Hi everyone, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…
We all have a public persona, the one we let the world see.
Our work personality, our behavior at parties, our disposition in challenging moments, our temperament when dealing with others.
But we are all much more than that. Every one of us is comprised of formative experiences that build our character…but aren’t as apparent or evident to the people around us.
While you may think your friends are an open book - sharing with you their dreams, loves and fears – chances are there is more to their story that they are unable or unwilling to share. They may not even realize how formative certain experiences have been.
We are all much more than our public persona.
We are all forged through our unique experiences and even deeper, our individual interpretation of those experiences
I read this quote this morning and was moved by it… it’s from John Milton in Paradise Lost:
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
To one person an experience makes them stronger and more resolute, to another going through the same thing…it may break them.
Today’s guest Lauren Sisler is an award-winning sports reporter for the SEC Network. 2-time Alabama Sportscaster of the Year. Emmy award winner. 2-time Alabama Associated press Best sports anchor.
She is a Rockstar in the sports media.
But she, like you, is much more than that. She is an amalgamation of events and experience and interpretation.
Remember earlier when I said the same experience can break one person, and make another stronger? Lauren Sisler is the embodiment of that. She dealt with unspeakable tragedy early in life that could have, and maybe should have, broken her. But it didn’t.
She found a way through it all…and not just through it, beyond it, to a heralded life on the other side.
This story is about much more than just being a high-profile sports reporter… yes, we will talk about that, and yes, Lauren will share incredible career advice…but it’s also about the person inside all of us.
The unification of events that creates us… and then, what we do choose to do with the experience. We aren’t just the standardized results of our experiences, we have a choice in all of it.
At some moment, maybe she can pinpoint it or maybe not, Lauren Sisler decided that she wasn’t going to be defeated by her experiences. She would persevere, and she would thrive.
Let’s let her tell it… here’s Lauren Sisler…
1: Before we get into your role now with SEC Network and what that’s like covering such major college events – let’s go back to your beginning and your reasoning for getting into this side of the sports industry – you were a highly recruited gymnastics athlete in High School, with a plethora of options for your college experience.
2: You chose Rutgers and eventually earned a role team captain of the gymnastics team – when during your school experience did you figure out you wanted to make sports a career choice?
3: It’s hard being a student-athlete, heck it’s hard being a college student and being far away from home for the first time, but you dealt with something unimaginable your freshman year, the death of both of your parents to prescription drug overdoses within hours of each other.
Two years ago you wrote a gut-wrenching first-person view of that day and all that transpired. It’s a hard, but beautiful, read. I know this is a difficult question, but how did you conjure up the strength as a 17-year old to continue your path to where you are now?
4: So you graduate from Rutgers with a degree in communication and a focus on sports broadcasting – how did you earn your first shot in the business?
5: I’ve long been a believer, and this may be a little counter-culture, that starting out at a major network like CNBC in any role, can really help an on-air career because you learn the best practices of the business and how things should be done by the true experts in the field. How did your experience at CNBC help shape your foundation in broadcasting?
6: Next was your hometown of Roanoke, VA at WDBJ, then your first role on camera at WTAP in West Virginia as the Weekend Sports Anchor, then to Alabama at CBS42 – is this the part of the industry that not enough people talk about – the struggle of relocating over and over again to make your way?
7: Alabama was a big step for you – being able to cover football in Alabama as the Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers are winning championships is an opportunity unlike any other. How did you leverage these high-profile programs into your own personal success?
8: You are an award-winning reporter. Alabama Sportscaster of the year. Emmy Award winner. AP Best Sports Anchor multiple years. What is your approach to storytelling?
9: With all those accolades do you take time to celebrate or savor the success? Or are you very focused on the next goal, the next assignment, the next contact to make…?
10: Last year you joined the crew of the SEC Networks traveling pre-game show, SEC Nation as a reporter – how have you handled the pressure of such a high-profile environment with strong personalities both on your own crew and in the SEC coaching circle?
11: Looking back now as you’ve ascended to a major network role – through the prism of career – what was the hardest part of making it in sports broadcasting?
12: Weekly, I have young men and women reach out to me and ask me about how to start their career in front of the camera, this is a job that so many people want. What is your advice to those young people?
I want to be really clear about something here because I believe in transparency.
Some parts of this interview may have felt a little rough to hear. And you may have even cringed when I asked follow-ups. As I listened back to it, I felt the same thing.
But all of this was discussed beforehand.
I asked Lauren if she was OK to talk about this… because if not, I’ll take my questions out and we’ll go 100% on the career track. I commend her for being OK with it because I think a raw and honest conversation like this can give strength and perspective to so many others.
To remember to love and respect yourself, to know you are strong enough, to realize addiction is powerful and doesn’t have to be taken on alone.
In the same time – I wanted to make sure that we do what we do… and provide great career sports career advice, and Lauren brought it there too.
Not an easy transition to make, but I’m glad we covered the person…and the career.
Thanks for listening everyone – make sure to subscribe to the Work in Sports podcast and share with your friends, professors, co-workers, internship crew and more. We want to keep growing and sharing more incredible content.