How Pro Athletes Get BIG Sponsors with Athlete Manager and Media Relations Expert Jen Horsey
Jen, biggest mistake athletes make when approaching sponsors. Give it to me. What do we got? The
athlete thinks it’s all about them. It is not about them. It is about the sponsor. It is not about what the athlete needs. It’s about what the sponsor needs.
Oh my God. I love it. Was it? So how do you fix that?
Because. That is such a huge problem. And I see it all the time with decks that I review. What’s like the first thing that you, you want people to actually focus on it as an athlete, when they’re redoing their deck or looking at their approach, what’s the thing that you want them to change or work on? to resolve that
I wish it was easy, right? I wish I could tell them like one thing here. This is going to get you the deal. And it isn’t, it usually is, Hey, look, you need to rethink this whole document. Why don’t we start over? Because often if you’re coming at it from the perspective of the athlete, you’re like, okay, it costs me this much to do my thing.
I really want to do my thing. Someone pay me to do my thing. And really it is. I mean, I reached this many eyeballs, this many people follow me and this particular partner needs this and I can offer that and they’re just completely different documents. So usually we’re like, okay, let’s start over. Um, and then the other part of it is in trying to figure out what their unique selling proposition is.
They. Make things a little too complicated. So really the other thing is simplifying the message for the athlete. It’s look, I do this, I reach this and we should partner because I can offer you that. So it should be really simple. It should be an elevator pitch. And those are the things that I usually recommend just right off the bat when I start working with somebody.
Wow. I love it. And we’re going to go deeper, but let me introduce. Someone who I was really excited. I probably say this in every podcast, but I’m telling you this was different because she’s spicy, she’s smart. We have Jen Horsey, um, who has worked for 20 years in media, even though it doesn’t look like that’s possible.
She has worked for 20 years in media and communications as a broadcaster, producer, media relations, professional sponsorship, director, driver, manager, and brand marketing consultant. In addition, her specialty is an action motor sport, which obviously action motor sports is our thing. So that’s why she’s here.
We love it. She’s one of the founders of global rally cross. Which, Hey, I’m a big time Travis Pastrana fan. I’ve seen some crazy things he’s done in rallycross. So we’ll get into that. And that was, uh, the founder of that when it started in the United States. And she also served as the first ever female racing analyst in ESPN’s history.
That’s cool. And she has also led sponsorship and marketing for a leading formula drift team for more than a decade. Um, she’s also ventured into tech and in 2018 was a leader on the team that ran the first ever fully autonomous run up the hill at the Goodwood. Festival of speed. Um, and in addition, she got her start in motorsport as a racer.
So not only does she consult, but she’s been behind the wheel. I love it. And her first driving experience was in grassroots stage rally events near her hometown of Toronto. And then as a professional navigator competing in Canada, the U S and New Zealand, she graduated from active competition in 2011, where she then moved to LA.
To pursue a full time career in motorsports, marketing, and communications. And her client roster has included a host of motorsport endemic and non endemic brands, including Red Bull, which I have an addiction to sugar free Red Bull, but I’ve been working on it. Toyota, Subaru, Roborace, Gridlife, which we’ll talk about that because Gridlife just happened this weekend, Tanner Fost, Papadakis Racing, uh, including Ryan Turk and, uh, Frederick Osbo, who by the way, have been giving us Uh, fits for the last couple of years.
Uh, cause I work in a competing team with Matt field, uh, wheel pros, global rally cross NBC X games, racer magazine, and torque. And if you want to find her on Instagram, uh, it’s just her name. Jen at Jen. So at Jen J E N horsey H O R S E Y Jen. That’s. A resume. What, what’s the one thing that I just mentioned that you’re most proud of?
Oh, tough question. So, you know, as I say, like, keep it simple. I’m not great at that with myself. So I, I don’t market myself. I market my athletes. And it’s tough for me to find one thing that I’m most proud of, right? I, I have like a serial host of passions and I just follow them where my heart goes. Um, if there’s a thread that goes through all of that is that I’m really motivated to give talent the resources that it needs to thrive.
So whether that’s telling their story on the media or finding the funding or helping them to develop their own persona to be able to tell their own story. It’s really about supporting people who are really good at a thing and helping them learn how to do that for a living and supporting them at doing that for a living.
Um, I’m not really good at a thing. Like I’m a mediocre race car driver. I’m a pretty good navigator. Um, but I’m pretty good. I’m really good at marketing and communications plans and at working with partners and networking to help. Support somebody. If I believe in the project, I can sell it through whatever means that is, whether that’s selling it to get money or selling it to get the ideas out into the world.
And that’s what I do.
So one thing you just said that I really loved is you said if you believe in the project, right? And so that resonated with me because. I feel like with anything you need to have conviction. And I think the, the more I get into like the mental performance side of things, the more I start to get fascinated with certain words that I feel like just don’t get the love that they deserve.
And I think conviction is a big one, you know, cause if I told you that I think, yeah, you know, I think I’m a really, you know, good mental performance coach. It’s like, I’m not working with you. I’m out. But if there’s the conviction behind it and the belief, like you’re saying, Um, It carries a huge amount of weight.
I mean, we, we know that just from the mental performance that we were talking about, believing in yourself. So what is it that brands are looking for? In an athletes that makes them want to believe in the, the athlete, believe in their mission or their journey, because I feel like a lot of the athletes that are pursuing companies, they tend to pursue the same companies with the same deck and the same unique value proposition, which is it doesn’t exist.
And what, what are companies looking for to believe and have that conviction in an athlete? What have you seen in your experience?
Um, they want connection. They want connection to their brands, core values, and therefore the audience they’re trying to reach. And I think the easiest place to look at that and understand that is most of us can immediately look at an athlete, whether they have an energy drink sponsor or not, and go, that’s a Red Bull athlete.
That’s a monster energy athlete. That’s a rockstar athlete because those brands are all really clearly defined. And which one of those brands do you align with? If you’re maybe a little bit of a bad guy, you’re probably going to be a monster athlete. If you’re squeaky clean and work real hard and do all your homework and turn it all in on time, you’re a Red Bull athlete.
So it’s. You know, it’s trying to understand where your brand value aligns with the partners and make a good partnership that you can’t force. You cannot force a Red Bull athlete to be a monster athlete. Like it’s just not a good fit, right? So it’s figuring out what that alignment is and leaning into it.
I like it. And so when a brand is looking to find that alignment, because that’s, I love that word there, there does need to be an alignment. Cause you’re basically an extension of the brand. If you’re the athlete, I mean, you’re representing them and that can work. for the brand. But at the same time, you could also do some things where it could have a negative impact on the brand.
Um, what are some of the things that they’re actually looking for? I mean, are they looking at, you know, because they want to look for alignment. They also want to look for an ROI, which I want to talk about that as well. But when they’re looking for alignment, I mean, are they paying attention to the things that you say on camera.
Are they looking at how you, how your team presents itself? Even at events, the relationships with, um, fans. I mean, what, what seems to be the way that they approach looking to see if an athlete is in alignment with their
brand or not? I mean, so much of us have so much of our own lives out on social media.
Like I’m not a particularly famous person, but a couple thousand people can figure out what I’m doing any given weekend by looking at my social media. Um, Your social media says a lot about who you are, your media interviews, the way you conduct yourself at events. Um, I wouldn’t call them scouts, but people who are looking for athletes are really aware of the athlete probably longer than the athlete is aware that they’re being looked at.
Um, and. You know, people like us are just out in the world sort of thinking, well, who could be a next project? What, you know, who’s doing really well, but maybe isn’t well supported. What can we do to help that person? Um, and usually for me, it’s like, I’m, I’m looking and I’m seeing people who are performing really well or who have a really interesting brand that they’ve already established and they haven’t found the alignments yet.
And I can see an opportunity there. So I’m using the athlete usually to cue who the partner might be. Um, and. It’s tough to pinpoint one particular thing, but when you go and you present yourself, um, expect them to dig through all of your online, everything from the beginning of time, um, and expect them to want to get to know you, right?
Like when you get past the early, like, here’s my deck and you start having conversations, they’re going to get to know you just like it’s a job interview. And those are the ways that people, that those alignments emerge. Um, and if you have somebody like me on your team, who’s helping to, point out what I know the brand is looking for versus what the athlete has to offer.
We’re going to really lean into those particular things, but, um, brands work with a lot of people. Um, and it’s about building those relationships.
Yeah. And I love it. Cause it, it seems like to your point that one of the most underrated things is just. Um, relationships, you know, and and relationships, you know, what’s a relationship?
You know, I always think of of that as a starting point. I said, well, if I want to form a relationship with someone, um, what is it based on? And whether it’s romantic or professional, I think a lot of times it boils down to. And I think one of the ways that you build trust is to be authentic and honest.
And then also to also be a little bit vulnerable. You know, I actually just met someone who was trying to hire me for something and she was actually vulnerable with me and told me something that, um, maybe like, I didn’t realize it till afterwards, but I’m like, wow, why do I feel so connected to this woman?
And there were a lot of things that she did that were valuable in the conversation. We had great conversation, but she kind of shared something with me that. That you wouldn’t maybe share the average person and that really helped. And to be honest with you, she’s probably gonna, her and I are probably gonna end up working together.
Uh, we’ll find out later today, but you know, how do athletes come into, let’s say that you get past the deck, you clear that, that barrier, you get past that now, all of a sudden you’re having conversations, you’re in negotiations. What are the mistakes that athletes tend to make? Once the discussions, once you get to the point where it’s like, all right, we got through that first barrier, we’re having discussions.
Um, maybe when it comes to just the alignment piece, but then also maybe if you could also talk about a little bit when it comes to the numbers game, you know, because I feel like a lot of athletes kind of sound desperate and they sound needy and how can they approach a sponsor without having that energy?
Because I think it’s very noticeable and palatable.
So double barrel question, but, and really different answers. So, um, One of the mistakes I see athletes making all the time is that they only want to share their successes, especially early in their career. It’s like they don’t feel entitled to failure.
They don’t feel entitled to growth. They just need to like win. And because yes, obviously we’re all out on the course trying to win, right? Whatever it is that we’re doing, we want to be the best that we do. We don’t, nobody starts at the best and at any given event, one guy or girl wins. Right? Everybody else loses.
Second place is like the loneliest position on the podium, right? So… You’ve got to share the journey of the thing you want to get your partners to engage in like they should feel sad with you when you don’t win and they should because if they don’t feel sad with you when you don’t win, they’re not really going to celebrate your wins.
They’re just going to be like, well, they want again. Great. So one of the things that I usually do with athletes is put together a communication plan. Um, we’re going to tell our Even if we’re not feeling 100 percent confident that whatever is ready, we don’t like that course, the car isn’t ready. I’m not having the best week, whatever it is, depending on your sport, whatever your sort of performance goal is, your, you would know mental coaching, how you get through those hurdles, but in terms of actual, like.
Readiness or how we’re feeling about that race. We’re going to go in, we’re going to be excited that we’re going there. We’re going to share that excitement with the partners. We’re going to be very optimistic about how, what the outcome might be, but not promise to win. We’re just going to go in and be optimistic.
Say that it’s going to be fun or whatever we’re leaning into because you don’t have to be a winner by the way to sell Sponsorships, there are many other ways to tell your story. That isn’t just winning winning is one small piece um And then after the weekend, we’re going to tell them what happened and maybe we lost and maybe it was really disappointing I don’t remember what I don’t know how you felt after the formula drift season ender, but I was certainly very disappointed coming out of that one.
Um, and we shared that with our partners. We had a really tough weekend and we did not come out with the result that we wanted. That happens sometimes. There’s always next year, right? And our partners are going to come along and they’re going to cheer for us and they’re going to support us because they’re invested.
in our story, successes and failures. So it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to show your journey. You want to be on a generally upward trajectory, but upward trajectory doesn’t necessarily mean going from 20th to first. It might mean going from being the guy nobody’s talking about because they’re 20th and haven’t put a story out in the world to being the go to funny guy on the track who gets the interview and gets their brand logo every time, regardless of whether they’re winning or not.
I love that. Yeah. Cause it’s true because Now, is there a metric I want to see if you agree or disagree with this metric when back like maybe like 10 years ago, I was a little bit more involved with the marketing side of like motocross supercross and was fascinated with that when we talked about TV time, we had the number.
The number that permeated was. I don’t know where this number came from. It just, everyone just started kind of like sometimes you tell a story and everyone just starts believing it without having the evidence to support it. But the metric that we always used was for every 30 seconds of TV time, we could get a brand, uh, exposure, which by the way, There’s a huge difference in, in kind of, uh, defining that, right?
Because are you talking about the brand and are you talking about the product and the benefits it has to you? Or is there just a picture of the sticker on your shirt, which is like, come on guys, like that doesn’t really cover is hold as much weight as we think we used to say. 8, 000 for every 30 seconds.
Um, maybe I call her up a little bit about like how to, how to brands like approach, like the ROI part. Like, do they look at things like this? Is this number not even close? Maybe give me some information on that.
So that’s where I missed the second part of your double barreled question, right? You want it to talk about numbers.
You want it to talk about valuation. So sure. That was probably the number for whatever series you were looking at, whatever measurement tool they happen to be using. That was maybe what was in that particular reporting software. It changes all the time. It depends on the reporting software. What a mention is, is different.
What a logo is, is different. So you get a lot of numbers. Marketing professionals are used to looking at decks with a whole bunch of different kinds of numbers in them. And It’s never apples to apples. It’s always apples to oranges because you’re looking at different reporting tools. How important is social to that company?
Does that company need television? Is that company more interested in activating on the ground? Are they more interested in the 10, 000 people that they have on the ground than the 100, 000 people on the live stream? Maybe it really depends again what the company wants and how they’re what their ROI is specifically to them.
So I use What I consider to be fair numbers. I have never wanted to inflate my numbers. A lot of people take a number and then they like 10 X them and say, that’s how much the value is, et cetera. I don’t do that personally, but again, I’ve been working in the industry 20 years. I can call the marketing director and they can say.
Hey, where’d you get this number? And I’ll be like, it’s from this tool. And this is what I think. And if you compare this versus athlete Y who I think I’m maybe competing against for this, this money or athlete Y who’s already in your portfolio, we’re on par. We’re in a good position there, or we have the potential to grow there again.
It’s all about the storytelling. It’s about. Putting the story forward that aligns with what the brand needs. Um, and being truthful and honest about it, but sometimes you’re not hitting the number, but you can, and you know, you can, and the brand will help you grow there together. So the valuation part is really tough.
And I think when you’re trying to set a value, especially in motorsport, right. Is when you’re trying to set a value. Everybody looks around the paddock and they see all these stickers on all the cars and they’re like, well that stickers worth this and that stickers worth this and you know that title sponsorship.
I hear he’s getting half a million dollars. It’s like, first of all, all of that is, I don’t know if I can swear here, but both, um, none of the numbers. Anybody is saying probably are particularly accurate. It’s very different from team to team because It, the deliverables are going to be different from team to team.
My manufacturer relationship in Papadakis Racing is Toyota. Vaughn’s with Ford, very different, right? We, we do the deliverables really differently. There’s not a lot of Toyota branding on our vehicle because the silhouette of the vehicle is a Toyota. And you say Toyota every time you look at one of our cars.
Whereas Vaughn, they carry quite a lot of Ford branding throughout their, their paddock and in their location. Just a different deal, different negotiation and they also probably work with a different department within Ford. I’ve worked with Ford but not specifically on that deal. Doing some activation and doing some other things that at Papadakis Racing we don’t do for Toyota because it’s not part of the ROI that they’re looking for from the series that we’re in.
from us anyway. So they have a separate activation team. So it’s just different ways of doing the deals. And so again, like it’s not apples to apples, even the dollars in the door, our deliverables are completely different. So it’s really hard to set and get an understanding. As you work in the industry, you get a feel for what these things are generally worth.
So I get a little frustrated sometimes in Formula Drift because there’s a lot of privateers and they basically give away their liveries. Um, a lot of the, you look at a sticker this size and it’s worth something different on this car than this car, even though potentially they’re getting similar ROI. Um, and I always encourage athletes, especially sort of the bottom half where I know there’s less funding, you should ask for more.
There is more. And. The more can come in the form of marketing support. It can come in the form of content creation and content support. It can come in the form of, um, PR support within the, within the company or ad buys that support your content and help you grow your brand. Like there’s always something more if it’s not cash, it’s something that’s as good as cash for you.
So it’s when you build a relationship with the sponsor, don’t just say, okay, great. Here’s my. X thousand dollars. Like, here’s my check. I’m going to walk away. Like, Hey, how do we make sure that you get this ROI? Like what are you doing to support this X dollars so that we can work together? And I’ll give you a little bit of my time to help ideate around that.
Cause I know my audience really well, or I’ll give you a little bit of my time to create that social, or I can do that. I have a video team on the ground. Like it’s not always about doing more for more money, but it is about helping the sponsor to activate around you.
Yeah, that’s huge. Wow. There was, there were a lot of great nuggets in that.
Wow. Um, talked about deliverables, which I think is huge because I feel like sometimes athletes will form this relationship with a brand. And I’ve seen this for 12 years that I’ve got 16, 17 years. I’ve been in motor sports. I feel like there’s a lot of people that will give money to an athlete. And then there isn’t this clearly defined deliverable.
There isn’t really a lot of communication throughout the season. And, and then they wonder why at the end of the season, all of a sudden that person’s not returning their phone calls, you know, once you get to that October ish, September, October timeframe, where everyone’s looking for contracts to get signed, it’s like.
They either ghost you or they just say plain out. No. Um, how, how do you keep the communication going? Like where’s the balance? I mean, I know it’s probably different with everyone, but where do you, how do you manage the communication side and the deliverables? I know it’s probably a dynamic thing, but is there.
Are there some tips that you could offer on that piece?
So I come from, uh, originally my first career before I fell into motorsport and took a massive left turn, um, is that I was a journalist. I was a news reporter. So I know the backside of how media works really well. Um, so when I first started in motorsport as not an athlete, but doing actual work, I was doing PR.
And so I believe a lot in communication strategy and PR as the underpinning of our marketing. campaign. I think they’re very closely linked together. Um, and so very simply, I just make sure the partners get a race report every time we’re out on track. Like if we’re doing something, the partners are going to hear about it.
They’ll hear about it ahead of time so that they can prepare to engage with it, activate around it, let their social team know they’re doing a million things, right? I don’t expect them to care as much about each of our individual races as we do. That’s why we’re there. Um, so I let them know ahead of time and then after.
We give them a results report and we give them the assets that they need to promote us. So that’s a little mini check in. It’s a little bit impersonal because it just goes to everybody. But that’s a check in where I can be confident that everybody within the company who needs to know about what we’re doing has eyes on us.
Very quick and easy thing that everyone can do and everyone should be doing and you know what? Yeah, we want those reports to come out the day of or the next day. If it’s going to media, the reality is most of these are going to partners. The media doesn’t work the way it used to. So if it’s going out to partners, like aim for Monday morning, your race finishes Saturday night, aim for Monday morning, Monday, midday, Monday during the day sometime.
Um, that’s fine. And let and when you’re signing the deal, when you’re initially negotiating with the partner, be like, Hey, Hey, How do you want to receive information about our performance? How do you want to receive assets? Like, what can we do and set up a system with them? Is there a drop box that just gets populated every time?
Is there, you know, something on their side that they want you to drop things into? Um, I try to standardize it on our side so that we just do the same thing for everyone. But some partners need Something special because it goes to like a creative department that has a certain way of inputting or ingesting um But so that’s a little mini check in and then also every event you do has fans at it Probably probably maybe not in 2020 But for the most part if you’re in the public eye doing a sport, you probably have fans there invite your partners Like, how much are they paying?
Invite them to come. If they don’t pay you enough to buy tickets, fine. Tell them to buy their own tickets. Help them understand how to buy tickets to your event. Hey, can I buy you a few tickets? We can invoice you back. It’s not unreasonable. If somebody’s paying you five grand for the year, you’re not going to supply them tickets to every event.
But hey, Do you want to come? I can put your media guy in touch with the media department here. And or, um, I can get you tickets. You want to, I’ll invoice you back at the end of the year. Like, how do you want to do that? And that can all be done in the negotiation. So, like, invite your partners. You’re going to be busy.
Set expectation, especially if you’re, if it’s a sort of smaller team. Set expectation. Hey, I might not be around very much, but we’d love to see you just to say hi. Usually fine. Um, and then I kind of try to do like about a quarterly check in or maybe three times a year where, hey, are we missing the mark?
Is anybody not getting our press releases? Do you need more assets? Do you need different video? What can we do? Do you need more reporting? You have a fiscal year end coming up. Have you done all your reporting? What can we do to support you? Um, and the reality is like whoever signed your deal on the other side.
They did that as part of their job, which means they’re being evaluated on that. Help them win. Help them get a promotion, right? By you being a good partner, you’re going to help their career. You could, you could buy spotting the right talent. If you are that person, you could really give somebody a whole career by being a good partner to them.
So like, what can you do for them personally, as well as professionally? Things to just keep an eye on. And like, these are relationships. We said this before, these are relationships be good in your relationship. Be communicative, like be friendly, give them a call. Even if things aren’t going great, give them a call.
Just stay in touch. The worst thing is when like some weird little stupid thing kind of goes sideways and you avoid them. Yeah. You’re not resigning that deal. If some weird little thing goes sideways, like, Hey, uh, we messed up. There was a wrong. This has never happened to us, but I could imagine something like, um, there was a wrong product in the pit.
Um, I caught it. I saw it on TV. I’m so sorry. Like we won’t do that again. Um, it was there because whatever athlete Y from another team left it there. Uh, we removed it as soon as possible and we can give you some make goods. Like even when you mess up, just stay in touch. Like it’s
really, no, I love it. So.
It’s interesting because when you think about it, I always say like people always remember how you made them feel. And I think one thing that that I heard you saying that really stood out that you just said was, yes, there is that business side, but there’s also a personal side. And so, you know, think about it.
All right. If all of a sudden I’m doing business with you and you’re checking the boxes and things are going as they should, how great of a bonus would it be? Especially let’s say I have a nine and 11 year old, everyone wants their kids to be happy. Everyone wants to give their kids everything you could literally, I mean, kids love that kind of stuff.
You like, we, do you know how many times, like I will, when they’re doing merch sales, like with Matt field, uh, when they’re selling merch. I had it happen the other day where I’m like, Hey, listen, um, I’ll tell you what they were like on the fence, whether they wanted to buy a, I think it was like a 50, 60 shirt.
And they’re like, Oh, I’m not worried. And I went like this. You would have been proud of me. I said, I’m going to give you five seconds. And if you say yes, then five seconds, I’m not only going to give you that shirt for the price you said, but I’m going to have Matt take a picture with you and he’s going to sign it.
And if you want, I’ll throw you in the car. They’re like done. They’re like, wait, no, we want to, can you do it for two? Like within literally three seconds. And so, um, the thing that stood out for me on that is. Wow. Like, you know, there is this personal side that not just the fans want to experience, but your partners want to experience because if they have kids, why would those kids not want the same experience?
And so, you know, I think sometimes we might take things for granted and, you know, it’s like, Oh, it’s just fun. No, bring them out to dinner with the team, introduce them to the team, maybe even do a video on social media where you’re interviewing them. Like, Hey, I’m with the, the, the brand manager for rockstar energy.
Like. What’s going on? What, what new products we have come, whatever it is, right? Just the fact that you did that. I can’t see how that wouldn’t have an impact.
Yeah, absolutely. These are your colleagues. Once they, I don’t call them sponsors on purpose, right? I call them partners. They’re your partners. So treat them like partners.
And don’t be afraid of them. I, I see so many beginning athletes, like they’re literally afraid of their partners. They’re like, okay, I’m just going to cast a check. And like, I’m out and like, no, no, no. Like they saw something in you that they thought could deliver value and work with them to make sure that it’s realized.
And if it’s not realized this year, if you have a good relationship and if you’ve shown your potential and you’ve shown ways that the company can leverage you to reach their customers, which is the reality of what you’re doing, you’re selling their products for them. You’re helping them sell their products or their brand.
Um, then the relationship will continue and that 5, 000 deal might become a 50, 000 deal.
I love it. And so I want to shift gears a little bit because The word first ever to me has got power because not many times can we think about first ever and not have it be memorable, right? There’s obviously a bunch of times in our lives where we can think about our first kiss, first whatever, first job, first car, anything that’s like the first.
There’s like that little extra to it. And with you, you were the first ever female racing analyst for ESPN. We got to go there because as much as you know, all these other highlights in your career stand out. This one for me really stood out because you were the first, um, walk me through the story behind that.
I’m really curious to hear.
So there have been women doing motorsports television before. There are a lot of women in sideline reporting roles, typically in any sport. That is the sideline reporter tends to be female. Um, but the analyst position in the booth, people may or may not be aware that when there’s a booth and there’s two people talking, usually two guys talking, One of them is the play by play analyst, or the play by play person, and they are explaining what is happening on the course.
The other person is the analyst, or color commentator is what they’re sometimes called, and they’re explaining why the thing is happening on the course, or how the thing is happening on the course. Usually informed by personal experience. There have not been that many motorsport competitors, certainly in my day when I started doing it.
There were not very many. There are more now. Um, and so I was the first one who had experience in the car and also media experience to get myself on television. I did not intend to be on television. I was, I started doing television in my 30s, which for women largely is when that’s all wrapping up for them because there’s an age thing that happens with women in television and particularly.
So I always looked at it as a fun job that I did on weekends. It wasn’t like a career path. Um, I was very passionate about rally cross, which was my sport and stage rally, which is where I started from. When ESPN decided to put a rally competition in X Games in 2006, I was the only sort of media and endemic to the sport person that anybody knew, so my name kept coming up.
So s ESPN called me and said, oh, dear. That’s not good. Sorry about that. I thought I was on silent, but it turns out I’m not. Um, so ESPN called and said, uh, hey, can you help us understand how cars work in this action sport event? Um, I didn’t really know much about what X Games was cause I hadn’t been a fan of like skateboarding or surfing skateboarders, but certainly no surfers.
Um, and, um, So I went on to sort of help inform from a research standpoint and set all the storylines and like introduce our audience. I already knew Travis Pastrana, but maybe they didn’t know Ken Block so well. Maybe they didn’t know, um, some of our non endemic to the sport athletes. Um, I started as a researcher.
And then, uh, decided to compete. I had a team at the time and I decided to compete and I can’t remember what year that was, but I think it was 2009. Um, we front flipped really spectacularly over the gap jump. And, um, that was, well, in the end we were on four wheels, but after I kind of blacked out and came to, they wouldn’t let me continue competing.
Um, it was quick, but. enough and the car wasn’t in great shape we probably anyway probably could have finished but we the medics were on us before we gathered our wits enough to keep going probably for the best really um but it was pretty spectacular it was kind of the highlight reel clip that they used for a number of years The executive producer of X Games at the time was a guy named Phil Orland and got this crazy idea to add in car reporters.
So the following year, because of the seats, there were passenger seats in the car. This is a little bit of a long journey to get myself to first ever, but we’ll get there. Um, there are passenger seats in the car. Um, their co drivers were not really needed in this short course version of rally that we were doing at X Games.
So they. Selected myself and another co driver who had competed a woman named Chrissy Beavis and asked, Hey, would you guys sit in the cars? They wanted both of us roughly the same weight so that there was no way to advantage. And would you Mike to air instead of to your driver and like talk us through what’s happening in the event.
So we were both kind of analysts joining the on air team from inside the race cars, which was. Completely nutty. We did it for two years. Um, very fun. I will say the first time I went over the gap jump again after having crashed and I was mic live to air. It was very hard not to curse. I think I got about half of it out.
I think I said, shoot, but I got the whole part real long as I was like in my head, no, I’m live on television. I can’t do this. Um, so I did that for two years. After that, uh, I think maybe there was a decision that was a little gimmicky. Uh, it was fun, um, but after that we, uh, I stepped out of the car and into the booth.
And I had been, since 2006, I had been, uh, providing notes for, um, The analyst, typically, and also the play by play person, I had been providing a lot of what they were saying. So, my very first job, I sat behind the booth, just off camera, and would write on, on note cards, like, Hey, you should say this. Here’s a thing that you could note right now.
And eventually, they just cut out the middleman and put me in that chair. So, I did that for a few years. I did it for, um, ESPN, and also ABC, because, um, when ESPN, it, Disney owns both. So, uh, we would go. To the big network, which is ABC, um, went on tour with X games in 2013. We went around the world, went to Brazil, went to Germany.
It was super fun. Um, doing that role. And then, um, when X games dropped rally cross and rally, we went to NBC. So I did there too. So super fun. Um, I will say it’s a thing I was not particularly good at. Um, and it’s a little bit cringe worthy to look back on. However,
why weren’t you good at it?
Um, I was so concerned, uh, this is something you could have helped me with if I’d known you back in the day, I think, and I was like, this is a competitor too, which meant it was not very fun.
Um, I was so concerned about being perfect that I overprepared and I didn’t just wing it and I should have just wung it. I should have been, uh, more trusting of my instincts. Um, and I also should have… if I look back at that whole period of my career, stopping and smelling the roses and being grateful would have done a lot for the enjoyment of that experience.
And that’s me looking back with the benefit of age in a little hindsight. Um, but, uh, yeah, I was too concerned about being perfect. I was too concerned about saying the wrong thing. Um, so. I also did it as, you know, it’s not my natural. I don’t like being in the spotlight. That’s not my place. I like to be supporting the person who’s really good at the thing.
Um, and I didn’t have the confidence in my abilities that I would have beside the person who was really good at doing the thing. Um, so I just, I just felt kind of awkward about the whole experience. Um, but I challenged myself to do it because I thought, Hey, I’m not. Terrible at it. I do know a lot of things and something I will also often say to especially young women pursuing a career that’s male dominated, say yes.
Just say yes. Women tend to lean toward that perfectionist tendency more. We’re conditioned to do that from a very young age. We’re conditioned to not fail publicly and we’re conditioned to want to try and be perfect at everything. So I say to young women all the time, just say yes. Just do it. If you’re not good at it and you don’t like it, like, don’t do it again, but do it now.
Try it. You’re the guy standing next to you is going to say yes. You might as well say yes. If they’ve offered it to you, they saw something say yes.
It’s almost like a ready, shoot aim, um, approach where it’s just like, just go, like you’ll figure it out. And it’s interesting because this interview. You know, I told you that I’m not giving you any other than the first question.
I didn’t give you any of the questions. And so it’s interesting that here we are years later and, you know, you’re on fire and you’re just firing off, you know, you’re just being your authentic self and just speaking your truth. And so I do feel that there’s a lot of perfectionism with athletes. And I think that.
You know, that can be a target we aim for, but you know, it can’t be the result because it doesn’t exist. Right. I mean, even if you think you had the perfect run or the perfect lap, I’m sure there were areas where it could have been better. And so there really is no such thing as perfect. So it’s amazing how all of us want to go to a destination that doesn’t exist.
That’s like. Might as well just aim for like go to Pluto for your next vacation. It’s like you want to go somewhere that really that, that exists, but you’re probably not going to get there. So why aim for that? You can aim for it. Right. But maybe you’ll come up short and end up on
Mars. You have to fail to grow, right?
Like this is a whole other conversation. That’s probably, you’re able to speak to a little bit better than I am. But, um, when I teach someone, I’m thinking about this from this past weekend, cause I offered somebody to. Lessons and driving stick for the first time in my car and I was like look the very first thing I do when I teach this is i’m going to teach you how to stall so that you know It’s not that bad because you’re going to do it a lot.
So we’re going to stall on purpose first We’re going to fail on purpose first know that we can get through it and it’s not the end of the world It’s not scary and then we’re going to learn And you absolutely have to fail to, to get to a place of success. You can’t strive for perfectionism. You have to strive for pushing yourself to the best of your abilities and learning when it doesn’t work out.
Yeah, exactly. And you know, the way that I usually approach fear of failure and you basically just nailed it is you lean into it. Right. So a lot of times people. When they have that fear of failure, it activates the fight, flight or freeze response. So a lot of times they’ll either freeze or run. There’s not a lot of fight to that.
And what they don’t realize is that if you do that, usually you’re running away from the thing. But usually fear is an illusion. It’s usually something that we kind of overestimate. https: otter. ai A powerful experience because even if you accept worst case scenario, it’s like, all right, so if you fail, so what happens next?
And it’s so funny how if you just ask someone, okay, so then what? Right? That’s my favorite question. Ask. All right, well, what if I ask out this girl and she says no. Okay, well, so then what? And then all of a sudden everyone always just stops. And they don’t know how to answer the question because they’re like, Oh, well, I mean, well, I mean, and then they, they struggle to answer.
And they like, yeah, because there’s really no consequence to it other than maybe your ego. Um, and also you’re just creating this image of this big thing that really isn’t as big as you think. So yeah, fear of failure is a huge one, especially for athletes and also obviously focusing on results and the fear of not attaining those results.
And we tend to like catastrophize. Like if I don’t get this result, Okay. I’m going to lose the monster energy sponsorship, or my sponsors are going to be upset with me. Um, and it’s like, okay, well, so your sponsor is going to be upset with you. Let me ask this. Um, three rounds ago, you had a horrible round, right?
Yes. You got knocked out in top 32, right? Yes. How many of your sponsors called to tell you how upset and disappointed they were with you? Well, none. Okay, then why are they going to do it now? And usually the power of questions in my job is the key to it all because people start to realize, they come to their own conclusions, and they realize how foolish They were thinking and that kind of like wakes them up.
And so it’s really
wild. Well, we can have a chat because my response is to freeze. And I definitely have performance anxiety issues when it comes to competition and sports, which is one of the reasons I was only mediocre at it, I think. And, you know, mindset is so important, right? And that’s one of the things I look at.
Um, in my athletes as well. When I’m working with someone, I want someone who’s coachable. I want somebody, they don’t have to be perfect, but they need to be able to grow. Um, and they need to not be defensive, um, and have the opportunity to onboard feedback. Like that’s the only way they’re going to become a champion.
And I don’t start with champions, right? I start with people who have potential and help to coax that. Out of them by giving them all the resources that they need to succeed. And some people, when adequately resourced, suddenly they panic because they can’t blame anything external to themselves, right? And I’ve had athletes who are like that.
I do not have any that I work with now. But, um, you know, that’s a, that’s a watch out. Like, you need to be prepared to be ready to succeed if you want to try and turn this into a job. And some people aren’t, and they just… Be it’s better for them as a hobby when there’s no expectations when it’s not a job Um, and you know I think the fear of failure is a thing that comes for people when they do start looking for sponsorship If they do think maybe they’re going to make it into a career They’re so afraid to approach the partner and i’m like no is an answer.
No is a great answer. It means Don’t ask them again. Stop thinking about it. Move on find the opportunity that actually is going to bear fruit for you like No is a fantastic answer. So I will actually push for a no. If I’m talking to a partner, who’s like waffling, it’s like, Hey man, if this is no, don’t worry about it.
Like, please let me know though, because I want to talk to your competition.
And also we haven’t even talked about the plans of how we’re going to blow this thing up, but Hey, anyways, I gotta go, you know? Yeah, exactly. I love that. And yeah. And not only that, but. You know, even in failure or even with nose, it’s like as much as, and I literally just heard on a podcast that I was listening to earlier today, this guy’s.
Worth a couple hundred million. And I, I like listening to like the rich guys and hear like the authentic rich guys. This guy guy’s name is Scott Galloway, which I think you would really like him. Um, I just bumped into his name today. Um, and he was really honest and truthful and revealing and um, and one of the things he said is they said, well, you know, what’s your.
You know, how did you get to where you are? And of all the things he could have said, he said that he’s really good at failing. And I’m just like, how many times do we have to hear this? Right? Is this something we haven’t heard before? I think we’ve all probably heard at least a version of that. Um, most of us have.
So it’s like we have this fear of something. That the wealthiest, the most successful, whether it’s an athlete, whether it’s a billionaire, whatever. You know, this is what people are saying is their biggest skill and the biggest thing that fueled their success. You might want to take your earphones off, you know, and listen because there’s a message here.
So it’s really wild our perspective on failure. And I think a lot of it is, um, that yeah. Really, we don’t fear failure as much as we feel fear the feelings of guilt, shame, humiliation and embarrassment, which are really the ways that we kind of feel failure, right? Because failure just means that something didn’t work out.
Like, if you really look at it, face value, failure, you’re like, if I Yeah. Yeah. I asked you out and you’re like, no, really it’s just a no. The only thing that causes me pain is not the, no, it’s the interpretation emotionally to the, no, it’s the meaning value and importance I place on that. No, no, that no means I’m ugly.
No means I’m unattractive. No means I’m not good enough. And then the shame, guilt, humiliation that surrounds that. And so that’s another level that people need to look at when it comes to failure, because there’s a lot of value in that.
Yeah. And no, isn’t always about you, right? In fact, most of the time it’s not about you.
Most of the time it’s about them. Most of the time it’s no, my budget is already tapped. No, I already have enough athletes in that category. No, my boss doesn’t like your sport. No, I just don’t have the resources to activate around you. And I got in trouble for having too many athletes last year. Like that’s what no usually means.
So it don’t take it personally. It’s just no, it’s an answer move on. I love that.
That’s, that was, there’s a lot of nuggets in here. We got some golden nuggets, a couple platinum nuggets. We’re, we’re firing on all cylinders here. We’ve
probably got some pretty crappy nuggets too, but it’s okay. ’cause failure’s fine.
right? Yeah, . I love it. So what’s been, um, so I, I wanna kind of talk about. There’s so much I want to talk about. The one thing I want to talk about is, um, you know, some of the athletes you work with, um, one of them that stands out that when I looked up her social media profile, and I didn’t even realize that I think I was working out in the gym next to her.
Um, in the final round at Irwindale, but, um, Amanda Sorenson, um, she is a driver and I would love to hear you maybe share that story because it appears to me that her engagement on social is insane. Um, her, her counts on followers look extremely large. Um, and she does seem to really stand out to me as someone who, um, has not only managed her.
Career well, clearly has some people supporting her such as you that have really been influential in her success. Maybe walk me through that relationship a little bit and maybe share some of the struggles, success that you guys have had to bring Amanda to this point where she’s at
now. So I can’t take credit for where she is now.
Cause we just started working together. I can take a tiny bit of credit though. Cause we started talking to each other about two years ago. So, um, for me. And like, I don’t want to get the whole Formula Drift paddock a buzz. This is not a Papadakis racing project. This is a Jen Horsey project. Um, and I personally really support young female athletes in particular.
Um, one of my idols in motorsport is a rally driver named Michelle Mouton. And I had the privilege, again, this will be a long circle, but it will come around. Um, I had the privilege of meeting her a few years ago and talk to her a little bit about her career. And one of the things that she said to me that really stuck out was, um, and she’s older than I am.
She’s got to be in her sixties now. Um, she’s from the group B era and she said, look, I wasn’t fast for a girl. I was just fast. And I love that confidence. And I really want to find some young female athletes who can grow into that. Right. I don’t want to be, have the best for a girl. I’m, although I am off like someone who has a first on my record, that’s not.
piece of my record that I’m most proud of. Um, I just want a really competitive young female athlete. And I feel like as a woman who’s come up through the sport, I want to give back and I want to share some of the unique pitfalls that there are to being a woman in sport. So, uh, Amanda and I had a conversation a couple of years ago.
She’s really young. She’s 20. Um, and a couple of years ago, she competes for her family team in Formula Drift, right? It’s her and her brother, um, with her parents supporting the team. And I was curious about her just kind of looking around the paddock at young women who are competing and like, what is the story here?
And what are your goals? Um, and when we first talked, there are things that I will happily tell people for free. And a lot of it is just about, you know, the things that I’m telling you today, I’ll take a look at a deck happily, like I want to support I want to help people set realistic goals. Like it’s, it’s about growing the sport.
It’s about growing everything. And I’ll give my time freely for that. So we had a couple of conversations and I, and I didn’t feel like she knew what she wanted to do. And like, she’s a teenager. Of course, she doesn’t know what she wants to do. Right. So we had a couple of conversations and I was like, look, if you’re serious about racing and you, you decide that this is what you want to do, I’d love to talk to you again.
In the meantime, here’s some stuff you can do to get yourself set up for success. Later might as well start now, no sense doing, making these same X 15 mistakes that everybody makes. Like, here’s some things you can start doing. Now went away, say how to run the paddock. You know, hey, happy to look at your deck.
Like whatever, gimme a call anytime. Um, and then recently she contacted me again. She said, I’m ready. I know what I wanna do. I wanna do this. And I said, okay, then let’s work together. ’cause the first time I talked to her, she didn’t know and it wasn’t the right time. Um, and so I can’t take a lot of credit for where she is.
She’s really smart. Um, she’s very analytical. She’s got a lot of talent, a lot of drive, and we’re hoping for big things from her. Um, she’s already doing a fantastic job in social, and that on her part was a really deliberate, like, she just kind of was like, okay, um, storytelling is a thing that athletes need to do.
I’m interested in driving, but I’m also really interested in marketing, and she’s flipped her mindset to what can I offer partners, um, and started building her social and building her image to address that. That part of being an athlete. Um, and she’s been very successful so far. And, um, yeah, we’re going to keep up the momentum.
Yeah, I love it. And so, you know, when it comes to storytelling, you’ve mentioned that word a couple of times and it really resonates in me a lot, because that’s kind of how the things that we remember most are the stories, right? It’s like, Oh my God, you know, think about it whenever. Whenever you have a race weekend and you reflect with your friends on that eight hour drive home or whatever, um, it’s always like, there’s always a story to tell.
And people don’t realize a lot of times that story is really memorable and it’s what builds, um, It’s how people start to recognize what your character is, right? Because there’s those, there’s four pieces. I don’t think I have all of it, but it’s like, you know, you set the stage, uh, the, the character development, then there’s like the challenge and then there’s the, you know, meeting the challenge.
And then there’s like the victory of overcoming it, something along those lines. And so with your background as a journalist and an analyst and with PR, it seems like storytelling is a big thing. And also. I think a unique value proposition as well, maybe could link in with that because I feel like there’s a lot of athletes where I’m like, what do you, what’s kind of like your jam?
Like, are you like the, the, the dog woman? Are you the guy who just loves. You know, archery, I don’t know, but nobody has like a thing. And so they don’t seem to have enough of a story and maybe enough of a persona that differentiates them from, from others. Um, how can people maybe color that up for me a little bit?
Let me know, like how, how does one create their story? How does one create a unique value proposition where they actually. Clearly different from other athletes. If you look at them briefly on social.
Yeah. And you know what you described there as the hero’s journey. And if anybody wants any insight, like just Google heroes journey, and that’s what an athlete does every time they go to compete and that is the arc of their career as well.
So, um, it is about overcoming obstacles and, and coming to an end, right? Like it’s the journey. So. When I talk about letting sponsors know your successes and failures, you’re taking them on your hero’s journey. Um, if you want to read a book, Lord of the Rings is exactly a perfect hero’s journey. Like it’s just, I, you know, if you want to just see one laid out, all the struggles we fall in love with Frodo, cause it’s hard, right?
I’m not like the biggest Lord of the Rings fan, but I read it when I was a kid like everybody else. And like, that’s what just you are that hero. Um, so. Again, like, like I said at the beginning, the thing I do really badly is keep it simple. Like, yeah, you could have 20 things that you love, pick the three things that really matter and just keep leaning into those.
So I had an athlete very early in my career when I was doing this, it was actually a team that I was actually on. We were vastly underfunded. So, uh, the team had been a privateer, just kind of like fun run team that was making that really difficult transition. Can we go pro? And as we started to make that transition, um, it became clear that we were never going to match the multimillion dollar funding of our competitors.
We could get in the six figures, but we were not going to get into seven figures. And so. In motorsport, the reality is funding makes a huge difference. Having the parts to fix your car and show up for the next race really matters as it turns out when you at the base level, and we were just barely getting there.
So, um, my driver, very articulate, like. arguably overeducated, had multiple degrees, had gone to law school. Um, so we leaned into that part of his attribute and made him the articulate driver. We made him the like driver of intellect. We made him the driver that, you know, drives funny little British cars on the weekends.
And we like leaned into that part of his character because it’s, first of all, it’s who he was. And second, it differentiated him from what is in the public eye for a lot of. Race car drivers is kind of like southern yahoos, right? Um, not accurate to paint drivers that way, but we really just were like, okay, but this is actually really different So let’s put this let’s put this category over here Tried to make that person, uh, go to interview source again finishing 20th getting on getting all the media coverage Let’s try that approach because we’re not going to win.
Um, and as we Had some success in that. We were also, my team was from Canada, knew that we were in a good position to talk about winter driving since we were doing stage rally, challenging sideways driving, bad conditions, icy, whatever we made sure pretty much. We were lead story on the drive section at the beginning of winter when everybody needed to change winter to winter tires, talking about why winter tires were important and doing tire testing and really becoming an ambassador for our tire partner with their winter product, which is hard to come by.
in most motorsport because most motorsport don’t happen during the winter. So it’s leaning into personal attributes you already have, things you’re already passionate about, and like just picking the few that you want to carry you through your career. So with Amanda very, very early on, we just started working together, but it’s really important for her to inspire other young women to Pursue unconventional careers.
It doesn’t need to be driving a racecar, but she wants young women to feel empowered to pursue what really drives them. And so we’re leaning into that and we’ll, as she evolves in her career, we’ll continue to find those key little points that, um, make up the simplified version of her public persona because you can’t show everything and you want to keep it simple.
Yeah. And what stood out, it was so funny as I was listening to you. I’m just like, wow, you could, if, if, if you really leaned into that and you just said, all right, career women, you just took those two words, career and women, and then you said, all right, Amanda’s going to lean into that. And she’s going to actually not just have content of me racing, you know, this car, that car, but also maybe inject some content.
That’s like, here are some, I’m going to interview this woman who is a career coach, or let’s talk about careers. How do you find your, why? How do you find your purpose? How do you find your passion? Whatever. Right. She could lean into that and. Where my mind went and tell me if I’m, if I’m off line on this, if she really leaned into that, it wouldn’t be absurd for her to approach someone like an Indeed or a LinkedIn or some company or brand that would want to align with, you know, and maybe even, you know, create a, who knows, maybe it’s even just an advertising campaign where it’s like, Hey, You know where I’m a driven woman, you know, and then she’s driving the car and it’s like driven women, you know, here’s how you find your purpose.
Here’s how you find your passion. Here’s, here are some careers and here’s how to, you know, find your way and here’s how to approach, you know, your resume or whatever it is. Right. But it seems like that’s where you could bring like an outside sponsor in. Um, is that me thinking way too creatively or is there, is that an approach that maybe you might have, or maybe an athlete could have?
I wrote indeed down here. That’s a great idea. Thank you.
You know what you said? Simplicity. That answers that question. But
yeah, I mean, that is the, that is the thought sort of chain that, that you go on, right? Like where, where do you align? And you don’t need to look at the same sponsor that everybody already has in the paddock.
Like chances are they’re tapped out. Um, that is actually another thing that I wanted to mention because I think especially As you’re in that place of trying to become pro everyone’s like, well, it’s a zero sum game. There’s only so many dollars. That guy already has all the money. And I want everyone to understand because I’ve worked on both sides of this equation.
I’ve worked on the marketing side from the company sponsor side as well. Um, there’s the money that’s set aside for the sponsorship budget. And then there’s the money that’s always available for a great idea. So it’s not a zero sum game and for me, I’m fine with everybody talking to everybody’s partners, right?
I don’t think I have to protect my contacts and blah, blah, blah. Like if I have to protect my contacts and make sure no one ever talks to them, I’m not doing a good enough job for them. It’s our relationship and the business relationship that we’ve created that provides value, that is what keeps the relationship and the partnership going over a longterm.
Like we’ve been at Papadakis Racing, have been with Toyota since. the scion days for years. That’s a really long, stable contract. And that’s because we continue to work together to find the best way to provide the most value possible. Um, but also sometimes the family grows and sometimes new athletes come in because there’s a great activation idea or a social program or something that’s happening in another discipline or an athlete wants to cross over or whatever it is.
As I say, there’s budget for a great idea. There’s always budget for a great idea. And if it’s a unique idea and you can bring something to the table, that’s really substantially different from what they’re already doing, there’s potentially budget for you, even when the budget’s already spent. So, which isn’t to say, call everybody on everybody else’s car in the paddock.
Like chances are the relationships are good and they have pretty much allocated. But don’t worry about other people stealing your sponsors. And don’t think that sponsor X has to choose between you and the other guy. They may choose you both and they may decide that the space is so valuable. They want to be in two different pieces of it.
So you’re not actually competing with everybody else for sponsorship. You’re all working together to grow the area and grow the economy and the sport that you’re in.
I love that. So when it comes to in network or in industry. Sponsors versus going outside. I feel what I’ve noticed is that so many people are spending so much time trying to pull from the same market.
It’s almost like if you were in high school and there were like six of you, there were three females and three males in this little group of you. And just everyone’s just dating the same three people and just circling around. It seems like that’s what sponsorship for a lot of athletes is, but yet, you know.
If you step outside and you look outside like an Indeed or who knows, there’s so many examples, infinite examples of outside sponsors that you could bring in. Is that not a better place to look than to continue trying to dip into the pool that everyone continues to dip into?
Yeah, I think it is. The one thing that is a bit of a watch out in that is like, yeah, absolutely.
We, again, it’s about growth, right? It’s about growing the category. It’s about bringing more people in. Like we all believe in this thing, right? We would not be. If we want to use Formula Drift as an example, we would not be in that paddock if we didn’t believe that we had something to offer it. So bring other people in, like find other partners and say, Hey, come along for this ride.
There’s tremendous ROI. You can really reach this audience. You’re trying to get like, you’re doing them a favor by inviting them in as your partner. Um, but if they don’t already do sponsorship, they’re not invested in motorsport and they don’t understand how it works. It’s going to be a really tough story to sell.
Um, so it’s sometimes it’s just harder to get new people in. Um, but if you look at their portfolio of activities and in another part of the world, they’re invested in a sport that’s similar to yours, or they do seem to have a sponsorship record in the U S find out who that person is and offer them what, what.
You offer in terms of a value proposition for sponsorship. And again, it’s about thinking not what do I need? It’s about thinking what do they need and here’s how I can offer it to them. And if you do that, they’re going to come along because it’s like, Oh my gosh, this untapped thing. We’re not in that paddock.
Oh, what is, what is this? This youth market? Like, wow, really seems to be fantastic. And you know what? You’re probably not going to start with a multimillion dollar deal. But invite the marketing manager on to an event that you know well, and you have good relationships that, and you know, is going to show off well, bring them to the season opener, bring them to Long Beach, bring them to Rowandale.
You know, those events are going to be strong. All of the events in that particular series are strong. I like those events because they’re in Southern California where a lot of the businesses, so it’s easier for me. Um, and we’re there, um, for that particular sport, but bring them along, invite them for the journey and start sharing your press releases, even before they.
So that they get a bit of FOMO, right? Start helping them to become aware of your space, helping them to see what they might be missing out on. Once you get permission to be in communication with that person, it might be, it’s a long game, might be a couple of years, but they’ll, they’ll come in. If, if what you’re offering is really a value.
They’ll come in and you do have value. You may not understand yet what it is and you may not have defined it yet, but once you define what it is, you have something tremendous to offer partners. Everybody has something to offer.
So I’m addicted to marketing and, and, you know, kind of what you were, what I heard from what you just said is that.
Maybe, would it not be decent or maybe really good idea? And I don’t even know how I would define whether it’s a good idea or not, depending on the situation. But I’ve kind of wondered, do you create content and kind of like, we know reciprocity, like I’m into psychology. I’m into buyer psychology, so I love helping athletes.
Become their best, but I also like figuring out how to get people to buy. So the common link is psychology. And so one of the things that, you know, that I’m sure you’re aware of is reciprocity. And then also maybe some future pacing. So like future pacing, like, you know, helping people imagine what it would be like, like, imagine this, close your eyes.
You’re on a beach, you know, it’s like, bringing someone down a journey where, you know, you activate the most, the only gift that we have. Out of all species that nobody else has, which is imagination, which that’s a whole nother topic that we don’t tap into that enough, once you turn like 13, 14, it’s like, Hey Jen, um, you’re not Cinderella.
Sorry. You need to grow up. And it’s like, that’s it game over. No more imagination for you. That’s what I feel. But to bring it back to the question, um, is it smart for an athlete to the future pacing thing I could see where you’re creating this story and you’re letting people imagine what the relationship might be like.
Is it crossing the line or is it foolish to maybe even go so far as to create some content or give some freebies realizing that reciprocity is a thing?
I have probably a differing opinion on this than some other people and I think we see a lot of athletes doing a lot of that and I’m not sure how well it works out for them because in my opinion once you set a price of zero on something the value of that thing is zero so it’s going to be very hard for you to then.
move forward and charge what it’s worth. Um, because the partner becomes to expect zero. That isn’t to say if your partner has a business relationship with that company, and you are working with an existing partner to deliver value for, for your partner through that other company, sometimes those things make a lot of sense because you’re actually delivering partner to your existing partner or relation value, delivering value to your existing partner.
While also helping them. To deliver value to this new partner that maybe we’ll see a lot of ROI from that and then come back to you looking for, um, a more formalized relationship. So like there are ways where that can work. Um, more, it’s more about being authentic and it’s more about, hey, I’m going to create.
There’s a product category. Uh, screwdrivers? I don’t know. There’s a product category and you happen to like a particular brand of screwdriver and you show yourself using that particular brand of screwdriver because you actually like it, you actually believe in it, and you know that it works. That video goes viral and you get a million views?
By all means, take that to a tool company and say, you should sponsor me. Look what happened with this video that I did on a screwdriver. Um, but don’t, I wouldn’t go and be like, Hmm, I really want a Nissan sponsorship, so I’m going to buy the newest car and turn that into my race car that rarely works.
I like that.
Yeah. And so that makes sense because I think the frame that I had in approaching this is more from like a digital marketing standpoint, because that’s really where my, you know, I’ve got multiple websites, businesses online where, you know, you know, you give value with your email marketing lead gen, you know, you have your tripwires, you have your, You know, uh, free course kind of thing to like build, you know, so that people will know, like, and trust you, then you make them an offer or a one time upsell or cross sell downsell, what have you.
So I think that may, I like how you said that, because now that I heard you say it, I’m like, wow, you know what? It’s two, it’s two completely different things. Yes, it’s marketing. Yes, it’s reciprocity, but I can definitely see how you distinguish that. So I like that. Um, one of the things that when we bumped into each other and we’re chatting at Irwindale last month, uh, in California, the final round of formula drift, one of the things that you said that really stood out to me, and I would love to kind of gain some clarity around it is, Athletes have a tendency to, um, under, uh, value themselves when they present offers, uh, sponsorship deals to potential partners.
Um, one, why is that? And then two, how can you avoid making that mistake?
Again, it’s about what do they need versus what you need. You know what you need, right? You’re like desperate. I need that. And I just keep coming back to 5, 000 because that tends to be an entry level sponsorship amount that you’ll get from like a parts product category sponsor.
Um, and so you, you know, you really need. So you’re like, I just need. I just need something. So like, please, this is my thing. Can you pay me to do the thing? Right? You’ll take the five grand. Cause like, all you’ve done is say like, pay me to do the thing. And they offer you five grand. You’re like, awesome. Um, instead, wow, I have this really valuable thing.
I have access to hundreds of thousands of young people who are really rabid and devoted to my sport. They’re super vocal and very Uh, engaged on social and I could pass those people on to the, they all buy stuff and they all buy stuff in this product category, I can help people, uh, I can help that partner have their brand reach all of these people.
Well, that’s got to be worth something like that’s got to be worth a bunch of money in sales, right? It’s probably worth more than 5, 000. Weird. Maybe I should ask for more. Um, and then there’s also this theory of like luxury pricing, right? I go to the store, go to a jewelry store, and there’s a Timex and a Rolex.
Uh, if I’m, I’ll pay 100 for the Timex all day. Absolutely. It’s worth that. I will also take a look at that Rolex because I know that’s a very different product and I might save a whole bunch of money for that product. And I might buy it because I always really wanted a Milgauss. Right? So, um, are you a Timex or a Rolex?
And if you’re a Rolex, don’t offer yourself for the price of a Timex. Because then you’re not really a Rolex, right? So it’s, um, you may be asking the company to stretch. You may be asking that marketing manager to find extra budget. And that’s okay. If what you’re offering really has all of that value, it’s okay to ask for what it’s worth, and help the person you’re working with to realize their goals within your space by asking for what it’s worth so that you can be well funded.
So that you can deliver what you’re saying, you know, you can deliver and. That’s okay. What that means is you have worked with that marketing director, your marketing manager, whoever it is to set a price that maybe it was a little bit of a stretch. That means their career might be on the line for you, right?
They had to go to their boss and sell that story. So they’re going to do whatever they can to help you realize what you guys together proposed to management was going to be the ROI. So they’re going to activate with you. They’re going to spend additional investment on you. They’re going to make sure that your product is your team is successful and that your partnership is successful, whether that’s on the track or just as a, you know, marketing capacity.
It doesn’t have to be just wins as we’ve discussed. Um, and so that’s more the, the vision of luxury pricing. Like I’ll take my Timex off and I’m going to leave it in the hotel. I will remember. That I have a real watch on and pick it up and make sure I walk out of the hotel room with it. Right. And it’s just like the way that those deals are created.
Think about where you are in the value proposition and ask for what it’s worth. Just ask for what it’s worth and ask for what you need to be well resourced to deliver it because everyone should want you to succeed because your success is the brand success. They’re interlinked.
Yeah. And I, and I feel like a lot of it is like, just clarity.
Like, I feel one of the things that I speak about with, with the athletes I work with is I’ll say, Hey, what, what’s our, where are we placing our focus, energy and attention today? And, um, I’m always looking for clarity because a lot of times people like, oh, you know, I just need to, um, I’m going to work.
Let’s say it’s a motocross. Cause I work with motocross, super cross guys is, oh, I’m going to work on, uh, just doing a 30 minute moto today. And I’m like, What is the 30, 30 minute moto? Like, what, what do you actually focus on? Anyone? I can do a 30 minute moto. I can get on a bike, Jen and I can get on a bike.
We can go do a 30 minute moto too. Like, what is that? There’s no clarity to that. And I realized that I think a mistake that we make in marketing and also as athletes is we don’t get enough clarity on, on the thing that we want, right? It’s like, I just want to be happy. Okay. Uh, what are we talking about?
We talking about health, wealth relationships. Well, wealth. Okay. Well, what’s the number that would make you happy? Well, I mean, I don’t know. It’s like, okay, then you’re not going to get, you’re not going to get there because you have no clarity. And so I feel like, um, another piece when it comes to, you know, pitching potential partners is.
You know, to handle objections, to offer more clarity. It’s like, cause, cause that’s the one thing everyone’s afraid to do. And if you, I don’t know, have you ever bumped into Alec, Alex Hermosi? Have you bumped into him? Not yet. All right. So he’s a guy who’s kind of blown up in the last. Yeah, you’re too. He’s a jack dude.
He helped, uh, he was more like a, in the fitness industry and help some, uh, companies and his company really blow up and he focuses heavily on offers and with offers a lot of times it’s handling objections. And so I think a lot of times too, there’s got to be, do you feel like athletes maybe don’t handle?
They don’t offer enough clarity on what a relationship might look like. And then also, um, maybe don’t handle or, or at least perceive what the, the potential objections to a sponsorship deal going through might be, is that also an area that we should be putting some energy and attention into?
But also. The reality is that athlete has a lot to do just to be a great athlete, right? And they probably got into their sport because they love their sport. Not because they love trying to figure out sales pitches. That’s where I totally understand. It’s really hard. And for some people, probably almost impossible.
And they need help. So don’t be afraid to hire in the best team. Um, don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Um, and try and to try and figure out how to grow your career. You’re going to have to get it a certain part of the way down the road before you are able to generate enough income to support a team.
And that is a very real thing. Um, but I always recommend to athletes, like think about maybe Um, some publicist help or social media help just to try and get some of that stuff off your plate first to make yourself more marketable and as you grow your marketability, the like agents and or sponsorship offers will come.
So I, I recommend like it does come to a point where you, you just need help. Um, and it can be really hard to figure out how to sell yourself. Um, it’s, it, it isn’t the easiest thing. I get it. I’m really terrible at selling myself. I have to, I’m great at selling other people, but terrible
at selling myself.
Well, I think you’ve sold yourself the last hour and 14 minutes, if I’m being honest, so I’m going to challenge that statement, I’m going to say that that narrative is a false narrative. Okay. What are your thoughts?
I’ll take it. Okay, coach. Tell me what to
do. Yeah. Hey, you know, this is a little, Hey, there’s a little coaching session.
There’s an underlying theme of a little coaching session going on here. Why not? No, let’s do it. That’s what I do. That’s my jam. You know, so I would love to hear, so as we start to wrap things up. You know, I think this is the perfect time to ask this question, which is, you know, and you kind of colored it up a little bit as to like, when is it time to look for an agent and then also, um, what do you look for in an agent?
Because, um, one athlete that I was recently on his podcast, uh, and we’ve, we’ve worked together and been friends for years, um, you know, had things fall apart with his, um, agent and, you know, I think maybe. There wasn’t enough clarity at the beginning, and it was there was a lot of sexiness to the deal at the beginning, but then didn’t really look at the back end of it.
So how do athletes make the right decision as to when do they hire an agent? What should they look for? And what mistakes are commonly running rampant? In the industry that could really bite them that they should avoid.
So I’m not formally an agent. I call myself a manager. Um, an agent is a employment category in California that comes with all kinds of specific rules about how many passes through and how your company is.
Um, I actually don’t. Do my stuff in the way that a conventional agent does just because it doesn’t necessarily work for me. And it’s not the way I want to do business. Um, but sort of just base level what I usually say to athletes who approach me because I don’t have a lot of capacity for new clients.
Um, so when they approach me, I’m like, Hey, you’re not ready yet. Probably. Um, Do hire marketing support first. Do hire a filmer. Do hire social media support. Do hire somebody to do some publicity or marketing work for you. Um, pay them a retainer and get what you need out of them to make yourself more marketable.
When you think that your property And you are well on the road. It’s like calling in investors for a company, right? You don’t go to look for an investment funding round. Unless you’re in tech, you don’t go for an investment funding round until you’ve created some actual value, right? Then you can set a number on yourself and I’m just sorry.
I worked in tech for a hot minute. It was crazy. That was
great. Um, 2008. Like all those websites that were worth like millions and then all
of a sudden it’s like a few people. So, uh, I usually say like when your property, when you as a property, as a racing team, as an athlete can reasonably expect to generate about a million dollars a year for what you’re doing in partnerships, then you can pretty much solely support an agent or be a support an agent.
So if you want somebody who’s specific to you and they work only for you or mostly for you, because if you think about it, they take 15 percent typically an agent. It’s like commission is between 10 and 20%, depending on what the deal is. Right. Um, you don’t want somebody who’s making less than 150, 000, certainly in California to be your agent, because they’re probably not great at it.
If they’re going to not. Be bringing in a certain amount of income, maybe call it a hundred, right? Like what’s the number what’s at your stage of your career, who you think you can, they can grow you. How much would you need to pay them? Then you need that to be 15 percent of what you can make yourselves.
A lot of people, multiple clients are a thing, right? So it doesn’t necessarily all have to be on your back. But generally when you think of hiring that guy who’s going to sell for you, like think about how much you’re worth and what is 15 percent of that. That’s what you’re paying them. Is that enough to support the kind of agent that you want?
Um, also there are exclusive agents who only work You only work with them. And then there’s non exclusive deals. There isn’t a lot of harm in working with a few people to sell you, except for make sure that they’re coordinated and they’re not all hitting up the same people for, um, different amounts or selling a different story or whatever.
But, um, you know, in the industry we call it an eat what you kill deal, right? It’s like if I have a partner that conflicts with the core partners in my portfolio already, But I know that they’re spending money in the industry, and I know that they really want the value that some, that’s similar to something that one of my athletes can provide, but we can’t deliver that value to them.
I will, of course, recommend them to somebody who I think can deliver for them, and I’ve done that a number of times, and usually that’s worth a certain amount of dollar commission, 15 percent call it or whatever, um, and So you can work with a number of different people that way without being exclusive and like stuck with that one guy.
Who’s not selling anything for you. I
love it. Wow. So if you found value in this podcast, which I know I, I almost want to be an athlete now, like kind of reversed just because now I want to go get sponsors. Cause I feel like. I can do it. So I’m going to be thinking about that. After we wrap things up, I’m going to find a sport that caters to my age demographic.
I’m thinking it might have to be pickleball, but I need to look deeper in it. Maybe.
Um, but if you found value in this podcast, definitely subscribe. And then Jen, if you found value and want to reach out to Jen or have any questions or just want to follow her and see some of the interesting things she does, um, how can people reach out to and find you? The
best way to find me is actually just DM me on Instagram.
Follow me on Instagram. I’m at Jen Horsey. It’s a ridiculous but very memorable name, Jen, like J E N, and my last name is, just like it sounds, horse with a Y on the end, J E N, H O R S E Y on Instagram is the best way to find out what I’m up to.
Jen, thank you so much. I swear this is like a masterclass and I know people are going to be really grateful for everything you offered.
You really opened the doors to a world that I think a lot of us just don’t understand. It’s like this mysterious world, you know, it’s almost kind of like, um, It’s just wild. So thank you so much for everything you revealed and all the information you shared. It really means a lot.
Thanks very much for having me on.
It was a real privilege to be part of this conversation.