For Love of the Game: Wisdom from Sarah Robb O’Hagan

Posted June 20, 2013 by Kelsie Kam in Leaders We Adore
Last week, the CGN team attended a Power Breakfast sponsored by Step Up Women’s Network, where we had the privilege of hearing Sarah Robb O’Hagan speak.  For those of you who don’t know who Sarah Robb O’Hagan is (or why this breakfast was such a big deal), take a look at her impressive resume: she’s the current president of Equinox Fitness, having previously worked for Gatorade, Nike, Atari, Virgin Airlines, and Air New Zealand.  This Career Girl, obviously, had many stories to share with us!

Flashback eight months prior to the Power Breakfast when I heard Sarah present to my Entrepreneurial Insights class at the University of Notre Dame just after she became the president of Equinox.  While her two presentations were similar, Robb O’Hagan tailored her message well for each audience.  Both gave the audience advice applicable to both our careers and personal lives.  Both provided us with insight to her personal journey.  Both were full of sports comparisons and references (I’m sure you could have guessed that by looking at her recent resume history).  The messages in each, however, varied slightly: the first was geared towards young entrepreneurs, whereas the second focused on career-driven women in the workplace.

Cumulatively, I now have countless bits of wisdom from Robb O’Hagan.  Even though I would love to share them all with you, I’ve chosen three here today I find particularly applicable to all Career Girls:

  1. Know who you are, and who you are not: Robb O’Hagan put a lot of emphasis on knowing who you are as a person, as well as who you are as a business.  Our CEO Marcy Twete’s new book, You Know Everybody!,  lays out the steps to do this with your elevator pitch.  Creating a personalized elevator pitch gives you the opportunity to sell yourself to others, just as you would a car; you bring up your strengths, goals, and opportunities for the future.  This helps separate your personal self from your “business” self.  It is also important that we “know our strengths and play to them.”  Doing so makes it so much easier to know which opportunities to take, and which to let go, to stay true to your personal brand and play to your strengths.
  2. Playing to win is better than playing not to lose: Everything both inside and outside of the work place is competition-based, and you’re probably not going to win every time.  Even if you aren’t in the lead, people will notice if you’re putting in more effort than your competitors.  You need to take risks, power through, and be aggressive!  You’re in it to win it, and who knows – you may come from behind and win after all.
  3. Do something spectacular for a few, instead of something average for many: This message was geared towards my Entrepreneurial Insights class in the sense that your product or service should address a market need that has not yet been solved; a mediocre product with lots of competitors won’t sell, but a niche product with few competitors will.  I know we aren’t all entrepreneurs, but this is probably the easiest of Robb O’Hagan’s three insights to apply to your life.  She referred to this as the “participation economy,” so step out of your comfort zone, ask someone how her day’s going, hold the door open for someone…the possibilities are endless!

What about you, Career Girls – what advice has someone given you that you can share with us?

About the Author

Kelsie Kam

Kelsie Kam is a rising senior at the University of Notre Dame studying Management Entrepreneurship and Spanish. She is from Kaneohe, Hawaii and although she misses seeing the mountains and the ocean every day, she is looking forward to experiencing all Chicago has to offer. Kelsie loves Zumba, but she will try to run outdoors more often to see the city. She is excited to work with the CGN team and hopefully inspire more women to better themselves both in and out of the workplace.