• Getting To Know The Game Changers: Causes/Charities You Support

    We asked the members of this year’s class of Game Changers:

    What are the causes or charitable endeavors you actively support?

    Here are the responses that were provided.

    Alex Baldwin: My husband and I actively support Golf Fights Cancer.

    Renee Baumgartner: Susan G. Komen, United Way, Syracuse athletics, Central Catholic (Ore.) High School.

    Kim Bohuny: UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity.

    Christine Brown: I’m commissioner of the Princeton (N.J.) girls softball league, and I support the EOD Warrior Foundation.

    Mary Byrne: Interlochen Arts Camp in Northern Michigan, and the Missouri student newspaper, The Maneater.

    Stephanie Cheng: Reading to Kids, and the Hydrocephalus Association (for all the great work that Matt and Jennifer Pope do to support this organization in honor of their son Charlie).

    Sandy Cross: Brides Against Breast Cancer, PGA Reach, EWGA Foundation.

    Stephanie Druley: St. Jude, Texas Children’s Hospital.

    Donna Fiedorowicz: Humane Society, ASPCA.

    Kelly Flanagan: The Players Championship at Sawgrass; St. Joe’s and Columbia alumni associations; and the Jags Foundation.

    Karen Forgus: Reds Community Fund.

    Erleen Hatfield: Cancer research, University of Nebraska, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

    Sue Hunt: USTA Foundation.

    Gail Hunter: Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, First Tee of Oakland, YMCA.

    Beth Hutter: Breast cancer initiatives.

    Julie Kikla: High Fives Foundation, Women 2.0.

    Heidi Massey-Bong: CSTEM, United Way, Houston Food Bank.

    Bernadette McGlade: Earlier.org is a great organization committed to finding an early test to diagnose breast cancer. And, there is an annual Theresa McGlade memorial scholarship fund (named after my mom) awarded to a high school female basketball athlete through the Basketball Club of South Jersey.

    Michelle McKenna-Doyle: Mentoring high school girls to “lean in”; youth sports; Public Theater (New York).

    Kimberly Meesters: Conquer Paralysis Now.

    Marla Newman: Team Ethan, Robin Hood, City of Hope.

    Anne Occi: Habitat for Humanity.

    Jay Parry: I’m on the board of Arizona Women’s Education & Employment, which helps women prepare for the workforce, from coaching through to job placement. It’s all about restoring people’s dignity through work. I’ve been fortunate with various mentors helping me along the way, and this is one way I can tangibly make a difference.

    Kristen Rose: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Make-A-Wish, various food banks, education-related charities.

    Jennifer Sabatelle: The Boomer Esiason Foundation and the Big Daddy Celebrity Golf Classic to benefit St. Jude.

    Heidi Sandreuter: Culture Relay, started by my amazing friend Tracey Abbott. CR’s mission is to empower high school girls with life skills by cultivating a cross-cultural virtual exchange and teaching the principles of running.

    Maribeth Towers: I am a big believer in the power of education. I serve on the board for Learning Rights Law Center in Los Angeles. They do terrific work advocating for low-income, special-needs children to ensure they receive appropriate access and/or assistance within the public school system. I am also a big supporter of the ASPCA. I got Alejandro, my best four-legged friend, from them.

    Ali Towle: Special Olympics.

    Ronnie Tucker: NYRR is a not-for-profit organization, and I work to support our youth and community initiatives including Team For Kids, Mighty Milers and Young Runners every day.

    Alyson Walker: Ride to Conquer Cancer, Ride for Heart, Right to Play, Rotman School of Management.

    Alison Weber: Second Harvest Food Bank — Kids Café. And, in 1996, it was an honor and privilege to launch Levy Cares, the organization’s charitable arm that guides our team member and locations’ community outreach across the country.

    Pamela Wheeler: Women’s Sports Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha scholarship funds, Greyston foundation, church.

    Andrea Williams: Anything supporting dogs. I hosted my first-ever dog rescue fundraiser this past June, and we raised more than $9,000 for the Soi Dog Foundation.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • New NBPA leader Michele Roberts on dealing with crisis, loving basketball and her new job

    Roberts: "[The players] deserve my coming to them and earning their respect. They deserve an executive director that works for them.”

    Incoming NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said traveling to meet her players will be a key early priority as she officially begins her work on Monday.
    “Frequent flier miles,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “I will be going all over the place to meet my players. They deserve my coming to them and earning their respect. … They deserve an executive director that works for them.”

    Roberts made the comments during a one-on-one interview session that closed the 2014 Game Changers Conference at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square. It was one of her first public appearances since she was elected in July to succeed Billy Hunter, who was fired in February 2013.

    Among other subjects discussed during the interview:

    What drew her to the position: “I really do love basketball, but not so much the game as basketball players. … I loved the stories that the players had in their backgrounds. … The minute that I learned that there was a need for help because of the circumstances that led to my predecessor’s ouster, I could not stop thinking about how I wanted to be part of that rebuilding.”

    Addressing her gender during the election process: “I told [the players] at the outset, ‘We’re going to talk about this girl thing.’ One day, it should not be an issue, but today, it is an issue.”

    How she addressed it: “There was this sense that I had no prior experience dealing with men. The question I would get pretty often was, ‘Michele, you’re about to find yourself in a meeting, and you’ll be the only woman there. You might be the only black woman there. What are you going to do?’ And I said, “What do you think I’ve been doing for the last 25 years of my life?”

    Drawing from her youth, as one of five children with a single mom: “She was really a no-nonsense kind of girl. It was clear that our poverty, our race, and for me my sex was not going to be an excuse to fail. … She said, ‘I will feed you, I will cloth you, I will keep you safe. But if you come in my house with anything less than an A, you have to deal with me. And so, that seemed fair. I got all As.”

    Commenting on some of the current negative storylines in sports: “The first thing we should do … is to calm down and figure out what happened, and why it happened, and not have a knee-jerk reaction to what happened. ... What we need to do is figure out ways not only to react to it, but ways to proactively prevent it. I’d much rather get a phone call from someone who is telling me that ‘I want counseling’ as opposed to a phone call from a police officer saying that ‘One of your guys has been arrested.’”

    How to formulate responses: “You can’t immediately go for the torches. What we need to do is at least allow the public to know that ‘We’re having a conversation about this,’ and be completely transparent. As long as the public believes that we’re trying to address the problem, they’ll give us some time.”

    About NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “Nice guy, very gracious, very smart. I have not had extensive conversations, but I’ve been very impressed with him.”

    Initial plans of action: “I’m putting together my senior management team, my ‘team of gladiators’ as I call them. … We are doing a lot of hiring. The work we do is important, and we need to have enough people to do it.”

    Tags: ING, British Petroleum, GMAC, GE, Game Changers, Marriott, CES, Basketball
  • Game Changers panel: How properties, agencies and sponsors are engaging women

    Tailoring marketing campaigns to women, brand misconceptions about female roles in the family and the early strategy of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want Campaign” were hot topics during the “Reaching Women Through Sports” panel at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York.

    Reaching women through sports


    Elizabeth Lindsey, Wasserman Media Group
    Tracie Rodburg, NFL
    Heidi Sandreuter, Under Armour

    “A lot of what we’re doing right now, we’re targeting both boys and girls from a participation point of view,” said USTA Chief Marketing Officer Sue Hunt. “We’re looking at women a lot differently. We’re trying to educate moms, and dads, of course, but mom, primarily, about how important activity is and participation is. Again, boxing them into the idea that they’re the person that only has a small role in activities, we think is really shortsighted. [Among] the things we’re doing right now for tennis is, we’ve changed the rules of the sport. For kids eight and under, we now use a red ball. Ten and under, we use an orange ball. For that yellow ball, we’re waiting until maybe you are as tall as Sloan Stevens or Roger Federer. What we’re encouraging moms and dads to with their kids is go out and play with them and be the example of activity.”

    Wasserman Media Group Co-Managing Director of the Consulting Division Elizabeth Lindsey said, “We did a campaign very recently for a brand that came to us and said, ‘Help me figure out how to target moms.’ It was all about working mothers — how to get to them, and how to get to their children though the working mothers. Looking across their competitors and brands in the marketplace, we were a little shocked at the very one-dimensional role that a lot of brands were putting women in when it came to sports. Big secret: Women are not one-dimensional animals. They were casting women in this role as team manager ... when in reality the three dimensionalized woman that you should be targeting is team manager, coach, captain, cheerleader, and, for the record, teammate, mentor and example.”

    Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” creative was shown to the audience, with Under Armour VP of Women’s Marketing Heidi Sandreuter sharing the company’s early vision for the campaign. Sandreuter: “During my interview with my now boss, the Click Clack poster was behind him. That’s like 50 years old. Guys kind of think, ‘I can be that guy.’ They never graduate from the team. I admire what Alex Morgan does, but I don’t think that’s me. This is where I give Kevin Plank, our founder and CEO, so much credit. He built this brand. For 18 years it’s been so successful, but he realized, after making some mistakes -- ‘pinking it and shrinking it’ -- that he needed to pivot. He needed to think differently about this. … He needed a different point of view, because if he relied on himself and the internal creative agency that they had, we’d come out with the feminine version of Click and Clack, which we’d already done for years.” Sandreuter added that the brand strove to show the inner strength of women, a concept she believes resonates with women. 


    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ING, AIG, Under Armour, Target, USTA, Boxing, GMAC, Media, Wasserman Media Group, SEC, MMA
  • Research shows opportunities for sponsors in the way female fans consume sports

    Wardle: "The opportunities for fans to engage and feed their passion for sport is almost limitless."

    Octagon chief strategy officer Simon Wardle presented new research at the 2014 Game Changers conference that focused on fan interactivity and how female fans consume and interact with sport through digital, social and mobile platforms. We caught up with Wardle to discuss misconceptions about female fans and how “interactive” is the new “avid.” 

    SBJ/SBD: There’s long been an emphasis on the loyalty of avid fans, but your research shows that interactive fans are even more loyal than avids. What does that tell us about the way that sports and brands should be marketing?

    Wardle: The fact that the level of interactivity is more strongly correlated with predisposition to supporting sponsoring brands makes it very appealing to brands who are trying to change purchase behavior. Unlike self-reported ability, behavioral markers like level of interactivity means you can actually target those consumers who have a predisposition to supporting a brand and potentially feel more loyal than would trying or switching as a result of your brand’s investment in that sponsorship. From my perspective, a key takeaway is to make sure that brands are actually focusing on these digital and social platforms, not just as an add-on, but as a very important component of your communications plan, because it is a very target rich environment for consumers who are predisposed to supporting sponsors’ brands.

    SBJ/SBD: Where do female fans fit in? Are they as avid and as interactive as male fans?

    Wardle: Across the board they are surprisingly interactive, and I think part of that has to do with the fact that they’ve embraced the digital and social platforms in the all the facets of their life, and that carries over into their fandom. One of the key takeaways from my perspective is the high level of interactivity we see amongst those female fans. So, again, when you’re thinking about the importance of interactive fans for brands, female fans are no exception. There’s a lot of interactivity there -- a lot of potential.

    SBJ/SBD: What does your research show is the biggest misconception about female fans?

    Wardle: That’s a tough one. I think there is this perception that a second screen and these alternate channels are the male domain. The research finds that female fans are just as interactive as the male fans. So, a lot of opportunity for, not only the rights-holders, but also athletes and personalities who are trying to build their own brands through these social media channels. It’s a great way for them to engage with female fans for the vast majority of product categories as the household business decision-makers. There’s a lot of opportunity for rights holders, teams, players and brands to connect with those interactive female fans.

    SBJ/SBD: What has your research shown about the behavior of female fans, both at games and while watching at home?

    Wardle: It’s not a minority activity anymore. When you look at TV viewers, now the majority – over 50 percent – of female fans are engaging in second screen activity, be it their mobile device or laptop. Likewise with in-stadium behavior, about three-quarters of fans are using their mobile devices to help supplement the fan experience and share it with family and friends. I think the days of the coach potato are numbered. We’ve done this segmentation where we’re going from, basically, coach potato to super fan. Nowadays there are only about 30 percent of fans who are in that couch potato fan mode. Everyone has gradually migrated down that continuum as technology and these social, digital platforms have become even more integrated into the fan experience. It really is a great way for fans to supplement the exposure that sports are getting through mainstream media and tailoring it to our own personal needs and desires.

    SBJ/SBD: Your conclusion is that “interactive” is the new “avid.” What’s the most important thing to learn from that?

    Wardle: Knowing that level of interactivity is a predictor of consumers who are going to be predisposed to sports-sponsoring brands, these social and digital platforms are a target-rich environment for brands to engage and connect with fans who are willing and able to support those sponsor bands. Because it’s behavioral-based, it’s easy to target consumers rather than rely on self-reported ability.

    SBJ/SBD: Taking a broader look at all of your findings, what would you say is the biggest takeaway?

    Wardle: Life is complicated. Back in the day it was very easy to be a fan. You could watch, read about, attend [or] play [a sport]. Now the opportunities for fans to engage and feed their passion for sport is almost limitless. That’s part of the reason why we set out to do the research. It is so complicated, and you really do have to understand all the different dynamics to figure out, how are fans fans in the modern world? We set out to map out behavior and along the way we found out some interesting facts about these interactive fans that make them so appealing to brands based on that level of predisposition to support them.

    Tags: Octagon, GE, Game Changers, ING, GMAC, Target
  • Faces in the Crowd at 2014 Game Changers

    Here are photos of some of the 2014 Game Changers attendees during the afternoon networking breaks:


    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ATT, ING
  • Getting To Know The Game Changers: Most Memorable Event

    We asked the members of this year’s class of Game Changers:

    What is the best/most memorable sporting event you’ve attended?

    Here are their responses.

    Alex Baldwin: 1994 World Cup.

    Renee Baumgartner: Syracuse vs. Duke overtime basketball game in the Carrier Dome (2014). Syracuse broke the attendance record, with 35,446.

    Kim Bohuny: 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

    Christine Brown: For me, it’s so family oriented. I’ve been to Super Bowls and Final Fours, and they’ve all been awesome. But the story I tell the most is that when Villanova won the championship in ’85, my uncle pulled me out of school to go to the parade in Philadelphia.

    Mary Byrne: The Pine Tar Game (1983). We were about to go back to Spain (where we were living) and we went to that game.

    Texas' Vince Young scores the winning TD in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Stephanie Cheng: 2006 Rose Bowl. It was the best — right up until the moment Vince Young crossed into the end zone with 19 seconds left in the game.

    Sandy Cross: The FEI World Equestrian Games with our friends and partners at Lexmark International.

    Stephanie Druley: BCS national championship when Texas defeated USC at the Rose Bowl (2006).

    Donna Fiedorowicz: Wimbledon.

    Kelly Flanagan: Easy: Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. I remember standing on the field the day that the ownership of the NFL selected it to be the host facility. To be in the stands years later as the event took place was the perfect full circle.

    Dan Jansen prepares for a race at the Lillehammer Games.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Karen Forgus:
    Lillehammer Olympics 1994/Dan Jansen speedskating.

    Erleen Hatfield: 2014 World Cup games.

    Sue Hunt: My first trip to the U.S. Open in 1984, when three of us were able to sneak in with just one ticket.

    Gail Hunter: 1995 American League Division Series Game 5: Yankees vs. Mariners.

    Beth Hutter: 2000 World Series: “The Subway Series.” I grew up with season tickets to the New York Mets, and getting a chance to see them in the World Series at Shea Stadium was incredible.

    Julie Kikla: I was a collegiate gymnast, so when the Summer Olympics come around, I am glued to the broadcast. I had the incredible opportunity to be in London and witness the Fierce Five compete and win gold at the 2012 London Olympics. On screen, it looked like an easy win, but in reality, Aly Reisman had a pretty bad fall during the open warm-up and was up first to compete. Incredible moment for sports when she and her teammates pulled through for a huge win over the Russians, and being in the arena with the parents of the gymnasts in the same row was truly electric and inspiring.

    Heidi Massey-Bong: 2007 Daytona 500: Victory lane with Kevin Harvick.

    Bernadette McGlade: I could go all the way back to the very beginning. Back in the ’70s, my brother took me to the Palestra to see Immaculata College play Delta State; I still remember the excitement. The 1996 Olympic Games were pretty memorable. I have been fortunate I have attended many memorable sporting events.

    Michelle McKenna-Doyle: Super Bowl XLVII: my first at the NFL.

    Kimberly Meesters: 1998 Big 12 championship football game in St. Louis: Kansas State vs. Texas A&M. Texas A&M won 36-33 in double overtime.

    Seahawks celebrate Super Bowl victory.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    Marla Newman:
    I have been crazy fortunate: Salt Lake Olympics, London Olympics or Seahawks winning the Super Bowl — how to decide?

    Anne Occi: The inaugural World Baseball Classic final: Cuba vs. Japan (2006). They were playing the Cuban national anthem at the beginning. For someone who grew up during the Cuban Missile Crisis, that was a unique moment.

    Jay Parry: My dad and I hosted Joe Namath at Super Bowl XXX here in Arizona. My dad loved football, and to spend a weekend with him and Joe Namath was a dream come true.

    Kristen Rose: Being a guest in the Steinbrenner suite for a game during the inaugural season at new Yankee Stadium.

    Jennifer Sabatelle: My two most memorable events working were: My first Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000. It was my first major event, and being a member of the NFL broadcasting department I was assigned to work alongside Mike North on the field for the whole game working with the TV and radio sideline reporters. It was such a rush to be on the field for the Super Bowl and be in the middle of the celebration on the field trying to get the reporters inside the ropes. And, my first Masters in 2011. I grew up watching the Masters with my family every year, so to be able to experience it for the first time in person was special.

    Heidi Sandreuter: When Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter in Yankee Stadium (1993). I still get chills thinking about it.

    Meredith Starkey: As a Seahawks fan, being present for last season’s Super Bowl win was pretty sweet.

    Maribeth Towers: 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game in Portland. It was great seeing so many of our national team players newly back from Brazil. Plus, we beat Bayern Munich; what’s not to like about that!

    Ali Towle: The 49ers vs. Saints divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park (Jan. 14, 2012).

    Ronnie Tucker: My son Sam’s 2011 Mid-Fairfield Blues bantam major AAA hockey team’s defeat of the L.I. Gulls. Sam was in net and stood on his head to steal the game and rob the Gulls of a perfect season. I was literally shaking the entire game. It was a turning point for him and opened many doors.

    Alyson Walker: Gold-medal hockey men and women in Sochi; closing ceremony at the London Olympics; Joannie Rochette’s heartfelt skate for bronze at the Vancouver Olympics; and many more.

    Alison Weber: Compass Group, Levy’s parent company, was the official food provider for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. I was a “snow boots on the ground” internal reporter traveling from Olympic venue to Olympic venue, sharing the perspective of our team members. Up close and personal, I got to see many of the events and athletes and get a behind-the-scenes look at sports history in the making.

    Pamela Wheeler: 2014 WNBA All-Star Game. It was amazing.

    Andrea Williams: Michigan State vs. North Carolina on the aircraft carrier in San Diego (2011). It was an amazing experience capped off by an address by President Obama.

    Tags: On The Ground
  • Game Changers: Turnkey reveals research on women in the workplace

    Savini: "How can you measure success if you don't know how your performance is evaluated?"

    Turnkey Search Senior Vice President Carolyne Savini and Turnkey Intelligence Senior Vice President Steve Seiferheld co-presented the results of a study titled “Gender In Sports Business: Industry Perspectives on Where Women Stand in Hiring and Career Advancement,” at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York. One of the results of the study centered on the question of happiness in the workplace and career.

    “Over the past few decades, there has been a lot of discourse about women in business,” Savini said. “As years have progressed, so have the demographics of women in the business office. As an executive recruiter, I see the dichotomy of men and women as they progress through their careers all the time. This is a topic worth time and discussion.”

    The study collected information from more than 400 sports industry professionals of different ages, positions and tenure, a list that was relatively split, in terms of gender. The study’s questions about happiness in the workplace revealed that 70 percent of men and 57 percent of women were happy in their careers. On questions about success and performance evaluation, 36 percent of men understood how their work performance would be evaluated, while only 24 percent of women did. Savini: “How can you measure your own success in your job if you do not know how your performance is evaluated? And, taking it a step further in your careers, how can you articulate to your boss why you deserve a promotion or a potential employer all the things you’ve done in your career and why you’re qualified for a job if you don’t understand how your own performance is evaluated? Over 75 percent of women in our industry do not know this, and this is a real problem.”

    Tags: GE, Game Changers, ING, SPL, CES
  • Sheila Johnson's Game Changers Keynote: Where women stand in hiring, careers

    Johnson: Title IX's champions knew that if word got out, it would be a lot harder to get support.

    When lawmakers enacted Title IX into law in 1972, most people did not consider the effect it would have on athletics. “This was done on purpose,” said Sheila Johnson, owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, during a keynote address at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York. “It was done by design. The bill’s champions knew that if word got out about how it would impact sports so dramatically, it would be a lot harder to get congressional support.”

    Johnson, who is also CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, said it was not until the new law was implemented that the country realized its significance for women and girls. “For some people, this was great news,” Johnson said. “But for others, mostly people with Y chromosomes, it was reason to worry.” After discussing the fears that schools and universities had at the time over giving equal funding to women’s athletics, Johnson added, “But, guess what? Today, four decades later, civilization still stands, and men’s sports are still doing just fine.”

    Despite the changes in the last 40 years, Johnson added, “We’ve come a long way, but it’s also true that we haven’t moved as far or as fast as we would like.” Johnson said that one of the biggest challenges is making sure that women’s sports have adequate resources. After buying the Washington Mystics and stepping foot in the locker room for the first time, Johnson said she was disappointed with its poor condition and the message that it sent. “It said women are not valued or taken serious,” she said. “You’re going to have to work just as hard for half as much. That basic disparity is true for the team outside the locker room, too, especially when it comes to corporate sponsorships. I have to work twice as hard to get the sponsorship and I have to work even harder to keep it.”

    Johnson discussed the “vicious cycle” of corporate sponsors’ demands for a larger fan base while struggling to draw an audience with limited sponsorship funding, a problem she says is found all across the WNBA.

    “We need more people to rally behind this league if we want it to flourish and grow,” she said. “We’ve seen countless women athletes’ dreams deferred and destroyed because even though they’re willing to invest their lives in the sport, society is not willing to invest in them.”

    Johnson called on the audience to channel their ideas “into a PR campaign for women’s sports unlike anything the world has ever seen.”

    “Let’s get the world talking about women’s sports,” she said. “Let’s make sure everyone understands why it should have a place on the agenda and why it should be a priority. Let’s make this different. Let’s expand the conversation.”

    Tags: ING, GE, Game Changers, Champion, Champions, GMAC, CES, Washington Mystics, Ping, Ugg, Audi, WNBA, NBA, AIG
  • Panel: Mentoring and Developing the Next Generation of Industry Leaders

    Mentorship, sponsorship and career development were the central theme discussed by five leaders in sports, who all agreed that mentorship can take on many forms and sizes.

     

    Developing the Next Generation


    Moderator Sam Ryan, MLB Network
    Kathy Behrens, NBA
    Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, USOC
    Kathryn Olson, Women's Sports Foundation
    Donna Orender, Orender Unlimited
    Molly Solomon, Golf Channel

    “It’s not necessarily, ‘Oh, would you be my mentor?’” said NBA Executive Vice President Kathy Behrens. "I think mentoring is very important, but you need people in your life who are close to you, who you trust and tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. It doesn’t need to be people who you work for, but it could be just people in your world who know you well and speak to truth to you.” Golf Channel Senior Vice President Molly Solomon said she’s had both mentors and sponsors during her career, noting that longtime journalist Christine Brennan was a mentor while former NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol was a sponsor.  “Mentor is more about words. Sponsors are more about action. Christine Brennan is so fearless and we’ve had such a longtime relationship since I first met her. Dick Ebersol just kept pushing me into new opportunities, and thank God he believed in me more than I believed in myself, or else I wouldn’t be here.” USOC Chief of Organizational Excellence Benita Fitzgerald Mosley also named Ebersol as well as former USOC Chairman Harvey Schiller as mentors, saying that Schiller encouraged her growth within the USOC world. “They put ideas and thoughts in my head that I probably never would have had,” she said. 

     Orender Unlimited CEO Donna Orender said women need to help each other more and support each other. “Mentoring is across all generations,” she said. “Giving back is incredibly important that we all need to do. But, as executives, we need to have the time to mentor each other. We need to change from this whole idea of turning on each other, but turn toward each other. For all of us to really care about each other enough to help each other is critical.”

    QUICK TAKES
    :

    Career advice:
    Behrens: “More people are thinking about sports as a career. They think they have to get that first job in sports right after school. The truth is, there is no straight path. Other experiences could prepare you better than that first initial job in sports. You can build on your career regardless of where you are doing it.  It doesn’t always have to be, ‘Oh, now I’m working in sports, so I’m good.’”

    Mosley: “You have to be present to win. Listening and taking advantage of your opportunities.”

    Orender: “We have to be willing to take the leap and believe in yourself. The whole idea of having encouragement and listening to your voice and make a leap and believing in yourself is vital.”

    Solomon suggested people become “uncomfortable” as there is a penchant for finding comfort: “I’m starting to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable I am, the more grateful I am after getting through a tough situation. So, I’m becoming more comfortable being uncomfortable.”

    Women’s Sports Foundation’s Kathryn Olson: “Sit and learn from people different from yourself. Make an effort to spend time with people who are different. [People you don’t know well or don’t work for] can give you different and very honest advice.”

    On what's next for women in sports:
    Behrens: “What’s next is success [for women]. I think we are poised for a new wave of women leaders.  It’s a good time to be a woman.”

    Orender: “I agree. It’s a good time to be us.”

    Olson said she would like to see more men attend the Game Changers conference next year: “If we’re talking to ourselves, we’re not getting anywhere. We have to engage men in the conversation.”

    Solomon: “I think it’s really important to see women in power. It’s all about seeing people in power. I think that is going to change for the next generation, because if they can see it, they can do it.”

    On leadership:
    Behrens: “You can be a leader who treats people with respect. It’s possible for everyone to be responsible for how you treat people. Don’t be a jerk is a pretty good way to go to work in the morning.”

    Solomon: “I can’t be someone other than myself. I’m choosing to be nice and relentlessly pleasant – that’s who I am.” She recalled her initial experience at Golf Channel and meeting some new colleagues.  “I sat down and I barked at them, and I said to myself, 'Who is this person?’ I told myself, ‘I need to be myself.’  You have to believe in yourself because the people who put you in the job believe in you.”

    Solomon: “Women are grinders. We stay late and we want to get the job done, so we probably don’t network as well as we should. We need to get out more and walk the office floor and get to other events, but so often we’re just trying to get our check list done.”

    Quote of the day:
    Behrens drew a big laugh when asked how to balance young children and her work life: “You have no choice. They are there when you get home. There is no great advice. You just do it.”


    Tags: NTRA, Ping, ING, GE, MLB, MLB Network, NBA, USOC, Golf, Golf Channel, CES, NBC, GMAC
  • One-on-One: Irina Pavlova on fan experience, jersey ads and doing business in the U.S.

    Pavlova: "You have to go with what your customers want."

    Fan experience, interactivity and advertising on jerseys were among the topics covered by Onexim Sports & Entertainment President Irina Pavlova during a wide-ranging one-on-one interview at the 2014 Game Changers conference in New York City.

    Pavlova said she would like to see jersey patch advertising become a regular sponsorship feature in the NBA. “I personally think we’re missing out on the huge revenue stream on the jersey patch advertising,” said Pavlova, whose Onexim Sports & Entertainment holds a 45 percent interest in the Barclays Center. “I’m hopeful that that is something that will come up in the near future for a new discussion. The problem is, there are 30 teams in the league, everyone has a different financial situation, market, different willingness to spend and it’s just hard to get everyone to agree on the same thing.”

    Pavlova says she pays close attention to what fans focus on during Brooklyn Nets home games. “I try to pay attention to what all the fans are doing and how they perceive our game-day experience and entertainment,” Pavlova said. “(Dallas Mavericks Owner) Mark Cuban has a different perspective. He thinks fans should be focused on the game and not texting. I think you have to go with what your customers want. I see our customers wanting to share pictures and videos with their friends and check in and let everyone know where they are. If they have to hit that send button 15 times because Wi-Fi isn’t working at Mark Cuban’s arena, I don’t think we’re providing the full experience.”


    Pavlova, who was Google’s first employee in Russia before joining Onexim, talked about the differences in doing business in Russia and the United States. “I think the U.S. business culture is a lot more structured (than Moscow),” she said. “It probably has to do with having over 100 people in the same office every day, trying to do their jobs. I find that I am the translator between Brooklyn and Moscow in terms of how things are done and how the league works.”

    Regarding diversity in the workplace, Pavlova said, “Women bring a very different perspective to the table, especially people coming in from different industries. I think hiring the right people and keeping an open mind takes care of diversity for itself.” She also commented on the tendency for assertive women to be branded as abrasive and said that there often needs to be a delicate balance between the two. “I found, personally, that if I’m nice, it’s often mistaken for weakness, and people try to walk all over me and take advantage of me being nice,” Pavlov said. “When you become a little more firm, you are branded bossy. I probably am branded bossy more than I am branded nice. But that’s the price of getting things done sometimes.”

    QUICK TAKES:

    On the Ray Rice scandal: “I think that we all know the right thing to say, but the big question is, Do we have the guts to actually do the right thing? I would like to think that we would do the right thing. There’s no place for something like that in sports. There’s no place for that in society. There should be no tolerance for that. I fully support the decision to suspend him indefinitely.”

    On new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: “David Stern was commissioner for 30 years and there was a certain way of doing business and certain entrenched relationships that went along with that. I think Adam brought a freshness to the league. It’s a lot more engaging for the owners, and I think they’re a lot more open for discussion.”

    Tags: ING, GE, Game Changers, NBA, GMAC, Barclays, ATT, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Videos
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