We are very excited to publish our first featured article of the Chalk Talk column. Every Monday morning, to help ease your commute and set your mind for the week, we will be releasing a thought-provoking read. Chalk Talk will take a look through the social lens of the intersections of athletics and life. Enjoy it!
Reflection is a vital element in growth. Whether it be personal growth, team growth or the growth of a company. At What’s Next we just finished up launching our 12th episode which seems like the perfect place to take a step back and reflect. Since our first episode in July with Vianna we’ve had the foot on the gas pedal and have yet to let up. As we learn with each and every experience, we truly hope that you are learning too.
Learning is a weird thing, and I’m an educator, they literally pay me to make sure kids learn skills so they can survive in life. I should have this figured out, but I don’t know if that is totally possible. Sure, you can be taught a very specific and tangible skill and then go out and execute it. As athletes that is our livelihood, we thrive in those environments. It is natural cause and effect, preparation - action - outcome - adjustment. The learning potentials from what we are trying to accomplish at What’s Next are more abstract, they aren’t totally quantifiable, but the cool thing is the learning is essentially infinite.
We’ve had 12 different guests on so far. They have 12 very different stories and 1 underlying commonality. I’ll relate this back to books or movies in that I think we find ourselves learning the most when we can identify a part of ourselves in a character from a story. You’ve now heard from multiple characters with their own personal and unique narratives. The great thing about what we are doing here is that we can all identify on at least one primary level; we experienced life as a student-athlete. Beyond that you listen and you learn.
One of our goals is to be able to diversify our episodes so that we can get as many opportunities for everyone to relate to and connect to an interview. We’ve had division 1 athletes on, national champions, division 3 athletes, various sports, hometowns from all over the country, universities that are well known and that are lesser known, professionals in services fields, in corporate America and entrepreneurs. All of this allows everyone to find a connection, a relatable piece that leaves you with an “aha moment”. The “aha moment” might spark you to reach out to one of our interviewees or to go meet with someone about changing your major. It might prompt you to pick up the phone and call a contact in that field. It might trigger a Google search that snowballs into a 2am self-exploration. All these things are exactly why we started What’s Next. They are all so valuable.
In my reflection of our first 12 episodes there was a handful of themes that emerged. A few hot ones surround the idea of utilizing mentors, taking risks, trusting your preparedness as an athlete, investing in yourself and finding a work-life balance. I find value in all of these takeaways because they were all expressed in the context of someone’s personal story. I think applying the value is the challenging part for all of us. The beauty of that is that it is flexible. What a career risk is for me is very different from what might be a risk to a listener who is a junior soccer player at Lynn University. Part of dissecting these take-aways is trying to pinpoint the tactical step-by-step of how this person was able to take a risk or negotiate a raise or take out a loan or utilize their mentors. I’d argue that it might be a lost cause to put that kind of pressure on yourself, but it seems natural when our athlete instincts and habits kick in. What I’ve learned from listening to and preparing to be a part of our first 10 interviews is that you have to be willing have a plan, a pretty thorough one at that, it will make you feel prepared, I promise, but also you have to be equally willing to abort the plan at any given moment.
I wanted to summarize our first 12 episodes in the most relevant, concise, 1 sentence way that I possibly could because taking away 1 thing I think is important and trying to digest everything is impossible and overwhelming. These were just my own personal take aways. What is cool is that I’ve gone back and listened to an episode over and had a different take away. I think that is the beauty of hearing someone's’ story, you hear it slightly differently every time. I hope you all took something away from any of our episodes and stay tuned for some more great episodes!
The 12 Episode Round Up
Episode 1 Vianna McGugan - It’s never too late to do what you were destined to do.
Episode 2 Aj Adamczyk- You can make a career out of the worst time in your life.
Episode 3 Kevin Tarca- If you really want something, go get it.
Episode 4 Haley Jones - Start somewhere or you’ll never start.
Episode 5 Wyatt Melzer- Quirky self-experiments are like personal reset buttons.
Episode 6 Kevin Cope - It’s okay to have done everything right and not have it all figured out yet.
Episode 7 Miniard Culpepper- Treat your job like your sport and you’ll find success
Episode 8 Matt Pegler - Working with the chip on your shoulder
Episode 9 Alex Bubnov- Trust yourself enough to take a risk
Episode 10 Adam Greenberg- Life is never over after sport
Episode 11 Heather Bennett- Pressure is what you make of it
Episode 12 Alex Tuccio- You have to make tough choices to get ahead
Chalk Talk is a weekly What's Next column written by Anthony Cinelli, one of our founders. It will be published every Monday morning. Anthony is currently a mental health counselor and baseball coach in New Jersey.