CEO Corner With Trey Athletes' Rebecca Feickert: Why Inspiration Produces Greater Results Than Fear


CEO & Co-Founder, Trey Athletes

University of Kansas ‘08 | Women’s Basketball

Greatest Piece of Advice You’ve Been Given: My family has always encouraged me to "go for it," regardless of what "it" was. Leaving my town of 80 people to play basketball at Kansas. Moving to New York to become a CPA, without knowing a soul. Switching career paths to move to Switzerland, and later, Bolivia. Completely changing course to earn my MBA from Harvard and co-found Trey Athletes. And many more smaller dreams and calculated risks. No one wants to see people they love struggle, which is why the "go for it" attitude they’ve consistently had creates a special kind of freedom: the freedom to try.

Failure You’ve Learned The Most From: I once received feedback that I was too direct and impatient. In my mind, I was just continuing the competitive, results-oriented approach I was used to. I realized that my approach was not always appropriate or productive in a workplace, so I started observing the supervisors, and saw how they were able to hold others accountable while still keeping them motivated and excited about their work. It taught me that inspiration often produces greater results than fear. Inspiration is much harder to do, which is why I think so many people (in sports, business, and otherwise) default to using fear.

Biggest Lesson From Sports That Informs The Way She Leads Trey Athletes: Leaders come from all roles and personality types. Prior to college, I always assumed that the star performer was the de facto leader. I've since learned there is no singular type of leader; instead, there are many different leadership styles, each with their own pros and cons. A leader serves others by investing in them and bringing them together in pursuit of a bigger goal. If no one is willing to follow you, because they don’t trust and respect you or believe in your vision, then you might be a star, but you aren’t a leader.

Advice to Athletes About to Graduate:

  1. Make thoughtful and engaged decisions. With so much going on between school and sport, don’t become a passive actor in your own life. Take control of the things you are learning, the experiences you are getting, the people you are meeting, and the goals you are setting. Every month, you should reflect on what happened, how you felt, and how it impacts the next month of your life. It could be a word document, a video recording, a poem, or whatever works for you, but you need to zoom out regularly to keep yourself on the right path.

  2. Broaden your network. Seek out non-athlete friends. The fact they are having a fundamentally different college experience is a good thing; it means you have a lot to teach one another. Find the commonalities in your experience,  learn how they spend their free time, how they view college, and how they are preparing for careers. This will broaden your perspective on what is normal, and provide you with a diverse group of friends for the rest of your life.

  3. Practice transitioning your skills. Yes, you are crazy busy. That doesn’t mean you can’t stop by career services for help building a skills-based resume or to participate in a mock interview. Building skills in sport doesn’t mean you can communicate them to someone else or apply them in the real world. A crucial part of this is to get traditional work experience. You may train year-round and can’t do a standard 8-10 week internship, but that’s not an excuse. That week off between post-season and the start of off-season conditioning? Set up a 3-day job shadow. Your favorite people in the athletic department? Ask if you can help out around the office one afternoon a week. The boosters who come to team events? Form genuine relationships with them by sharing your story and asking them about theirs. There are people around every corner who can help you transition your skills, and it’s up to you to seek them out.