Anna Nickel has a lot of respect for coaches.
She’s had impactful coaches throughout her two-decade career as a softball player. And now, as a coach herself, she understands the vocation inherent in the discipline—and how that purpose and drive is found at every level, from paid and professional to volunteer and casual.
“I’ve been coached by so many people in my life. I am where I am because of the people that have done that for me,” says the Softball Market Manager at youth sports platform GameChanger. “Now, to be one of those people who supports coaches, it’s pretty phenomenal.”
One of her favorite parts about coaching and being coached is how outcomes-focused it is, says Anna.
Anna’s worked to embrace that in her own career, especially as she’s worked hard to marry her passion for sports with a meaningful and satisfying career in tech. As a woman, she’s a minority in both areas and knows what it’s like to not see a path forward.
So now, she’s also working to extend that help and coaching to other women who want to succeed in her field.
We sat down with Anna to hear more about how she got to GameChanger, and about what she hopes her field—softball and professional—looks like in the future.
From the League to the Office
Anna grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where she spent the majority of her time outside doing something athletic.
“It doesn’t matter what I’m doing; I’m always competing,” says the lifelong softball player, who played in college and professionally (before being injured), and has coached internationally and privately. She’s now an assistant coach at a local college.
Her athletic passion first sparked her career goals. Anna grew up near the Nike headquarters in Oregon, and says she came to see it as a “mega marketing empire of coolness.” She dreamt of being part of the team that brought new products to market, that set trends, and that won—and kept—consumers’ attention via world-class storytelling.
Anna studied business in college and worked in her school’s sports marketing department. But with her now-husband back on the west coast, she declined a role in collegiate athletics marketing and found a job as a sales and marketing coordinator at a sports company.
A few transitions later, she was working in community marketing at Dick’s Sporting Goods, doing work she found inherently meaningful.
“At a high level, what are we marketing? Sports. Experiences that bring people together. What a great place to work. I just love working for a company that provides you with [things] you’re going to go make memories with,” says Anna, smiling widely.
But four years in, she was ready for a new challenge. Dick’s had acquired GameChanger, a game livestreaming and scoring platform used by 500,000 youth sports teams across the country, when Anna first joined, and she’d been hoping for a chance to work at the tech company for years.
In late 2021, a position for a softball ambassador opened up, and Anna was approached.
“[The hiring manager] said, ‘You’d be in charge of supporting the softball community for GameChanger. Getting the word out on new features, building relationships, doing some grassroots marketing.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, sign me up!,’” remembers Anna.
Now, Anna’s even happier in her role, serving as the link between a tech product she believes in and a community and a sport that she loves. “Having a lot of passion for something and getting to apply it has been really cool,” she says. “I’m floored by how many people at GameChanger love their job, love our mission, who truly believe that what we do is making things easier for coaches and therefore helps support them.”
4 Tips for a More Equal Playing Field
Anna considers herself lucky to have found a role in sports and tech that she loves, but she recognizes that not many other people like her find their place in her field.
“The amount of women in sports, it’s not very big. And then take the intersection of women in sports and tech, and that’s a whole other thing,” she says. “To be part of a company that values and respects my opinion, and wants me to challenge myself, I feel so fulfilled as a coach and a lover of sport.
She wants other women to have that same opportunity.
“As we grow, I’m making sure I’m turning around and saying, ‘Let’s get this woman in sport into this world, and leverage her expertise,’” she says.
Anna has several pieces of advice for other women looking to break into fields where they may be few and far between, including:
- “Take a lot of initiative. If you see a problem, go and tackle it. And if it's awful, you learn from it. If it's great, it benefits the team. So you're gonna learn a lot faster, not waiting for someone to give you the okay,” she says.
- Reach out for help and you’ll get it. “You can’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ or ‘I’m feeling stuck’ or ‘I feel a bit hopeless in this situation,’” she says. Going to books and podcasts for perspective and help is a great first step, but don’t be afraid to ask people in your network for a hand.
- “You don’t have to keep trying to go forward. When you hit that roadblock, recognize that there’s a right and a left and a backwards out of it. Don't be afraid to find a new path.”
- If you have to choose between a place you feel like you belong and a place that’s aligned with your career passion, optimize for belonging. “When you feel you belong somewhere, you can show up and do things not out of fear, but out of faith. You have to feel safe to make mistakes,” she says.
May she be the first of many, is the gist of Anna’s approach to leading by example.
“For me, success on the career side looks like helping as many women as I can get introduced to this world and recognize that it’s somewhere they belong,” she says.
“Knowing that their expertise and their love of the game is not wasted. It’s not like they have to hang up their cleats and be done forever. They can hang up their cleats, pick up an iPad, and say, ‘Hey, let’s go to work, and build better softball and baseball products.’”
💎Want to implement change in your team or organization? Watch the video to the end to do it successfully.
📼 To implement change you need to follow certain steps. Play this video to get three top tips on how to do it the best possible way. You'll hear from Kyle Lisboa, Support Operations Manager at Esri, who shares her experience with you!
📼Why implement change? Tip #1: Identify the reason. Think about the business reason for the change. If you understand why change is needed, it helps you explain it to others. Avoid making change for change's sake and implement solutions that solve problems.
📼Plan to implement change! Tip #2: Develop a plan. Create a detailed plan to help implement the change. If you create steps and timelines, this will guide the process. It also helps others understand how you are progressing towards the implementation and what the next steps are.
To Implement Change You Need Others - Tip #3: Seek Feedback
Gather feedback from those affected before, during, and after any changes are implemented. Allowing others to provide their feedback helps to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels part of the solution.
📨 Are you interested in joining Esri? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Kyle Lisboa
Kyle is an experienced Strategic Operations Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. She’s skilled in Arcgis Products, Databases, Management, Geography, and Cartography. If you are interested in a career at Esri, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Esri
At Esri, they build cutting-edge geographic information system (GIS) technology that customers use to solve the world’s most complex challenges: slowing climate change, stamping out disease, designing a better city, fighting crime, and much more. Their ArcGIS software is helping communities around the globe respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by monitoring the surge, managing testing sites, aiding essential workers in finding childcare, mapping food and essentials, and keeping residents informed and safe.
Nearly 80% of workers want to work for a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, per a CNBC survey.
But how do prospective employees — and, for that matter, current ones — know whether an organization takes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) seriously?
Metrics can help.
What are DEI metrics?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging metrics are measurements of how a company is doing against its stated DEIB goals. They help track progress, light up problems, synthesize momentum over time, prioritize investment, and allow a company and its employees to have accountability over DEIB intentions.
How can DEI metrics help my overall DEI strategy?
Creating a DEIB strategy is the first step in making your workplace more equitable. But having DEI metrics is a vital second step in ensuring that progress happens.
DEI metrics help a company actualize their strategy, live out their values, meet employee expectations, and make the workplace more fair for all employees.
10 examples of DEI metrics
1. Hiring: the diversity of your candidate pipeline.
How diverse is your applicant pool? Have your candidates self-identify and track what representation looks like in your candidate system.
2. Representation: the demographics of your current employees.
Many companies put pressure on their new hires to make up for gaps in their existing employee population — so make sure you’re benchmarking against data on what your current workforce is made up of.
3. Representation: the demographics of your leadership team.
People need to see that there is a path for success for people who look like them at your organization. What does the makeup of your board look like? Your directors? Your managers? And what does the promotion pipeline look like into those roles?
4. Representation: the demographics of your suppliers.
The money that you spend can significantly impact communities around you — so you should be measuring whether you’re doing that in a way that challenges bias and champions equitable treatment.
5. HR systems: pay equity.
Do all employees, regardless of gender or race, make the same amount of money if they’re doing the same job? If not, what’s your gender / race pay gap and how quickly are you closing it?
6. Employee experience: HR issues.
It’s important to track wins when it comes to DEIB, but it’s also vital to track times when your organization falls short. How many HR / People issues related to DEIB, including allegations of unfair treatment or bias, has your organization dealt with in the past year? What was the result of them? How quickly did issues get resolved? These metrics are key to know.
7. Employee experience: satisfaction with DEI progress.
When you send out employee satisfaction surveys, make sure you include questions on how employees perceive your current progress on DEI goals. They’re the ones most impacted by your strategy — and their opinion matters.
8. Employee engagement: participation in communication platforms.
How often do employees participate in Slack? What about by-channel participation? Looking at data on who talks to who and when can help highlight issues with inclusion or culture. Some companies are using AI-enabled text analysis tools to look for signs of frustration or for problematic language.
9. Employee participation: ERG membership.
Employee resource groups can be hugely helpful in creating community around different identities, interests, and demographics. They can also provide guidance on how to actualize your organization’s DEIB goals. (Which is part of the reason you should pay ERG leaders for their efforts, but that’s a topic for a different blog.)
10. Brand reputation: customer perception.
We’ve talked about key groups for whom DEIB metrics matter — prospective employees, current employees, leadership — but they matter to your customers, too. Whether you add a DEIB component to your existing NPS process, conduct 1:1 customer interviews, or get feedback some other way, it’s important to see whether your customer base is seeing progress on your DEIB goals, too.
Have you ever been so exhausted that you quit your job?
You may have been experiencing burnout.
Burnout is characterized by overwhelming exhaustion, detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.
And while anyone can experience burnout, if you have ADHD, you may be more susceptible to it.
Before you get to the point where quitting feels like your only option, there are steps you can take to set healthy boundaries and start feeling more like yourself again. Read on to learn how you can recognize burnout in yourself, and what to do if you’re experiencing it!
How Does ADHD Burnout Feel?
There are some clear signs that you’re burning out, but ADHD can make the descent to burnout harder to detect. These warning signs include:
- Lack of motivation - not wanting to do the things you need to do or the things you love.
- Exhaustion - feeling overly tired both mentally and physically.
- Irritability and mental fatigue - feeling short-tempered, mean, or like you snap easily.
- Physical discomfort - body aches, low energy levels, and general pain.
- Negative outlook - the tendency to find something wrong with nearly everything.
- Emotional dysregulation - feeling weepy, sad, or unable to smile or connect with others.
Generally, burnout starts with taking on too much. Exhaustion creeps in, and you feel like every day is working against you because you are constantly overwhelmed. You may start to feel like the entire world is spinning out of control, or like no matter what you do you can’t keep up (or catch up).
If this resonates with you, you might be on the road to ADHD burnout.
Why People with ADHD Can Be More Susceptible to Burnout
So why does ADHD make some folks more susceptible to burnout? There are a few common ADHD traits that often result in behaviors correlated with burnout (taking on too much, working too long, etc.):
- Hyperfocus - ADHD is not exclusively about attention deficits. In fact, hyperfocus is the opposite – a deep, intense concentration to the point of being oblivious to your surroundings. Per WebMD, hyperfocus is a state of highly-focused attention that lasts for an extended period of time. You concentrate on something so hard that you lose track of everything else going on around you. When hyperfocus sets in at work, it can be hard to unplug or be aware of the people and environment around you.
- Time Tracking - Losing track of time is one thing, but if you find yourself losing track of hours without realizing it, that could be related to burnout. People with ADHD perceive time not as a sequence of events the way others usually do, but as a diffuse collection of events viscerally connected to the people, activities, and emotions that fill them.
- Difficulty Prioritizing - Do you take on too much and then struggle to prioritize it? When someone asks for help, does everything often go to the wayside so you can jump in? Or maybe the daunting anticipation of the tasks ahead prevents you from starting. Per ADDitude, ADHD impacts your temporal processing abilities, which can affect executive functioning.
Combating ADHD Burnout
If you think you may be suffering from ADHD burnout, there are a few ways to take back control. Here are three tips for combating ADHD burnout:
Reserve Your Yeses - Pump the brakes when you recognize the early signs of ADHD burnout. Start reserving your yeses right away. Say no, and practice not apologizing. It is okay to say, "I have a lot on my plate right now and cannot take that on. Thanks for thinking of me." Saying no is nothing to apologize for, and it should be celebrated! You are working to protect your energy above all else.
Practice Over-Estimating - If you think you could knock something out in a day, give yourself a week. Overestimate on time and allow yourself the grace to have a little more time than usual to complete projects. Slowing down when starting a new job or role will help you produce high-quality work and prevent ADHD burnout.
Drop the Mask - Be honest with your employer and friends. Let them know that although you seem to keep up internally, you struggle. Identifying ADHD burnout from the outside can be extremely difficult. Your honesty and transparency will position you to determine if your environment is supportive and inclusive.
How to Support Colleagues Dealing with ADHD Burnout
The experiences above may not resonate with you personally, but perhaps you’ve noticed other people you work with describe or experience them.
If you’re a manager, there are several ways you can support colleagues with ADHD (as well as neurodivergent employees more generally) to help prevent burnout. Ask for clarity on when they have felt the most supported at work. Discovery questions like, “how did you feel at that time?” or “how was the pace of that project?” can help you to understand their actual capacity.Download this free guide if you’re looking for more ways to support your neurodivergent coworkers. Work with your DEIB and HR team to develop new neurodivergent inclusivity standards to help you stay ahead of the ADHD burnout cycle.
💎Worried about bias in the workplace? Watch the video to the end to find out how to reduce it!
📼Avoiding bias in the workplace requires a lot of effort. Play this video to get three top tips that will help you. You'll hear from Ben Lopez, Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA at Workiva, who shares advice on how to create a more fair, equitable environment where everyone feels welcome and has a seat at the table.
📼Acknowledging bias in the workplace is the starting point. Tip #1: Recognize Bias. Take the time to recognize your own bias. Both conscious and unconscious. And look out for bias within teams and among peers. Work together to understand how you can all avoid each of those biases that you may encounter.
📼Avoid sneaky bias in the workplace! Tip #2: Rely on a structured process. Whether it's about interviewing, promotions, or performance reviews, relying on a consistent, fair, and objective process will help guard against bias. Document the process to keep both you and your peers accountable. And when it comes to interviewing, work with your peers and other participants to define clear questions and objectives to cover with each candidate.
Reduce Bias In The Workplace By Knowing Different People - Tip #3: Widen Your Network
Don't always engage with the same people. Widen your internal network, and interact with different teams, and different departments. Get to know those with different life experiences, different academic backgrounds, and different work experiences. Understanding those who are different from us allows us to be more empathetic and create an environment where we all feel a sense of belonging.
📨 Are you interested in joining Workiva? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Ben Lopez
With a robust background in recruitment, Ben is an agile and well-networked talent acquisition leader. He’s been recruiting high-caliber talent around the globe for 15 years, spanning SaaS software, professional services, oil & gas, and healthcare across four continents. If you are interested in a career at Workiva, you can connect with Ben Lopez on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to mention this video!
More About Workiva
Workiva was founded to transform the way people manage and report business data with various collaborators, data sources, documents, and spreadsheets. Today, people all over the world use their platform to seamlessly orchestrate data among their systems and applications for transparent and trusted connected reporting and compliance. At Workiva, they are innovative in everything they do—from how they build their software, to how they serve their customers, to how they treat their employees.