Our goal at Svaha is to teach young kids that they can be whatever they want to be, so what better way to do so than by talking to women who have successfully broken down gender barriers? This is the first post of our Women Who Inspire series, where we will be interviewing amazing women who are leaders in their industry to find out how they got to be the person they are today, and how they took their respective industry by storm! We are starting out with the phenomenal Donna Goldsmith. Donna is the VP of Consumer Products at Tough Mudder Inc. She is the former GM of Operations at the Super Bowl Host Committee, COO of World Wrestling Entertainment and former VP of Licensing at the NBA. She is a highly accomplished senior executive who has risen through the ranks due to her energetic leadership style, industry expertise, and razor-sharp negotiating skills. She was named by Forbes as the 2nd Most Powerful Woman in Sports (2009), named by TotalProSports.com as the 3rd Most Influential Woman in Sports (2012), and was nominated by Women in Sports & Entertainment (WISE) for an incredibly prestigious Women of the Year Award (2010).
Our Interview with Donna:
Svaha: You have taken over the world of sports, many times over! How did you go about achieving credibility in your field?
Donna: Credibility is earned. Starting at the NBA, at World Wrestling Entertainment, the Super Bowl Host Company, as consultant at ThinkGeek and other start-ups, and through my work now at Tough Mudder, I strive to do the best I can in my role. I am always dedicated to the work and build solid working relationships. I am a mentor and leader to my team and we work together to achieve mutual objectives.
Svaha: You have obviously achieved things in your life that most women have never even dreamed of accomplishing. You've entered the Man's World and successfully broken down gender barriers. What do you consider your biggest motivating factor?
Donna: I'd say the biggest motivating factor for me is my quest to constantly do better, to achieve personal and business objectives. It has nothing to do with being female - for me it's just about doing my best and getting to the next level.
Svaha: What is you personal mission statement in life?
Donna: In business it's the ability to make a difference - when I'm at a place where I cannot make a difference then I know it's time to move on. If something is not right, acknowledge it and move on. The position I had the Super Bowl Host Co was wrong for me. The work was not fulfilling, didn't utilize my strengths, and I was unable to make a difference. I moved on after a short eight months. Personally, my mission is to enjoy time with family and friends (and my dog). It's simple. And remember that it's not about working 24/7 - it's important to have that "me" time.
Svaha: What is your favorite memory from childhood?
Donna: A memory (although not a favorite) I have from childhood is from first grade. We were being taught how to tell time. The teacher told us to "raise your hand, no matter what we are doing at 11 a.m.". At 11 I knew I was first to notice the time, but I was too shy to jump up and raise my hand - and someone else was first. From that day on, I knew I had to be more assertive if i was going to win. What's funny is that I don't have a great memory - but I remember that day (at seven years old) very well. It helped shaped me into the person I am today.
Svaha: If you could pick any song to be your theme song when you walk into a room, what would you choose and why?
Donna: Not sure what would be my theme song. However, as former coworkers and current colleagues will tell you, I am always singing (albeit not all that great). I will turn anything experience into a musical! Right now my songs of choice are from the new Broadway musical Finding Neverlan. My favorite song is BELIEVE. It's all about having an amazing imagination and believing in what you want to see versus what others may see. The musical explores the power of imagination to open up new worlds, and the pressures put upon those worlds by the inevitability of growing up. I think in anything - work or play, imagination, creativity and being your own person are all essential to success! http://findingneverlandthemusical.com/story/#music