4 Game Changing Lessons

Game Changers Class of 2016 - Photo Credit: SportsBusiness Journal

By: Arin Segal, @arinsegal

An incredible event happens in September that brings together over 400 strong women (and a few bold enough males) to discuss the state of women in the sports industry, both on and off the field. The Sports Business Journal Game Changers conference started four years ago and tackles the questions most don’t like to talk about. The one-day conference also honors a group of Game Changing women who have impacted the industry as a whole.

I have been fortunate to attend the last two years, first as a volunteer and this year as a mentee in the LeadDog Mentoring Challenge. The conversations raised, discussions had and progress spotlighted was once again incredible. Yes, there is still plenty of progress left to be made, but there has been some great successes, and as someone just starting in the industry, I’m privileged to see women on stage speaking who have trailblazed a path for me to have ideas and opinions heard.

While I rapid fire tweeted nuggets of information during the event, I wanted to spotlight a few key ideas from the conference.

On Career Growth

Over and over again throughout the day, the message was clear: leverage your strengths, understand your weaknesses, use failure as a learning experience and chase the jobs you want. We all have to pay our dues, and if you want to work at a high level in sales, you need to start small and build. The important thing to remember is that people aren’t always going to just notice and promote you; you need to take the initiative and make it known what your career aspirations are. The other key nugget came from WNBA President, Lisa Borders, who reminded us all that failure is not fatal, it’s feedback. 

On Hiring and Diversity

This can always be a tricky subject to discuss due to the legal aspects involved in hiring. The message throughout the day, however, was diversity doesn’t only mean getting more women or ethnic groups into roles; it means including people at the table who have a different opinion than you may have. There was a resounding agreement that some of the best marketing campaigns or sales moves happened because the conference room wasn’t filled with duplicates. On that same vein, there was a message to all the young professionals to be your own person rather than imitating someone else. Lastly, the key to finding an open door was to look where change is happening, be it a merger, coaching change, acquisition or startup.

On Mental Attitude

The keynote speaker for the event was author and researcher Ashley Merryman, who broke down the mental state of challenge vs. threat when dealing with stress. In short, if you are in a challenge state, your adrenaline is pumping, the blood is flowing and you are ready to face the stress head on. In a threat state, your body basically starts to shut down and that stress mounts even more. The simple change in mental state when dealing with stress can have an impact not just on business, but school and personal decisions. I highly suggest checking out her books for the science and more detailed explanations of the mindset to win.

On Taking Chances

The other big point echoed throughout the day, and throughout the theme of the conference yearly, is to take chances. It may be the boldness to solve a problem that is talked about for years or to stick with an authentic brand ambassador who may go through a rough patch or two. Finally, it might mean turning left with a purpose when everyone else is blindly turning right.

I’ll be back with a whole post about navigating conferences, but if you have questions about this conference or conferences in general drop a comment, email or tweet, and I’m happy to answer it!

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