The topic of propelling partnership and innovation across technology, entertainment, sports, and ventures brought this power panel together at Neuehouse Venice last month as C-suite women shared pearls of wisdom with an audience of almost 100 women who engaged in topics such as career pivots, mentorship, leadership, staying true to your authenticity, and having a voice within varied work cultures.
Executives included Lizzie Francis, partner and head of operations at M13; Krystal Hauserman, CMO of 11:11 Media; Kiesha Nix, VP of charitable affairs and executive director of the Lakers Youth Foundation; Shannon Pruitt, global chief content and partnership innovation officer at Stagwell; and Rebecca Otto, director of global communications at Wasserman.
WHAT IS MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU IN YOUR WORK?
Krystal Hauserman: “I’ve worked at startups, conglomerates, and movie studios and what I’ve realized as of late is that there’s some comfort at the big organization, things defined, cleared with structure and red tape. What I love is the creativity in building and launching a campaign like we did with Paris Hilton and Taco Bell in such a short turnaround. It’s not easy, but every day is completely different and gives us the opportunity to work with new brand partners, new ideas, and new concepts. It’s fun—always changing and dynamic.”
Kiesha Nix: “What wakes me up every morning is that I have power to change someone’s life every day and most important a young life. I came from corporate America working at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. It was lucrative, but my passion was serving community. I did my day job for 18 years and worked on media relations for free for 18 years—and the last three years I moved into this area full-time because that’s what drives me. Being able to work for an iconic brand like the L.A. Lakers and bring resources to communities I grew up in as a raised Angeleno, I feel like Ms. Claus 365 days a year. The power to change somebody’s life, take them to a game, meet a player, put a basketball court in a housing project they play in may seem like such simple things but so monumental. Sometimes it’s just that one thing that has the power to change the trajectory of where they are going in their life.”
Rebecca Otto: I’ve served our clients in a different way in building their careers. I did PR for NFL players for 15 years for most of my career and started focusing at Wasserman on over 3,000 athletes across content marketing, talent marketing, and content development. Now in my new role, I get to be part of the process through business development and part of A to Z, beginning, middle, and end. It’s exciting to see a project through from selling to negotiating.
Shannon Pruitt: “I value connection and this role allows me to connect my passions around sports and entertainment and creating solutions for brands and new programs like supplier and diversity programs. My real passion is purpose, and connecting with people by bringing them all together has been impactful to me.”
Lizzie Francis: “The first 20 years I spent as a founder in the consumer tech space. I went through the discipline of what’s my Y, what am I going to get out of it every day, and what will I contribute. I sold a lot of shoes, created great companies, built wonderful teams, and feel fortunate—but felt maybe there’s more. What really matters is the people. I want to work alongside people who are value aligned, people who really believe we can do something differently, make a difference in the world and have intention. We are building a different venture and have a vision to do something different with a motivation for change. It’s about great intention married with culture where values matter. Every day, I am surrounded by people who are passionate about changing the future of consumer technology and our lives in great ways. Create a firm with intention and culture that matters most.”
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO SCALING A BUSINESS?
Lizzie Francis: “Venture is about innovation and supporting entrepreneurship. The first thing corporations and companies hold back on is how to run a leaner, more efficient organization. With that mindset, we can’t be more creative or innovative. We’ve gone through two downturns in tech, in 2000 and 2008. What I’ve found is that the best and most creative things happen during these times. It’s a moment in time when people are operationally efficiently focused—constraint forces your mind to be more creative. Our firm is investing and deploying million-dollar-fund, pre-seed to series b and consumer tech, helping companies jump to that next growth phase. We look to how can we go beyond capital and bring horsepower to teams to help on efficiency, and jump-start areas where they might not have talent or expertise, and how we look at working with founders on a day-to-day basis.”
Krystal Hauserman: Last November, we produced the Innovation Summit by 11:11. [Founder] Carter [Reum] calls himself the intern of 11:11 media. He helps and serves in the capacity of founder energy to help supplement everything we are doing as he has such great expertise in operations. Both Paris [Hilton] and Carter are investors in many of their company portfolios of M13, and innovation is at the core of 11:11 Media—it’s everything from fashion to what’s next in beauty wellness, and health, and Paris as the inventor of what it means to be a creator and influencer—she always has that ability to foresee future trends.
Lizzie Francis: One of M13’s core values is diversity of thought, which creates better outputs.
When collaborating, all ideas are game. We live that every day and we are brighter together. Everyone has a voice.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE ON HOW TO HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE AND HAVE YOUR
Kiesha Nix:: “I look at no as a starting point. I took a leap of faith and a pay cut—someone once said to me, “If you don’t do this, you will never end up where you want to be.” My first assignment was managing the relationship with the L.A. Dodgers. The advice I got was if you do that job well, people will come looking for you. I decided that day that I was going to do that job well and when I finished that job in three years I was sitting at the table negotiating the contract on behalf of Bank of America. I ingrained myself in every aspect of the contract, from the community aspect, tickets, appearances, use of the stadium. I made myself have a seat at the table, and made them listen to me, as I did things I didn’t even know I would do. It was necessary for them to notice me. If you don’t have a seat, bring a seat and make sure you have research and case studies to be really confident and hold true to what you know is your truth.
HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR PIVOT EFFECTIVELY AND CONTROL YOUR NARRATIVE?
Shannon Pruitt: I would always take a meeting because I was curious and you will always learn something in the process. I started with a marketing job working for Simon Fuller on American Idol. I reverse engineered from working on the World Cup for Mastercard into that job and that became my superpower throughout my career—not only was I packaging and selling things of value to people depending on their needs, but also figuring out what value I could bring to the table. It was important to figure out what was really important to me and how I want to feel and help other people understand how those dots in my career connected because they were skill sets I had built over various jobs.
10 KEY PEARLS TO MOTIVATE YOUR CAREER
- Be valued for what you are good at.
- Go somewhere with purpose. Find the Y—what will make you jump out of bed each morning.
- Words of encouragement: Allow yourself to be a little uncomfortable in constraint.
- Encourage other people to come up with creative ideas—you learn the best tasks from failure, which sparks innovation.
- Make a seat at the table: You have to make people listen to you but do it in a delicate way and know what you are talking about.
- You need to be your own biggest cheerleader.
- You are your own personal brand—being your authentic self in every interaction and having intention with people, spending time with everyone, being kind, and treating other people the way you want to be treated. How you show up will get you an opportunity.
- Take stock about what you really want to do and how you want to wake up every morning and feel at work.
Michelle Edgar founded The XX Project to empower women in business, help them source business opportunities build a network and advance in their personal and professional journeys.