sponsorship, and after sitting quietly for more than 10 minutes, Take Flight founder Adam Dunlap chimed in to share his view.
What makes this interesting is Adam Dunlap is arguably the pioneer of sponsorships in the Parkour world. Through him and his vision, Take Flight began sponsoring Traceurs in 2009; Take Flight began financially supporting Parkour gyms in 2010; and in 2012, under the direction of Dunlap, Take Flight became the first Traceur-started-and-owned company to provide financial endorsement contracts to Traceurs. Since 2012 Take Flight has given financial contracts/support to some of the world’s most famous Traceurs and legends including David Belle, Pasha Petkuns, Joey Adrian, Toby Segar, Pedro Salgado, D’Ondrai Jones, Luis Alkmim, Nikolay Stasolik, Oscar Sanchez, Will Sutton, Danee Marmolejo, Marc “Defo” Torres Stanislavs Lazden and many others. In this vision, we continue to look to expand our team and the financial opportunities to we bring to Traceurs around the world.
In this episode, Dunlap spoke for approximately 6 minutes about sponsorship, during which he also touched on many other topics including art, humility, labels, money, and the focus Take Flight has on helping people. Below we have provided the transcript from Dunlap’s talk. He only touches briefly on many of the topics, but we hope you can see deeper into his words and what he is sharing.
To see the full video, click below:
Adam Dunlap: “It’s a relationship. You guys are talking about things, and I find it really funny. I’ve been sitting here [while you’re] talking about brands, and clothing, and you talk about Storror – kids that live in their parent’s house. And I love them, but I know some of their financial situations because we used to pay them money. And you’re talking about brands and this type of stuff, and you guys [Parkour Origins] have a brand which is legit by the way. But like… this is what I do, guys. We’re talking about Storror and Storm – it’s funny, this conversation stayed here, and I had to get up and get water because I’m like, “Why are you guys even speculating. I know all the answers to these questions.” ”
“What is sponsorship? We [Take Flight] have been doing it for 7 years. We sponsored Pasha, we sponsored Shaun Wood, we sponsored David Belle. You go to the Art of Motion and there’s 5 or 6 guys competing that we sponsored. Luis Alkmim, Stansislavs Lazden, we sponsored all these guys. You know what I’m saying? We paid these guys money. We have for years. Toby Segar – we gave him our biggest contract 2 years ago, until Kie Willis did his thing and [Toby] kind of got cold feet and wanted to leave.”
Tom Coppola: “Why do you do that sponsorship? What is the catalyst for you? Not just creating a relationship between the athlete, but what is it doing for your brand? Because there has to be some benefit. It’s mutual exchange, right?
Adam Dunlap: “It’s mutual exchange. All life is mutual exchange. Friendships, romantic relationships, business – everything is mutual exchange. Supply and demand.”
Tom Coppola: “But you want your brand to get out there?”
Adam Dunlap: “Absolutely.”
Tom Coppola: “And so you’re asking the athlete to wear your clothes and maybe give them money or whatever so that they can show your brand to an audience.”
Adam Dunlap: “Absolutely.”
Tom Coppola: “And if these is no audience there, would you pay them? If there’s nobody that’s going to see.”
Adam Dunlap: “It depends on what we do.”
Tom Coppola: “Because that would just be charity work. “
Adam Dunlap: “Maybe. Or it’s art. We all have times in our lives where we do stuff without financial value. Is that charity work? Maybe. Or maybe it’s like, “I want to live my life this way, and I’m going to be creative.” ”
“You know what inspires me?”
“When we pay our athletes on Take Flight – and we have for 3 years – and I don’t know anyone else who is doing [that]. We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about how much money we’ve given. People are like, “Why don’t you do this, this, this, and this?!” The reason why we don’t talk about it because the essence of humility is not to talk about it. So you either have to trash your own humility to say, “This is what I’ve done,” or you be humble and let other people trash you. And I’ll say, “Well alright, we’re cool, I’m happy with the guys we work with, I’m happy with my friends. I’ll let people trash me.” ”
“The question being, what inspires me the most to give money to the guys on the team is when they do something that I find beautiful.”
“D’Ondrai [Jones] made a video called, “Time.” And I’ve told him this like 5 times since he’s been here. It’s one of my favorite videos ever. [The video has] like 5,000 views on YouTube. Not a lot. That should be, to me, that video is HERE in my book. And so I’m like, “D’Ondrai, whatever you need dude, because we are creating something together.” And that’s family.”
“You give money to your kids. Is that charity? Or is it because you love them? Right? So yeah, there is a business component to everything we do.”
“Life is selfish. We are all selfish. Every action we do in life, if you want to get philosophical, is to get yourself benefit. Even when you give to someone it’s so that you can feel better or something like that. But that’s OK if the heart is right. Right?”
“There are different levels of sponsorship. There is sponsorship where we say, ‘That kid doesn’t have a pair of shoes. Make us a video. You got a video camera? We’ll give you a pair of shoes.’ They just made $50 spending 2 hours making a video. That’s pretty good – that’s a fair exchange. And there are other [levels of sponsorship] where you say, “Wait a second. Your presence.” ”
“Take a video Joey makes. I say, “Joey, I want our brand associated with you because you inspire people.” That’s worth money. So there is that exchange. So sponsorships are different levels, and I think you guys understand [that]. I think [they are all] sponsorships. You can call it affiliates or you can call it ambassadors, call it friendship, call it working together, call it a team, call it whatever you want.
“They are all these labels, right? Bruce Lee talks about it. He talks about labels. But forget the label. What is it? What is the essence of what we do? Do you know the biggest label we have in this group? It’s “Parkour.” I guarantee if we all write down a definition of Parkour, we are going to have 12 different definitions. That’s a label. [We’ve got to] move past that as a group to say, “What are we doing?” Let’s get beyond that and just have something that connects us and then forget all the rest. Let’s do that. As a community, as teams, as gyms.”
“We got off the topic – which I was really enjoying – about why can’t we work together. What can we do? And I think that had a lot more in it and we don’t have to get to it, but I think it’s because of labels. There are a lot of other reasons why. But we can get beyond that and say, “Let’s help people.” Because that’s what it is, right?”
“If you [are selling] shoes, someone is going to say, “Oh, you trying to make money.” Hmm, well yeah, I want to make a living, right? But I also want to bring somebody something they value. That’s what helping people is, right?”
“Money is kind of an accumulation of helping people. There are scamming ways to do it where you cheat people out of money, but [for the most part] if you have a lot of money it means you helped a lot of people. You can look at Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift and say, “Oh you’re just rich,” or whatever. [But] they’ve touched millions and millions and billions of people in their lives. They deserve to have that energy, right?”
“So now I’m getting all philosophical and stuff but these ideas go really deep. I see sponsorships as relationships with people, and we’re building that. And I’ll tell you, the sponsorships we have at Take Flight, I try, first of all, to be honest and open with everybody. It’s never like, “Oh work with us and your life is going to be set,” because that’s not how it works. And #2, it’s, “What’s best for you?” ”
“We were sponsoring Toby. We gave him the biggest contract we ever gave anybody [not counting David Belle]. He actually approached me [for it]. We sponsored him for one year and paid him, and then he came to me and said, “I want to take it to the next level, I want to get paid this much money.” I thought about it and I said, “Ok Toby, I like you a lot, we’ll figure out a way. We’ll do it.” And then stuff started and he wasn’t really as passionate anymore about it, and it was just, “Toby, if you don’t want to work with us anymore, that’s fine dude. That’s fine. Like, I wish you the best. I like you, I like your work, I like your vision, I like what you bring to us, but I’m not here to put you in a cage. If you don’t want to be a part of this, that’s OK.” ”
“That’s the relationship to say, “What’s best for you? How can we help you?” And if we can’t help each other in the right way, then let’s not get married, know what I mean?”
“So I believe in helping people. And I’ve tangented a lot, and I’m sorry for chiming in and cutting everybody off, but the sponsorship talk is about relationships. And some people get sucked in, just like [Parkour] certifications. I think some of the certifications are silly and ridiculous, and I have articles I’ve written about why no one needs a [Parkour] certification, but some people do need it.”
“Everyone finds value, everyone finds a teacher in a different aspect of their life. Whether you follow David [Belle} or the Yamakasi, or Sebastien Foucan, or Parkour Origins, you are going to find something that resonates with you. That’s what’s important in life that we find.”