Podcast Alert: Patti Phillips – Women Leaders in College Sports
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Patti Phillips – CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports – shares some interesting statistics on diversity in college sports, and what she and her organization are doing to improve those numbers.
She and AJ discuss the factors that lead to hiring decisions at the Athletic Director level, and the cultural biases that tend to impact those decisions.
2:10 – Reasons for the lack of diversity in college athletics
16:05 – The hiring funnel
35:25 – Zone of Possibility, Patti’s TED Talk
39:35 – Rapid Fire Questions
- Mindset by Carol Dweck
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards
- Impact Player by Liz Wiseman
- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
- The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
- Orchestrating Impartiality: the Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians
- Can Blind Hiring Improve Workplace Diversity?
Other Suggested Content:
Patti Phillips: [00:00:00] The whole point of unconscious bias is that you don’t know it’s there. So you have to have people around you that you can communicate through those things. You have to live it so that you can change it. It’s a cadence of steps that have to be taken. It’s an awareness, and then it’s actually taking action, one hire at a time.
AJ Maestas: Hello and welcome to the Navigating Sports Business Podcast. I’m your host AJ Maestas Founder of Navigate, a data-driven consulting firm, guiding major strategies and decisions in sports and entertainment. We started this podcast hoping to share the interesting stories and experiences [00:01:00] of the amazing people we get to work with at Navigate.
And even though they’re visionaries and famous, in many instances, their true stories aren’t often heard, since they’re not on the playing field. Our hope is you get to know them better and learn from them. As we have.
Today, I’m happy to be joined by Patti. Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in Collegiate Sports, the nation’s premier organization that develops, connects and advances women working in collegiate athletics. How you doing, Patti?
Patti Phillips: I’m doing great, AJ. It’s great to see you. I am super honored to be on the podcast with you.
AJ Maestas: Oh, I’m happy to have you here, honestly. Diversity in sports is one of our frequent subjects. You know, we’ve had a lot of ladies on this podcast, especially compared to how they’re represented right in, in front offices. So it’ll be fun to dig with you into the why, how, and what we do to make it better.
Because I’m sure you’ve noticed there’s been a wave of women promoted and hired to run sports franchises when that was virtually nonexistent before, right?
Patti Phillips: [00:02:00] Yeah. Yeah. Lots to talk about there. Yeah. We’re certainly seeing it in the pro space a lot more than in the collegiate space. So we’ve got some work to do for sure.
AJ Maestas: Well if you don’t mind me just leaping in, why are we not seeing that in collegiate athletics? Title IX is 50 years old this summer, so for 50 years as many women have been collegiate athletes as men, and I know we talk about this ad nauseum, but the, there’s only six female AD’s in the Power Five.
That’s like less than 10%. What is going on?
Patti Phillips: I know, it’s a great question. And listen, I feel like we need to be asking that to different people rather than you and I right? Because I wish we had more control over these hires than we do. But I do think, AJ, as you and I have talked about in college sports, it’s almost like there’s biases in leadership in all kind of facets, right? If you look at the corporate world, you look at the pro space, you look at the collegiate space, but actually I almost think it’s worse in the college space, [00:03:00] and I think it revolves around football. I’m a huge football fan, but I think the culture of football on campuses with big media right now, big money, everything going on.
It’s the donors, it’s the presidents that are overseeing these universities where ultimately sports is a really small part of what they’re managing and they, I don’t wanna say they don’t know any better. These are supposed to be people that are super intelligent, but there’s this cultural bias that is really prevalent.
Particularly in big time college sports, which is the Power Five level, which is really driven by football. So if you look at, you mentioned there’s six out of 65 at that level, at every other level, AJ, those numbers go up a little bit. So I do think there is something to that. Otherwise I, I don’t know what the other why is. Right.
It is kind of that sport where it shouldn’t be that way because women are not, when they’re leading, they’re not actually calling plays. We have great track [00:04:00] records of women that are leading these programs that are doing a great job. I mean, Jen Cohen at Washington, they went to the College Football Playoff a couple years ago.
Sandy Barbour came in at Penn State, did a great job getting that program turned around. Heather Lykes is having a great year at Pitt, so it’s just weird. I don’t have the answer to that. It’s super frustrating. You’re right, especially with the 50th year of Title IX and there’s a little frustration right now like it’s time for people to like wake up and start leaning in to a more diverse and inclusive leadership model.
AJ Maestas: Boy, you know what? I think you nailed that and I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t really thought that through. I just Googled real quickly. 47.6% of university presidents are women. So to your point, and you and I have a number of friends that are commissioners at, below that Power Five football level.
So, yeah, it does look like it’s a football thing, doesn’t it? Or at least anecdotal evidence would say it is. Well, those two ladies happen to be good friends and I think they’re making great football decisions. Right? I mean, those programs are in a [00:05:00] great place. They’ve made great hires, you know, I mean, Heather at Pitt, that this is, might be as good as they’ve been in 20 or 30 years.
So the evidence says otherwise, but you’re probably right, if it’s not the university presidents, since they’re half women. And it isn’t actual proof of performance. I don’t think it’s crazy to call it bias. I mean, I can picture the board, I can picture donors sitting around the room and sort of saying, does this person know the coaching ranks?
You know, and is a great head coach gonna work for him? I’m speculating here, so I’m going way too far, but I guess I’m trying to affirm my gut instinct that it is about football,
Patti Phillips: Yeah. There’s also this whole piece of this, when you talk about bias, this unconscious bias in the hiring processes, so how are athletic directors getting hired?
And there’s a couple of different ways. One way is honestly that it’s done in a complete vacuum. Some of them don’t even pretend to hire search firms, and so they’re getting advice from someone. Who are they getting advice from? 99% of the time that advice is coming from white men. [00:06:00] And then when you have search committees, we have research that shows that folks on the search committees are not totally trained in search processes.
They’re using biases and the job descriptors, the questions they’re asking are biased. Their expectations of the answers are biased. Again, this is unconscious stuff, so people have to be trained over and over to be able to overcome that. So actually you have a qualified woman and you know when it comes down to it, and there’s been several instances of this, it’s like, oh, they’re really equal, but okay, we gotta go with the guy because of one or two things over here.
So women have to check every box. They have to overcome every little thing. They’re not really given opportunity on, I don’t wanna say potential, but their qualifications for success look different. And one other thing I’ll say, AJ, is, you know, these search firms will call and they’ll call me all the time and say, hey, so and so’s looking for, you know, they’re looking for an AD here.
They want someone with experience in the Power Five [00:07:00] AD chair. And I’m like, well, that’s five people. So basically you’re excluding all of the other women that are leading at other levels or that are deputies that could lead. So it’s one of those quote qualifiers that right outta the gate, you’re like knocking people out of the running there. So I think those are things we have to overcome. Now, on the positive side, we only have six right now of 65. But you know, Sandy just retired. We had Debbie Yow just retired. So actually we had six went down and four went back up to six with recent hires of Nina and Desiree at Missouri.
And so, if you look in the last three, four years, we have been some, you know, some women have stepped into that role, but it’s just, it’s not happening quick enough. And I hope with this success that really all six of them are having right now. And, that next level down the FBS level. I mean, we’re recognizing Beth Goetz this year at our convention at Ball State, the year she had overall specifically in football.
Lisa Campos has had [00:08:00] a great couple years in football at UTSA. So there’s a lot of success stories at these other levels and those are qualified leaders that are proving that they can sit in the chair and get the job done. But again, we just need to have more numbers and more openness in this kind of search and hiring process.
AJ Maestas: You mentioned a few things there I’d love to dig in on. One is search firms, and I have a bunch of friends in the search business that I love and care about that I think are wonderful people. But I’d love to know what they could be doing to do a better job here. Cause I do wonder about sourcing of candidates.
I do wonder about training around cognitive bias, and unconscious biases you described for the panel of people. Right. For that board. As part of that decision, what should search firms be doing besides calling you?
Patti Phillips: Yeah. Overall I think, 95% of them actually their hearts are in the right place.
And what I can say is I know for a fact they’re actually putting diverse slates in front of hirers. And actually that didn’t happen necessarily as much 5, 7, 10 [00:09:00] years ago. I think one thing they could do to your question, AJ, and what they say is we’re not making the hires and they aren’t, but I think they, they need to actually have more conversations.
With the hirers, which is the presidents, chancellors, or search committees, to help them understand that actually you could overcome, here’s how we can help the search committee kind of overcome this. Let me give you some stories of some other instances where out of the box quote hires have worked and that would be a woman or a person of color, basically.
So to their credit, they’re not making the hires, but I do think they can persuade more than maybe they think they can in their role, and that’s what’s gonna have to happen. One thing we’ve been trying to do, AJ, is have more direct contact with these presidents and chancellors when they are making these hires.
Again, it’s this kind of cultural bias is happening starting at the top and all the way down. Well, we’re getting to the, you know, the individuals, we’re getting to [00:10:00] leaders, we’re getting to search firms. So it’s the presidents and chancellors that we’re actually trying to have more interaction with now, so they understand that as well.
But yeah, I think at every level, everybody’s gotta do a better job of talking about the issues here and how we can overcome them.
AJ Maestas: Right, Right. And, and there is a Rooney type rule out there in collegiate athletics that at some conferences have adopted. I know Gloria Nevarez says, from the WCC, hoping and thinking others have, Jason Belzer was telling me about this recently.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
Patti Phillips: The Rooney Rule was the NFL rule and then it’s the Russell Rule. And yes, Gloria Nevarez and the WCC, they at the West Coast Conference. So they have instituted that. And I don’t know the specifics. Because I think it goes one step farther than just having a diverse pool.
And I think that’s what the NFL now is saying too, like just saying, oh yeah, we have a diverse pool is not okay. I think a lot of minority candidates feel like they’re the checking a box that the only you know, and that they [00:11:00] really don’t have a legit shot. So it has to go farther than that, and there’s gotta be real commitment to people on the other side for actually hiring these diverse, qualified candidates that are put in front of them.
And so I love that Gloria got that going to the West Coast Conference. I would love to see more conferences implementing something like that. I would actually love to see the NCAA trying to flex its muscle there a little bit more. I know several years ago we were in partnership with the NCAA and they were asking schools to sign on to their diversity initiative.
Believing in inclusive hiring practices and really changing the face of leadership, but I don’t know that there’s been any real teeth behind that, and the NCAA can only do so much. But I do think it’s also this education and awareness campaign. I’m surprised, AJ how many presidents actually don’t know how bad the landscape is for ADs across the country.
They actually think, well, maybe there’s only a few in our conference or one in our conference, but they don’t think it’s that bad [00:12:00] nationwide when we bring it up to them, sometimes they’re actually surprised. So this awareness that, really, actually across the entire nation, it’s really bad and we’ve all gotta do better.
I think that awareness piece is really important. I will tell you though, at all levels, the numbers of women of color that have been hired in the leadership chairs, literally has doubled in the last year and a half. So that is actually doing better. And if you look at the Power Five level right now, which is, it’s great.
We’ve got Nina, Desiree, Carla Williams, and Candice Lee at Vanderbilt. So four out of the six are women of color. So there actually has been huge progress in that area. We still obviously need to do more. But I think the awareness is there, is getting there actually on both fronts.
AJ Maestas: So awareness, certainly there’s the funnel of candidates.
I think you hinted at that, that they say someone who sat in the chair, do you have a solution for, And I think this is what you do, right? But yeah, but what can or should we be doing to [00:13:00] make sure there are more deputy ADs that, you know, have overseen football, right? Who have checked all those boxes that they’re ready to sit in that seat?
Patti Phillips: Well, it’s interesting. Years ago when we were trying to kind of get at the root of this issue, and this was in my first couple of years, I actually did interview all the search firms and asked them, you know, why aren’t there more women? What do they look for? What do they see in the search process? They were great.
They gave me very candid and honest feedback about what they’re hearing from hires. I still talk to all of them regularly. I’ll get feedback after searches, and we heard several things. One was industry trends and hiring practices, and actually we work with Arizona State University in Glenn Wong and his group.
And every year now we actually report out on the hiring trends and all divisions, and we get that information out to women. So knowledge is power and we always say, look, we’re not saying this is right or wrong. But this is what people are hiring for. Obviously traditionally, [00:14:00] back in the old days it was the four Fs, facilities, fundraising, football, and finance.
Now I think it’s definitely more fundraising and football. So those two Fs have risen to the top. I think a new one’s gonna be NIL and understanding some of these changes going on. So we got that information out, so we actually went back and changed our programming and we have a lot of programming around how women can get involved in fundraising, how they can step into these roles overseeing not only football, but highly revenue generating sports, men’s basketball, in some areas of the country, it might be ice hockey. Whatever that might be.
And so understanding the research is important and starting at the younger levels. And so you mentioned pipeline earlier, we’ve really doubled down on that focusing and getting women into our programs earlier so they can understand these trajectories you can go on.
I always say I don’t think there’s ever any just one path to leadership, [00:15:00] but I do think there are certain paths that can possibly make it quicker, so for instance, if you’re going into compliance, that doesn’t mean you could never be an athletic director, but I think it’s gonna take a little bit longer.
You know, I think that research, understanding hiring trends, you know, and now you know, there’s a whole nother level of just being a strategic, agile, leader. A lot of things have changed over the last several years, so we, we try to focus on general leadership competencies as well. And then the other reality that we’ve heard, is, you’d be a great leader to lead, but also in this industry, you actually have to be a really good interviewee and you have to go win the job through the interview process.
And so that’s a whole nother level of kind of training that we’ve done a little bit of work on as well.
AJ Maestas: Interesting. That’s smart. That’s good. Well, I know it’s often a complaint, right? Where people sort of say, well, the most qualified person, you know, where’s the funnel and how do we start that? You know, I’ve asked this question of a few people and a number of people have pointed to internships, you know, the gateway [00:16:00] into.
And I’ve read a decent amount on women and sort of childcare, childbirth, that phase of a career being sort of a hurdle or there’s some form of a ceiling associated with, you know, that period in time. And it’s a lifestyle job, right. I mean, it’s it’s pretty demanding. So it would be interesting to see research, to your point on awareness being a challenge.
You see research that identifies exactly what is explaining the gap. And I haven’t even got into like the compensation gap, but what explains that gap and then what are recommended methods in which to clear that hurdle. One final thing from your sort of opening statement I wanna revisit is, you know, you talked about bias.
We know there’s so much human bias, cognitive bias. We have this sort of wheel that Navigate, we always look at with these sort of 130 biases we have. It’s disturbing we even get through life with so much bias, but what do you do about that? You know, you had talked in particular about, you know, the board or the hiring committee.
And, you know, who’s training them, right? Is the, is the search firm really giving them criteria and preparing them to look in an unbiased way? I hope [00:17:00] so, but I suspect not. So when it comes to human bias and all the impact that has, and quite often negative impact on women and people of color getting these opportunities, what do you do?
What would you recommend for our listeners?
Patti Phillips: Well, it’s a great question. I think if you and I could figure that out, we would both be solving all of the world’s problems, actually. I think number one, it’s awareness and part of it is looking at the people that the leaders have around them. So if you have an all white male leadership team, hirer and search firm, I think that’s gonna be really tough for that group to overcome it in that moment.
So, You know, not only it’s, it’s an awareness and then it’s actually taking action one hirer at a time, because the whole point of unconscious bias is that you don’t know it’s there. So you have to have people around you that you can communicate through those things. You have to live it. You have to live into it.
So that you can [00:18:00] change it. I don’t think just reading articles changes it. I think that all of this is helpful, but it’s a cadence of steps that have to be taken, so it’s one step at a time. And what’s interesting is I do think anyone that’s not in the majority group, male or female, you know, whether it’s racial and gender in any other category.
Those people. I do think because they’re kind of overcoming, they are more willing to take chances. And I’ll tell you a story of a search. I just heard about it. It was a year ago, but the president really wanted to make a diverse hire. He was a diverse president. And you know, it came down to a white man and a woman. And the big question, and we heard this through one of the commissioners that he had been talking with, and we heard this after the fact that he could just see the white man who had more experience kind of in the role. He couldn’t necessarily see it for the woman, Because he hadn’t seen that, but he had a colleague that he could talk through it and someone else was able to say, I think she [00:19:00] can get there.
We could help him see the future that he hadn’t seen in her. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s the whole point of overcoming bias, right? You have to have someone around you and because he was a diverse leader. I think he was willing to hear that from someone. That, yeah, it’s obvious to see it this guy, because the guy was a sitting AD, and the woman wasn’t.
She was a deputy and yet, Someone has to be able to say to them, actually take away who’s sitting. Let’s look at the skill sets and the skill sets are there. So, you know, the other thing I’ve said, AJ, I have to be careful saying it because it’s, it’s not always fair. But I do think leaders have to be open, I don’t wanna say hire for potential.
But get out of the box because actually there aren’t that many women that are sitting Power Five ADs, so the next job that opens up when they say they want a Power Five AD, there’s six women. So they’re gonna have to get out of that box. They’re gonna have to look at other women that are [00:20:00] qualified, that have been proven leaders in other areas, and they’re gonna need to have people around them that can challenge those theories, that can help them see what is possible, see a different potential in those women.
AJ Maestas: Yeah. That’s interesting. Not to dwell on the ones I know, but I know Jen Cohen at Washington and Heather Lyke at Pitt best personally, and they’re just, they would be, they’re kinda like no brainer hires in my mind by the way. Don’t hire them away. I don’t want them going away from their current universities.
But, you know, like, you know, if I was trying to pick up my sort of no brainer list, and I have men on that list as well, of course, but I don’t think you really do have to stretch with thinking of people or they’re in the seat. But but anyway, let, let me go back to that bias point. You’re describing a person of color, a man who’s a president, who had to stretch because he couldn’t see that woman in that role.
You know, he could see the refined white male candidate ready for it. Let’s remember that people of color have bias too, and women have biased as well. There’s a cool exercise we do sometimes with clients and friends where we sort of say, you know, instantaneously, [00:21:00] get a pen ready, get piece of paper ready.
I’m gonna have you write something down. No hesitation. Immediately write the following. And then you say the first name of a great leader that first comes to mind. And then of course you go around the room and sort of saying like, who are you thinking of when you wrote that name? Raise your hand. You know, if that was a white man and quite often it’s, you know, Michael, Jim, James, something like that, right?
Chris, and I’m sure you’ve heard this stat before too, but as far as like the Fortune 1000, there are more Fortune 1000 CEOs named Jim than women , Fortune 1000 CEOs. There’s also more Michael, you know what I mean? And yeah, so there’s multiple male names, white male names, you know, Judeo, Christian, whatever, you wanna kind of say it.
So anyway, that bias is only confirming what people see right. So that belief, that that’s what a leader looks like and that is who a leader is just reflective of just the reality, the world they’re observing. I mean, you know, if you get back down to our reptile brain, We were taught to sort of see patterns and replicate those patterns because that’s safe and comfortable.
So there’s some things that’ll be tough as far as bias training and people in the hiring process, you know, good luck on that. But I do [00:22:00] believe there are ways, you know, if I can keep rambling here for you, I know you’re supposed to be the guest, but at Navigate we do a bunch of assessments. And what I really appreciate about the assessments is some of them are really good at teasing out that person’s bias and them gaming the answers.
Strength Finders does a good job with that. Calibers does a good job with that. Some are easy to game like Myers Briggs, but they’re cheap or free and come with a wealth of information if you can trust that that person was honest in they’re taking of the assessment. Have you heard the study that was done on blind auditions?
Patti Phillips: Oh yeah.
AJ Maestas: Just in case people have, I know it’s well known, but just in case someone hasn’t, and you can share your memory of the results of it. But the idea was that blind auditions for, let’s say an orchestra where you truly can’t even see who is playing and to the point of not even being there when they walk behind a curtain to take a seat to play their instrument.
Because you can tell the difference between high heels, right? And men’s shoes as an example. So [00:23:00] truly teasing out, so they have no idea what human being is behind that curtain playing that instrument. And it led to, I, and again, share with me if you remember the statistics, but it was an explosion in women finding a first seat.
Patti Phillips: Oh yeah. Well, there’s, there’s been several of those types of, you know, studies done and, you know, they’ve also done the whole thing with where they took the name off of the cover letter and resume and all that. So 100%. Yeah, I mean, I just think there’s gotta be other processes. So I’m gonna be sharing all of that again, and I, again, this is not new information or new studies that are done, but I think people get kind of stuck in their ways of how they think it should be done.
But you’re right, the old ways are just riddled with biases. And if we all wanna move forward in a new direction that is more diverse and matches our populations, we’re gonna have to change the way we’re doing things. So those are great reminders.
AJ Maestas: You know, We’ll, we’ll link to those studies just so we don’t have to misquote or cite them here. But the, the resume one [00:24:00] that Patti is referencing is blinding the name on a resume. And/or putting blatantly, obviously African American names on that resume leads to this dramatic drop in getting an interview, getting a call back. Identical resumes, and this has been replicated hundreds of times.
Like, it’s one of the most commonly replicated bias. And you know what? It, it still has that effect today. Even with Black Lives Matter, even with the opposing bias that we’re seeing. Right. And people trying to right the wrong, as far as African American hiring policies, it’s still, it’s still there. So it’s pretty disturbing.
Have a very noticeably or presumably black name, you are way less likely to get a call back. It’s pretty incredible. We’re here in this time. I’ve always wanted to see that done for Hispanics, being Hispanic myself, just because a lot of the metrics on educational attainment, income, et cetera have Hispanics really close to in a similar difficult situation as black people.
So yeah, hopefully someone has replicated that and we’ll cite it if we can dig it up. Okay, we’ll move on from the hiring process, but something’s funny there. I like your theory that it’s [00:25:00] football. That doesn’t surprise me or shock me.
Patti Phillips: Well, it’s the cultural bias around football. So again, it’s our cultural, broad bias around football and you know, what it takes to be part of any type of institution that is running a big business of football. So, but yes, I think there’s something there for sure.
AJ Maestas: So let’s say and, and I do think it’s realistic that you know, well-intentioned companies, university presidents, almost half of which are women, right?
As we discussed earlier, a modern good company, an institution like a major university, probably has a healthy bias for diversity they probably intend to and want to do right. I’m sure there’s exceptions, but generally speaking, I’m guessing they intend to and want to. In fact, in that environment, which tends to, you know, skew liberal, and that’s just the world of academia, they could even be overly biased toward trying to fix it, and yet we’re not seeing the results.
So help us get there. If someone’s looking to hire a woman or a person of color, I think you even have a job [00:26:00] listing boards. How does someone use what you do or other resources that you know about so that we can fill that funnel or that that search list?
Patti Phillips: So I definitely wanna talk about our Career Connect platform, but I’m curious, you’ve referenced a couple times, almost half of college presidents are women. Those are not the numbers that I have. Is that all divisions or this just Division I? I think at the Division I level it’s, for women and, and people of color, it’s almost the same demographics. That’s the last research that I had seen on that. But because you’re right, I mean if, if not, then it’s like, we’ve got more of these diverse pools in these positions that have the opportunity to lean in to, you know, making these more diverse hires.
So I do think what’s so fascinating to me is, a lot of these other job boards out there will have people call us after the fact and they’ll say, yeah, we posted here, here, and here, and yet we’re not getting any women. I’m like, whoa, we actually have the women. And [00:27:00] so knowing where to post is like step number one if you want a diverse pool.
We have, oh gosh, over 5,500 members now. I think we have over 2,500 members that are literally in our Career Connect portal, and so we do have a job board. What we do, AJ, is when people call us, we’ve tried to get away from that subjective. hey, who do you know? I think there’s an important piece of that, and you said that before as, as part of, you know, do more research on the back end.
That’s not who we should be, I don’t think, because I don’t work with these people, right? I can’t tell specifically on the 2,500 women in our portal what their job capabilities are. What I can do is give, we can pull from our list, from the qualifications that they’ve inserted in there. And years of service sports they’re overseeing, title, all that type of stuff.
We could pull all those demographics [00:28:00] and ethnicity and we always send a complete diverse list out for folks that post, I can’t remember what the level is on our website, so. For us, we believe always sending a diverse list is important. And we do that. It’s a full list, meaning we don’t just send one or two names.
Cause I think that’s where you get into trouble as well. It’s an objective list. So I could certainly talk about people on my board, people that have worked for me. But I try to be really careful about kind of these recommendations of people that you don’t know very well. And I think that’s happens in our industry a lot.
People show up at stuff. You see someone at a reception, it’s always like, oh hey, so and so is out. It’s kind of this college sports club or network, and I think we have to really go deeper than that, quite honestly. So we worked really hard to make our job portal more objective in that way. So it’s really a diverse complete list.
And then it’s up to the hirers to go do the research that you’re talking about. In general, unless you’re [00:29:00] calling someone who’s worked directly with folks, and that happens and that’s super important. I think we have to just be more intentional about sharing diverse names, number one. And we certainly do that in objective way through our job portal.
AJ Maestas: Uh, Yeah. A couple Google searches here real quick, by the way, just for some fact checking. Sadly, the first result claimed that 47% of women of a university presidents are women, but a couple more sources say 30 to 32%, so let’s call it a third. A little less than a third, but that drops in half down to 15% for universities with doctoral candidates.
So you think of major research institutions. So I couldn’t get a quick result on the Power Five, but quickly, You’re right. Good fact check. A lot less than I thought.
Patti Phillips: Yeah. And again, I mean, we see it at all levels, and I just know with the especially the female presidents and the presidents of color, I’ve heard them talk about that as well.
And it bears the point, and I think you mentioned this earlier, are those leaders feeling more pressure that they can’t hire a [00:30:00] woman or a person of color? Because they can’t fail, you know? So it’s this weird thing where sometimes we hear a, you know, a woman won’t hire a woman. I don’t think that is the case, and I certainly do not want to emphasize kind of these old school notions.
We certainly believe that women support women and that women hire women. But I think at the presidential level, if we have more equity, it’s like, hey, we’re, we’re all trying to hire the best people, and there’s not this extra layer of God, the woman can’t hire a woman, and all that pressure that comes from the outside.
So anyway, Yeah. I, I do think it’s interesting to track at all levels the gender of the hires.
AJ Maestas: Well, there is some of that reverse impact, right? I mean, I can tell you from friends who are in senior roles at big corporations that there’s fear. You know, there’s fear in hiring a black person as an example, because how in the world will you fire someone in a protected category? You gotta get it right. So there’s that counter effect, right? But, but I think it’s more than balanced out by the pressure to reflect the world at large. I think people are scrambling. For [00:31:00] African Americans in particular.
Yeah, Which again, you know, the Hispanic thing, Hispanics being a much larger group, maybe a 50% larger group as far as a minority group with similar sort of challenges, at least, you know, economically, education wise. I wonder about that too sometimes. Right? You know, people will cite you know, AIDS research or Susan G. Komen being overfunded and it’s not a zero sum game, but you know, there is, you know, money is also fungible. So what, what are, what are the consequences of a concentration on a certain group, you know, to the detriment possibly of others. It is a little strange and I don’t think we’re that far off from being in a much better place, but, but the Title IX being 50 years old, just to move on from the subject and yeah.
And what we see in the Power Five is little disturbing to me. And then again, the ladies, we’ve discussed being so damn good that you can’t really point at a bunch of failure. All right, well, one more fact, just for fun, I’ve, I’ve shared this before with a lot of friends, so forgive me if you’ve heard it before, but 90% of women in the C-Suite, this is in corporate America, [00:32:00] C-Suite.
Played sports at some point, and 54% of them played collegiate sports. Can you believe that?
Patti Phillips: I love it. Oh, absolutely.
AJ Maestas: Yeah. Is that unbelievable? Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know if you have any feelings or thoughts about that. But whether it’s chicken or the egg there you would say, Hey, you wanna make it to the C-suite of the corporate world? Better play college sports if you’re a lady, or vice versa.
Patti Phillips: Well, definitely it’s like obvious. Listen, we, we are in the industry of sports, so we are big believers in this, but the research bears out all over the place. Sports are a training ground for life. I mean, it teaches you. How to work on teams, how to lead teams, confidence.
One of the best lines I’ve ever heard, we had a female mayor in Kansas City that was just phenomenal and in my previous role went for KC, I had her speak to one of our events and she, she had been an athlete and she said, sports teach you how to win in public and lose in public. I thought, oh my God. That was so great.
You always hear, Oh yeah, teamwork and confidence [00:33:00] and all those things are important. Resiliency, how to get up after losses, how to set goals, how to work with people. But this notion of how to win and lose in public in life, I think it’s invaluable. So all these skills are the training ground skills for leadership.
I think the NCAA talks about it, their commercial, so I think it is, it’s the chicken for sure. We are training the future leaders through sports. I was a coach. I played sports. I mean, I am the biggest believer in the benefits of sports in every way. So I’m not one bit surprised that female student athletes are stepping into these leadership roles at a higher rate.
That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to get to leadership role, but I certainly, 100% understand. And I’m not at all surprised in those numbers, and I’ve heard those over the years as well. And they actually, those numbers have been the same for 20 years. [00:34:00] So it is still the case today that participating in sports and all those skills that you developed in the research around that will help you later in life because you’re developing all sorts of leadership skills from top to bottom.
AJ Maestas: New subject here, if you don’t mind, but I can’t, I can’t resist. You are the CEO, Women Leaders in College Sports, so it makes sense we’re talking about this a lot. And by the way, congratulations, you’re clearly a competitor. You’ve tripled membership since taking over, you’ve almost tripled attendance at your national convention.
So good for you. But what I love most is you gave a TED Talk called the Zone of Possibility. We’ll link to the show in the notes.
Patti Phillips: You dug deep to find that one, didn’t you?
AJ Maestas: Yes. We are a research business. I gotta make up for botching the ratio of women presidents. Do you mind giving us a little summary of your Ted Talk?
Patti Phillips: Well, it’s, yeah, absolutely. It’s called the Zone of Possibility. It was several years ago, and honestly it was a story of an illness I had for years and years that I overcame. But it was ultimately about what is [00:35:00] possible for us. And you know, we go through life hearing things that are what we can or can’t do.
And it was my story of how I overcame that through an illness. I had an autoimmune disorder and they said I’d never heal and couldn’t do this. And I didn’t think I could do a triathlon and I did it. So, I mean, it’s really my story of overcoming what people said wasn’t possible quite honestly. And so for me, it happened to be on two fronts and illness front and doing an event, which was a triathlon, which I never thought I could do.
But ultimately, you know, overcoming those two things literally changed my. And I talk now, first of all, you know me, AJ, I’m a health nut and I could not probably be in this role with the pace that we have and the travel I have if I wasn’t so conscious of my health and understanding.
I’m a huge believer in our bodies are what move us through life and as leaders, they’re an important part of the leadership equation. We talk about being a [00:36:00] corporate athlete. You know, leadership is not just between the ears and, and our head here. It’s like we gotta be able to move through life and so, I don’t know if I would’ve had that mindset if I didn’t go through what I went through.
So I’m very grateful for it. Yeah, it’s changed what I believe was possible for this organization, for women. We put ourselves in all sorts of boxes all the time, and honestly, that’s what our culture is. It’s like putting us in boxes all the time. Having the opportunity to push through and step out is really important.
I’m also, a huge believer in growth mindset. We teach it a lot in all of our programming, and that lends itself to possibility and potential. Nothing is fixed. I think we used to think things were fixed. Everything. Our EQ our IQ. What we’ve learned over the last decade is that everything is learnable and growable.
And if you haven’t read Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, I encourage everybody to do so. But I’m fascinated by what is possible. What is [00:37:00] human potential. You know, you set a goal, you reach that goal, and then what? Then the goal can go up. Then your potential can go up. Back in the day, no one could do a four-minute mile.
A woman could not run a marathon. All these things we couldn’t do. We can’t get a man to the moon. Who would’ve ever thought we would carry a computer around in our pockets with these phones. So I’m just fascinated by all that. And so that’s the story of the Zone of Possibility. And you know, it was just two real examples that crossed over at that time in my life about how that unfolded.
AJ Maestas: Well, I love that. Yeah, I do believe, you think you can or you think you can’t. You’re right either way. And we will again link to that in, in the show notes along with the, your Mindset book you just referenced because yeah, you know what I hear in you actually a few of your comments really remind me of Jim Delaney, two points in particular.
You know, he really believed in the sound, mind and body. You know, he very much believed in the mission of collegiate athletics and that, you know, those elevate one another. And I think that we all know, whether it’s positive psychology or health and [00:38:00] wellness, there’s really good research that confirms that now.
And the repetitions you were talking about earlier, you know, having those reps having been there before, he really believed in that in leadership. You know, having seen it before, you know how to respond. That practice. So in the last two sort of responses, I just couldn’t help but reference that.
Patti Phillips: Well, I’m a good company if you’re talking, you know, if you’re mentioning Jim Delaney’s name with mine. So that’s an honor.
AJ Maestas: Yeah. And by the way we’ve talked about Heather, like so much. We are doing a podcast coming up with her so keep an eye out for that.
Patti Phillips: Phenomenal. Yeah, she’s phenomenal.
AJ Maestas: Yeah, she’s special. So let’s wrap up with a couple quick fire questions here. Quick questions, quick answers. Who would be your dinner guest out of anyone in the world? This could be a historical figure as well. So anyone throughout all of time, who would be your special dinner guest?
Patti Phillips: I can only have one actually, you know, you hear this all the time.
It’s either Oprah or Michelle Obama.
AJ Maestas: Both. We’re doing both, Yeah. But why. The important follow up is why?
Patti Phillips: I think Oprah, the courage of resiliency. What, what [00:39:00] she ended up doing with her show and the conversations that she brought to the masses around every topic that at the time was taboo.
I mean, Oprah was figuring out how to talk about it. Plus I’m just a huge Oprah fan. I just think she brings a lot of good into the universe. I still am a huge podcast listener. I love her Super Soul Sundays, love it. And I also am fascinated by Michelle Obama as a woman and as a leader and as someone that stepped into a role that, God, it’s the scrutiny.
And listen, I’m a huge Barack fan as well. But there was another level of scrutiny with Michelle, and I just think she’s a phenomenal human. Yeah. So I mean, I’m fascinated by both of them. So those would be my dinner guests.
AJ Maestas: I love it. Oprah in particular, is a pretty incredible person, to your point, bringing a great deal of good to the world, her vulnerability, her honesty, just what a benefit it’s been to have her.
And also, by the way, such incredible business success while making the world a better place at the same time.[00:40:00] The Super Soul Sundays, her show is one of the only three things that we DVR and watch . It’s good.
Patti Phillips: I love it.
AJ Maestas: Yeah, me too. Me too. What are you most proud of in your career?
Patti Phillips: That’s an interesting question and for me it’s not like a moment or a thing. I think I’m proud that I’m actually doing what I love and that I have had the opportunity to work in the business of sports as a woman supporting other women almost my entire career. So that is what I’m most proud of, to be honest with you.
I started as a coach. You know, I’ve worked in the nonprofit space that’s always been around women or leadership in sports and that I don’t think very many people get to do that, particularly as women. So, the fact that I’ve been able to carve out a career and be really happy and love what I do every single day.
And I do feel like we’re making an impact and that’s what I wanna do. I feel like we’re put on this earth to have an impact. And maybe that’s why I wanna have dinner with Oprah cause she’s made such an impact. And in my small little [00:41:00] slice of the universe, I feel like I, I’m in a space where I can do that every single hour of every single day with what we do.
And I’m really proud of that.
AJ Maestas: That’s true, and I’m glad to hear you say that. What is one lesson you hope to leave the world with?
Patti Phillips: That your mindset determines your success? And we have complete control over our mindset. That we are not victims of how we think, we need to control our thoughts, our words. And it goes back to what we had to do as athletes.
It’s kind of like setting goals, but that, that’s what setting goals is. It’s creating a future in your head and then you get in motion to that future. So I think we undervalue the importance of having a positive growth mindset and it determines our success, and that would be my message.
AJ Maestas: What’s that? Viktor Frankel book, Man’s Search for Meaning?
Patti Phillips: Yes.
AJ Maestas: That’s one of my favorites. Just to add to the show notes.
Patti Phillips: Now that’s a great story. That’s a [00:42:00] perfect example.
AJ Maestas: I love that one. And there’s many like it, but, but it’s one of my favorites just because Holocaust survivor and, and exactly what he did to go tell that story later, which is a good lead into any other books you’d recommend?
Patti Phillips: My reading list is long. I am an avid reader. I would say leaders are readers and trust me, I wanna be a leader, so I read all the time, so it’s hard for me to pick one. Currently reading Cues, Vanessa Van Edwards, who’s actually one of our convention keynote speakers, I’m fascinated by Impact Players. By, God, I’m blanking on her name.
That is a really good book for people wanting to lean in to be a high performer. I loved High Performance Habits by Brendan Burchard, but I think one of the books that I recommend and give the most is an old book by Darren Hardy called The Compound Effect. It’s a quick read, you read it an hour and a half, but it really states clearly how every action, thought, word, in our life creates compound effects for later. [00:43:00] Where you and I are right now is because of everything we did leading up to this, which means in every moment we’re always creating our future. You know, it gives hard examples about your finances, just the compound effect of everything in our life. And I think if I had to give one book to kind of start people on this process of really owning your future, it would be that.
But literally there’s great books, all the time that I read and those are the ones that just happen to be on my desk right now. I wouldn’t say they’re the greatest of all time, but they’re the ones that are the most recent reads, particularly Cues and Impact Players. But Compound Effect is one I would always recommend.
AJ Maestas: We again will include those in the notes so that people can find those on our blog, so appreciate that. Patti, it’s always a joy chatting with you. I always enjoy our lunches at the Fiesta Bowl Summit or wherever in the world we see each other. I’ll be seeing you in Kansas City soon, obviously.
And I’m just so grateful that you gave us your time today. Thank you very much.
Patti Phillips: Thanks. Thank you, AJ. [00:44:00] Thanks for all the great work you all do and we so appreciate your partnership in all ways.
AJ Maestas: Of course, you know, I wanna make a difference, and that’s for real. For anybody listening, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us.
I can pass on any questions or introduce you to Patti, but my email is AJ@NVGT.com, you can also connect with us on my personal LinkedIn page or the Navigate page. And again, this is AJ Maestas with a Navigate joined by Patti Phillips. Thank you again for joining us on Navigating Sports Business.