• July 2011

Think Big!

Oprah Winfrey says: “Everyone has to learn to think differently, bigger, to open to possibilities.”

The Washington Mystics players certainly embody that belief. As one of the WNBA’s most popular basketball teams, “This is a group of elite athletes who desire to be the best,” says Trudi Lacey, who took over last year as head coach and general manager of the team. “They have given a lot to get to this level and are a tribute to what is possible when you work hard and never give up on your dreams.”

We recently had the privilege of watching Lacey in action, when the Mystics played the Connecticut Sun on June 16. Although the DC team lost 79 to 71, the crowd had a ball grinning for the SmileCam, shaking it for the DanceCam, and cheering on the impressive professional basketball players.

But it’s not all fun and games for these athletes. To make a living playing professional basketball, many of the professional athletes play year-round on teams abroad before starting their WBNA season each June. “That nonstop action really takes a toll on their bodies,” Lacey told us a week earlier in an interview in her office in the Verizon Center. See more of our discussion below, and also click on our Tips for Entrepreneurs to find leadership lessons from three of the Washington Mystics, and the team’s COO Greg Bibb, who is also the Executive VP of Business Operations for the Wizards.

Also in this issue: We also welcome four new columnists to Be Inkandescent Magazine:

  • Conflict Resolution columnist Lisa McLeod shows us ways to overcome “The Doorbell Dynamic.”
  • Executive Coach Laura Berger identifies “the troll” that is keeping you back from accomplishing your big dreams.
  • Government Relations specialist Pamela Ray identifies the key to the future of successful lobbying (go local).
  • In her debut article, “Diary of a Mad Soccer Player,” we learn about the realities of women’s sports from professional soccer player Joanna Lohman, who will be our Sports columnist.

Here’s to a great big, beautiful summer!Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent Magazine / www.inkandescentpr.com

The Washington Mystics' Head Coach Trudi Lacey Shares 5 Ways to Think Big


The head coach and general manager of the Washington Mystics women’s basketball team has no time, or patience, for small-mindedness. Here’s why she’s always thinking big—and how you can, too.

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent Magazine

Dressed in a tan pantsuit and black heels, Trudi Lacey watched intently from the sidelines on June 16, as the women of her team, the Washington Mystics, battled the players of the Connecticut Sun.

The Mystics were eager to bring home a win for the 7,000-plus fans who gathered on the hot, rainy night at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington, DC.

The Mystics had lost 89-73 to the Sun on June 4, their first loss of the season. And by the end of the first period, the Sun was ahead, 23-11.

Lacey was concerned. She knew that her team, which has suffered a handful of injuries since the season’s start, had to step up and play defense.

“First and foremost, we need to play defense,” Lacey had told the sports reporter from The Washington Times prior to the game. “I have been preaching it, and they just need to shift their mindset and play defense for the entire game.”

Despite the high scoring of 19 points by Mystics player Kelly Miller, 11 points by Matee Ajavon, 10 by Nicky Anosike, and 9 each by Crystal Langhorne and Marissa Coleman—the team didn’t find redemption.

Post-Game Report

As she does after each final buzzer, Lacey spoke eloquently to the journalists gathered in the media room after the game.

“It was another tough loss,” she admitted. “We just got off to a slow start, and although we showed a lot of heart in trying to come back, it was our defense that was the problem.

It’s a repeated pattern, and we need to change our mindset and start scoring earlier in the game so we put the other team on the defense. Our players work hard. They deserve to win. And they will.”

It’s Bigger Than the Game

While winning is critical to the success of her team, Lacey knows that there’s more happening on the court than scoring baskets.

“The Women’s National Basketball Association is filled with people who are not only amazing players, but amazing people,” says Lacey, who was named to head the Mystics on November 25, 2010. This is Lacey’s first season leading the coaching staff, and her third with the DC organization.

“They are solid citizens who care about the sport, the team, and empowering other women and girls to be the best at whatever they choose to do.”

Lacey, of course, knows this from experience. Prior to joining the Mystics three years ago, she was the head coach of Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, and spent time as the head coach and general manager of the Charlotte Sting from 2003-2006.

She also had coaching stints at the University of Maryland, the University of South Florida, Francis Marion College, Manhattan College, and James Madison University.

In fact, Lacey got her start in women’s basketball on the court. She played for the legendary coach Kay Yow at North Carolina State University, and was an All-American basketball player. Her jersey was retired by the school in 2000, and she was named to the ACC All-Legend Team.

Off the court, Lacey is President / CEO of Lacey & Co., LLC, a comprehensive executive coaching firm that specializes in strategic initiatives, performance coaching, personal development, and organizational leadership training.

One of her programs, called “It’s Bigger Than the Game,” (BT2G) is a youth-development program for ages 8-13, which combines an interactive curriculum of basketball and life-skills training to inspire authenticity and personal power.

Giving back is critical to the woman who grew up in Clifton Forge, VA, and received her bachelor’s degree in business management and master’s degree in sports management from North Carolina State University.

She serves on the board of directors for A Child’s Place, the National Kidney Foundation, the Johnston YMCA, and Mothering Across Continents, which addresses the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa.

Playing for Keeps

“Women’s basketball is one of the greatest sports because once you get hooked, you will be hooked for life,” insists Lacey, who despite her power on the court as a player and leader, has a Zen-like quality about her.

Sitting in her windowed office that overlooks the bustle of F Street at the Verizon Center, her sense of inner calm seems to ooze into the room, which is a contrast to the bright red-and-white frenzy happening in dozens of offices nearby that house the headquarters of the Mystics / Wizards support staff.

Here, the walls are taupe, the lights are dim, and throughout the room are mementos that inspire the head coach—a photograph of a ballet dancer, plaques that feature inspirational quotes, and a framed picture of Tina Turner in concert. (Lacey confides that her fantasy, despite not being able to carry a tune, is to be a backup singer for the queen of rock and roll.)

Dressed in a black sweat suit, the coach talks about her philosophy of leading top athletes to achieve their best.

She begins by pointing to the whiteboard that covers the entire wall behind her desk. On it, in black marker, she has written, “Notes to Myself.” Among them are: “Our challenges are opportunities for growth,” “Create service in an interesting, deliverable, and authentic way,” and “Stay calm! Carry on!”

“Of course, we are trying to win as often as we can,” Lacey shares. “This is a physical sport, and the goal is to overpower the opponent. But we aren’t trying to be a men’s team where they play above the rim and dunk. We use finesse.”

Plus, Lacey believes, “playing great basketball isn’t the only thing we are doing on the court.” Her mission, she says, is to inspire more fans to fall in love with the game of basketball—and the belief that with hard work, anything is possible.

“I believe in my players,” she says. “As the head of my coaching company, I believe in the children and adults that I know can accomplish the great things they dream of. This is easy to do when things are going well, but when things are tough it’s especially important. But then, that’s what a coach is here for.”

Leading From Strength

Lacey says she has learned five lessons in her career, which carry her through the wins and losses.

1. Listen. People want to be heard. It’s not that you’ll always agree with what they say, or that you’ll change your mind or plans. But take the time to listen. You very likely will learn something—about them, and about yourself.

2. Be patient and persevere. This is especially true when you are stressed. You don’t always make your best decisions when you are exhausted, frustrated, or worried. But even in these times, do your best to be centered and focused, and try not to overreact.

3. Be present. Even when you don’t want to, be in the moment and enjoy the process of learning as you pass your way from one experience to the next.”

4. Remember, life is a journey. Yes, people say this all of the time. But I can tell you from experience that it is true. The reality of life is that things aren’t always going to go well. Those who win in the end are the ones who gracefully weather the storms and hold on to their vision.”

5. Be authentic. Just be who you are, and like who you are. The world tells us to be like others, that if we model their behavior we’ll be happy and successful. But I disagree. Don’t change for anyone. The power is in finding your own way.

For more leadership lessons, read some of the Mystics players’ Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Four Ways to Unleash Your Athletic Potential

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent Magazine

It’s no mystery that making it to the highest level of women’s basketball takes determination, strength, and hard work. But exactly what does it feel like to be one of a very select few to wear a WNBA jersey? And what lessons do these leaders have for entrepreneurs?

Three of the Washington Mystics, and Mystics COO Greg Bibb, share some words of wisdom.

Crystal Langhorne, #1, Forward/Center

Now in her fourth season with the WNBA, this 24-year-old from New Jersey played college basketball at the University of Maryland. She says that her goal is not just to win.

“It’s a fantastic thing to be a professional athlete,” she says. “I have dreamt of doing this since high school. My goal is just to get out on the court and play as hard as I possibly can and outplay the other team.”

Outworking others, she insists, is the key to success.

“You can’t be afraid to be a leader,” adds Langhorne, who has spent the last several winters in Russia and Spain playing for other women’s basketball teams. “If you want something, you have to go for it. You have to be aggressive.”

Post-professional basketball, Langhorne says she’s considering becoming a sports commentator, or maybe an interior designer. “It’s a field that I have loved for years,” she shares. “When I’m finished with this career, say in my mid-30s, that business seems like a good next step.”

Kelly Miller, #2, Guard

With 11 seasons under her belt in the WNBA, Kelly Miller was the high scorer against the Connecticut Sun, with 19 points. But then Miller, who has been playing on overseas teams for eight years in between WNBA stints, says practice makes perfect.

“Playing year-round does take its toll on your body eventually,” she admits. “But to make a good living and stay at the top of your game, you just have to keep at it.”

Of course, playing for coach Trudi Lacey makes it a little easier, she adds. “I played with Trudi before, and I really like her positive attitude. She brings out the best in her players, and makes us all push that much harder so that we can achieve the best of our abilities.”

Born in Minnesota, Miller wasn’t alone in her quest for WNBA greatness. Her twin sister, Coco, played for the Mystics until 2009 when she was signed by the Atlanta Dream.

The twins went to University of Georgia, where they both majored in biology and won a series of awards, including the James E. Sullivan Award, given to the nation’s top amateur athlete. They earned that award in 1999, becoming the first pair of twins to earn the award, and joining such luminaries as track-and-field stars Carl Lewis and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, diver Greg Louganis, pro-basketball players Bill Walton and Bill Bradley, gymnast Kurt Thomas, and swimmer Janet Evans as recipients of the award.

As for what it takes to make it to the top of a competitive profession, Miller mentions hard work, dedication—and sacrifice. “Playing sports, as a kid and as an adult, takes up a lot of time, so you have to love it. But that’s what makes it so great. If there’s something you absolutely can’t live without, then it just makes sense to work as hard as possible to achieve your goals.”

Matee Ajavon, #22, Guard

Since graduating from Rutgers four years ago, Matee Ajavon, 25, has been in the WNBA. This is her third season with the Mystics, and the woman who was born in Liberia has dreamed of becoming a professional athlete since she moved to the United States in 1992.

“I couldn’t be happier,” she says, noting that the only down side to all of her success is that she’s often far from her family and that takes a toll. “I love living in DC, and exploring all that the city has to offer. I just may live here eventually. But you never know what life will bring.”

Ajavon says that her advice to others is that no matter what you choose to do with your life, always put your all into it.

“Get off the bench and go for it,” she insists. “And do come out and support the Mystics. We have a great fan base, and it gets bigger and better every year. We love our fans, and want more people to come watch us play. It’s a lot of fun, and the excitement is contagious.”

Behind the Scenes: Greg Bibb, COO of the Mystics, and executive VP of Business Operations for the Washington Wizards

Now in his fourth season at the helm of the Washington Mystics as the team’s chief operating officer, Greg Bibb’s responsibilities with the Wizards and Mystics include overseeing all business functions for the organizations, including communications, community relations, game operations, marketing, new media, and the camps/clinics program. He also oversees Verizon Center’s CCTV department, the in-house television production unit for the venue.

Under his leadership, the Mystics has experienced a tremendous amount of business growth. The team consistently ranks near the top of the WNBA in attendance through innovative programs and offers.

The Mystics has also extended its reach into the corporate community. Most recently, Bibb played a leading role in the development of the Mystics’ marquee partnership with Inova Health Systems. The relationship is the team’s most comprehensive corporate partnership to date and one of the largest team deals in WNBA history.

Two years ago, shortly after Bibb took over as COO, the DC Chamber of Commerce recognized the Mystics, naming the team the 2009 Emerging Business of the Year. The Hershey, PA, native was also recently named one of the Washington Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.

A veteran of the sports industry, Bibb spent two years as the president of Hantz Group Sports & Entertainment, where he was instrumental in launching the Detroit Ignition of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He has also served as the executive vice president and general manager of the Philadelphia KiXX soccer team. Prior to joining the KiXX, Bibb was the director of Public and Media Relations with the Major Indoor Soccer League.

He currently sits on the boards of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance as well as Most Valuable Kids, an organization dedicated to providing sports and entertainment experiences for underprivileged and underserved children. Bibb is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. He graduated magna cum laude from Marist College in 1996, and today the avid runner enjoys jogging 30 miles a week.

No stranger to thinking big, Bibb’s goals for the future of the Mystics are threefold: “I want to see the team be more successful on the court, I want to see attendance hit 10,000 fans per game, and I want to see us form more partnerships so that we can make an incredibly positive impact on the community.”

As for what it’s like to work around all those women—including Mystics co-owner Sheila Johnson—Bibb says it’s an inspiration.

“I have a little girl myself, and it’s great to watch these powerful women on the court,” he shares. “It’s great to watch the little girls look up to these athletes with awe. They really are role models. Our dream is to win a championship, and knowing what I do about these athletes, and the skill and leadership of Trudi Lacey, I predict that it won’t be long before we accomplish that.”

Check out the Mystics for yourself!

Click here to buy tickets for upcoming Mystics games.
Note: Games played in DC are listed below in bold.

Sunday, July 3 vs Seattle, 4 PM
Tuesday, July 5 at Chicago, 8 PM
Saturday, July 9 at Indiana, 7 PM
Tuesday, July 12 at Seattle, 3 PM
Friday, July 15 at Phoenix, 10 PM
Sunday, July 17 at Los Angeles, 8:30 PM
Wednesday, July 20 vs Atlanta, 11:30 AM
Tuesday, July 26 vs San Antonio, 7 PM
Thursday, July 28 at New York, 7 PM
Friday, July 29 vs Indiana, 7 PM
Saturday, August 6 vs New York, 7 PM
Tuesday, August 9 vs Atlanta, 7 PM
Friday, August 12 vs New York, 7 PM
Saturday, August 13 at Connecticut, 7 PM
Tuesday, August 16 at New York, 7 PM
Thursday, August 18 vs Minnesota, 7 PM
Saturday, August 20 vs Chicago, 7 PM
Sunday, August 21 at Indiana, 6 PM
Tuesday, August 23 vs Los Angeles, 7 PM
Friday, August 26 at Chicago, 8:30 PM
Sunday, August 28 vs Phoenix, 4 PM
Tuesday, August 30 at Minnesota, 8 PM
Thursday, September 1 vs Atlanta, 7 PM
Friday, September 2 at Atlanta, 7:30 PM
Sunday, September 4 vs Connecticut, 4 PM
Wednesday, September 7 at Indiana, 7 PM
Saturday, September 10 at San Antonio, 8 PM

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

– Audre Lorde

Anything not worth doing well is not worth doing.”

– Warren Buffett

The best hobbies are the ones that take us furthest from our primary occupation.”

– Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

A lot of people have ideas, but few decide to do something about them now. Not next week. But today.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Atari

The gem cannot be polished without friction; nor man perfected without trials.”

– Chinese proverb

You only live once. But if you do it right, once is enough.”

– Mae West

The mind is everything. What you think, you become.”

– Buddha

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”

– John Lennon

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

Almost anyone can start a community, but it takes real talent and commitment to get people to show up and keep coming back.”

– Andy Sernovitz

Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”

– Gandi

Our deepest wishes are whispers of our authentic selves. We must learn to respect them. We must learn to listen.”

– Sarah Ban Breathnach

If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

– Oprah Winfrey

He who knows he has enough is rich.”

– Tao Te Ching

Don’t wait for someone else to lead you to your right life; that privilege—and responsibility—is yours alone.”

– Martha Beck

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

– William Shakespeare

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

A diamond is a lump of coal that stuck with it.”

– Norwegian proverb

Tolerance and patience should not be read as signs of weakness. They are signs of strength.”

– The Dalai Lama

Do you believe it is important to give back some portion of your wealth to support charitable causes?”

– Steven Schussler

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

My job is my hobby. I come to work to play.”

– Uli Becker, president, Reebok International

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

– William Butler Yeats

A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.”

– Carlos Castaneda

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

– Nelson Mandela

History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future. To try to hold fast is to be swept aside.”

– John F. Kennedy

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

– Leonard Cohen

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

If it really was a no-brainer to make it on your own in business there’d be millions of no-brained, harebrained individuals quitting their day jobs.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

He who wants to tear down a house must be prepared to rebuild it.”

– African Proverb

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.”

– Aristotle

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

– Jim Butcher, White Night

Do not be afraid of mistakes, providing you do not make the same one twice.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation that indicate opportunities for success.”

– Peter F. Drucker

This is the age when magical technologies make more and more radically fun ideas plausible, even easy. You’re only limited by your creativity.”

– Martha Beck

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”

– Andrew Carnegie

The world I believed in, back in my most innocent, uninformed, childish mind—is real.”

– Martha Beck

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.”

– Lord Chesterfield

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

A man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.”

– Chinese Proverb

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

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