From Simpson to Working with an NBA Team: Zach Smith ’11 Tells His Story

(The NBA season may be over, but Zach Smith’s work isn’t. He’s an account manager for Red Deluxe Brand Development who works with the Memphis Grizzlies and several other companies in Memphis, also known as “Grind City.” But perhaps it’s best to let Zach tell us.) 

By Zach Smith

Twenty thousand screaming Memphians on their feet, chanting, “We Don’t Bluff!” so loud you can’t think. A sea of waving Growl Towels sweeps FedExForum, and for a night, the city’s only concern is doing its part to disrupt MVP Steph Curry’s poetic three-point rhythm.

The Grind Father flexes, and the crowd erupts entering the fourth quarter of game three in Grind City, Tennessee. For 36-plus nights a year, we set personal agendas aside to believe in something bigger as we compassionately will our Grizzlies to a victory.

My name is Zach Smith, and I live in the heart of Grind City working as an Account Manager for Red Deluxe. Each day I have the opportunity to team up with a talented group of individuals to craft inspiring brand stories for excellent partners like the Memphis Grizzlies, ALS Association, Duncan-Williams, Inc., LIVESTRONG Foundation and Old Dominick Distillery.

Although they range in industries, they all leverage their platforms to bring real change to our community, and together, we help move the needle for the greater good. It’s a rewarding position that would be immensely more difficult if not for the experiences obtained from my days at Simpson College.

Simpson provided the framework; the people made the experience. Professors like Daryl Sasser utilized unique teaching methods that challenged me to think differently. Former Athletic Director John Sirianni continues to show compassionate patience, well after my college career. The entire Joe Blake family exemplifies the sacrifice it takes to get a group of individuals to believe in something bigger than self.

Regardless of background, we baseball players were given the space to make mistakes and a path to right our wrongs. From 2007-2011 we won games, ran a few extra sprints, and through all of the blood, sweat, and laughs, we made unforgettable memories with lifelong confidants.

A well-rounded education paired with the power of sport gave an impressionable young man a purpose, and for that, I am forever grateful for my Simpson College career.

If you are a current or prospective student, don’t worry if you haven’t completely defined your vision of a successful life yet; it’ll happen. In the meantime, keep building an intriguing life perspective by surrounding yourself with good people. Ask them questions and listen. Your path will come when you least expect it, and when it does, diligently work to lay the foundation to help get you there.

The crazier the idea, the bigger the sacrifice. You won’t be able to do it alone, so luckily there are good people out there who are always willing to help. It’s up to you to give them a reason to believe.

Call your loved ones and give them your best Joe Blake story. It’ll make their day.

Never forget where you came from.

Zach Smith

Simpson College 2011