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47. The Cost of Missing Out
Episode 471st November 2022 • META Woman • Holodeck Media
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Today's fantastic guest is Rebecca Longawa is the Founder and President of Happy Warrior (which helps brands with strategy and partnerships) and the CEO of Women’s Carball, the second largest esports league for women in the world, and features women who play Rocket League. Naturally, we had a lot to talk about, from avoiding activations that are just a logo slap to creating equitable spaces for girls and women to game. Rebecca is a right light in this industry, and remains dedicated to making it a better place.

Transcripts

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Welcome to the meadow woman podcast. We address the

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issues, opportunities and challenges facing women in the

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development of the metaverse the biggest revolution since the

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internet itself. Every week we bring you conversations with top

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female talent and business executives operating in the

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gaming and crypto industries. Here's your host Lindsey, the

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boss poss the meta woman podcast starts now. Hello, and welcome

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to the meta woman podcast part of the holodeck media Podcast

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Network. I'm your host Lindsey, the boss, boss. And thank you so

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much for coming back week after week listening to me, giving me

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five star ratings and reviews truly means so much. For all the

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new listeners out there. I hope you'll stick around week or I

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guess for next episode next week. I'm going to be eventually

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taking a short hiatus for a knee surgery but I will be back after

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that. And I promise I'm going to miss all of you until then. We

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have a wonderful guest today and a woman I really admire. I had

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the fortune of meeting her earlier this summer. It was

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really lovely. So if you get a chance to hit up the conference

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circuit and esports I'm sure you'll find her there. Today we

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have on Rebecca young Nova. I hope I said that right. I should

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have confirmed with you before I started. Yes. Okay. And that's

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spelled L O N G Awa for those looking for you on LinkedIn or

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for those of you looking for her on LinkedIn. Rebecca is the

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founder and president of happy warrior and the CEO of women's

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carbaugh. Happy warrior in its own words, helps brands navigate

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sports sponsorship and endorsement, endorsement deals

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sportstech and esports. Startups on go to market strategy and

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branding. And investors find startups for investments and

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athletes and streamers build their brands, so really is a

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little bit of everything in her not so spare time. She is also

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the CEO of women's carbo League, which are women's carbaugh

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rather, which is the second largest esports League for women

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in the world and features women who played Rocket League.

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Rebecca, welcome to the show. Love for you to introduce

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yourself and give a bit of background. Tell me about your

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projects about happy warrior about everything else that you

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do. I think I only covered about half of it. So you step in for

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the rest.

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Thanks so much for having me on. Yeah, you know, my background is

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in sports marketing and advertising. And I worked with

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in the NBA, as a brand manager with the Timberwolves and Lynx.

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So I mean, I think the way that I center myself in the esports,

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and gaming ecosystem, is really leveraging everything that I

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learned working in advertising, working with brands, getting

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them integrated in pro sports, I leverage that in a way to really

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help a lot of non endemic brands get into esports. And gaming,

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you know, I understand marketing goals and objectives, I

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understand how to build out really unique activations and

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experiences. And so I kind of think of the way that I work

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with the pro orgs and teams that I work with. And the way that I

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work with brands is really kind of being an idea or with them an

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extension of their team to come up with ways that you know, are

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beyond what a what everybody fears, which is like the logo

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slap, right? It's like, how can you build out a strategy that is

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authentic? How do you build something that's credible, and

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then really thinking about anchoring it back to

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monetization for the brand itself, whether that's short

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term or or broad, long term strategy, part of my role with

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the Timberwolves happened organically with just the

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emergence of a ton of sports tech. So it was just kind of

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happening before there were there weren't even directors of

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innovations at the pro sports teams, it was just happening

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naturally and organically. And I was able to be a part of some

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really cool movements in sports technology that now have really

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lended Well, to me, helping find some of those startups for

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investors, and then working with those startups and really

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bringing them from like, the investment strategy that they've

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been used to working on for years, sometimes to a true go to

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market strategy. And so I still very interested in the in the

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traditional sports tech side of the world, a lot of that has

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melded into some esports technology. So yeah, I'm working

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with some some pro teams. I work with a streamer by the name of

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Nutzer. He so calls himself the one handed gamer he was born

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with, with only one hand and a partial arm. And he's just a

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super elite Warzone streamer. He streams apex and some other

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games. He's super cool kid that reached out to me, building out

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communities, you know, work, obviously on a lot of women's

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issues. I'm a woman in gaming. I come from traditional sports. So

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it's natural for me to be a voice for women's issues in our

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industry. And women's car ball just kind of fell into my lap I

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guess when the new owners purchased that property and they

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were really looking for somebody who could build

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Hold the business set around what was a very powerful league

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that had been really grassroots. And it still is pretty

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grassroots. But we're getting a lot of cool traction. So that's

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my long winded. Here I am, I love long winded answers. As a

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podcast host, I never criticized the guests for talking too much,

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that's for sure. I'm so excited to talk more about women's

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carbaugh. And we'll definitely get into that I'm, I'm so

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interested in that. But I want to I want to start by diving

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into your career history of it. And you've already talked about

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how you made this transition from the traditional sports

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world to the east to esports. in gaming. There's always

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comparisons drawn between those two worlds, I think traditional

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sports are just so familiar for most people that kind of

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understand that model. And so there's this kind of want to

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apply that model into esports. And I'm sure you know what I'm

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sure you tell brands all day, they're, they're not the same.

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There's definitely overlaps for sure. But what skills were you

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able to kind of carry over from traditional sports, and what was

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something new, you had to maybe learn or dust off from the

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archives, when you actually moved to working with more

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esports brands, there's a number of things that I was able to

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glean from working in traditional sports and apply it

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to esports. And it's, it really just comes down to trying to

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build out or being able to build out activations that really

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resonate with fans, and being able to have a deep

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understanding of the client itself, the brand itself and the

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team, really understanding what their end game is or what their

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goals are. And being able to marry that together, I would say

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to your second part of you know, what's really different, or what

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I've had to kind of wrap my head around is the way that the fans

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really differentiate themselves. In traditional sports, it's a

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lot easier for a brand to just attach themselves to, you know,

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an NFL team or an NBA team and just kind of let the team run

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with it and do whatever and the sports marketing arm I would

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say, from a from a large or big box brand. A lot of times just

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signs a deal. And they're not super heavily ingrained in the

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day to day esports is a little bit different. I would say the

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fans are way more sophisticated, I guess. And it's probably

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because they're a lot younger, traditional sports fans are

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happy to walk in, you know, through a gate of a pro stadium

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and have a free handout, and engage with the brand in that

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way, or fill out a slip of paper in order to win a basketball or

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assigned jersey. And there's a lot of like quick data grab,

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when you're dealing with an audience that we have in

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esports. That was born digital, they're very marketing adverse.

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So they don't necessarily want their data collected, they don't

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get really incentivized to hand over who they are in order to

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maybe win a thing. I mean, it is a layer within our ecosystem.

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They're a lot more sophisticated than that. And I think what the

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fans within the esports industry are really looking for is for

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brands that want to be a part of their community and want to have

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a conversation with them, to come alongside them, not just

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talking to them, it is different. And there's layers

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and layers to that. I think, right now what we're seeing from

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some of the larger brands getting into esports. They're

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doing it through their sports marketing departments in many

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ways. But I believe the future will really merge and evolve

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with their digital marketing teams to be more of a holistic

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digital marketing strategy, because there's a lot of gaps

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right now that brands can take advantage of, in terms of how

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they can reach gamers that maybe are engaging with the game, and

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engaging with streams but aren't necessarily the esports

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enthusiast like the hyper engaged esports fans. There's a

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huge market share that's just really waiting to be on tap

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there. Okay, there were so many nuggets of wisdom in there. I

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don't even know how to begin to follow up. I hope that anyone

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who is in advertising or activations or sponsorships,

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maybe you should just click the back button for about two

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minutes and listen to that again. I fully plan on re

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listening to that answer later. Do you still feel like there is

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a learning curve with bigger brands you had mentioned? You

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know the NFL the NBA, it's pretty easy to slap a logo on

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and I do have to say that I laugh every year when there's

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the official tire sponsor of the NFL and you can get away with

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that in traditional sports because they're so ingrained

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into our culture and society. But do you feel like brands are

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starting to recognize the opportunity

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eSports is it. I'm wondering if there has been like sort of a

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tipping point because you've been in this for a long time,

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have you reaching out to brands versus brands reaching out to

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you and what that's been like in the past two or three years?

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Well, I'll say I'll reach out to a brand once. If they're not

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really getting it, then I'm not going to waste my time with that

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brand. So there's some advice for anybody who works in

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partnerships. If they're not intrigued or excited or curious.

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If they're naysaying, if they're talking about the industry in a

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way that you feel like like you have to defense or argue, then

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that's going to be there, they're going to miss out.

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That's okay. There's so much proactive outreach from brands

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right now that are truly I would say esports. Curious, they want

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to figure it out. And it is a huge learning curve, I would

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almost say the bigger like the bigger bigger brands that

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weren't early to it, because you've got huge brands like

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MasterCard that got in early, right. So they now they just

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totally get it like they're super smart. And they're very

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well steeped in League of Legends. And in year over year,

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they've learned so much. There's brands like DHL who've been in

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for a long time. That's a it's a major global brands. But the

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other big brands who didn't take a risk earlier, I always say

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it's not the fear of missing out, it's the cost of missing

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out. Because for a brand to pivot, it's like I always say

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it's like turning the Evergreen around in the Suez Canal, it's

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gonna take a while, because there's layers of red tape and

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complexity within your organization in order to go all

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in on a new vertical. The early adopters have smaller risky

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brands, you see brands that are not necessarily the healthiest

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brands. They're the brands that always take risks early. So the

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energy drinks, the salty snacks, they're going to come in early

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in anything risky. I always say when I'm talking to esports

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properties, look at which brands are leaning in on like UFC and

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MMA, those are probably brands that will quickly take a risk in

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esports in gaming regardless because they are risk takers. So

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you look at things that other people maybe don't have a deep

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understanding of. But they but you know, like a Red Bull, the

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Red Bulls of the world are like really leaning in on what's new

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and what's hot. And that's what sets them apart. Right. And so I

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think what we're seeing right now what we've what I have been

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a part of over the past, I would say nine to 12 months, is brands

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that are in between. So they're global brands, but they're they

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might not necessarily be the biggest names in the world. But

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they're big names like Bush's Baked beans and pagoda egg rolls

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in the space. Now, Tyson chickens been working on esports

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strategy and getting into esports through some of their

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sweepstakes. So now you're getting into brands that are

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yes, a food product but healthier food products that a

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mom and dad would would be buying in, in the grocery aisle,

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right? Those brands are coming in and kind of testing the

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waters and doing due diligence and learning. I think we're

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going to see more and more brands that are non endemic

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service brands and consumer product goods. Really

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understanding that if they want to reach the next generation of

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consumers, then this is where they already are in engaging

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with content. So instead of creating something from scratch,

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they can you know really collaborate with credible

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sources within the space and still create unique owned

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content. But doing it in a in a totally different way than

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they've done before amazing callback to the ever given one

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of my favorite moments of 2021 Truly a joyous time. For those

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of you who are on Twitter to see the boat stuck in the Suez. What

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is one activation or project you've worked on that you really

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love? Is there one that just kind of you were like this was

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I'm just so happy with the way this turned out. I would say

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Bush's Baked beans for me is probably one of the coolest

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moments in a partnership success, history of my life. And

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for a few reasons. Number one Bush's was introduced to me

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through a nonprofit called genyouth Bush's Baked Beans has

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historically done so much behind the scenes and under the radar

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for ensuring that they're supporting you know, that our

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country and in regards to food insecurity, right. So Jen, you

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is a partner of theirs and and Jen you've had suggested to

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bushes to get involved with with an esports reach next generation

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of consumers

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So if you think about bushes, bushes, baked beans, they've

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been around for over 200 years, they're a family owned company,

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they're owned by the Bush's brothers, for a brand like that

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to first of all understand that their main consumer, their lead

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consumer is kind of aging out. And really kind of being

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interested in taking a risk and esports is just kind of awesome.

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And what the conversations really led to is understanding

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what success looked like for bushes, really from a deep

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marketing strategy. So with bushes, one of the big ways that

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they can find success as an organization where they have

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like bigger deals is working with colleges and universities,

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Dylan Pomeroy and I from version one, we took a look at

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collegiate Rocket League. And we cross referenced it with the

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colleges and universities that Bush's was really kind of

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wanting to create conversation with and where they could

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potentially find success. So we were looking for colleges and

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universities from them that were that their food kitchens. So

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like when you go to get get your meals when you live in a dorm

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where those were independently owned. And that pushes would

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have a greater success of being able to build relationships and

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be able to monetize those relationships and be cross

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referenced it with the team at EA fuse and collegiate Rocket

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League. And we did we did two things. We did an invitational

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with the schools that we identified. But then we kind of

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doubled down with collegiate Rocket League and their summer

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series to integrate bushes and really introduce bushes to the

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to the holistic esports market through Rocket League. So this

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is a really cool activation. It's a it's just a really fun

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brand. It was received very, very well within the space is to

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me, that is probably my favorite, because it's just so

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different from what you normally would see within our space. It's

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kind of like a really, you know, like, it's so unexpected. I love

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that. They're going beyond the really good commercials that I

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always remember with the golden retriever that oh my god.

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Dude, the dog. So cute. Also a good one. Yeah. Very iconic,

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especially in the US. So you wear so many hats from running

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happy warrior to managing unobserved to running a podcast,

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which, by the way, is called the future of marketing and esports.

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And I will link that in the show notes. For a lot of people. And

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this includes myself, this is a very, when I was writing this

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question, I was writing it for me.

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But for a lot of people constantly having new directions

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and things to think about can charge motivational battery. But

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how do you find that balance between okay, I'm happy, I'm

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engaged. I'm working 12 hour days, but I'm, I'm meeting great

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people, and I'm working on really cool stuff, too. Oh, my

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God, there's so much to do. I can't even think I don't sleep

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anymore. What am I doing? I mean, I definitely experienced

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burnout, like burnouts real. You know, remember, I started in

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advertising. So when you work at an ad agency, anybody listening

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to your podcast has that type of background, if you're an account

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manager, or you're a producer or project manager, which I've had

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all of those roles over the years, I started my career in

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advertising full time at 19 years old. So I mean, I've, I'm

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like, Oh, gee, workaholic, you don't go to like, it's your job.

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Like, it's your one job working in advertising. But you don't

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just have one client, traditionally, you're an ad

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agency, you maybe have four to six clients, I have like four to

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six clients that I work with, right? I'm independent. And so

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it's a discipline and a balance that I've been juggling my

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entire life. And even when I worked in house at the

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Timberwolves, my role was very much to be the nucleus between

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sales and marketing. And I had so many special projects that,

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you know, you just learn how to manage those as individual

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projects. Also, I can't say enough about the clients that I

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work with, and the and the deep thought leadership within their

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ecosystem that provides a lot of support. I have a really great

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staff at women's car ball that I'm really providing direction

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and they're doing at version one and rocker. I also am bringing

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in some strategy and ideation and I'm, I'm taking a look at

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what their team is building out for those activations. But I'm

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handing that off to like, probably, I would say, you know,

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Jenna Johnson, Blaze Butler, Dylan Palmeraie, some of the

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some of the top partnership activations managers that are

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out there. I mean, they're, I don't ever worry about handing a

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client off to them. I know that it's going to be managed, it's

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going to be elite. I know that process is going to be great. So

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a lot of it has to do with really having smart people

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around you to support you

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But I do have days where it's like, I don't know what

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happened, I like maybe had to go run to the grocery store and I

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come home and I've got 54 emails, like over an hour, like,

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oh my goodness, I have to like run through that, or my phone

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does blow up quite a bit, I get a lot of text messages, I

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probably get text messages from 30 to 50 different people every

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single day, which seems a little bit insane. But so I would say

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training in my past life training throughout my life,

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coupled with just the raw ADHD nature of who I am, that allows

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me to pivot from one thing to another, if I'm bored of this, I

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can jump to this I can jump back.

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And I'm the kind of person who really works in waves, I get

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these huge spurts of high energy and I can knock a lot of things

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out pretty rapidly. And I listen to my body. I'm also a single

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mom. So you have to factor that in and homeschool my son so I

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listen to my body, I take good care of myself, I take good care

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of my skin and my nails and we have a hot tub I like to soak in

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and I sleep, you know, probably eight to 10 hours every single

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night sleep for me is my number one that's my golden I'm also a

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very big sleeper like I have always prioritize sleep. I've

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always tried to get enough sleep, I haven't a nine hour a

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night kind of gal and I know that about myself. So if that

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means doing less of something else, it's gonna happen because

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I need my sleep. So I totally get that. In speaking of kind of

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having this team around you I want to talk more about women's

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car ball and what that's been like. So tell me how you found

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that position and how it is you know versus running happy

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warrior where you're a little bit more on your own,

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technically versus being with women's Karbala, which is your

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CEO of of that organization. So what has it been like to go from

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being working for yourself for so many years to working with?

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actual legal team, first of all, and secondly, just tell me all

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about women's curveball? Yeah. Yeah, women's curveball. We're

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starting our fifth season, but it really is kind of like its

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very first season because everything is changed. It's new.

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It started as a grassroots community effort of women who

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play Rocket League who wanted a safe place to play together and

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compete together. What has happened over the past few years

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is it's been a league that's run about three months a year. Women

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have signed up created their own teams played together. That's

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kind of Bennett the viewership has been very high. Some of the

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top talented esports athletes compete in the league. The

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viewership is amazing. Like it's absolutely phenomenal

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viewership. People are really love to watch this. And it's

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it's you know, Rocket League is cars playing soccer, for those

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who are not familiar with Rocket League. It's very consumable.

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It's absolutely the most watchable video game. You don't

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need audio on to understand it. It's bright, it's fun, it's

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colorful. With the audio on it's even better, but I mean, you

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don't need it. You don't need it to understand the game. There's

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a lot of very complex esports out there, where it's like what

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is happening. I don't understand the point of the game. This one

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you definitely understand the point of the game. I can second

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that too. I love I love watching Rocket League. It's very fun.

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And it's fun to watch in groups of people. It's fun to go to

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like a Rocket League watch party and watch in groups. It's really

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it's really cool. It's fun to cheer for. So Mark Josie, who is

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one of the owners of the Kansas City pioneers. He's an

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entrepreneur. He owns other companies as well. He was on my

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podcast, maybe a year ago, we did a recording. He reached out

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to me and said hey, there's an opportunity with women's at the

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time it was called women's car ball championship league. And so

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he said we've got this thing with women's Carvel championship

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League. He had purchased it along with Jeremy Terman. So

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it's separate from the Kansas City pioneers but the same

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ownership group owns women's Carvel it was at threat of not

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being able to exist anymore, the founder and kind of creator of

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that league taking a full time position, and couldn't really do

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both at the same time. So they they took it on. And you know,

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they they realized that a bunch of men aren't necessarily going

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to move the needle forward and have authenticity trying to

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bring it to market. Right. And so as I was kind of taking a

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look at historically what had happened with the league and

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where they were wanting to go, it was so grassroots that it was

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like okay, this is a really cool thing that's been built, but

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it's not on a foundation. It's not a business yet. So you know,

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as we were having the conversation I was like, well, a

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general manager doesn't really because that was the role they

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were looking to fill. I was like of general manager doesn't

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really makes sense for me because I am not an esports

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tournament organizer. I've never been a general manager. I

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wouldn't vet out players. I don't know how to do all those

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things. I think the value that I bring is on

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The business side. And I can't necessarily fill the shoes of

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coke who was running it previously, we'll need to hire

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for that. But if you want me on, I'll do all the things that

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aren't being done, right, I'll build a foundation, I'll make it

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a company and make it a business, I'll build out a merch

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line, we'll rebrand, we will, you know, start having

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conversations with the publisher on what success looks like for

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them. And we'll rebuild the model out build a website, there

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wasn't a website, there's, we're we're kind of in beta of

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building that on the back end. So I've really been taking on a

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role that didn't necessarily exist with this league before.

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It's a lot of pressure. It's, it's what keeps me up at night

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is like, there's so many people who say they support women in

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gaming, but they support it by saying they support it. We need

Unknown:

support through people who want to invest in it and want to

Unknown:

invest in in the growth of it through brand dollars through

Unknown:

contributing towards a prize pool. So these girls get paid,

Unknown:

and through the pro teams to start signing women's car ball

Unknown:

teams so that the players are getting paid to participate and

Unknown:

getting the proper coaching and training that they need. So

Unknown:

we've had a quite a few huge brand heroes Genji huge brand

Unknown:

here. Okay, come in, they signed a team, the mobile one team

Unknown:

misfits, gaming, signed a team and luminosity signed a team

Unknown:

under enthusiast gaming. So we have three major orgs, who

Unknown:

really believe in the vision, and I'm just so gassed, that

Unknown:

they're that they're all in and supporting us. Because everyone

Unknown:

in this industry who wants to see the needle move forward. For

Unknown:

women in gaming, it's all of our responsibilities to do the work

Unknown:

to get there and to and to come together and build it together.

Unknown:

So I don't take a salary. I'm not making any money. I've been

Unknown:

really working hard to make this. Because when I was young,

Unknown:

being somebody who loves sports, and who would, you know, sit

Unknown:

with my dad and curl up on the couch with Dino, our cat, and

Unknown:

watch football on Sundays. And on Monday nights. And I'm

Unknown:

wrestling on Saturday mornings, like, I remember thinking, I

Unknown:

wish I could do that when I'd look at a broadcast desk or a

Unknown:

sideline reporter. But I really I didn't never said it out loud.

Unknown:

But like internally, I was like, Oh, I wish girls could do that.

Unknown:

I wish girls could have that job. I wish girls could do this.

Unknown:

I want my daughter and hopefully future granddaughters down the

Unknown:

road, to not have to wish for something when it comes to

Unknown:

esports and gaming. And if I can invest my time and energy to

Unknown:

build it for them, and I have purpose. So makes everything

Unknown:

else that I do worth it. I love that. And I couldn't agree more.

Unknown:

I mean, that was you're right, like it is it is on us to kind

Unknown:

of do the work and, and to get out there and it's on. It's on

Unknown:

other people to be listening. And so I will say that was the

Unknown:

reason for the whole genesis of this podcast, which has truly

Unknown:

paid off. And I was so I'm so I feel so grateful to have the

Unknown:

person who owns holodeck media, supporting that vision and

Unknown:

really behind it. And the one who said we need to do something

Unknown:

for women in this space, like, go through the podcast, what do

Unknown:

you want to hear about? What thing is, if if Erin Andrews

Unknown:

would have been around when I was, you know, nine and 10 years

Unknown:

old, I probably would have been in pro sports in a totally

Unknown:

different way. Right? Because I would have seen someone that I

Unknown:

could identify with that looks like me doing something tangible

Unknown:

and cool. And I think what is really powerful about your

Unknown:

podcast is you're creating a line of sight for other women

Unknown:

and girls to really hear the voices of women leaders and be

Unknown:

able to envision themselves there someday or adjacent to in

Unknown:

some way. Right? Well, I appreciate that so much. And

Unknown:

that was the reason for it. You know, and like you said how

Unknown:

carbaugh gives you gives you purpose. That's definitely how I

Unknown:

feel about this. That's That's what keeps me going. And I love

Unknown:

that you also love broadcast journalism. I was reflecting

Unknown:

back not too long ago, and I realized that I that was

Unknown:

actually my dream job. When I was in middle school. It's like,

Unknown:

I want to be a sports journalist. And that didn't wind

Unknown:

up working out. I wound up somehow being in data science.

Unknown:

So that's a story for another time.

Unknown:

But I was reflecting on that probably about six months ago.

Unknown:

And I thought, Well, how did you podcast? It's kind of like that,

Unknown:

you know? That's like, I like that we both have that outlet

Unknown:

for that thing that we always wanted to do. I mean long term,

Unknown:

I'd love to have like a radio that basically turned my podcast

Unknown:

into a radio show and just talk to people like every day about

Unknown:

work going on day to day in the space industry. But five years

Unknown:

maybe you never know. And speaking of kind of getting

Unknown:

women into the industry and also the

Unknown:

mission behind Karbala, one of the things that you mentioned

Unknown:

was that it was started so that women could play without having

Unknown:

to deal with toxicity without having to deal with some of the

Unknown:

negatives. And I've gone through the statistics several times on

Unknown:

the show. So I'm not I'm not going to do that again. But

Unknown:

let's talk about forward facing stuff. You had mentioned that

Unknown:

you wish that there was better resources out there. What do you

Unknown:

think those resources would look like? There's definitely

Unknown:

grassroots efforts for women. Right, that are that exist? I

Unknown:

will say the barriers, there's a number of barriers that are very

Unknown:

fixable, right. Number one, what has happened over the years is

Unknown:

women have kind of been boxed out of the industry. It happens

Unknown:

in traditional sports as well. I mean, you post a job. And a lot

Unknown:

of times, the people who hear about it are within the network

Unknown:

of people who already work there. So if it's heavily male

Unknown:

dominated, they're going to be sharing that with their friends

Unknown:

who are going to be applying and women get boxed out in that way.

Unknown:

Also, if women do apply in esports, in gaming, and this is

Unknown:

gaming holistically, the you know, 300, and whatever, at some

Unknown:

billion dollar industry of gaming, that is also very male

Unknown:

dominated, because women historically haven't been

Unknown:

working in that space, their resumes don't appear on paper to

Unknown:

stack up. But the skills do so I think, for any men listening,

Unknown:

and you're hiring, or any hiring managers look for the

Unknown:

transferable skills that are relevant. So it might be from

Unknown:

another industry like for me in traditional sports, my marketing

Unknown:

background was a very easily transferable skill that can be

Unknown:

applied to the sales of esports and gaming, right? So that's one

Unknown:

where brands own some responsibility here is because

Unknown:

the industry's numbers are so focused on the stereotype of

Unknown:

boys and men gamers. A lot of times the brand and marketing

Unknown:

efforts are talking to that specific audience and not

Unknown:

talking to girls and women. There's responsibility on game

Unknown:

developers to continue to move the needle forward on creating

Unknown:

more protagonists, characters, and script writers within the

Unknown:

video games to write healthy women characters and women

Unknown:

characters that are well rounded that aren't just healers, we

Unknown:

need more badass women characters in the in the space

Unknown:

as well. It's the role of publishers, I will say until it

Unknown:

is I will say and like every single interview, I firmly

Unknown:

believe it is the role of publishers to make women's

Unknown:

esports initiatives foundational pillars of everything that they

Unknown:

do. valorant is a great example. Thank you Riot Games, for making

Unknown:

women in gaming a foundational pillar of valorant. I think that

Unknown:

there's a lot of other publishers who should follow

Unknown:

suit, and be very intentional with that. Because there's a lot

Unknown:

of money being poured into the collegiate scene. But women are

Unknown:

also being boxed out of the collegiate scene, we could go on

Unknown:

and on. Those are big ones. I mean, I think those are kind of

Unknown:

like the heavy hitters organizations hiring. I know I

Unknown:

talk a lot about how great version one is, they really have

Unknown:

done a great job of creating trade. Yeah.

Unknown:

It's hard not to talk about that one. It's true.

Unknown:

You know, so props to Brett diamond for coming on and having

Unknown:

the second and third hire within that organization. Both women,

Unknown:

they have so many, the majority of their staff are women. They

Unknown:

have more women executives, C suite executives on their staff

Unknown:

and any other esports organization probably in the

Unknown:

world. They have huge programs with their visionaries community

Unknown:

program of creating safe places for women globally to be able to

Unknown:

compete and play at an amateur fun level together. They've

Unknown:

hosted women of the EA arena with EA fuse. They're huge

Unknown:

supporters of community. They're huge supporters of the game

Unknown:

hers. They put their money where their mouth is. Yeah, that

Unknown:

organization. I couldn't be more proud to partner with an org

Unknown:

like version one truly, they do they do it right. And I think

Unknown:

that if anybody is like, man, we really need to do more for women

Unknown:

and gaming. And they have a they have version X. They're all

Unknown:

women's valorant team. Brett diamond is the definitely the

Unknown:

kindest, most approachable CEO out there. So if there's people

Unknown:

who are like, hey, I want to learn from this guy, how we can,

Unknown:

you know, follow that model. It's just in his DNA. It's the

Unknown:

organization he wanted to build. I don't even think he maps it

Unknown:

out as a women initiative. It just is organically how they've

Unknown:

built that space out is just as apt and that's and that's a

Unknown:

tribute to the Vikings as well. The Vikings is a pretty, pretty

Unknown:

great NFL organization to Spoken like a true Minnesota. I don't

Unknown:

know what the word is for that.

Unknown:

No, I, everything you're saying is absolutely right.

Unknown:

Geographical bias aside, I know that organization is doing

Unknown:

incredible. And I'll tell you as a pro org, when you build out

Unknown:

these initiatives, the brands are going to come because my

Unknown:

inbox is flooded with brands, and I have a handful of things I

Unknown:

can point them to, there's only a handful of of initiatives out

Unknown:

there right now that are centered around women in this

Unknown:

space, and brands want it bad. So build it, that Yeah, yeah, do

Unknown:

it. I want to actually end in a different direction than I

Unknown:

thought I was gonna end it. But that's okay. Are you thinking

Unknown:

about the next generation of gaming? So let me back up. The

Unknown:

reason why I'm asking this is because we I talked a lot about

Unknown:

valorant. On the show, and about what Riot has done with

Unknown:

valorant. I think it's a lot easier to build something from

Unknown:

the ground up than it is to go back and change the culture of

Unknown:

League of Legends that's been developing for 10 years. So

Unknown:

props to riot for baking it into their first major release after

Unknown:

league of legends that this was going to be much different. I

Unknown:

think that that it shows a huge amount of initiative from one of

Unknown:

the largest AAA developers. So that and obviously, I'm bringing

Unknown:

that up because that's, you know, a next that's like that

Unknown:

valorant was the next thing for Riot. And I'm looking at the

Unknown:

gaming industry as a whole. The next thing is like more AR VR

Unknown:

games, more blockchain games more more things in the

Unknown:

metaverse space. Are you kind of excited at the prospect of maybe

Unknown:

this is new, and we can build it differently? Or are you maybe

Unknown:

not thinking about that yet? Which is also fine. But do you

Unknown:

think there's like an opportunity in that space to do

Unknown:

like what Riot did with valorant? But on a much bigger

Unknown:

scale, like industry wide basically? Well, I'll say in

Unknown:

terms of and I'll try to make be as concise as possible, because

Unknown:

I know we're getting close to time. Yes. And right is like the

Unknown:

answer. So in a perfect world, we wouldn't need to create

Unknown:

separate women's initiatives in this industry, because there's

Unknown:

no advantage on either genders part to be an elite gamer. And

Unknown:

we're very equally matched in terms of capabilities. And Eric

Unknown:

Anderson spoke with. We spoke together in Abu Dhabi recently

Unknown:

about women's initiatives. And he said something really

Unknown:

interesting, which just got my wheels turning for those of you

Unknown:

who don't know who Eric is, he is the head of esports at FaZe

Unknown:

Clan, which is kind of a big deal. You know, he's spoke about

Unknown:

games for girls, when they're eight to 14 years old. What's

Unknown:

marketed to them isn't necessarily the games that are

Unknown:

esports, right now that are popular, so less girls are

Unknown:

playing those, but that's the age that you're really getting

Unknown:

good, and you can kind of get into being signed. So boys are

Unknown:

not dropping off. They're playing games like Call of Duty

Unknown:

and valorant and Rocket League at a much younger age, we need

Unknown:

to promote these games to girls a little bit better. And we need

Unknown:

to ensure that we're creating equitable spaces for younger

Unknown:

girls that younger and younger to get into these types of games

Unknown:

and be competitive, it's harder to just say, we're going to just

Unknown:

sign a bunch of these women's car ballplayers to RLCS. Right?

Unknown:

You, you mentioned toxicity, and that's definitely still very

Unknown:

prevalent in the space. So while we're creating safe spaces for

Unknown:

women, and I'm working really hard to build safe places for

Unknown:

women, the goal is to get the eyeballs on these women by the

Unknown:

big franchise pro teams so that they can get signed, I go back

Unknown:

and forth with people who are like, well, what if RLCS steals

Unknown:

one of your top girls on one of your top teams? Awesome. Then I

Unknown:

won, then I win. And I'll find another we'll get more talent

Unknown:

coming in in the door. In regards to where the metaverse

Unknown:

is going, I've had some conversations about this

Unknown:

recently to about like, it would be interesting to have

Unknown:

genderless gaming avatars and really kind of see where

Unknown:

competition levels out. That would be really interesting

Unknown:

within the space. I think what we already know about how women

Unknown:

game is many of them who are wanting to compete sometimes

Unknown:

oftentimes hide their gender anyways. Because if they are,

Unknown:

you know, exposing their gender, they will be maybe lobby kicked

Unknown:

out or ganged up on and killed.

Unknown:

There's a lot of issues there. Gamer safer is a really great

Unknown:

resource for anybody who wants to learn about some of the

Unknown:

toxicity in the space and tactics that are being used. And

Unknown:

many of them are being used to kind of hijack some of the

Unknown:

women's initiatives. So we'll have people create fake accounts

Unknown:

and pretend we've got a pretty strict verification process with

Unknown:

our league. Yeah, I think the metaverse is going to be really

Unknown:

interesting, I think. I think we're

Unknown:

gonna be able to create more safe, verified spaces and be

Unknown:

able to kind of track people who are taking advantage of or being

Unknown:

toxic towards individuals. Because when you're in the

Unknown:

metaverse and and you know, the way that the blockchain works

Unknown:

is, you're not going to really be able to pretend or have all

Unknown:

of these different, you know, accounts or whatever. Yeah, I

Unknown:

like that point, because it's a little bit difficult to explain,

Unknown:

because it's like your data is actually more, it's actually

Unknown:

safer. And there's more privacy involved. But at the same time,

Unknown:

you're right, like, the actions that you do are still tied to

Unknown:

you. So if there's one particular account that's

Unknown:

causing a lot of ruckus, you may not know who they are, but it's

Unknown:

very easy to find those transactions and those movements

Unknown:

on that account. Yeah. So it's like it's, yeah, it's weird,

Unknown:

because it's more private, but more transparent to at the same

Unknown:

time, yeah, the accountability is there because you're not

Unknown:

going to be able to go in and have like 20 Metaverse type of

Unknown:

is that's not how, why it's being built. You know, it's

Unknown:

really like I just bought a luxury item like that is tied to

Unknown:

blockchain. So if I ever sold it, then it'll be registered.

Unknown:

And they'll know that it's an authentic item. There's, you

Unknown:

know, it's just interesting, the way that the world is, is

Unknown:

evolving. So, I mean, in summary, separate but equal

Unknown:

doesn't necessarily work here. It's it is kind of a bandaid ish

Unknown:

approach, I guess, and the moment but we do need safe

Unknown:

places for women to compete in game and hone in on skills

Unknown:

together, we need more strong male allies, being someone who

Unknown:

has a 16 year old son and who games a lot, probably 10 hours a

Unknown:

day, you know, I talk to him a lot about being a strong ally,

Unknown:

like you would never, you know, my son would say he would never

Unknown:

act in that way. But not acting in that way does not equate to

Unknown:

standing up for. So we need more people to stand up against that

Unknown:

type of hate. And I mean, I can see it with like, industry

Unknown:

executives with what's been recently happening with a woman

Unknown:

streamer whose husband was very abusive, and she came out and

Unknown:

released content around that. And some, some men in our

Unknown:

industry that are industry executives, some of their

Unknown:

comments on some of Jake, Lucky's LinkedIn posts are so

Unknown:

deplorable. I've been like biting my tongue on calling them

Unknown:

out. It's like, I just don't understand why a man would think

Unknown:

a woman would do that for content or do that for

Unknown:

attention. And it still is happening with grown men in

Unknown:

leadership positions within our industry. It's just blows my

Unknown:

mind what woman at any age wants to come forward and and admit

Unknown:

they're being abused. And like no one do that for attention.

Unknown:

It's the most, that's not fun. I don't know, I don't know what

Unknown:

people people always think that there's some monetary value to

Unknown:

that. And like nobody gets money from outing an abuser, there's

Unknown:

no like secret fund to pay you if you identify someone who's

Unknown:

harassing you, especially if you're if you are someone who

Unknown:

has any type of public persona, because as a woman who is making

Unknown:

their own money or making money and in business, whether there

Unknown:

are a streamer, you know, any type of content creator on

Unknown:

social or working in business, you want to be looked at as a

Unknown:

business woman, and when you have to be transparent about

Unknown:

being abused. It's a very, it's a very embarrassing, degrading

Unknown:

type of a of a thing to voice. It's not an easy thing to voice.

Unknown:

It is you feel very, you feel very weak. And you feel, you

Unknown:

know, it is just an embarrassing thing. I mean, I can't imagine

Unknown:

anyone ever doing that for anything other than trying to

Unknown:

pull themselves out of that type of a situation. So

Unknown:

yeah, I think I think we need better allies of men, at every

Unknown:

layer from young boys that are my son's age, and, you know,

Unknown:

high school, just getting in high school, all the way up

Unknown:

through senior executives within the space to really, first of

Unknown:

all, believe women, and try to understand them and listen to

Unknown:

them without judgment. And then second of all, you know, create

Unknown:

those safe spaces and help support those spaces. Couldn't

Unknown:

agree more. I want to wrap up on that note, I'm going to do a

Unknown:

quick summary of what we talked about. Before we get into the

Unknown:

very last question. We began with kind of your journey as a

Unknown:

brand and marketing expert, and how you really tried to avoid

Unknown:

activations that are just a logo slap, you're looking to bring

Unknown:

actual value to brands need to build out activations that

Unknown:

resonate with fans which requires a deep understanding of

Unknown:

the client and the brand. In traditional sports. It's easier

Unknown:

for brands to just attach themselves but gaming audiences

Unknown:

are more

Unknown:

Interested in data privacy, they're a little bit more

Unknown:

sophisticated when it comes to tech. So they're looking more

Unknown:

for brands to come alongside them and have a conversation

Unknown:

rather than just talking at them. We talked about brands who

Unknown:

are getting into esports. And if they aren't intrigued or excited

Unknown:

or curious and instead defensive, they're not worth the

Unknown:

time. There's lots of brands out there that are and for you, it's

Unknown:

not the fear of missing out, it's the cost of missing out. So

Unknown:

brands that that aren't on board to turn that around real quick.

Unknown:

We talked a lot about women's carbaugh, which started as a

Unknown:

place for women to play without toxicity, and has been a success

Unknown:

in terms of viewership. That's been Hi. I know that you

Unknown:

mentioned that the league was facing some difficulty due to it

Unknown:

being kind of so grassroots, but that you were able to come on

Unknown:

board, start building that foundation and start getting

Unknown:

some of the investment from some of the big players in the

Unknown:

community, getting Genji and misfits and luminosity under

Unknown:

enthusiast have signed teams. And it's all of our

Unknown:

responsibility to actually do the work to get women in gaming

Unknown:

the investment and support that it needs. We ended with a big

Unknown:

discussion on how to get more women in this space. There are

Unknown:

obviously so many issues, but some of the heavy hitters, you

Unknown:

pointed out were that hiring managers need to look for

Unknown:

transferable skills that can work in esports and gaming

Unknown:

rather than direct experience. brand and marketing efforts need

Unknown:

to talk to girls and women much more than what they do. Game

Unknown:

developers and script writers should be empowered excited

Unknown:

encouraged to write strong female characters, and of all

Unknown:

types. And publishers should make women's esports initiatives

Unknown:

a pillar from the beginning, we ended on talking about kind of

Unknown:

the future a little bit about what's happening now. But we

Unknown:

need to be able to create more equitable spaces for girls to

Unknown:

get into gaming younger and younger. In the metaverse that

Unknown:

might actually happen through things like genderless gaming

Unknown:

avatars, and pure pure skill based competition where there's

Unknown:

maybe less of that look sound feel of men versus women

Unknown:

players, we may be able to to also create more safe and

Unknown:

verified spaces in the metaverse because of the built in

Unknown:

transparency. But all of this all along still requires buy in

Unknown:

from male allies in particular, and for men to be educated on a

Unknown:

lot of the issues within the industry, because a lot of them

Unknown:

still have the very wrong idea, which is unfortunate. With that

Unknown:

being said, we're gonna end with a segment that I like to do at

Unknown:

the end of every podcast, this is called a moment of

Unknown:

reflection, it's just a chance for you to look back at your

Unknown:

career. And I always like to ask my guests, what is one thing you

Unknown:

would like to tell your younger self about getting into the

Unknown:

gaming industry and being successful, it's kind of funny,

Unknown:

because if I was talking to my younger self about working in

Unknown:

gaming, my younger self would be like, I'm not going to do that.

Unknown:

Because it wasn't like on my map, um, I am a lover of

Unknown:

learning and leaning into innovation. So I think for for

Unknown:

me, my younger self, I would have never thought I would have

Unknown:

left traditional sports, I think I would have probably died on a

Unknown:

basketball court in my like, if I talked to myself 20 years ago,

Unknown:

I would have, I can't believe you're a basketball player, I

Unknown:

had no idea. Oh, we have so many things to talk about. out there.

Unknown:

So, um, I mean, I really have a deep understanding of the

Unknown:

business of basketball, and I really love basketball. And

Unknown:

however esports when I was introduced to it, I just got a

Unknown:

fire in my belly. And and now I'm learning a lot about other

Unknown:

emerging technology. Sheryl Sandberg once was asked where

Unknown:

she would see herself in five years. And she said, I can't

Unknown:

tell you where I would see myself in five years because it

Unknown:

hasn't been invented yet. And that's kind of now my mantra.

Unknown:

Thank you Sheryl Sandberg for putting things so eloquently for

Unknown:

me because that is really been ethos without words, for my

Unknown:

career is really looking to, you know, for me early in my career,

Unknown:

it was web one. And I remember having conversations with people

Unknown:

about getting a website and they were like, I'm in the Yellow

Unknown:

Pages. I have a full period out I don't need you know, website,

Unknown:

goofy young whippersnapper, right? Like, I was like, you

Unknown:

know, and then social media like was a new thing. And I like

Unknown:

literally rode the digital wave and the digital wave and the

Unknown:

digital wave and digital is the future. And the metaverse is

Unknown:

probably the future so we'll see kind of where things go. But I

Unknown:

would say what I would want to tell my younger self is to

Unknown:

continue to take risk to continue to believe in myself to

Unknown:

continue to follow up puts a fire in my belly and to you

Unknown:

know, if somebody isn't all in on me or doesn't see my value. I

Unknown:

wish I would have quit sooner or a couple of other things that

Unknown:

I've done in the past I would I wish I would have just quit

Unknown:

sooner when I've worked for people who don't get my passion

Unknown:

or don't really understand me what I want it where I'm where

Unknown:

I'm thinking next. I love that. Thank you so much for coming on.

Unknown:

Where can people find you follow you as questions follow up.

Unknown:

Listen to your podcast. Yeah, um, plug everything. LinkedIn.

Unknown:

Rebecca R EB e CCA ello en je awar Llonga

Unknown:

On Twitter, I'm on Instagram, which is I mean, it's a blend of

Unknown:

my whole life. So if you like fishing then dogs and hiking and

Unknown:

esports then my Instagram is for you. That's Rebecca underscore

Unknown:

Llonga. Yeah, that's me. That's where you can find me.

Unknown:

Fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on. For all the

Unknown:

listeners. Don't forget to leave the five star ratings and

Unknown:

reviews they mean so much to me. Be sure to check out other

Unknown:

holodeck media podcasts including metal business and

Unknown:

business of esports. I'm on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

Unknown:

and Lindsey pass and you can catch me Wednesday afternoons on

Unknown:

the business of esports live after show. You can catch this

Unknown:

podcast your feed every week. We'll see you next week. Thanks

Unknown:

for joining us here on meta woman. Make sure to subscribe to

Unknown:

this podcast everywhere you get your podcasts, leave a five star

Unknown:

review and tell your friends family and colleagues all about

Unknown:

us. Also, make sure to follow meta TV on all socials to get

Unknown:

more of the best Metaverse content anywhere. Tune in every

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week for another episode of meadow woman

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