How does Venus Williams serve her entrepreneurial dream

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How does Venus Williams serve her entrepreneurial dream

Venus Williams sits in a conference room surrounded by brand executives and healthy snacks. The room began to become a little bit petty. People are not focused on the task at hand. “Can we continue? “Williams said softly. Most of what Williams says is soft-spoken, quiet and authoritative, and effective. Like a rubber band, the crowd redrew attention.

A meeting room may not have the photos of tennis fans Venus Williams. But this is an increasingly home environment.

It’s mid-september, and about two weeks later, Williams has lost to Sloane stephens in the U.S. open semifinals. Loss was a whirlwind, full of her growing external focus on combination of business meeting, she fall in training courses and preparations for the Asian women’s tennis tournament between the cooperation. Today is EleVen of Venus Williams, her sports and leisure company, which sells sports equipment that Williams has been playing. The company is booming, growing by 300% year after year, and hiring a boutique advertising firm, NSG/SWAT, to collect a good looking book for the spring/summer 2018 collection. This is what retail buyers and marketing companies will soon see, and Williams and her team are here to review the latest draft.

NSG/SWAT CEO Brian Riordan hits some printouts at Williams and plays some images on wall-mounted tablets. He described the changes they made to respond to previous notes from EleVen, ensuring that some necessary reshoots were highlighted. Williams is happy to be compared to these old photos, especially. She said, “those girls look healthy. “They don’t sweat, and their hair is uncluttered.” Then she collected her huge, unruly ponytail. “See?

Talk about a lot of questions about the authenticity, Williams here, she is to answer this question: real women should look like in the real work, the real work is uninterrupted. She also came to power a few days before a campaign called WWD digital BBS, and she mentioned that she went straight from the gym to the office, apologising for her team, and when she arrived, her sweaty ap back. The crowd laughed, assuming she was exaggerating. But it is not. Venus Williams’ hair was “messy” because she actually came straight to the office from her daily training, or wore her workout clothes, which she designed, of course.

Williams’ time is precious. 7-eleven’s chief operating officer of Ilana Rosen jokingly said Williams’s daily work is “part-time” tennis career, but the part-time job of tennis things need to be 6 hours training every day and world tour travel 11 months. In addition to EleVen, Williams also founded interior design company v-starr Interiors. These are not passive activities; She often works in the office, coaching style decisions, and sometimes even working in a warehouse. She and her sister, selina, were part of the Miami Dolphins, the first African-American women to have a stake in an NFL team. Sisters together opened the Yetunde price resource centre, in California Compton an outreach and social service center, where they grow up, their sister, and the center of the people with the same driving in a murder in the shooting.

Of course, the traditional way of looking at this kind of interest is that the professional athlete’s job is to consider retirement and lay the groundwork for the next stage of his career. In fact, many people expect Williams revealed in 2011 that she is to defy the glen’s syndrome, it is a chronic, incurable diseases of the immune system, tormented her joints and muscles. Instead, she returned to the Olympic Games in 2012. The 37-year-old, who has just finished a phenomenal season, returned to the top five in the rankings, taking her way to the Australian open and wimbledon, where she refused to talk about retiring. “I’m not going to stop right now,” she told me. “It seems that Tokyo 2020 is coming soon. Isn’t that wild? I’m working on it. “

After following Williams’ three business trips in Manhattan, I can see that the job is not just the ultimate retirement she won’t mention. This is something that every entrepreneur can understand: a relentless effort to build, grow, embrace and, most importantly, supervise.

“My mom is like ‘you can’t do anything, you don’t have to do everything, tennis requires a lot of energy, you need to focus, so I’m not going to tell her what I’m doing. “Williams said. But mom was right. Williams was not only an impossible task, but also a stupid task, and she began to think of it. She found that to be truly successful, she must go against the honing instinct of her life.

In other words, Williams is learning to step back. Cooperation. Delegate. Believe in the ability of others. “It’s nice to be like this,” Williams said of her tough stance on her life, competition and business. “This is me, now I am developing. Project 2.0: Venus gets life. “

Richard Williams, one of the best tennis coaches in the history of sports, is almost as legendary as his daughter. Short version: when inspiration strikes, hear reports of the French open tennis tournament in 1978, Richard hear athletes bud Collins said: “four days $forty thousand” good job, he soon made a plan – he wrote eventually fell by more than 78 pages – raise two children become a tennis champion. The children are not yet born. He really doesn’t know how to play tennis. He studied by reading magazines and watching games. But in most cases, Williams wrote in a book “to Win”, her father, his theory “self-study” (Richard himself has recorded a tennis player, called the old whisky, he drank a mouthful of wine). When he had a child for the rest of his life, he passed on his vision to them. Venus announced at the age of 12 that she would win five wimbledon. Then she did it.

Of course, tennis requires technical mastery, but as the cliche goes, it’s the same as physical fitness. Players must constantly think and not get caught up in their own minds. Let’s say your opponent is former world number one Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki is a brick wall, good at defending, and can almost run any ball from the back yard and return it to you. It forces you to continue to fight until you are frustrated or tired, and you make a mistake. Wozniacki is betting on this. So if you’re playing with her, how do you win? Are you trying to suppress her? Are you more conservative? Did you run online to shorten that? Once you’ve chosen your strategy, even if it doesn’t work, do you persist? Or give it up and try something else? You might give your team an answer in advance,

Williams’ solution was to be a ruthless attacker, on the contrary (she lost only once). Her style is based on the continuous attack, this need instant decision, commitment to choose, as well as a champion of amnesia, let her don’t affected by failure, not lax with success.

In tennis, train your mind through practice – refining, until each step is perfect, repeatable, until your mind can move at the speed of reflection. “The racket has to be like this or something like that,” Williams explained, adjusting her hand Angle at five degrees, often the difference between the ball and the net. “It’s important that every little difference, especially when you’re under stress. You have to know where your technology is, as long as you have confidence and play it. ”

The drilling mentality has shaped Williams’s view of everything. Jenny Goldstock Wright is the chief executive of the Driving Force Group, helping to spearhead the Williams sisters’ philanthropic efforts. Earlier this year, doctors discovered that a son of Wright had a tumor in his eye socket. He’s all right now. Williams learned this and sent a letter to Wright to see how the family did it. “She didn’t say, ‘oh, thank god he’s ok’ and that would be a very good response,” Wright said. “She said,” can you tell me what the name is? Wright agreed, and Williams quickly learned about the illness. “She wrote back,” did he get a comprehensive lymph node scan? Could this be a drainage problem or something else? I answered. It went on for two hours.

Williams also brought this sensitivity to her business ventures. Her decision was gut level. “I know when it’s right,” she said. “It’s all about making decisions and implementing it. I never wanted to be part of a big business. I definitely don’t want to spend too much time on something, because it gets complicated. Sometimes the right instinct is the first one, and then you have to move on. “

But, of course, drilling isn’t always helpful. Recently, Williams began taking dancing lessons. “I’m very technical,” she says. “Do you want to learn a routine?” asked the teacher. I thought, ‘no, I want to drill! I want to drill; Why don’t we drill? It’s not always useful in business. Business contains contradictions that do not involve movement. Instinct is valuable, but so is flexibility. Repetitive actions can lead to success until they become obsolete and lead to failure.

Williams is adjusting to this balance. “We used to focus on trends, and then I realized that it wasn’t as important as my vision,” she explained at one point. And after a while, at the NSG/SWAT meeting, she disapproved of highlighting a red shirt on a page – her vision attacked what was a trend. EleVen chief operating officer Rosen quickly noticed they were selling a lot of red clothes. “You may not want to listen to me,” Williams said quietly.

In “quick win,” Williams explains how her father and her mother, Oracene Price, often tell children to “think about entrepreneurship.” In the van on the way to the race, senior citizen Williams will play his daughter’s videotape about how to make money to buy foreclosed properties and learn the power of the real estate market. (now that Serena has a child, Venus can’t resist the backsliding: “Serena wants us to buy a baby shower, for the baby, I have a foreclosure!” She smiled and said, “I’m like,” this is very appropriate, “and I got the same thing who moved my cheese? I also have some baby books, but it goes like this: the tradition has to go on!

The real goal of the tapes, she wrote, was to train Venus and serena to “be an independent thinker at an early date.” Of course, he’s also training us to be financially independent. “

Independence was the basis of what Venus Williams did. Ultimately, she made the most important decision in the history of EleVen: bring it back from the dead. The brand first started in 2007, in collaboration with clothing chain Steve&Barry. “Working with Steve and Barry’s designer team, Williams has been immersed in every piece of work,” the retailer announced at the time. But Steve and Barry declared bankruptcy a year later. In the next four years, EleVen will occasionally reappear, working with brands like Ralph Lauren, but Williams is quietly building a more purposeful brand. She learned the lesson of many small businesses: when you place yourself in a larger entity, you can’t control your own destiny.

“I want the brand to be the brand I want,” she said. “I have a certain vision of things and how much I want them to go. I want to control the look and feel of the brand and what it says. I want to control the distribution points. I want to control the future of EleVen, not just one distributor or payment licensing agreement. “In 2012, she pushed her brand back to manufacturing partners. The capital V in the name is obvious, but why is it 11? “Ten is just a number,” rosen explains.

But Williams will soon find that the founders’ vision is not always synonymous with a dedicated brand. Enthusiastic entrepreneurs tend to say yes to the ideas they like, even if they should say, “good idea, but not for us”. Williams will not include those early specific errors in the catalog, but suffice to say that the brand’s focus has been lost. So in 2015, she turned to her current chief operating officer, Ilana Rosen, as an adviser. “When I first met her, we talked about how she really wanted the brand,” rosen said. “What is that, what is the mission, and what is the ultimate goal?”

As the goals are established, rosen can build a system to implement them. “A lot of people have EleVen places in different places,” rosen said. “The first thing to do is build a meaningful organizational structure that focuses on what’s going on in south Florida. Publicity, marketing, design, concept – all of this. The only thing we don’t do is make clothes and sell them, but we’re in charge of supervision in Los Angeles. “Now, with operations so concentrated, EleVen has an office in the v-starr, another of Williams’ companies, and opens a warehouse at EleVen. “If we don’t have enough inventory and say we have only eight units, we can walk two feet into the warehouse and look at the physical box.”

This allows EleVen to take advantage of the booming sports and leisure market. “We expect to more than double this year, and then eventually,” rosen said. In addition to three times last year’s earnings, she says, her own e-commerce business has grown 700% since 2015. However, EleVen still don’t forget to repeat past mistakes: not all growth is healthy. If there is a chance to show up, but not fit, “we won’t force it, against this strategy.” For example, she offers Zappos. E-retailers wanted to carry EleVen clothes, but Williams and rosen didn’t have a chance to jump ship at first. “They have a huge compliance manual – the stickers have to be, you have to do, the tags must be on the box,” Zappos said. “If you don’t get it right, you’re done. They didn’t come back. “So they went through it carefully and really determined whether the partnership would work, and then said yes.

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