Where did the idea of The GIST come from?
Jacie and Ellen, my co-founders, and I met in the commerce program at Queen’s University, and we all moved to Toronto to begin working in corporate roles. We were catching up over dinner one evening and Ellen, the person among our friends that everyone goes to for sports updates and explanations, started talking about the Leafs and why it was such a big deal that they got into the playoffs that year. Jacie and I mused that it would’ve been really helpful for us to have known all about this at work when everyone was talking about it. Then we had an idea. Why doesn’t Ellen write an email newsletter, similar to The Skimm, but about sports, for women?
The more we thought about it, the more we realized how sports is the one thing that everyone is talking about, across all of our companies, across industries and across all levels of the organization. At the same time, we observed, sports talk can be seen as a barrier for women - if you hadn’t seen the sports game last night, then you kind of lost the opportunity to be a part of the conversation, which can lead to lost opportunities to connect and build relationships. A large percentage of sports media today is made by males, for a predominantly male audience. So we decided we would create sports news by females, for a female audience! Our intention was, and still is, that we want to empower women with sports knowledge, so that you have the choice to be a part of the conversation, if you want to.
"Overall, I would say the biggest changes from working corporate would be a lot less structure, more learning outside of our areas of expertise, and much more control over my schedule."
What does a typical day look like for you at The GIST? Has it changed significantly since working corporate?
It’s very different from working in a corporate role - my corporate job was very structured, with experienced professionals providing lots of direction. Whereas at The GIST, I have no idea what my week is going to look like going into it. I’m in charge of finance, operations and tech for The GIST, so during the day I can be doing anything from financial planning to using data to track performance, trying to learn digital marketing and coding, to meeting up with advisors or mentors. It’s a lot less structured, which is fun!
To stay organized, we look at our long-term vision, and then break that down into structured monthly milestones. At the beginning of every week, we sit down to discuss what’s on everyone’s to-do list in our various areas, and how to prioritize our lists to set us ourselves up to meet our short-term milestones and long-term goals.
Overall, I would say the biggest changes from working corporate would be a lot less structure, more learning outside of our areas of expertise, and much more control over our schedules. Bonus points for being able to wear leggings to work if I want to!
It’s amazing that you started The GIST with your two friends! What’s it like working with them, and are there any challenges of running a business with close friends?
I love working with them - we have an incredibly supportive culture where we’re constantly pumping each other up and being each other’s hype women, because we are friends and we all need the encouragement. The environment we’re working in, we’re all working outside of our areas of expertise and learning new things as we go. There’s a lot more uncertainty when you’re an entrepreneur and when you are doing something completely new, so it makes a huge difference having support from friends as you’re going through it. It also makes you feel like you’re not coming to work - because you get to spend time with your friends. But at the same time that can be a double-edged sword and where the challenge comes in - we can definitely distract each other sometimes, just because we are very social and get along so well. But overall, everyone has very complementary skills and brings different perspectives and experience to the table.We’re also very much on the same page about where we see The GIST going, so we’re actually really lucky that we fell into this together. It couldn’t have worked out better.
What would you say to your 18-year-old self?
“Believe in yourself, don’t doubt yourself, don’t be so hard
I was in a commerce program, and you are constantly surrounded with very motivated, type-A and seemingly very successful people which can sometimes make you doubt yourself or your own talents and abilities. But you just have to remember that everyone has something unique to bring to the table, and different things happen for different people at different times. You just have to be patient, work hard, have fun, believe in yourself and know that things will all fall into place.
on yourself and don’t compare yourself to other people.”
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals that keep you stay balanced?
Sunscreen with 60 SPF for my face. Trying to protect my skin and keep my future self in mind.
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