Episode 031 – Susie Piotrkowski, VP of Sales for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)

Susie Piotrkowski

After our very tough episode last week, this week’s episode brings some much-needed levity. Bobbi-Sue chats with Susie Piotrkowski, VP of Sales for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Susie’s career began at IMG and then moved onto media buying and then Fenway Sports Management. Her next move, to Spartan Race, would be career changing. She finally got to test her chops at selling and she hasn’t stopped since. There are some f-bombs in this episode – more than usual because New Englanders talking do that. Susie has great advice for people in school and coming up the ranks in the sports industry. Lots of shoutouts to Spartan folk. The most important part of the entire interview is when Bobbi-Sue and Susie talk Kanye and then shout out to Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, as one does.

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Additional Show Notes:
  • Bobbi-Sue and Susie begin the conversation discussing their names and nicknames.  Susie intentionally made a choice regarding her name. PLUS, DO NOT SPELL OUR NAMES WRONG.
  • Susie was a “tom-boy” growing up and she loved competing against the boys. Lacrosse ended up being her sport.
  • Starting when she was really young, Susie would ask her dad questions about signage and activations at Giant Stadium when they went to games.
  • Susie’s dad is an auctioneer! Bobbi-Sue is fascinated by this. There’s an auctioneering school!
  • Her parents were always super supportive and saw that there was something about the sports business that was really drawing Susie. Her dad even subscribes to Sports Business Journal!!
  • She grew up playing soccer and she thought that was her thing. Lacross wasn’t a thing where she was from. She picked it up freshman year of high school.
  • Susie and Bobbi-Sue are always up for a conversation with people interested in getting in the industry.
  • Back to names, Bobbi-Sue discusses the problem with using “Mrs.” in an email to a woman.
  • When Susie was figuring out colleges, she and her parents didn’t really know what to do in order to get recruited. They didn’t realize that they had to travel to all of these tournaments and events. Susie tells a story about how badly she wanted to get back into one of those tournaments.
  • Susie started college as a sports studies major but that was meant for someone that wants to work as a college or high school athletic director. So she switched to political science with a minor in sports studies.
  • BREAKING NEWS: She’s running. OK, not yet, but maybe in the future. The women discuss their interest in politics.
  • The women debate “this” Kanye vs. “old” Kanye. And then gush over Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Let’s be friends! NWSL game for Chrissy and kids! LUNA!
  • Susie interned with IMG during the summer leading into her senior year as the digital media intern. She had no idea what that was. The “Dog Whisperer” was one of the clients she worked on.
  • Take advantage of your time interning and meet as many people as you can. You never know where it could lead you. Another take away, go up to people and tell them you think what they’re doing in the industry is great (make sure you mean it).
  • Bobbi-Sue talks about how back in her day she had no internet. She’s old.
  • At IMG, Susie worked with the attorney out in White Plains who handled all of the client contracts. She thought she was maybe going to become an agent.
  • Susie got to moonlight at Football Night in America for one season as a researcher while working full-time as a media buyer for Coca-Cola at MediaVest.
  • While at Fenway Sports Management, she helped create a women’s fantasy camp at Jet Blue Park and handled the hospitality portions. She took a leap of faith moving over to Spartan Race and it was career defining.
  • One of the cool things Susie got to work on was the build-out of the pro team. So, at times, she was the agent for the pro athletes and had to negotiate with Spartan on behalf of the athletes.  Bobbi-Sue calls out Joe Desena jokingly.
  • An executive recruiter reached out to Susie regarding the role at NWSL. It’s such an exciting time to be at NWSL with an upcoming world cup and passionate fanbase.
  • Hey potential sponsors… get on board with NWSL! A blank slate, great brand recognition, community initiatives with athlete support.
  • Self-care: Fitness is incredibly important, puppies

Quotable moments:

  • “Sports were always it for me when I was playing and it was a place I could go and be myself… Now the place that I really feel ‘Hey, this is what I’m meant to be doing’ is this industry.”
  • “When I have pitches, my dad calls it gameday.”
  • “I had this rainbow shaft of my stick and this sparkly blue head on the stick.”
  • “I’m too pissed off to not be considered one of the best.”
  • “I’ve gotten to learn from incredible people in this industry…I’m always hopeful that I will have the opportunity to do that for other people.”
  • “I miss old Kanye.”
  • “I’m appreciative of people who think differently. And I absolutely believe that from a societal standpoint right now people aren’t engaging in a way that everyone feels heard.”
  • “You come for John Legend and I’ve got issues.”
  • “I live by the mantra of ‘The rising tide lifts all ships.'”
  • “Chrissy Teigen, if you’re listening: 1) we want to be friends; 2) Luna can come, she can do whatever she wants, she can play for all I care. Let’s get you out there. Let’s do it!”
  • “Millenials remember a time before the internet but Gen Z-ers don’t!”
  • “Oh my god! Why doesn’t everyone want to live in Times Square?! This is amazing.”
  • “Now, I always put exclamation points in there!”
  • “I’m all in on Nascar!”
  • “I got the job so we gotta make this happen.”
  • “If I can sell a property like Spartan Race which is emerging and not a proven entity, then I think I can sell a bunch of other stuff.”
  • “I only eat grass-fed beef now and I ingest bone broth.”
  • “Once I’m in, I’m all in.”
  • “The women’s soccer fans out there know that it can be taken away.”
  • “We don’t want to be a charity case. We’re not. We have the best women’s soccer talent in the world playing in this league.”
  • “I’m kind of like a puppy.”
  • “Might not be the smartest, but will bring snarky levity.”

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Extra Credit Reading/Watching:

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