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What It Means to Be an "Intrepreneur," According to This SVP

When super athletes hang up their sneakers, Debbie Spander helps coach them to their next level of greatness.


In this on-going series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from business warriors who are out there doing battle day in and day out. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)


Please give us a rundown of the work you are doing.
My name is Debbie Spander, I lead Wasserman's Broadcasting and Coaching group, a division that I've grown from five clients to more than 50 over the past four years. We represent sports broadcasters and professional sports coaches, many of whom are former professional athletes who seek Wasserman's counsel as they look to develop and expand their post-playing careers.

The core of my work involves helping former athletes transition into the business side of the industry, getting new broadcasters exposure through appearances, looking for bigger jobs and roles for experienced clients, negotiating new and existing deals and, of course, constantly working to grow our client base.

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Describe the qualities of an "intrepreneur."
Working long days and often seven-day weeks. Always being on call, and always putting clients and business first (or at least a close second after family). Being motivated, aggressive, self-reliant and willing to work with others. Always seeking out opportunities, but keeping a balance and knowing when to move on. Wasserman is full of intrepreneurs and we all encourage and push each other to achieve the greatest possible outcomes on our clients' behalf on a daily basis.

What's the problem you just solved or are attacking now?
The 24-hour news cycle and social media have created new opportunities for our clients, as well as some challenges in our industry. News of job openings, shows being shut down or downsized, work conflicts and unwanted exposure for our clients are all increasingly more accessible. It's a constant juggling act to make sure that we are informed of and stay on top of all of this news to best advise our clients on a continual basis.

How did you discover this problem?
I'm always talking or texting with my clients, with media and with our team executives - so I know pretty immediately if there is an issue. I stay tuned into social media as well as scouring sports media sites and outlets. The more people I spoke to and the more articles I read, the more apparent the issue became.

Related: What It Means to Be an Entrepreneur

What did you/have you learned through attacking this problem?
It's not easily avoided in our industry, and I've learned that most fires burn themselves out, hopefully quickly. But the key is always being available to clients and, sometimes, media and team executives, to talk through tough situations. Nothing beats personal -- and personalized -- attention.

What has been your most rewarding moment in business?
It's a series of rewarding moments -- from seeing my client on-air for the first time and getting coaches' jobs, to moving long-time, experienced clients up to their "dream jobs" and securing opportunities that better suit their lifestyles. Successfully negotiating deals for more money and more perks doesn't hurt either!

What trait do you depend on most when making decisions and why is that useful for you?
I depend on analytical thinking to figure out which jobs, appearances and meetings will help my clients build and sustain their ideal media and coaching careers, rather than settling on merely the best short-term opportunity.

How has your leadership style evolved?
I have become much more collaborative with other members of the Wasserman team and have learned to delegate more responsibility to those who work for and with me.

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