Game On!

Alex Reibel

Pivotal, world-altering, moments are hard to forget. We remember where we were, who we were with, what we felt, and identified the possibilities that these defining moments could lead. July 10th, 1999, was one of these moments. 

On that hot day in Los Angeles, the #USWNT beat China in final of the Women’s World Cup. The game came down to penalty kicks, with Brandi Chastain scoring the winning goal and her subsequent celebration in her sports bra was the happiest, most exuberant moment ever in sports. While not in the stands of the Rose Bowl among the 90,000 record-making crowd, I watched the game from my living room with my daughter napping in my arms. She was barely 2 years old at the time. 

This historic win broke open women’s sports, smashed glass ceilings, and catapulted Title IX’s impact. When Title IX passed in 1972, I was the exact age as my daughter was when Chastain ripped off her jersey.

FIFA Germany 2011From the moment my daughter was born, I knew her potential was unlimited. This was cemented in the final, stressful moments of penalty kicks during that 1999 World Cup final. As my daughter started to walk, then run, I signed her up for multiple sports. She quickly settled into soccer as her favorite. Soccer dominated our lives: posters of Mia Hamm, attending women’s professional soccer games, meeting Carli Lloyd and other #USWNT members over the years continue to inspire my daughter and millions of young, strong girls around the globe.

The same sport is also loved by her two younger brothers. We attended the Women’s World Cup in Germany during 2011. It was during this trip that my 10 year old son watched the women who dominated the field of play with intensity and respect. On that trip, I felt like my job was done as a mom: my son appreciates women’s sports.

My daughter became a goalkeeper and ended up loving to defend penalty kicks. Her reasoning for this was data-driven: all the pressure is on the kicker, most pk’s result in a goal, but if she could sense the correct direction once in a while, then her lifetime stats defending them might be pretty good. Her resulting stats were better than average, earning her a D1 experience. She not only played soccer on IU Women’s team, she was a member of IU Women’s rowing team (thanks, Title IX). 

Alex Reibel, IU Soccer

Fighting for gender equality, with “equal pay” being chanted at the end of #USWNT game, is at the top of the list for societal change. The attention to LGBTQ freedoms and acceptance is another very important issue that the #USWNT is unapologetically championing. Watching #USWNT continue the fight for equality and speaking out for women’s rights with an intensity of focus as strong as their play on the pitch redefines multi-tasking. 

Witnessing history can have an indelible impact. I hope July 7th, 2019 is one of those dates. The magic of these moments is identifying the possibilities of the ripple effect. Little girls around the world are watching.

Intrapreneurship: A Driving Force Within Companies

This post originally appeared in my column on Inside Indiana Business.

“Intrapreneurship,” the application of entrepreneurial practices within the confines of large, established corporations, is steadily becoming a commonly-used term. Many of Indiana’s largest companies encourage intrapreneurship within their walls. This simply means that taking risks with innovation is encouraged, whether in small teams or individuals. Many companies without the budgets of these big firms are also experimenting with intrapreneurship, some relying upon it as a source for new business ideas or growth strategies for old ones.

“According to the Kauffman Foundation, it’s not small companies that are responsible for economic growth, it’s new companies,” says ClearObject John McDonald. “Companies less than 5 years old are responsible for nearly all of the [net] new job growth in our economy. That’s why introducing intrapreneurialism into existing companies is so critical, it’s the engine that fuels the creation of new opportunities and new businesses from within.”

Memory Ventures, a company which relocated to Fishers from Los Angeles, encourages their employees to take risks, even allocating funding and a time limitation on experimental projects. Many of these projects don’t result in success, but that’s a key part of the ethos of intrapreneurship.

“A lot can be learned through failure,” says Anderson Schoenrock, CEO of Memory Ventures. “When given a concise budget and time frame, the money spent is worth the outcome – which means it is successful if it flies or fails.”

Startup tech companies rely upon intrapreneurs to compliment their fast growth companies. In fact, this characteristic is highly sought after when assembling early stage teams. This is due to the fact that those individuals have a rare mix of corporate experience and existing business connections alongside the risk-taking and trial-by-error mentality of an entrepreneur. Tech startups live or die by experimentation. For example, user experience issues need to be resolved urgently, with intrapreneurship being key to the success or failure of these companies.

Becci Medhurst, an Australian serial intrapreneur, moved to the U.S. in 2016 to continue her work within startup companies. She is VP of Operations for Kenzie Academy, a tech apprenticeship school focused on education, mentorship, and job placement here in Indianapolis.

“Today’s intrapreneurs are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs,” states Medhurst. “Emerging tech ecosystems are generally very supportive of founders and emerging companies, but should look to take a step further in strengthening the support of our future tech leaders who are taking the risk and getting behind these new startup ventures as early employees.”

It surprises no experienced intrapreneur to discover that First Internet Bank CEO and Chairman David Becker encourages his employees to take risks. Becker is a serial entrepreneur who has stayed engaged with First Internet Bank through intrapreneurship.

“I have no problem if one of our employees takes a risk and fails, in fact, I encourage it,” shares serial entrepreneur Becker. “I just don’t want them to make the same mistake twice.”

This is something she hopes to tackle with Kenzie Academy, fostering innovative tech leaders who will be able to take an idea, build a successful team around them, and produce a profitable and scalable product/solution.

“These are the sorts of employees who will commit their time, invest their skills and benefit greatly by building their careers alongside the success of the companies they work for,” says Medhurst, who recognizes synergies between Australia’s emerging startup ecosystem, and what she’s witnessed here in Indy.

Cultivating intrapreneurship within a company may create surprise outcomes, such as growth and creative problem solving. Given the start of a new year, perhaps it’s time for more companies to experiment with celebrating intrapreneurs.

4 Steps to A Successful Personal Pivot

This post originally appeared on The People Reader.

Throughout your career and life, you will find yourself needing to make a few personal pivots to stay in alignment with your joy. Even when you think you have it all figured out, misalignments happen and you can either stay in it and be unfulfilled, or you can take action to make the needed changes. In this episode, I talk with writer/storyteller/tech maven, Kara Kavensky, who shares 4 key steps to managing through your personal pivot process and finding a way to reclaim your joy.

Who is your mentor?

The other night I attended a cocktail reception for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40. It was the celebration of the incoming class as well as alums. I was honored to be a guest of my dear friend Jenny Massey, a recent alum of this fraternity.

The publisher of the IBJ, Greg Morris, in his first job out of college, worked with my mom. He and his wife are big fans of hers.

My mom was a high-level account executive at a very popular local radio station, WIBC. She worked mostly with men. She was a pioneer for women in sales and marketing during the 80s and early 90s.

It was a pleasure listening to stories about my mom in this manner, for I’d not heard this before.

“You didn’t mess with Kenna.”
“She was a force.”
“She was breaking ceilings.”
“She put up with a lot of bullshit.”
“If you were a powerful female and also pretty, you were called a bitch.”

I never questioned that she was a hard worker. She was a doer and got shit done. She was always an upbeat, positive ball of energy. To her credit, I never heard her complain about a single incident. This could be that she was too busy to care, for she was kinetic energy. I knew many, if not all, of her clients, as I attended many sporting events and concerts thanks to her connections. I was the defacto intern, having spent many of my teenage summers schlepping bumper stickers for the radio station at the State Fair or helping with other promotional events.

My mom made it look easy. While I knew struggles existed on some level, she appeared as if there was no issue, ever, for women in the workplace. I had no idea of the full reality of her experiences.

Only a year ago on the way to her grandson’s soccer game, upon passing a business that has been cut off by a newly elevated road, did I hear her mention something about karma as she smiled.

I’ve been asked many times who my mentors are, and have not hesitated to mention unequivocally my mom and Kathy Kebo (an amazing friend and another force of nature).

The comments shared describing my mom’s presence and work ethic resonate with me, for most all of those comments are ones that I have heard – spoken of me, so I must be doing something right. Apparently, I come from a line of strong women, and my daughter is no exception, in fact, I pale in comparison.

The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or in this case, the ovaries.

 

So it goes…

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Last Saturday morning, Dan Wakefield and I had just been seated at Cafe Patachou when I saw a woman seated at the bar who looked nearly identical in profile, even in 3/4 profile, to a museum laboratory scientist that I recently interviewed.

(full disclosure: I did not have my glasses on)

I told Dan I needed to say hello quickly and asked if I should introduce him. He shook his head with an expression of “Please, do not do that to me”.

As I was just about to tap the woman on the shoulder, I hear her say to a staff member across the bar and to her left (all I had was the back of her head at this moment),

“Please tell him my ass doesn’t look like a waffle iron.”

All rightly then…I clearly had the wrong woman.

So she turns and I politely introduce myself and tell her she looks very familiar and expressed my apologies for realizing when it was too late that she was not whom I thought she was but it was worth the risk of embarrassment.

She says, “Well at least you didn’t tell me that I looked like the dead, homeless woman you stepped over on your walk over here.” (2 for 2)

I told her that indeed, she did not and quickly left her side. I shared it with Dan after I could speak again.

A couple nights later, I was with Dan again, this time attending his Uncle Dan’s Story Hour, a radio show recorded in Dan’s beloved watering hole, The Red Key Tavern. His featured guest was Mark Vonnegut, Kurt’s oldest son. Dan was friends with Mark’s father and it seems only natural that Mark would have an affinity for Dan, especially in the wake of Kurt’s passing. However, I believe the two would be friends, irregardless of the friendship Dan shared with Mark’s famous father.

My relationship with Dan is one of friends, as I have written about before, but Dan is one of my closest friends, a best friend. He’s trustworthy and a great listener, which is what every great friendship should be based upon. Dan is also one of the funniest people I know, in his own way of course. He speaks volumes with an expression, he can react with sincere annoyance, such as the poor crop of movies he’s receiving right now from the Screenwriter’s Guild (Oscar contenders) and trigger my laughter.

To be clear, I am not laughing at him, but his outbursts are funny, even when he is not trying to be. He doesn’t get annoyed with me for laughing (note: another friend trait). Both of my grandfathers died prior to my 6th birthday, so it seems natural for me to have a relationship like this with Dan, although he prefers “mature father figure” to that of “grandfather”. Watching Mark reach over and touch Dan’s back during the taping of the show, or as evidenced in the photo where I stand in the middle, is an act of affection by Mark.

I get it. I feel it, too.

 

DanWakefield.com and if you don’t think an 84-year old is on Twitter, guess again: @DanWakefieldInk

Olympic Moments

As I watched the end of the women’s road race, it was painful to watch the horrific crash of the leader (Annemiek van Vlueten) on the final slope to the finish line, giving American Mara Abbot, the lead. The race was hers to lose, and lose she did. In a moment of shear authenticity after the race, Abbot admitted that she did not believe she could win.

Ok…WHAT?! She is an Olympic athlete…how in the world did she make it this far if she didn’t believe in her own abilities?

I will tell you that the three women in a small wolf pack behind her CLEARLY believed they could win, and did by passing Abbot with mere yards to go.

Did this gal miss the visualization aspect of not just professional athleticism, but a tool that everyone can use to their benefit?

I want to hire Rowdy Gaines to shadow me all day long providing his signature enthusiastic color commentary of my day. He’s the best part of the Olympics for me – he’s so authentic and genuine in his exuberance. I don’t know how you sit next to that. I would stare in amazement at him with a permanent smile on my face and giggle. My mic would have to be turned off in case I’d snort. I’d forget why I was there. Forget play by play, who needs it with Rowdy covering the events. It would be wonderful to sit there and enjoy him.

Lilly King and Katie Meili prior to swimming for gold and bronze respectfully in the 100m breaststroke, were talking to one another in the ready room. Miele said to Lilly, “In fifteen minutes our lives are changing forever.”

Prophetic.

Yes, they both won medals. and each of the girls returned to their home towns (Lilly King is a sophomore at IU, was in my daughter’s mythology class last semester and I am getting reports every time my daughter sees her in the weight room or at the bus stop), but what is different? What has changed?

The difference is Lilly and Katie now know what they are capable of. Not only did Lilly win a gold medal, she set a new Olympic record in her event. Meili won bronze and the Russian, who Lilly shook her finger at the night before while watching her heat on a monitor, catapulting Lilly’s status as a fan favorite, got the silver.

They know what they are capable of. This is powerful. We all have moments or glimpses of what we are truly capable of. Many visualize and work hard to create their reality, and each of us possesses infinite capacity for love.

Kara Kavensky

Kara Kavensky