Day 23: Drowning Out Doubt

Delaney Nicol 2018

Working in the sports industry, there is one paramount factor that distinguishes greatness from mediocrity and the leaders from the followers: hustle. There is huge risk involved in entrepreneurship because one is always having to deal with the factor of the unknown. For this reason, I have always had immense respect and admiration for originators. On Monday, we had the opportunity to attend a panel with four successful leaders who have carved their own path in the industry. Mark Burns (Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Business Chronicle), Jeff Eisenband (Senior Editor of ThePostGame), Charles Lerner (Founder of Philanthropic Broker), and Sag Samini (Founder of Two Pivots Consulting) all spoke about their experiences in the industry and the challenges that they have encountered. Since each of these young professionals come from different areas of the sports world, every individual offered a unique story about their upbringings as self-starters in the industry. The best piece of advice that I have received at an MSBA event this summer has been to put myself in rooms that I am not supposed to be in (shoutout to Mark Zablow, CEO of Cogent Entertainment Marketing), and the one parallelism that existed between this panel’s Speakers collectively was that they always hustled and showed up. Mark Burns, Jeff Eisenband, Charles Lerner, and Sag Samini all took chances that at first may have appeared to be unpromising, but they believed in their abilities despite the discouragement they received and created their own lanes in the industry. Hearing these anecdotes impacted me strongly because these feelings of discouragement that were expressed on Monday were all too familiar to me.

“Four weeks ago, I was an aspiring sports business professional with a dream, but now I can sincerely say that I can see it, believe it, and I am more confident than ever that I will be it.”

The two aspects of life that I feared most growing up were change and inconsistency. If you would have told my 16-year-old self that I would attend Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school 3,000 miles away from home, I would have thought you were crazy. Before college, I always gravitated towards the effortless choices, steering clear of alternatives that propelled me out of my comfort zone. To a great extent, this vulnerability can be attributed to the lack of self-confidence that I harbored throughout high school. It’s really easy to listen to the voice in the back of your mind that tells you you’re incapable of doing something; Jason Belzer, MSBA Mentor, Speaker, and President of GAME Inc., refers to this weakness as “The Resistance.” However, it’s even easier to tune in on the critics who doubt your abilities and persistently convince you that you’re not good enough. I can’t express the number of occasions that I’ve heard that I am undeserving of my spot on my softball team or that I would never make it in the ultra-competitive sports industry. I have fallen victim to these circumstances many times in my sports and professional careers, and all the noise made me believe that I was not worthy enough to be present in the same room or competing on the same playing field as my peers. Nevertheless, my whole mentality shifted a few months ago on the day I was selected as a participant of MSBA. I now realize all of that doubt taught me how to be more comfortable in taking risks and ultimately led to the opportunity of a lifetime to be in this program. As Ben Sturner (Co-Founder of MSBA and CEO of Leverage Agency) stated, “If you can dream it, see it, and believe it, you can be it.” Four weeks ago, I was an aspiring sports business professional with a dream, but now I can sincerely say that I can see it, believe it, and I am more confident than ever that I will be it.

I would like to give special shoutouts to my mentors Ummamah Saeed (Foot Locker), Patrick Bliss (BSE Global), Alessandro Vigo (Agrupación Deportiva Maratón), Molly Rauhauser (CSM Sport & Entertainment), Jasmine McGee (Excel Sports Management) and Zach Wang ( You have all played a vital role in my development as a young professional, and I greatly appreciate the personal interest and support that you continue to give me as I grow in the sports industry. Thank you to Lorne, Bailey and David for taking a chance on me, exposing me to some of the best minds in the business and giving me the foundation to accelerate my career. The best MSBA decision I have made is trusting the process and buying into The MSBA Way. Lastly, thank you to the MSBA Class of 2018. I have never met a more like-minded, passionate, and driven group of 27 individuals in my life. Let’s continue to hustle, add value, show up and drown out the doubt as we soak in the second half of the best summer of our lives!