My 2016 season can be summed up in the following description: I traveled to cool places, raced, won, got injured, shared my story, made new connections, adventured, trained, fell down A LOT, got back up, struggled to juggle everything, put on an event, ran out of time, got sick, had a comeback, got creative, built fresh partnerships, got tired and jaded, questioned myself and I remerged with new energy.
What does it mean to advocate for oneself? This is the question that has lead me on my journey down the rabbit hole.
In 2016, I embarked on a new exciting adventure to see if I could piece together my own program of support and continue my career as a full-time professional cyclist; This means, surviving financially and still being able to perform athletically at the highest level.
Previously, I had the support of several incredible cycling teams that fostered my skills and taught me about the cycling industry and the meaning of being a top athlete.
For a lot of reasons, I chose to walk away from the team structure and launch myself down the path of building my own brand.
My favorite part of this process has been developing relationships. The slowest part, if done right and sincerely, without haste, is developing relationships…
Fortunately, I did not start from scratch in 2016. I already had past credibility and connections in my sport. However, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. My solo path has been the ultimate risk taking experience.
The term “Brand building” is a catchy, iconic, buzz phrase these days but it is very relevant in professional athletics.
In my position, advocating and brand-building means promoting, marketing, and selling me. I am not defined only by my performance and ability as an athlete. I’m selling my personality, my work ethic, my relatability, my appearance, my connections, my messaging and philosophies, my values, my failures and successes, my ability to speak, lead, write, teach, train, coach, share, be photographed, create content, write proposals, provide feedback, promote, inspire, be interesting, be articulate and insightful, be professional, be available and vulnerable but also exclusive and fearless and WIN.
These expectations apply to a lot of people and It’s an incredible amount of pressure and a difficult and rewarding journey.
So, was my 2016 season a success?…