Listen — try to actively identify an issue by hearing what is important to others. We were producing action sports events for several years where women were primarily on the periphery. We spoke to many female athletes about their frustrations around having little to no voice or respect.
Aspart of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Rick Bratman, CEO of ASA Entertainment Group and creator of the Super Girl Pro Series. Founded in 1994, ASA Entertainment is an action sports and esports event, television and content production agency focused on creating and executing customized, turn-key marketing programs that range in scale from grassroots to global. Each of the Super Girl Pro Series events are part of festivals centered around providing athletic, social, cultural, educational, and entertainment opportunities for young women.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I’m originally from Philadelphia, but I’ve spent the last 25 years living by the beach in Central Florida and Southern California. I grew up hoping to become part of the media, but landed in the sports marketing industry out of college and never looked back. I’m now the proud father of two amazing kids who are constantly reminded of their “Philly blood”. After an eight-year stint managing athletes in the NBA, NFL and pro tennis, I have been running ASA Entertainment for the past two decades.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I’m not sure there was any one book that provided a singular “a-ha” moment, but I’ve always been inspired by reading about great leaders from the past. I took a particular interest in Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Golda Meir and FDR. Not only were their words brilliantly conceived, but they also lead lives of great deeds and accomplishments that positively affected generations beyond them.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
I learned from my mom at an early age that “sometimes what one person says is not what another person hears”. Abiding by that universal truth has led me to be more open-minded and understanding of the fact that are always two sides to every situation.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
There are so many facets to leadership that it’s hard to define within one act. To me, leadership is about setting examples, knowing how to deal with all different types of individuals, being an honest and transparent communicator, and providing both hope and vision. Right now, given the trying circumstances so many are facing, leadership is being put to the ultimate test. My role is to be a “practical optimist” and an innovator so that the individuals and organizations associated with ASA are able to achieve a vibrant future through selective pivoting.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
The most important element for me to relieve stress is through preparation. Whether it’s attending a high-stakes meeting or running a high-profile event, if you go into the situation well-prepared and full of ideas, all the nerves melt away. Diligence leads to being properly educated, knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence leads to success.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
People simply reached a tipping point based on years of inactivity, frustration and outright anger. My belief is that the COVID situation afforded people more of an opportunity for clarity. There is so much less “noise” in people’s daily lives that it allowed them the time to truly think about where we are as a nation and take tangible action. Most people knew in their hearts and minds that these egregious problems of inequality existed. However, the COVID slowdown granted them the bandwidth to really absorb the issues, listen more intently and become active participants in demanding change.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
We created the Super Girl Series 15 years ago to provide opportunity, inclusion and equality for women in areas of sports, entertainment, popular culture, media, business and education where women are dramatically underrepresented. It all started when we approached a number of top brands in the action sports industry in 2005 about the idea of creating an all-women’s surf, skate and snow series. We kept hearing things like “no one wants to watch women surf or skate”, “men sell all the product”, “you’re wasting your money” and “put your funds into men’s sports that will actually help the industry grow”. It became painfully obvious that women were perceived as second-class citizens in our own industry, and that strengthened our resolve about the importance of this Super Girl concept. We launched with surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding as the original building blocks, but the Super Girl Series has grown exponentially through the years to where it also now includes music, dance, art, fitness, yoga, DJ’s, speakers, content creators, fashion, beauty, volleyball, soccer, health & wellness, nutrition and esports. Now, there are four annual Super Girl events with over 200,000 attendees, 170 hours of TV coverage and 250 hours of live webcasting — all designed to inspire and empower women in a safe and supportive environment. Each year we try to add one area of popular culture to the Super Girl platform where women do not receive the same opportunities as men. Esports is, unfortunately, the poster-child for an industry with almost unfathomable inequities between men and women. Helping to change the culture of gaming to provide voice, recognition and acceptance for women is an exceptionally important initiative for ASA and the Super Girl Series in moving forward.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
It’s pretty simple…..the percentage of people in any given demographic group should be mirrored by the opportunities they are provided. Since our events, content and media serve the general population, it’s critical for us to have a diversity of thought and ideas that can only come from having a well-rounded team with different perspectives. Esports is an example of an industry that suffers from not fostering a culture of inclusion and diversity. Women make up 47% of all gamers, yet they only receive .05% of the professional tournament slots. Creating equality for female gamers is not only the RIGHT thing to do, but it also makes great business sense for the industry.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
These five steps are simultaneously simple and incredibly challenging given how time-constrained and self-absorbed so many people are with their own unique problems. I’ve illustrated examples of these steps below is red through the lens of our experiences with the Super Girl Series and the challenges women face in so many fields.
- Listen — try to actively identify an issue by hearing what is important to others. We were producing action sports events for several years where women were primarily on the periphery. We spoke to many female athletes about their frustrations around having little to no voice or respect.
- Think — understand the circumstances and determine how you can help make a difference. Our platforms were events and content creation, so we wrestled with how we could use those assets to make a difference.
- Plan — devise a plan of action to institute change. We developed the idea behind the Super Girl Pro Series as a platform for the women in action sports and decided to commit both time and resources to the project.
- Motivate — inspire others to support your vision as nobody can make significant change on their own. We spoke with hundreds of top athletes, brands, media partners and venues about the idea and created a network of key partners to help us bring the whole Super Girl Pro Series concept to life.
- Act — be bold and take action. It took several years and considerable financial resources to actually execute the plan, but we committed to the venture (despite the high risks) because we knew it was incredibly important to lead by example.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
Change often feels negligible, but we recognize the importance of climbing the ladder one run at a time. We have watched the world evolve quite a bit around women’s opportunities and voice during the 15 years of the Super Girl Series. Although we still have a lot of work ahead of us, I am highly optimistic about getting to a place where the terms “inclusion” and “diversity” become functionally obsolete because the process of equality is simply a part of every-day life.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
This may be the hardest of your questions ☺ It’s probably a toss-up between Serena Williams, Paul McCartney and Emma Watson. Serena because her story is so unique and she has had to overcome so many systemic obstacles for success. I’ve always wanted to pick her brain and hear about her journey in an unfiltered manner. McCartney — just to be absorb some of his genius and simply listen to the chronicles of his life. I have 1,000 questions for him and could listen to him for days. Emma Watson is someone I really admire. At a very young age, she chose to use her platform for change and took meaningful action when most people in Hollywood look more for photo ops. Plus, we went to the same college so it would be fun to reminisce……
How can our readers follow you online?
URL — Supergirlgamerpro.com
Facebook — @supergirlpro
Twitter — @SGgamerpro