I would like to welcome Karlyn Lothery Founder and President of Lothery & Associates, Lead Trainer at Sports Talkers, and Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University. I had the great pleasure of meeting Karlyn Lothery when she was the Chief Diversity Officer at the United States Tennis Association. When I first met Karlyn she had come into Las Vegas, Nevada to talk to board members and community tennis association members that focused on diversity in their tennis associations. It was amazing to hear her speak on what her focus and admiration was for the USTA in her position as Chief Diversity Officer.
Karlyn has been a guiding force in media and communication as she has held positions with several television stations such as WRDW-TV, WCSC-TV and a Training Manager for The Communication Center: Susan Peterson Productions just to name a few. In her current role as owner of her own company and Lead Trainer for Sport Talkers it is her responsibility to work with collegiate and professional sports figures to enhance their career opportunities through image and spokesperson development training. Also, as an Adjunct Faculty member at Georgetown University she focuses on teaching Globalization, Diversity and Social Historical Foundations of Sports.
So please welcome Karlyn Lothery to 10 NIS 4 ALL Interview Blog…
10 NIS 4 ALL: Karlyn Lothery, when we first met you were in the position of Chief Diversity Officer for the United States Tennis Association. How did you feel about the position and what are your feelings on the impact that you made on the position?
Karlyn Lothery: That was one of the most rewarding positions I’ve ever held. The organization wanted to be more inclusive, but some didn’t know where to start. It was great to come in with a blank slate and so many open minds to get the ball rolling. It began with having to front the costs for so many things: recruiting trips, advertising, and memberships, then as other departments started to see the value; they included those things in their budgets and made those things a part of their operations. It was quite a process to watch unfold.
10 NIS 4 ALL: As the Chief Diversity Officer what were your responsibilities?
Karlyn Lothery: In a nutshell, help the company become more diverse on and off the court. I was to help with recruiting, retention, awareness and sensitivity training, messaging and working with staff and volunteers to tap into the diverse tennis playing market.
10 NIS 4 ALL: I see that you attended and graduated from Georgetown University, how did you enjoy your time at Georgetown and what was your course of study?
Karlyn Lothery: I graduated with a business degree and a marketing major. I loved the Hilltop so much I recently returned as an adjunct professor in the Sports Industry Management Program in the School of Continuing Studies.
10 NIS 4 ALL: I notice that you are involved with Sport Talkers, can you explain what Sport Talkers is and you got involved with it?
Karlyn Lothery: I started Sports Talkers to return to my media and public relations roots. I was a television news anchor and reporter and then left the life in front of the camera to work with executives behind it. I helped prepare them for media interviews, presentations and other forms of communication. Sports Talkers allowed me to do all of those things and focus strictly on athletes, teams, coaches and sports executives.
10 NIS 4 ALL: Your name has changed to Lothery & Associates? Why is that? Does Lothery & Associates dealing strictly on athletes and executives or do you work with others such as politicians and government officials on local, state and federal levels?
Karlyn Lothery: After the word got out with some of my former clients that I was back in the communication coaching business, they wanted me to work with them again. It brought me back to working with corporations, non-profits, and sports clients. Plus, they asked to incorporate cross cultural communications from my diversity work, since they’re all trying to reach broader, more diverse populations. With the new demand, came a need for a new name that was, itself, more inclusive. So I became Lothery & Associates. I still provide the Sports Talkers content that is designed specifically with athletes and sports figures in mind, and offer content that is better suited for corporate environments as well. I couldn’t be happier with the expansion.
10 NIS 4 ALL: In some educational institutions on a high school level some city and state department of education’s have created Career academies to focus on youth’s evidential career choice. I see that some of the services in Sport Talkers are the training in Media, Spokesperson, and Sport casting; do you see this as something that could be taught on a high school level such as in career academies?
Karlyn Lothery: I would not recommend that content for high school students. They need to get a firm grasp on communication skills in general first. Good solid writing, grammar, building an effective argument are all under-developed skills right now. Once they get that as their foundation, they can look at building on those skills in college or other degree/certificate program.
10 NIS 4 ALL: In your line of business how is the social media marketing with in social media groups (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and others such as this) impacted your business?
Karlyn Lothery: I’ve had to add a whole new set of workshops that focus on messaging through social media. From YouTube to Facebook and Twitter, there is a sea of professionals out there who don’t know how to leverage these assets for better market development, customer connection, and customer service. Plus, with the research showing that there will soon be more mobile users than PC users, businesses have a short amount of time to get into the phenomenon. We work on message development, which tool to use for what type of communication, how to leverage social media in a crisis, and in cases where there is video or audio, like in YouTube or Podcasts, we work on delivery skills, engaging and motivating an audience.
10 NIS 4 ALL: What do you find is crucial for the success of your clients in the sports industry to get out of the services you provide?
Karlyn Lothery: Appropriate message development and professional delivery style. These are the two primary building blocks for creating (or destroying) an image. Without mastery of these two things, one’s total potential is quite limited.
10 NIS 4 ALL: What do you find is the greatest attribute that you have brought to your company that you created in your position as Chief Diversity Officer from the United States Tennis Association?
Karlyn Lothery: A different way of looking at diversity. It can’t be about who did what to whom, 30, 50, or 100 years ago. It needs to be about what it means for the growth of a business. I can’t teach how to be nice to people. That’s an issue that one’s parents should have handled long before they ever met me. But what I can do is teach that exclusion is a guaranteed way to damage one’s credibility, image, and business growth potential. Exclusion goes against logic and reason, and rests strictly with emotion. All successful executives know that decisions based only on emotion will likely flop in the end. The USTA gets it, and is doing the right thing because it is such, AND because they know it’s the only way the sport will grow.
10 NIS 4 ALL: With a strong diversity background do you feel that the present day athlete views diversity as something to put on the back burner or do they focus on diversity more when branding themselves?
Karlyn Lothery: I think younger athletes who did not face the struggles of those who played sports before them, fail to recognize the importance of diversity, the importance of not living down to a stereotype but rather up to their predecessors’ dreams. Athletes are role models, regardless of whether they want to be one. Their mere public profile makes them that way. They need to be aware of how their are perceived, what conscious or subliminal messages they are sending with their dress, behavior, and words. All of that gives some youngster at home something to mimic. If you go back to when I was a kid, the Cosby Show was all the rage. You had kids from every socioeconomic background wanting to be a doctor or lawyer like the Huckstables. They had a positive role model and exposure to new dreams. With the arrival of Venus and Serena, you see the same effect. Moms and dads out on tennis courts with the ball hopper and racquet giving their daughters another sport option. Michael Chang was that in the 80s. Rafael Nadal has a similar effect now.
10 NIS 4 ALL: In tennis it has always been an issue for diversity how do you think the tennis community has embraced the development of diversity and overcome it?
Karlyn Lothery: Of course the growth of acceptance is a slow and steady process and there is still much ground to cover. With consistent work from people on all sides of diversity, and from all backgrounds, together the work will be less heavy.
10 NIS 4 ALL: Within tennis as we both have seen there is a great push for Multicultural Participation and grants for just that purpose. Do you feel that the tennis industry has put a big enough effort into this initiative or is there more that can be done at this point?
Karlyn Lothery: When I was there, we awarded more than a half million dollars in grants to boost multicultural participation. While there can always be more done, I think that was a solid and acceptable amount. While we want to establish equalizers in a sport that had so many inequities for so long, there is a need for personal responsibility and development. If you’re not happy with the number of wild cards you receive, practice more, play more, win more…then you won’t need them. If you want to go to college and play tennis, study hard, and play hard and get a scholarship to do so. The grants are a helper, not the free access card. It’s difficult to hear that, and there were many who did not view the grant system that way, but that’s the way we tried to build it.
10 NIS 4 ALL: As a sport tennis is always the last thing a youth thinks about. Most times when a youth asks what type of professional athlete they want to see they mention basketball, football, or baseball. What do you think is the reason why tennis is not developing a better image for youth?
Karlyn Lothery: It’s not that it doesn’t have a better image as much as the visibility of the sport, in general, is not as high profile as some of the others. It’s a sport where the individual has to be seen to be “discovered.” The individual has to find someone to hit with, and play against. Many of the other sports require just walking down to the local park to play a pick-up game with a lot of other kids. The USTA tried to close that gap by setting up Tennis Welcome Centers and creating websites where people could find a tennis player online in their zip code, kind of like “Friendster” for tennis. (Friendster is another social media website to match people with like interests to hang out as friends.)
10 NIS 4 ALL: In closing, what do you see multicultural participation in the sports industry being in the next 10 to 20 years?
Karlyn Lothery: The recreational field of players will continue to become incredibly diverse. Just by natural progression this will happen since the ratio of white to non-white kids under age 7 is currently 1.5 to 1. How we, pardon the pun, “court” them to fall in love with the sport and stay with it throughout their lives, or develop more diverse elite athletes, will be key. It means going to “their” neighborhoods and creating leagues, clinics, and other points of exposure and access. It means following up with the players they do find, rather than having “a day of fun” that they can talk about and not repeat. It means continuing to recognize if the sport is going to survive, marketing, employment, and procurement opportunities will need to include multicultural people. It means people of all kinds will have to set aside their pre-conceived notions and baggage, and recognize each individual for the talents they bring, and the potential they will realize.