moving the needle: michelle isaacs, senior director, media & athlete relations, the players' tribune
michelle isaacs has crossed sports, entertainment and publicity at the highest level working in coveted roles at companies such as msg, gq and derek jeter’s the players’ tribune. she has key relationships with major sports stars and celebrities across the sports industry. being a woman in a male dominated industry, michelle works tirelessly to continue to leave her mark.
the void: what was your biggest fear starting on your path and how did you overcome it?
my biggest fear was that i wasn’t going to be respected or taken seriously. sports is a very male-dominated industry and as a woman, there is a constant need to prove yourself. it was clear early on i was going to have to go above and beyond my male counterparts to earn respect.
so i doubled down and worked harder than anyone else. i made a point to be vocal and use my voice unapologetically. i didn’t take any short cuts – it was a lot of long hours, weekends, late nights, etc. but it paid off. i learned to accept feeling uncomfortable and to just roll with it. i never let my fear overpower my excitement and eagerness… and i started on my path realllllyy excited, like, probably too excited… i was so ready to get started that i finished college early in order to enter into the “real world” sooner. and i took every job and task - no matter how menial - with stride and executed with enthusiasm. i think that excitement helped to combat the fear.
the void: failures happen. what made you pick yourself up and believe in yourself when it felt impossible?
seriously though, sorry for the sport clichés but: the shot isn’t going to always go in and you can’t win ‘em all. that’s a fact – just ask mike.
most athletes will tell you winning doesn’t make you as happy as losing makes you mad. i think the same is true off the court/field too – failing sucks, and when you experience a failure, you will do whatever it takes to not feel that way again. you’re going to get knocked down from time to time, but what matters is the ability to get up and learn from it.
i also think it’s important to realize that your professional successes and failures don’t define who you are as a person; your self-worth and identity should never be tied to your work.
oh, and remember: if you’ve never experienced failure and struggle, success wouldn’t feel as sweet…
the void: what's was the point in your journey where you said "f*ck it, i'm just going to do it" and took the risk?
two years ago when i left my very stable job at gq magazine to work for a start-up, that quite frankly, everyone expected to fail.
it was a scary move for me and there was a lot of uncertainty and risk, but i believed in the company and its mission.
up until that point, i worked for two legacy brands and industry titans – and there was something really intriguing to me about having an active role in shaping and developing a company from the beginning, and being instrumental to its growth. i always go back to motivation and purpose and i knew the role would challenge me in new ways.
my dad served in the israeli army and his unit’s motto was “who dares wins” – meaning it’s the people who are bold enough to take chances in life that win. it’s always stuck with me.
make sure to follow michelle @mich_isaacs!