Natalie Hummel helped started Every Kid Sports out of her passion for athletics and the positive impact participating in sports can have on kids. She has been involved in athletics her whole life including playing volleyball for a Division I school in college, and it is one of the most defining elements of who she is today.
Natalie brings over 30 years of experience helping business owners and executives increase income, lower operating costs and improve satisfaction in their career and lives to my leadership of Every Kid Sports.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Natalie Hummel: I am a lifelong athlete that has gotten so much from participating in sports throughout my life and when I learned that only 22% of kids from low-income families were getting the chance to play simply because their families could not afford to cover registration fees I felt something must be done. I have had lots of success in my career and life and felt like I could use all the skills and tools I had accumulated to actually change the future of millions of kids.
We started Every Kid Sports 12 years ago with the goal of creating a national non-profit that is a household name and families who are struggling to get their kids playing could turn to for help. A year ago, my dream of taking Every Kid Sports national, came true through a generous grant from DICK’S Sporting Goods, Under Armour and the NFL. We have helped over 96K kids play sports in all 50 states and we are just getting started.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Natalie Hummel: The main lesson I have learned during the pandemic and the massive changes that occurred is to innovate. We were completely shut down as youth sports and schools were closed across the country. Also from a fundraising perspective, most charitable dollars were being put toward pandemic response – buying PPE, masks, vaccinations, food security, and dealing with homelessness.
With all of our employees remote, we instituted a morning zoom meeting where we could all connect, stay centered and move forward. This ended up being a super powerful connection point for all of us. During this time we changed our name, did a complete rebrand our organization, updated all of our collateral, and elevated our technology platforms.
What I learned from this is setting clear intentions, focusing on positive outcomes, and manifesting what you want in your career and life works. We landed two major national partnerships during this time and had amazing outcomes that many other organizations did not have during this time. We experienced tremendous growth and hired some amazing individuals who continue to positively impact our organization.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Natalie Hummel: I believe the pandemic is teaching us valuable lessons about what really matters and that many businesses that were not truly serving people have disappeared while those who are serving people have survived and thrived. The clearer you are on how your product or service is caring for people, the more people you will attract – whether that is employees, customers, advisors, or influencers.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Natalie Hummel: The pandemic has exacerbated the issues in youth sports. Pre-pandemic, there were not enough youth sports providers in underserved communities and when the providers that were offering youth sports in those communities were forced to close for months on end, many were not able to reopen their doors.
When we first launched the Every Kid Sports Pass nationwide, our primary goal was to help those providers reopen by kick-starting registrations. I think the pandemic has highlighted the discrepancies and made more people aware of the vast differences between communities and what is available for kids.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Natalie Hummel: I wish someone would have prepared me for the long-lasting impact from the pandemic and that we would never go back to how it was pre-pandemic. It makes sense now, but it didn’t make sense at that time and I was not able to comprehend it.
For 2022, I intend to continue to build the sustainability of our non-profit by securing additional contributors and growing the number of individuals and companies that are supporting our mission.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Natalie Hummel: I believe that these types of innovations in the workplace will continue. The pandemic allowed me to hire remote employees and have them thrive. These tools have enabled new practices and increased flexibility among my staff.
I believe many of these practices will continue. I cannot imagine going back to voice calls for sales when you could do a zoom call. I also think our travel budgets will be lower and we will see increased efficiency in the development process.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Natalie Hummel: I spend 6-8 hours in front of my screen every day, less on the weekends. We just transitioned to a 4 day work week, so I’ll have three days to rest my eyes and focus on the outdoors.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Natalie Hummel: One of the most powerful sources of stories for our organization is the kids, families, and communities we are transforming through our programs. When we can share a powerful story of how we changed a kid’s life, it inspires all of us to work harder and more passionately to bring in money to help more kids.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Natalie Hummel: Awareness is our biggest challenge. Many families that need help covering registration fees have found out about us and the need is overwhelming. We need help building awareness with donors, organizations and foundations that would support the work we are doing. More people need to know that if they care about giving kids the chance to play sports that we exist
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Natalie Hummel: In 2022 I am most interested in learning more about online marketing and using social media to drive engagement with our cause.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Natalie Hummel: I believe companies have misplaced the value in the relationship between company and employee. Many companies think that employees are lucky to get the chance to work there instead of seeing that the company is lucky to have their employees give their time.
People are demanding to be seen and heard and companies need to change the way they value their employees. A company is only as good as the people they hire and retain.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Natalie Hummel: The business superpower I would want is to be an extrovert that could become a social media star so I could get millions of individuals engaging with my content and donating to Every Kid Sports.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Natalie Hummel: Success to me in 2022 is replacing the $5M we got from DICK’S Sporting Goods with 1 million individual donors giving us $5 per month so we could help 100,000 kids every year play sports.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Natalie Hummel for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Natalie Hummel or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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