RESPECT. Interview: Lindsay McCormick Discusses ‘Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, And Using Her Platform to Empower Women

Photo credit: Bjoern Kommerell

Lindsay McCormick is a Sports Broadcaster, TV Host, and Philanthropist from Houston Texas. Throughout her 11- year career, she has had the opportunity to work for companies such, ESPN, NBC, Esquire, CBS Sports and Comcast SportsNet to a name of few. She recently spoke out against sexism in the workplace, as she described an incident involving the head of hiring talent at the NFL Network a few years ago.

“I’ve been quiet about this for too long. In my last interview with NFL Network a few years ago, the head of hiring talent said to me, ‘If we hire you, do you plan on getting knocked up immediately like the rest of them?’ ‘Them’ as in badass working women who deserve to have a family life as well? ‘Them’ as the women who work their tails off to be taken seriously in a man’s world? Or ‘them’ who bring you a new audience and a tremendous amount of viewership? Because while I don’t plan on ‘getting knocked up,’ I do plan on being like the rest of those brilliant women that our future daughters will one day look up to and see you can have it all. Kudos to NFL Network for eventually removing this man from his position and for the actions they’ve taken this week.” Says McCormick

“It was very difficult, and I feel the biggest challenge that I faced probably was trying to be taken seriously as a female in a male-dominated industry; especially when there were very few women in the industry 11 years ago. So, when I started, I knew that this was going to be an issue, and just like anything else in life you want to come up with a game plan. Sports was in my background. And I told myself that I needed to start thinking like a coach. I wanted to do everything I could to take the physical element out of it, and I started writing, and then I transitioned into the radio platform. Doing things that took the attention away from my look and physical attributes. I chose to build my credibility through publications such as ESPN The Magazine, NFL Column with Esquire and then doing radio shows.”

“I had a show on Comcast called ‘The Fan’ that was simulcasted on ESPN Radio. The way I really kept up with all the stats and player movement was to do these radio shows. That is the way I fought those challenges. But I still face difficulties today. I was scheduled to work with a major company around Super Bowl, and everyone signed off on it and reserved dates, but it fell through due to a female executive. She said, “No, our male fans will not believe that a woman knows sports.” I thought wow! To know that we have come this far as women in this field and then to have the one female executive be the only hold-up and say “No, our male fans will not believe that a woman knows sports,” this was heartbreaking for me.”

RESPECT. MAG had the opportunity to speak with the 11 year veteran on how she wants to use your platform to empower women. Also, she discusses the opportunity of being a part of the second season of ‘Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch,’ and offers advice on what the major networks are currently looking for when hiring employees. The full interview can be seen below.

RESPECT.: You recently had the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch. Can you talk about that experience?

We just finished filming Season Two of Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, and it was so much fun. I had the opportunity to be a judge on the show. Other judges that will be featured on the show are Danica Patrick, Rashad Jennings, and David Meltzer. What the show entails is: entrepreneurs get in the elevator and have 60 seconds to pitch their concept via a camera to the judges. If we like the pitch, we bring them up to the boardroom to provide more details to the panel of four judges. Also, if we do not like their concepts, then they are sent down in the elevator. If we like their concepts in the boardroom, we can offer them a deal.

It was very inspiring for me to hear pitches from some of these families that worked on different projects for years. To see that there are many individuals out there using their creativity and that they are going to help other people. This experience was quite a change from sports for me. During Season Two there are so many sports figures involved as entrepreneurs – it was a joy to speak with them all. Athletes are already thinking about transitioning from professional sports into that next step in their careers. 

RESPECT.: You had the opportunity to work at networks such as NBC, CBS, ESPN, and Comcast. Can you share some tips on what some of these networks are looking for when hiring on air-personalities?

I would say what they were looking for when I first started 11 years ago is totally different then what they are looking for now. Also, every network is different. Some are more conservative than others. Some are trying to push the envelope like Fox with their creative content.

The one thing that has changed the most is, I think people are looking for personalities more so than ever. They are looking for individuals like Erin Andrews, and Scott Van Pelt. Personalities that will drive a show and cause fans to tune-in as opposed to just a talking head. I think Networks like Fox are trying to find individuals who are more opinionated personalities. What stood out to me when ESPN had all the layoffs earlier this year is the fact that they retained the more opinionated anchors and sportscasters. The advice that I would give someone who is looking to join a network is: be yourself and start creating your own content. Whether that is on the internet via Youtube, or on a website. Start building your own brand and creating original content because that is the biggest thing that the networks are looking for.

RESPECT.: How did you come to the decision that you wanted to attend Auburn University and were there any other institutions that were on your radar?

I applied to a few different schools. I started the application for Pepperdine but found out they did not have a football team. I also looked at the University of Texas at Austin, TCU, and Auburn. My parents told me at the beginning of the application process that I was able to go anywhere if it was in the state of Texas. So, I told them that was great, but I would like to go to Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. I decided to apply without my parents’ knowledge, and my mom received my acceptance letter in the mail. She asked me when I applied to Auburn? Why do you want to go to Auburn? Of course, my dad and my brother had heard of the university because everyone knows Bo Jackson went to school there. My dad said it was an interesting choice and we drove down to Auburn for a visit, and the rest is history.

RESPECT.: Out of all your interviews which two did you learn the most from and why?

Kobe Bryant. I appreciate him as an interviewee because he keeps reporters on their A game. If you miss quote a stat or anything, he will call you on it. He was slightly intimidating, but you always knew you were going to get a great interview. He is well spoken, and the way he views the game is very different than most. And anytime I had the opportunity to interview Kobe was an experience for me.

Another one would be any in-game interview you do because the athlete is in a different head space than after the game or before. You can speak with them while they are in the zone. The one thing that I learned about interviewing athletes is that you must take into consideration the mentality of the athlete. For example, are you talking to them during postgame after a loss? Because if you are, you must formulate your question differently in a more uplifting way. Are you interviewing them before the game when nothing has taken place at this time? Finally, you must know their personalities because there are athletes that take losses to heart.

 

RESPECT.: You had the opportunity to cover the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight as a correspondent for Showtime. Can you describe the atmosphere from the perspective of someone at the event live?

I will never have a sporting event that compares to that one. The hype around it, but the actual fight not so much – let’s be honest. The hype around the week included the grand arrivals, the weigh-ins. If I were to show you my phone you’d see that I was able to take a photo from the weigh-in of all the greatest boxers of all time. Witness the weigh-in, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather. To see Evander Holyfield, Sugar Shane Mosely and other boxers all in one room was an iconic moment. There won’t be anything like it again. Every media outlet was covering this one fight. Other than the Super Bowl, I do not think I have ever been to an event where every entertainment outlet and sports platform was in attendance. Tickets were going for thousands of dollars, and you had Mayweather coming in with a marching band.

RESPECT.: How many hours do you spend in the film room studying games and prepping the day before you must be on camera the next day?

It extends long before the day of being on camera. I would say I spend a little time each day brushing up on film and current events. It feels like there is a new transaction that happens every hour and so many sporting events to cover. You see more broadcasters branching out and becoming involved in entertainment like Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch. So, it does get more challenging, and I amp up the research more so the day before. But I always try to stay as current as possible.

RESPECT.: In several of your past interviews, you talk about what a vital role mentorship played throughout your career. Have you thought about putting together a mentorship program that helps to prepare young sports journalist for the industry?

It has crossed my mind, but I haven’t given it much thought until just right now. With me trying to get more into the entrepreneurial space, it is something that will be in my plans. I feel with 11 years under my belt I am one of the veterans on the team, and I want to help other people. I would say my whole reason for being, even with the situation involving the NFL Network, was to help other women realize that this is not normal behavior and it is not acceptable. After 11 years I’m in a space where I want to help other people because of the things that I experienced all the great moments and the disappointments. You want to use that information to help others achieve their dreams.

RESPECT.: Do you plan on writing a book about your experience as a journalist?

Writing for me is very therapeutic, and it is something I love to do. Other than ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine it was my entry into this crazy sports world, and it is very special to me. I see more of my friends writing books every day, and it is something I eventually want to do, but I do not know the right now. It could possibly be something to help younger women in the field or the interviews that I had with athletes. I don’t know which direction to go with it just yet.

RESPECT.: What was the best advice you received from someone that gave you the news that they were pursuing other candidates?

The best advice I ever received was from ESPN Fantasy Football analyst Matthew Berry. He took me aside, and I still had a job at Espn.com. I do not know if I was discouraged or what that day, but he took me to the side and said, “Look just always remember this.” And he shows me these clips of iJustine, who is the girl that goes into the Apple Store and films herself on the Apple camera in the middle of the store. I asked him why are you showing me this? He says “I am showing you this because this video has millions and millions of hits. The point is if you are authentic to yourself and you create your content, people appreciate it and that will always keep you employed. Whether that is continuing to build your brand or to give you something to do. Never underestimate creating your content or creating your job.”

So, whenever I would go through a slow period in my career where they were not hiring as many women for a position, I would remember that and look for different outlets. So, the .com platform has always been big for me, and one of the outlets I am working with right now is ‘Behind the Gloves,’ which has 38 million of views for their boxing content on Youtube. I would never have thought in a million years that would be an option when I decided that I wanted to be a sports broadcaster. Years ago, you were on television, or you are not, in my opinion. Nowadays, you have so many outlets that have more viewership than some of these television networks. The most significant advice is: if you do face rejection, never rule out that fact that you can create your content. You also can bring a sponsor aboard allowing you to create your job when before the internet those options were not available.

RESPECT.: How do you want to empower women moving forward with your platform?

One thing I realized over the last decade was when I first got into the industry; you see these women that seem to have it all together. Over time I learned that people tend to relate to your mistakes and your flaws instead of the people who seem like they do not make mistakes.

So, for me, I feel I was always trying to hide the hardships and flaws that I went through, thinking people would not hire me. The past year has shown me that perfection is not what people identify with. It is the opposite. I discussed some inappropriate interactions in my Newsweek piece to help other women. I’m at a place in my career where it is important to mentor younger women, and to help make other peoples’ lives easier, whether as a cast member of Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, or my writing for different publication, or sitting down with someone face to face. There are so many ways you can assist someone, and you do not need a larger platform to achieve that goal. All you need is just one person, and it continues from there.

RESPECT.: Have you thought about possibly staring your own sports program at some point?

I think that is a dream job for women in the field of sports. Take Suzy Kolber for example. What she has been able to do with her career is just mind-blowing. She has stuck around and continues to broadcast at a high level. Most people’s first couple of years are considered a real learning period where you make more mistakes on air than you should. But I do not think Suzy Kolber ever went through that process. She seems like she has always been naturally gifted at this craft and continues to perform with ease. She has always been an inspiration to me, and she does her job better than some of her male counterparts.

Another person that acted as a mentor for me was Linda Cohn, who has been on Sports Center for decades and decades. She was the one that took me aside when I was an intern at ESPN and said, “Please do not hesitate to ask questions, and never wait if you need advice.” I ran into her several years later at the Super Bowl and asked her for some information, and she was happy to share her experiences. I feel there are two types of women in this field. There is the type of women that realize that there is room for other women and help them come up through the ranks, and then there are the ones who fear there are not enough jobs and if they help someone it will take away from their duties. Linda Cohn showed me that there is room for more women in the sports industry. What I have learned is that the more women blaze trails and open doors, the more opportunities there will be for other women.

RESPECT.: What are your thoughts on what the Rams have been able to do this offseason?

They signed Ndamukong Suh, and that is a massive acquisition for them. It’s going to be very difficult for opposing teams and blockers to double team him. Also, the public did not expect them to be as good as they were this past season. I am not sure if they sold out their games in the stadium, but to see what they have done this offseason and how well they finished last season – the Rams fans should be excited about this upcoming season. The reigning Defensive Player of The Year Aaron Donald is being paired with the league’s most disruptive Defensive Tackle. I think that they are going to be unstoppable.

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