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Archive for the month “September, 2011”

Being the little fish

i’m fresh back from an exceptional Conference in Arizona – the ESPNW Women+ Sport Summit. ESPN brought the most influential peeps in sports media, journalism, retail and consumer goods (in sport primarily), social media and top World Champion and Olympic athletes from today and years past into the same beautiful spot to discuss the ways we are, and could be, doing a  better job of highlighting women in sport for female fans and athletes alike.

There aren’t too many Conferences where early morning yoga sessions, mid-day “Nike Training Boot camps”, desert hikes or mountain biking interrupt their normal educational Panel and workshop discussions.   fortunately, my 2 hour mountain biking session didn’t fall before the Panel discussion I was featured on.  Sitting for 90 minutes would have been near impossible due to a nasty bruise/huge rash on my thigh caused by a rather unfortunate accident whle I blazed down a sandy, rocky trail as if I was on a road bike. Lesson #1:  Mountain biking takes way more skill than road riding. 

Yes, the Summit was one of the best I’ve ever been to. And yes, it was even better than last year.


i missed seeing or hearing from female athletes who were elite cyclists, marathoners or long distance x-country runners, triathletes or duathletes.

And although I was privileged to sit on a Panel of incredibly dinguished members (Microsoft, PopSugar, BlogHer) to discuss the topic of Technology+Building Communities of Women, I was the only one representing a company that focused on building communities of women in sport .


The topic changed shortly before the conference, i noticed, when the “in sport” got dropped from the title of the Panel.  But we were at a Conference where “sport+women” is in the title.  I was a bit confused, and feeling quite – small.

My confusion was only slightly abated when i heard that a major sport beverage company had formed a partnership with another Panelist’s company ….. to reach their female audience who wrote and read about fitness.

my feelings of uncertainty, low self-confidence and anxiety were assuaged by a few of my awesome Advisors (the ultra cool MD, and DS behind Powergenix) when they reminded me there is influence in my me being “little” and “lone”.  Remember, they coached, “you are the one that started a company built to build communities of women in sport.” Using technology to create meaningful, interactive conversations and relationships to do so. And doing it in a way that grew loyal, rabid fans in the process.

so yet again, in this journey of founding a company, i’ve discovered the power you can have in your own voice, smarts, and influence.  even if you’re the little guy in the room, you’ve been invited there. so put your game face on, get in the zone, and go let muscle-memory do the rest. indeed, my training paid off just fine.

although i wasn’t representing a hugely successful blog network, production company or search engine, I was the only business focused on building a community of women in sport. A boon perhaps.

we all started somewhere.  3x World Champion and multi-world record holder,  CW , had to pull out of her first short course championship triathlon because she wore the wrong size wetsuit.  Ben & Jerry went to VT because it was the only college town they found that didn’t sell ice cream. And those velour track suits everybody is still wearing? Pamela and Gela of Juicy Couture Clothing didn’t take a salary for two years, starting their clothing line with $200 and a revolving line of credit, before anybody found their goodies at Bloomingdales, Neiman-Marcus or Saks.

so play with enthusiasm, smiles and authenticity. 

size doesn’t always matter.


feeling like a race car

these days spending 3-5 minutes with your doctor is the norm. if you’re really lucky, your doc looks up at you to issue a diagnosis.

when you’re with surgeons, it starts to feel a bit awkward if the time you spend with them is equal to the time it takes to order a burrito.

 i joked with my Pit Crew of surgeons about feeling like i was in a NASCAR event the other day.  the nurse came in, shot me up with some nice numbing potion (that came out of an instrument that looked like something you’d squeeze caulk out of – and was just as big), and then in streamed the Pit Crew.

All nice enough guys. big smiles. crackin some jokes.

but then all three of them got down to business. lights on. 3 sets of eyeballs hovering around my chest to get to work…(something a girl might normally get giddy about)… and then there was some beeps, more beeps, and smoke… and then they all filed out. 2 minutes later we were done. at least for that round.

Yes. there was smoke. apparently that’s what happens when you cauterize blood vessels.

They each had a specific job, and then scurried quickly out of the room after the smoke cleared (but not before congratulating each other on a job well done). which made me laugh for a second, call them back in and thank “My Pit Crew”.  To which i got a few chuckles, and they were off.

the whole episode was followed by another surgeon, who had to tie up the crater these guys left with his own fancy knot-work. Not quite the Pit Crew type, but thankfully, he ended our engagement rather uneventfully with a smile, handshake and a bottle of vicadin.

it’s too soon to tell if all is well in my little sliver of paradise. but i can say for sure, i’m happy to see surgeons for less than 2 minutes if i can see my general doc for longer than 5. 

No smoking preferred. 



the invitation

Spending a week in lake tahoe, in northern cal, has its ups and downs.  the ups:  you are really up there. some 6500 ft. you can see a long way, and the view is spectacular from that vantage point.

there’s a lot of happy, healthy people toodling around.


the air is clean and it even feels different on your skin.

the downs: usually self-imposed.

My self-imposed downs were eventually righted, thankfully. But it compelled me to think more about invitations.

Invitations are like micro-opportunities. Sure, there are the kind that pop up in our everyday chats; “would you join us…?” or “what are you doing next week for dinner?” Those are more of easy variety, a la the softball toss.

Then the kind that show up in our Inbox as an “Evite”.

But the real five-star winners are the ones you can’t really detect as invitations. They are bold statements (“You’ll never be able to….” OR  “I’m feeling terribly lonely and my sickness is scaring me”).  They are an invitation for action. Your action.

In the past weeks, I’ve had two. One came from a world champion athlete and good friend.  First it was veiled behind a “You should go to _____ to watch me race”. Later, it came in an email, addressed to me and her parents, her closest family members, and several dear friends: “To all on Team Wellington Crew”. And what followed was a short but sweet ‘invitation’ that outlined what we would be doing the week of the most significant race in her year, and how we could (and should) reach each other while we were there.

The second invitation was more of the “I’m feeling miserable” variety.  And, coming from a parent, or loved one, these tend to get ignored more than they should. It was, however, one that I didn’t – and was the cause for a few self-imposed “Downs” as I mentioned at the start of this post.  In the end, the action taken (a visit to my parents) brought delicious memories that will last as long as the grey matter between my ears keeps gifting me with its magical powers.

Invitations are curious things.  The ones that seem the least like them, are sometimes the most thrilling, important, or deserving of attention, a second look.

what’s the difference?

Over time, a word that once generated curiosity, conversation and maybe even excitement, grows tired, over-used and less powerful.

The word awesome, the phrase leadership development, and paradigm shift’are words and phrases that, in their movement from scarcity to commodity, have lost their value to the listener.  In some cases evoking snores, side-ways sneers and endless comedic material.

In our socially-technofied world, brands look more and more for ways to ‘engage’ or create an ‘experience’ for their audiences. Harkening back to a day when people got together to socialize and create memories, perhaps.

Conventions, blogger summits, races, international tours, you name it, everyone is calling their event an experience. 

But aren’t those events?

Trade show and conference producers, race organizers and tour guides; you’re not under attack here. The question is, how are your events distinguished from experiences? And how do you guarantee we know the difference?


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