Emily Jaenson: Forging a Path in Minor League Baseball - WorkinSports podcast e115

Emily Jaenson, General Manager of the Reno Aces, Triple A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks and highest ranking female in Minor League Baseball, joins the podcast!


Spoiler: We talk about a lot more than just being a woman in sports, we go deep into her role, accomplishments, traits she looks for in people and the art of being intensely curious. 


Hi everybody I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for WorkinSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast ---

I want to keep this intro from being too self-aggrandizing – but this is a pretty cool day. One year ago today we launched the Work in Sports podcast.

My good friend Carl Manteau, senior director of group sales for the Milwaukee Bucks was our first guest…and he was great. I was a little dicey, but Carl was great.emily jaenson gm of the reno aces

On one year we’ve had over 100,000 downloads, about 1,000 people in our private facebook group for fans of the show to discuss sports career issues and network, guests like super agents Leigh Steinberg and Jack Mills. Sports recruiters like Dan Rossetti from Prodigy sports and Colleen Scoles Philadelphia Eagles Talent Acquisition Manager,  Sales Managers like Mike Judge from the Cleveland Browns and Chris Valente from the Boston Red Sox, marketing experts, branding experts, pr experts… you name it.

In the next year we really want to push the envelope – so please send me your guest suggestions, who do you want to learn from, because that’s the goal, getting these experts to teach and share their knowledge. You can email me at podcast@workinsports.com – but also, join our private facebook group, if you haven’t already you are missing out – search for the Work in Sports podcast on facebook, answer a few quick question to prove you are in fact a real human… and you are in!

One thing I have really learned over the 1st year of this show is that there are two different types of people out there – there are learners and there are tellers.

They are pretty easy to distinguish – and before you think this is a good vs evil comparison it is not. One is not better than the other, they are just different characteristics and personalities.

Learners are really curious, always seeking out new information, new mentors, new challenges…and never really feeling comfortable in their professional status because they always feel like they need to know more. They are likely surrounded by shelves full of business books and can quote Malcolm Gladwell with ease. They are also the ones who stay on the line and chat with me after the interview, ask questions, talk shop… good times.

The tellers have a little more confidence, they feel like they’ve accomplished things that are worthy of sharing. They learned by doing - and have a little more of a stubborn streak for how things should be. They probably look around at popular business books and think – duh, who doesn’t know this stuff already?

Learners sometimes can lack confidence and don’t exude a presence. I had a mentor once that used to say, a leader changes the temperature in the room when they enter it. Learners can sometimes be uncomfortable in that role, of personality dominance.

Tellers can sometimes lack listening skills, or an openness and flexibility when change comes knocking.

Is any of this feeling like I’m hitting a nerve?

I think it’s clear we should all strive for a balance of both – confidence and openness – but that’s a rare breed indeed. I’ll admit, I’m a teller. Hell I preach on this show twice a week – I guess that one is obvious. I’m stubborn, a little set in my thoughts, and I’d like to think I exude some presence. But every day I try to improve as a listener,  and work at my shortcomings to come closer to the balance of learner and teller.

Today’s guest Emily Jaenson General manager of the Reno Aces, Triple A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is the rare breed. Inquisitive and probing with an intense curiosity, she has a thirst for knowledge and improvement…but she’s also tough, believable and galvanizing.

She changes the temperature in the room.

She’s also the highest ranking female executive in Minor League Baseball and a great interview…so let’s get to it already – here’s Emily Jaenson General Manager of the Reno Aces!


Questions for Emily Jaenson, General Manager Reno Aces Triple A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks


1: You’ve garnered a lot of press lately after being named GM of the Reno Aces back in May, making you the highest-ranking female executive in Minor League Baseball. It’s an honor and it should be celebrated… but I also recognize that when I interview a male GM, we aren’t jumping up a down because a guy became a GM.

When do you think we reach a point in sports employment where gender doesn’t really matter? Is that possible or am I being naïve?

2: In Minor League Baseball there are 5 other female general managers, and yet there are none in the major professional sports – what is it about Minor League Baseball that makes the opportunities more available or acceptable?

3: I think the gender topic is important and I’m glad we are discussing it, but I don’t want it to take away from your accomplishments. You are a GM of a major sports operation… let’s talk about how you got there --  did you have a moment in your college career or even earlier where this became your goal…or did it come about organically as you went through your career?

4: You started out with the Chicago Bulls in ticket sales – as we have said hundreds of times on this podcast, sales jobs and being connected to revenue creation, are the golden pathway in sports.

Why in your estimation is a knowledge of sales so important to running a team operation? And how instrumental was that background in being hired as a GM?

5:   What was your first year like working for the Bulls, just out of college… was it a slap in the face with reality, or did you immediately embrace the challenge and the role?

6: You left sports after that year with the Bulls… but you came back 10 years later with the Reno Aces in corporate partnerships – what drew you back? and how hard was it to convince the team that while most of your resume at that point wasn’t in sports, you were ready for it?

7: How important is it to be naturally competitive to find success in sports sales jobs?

8:  As you’ve progressed in your career you’ve taken on jobs with more and more responsibility in terms of budget, staffing, expectations etc. To thrive in these roles you need to be a leader -- what is your approach to leadership and how would you describe yourself as a boss?

9: This is your first year as a GM of the team – hired in May for a season that starts in April so you had to hit the ground running. Take us through how you prioritize your day to day – where do you focus?

10: What has been the biggest challenge so far as you’ve taken on this high-profile role and had a national spotlight on you?

11: What advice would you give to anyone, but in particular women, who have a dream of being a general manager?

By Brian Clapp | September 05, 2018
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