How This CEO Assists Professional Athletes With Developing A Positive Personal Brand
Shannon Judd, CEO of Transition Sports & Entertainment, not only has mastered the art of pivoting as a serial entrepreneur but also helps professional athletes transition their mindsets from athletes to businessmen and women. She and her team educates professional athletes and entertainers on how to capitalize on their personal brand.
Shannon Judd, CEO of Transition Sports & Entertainment Photo: PEPI KOKAB
“We’re a company that works with athletes and entertainers to take full advantage of and to leverage and expand on their networks while they're a professional,” Judd explains. “We help them drive deeper roots, help them have a bigger community and bigger fan base, and most importantly, a stronger more meaningful network. In addition, we’re also creating long-term business plans for them. We were founded on the belief that athletes and entertainers should position themselves as businesses; not just a good brand, but as a real legitimate business.”
Growing up surrounded by parents and family members that are entrepreneurs,
Judd has learned the value of thinking outside-of-the-box. For a few years, she experienced the life of being a military spouse. “Being a military spouse definitely forced me to create opportunities for myself,” Judd shares. “I could either not work, work part-time and have a family or work into the GS system, which is the Government pay scale system.” She decided to finish school online, which over a decade ago wasn’t as common a practice as it is today. With a drive to take dance classes and with no dance classes on base, she created her own dance class which later was turned into a dance company that raised money for different non-profits.
“I also bartended on base,” she continues. “We were in competition with a lot of bars off base. I started paying attention to how to better market the bars I was working at. The stricter our squadron and our base got about drinking rules in general, the more people would go off base. So, we had to learn how to bring them back on. I convinced the commander of our squadron to let us create a Facebook page for the bar.”
Transition (Jason Bayuk, Shannon Judd, Don Povia) attends the kickoff party for non-profit "We're All A Little Crazy" Photo: JOEY MORGAN
It became difficult for Judd to find any work based on her qualifications because she was constantly moving from base-to-base. She used those challenges as an opportunity to begin her career as an entrepreneur. “I started an events company with two other people,” she smiles. “We did mini events. When I moved to Los Angeles I did the same thing there.”
Eventually, Judd did have the opportunity to work in a corporate environment for about two years. “It was so helpful,” she continues, “because I learned the bigger picture of how a company needs to work. I worked with an ad agency that grew exponentially in a short amount of time.
I worked very closely with the leadership team so I was able to see what's needed in scaling out a business, not from just an operational standpoint but from a human resource standpoint as well, and how to communicate with your staff and with your clients. We were dealing with so many random dynamics.
Walking away from that experience taught me so much of what not to do.”
Soon after her time as a military spouse came to an end, she moved to New York City and began consulting.
Through her consultancy, she met her two business partners, Don Povia and Jason Bayuk. “When Transition became a this-is-what-I'm-doing versus this-is-something-that-maybe-I-could-do was when Jason finally came on board,” she states. “The conversation shifted from we can help athletes have a better brand and a better life to if we can help athletes re-visualize themselves and the world around them, and teach them with our collective business acumen how to create economies and meaning for themselves and their families, then subsequently it causes a ripple effect. I very sincerely believe we have a shot to change our country in a way that isn't happening but a lot of people want to see happen.”
Throughout Judd’s career, the biggest lesson she’s learned is how to learn from failure and remain steadfast in the pursuit of her goals. “I have started more businesses that did great work but didn't turn a profit,” Judd says, “or turned a profit but didn't do great work. I learned that partnerships need to be treated as relationships. Coming from a failed marriage,
I frequently compare our business relationship in the same way. We have to communicate in a healthy way. It's really important for all of us to drive the full potential of each other as a team and as individuals. I also learned what to worry about and not worry about.”
Craig Moore (L), Shannon Judd (C) & Zahir Carrington (R) of US Men's National 3x3 Basketball Team Photo: TRANSITION/SAMSUNG
Judd has experienced many pivots in her career. The following steps have helped her with each transition she’s faced:
Understand your reason for pivoting. That’s half the battle. Once you understand the why you’ll be able to create a plan for the next step.
Establish what you’re going after and how you’re going to build up that experience and reputation you want. Focus more on what you want, and not what others think you should do.
Have fun. The less unnecessary stress you can create during the pivot, the smoother the pivot will be.
“I've learned to be very honest with myself about what it is I want out of my life,” Judd concludes, “and not getting caught up in where other people think I should be.”