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March 13, 2024 49 mins

On this special, very personal episode of She Pivots, Emily is joined by her sister, Carolyn Tisch Blodgett, the new owner of the women’s soccer franchise Gotham FC and the Founder and CEO of Next 3. As the world of women’s sports enters a new era, Emily and Carolyn discuss what it’s like to be co-owners of an exciting soccer franchise, playing a key role in transforming the future of women’s sports, and what it means for their own family legacy. Carolyn also shares why she left her powerhouse career in marketing at Peloton and what to expect from the new season of Gotham FC!

 

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She Pivots was created by host Emily Tisch Sussman to highlight women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. To learn more about Carolyn, follow us on Instagram @ShePivotsThePodcast or visit shepivotsthepodcast.com.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome back to she Pivots. I'm Carolyn Tish blodget Welcome
back to sheep Pivots. I'm your host, Emily Tish Susman.
When I was planning this season, I wanted to make
sure she Pivots was a means for building connections. I
said during our season launch party that we're the generation

(00:22):
of women who build bridges and don't tear each other down,
and she pivots as a way to empower women to
look inward, define success for themselves and not by society standards.

Speaker 2 (00:33):
And it's working. We're seeing a substantial change in.

Speaker 1 (00:36):
The way women think about and talk about their lives
and their careers.

Speaker 2 (00:40):
I'm so excited to dig deeper.

Speaker 1 (00:42):
Into these pivotal moments through these shorter, more conversational, candid
convos this season.

Speaker 2 (00:47):
Let's jump right in.

Speaker 1 (00:52):
Today We're kicking off the Gotham FC season by sitting
down with the one, the only, Carolyn Tish Blodgett is
leading the way in the world of women's soccer and
who also happens to be my amazing sister.

Speaker 2 (01:05):
So stay tuned.

Speaker 1 (01:06):
As we dive into how she plans to take the
magic she brought to Peloton as the head of global
marketing as the owner in the emerging industry of women's
soccer with Gotham FC.

Speaker 2 (01:16):
Let's jump right in. I'm Carolyn Tish Bladgett.

Speaker 1 (01:22):
I'm the CEO and founder of Next three, which is
the sports investment arm of our family's office, and I
am the lead governor for Gossam FC, the women's soccer team.
So when I came up with the idea of this show,
the idea was that personal things in our life change
our professional trajectory. And I needed that thesis to be

(01:44):
true because I felt like I had a really good
career and then I lost it, and I was worried
that other people were going to look at me and
be like she must have gotten fired, or like she
must be a dud, like how like there's no possible
way that she walked away from that. And when I
thought about other validators, like other people that I thought
validated this thesis, you were the first one that I

(02:07):
thought of, because Next three is not your first job.

Speaker 2 (02:10):
What did you do before this? What did you walk
away from?

Speaker 1 (02:13):
Okay, let's go back. Well, so my career was in
operating on the operating side. My background was in marketing.
I worked at Digitos, I went to Harvard Business School,
I worked at PEPSI and well, there's a whole other story.
We could talk about another point about changing directions if
your career, but I think for this point, in this moment,
my kind of formative role was I was the head

(02:36):
of marketing for Peloton for four years. And when I
joined the company, I joined when my oldest Penelope, had
just turned one, and the company was very small. We
were this little known startup in New York. We worked out,
we worked, We had thirty thousand members, sixty million dollars
in revenue. Is really like when you thought of spinning,

(02:56):
you thought of soul Cycle, Flywheel, and then this random
other startup on twenty third Street called Pelton. By the
time I left, it was a multi billion dollar company.
We had gone public, we had launched internationally, we launched
multiple products. So it was really it felt like a
you know, twenty year career smushed into four.

Speaker 2 (03:15):
But I left, really.

Speaker 1 (03:17):
I would say, in its peak, and I left for
very personal reasons. As I said before, I joined when Penelope,
my oldest, was one. I basically spent the entire four
years there with the sole goal of trying to get
out of the office in time to get home for bedtime,
which if it happened, it always looked by the time
I got there my kids were like what I opened?

(03:38):
And I was like, wait, I'm here, I'm here. So
it just it never felt like it was. It was
both the best thing that it was a transformative career
defining moment, it was also personally the hardest four years
of my life.

Speaker 2 (03:52):
Now I am going to cry and I'm just going
into therapy.

Speaker 1 (03:55):
And so I always knew I felt like I was
on a t I was sprinting on a treadmill, and
I always knew that I was going to have to
get off, and I didn't know what was going to
be the thing that got me off of it. So
I was there for my second child's birth. THEO took
I think thirty six hours of attorney leave before there
was a brand crisis that brought me, you know, maybe

(04:15):
not physically back into the office, but very much on
my phone and working the whole time.

Speaker 2 (04:20):
And so when he was two and a half years.

Speaker 1 (04:22):
Old, again, I'd already felt like this sprint needs to end.

Speaker 2 (04:26):
That's the whole point of a sprint. Is that it
ends at some point.

Speaker 1 (04:28):
So he was two and a half years old and
he had this lump on his head and we had
been kind of watching it, and my very casual pediatrician
kept saying like, it's fine, it's fine, but we'll keep
watching it. And now it's like three months later and
it's still there, and he's like, Okay, well maybe we
should get an ultrasound.

Speaker 2 (04:44):
And we get an ultrasound, and the.

Speaker 1 (04:46):
Radiologist like, I think it's probably okay, but let's keep
watching it, but it's impossible to get appointment anyway.

Speaker 2 (04:51):
We get our second appointment with her.

Speaker 1 (04:53):
It happens to be when I'm supposed to be shooting
our holiday commercial, which for Peloton is like the when
we fifty percent of our else happened during the holidays.
When I was supposed to be in Vancouver shooting the commercial.
So I go back and forth with Will my husband
like should I go? Should I not go?

Speaker 2 (05:08):
And he's like, you have to go. This is like
not an optional choice.

Speaker 1 (05:11):
You know, you go to your shoot. I'll do the
doctor's appointment. So I'm in Vancouver, obviously totally distracted. They
go to the doctor's appointment and THEO is two, and
he's like he where I'm on FaceTime with I'm really
really trying to cry, and he kept saying, I cray, Mommy,
where are you?

Speaker 2 (05:31):
Where are you?

Speaker 3 (05:32):
And I had this moment where I thought, you know, physically,
I'm in Van goover, but like, why am I here?
And I felt like this is a choice I'm making
and no one's forcing me to be here, but I'm
choosing to be here and I don't want to be here.

Speaker 1 (05:46):
And so I stayed for the rest of the shoot,
but I felt like at that moment, I knew that
I was going to leave. The lighter part of this
story is that so the shoot happens.

Speaker 2 (05:58):
And I don't know if anyone is trying what happened
Pelts on twenty nineteen.

Speaker 1 (06:02):
I went and resigned to my boss the next day
and I said when I flew back, I mean, I
can't do this anymore.

Speaker 2 (06:09):
And I said, I'm not.

Speaker 1 (06:10):
Oh, and by the way, I'm at this point, I
was not yet pregnant, but we thought about having another Chia.
But anyway, point is I said, I don't want to
do this anymore and I'm not jumping to another job,
so I will give you as long of a runway
as you need to find my backfill, but I can't
keep doing this. Fast forward three weeks and he was
supportive of that. Fast forward three weeks a month or so,

(06:32):
the commercial comes out. It is universally made fun of
as the worst piece of marketing in you know, brand history.

Speaker 2 (06:40):
We've ruined the brand.

Speaker 1 (06:41):
If you don't remember this commercial, I can remind you.
It's the woman gets the pelts on bike and people said.

Speaker 2 (06:47):
It was optimistic. Why did the husband write fat shaming her?

Speaker 1 (06:51):
She was such a bad actress, And so the commercial
got totally ripped apart, and so it complicated my exit
in the fact, so that then I had to stay
longer because I didn't want people to think that I
had been fired after so we were actually going to
announce to the company the week that it came out
that I was leaving, but then once the commercial came out,

(07:12):
then it looked like I had been fired. So anyway,
it got really complicated. And then COVID happened, so I
had to stay longer. So there's a really long answer
to my exit got really complicated, But it was clearly
in that moment where I felt like I had made
a personal choice that I didn't really felt like lived
up to my values, and that's when I decided to leave.
When I described this show to other people about how

(07:35):
people can make professional decisions for personal reasons, I use
that phone call with THEO as the example, because everybody
knows Peloton now like we live for a pandemic if
it wasn't your ad, like everybody knows Teleton, and you
ended up your exit ended up coming in the middle
of the massive spike. So if you looked just through

(07:59):
a purely professional lens, it's like, well, why would you
possibly leave when.

Speaker 2 (08:03):
You're nailing it? How do you answer that to people?

Speaker 1 (08:06):
Ironically, Now Palaton's in less of a big moment, so
I don't get the question as much. But I used
to get that question all the time, and I always
point to it. And I don't usually tell a story
about THEO because I feel like it's particularly personal that
I just decided to share with your entire.

Speaker 2 (08:19):
Podcast listening guest, I mean group.

Speaker 1 (08:23):
But ended up actually have getting pregnant with my third
right after that, so we'll normally just point to my
third child. I was about to have my third child.
I was, you know, it was the right thing for
my family. But I feel like it always sort of
leaves this there's this kind of elephant in the room,
or at least for me, an elephant in the room
of like, I'm not really telling you the full story,
and you're not really believing that someone could actually walk
away from their career.

Speaker 2 (08:44):
For personal reasons. Do you think people buy it?

Speaker 1 (08:47):
Like? What do you think they're filling in the blank
with no? I think I don't think people buy it.

Speaker 2 (08:52):
I think so.

Speaker 1 (08:53):
Actually, another moment where I actually decided that this wasn't
the right role for me was I was asked to
speak at the four Most Powerful Women's conference earlier that
same fall, which felt like, from a professional standpoint, a dream.
It was a room full of, you know, the most
important and most women. These were women that were at

(09:13):
the top of their game. And I sat at the
dinner and I was so honored to be able to
speak there. And I sat at the dinner and I
met all these really interesting people, and all of the
people sitting around the table all made comments about how
they you know, they didn't they never they always felt
restless when they were at home with their kids. They
never really saw themselves as being a parent, and I

(09:35):
just I sat through this dinner and I just kept
feeling like, I don't feel like this is me. And
I really care about my career and I think that
I'm good at what I do, but that doesn't mean
that that's actually how I want my life to be defined.
I just felt really alien in that room. So fast
forward to when people ask me, you know why I

(09:56):
left Paloton, and I say, you know, it was my
family for personal reasons. I feel like they don't really
believe me because they in a lot of.

Speaker 2 (10:04):
Not to you know, make everyone into one giant serotype.

Speaker 1 (10:07):
But many people, I feel like, see an ambitious person
and a successful person and don't see that there can
be shades of that and don't see that maybe because
you're good at something, it doesn't mean that you want
to be doing it, you know, one hundred percent of
the time.

Speaker 2 (10:23):
So how do you reconcile that?

Speaker 1 (10:24):
Like do you think that now you're the same ambitious
person but in a lower ambition cycle. Do you think
that you've changed the definition of success? Like have you
moved the markers? Like how do you reconcile that? Like,
you're a very ambitious person, you always have been. You
are much better in school than they always well being
good at.

Speaker 2 (10:42):
School, I'm being ambitious, not the same thing. I think
I'm good at following directions.

Speaker 1 (10:46):
But I would say I think I'm still as ambitious.
I think I've just been able to zoom out and
think about my time differently and think about what ambition
looks like differently.

Speaker 2 (10:58):
So when I think about you, I'm sure I'll at
some point we'll talk about what I'm doing now.

Speaker 1 (11:02):
But when I think about what I'm doing now, the
ambition of what I'm doing hasn't changed the vision of
how I want to make an impact in what I'm
doing hasn't changed. The way that I'm doing it does
look different. Do you mean the way that you look
to it, like the content of it, Like it's not
Peloton now it's soccer and sports investment? Or do you

(11:22):
mean the content like that last night you could have
been watching the Gotham preseason game in Columbia and instead
you were at your kids basketball game.

Speaker 3 (11:31):
I like that.

Speaker 1 (11:32):
Yeah, No, I would say, thinking about that, you know,
I think I can often fall under the trap of
you know what, like the classic saying of like perfect
shouldn't be the enemy of the good. I feel like
I say that, but I actually really mean perfection, and
I've tried really hard to embody that a little bit
more and to say, you know, a perfect example of

(11:53):
what you just said of there was a Gotham preseason
game last night.

Speaker 2 (11:56):
My kids really wanted to go to the high school basketball.

Speaker 1 (11:58):
Finals, and I took them to that, and I had
been on zoom from the minute they left for school
to the minute they walked to the door at five o'clock,
and I said, you know what, they don't want to
watch this preseason game, no offense to the preseason Gotham team.
They wanted to go to go to their high school game.
And so that's where I'm you know, changing my priorities.

(12:19):
But honestly, it's a battle every single day. It is
so easy when I open my phone at five point
thirty every morning and I see thirteen one hundred unread emails,
which is what my current inbox looks like. Like that
is like nails on a chalkboard. I'm sweating just saying
that out loud. But I'm trying to live in that
because I know that what success looks like is not

(12:40):
getting to inbox zero, it's being able to spend an
hour with my kids before they leave for school, before I,
you know, start working. Yeah, so you found a different
version of success, and so yesterday was successful for you. Yes,
that is a good way to think about it. Yes,
I would say, I would say, so, Yeah, do you
seem surprised you don't think yesterday was successful?

Speaker 3 (12:59):
No?

Speaker 2 (12:59):
I think you right, I think it was. I think
it's hard.

Speaker 1 (13:03):
It's like intellectually easier to say success looks like being
able to find a better balance than I've had in
the past. You know, I think part of a new
version of success is knowing what you can delegate and
what what you have to own yourself, right, Like what
are the things that my what decisions can my team
make without me? And what decisions do I really have
to make? But then you have to live with those decisions.

(13:24):
Like then I sit in a revenue meeting, you know,
I'm sitting there thinking like, huh, I would have done
that differently.

Speaker 2 (13:31):
But you can't. You can't have it both ways.

Speaker 1 (13:34):
Like if I delegated that decision, that I've delegated that decision,
and I'm not going to be the one I can't
I'm not going to undermine my team.

Speaker 2 (13:41):
You know, I think when I think about.

Speaker 1 (13:42):
Like what makes a good leader, I'm a big believer
in delegating to your team, But then they have to
be able to own that decision and make that decision
on their own so that you're not both you know,
saying you you take the call, I'm not going to
join because I'm going to go to my kids basketball game.
But oh, by the way, I don't like how you
made that decision, so I'm going to go change it later.
But why do you even you work so hard? Like
you just said, You've gone from like one thing to

(14:02):
the next, and like you're always trying to hit the
perfect Like why do you work so hard? I think
I have a vision for what success looks like or
what good looks like, and it's really hard for me
not to go try to achieve that. You know, I
often think to myself, like I.

Speaker 2 (14:20):
Wish I didn't have such a high standard.

Speaker 1 (14:22):
It would be easier to wake up every day and
just think, like, huh, what will this day bring for me?
Rather than what my current calendar looks like, which is
like color coded every thirty minutes. I know where I'm
supposed to be, you know, until I go to bed
that night.

Speaker 2 (14:36):
But I think it goes back to I feel like
I have a.

Speaker 1 (14:39):
There when I see a problem in the world, and
not that I would consider my current you know, work
a problem, but when I see something that I think
can be better, it's really hard for me not to
say I want to go help that thing become better. So,
if you know, talking about Gotham for example, in its
current moment, this is a team that or women's soccer

(15:00):
in general, is a sport that has not gotten the
same attention as men's have, you know, for so long,
and now we have. We just won a championship last year,
we have seven teams on the national team, we have
the best players in the world. And our average ticket
our current average ticket attendance, you know, from last year
we'll hopefully we'll be better this year is low and
we don't fill a stadium, and so it's hard for me.

(15:22):
You know, I could have come into the ownership seat
and said like, eh, it's.

Speaker 2 (15:26):
Good enough, let's just keep running the same play.

Speaker 1 (15:29):
But I can't look at you know, the problem, the
problem here being filling a stadium and say.

Speaker 2 (15:35):
Like this is good enough.

Speaker 1 (15:36):
I feel like I have to give it my best
shot to get it to make it better. Well, I
also feel like meeting the players and seeing it up close,
like it just makes you feel so committed to them
like you had seen them before I had, because you
had been working on this deal for months. The first
time I met any of them was when we literally
flew to the championship the day after we'd signed for

(15:58):
the team and stayed in the hotel hell with the players,
and we're really in there up close with them, and
just to see the way they are so committed, they
work so hard and they're so committed to one another,
Like I feel like it just makes you want to
do right by them absolutely. And you know, we've been
obviously been around team ownership for a long time with
the Giants for thirty years and being around the NFL.

(16:20):
The way that the players in the NWSL and at
Gotham were so thankful for us coming in and being
a part of ownership because to them it signaled that
people believed in them, you know, as you just said.
So we closed the deal in a way, We've been
working on the deal for nine months. We closed the
deal finally on Wednesday. I flew out on Thursday, I Land,

(16:42):
the PR person pulls me aside and is like, Okay,
you're going to go top, You're going to go speak
to the players now. And I'm like, oh my god,
what am I going to say to these plays? This
is so I'm intimidated. I amn't showered, like this is horrible.
I have prepared. I like to prepare her as you
can tell. You know what am I going to say?
And so who knows what I said, But every single
one of the players came up to me afterwards and
said thank you for being here. And it made me

(17:04):
realize that by our family coming in and coming off
of investing in the NFL, the most established league in
the in the world and in this country, and saying
the next sports team investment that we are going to
make is in Gotham, the women's soccer team in New
York and New Jersey, that was an investment in these players,
and that was a belief in them that we could

(17:26):
help with them make them into what I think we
all believe that they can be. And that's where I
think to your point, seeing the players and having that
conversation face to face really brought it all to life
for me.

Speaker 2 (17:37):
Yeah, I felt like that kept coming up.

Speaker 1 (17:39):
I mean, I had so much less background than you didn't,
had zero interaction with anybody until literally we landed at
the get the championship game in that Friday night was
the owner's dinner in the league dinner, and people kept
coming up to me and I am not you. Although
maybe they couldn't tell the difference, I don't know, but
they kept coming up being like, well, now we're real,
Like this is validating you guys are in the room.

Speaker 2 (18:01):
Now, now are real.

Speaker 1 (18:02):
And I was like, oh, I feel like a responsibility
to like really show up for you guys here. Well,
I think, you know, to your point of like why
do I keep working so hard? I think it is
that responsibility. I think in by investing in Gotham, we
have made a commitment that we are going to help
this league improve, and we are going to help this
team improve and give it the credibility and give it
and help achieve the success that we all believe that

(18:24):
these players deserve, that this Leak deserves, that this fan
base deserves. And so there is this responsibility I think
at this point to say, you know, we've decided to
make this investment. Now we are going to do everything
we can to make it be successful. You were quoted
in an article you should an entire article, I think
an entrepreneur magazine where you made the case that this

(18:45):
is good business. So I think that actually may help
us get back to our origin story here, our Gotham
origin story. So how did you make the jump from
Peloton to now owning Gotham. So I left Peloton, as
I said, in summer twenty twenty, with the real desire
to take some space and not be working one hundred
hours a week, which clearly that didn't last very long,

(19:06):
but that was the hope. And so in that time
I started working with our family at the New York Giants,
really representing our ownership interest there, thinking about ways in
which I could bring a tech company perspective like Peloton
to to a very established brand like the Giants, And
that was what I had planned to do. But pretty
quickly it became clear to me that the world of

(19:27):
sports was changing, and there were these established leagues like
the NFL, but then there were all these upstart leagues
and teams and technologies in and around sports that we're
all innovating. And we had an option as a family
to sit as owners in this league, to say, are
we going to kind of lean back and let these
innovations happen around us, or are we going to lean
forward and are we going to actually be a part

(19:48):
of these disruptions and maybe even help lead these disruptions.
And so I started our family sports investment arm called
Next three, the idea being again that we wanted to
have a front row seat to the disruptions happening in sports.

Speaker 2 (20:00):
Why is it called next three?

Speaker 1 (20:02):
Oh well, I'm really bad at naming things, so I
asked Will, my husband, for a good name, and he
is the Werston who named this. So in pickup basketball,
I feel funny. I'm really not a pickup basketball player.

Speaker 2 (20:12):
But in pickup basketball, when.

Speaker 1 (20:15):
You so you play, you know, you three of you play,
and then like you win, and then the whoever next
person says like next three. So it's this idea of
you know, the next three up, the next three up.
So it's the idea of kind of we're looking forward
in sports, we're not looking backwards. We're always thinking about
what the next platform is. So we started Next three
and the idea was, really we had no thesis. The

(20:36):
idea was we're just going to start in listening mode,
and we're going to understand where are the trends, where
do we see the sports world going? And it became
pretty obvious pretty quickly that sign after sign was pointing
to the growth of women's sports, and particularly the growth
of women's soccer, and.

Speaker 2 (20:52):
We wanted to be a part of that. What kind
of deals did you pass on?

Speaker 3 (20:56):
Oh?

Speaker 2 (20:57):
Boy, so many? Like one hundred and fifh.

Speaker 1 (21:00):
Right, We're going to take a short break for some ads.
Now back to the show, Like one hundred and fifty right, Oh,
at least, yeah, we've probably looked at it. We probab
We've probably looked at one hundred and fifty before we
invested in Gotham. We have. They ranged from everything from
stadium technology to other upstart leagues to media companies, and

(21:24):
I would say most of them are really interesting concepts.
We just focus and I and we've tried to be
helpful to many of them. New ticketing companies, we've tried
to be helpful to them even if we did not invest.
But we were really specific about feeling in every investment
we looked at, we said, why are we the people
on the cap table? So if there if you cannot

(21:44):
articulate why me, Carolyn should be on your board, should
should be working with your leadership team in what value
I can add, Then it's not the right investment for
us to be making at the time. Oh so you
were looking for like serious, serious engagement, like you were
looking for deals where you could like really be in
the weeds.

Speaker 2 (22:01):
Well, now did you say that? I guess, Well, how
of course I ended up here. We weren't looking for
I wouldn't say we were looking for to be fairy
in the ways.

Speaker 1 (22:09):
What we were definitely looking of where we could be
adding value to companies and looking through the lens of you,
looking through the lens of the giants, Like, how did
you think about it? Well, it's a good question because
at first, I think the original thesis was where do
we add value as owners of the giants or co
owners of the giants? And that and many companies obviously

(22:30):
to be able to open the door to a relationship
with the giants was really important. Interestingly, probably as many companies,
if not more, were more interested in my experience at Peloton,
and they were as they were thinking about how do
we go build our brand, how do I go build
a community around a product and kind of looking at
the lessons of Peloton and actually wanting that as part

(22:52):
of their why we would be on the cap table
as well. Yeah, and why this team we looked at
actually several WSL teams want it reached through you, and
we really enjoyed getting to know all these other owners
through the process. And I would say there were there
were probably two reasons we ended up investing with Gotham.
One was we really liked the current ownership. We felt

(23:13):
like we aligned. They were so y l the GM
felt like there was so much progress being made on
the soccer side that they she y All had a
really clear vision. She wants New York and New Jersey
to be the capital of women's soccer globally. We felt
like we could really buy into that vision and we
could help her build on that vision. So we really
liked the management team and really liked the current ownership
and felt like we could partner together on that vision.

(23:36):
The second piece I feel like I can't not share
is I thought about our family's legacy, and so when
I was sharing this deal actually within our family and
getting people's opinions, and everyone kind of came back to
this story about our grandfather, and so when our grandfather
decided to he grew up in Brooklyn, lifelong you know,
came from rags to riches. Story, had this vision, had

(23:59):
an opportunity to invest in the NFL, which was truly
like a lifelong dream. But he said he ended up
buying fifty percent of the New York Giants. Obviously, but
he always told this story that he had he had
an opportunity to invest in one hundred percent of several
other teams, but he always said.

Speaker 2 (24:16):
Like, I'm a poor kid from Brooklyn. Why would I
buy one hundred.

Speaker 1 (24:19):
Percent of you know, fill in the blank other team
when I could buy fifty percent of the New York Giants.
And our family legacy is here, our family history is here,
and so being able to be having the opportunity to
invest in the New York New Jersey.

Speaker 2 (24:32):
Team felt like kind of the pinnacle moment for us.

Speaker 1 (24:36):
Were they on the market or did you have to
walk in and be like, we are New Yorkers and
we want Inde Moiselle, and we love it here and
we'd like to be here. Well, that's a good question.
Everyone's always a little bit on the market. But I
did go you know, for the life three people, everyone's
always a little on the market.

Speaker 2 (24:54):
But I did go I was actually was so intimidating.

Speaker 1 (24:57):
I went to go meet with Tammy Murphy, Governor Murphy,
he's wife in New Jersey, and I walked into the
Governor's office to tell them why I am the right
person to be her investor and you know, co lead
this team with her. And it was really intimidating, but
she liked it, and there here we are, So can
we be in that moment with you for a second,

(25:17):
because at this point, like, yes, you're looking at deals
for our family, but like it's not like you're walking
in with like like in your job position, like you
are still spending a lot of time at home with
your kids now. So now you're walking in and you're like, hello, Governor,
I would love to be your business partner. Like what

(25:38):
is in your head as you walk into this moment? Yes,
that is true, that is exacally.

Speaker 2 (25:44):
What I did.

Speaker 1 (25:44):
I guess they just kept thinking. You know, I think
the biggest thing I was intimidated by was just I'm
a younger generation than Tammy.

Speaker 2 (25:53):
I'd never met her before.

Speaker 1 (25:54):
Obviously, you know, I watched a ton of press around
her before I walked in, and so I felt like
I hoped we had shared values, which I think we
very clearly did, but she's so incredibly successful.

Speaker 2 (26:07):
I was so intimidated. I actually always think about that.

Speaker 1 (26:11):
I feel like I can get more done in a
day than any human being, and I always caveat except
for Tammy. No one gets more done in a day
than Tammy. She's so efficient with her time. But anyway,
it was really intimidating, and I just kept kind of
going back to this feeling of like I deserve to
be here, and I've worked, you know, I have credibility.
I'm coming obviously again on behalf of my family, but
I'm also coming with my own credentials. And pretty quickly

(26:34):
the conversation with Tammy got to Pelton. We talked a
lot about what I did there, and I think that
gave me the support and strength to realize like that
I had there was a reason that I was in
that room, not just because that I was representing our family,
but also because.

Speaker 2 (26:49):
Of the work that I had done.

Speaker 1 (26:50):
Yeah, and throughout that process, like from that first meeting
with Tammy on was there anything And I asked, it's
not because I am doubting you because I think it'll
be helpful for our listeners to hear you talk through
this part.

Speaker 2 (27:01):
But were there any particular.

Speaker 1 (27:02):
Questions that kind of like knocked you off and made
you second guess yourself that? And then how did you
build yourself back up to remind yourself that.

Speaker 2 (27:10):
You do deserve to be in that room and you
just do deserve to be in that deal.

Speaker 1 (27:14):
I feel like there are questions literally every day that
make me feel like, why am I the person in
this seat?

Speaker 2 (27:22):
You know? Am I the right person to be leading this?
Is there someone better to be leading this? Why me?

Speaker 1 (27:28):
I would point to, you know, as part of the
investment process, for sure, but even just once we closed
and so very quickly, I then became the governor of
the team, which means that I represent the team at
the Leade Board and so again I walked into my
first board meeting again in California, two days after we
closed our investment, and I was incredibly intimidating. It's a
room full of private equity investors, It's a room full

(27:53):
of and other NFL owners, MLB owners, NB I mean,
you name it that World's.

Speaker 2 (27:58):
Cup stars from on the soccer side.

Speaker 1 (28:01):
And I obviously didn't say anything in the first meeting
because I felt incredibly intimidated. And I was talking to
Jessica Berman, our commissioner, after and I was like, oh, Jessica,
I can't talk in that room, like that is not
for me. And she looked at me and she's like,
of course you're going to talk.

Speaker 2 (28:14):
You have to talk.

Speaker 1 (28:15):
You have a really important seat on that table. You
represent one of our, if not our biggest media market,
one of our biggest media markets. You need a voice
at the table. And so I actually just finished a
leak board meeting right before walking into this, and I,
you know, every time I open my you know, turn
off my my mute button in a board call, I

(28:37):
am completely intimidated because I'm much less experienced than most
of the people in that room. But I feel I
just kind of keep reminding myself, like there is a
reason I am here. The team has trusted me to
be at this table. Our family has trusted me to
be at that table. And I don't teat that lightly,
but I have to be here and I have to
own that voice. Yeah, you had mentioned that y'a elle

(28:59):
or general manager, had articulated a really excellent vision for
the team. What is that vision and are you sticking.

Speaker 2 (29:04):
To it still? Yeah?

Speaker 1 (29:06):
So yeah, L's vision is for New York and New
Jersey to be the capital of women's soccer globally. I
would say we are sticking to that vision, but we're
adding a little bit of a Marketer's lens to it too.
So I would say what my vision is for the
team is to be one of the best global sports
franchises period. So if you think about global sports brands,

(29:27):
there's you know, Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Manchester United.
These are brands that transcend the sport that they're in. Like,
think about how many people walk around with the New
York Yankees hat that probably could not name a single
person on that team, right, It's just they love the brand.
It's like, oh it's New York, it's the Yankees. There's
no women's team on that list, and there's no reason
that Goffam cannot be on that list. So when I

(29:48):
think about our vision, it is that it is to
be one of the best global sports franchises that also
as part of that, on the soccer set, we should
be the global capital of women's soccer, there's no reason
we can't be. But I would say our ambitions have
grown past that as well.

Speaker 2 (30:03):
One of the things that hadn't.

Speaker 1 (30:05):
Occurred to me, but I found out from having conversations
with the ISL is that so many of the US
teams are on the West Coast, and the European players
are really good and would consider playing in the US,
but don't want to go all the way to the
West Coast because they can't get back and forth to Europe.
And so even just geography gives us that advantage. Like,

(30:26):
if we can show that we are just as good
to play for, if not better than European teams, South
American teams, West Coast teams, there's no reason that they
can't consider Gotham. We absolutely should be the global destination
for players to want to come play for. First of all,
we just won the championship. We have an incredible coach

(30:46):
who just won Coach of the Year. We have an
incredible GM who if there was GM of the Year,
she would win that too.

Speaker 2 (30:51):
And we're in New York.

Speaker 1 (30:52):
To your point, I mean, we have the diversity, we have,
the language is spoken there is we are close to Europe.

Speaker 2 (30:58):
If you want to go to Europe.

Speaker 1 (31:00):
There is absolutely no reason that we can compete globally
for talent. And yah Elle talks about a people first mentality.
Can you explain what that means, like specifically within the team,
how you get there?

Speaker 2 (31:12):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (31:12):
So one of the one of my first conversations with
ya l I realized how much we would share, we
would have a shared vision because she talked about I
can't remember if she used the term if we relabeled
it to be player NPS. So if you are in
the tech world, there's a metric called NPS, which is.

Speaker 2 (31:29):
Net Promoter score.

Speaker 1 (31:30):
It's basically would I refer a friend to this product?

Speaker 2 (31:34):
And so at Peloton that was the holy grail.

Speaker 1 (31:36):
Everything we worked on was towards our NPS score. John Foley,
our founder, will always talked about we want a net
Promoter score of one hundred, which no company has ever had,
but why not us? And that's very much the mentality
we take on the business side at Gotham is we
want people who So we want people to come to games,
we want people to experience their brand, but then we
want them to go have a really great experience so

(31:57):
that they share that with their friends and you could
call that and we'll measure that and we will look
at that as NPS. To talk about that in the
player side is really innovative. So yeah, L's vision there
is that she wants to build a club and she
is building a club where not only do players want
to play there, but they will recommend their friends to

(32:18):
play there too. And that's how you really build sustainable talent.
You know, if you think about every it is so
hard to build a championship team. It's even harder to
build one that can compete year after a year. But
the way that you do that is to continue to
attract talent. And the way that you attract talent is
to build a great player experience, So where players have

(32:38):
an incredible experience playing for the team, whether they're by
the way they're the starters or the last person on
the roster, if they have a great experience as players,
and then they go and tell their friends to play
there as well. What I heard someone say, maybe you,
maybe I will, but that it's extra important in this
league because everybody knows each other, like all the players know.
The league just isn't that big, so the word good

(33:00):
or bad gets out really quickly. Yes, because people will
know absolutely, which again speaks to like we just have
to keep raising the bar because the word does get
out quickly, and so we want to be very clear
on this is the best place to play in the
league and you need to all come yeah, okay, So
talk to us about the business side, the marketing side,

(33:21):
how are you innovating. So, as I said before, the
soccer we were really fortunate to walk into an incredibly
stable soccer side of the team that we've been working
on the deal for many months. When we actually first
started talking, they were not as good as they ended
up being by the time we closed the deal, but
we ended up winning the championship, and again with y
l and Juan Carlos, we feel really strong about that vision.

(33:43):
We now our job now on the business side is
to build a business a business side of an organization
that matches that. And so again if you go back
to the vision of we want to be the best
one of the best global soccer brands in the world,
the way that we need to build a business side
that matches that, that is able to live up to that,
I would go back to. So the way that we
thought about that is we touched a lot about Peloton earlier,

(34:06):
but I would point to three things we did at
Peloton that really contributed to its success, and I think
canon at Gotham as well. So the first is when
I think about what made Peloton so successful and what
made my job as a marketer really so easy, honestly,
is that we had the absolute best product, and then
our job was to go build an end to end

(34:27):
consumer experience around it so that consumers, again, once they
came into the brand, they loved it and they were
never going to churn like they were never going to
stop using their product, and they were going to refer
their friends. And so if I think about Gotham, we
have part of what attracted us to the investment in
the NWSL is that it is the best product on

(34:48):
the field. We have the best players in the world.
We have the best product, particularly Gotham.

Speaker 2 (34:52):
On the field.

Speaker 1 (34:53):
Now we need to go create a fan experience around
that so that when you go to the stadium and
you go watch the players play, or your follow us
on social or you watch our content online, however you
engage with the brand, it's a great experience so that
you stay engaged and you want to tell your friends.
Second point is when we were building the Peloton brand,
it was really clear really early. You know, I would

(35:15):
meet people at cocktail parties and they'd say, I love Pelton,
I love Ali, love I love Pelton, I love Cody,
And it was really clear that your relationship with the
brand was through the instructors.

Speaker 2 (35:25):
And so our job as marketers was to.

Speaker 1 (35:27):
Help go build the instructors' brands and go amplify those
brands so that you continue we continue to build the
Peloton brand through those instructors.

Speaker 2 (35:36):
Same thing at Gotham.

Speaker 1 (35:37):
When you think about women's soccer and you think about
you know, for people that are passionate about women's soccer,
you think about Ali Creeker, I should have worn my
Ally Creeker fan club shirt as.

Speaker 2 (35:46):
I always say I should have done.

Speaker 1 (35:48):
You think about Lynn Williams, you think about Midge Purce,
Rose Level. Those are the star we have stars. It
is our job now to go bill help them build
their brands. They've done a great job already, but help
them continue to go build the brands, which is going
to help the Gotham brand as well. And then the
third piece is community. I think for anyone that is
a part of the Peloton community. You know that you know,

(36:09):
you might have come in thinking you were buying a product,
but the reason you stay is because you join this community.
And whether you were in you know, the Moms of
Peloton or my husband loves the straight Guys who love
Cody subgroup, there's you know, there's a there's a wide
range of groups. But really, the Peloton community is so
special and we have the opportunity to do the same

(36:30):
at Gotham. We have a really so I keep thinking
of it as like the world's best kept secret because
the fans that are a part of Gotham are so loyal.
We have such an active fan fan supporter group in
Cloud nine, such an active fan base, but it's small
and it is our job, again as marketers, as owners,
is to go build that community and get people to

(36:51):
and create a community experience so that when you become
a fan of Gotham, you're not just a fan of
the product on the field, you are really joining a community.
We're going to take a short break for some ads.
Now back to the show. You were on a panel
last week at the Female Founder's Fund with with Ali

(37:12):
Kreeger and the commissioner of the WNBA, which was super
interesting to hear, and she said something that I wrote.

Speaker 2 (37:19):
Down, so I'm pulling it up from my notes.

Speaker 1 (37:21):
She said, you need three things to really create a league.
You need name recognition, you need games of consequences, and
you need rivalries. How does that hit for you, Like,
do you think we're doing those things.

Speaker 2 (37:35):
Or do you need different things.

Speaker 1 (37:36):
Name recognition you're definitely working on by building the brands.
Name recognition we are working on every single day. You
need games of consequence. So interestingly, so we were actually
we got some eked into the playoffs, so it was
at one point difference we've actually were at the game
that we tied, which we then we were all kind
of waiting around to see where we're where were we

(37:58):
going to fall in the playoff ranking whether or not
we even got into the playoffs. So we were the
sixth rank, the bottom ranked team, and then obviously we
ended up winning. So I think we have games of
consequence because that not in every lead you have the
sixth ranked team that ends up going to the championship
and winning, although the Giants did that two once. Anyway,
do we have rivalries, I think we're building them. I
think this is the you know, the league is so early.

(38:20):
There is a team in Washington and the Washington Spirit,
there's about to be a team in Boston.

Speaker 2 (38:23):
We keep talking about this LA New York rivalry that
we have to have going.

Speaker 1 (38:27):
But I think this is where, you know, joining the
NDWSLA is a little bit of like a startup slash
marketers dream because the world is our oyster. If we
want to go create rivalries, we can go do them.
That's still one thing I actually kind of wonder about
in all of those in that list that she came
up with, because part of what I love about it
is that everyone is not just metaphorically linking arms like

(38:49):
all rising tides lift all shits, like they are literally
linking arms like everybody in this league is helping each
other because we all have to succeed for anybody to succeed.

Speaker 2 (38:59):
But don't we create rivalries out of that? Is my question?

Speaker 1 (39:02):
Because people really like each other, do we need them?
You know it's funny that you said that, because I
actually would revisee. I think for Henny, I don't want
to dispute for her. I think that list makes sense.
I think what's been really interesting to be a part
of the league in the last few months is how
much we all Every owner around the table recognizes that
we will all succeed if the other succeed as well.

(39:25):
And there is this very you know, we debate at
the league level all the time. There are rivalries on
the field, but every single owner in that room will
say that Gotham will be better. When Bay has an
amazing opening night and sells out their stadium.

Speaker 2 (39:42):
We are all.

Speaker 1 (39:43):
You know, Chicago is better for the fact that Kansas
City was able to build their own stadium.

Speaker 2 (39:48):
Every team will be will succeed.

Speaker 1 (39:51):
I think that was why so many people were so excited,
so many that their owners were so excited about us
coming into Gotham because they recognize, again, in this really
strong media market of New York, we need to have
really strong ownership here and people that are going to
continue to fight for this league survival. So I think
there is this feeling around the league of the league's
in a really good place right now. It's so much
better than it's been in the past, but it's still

(40:12):
fragile and it's going to take all of us working
together to continue to ensure its success. What do you
think this feels like a crazy question of like what
do you think is next? Like I feel like you're
in the next but like what.

Speaker 2 (40:22):
Do you think is next? Well, obviously, right now.

Speaker 1 (40:24):
We are very heads down on Gotham, but I would
say I would love to at some point zoom out
and think about, you know, continue to and we are
still making investments out of Next three, so I would
kind of zoom back out to being the CEO and
founder of Next three and thinking about where are the
next great disruptions in sports? Obviously, again, we we've made
a big bed in women's soccer and we continue to

(40:45):
believe in it, but there are going to be others
and whether that's another sports team, whether that's another groundbreaking
technology on the fan development side or a media side,
we are going to continue to think about. I'm going
to continue to think about where are those disruptions and
what role do we want to play in building those disruptions. Okay,
so what can people expect going to Gotham this year

(41:06):
and how can they access all of those things? How
can they access it? Well, you can just go online
and buy a ticket. So the team plays at Red
Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. It's very easy to
get to on the path if you're coming from New
York and want a judge of where you're coming from.
You can also watch games online. There's a couple of
media partners at ESPN, CBS, Amazon, Scripts and what can

(41:26):
you expect. So we've been really focused on improving the
fan experience, as I said before, because to me, that
really unlocks creating this great fan engagement that you will
then be once you come to a game. You will
become a fan if you have a great fan experience.
So TBD on what that looks like. We are still
figuring that all out, but we're really thinking about from
the moment you park your car, the moment you get
off the path to the moment you leave, how are

(41:49):
you engaged if you're whether you're a diehard soccer fan
and you're dying to get Rose Level's a autograph, or
you are a new tot sport and just learning. What
is your experience at the stadium? How easy is it?
You know?

Speaker 2 (42:02):
What are you doing pregame?

Speaker 1 (42:03):
Are you maybe making some signs not to throw some
sprinkles of what might come?

Speaker 2 (42:09):
Is there are there some tattoos maybe you can do?

Speaker 1 (42:13):
So figuring all that out, but like, what is that
pre game experience, and then how is your experience within
the game, what does that look like?

Speaker 2 (42:19):
And then how do you leave and what you know?

Speaker 1 (42:22):
Importantly, again as a tech person, like what is the
feedback loop for us to continue to get better? And
how are we getting feedback from fans so that we
continue to improve game after game.

Speaker 2 (42:31):
One of the things that I.

Speaker 1 (42:32):
Keep saying to people is that going to sporting events
as a family is such an important core memory for people,
Like people love to have it as part of their
family tradition, but regularly going to sporting events as a
family of four is becoming wildly unaffordable, and so people
do it once once a year. Like maybe if that
this is still one of those things that you could
be together regularly at, Like I think that, and and

(42:56):
I kind of feel like that that comes up because
people say like, oh, I can't wait to take my daughters,
and it's like, yes, take your daughters and take your sons,
Like this is a professional sports experience that your family
can experience together.

Speaker 2 (43:07):
Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (43:07):
That was one of the things when we first the
first game we went to, I brought THEO, our six
year old son.

Speaker 2 (43:13):
I guess yeah, I think of six. And you know,
we're sitting there like, oh my god, this is so cool.

Speaker 1 (43:18):
People are screaming and they're cheering, and I look over
at THEO and I'm like, cut THEO.

Speaker 2 (43:22):
And he's a huge NFL fan.

Speaker 1 (43:24):
I'm like, THEO, these people are here screaming and cheering,
just like in a Giant's game, but they're cheering for
a women's soccer game.

Speaker 2 (43:31):
And he was like, I know. And I was like, no, no,
it's a women's game. And he was like, no, I know.

Speaker 1 (43:37):
Like I'm watching what's happening, and I think for it
gave me so much hope.

Speaker 2 (43:42):
And gave me It made me realize how big of
an opportunity this is.

Speaker 1 (43:45):
That this is not not Yes, it is important that
we are creating role models for young girls that don't
necessarily have them in professional sports today. That's incredibly important.
But this is not just a sport for women. This
is a sport that they Again, these players are the
best at what they do. This is a sport that
is appealing to all types of people, men, women, however you.

Speaker 2 (44:05):
Identify, this is a sport for you, because.

Speaker 1 (44:08):
Again, we have the best product on the field and
that gives me so much hope for what this sport
can do and where this league can go, because we
are really building an incredible both you know team at Gotham,
but also a league nationally.

Speaker 2 (44:23):
And the point about like not like our kids.

Speaker 1 (44:25):
Generation, not realizing that being an exceptional women's team hasn't
been the.

Speaker 2 (44:30):
Norm thus far will be the norm. It is now.

Speaker 1 (44:32):
But I keep a box of Gotham shirts and hats
in the trunk of the cars so I can just
give them out to people as we're going, so we can.

Speaker 2 (44:38):
You know, get those fans one by one, get those
fans anywhere exactly.

Speaker 1 (44:42):
Get those fans anywhere we can and Doane ask me
why we're doing it, And the other day he was like,
but what if they already have a women's soccer team
that they like, And I was like, well, we'll cross
that bridge when we come to it.

Speaker 2 (44:53):
Amazing problem to have. Then, I guess we have a rivalry.

Speaker 1 (44:56):
Because you're looking for a rivalry, You've just found it,
you know, we just found no arrival with that will
be a great problem. If we can come to that,
maybe they'll consider too women's soccer teams. So what is
one thing that at the time, you saw as like
a total low, and you saw it, I'm never going
to get myself out of this, And then now in retrospect,
you look back at it and you see it as

(45:17):
having really launched you.

Speaker 2 (45:19):
I already told you when the entire world left to
my commercial, that was a low.

Speaker 1 (45:23):
I had always dreamed of working in sports and working
at the Giants. It was something from when our grandfather
got involved with the team thirty plus years ago. He
was such a role model to me, and I really
saw myself filling his shoes one day and going to
work with the team, and that being kind of, you know,
my life dream to I worked in marketing because I

(45:44):
wanted to do that.

Speaker 2 (45:44):
I went to business school.

Speaker 1 (45:45):
That's what I wrote my business school essay application essay about.
And then I actually had an opportunity to do some
consulting work with the team after I left PEPSI, after
I had my first child, and it was not great,
and I had this feeling and I would say it
wasn't great. I sort of felt like I was, you know,

(46:06):
wasn't an employee or was I an owner. I felt
like I didn't quite fit in. I felt like my
ideas weren't totally valued. And I had this real crisis
of like, my entire career, from my college essay to
my jobs out of college, to business school to post
business school, was all very linearly trying to hit that goal,

(46:30):
and now I don't know that that's the goal I want.
And I had this real moment of like, I don't
even know what I like. I only know how to
follow the path that I'm on, Like I don't actually
you know. People would say like, but what do you like?
What are you passionate about? And I was like, I'm
not passionate about anything. I'm passionate about following the path
that I'm on. And that was a really scary moment

(46:51):
for me. And it's actually how I ended up at Peloton.
I never thought that i'd go to a startup, but
my friend from business school actually interviewed for the job
that I ended up taking. That sounded like I took
it from her. I did to take it for her.
It wasn't the right fit for her, but she interviewed
for the job and then she was like, it's not
right for me. I think it's I think you would
like it. And I and I remember walking in Central
park with her, I with like a stroller with Penelope,

(47:14):
and I was like, I don't know, Like I love fitness,
but it's not what I think I'm going to do
with my life, and I don't really know if I
want to be working full time right now. And it
really opened the door to this role, which I think
completely changed my trajectory and gave me so much confidence
to be able to now, which you know, many years later,
do what I'm doing now. But I only got there,

(47:35):
I think because I felt like I kind of got
to a dead end of the path that I had
been on before and had to kind of take a
few steps back to say like, Okay, what's a new
path that I can go find. Yeah, I don't think
you ever would have considered a startup had you not
been like up against the wall. No, you're not a
startup kind of goal. No, I know, And every time
I felt like I was kind of faking it. The
whole time I was at Pelton, I'm like, yeah, I'm

(47:56):
so cool and a hip and downtown.

Speaker 2 (48:00):
And risky, which I'm not.

Speaker 1 (48:03):
But yes, No, I felt like the only reason I
got there is because I felt like I had to,
you know, the path I was on wasn't what I
thought it was going to be, so I felt like
I had to kind of reevaluate. Yeah, I mean I
feel like that's essentially the thesis of this whole show.
Like we only can get to the like people look
at successes and like, of course you're a success. Of
course your success. You did all these things. Of course

(48:24):
your success, And it's like, well, I had to have
done all of these things and had all these experiences
and a lot of rejections and disappointments to be able
to open up these new doors, to be able to
have this varied career and like, get me to be
in the best position I could be.

Speaker 2 (48:39):
To be in this job right now. Yes, absolutely, Thank you, keV.
Thanks for coming to she Pivns is so much fun.

Speaker 1 (48:46):
Don't miss the Gotham FC games this season. Both Carolyn
and I will be there cheering on the bats. So
be sure to subscribe to our newsletter a she Pivots
the podcast dot com to get our she Pivots discount
code for tickets for all Gotham games this season. Thanks
for listening to this candid convo episode of she Pivots.
Check back in weekly for more conversations with inspiring women.

(49:10):
To learn more about our guests, follow us on Instagram
at she pivots the podcast. Leave us a rating and
comment if you enjoyed this episode to help others.

Speaker 2 (49:18):
Learn about it.

Speaker 1 (49:19):
Talk to you next week. Special thanks to the she
pivots team. Executive producer Emily eda Velosk, Associate producer and
social media connoisseur Hannah Cousins, Research director Christine Dickinson, Events
and Logistics coordinator Madeline Sonoviak, and audio editor and mixer
Nina pollock I endorse she pivots
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