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.