Joan Lynch, WorkingNation on the Future of Work - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

One thing I’ve noticed throughout my career managing people and working through varying situations is that there are two main ways people respond and react to change. 

There is a massive group of people who get angry at change, blame it, get frustrated, refuse to adapt because they like the way things have been.  

There is another group who owns the change. They adapt, innovate, adjust their strategies and approaches, and fit in with the change rather than expecting the world to come to them.

They recognize, change is inevitable. 

In 2020 - change isn’t just inevitable, it’s an in your face, punch you in the gut, steal your lunch, and laugh at you while it walks into your future. 

It’s trite to say, this year has been a roller coaster - it’s been a roller coaster in a tornado, hit by a tsunami and shot into space.

BUT, people, businesses, organizations, groups, non-profits -- have adapted. Not all, but many. They’ve taken personal responsibility for their growth. They have not only recognized change is here, they have accepted it, adjusted to it, looked for opportunities, and re-branded themselves. 

Change is good. It may not feel it at the moment, but looking back through history it is sometimes the worst events that spark the biggest sea change toward our future. 

I’ll give you one example, 

In 1965, at the height of the modern civil rights movement, activists in Alabama organized a march for voting rights, from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, the state capital. 

A march. Not an armed protest, not a riot, a march for voting rights. 

Around 600 people assembled at a downtown church in Selma Alabama, knelt briefly in prayer and began walking silently, two-by-two through the city streets. They crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge and were forcefully pushed back by police. Beaten, trampled, attacked - for marching. 

You’ve likely heard of this event, but at some point you should watch it. 

I did, again recently with my kids, and they were horrified. 

BUT, and here is the key. Think about this… 

What if police hadn’t attacked? What if there wasn’t a video? What if there wasn’t outrage?

What if  the 600 people just peacefully matched to Montgomery? 

Would we be talking about it today? Would we be considering the civil rights movement and its importance to our history as we do today? Would John Lewis be as impactful a character in US History as he has been? Rest his soul.

I don’t know… maybe not. 

Just to be clear I am not justifying what happened that day, I am not declaring it a good thing -- just pointing out, that we don’t often see the end result in the moment, because the future is unclear and we don’t allow ourselves to comprehend anything but where we are right now in the moment. 

Bringing it back to today, it is hard to see how 2020 will be a positive -- but what if you learn a new skill that is more applicable to the new workforce? What if you meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have reached out to? You learn social media advertising, or photoshop, or salesforce, or data analytics, or eSports.

I don’t know the right answer for you -- all I know for sure is, our world is changing, you need to change with it.

No one knows this better than today’s guest - Joan Lynch, Chief Content and Programming Officer for WorkingNation. Long time fans of the show probably remember Joan on the show last year, in one of our most popular episodes ever.

Well, buckle up - Joan is dropping some serious knowledge on our changing workforce...right…. Now…




Questions for Joan Lynch, WorkingNation


1: Before we get deep into the weeds on hiring trends and the prospect for the job market – give the audience a view into the purpose and mission of WorkIngNation

2: Let’s start off with a big topic – women in sports – 

Anecdotally it feels to me that the number of women in our industry, and in leadership positions, are increasing. 

I speak in a lot of college classrooms, and it feels like there are more women in sports management programs – which is fantastic, we need that -- but then I read an article that you shared a few weeks back that said hundreds of thousands of women are dropping out of the workforce in general not sports specific --  why is that? And how does this problem get fixed? 

3: Prior to WorkingNation you spent 6 years as a VP/EP/CP at ESPN, you left in 2011. 

When you looked around at the leadership team did you feel represented or isolated? 

4: Do you think the industry has made any progress with hiring and advancing women in leadership positions since then?

5: Broad perspective here – not just sports – how are good companies handling this time of coronavirus vs. those that are struggling? What are the main things good companies are doing to improve during this time?

6: What kind of a grade would you give the sports industry as a whole for the way they have managed this unique time? There have been many different approaches to staffing, playing, safety precautions, culture -- as a whole how would you judge the sports industry?

7: We have a private facebook group for this podcast, lots of aspiring sports professionals networking – and I’m always reminded in that group, that we have a lot of military veterans who transition to the sports industry after active duty – should sports take a more active role in facilitating veteran employment? 

8: We’ve just completed a four-part series titled Moving Forward where I interviewed 10 young, diverse, aspiring sports professionals about their experiences trying to break into the industry while also having a voice for social justice. 

A topic that came up a lot was the financial impact of education and internships – that in their view they aren’t equitable experiences.

How do we shake up talent development?

9: When you look to the future, when we come out of this mess eventually, do you think our workplaces will be more equitable? Or will the divide be wider?

10: One area we probably don’t talk about enough are the day workers in sports, the people who work concessions, stadium ushers, parking attendants – these people have been massively affected by the downturn in events – does the broader industry - the leaders, the owners - have a moral obligation to support and help these members?

11: If you ask me Coronavirus has accelerated what some organizations wanted to do all along, automate and reduce staffing. But, there are many roles, especially it seems in our sports industry, that can’t really be automated.

Is the sports industry a little more protected from automation than other industries, or is that just me hoping?

12: Going deeper down that rabbit hole – as automation and tech have advanced, we’ve also seen new roles emerge. On our site we see more roles in tech, esports, content creation, social media, revenue optimization – where do you think the employment growth will come in the coming years? 

13: we’ll finish up with this –it may not be uplifting but it will be honest --- as we sit, right now, unemployment is high, the pandemic still rages, sports are different, workplaces are different. Do you have a positive outlook toward employment in the future, or should we be bracing for years of financial contraction?

By Brian Clapp | November 04, 2020
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