…It is a myth that one day you wake up and have all of the answers for every situation. I do have responses to every situation, but I think you need to be able to pivot and break new ground to play long ball. There are some core concepts about human behavior that you can always tap into for marketing: creating a value proposition, making sales as frictionless as possible, knowing your audience…but to be a game-changer and survive long-term you need the guts to try new things and then be bold enough to learn from the results. I’ve always been good at spotting trends, but unfortunately, I sometimes spot them so early on that no one else ‘sees it’ (yet). I trust my instincts, and I encourage others to do the same. They are rarely wrong.
Kim Hurwitz is the Chief Marketing Officer at FITE — she is responsible for leading the global marketing efforts for the growing sports streaming platform. Prior to her role at FITE, Hurwitz was the CMO at Karate Combat, having played an integral role in growing the full contact karate league. She has also served as an entertainment executive at companies including DIRECTV, FOTV Media Networks, The Tube Music Network and TCI.
Thank you so much for joining us Kim! Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path in Combat Sports?
My first exposure to seeing a fight was boxing. It was the Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler fight, which turned out to be an iconic event for the boxing community. I had never been interested in fighting, but after watching this, I was so impressed with the drama of the event that it made me view combat sports in a different light. Something appealed to me about the beauty of it all, it was like art. Both of the fighters were so good at what they did — and it was equally a mental and physical contest — I understood why boxing was referred to as ‘the sweet science.’
From then on, I was a fight fan, and my career led me to work in both cable and Pay Per View. Because most of the money in Pay Per Views are from sporting events, I was able to get closer to and learn more about combat sports. It was an exciting time to work in TV, and more particularly, in combat sports — I was working in the industry when the UFC started and having been exposed to such momentous occasions I fell even more in love with sports.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I remember an industry event I attended early on. I was dressed up in my nice ‘business attire,’ always the most stressful thing for a woman in business, the outfit/heels/hair/makeup. I looked very nice and was feeling confident. I went to pour some coffee into a cup and the lid was not all the way on and____ it poured all over my dress. Did I mention I was wearing, white? Well, people were all around me and I just froze as everyone turned around and I burst out laughing. Everybody else laughed too, but in a fun way, not a mean way, as they saw I was quite enjoying my predicament. Every person around me reached out for napkins and cloths to help out. I learned that if you can laugh at yourself, you put others at ease and they laugh too. I certainly made an impression and got lots of business cards that day. Also, I learned to never wear all-white outfits if I’m planning to drink coffee.
What is it about the position of CMO that most attracted you to it?
I’ve had a unique career thus far — I’ve done everything from sales and engineering to working as an EMT to being a singer. I’m interested in a lot of different things and marketing really fed my passions. Marketing is a combination of entertainment, promotions and creativity. It’s similar to sales but on a much grander stage — Marketing professionals wear many hats, which makes it fun, and that’s what most attracted me to the position of CMO at FITE.
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being CMO?
The creativity and evangelism aspect is something I love about being CMO. I’ve always considered myself to be a leader (I’m the first born in my family, after all) and in a startup, even as CMO, you wear many different hats — you’re a secretary as well as executive. I also like that when it comes to a startup, like FITE, everyone is in the marketing department in a way and the team learns to work and thrive together.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CMO or can you explain what you mean?
That one day you wake up and have all of the answers for every situation. I do have responses to every situation, but I think you need to be able to pivot and break new ground to play long ball. There are some core concepts about human behavior that you can always tap into for marketing: creating a value proposition, making sales as frictionless as possible, knowing your audience…but to be a game-changer and survive long-term you need the guts to try new things and then be bold enough to learn from the results. I’ve always been good at spotting trends, but unfortunately, I sometimes spot them so early on that no one else ‘sees it’ (yet). I trust my instincts, and I encourage others to do the same. They are rarely wrong.
What are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
For the most part, I’ve always worked in male-dominated arenas. I’ve found that as long as you work really hard and don’t use your gender as a fallback or view it as a negative, it’s great for business when men and women collaboratively work together. Men and women’s brains work differently but are very complimentary. If you find that you’re being outnumbered within the group you’re in — like being a woman in a heavily male industry — you have to work a little harder and shine a little brighter.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
Upon accepting the position of CMO at FITE, I was already familiar with the platform and knew many of the people that worked at the company. My colleagues at FITE have had so much experience within the combat sporting industry, that it was clear from the onset what my job would entail.
Can you point to any specific traits that increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive?
Having the drive to succeed and going above and beyond your job description is something I think all successful executives exhibit. This, coupled with passion and creativity allow someone to grow as an executive. While some might not have the ambition to assume the role of an executive for whatever reason, I think aspiring to the executive level is something many professionals embody.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I’ve always tried to be a role model for other women, especially in the sports and entertainment industry. I’ve found that any leader — male or female — needs to lead by example to help their team thrive. Successes and failures are a direct result of team efforts, and leaders need to be involved and available to their team — they’re not just an extension of the team, but an integral member and have to motivate and encourage for the full team to be successful.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m grateful to several people who’ve helped me get to where I am — there’s too many to name and would be unfair to focus on just one. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to play nice with others and treat everyone with respect. You never know what will happen in two years or 10 — your employee might just end up being your next boss. I’ve learned from my mentors the importance of fostering and maintaining relationships. These relationships create endless opportunities, so I’ve learned to be true to who I am and have always found that to be helpful as I’ve grown in my career.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I like to laugh and enjoy my job. I’m very passionate about anything I do; otherwise, what’s the point? Whether I am working alone or with a group I like to engage with others who are also driven to create, solve, achieve. If people think I’m smart or talented that’s wonderful, but I love it when people say, “and she was really fun to work with” — that’s always the best compliment. I like managing people, and helping them to reach their goals. Work can be stressful at times, and sometimes life is hard, so to brighten up the surroundings with some joy is a noble thing indeed.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Lao Tzu’s quote, “be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” has always struck a chord with me. My attitude is that life is a gift-horse: Whatever comes your way, try to appreciate things as they happen. If you waste energy worrying or regretting or planning for something too far in the future, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you’re in reasonable health, be grateful, enjoy it and move ahead — That’s what propels me.