Women’s stories matter. More than ever, we need to amplify and showcase these narratives for the world to see. Adam Markel welcomes Jamie Mittelman, the Founder of the award-winning storytelling platform, Flame Bearers. Jamie, a Harvard MPA and Dartmouth MBA, is dedicated to championing the stories of women Olympians and Paralympians worldwide. With a focus on diversity and representation, Flame Bearers shares these athletes’ narratives through video, podcasts, and live events. The conversation dives deep into Jamie’s personal connection to sports, her insights on the transformative power of athletics, and the upcoming Flame Bearers coverage of the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. The episode unfolds as a candid exploration of resilience, mental health, and the importance of creating supportive communities, featuring compelling stories from remarkable athletes like Deja Young Craddock and Alexa Moreno. Join Jamie as she sheds light on the platform’s mission to redefine sports media, emphasizing the power and resilience of these extraordinary women athletes.
- 01:09 – Lessons From Sports
- 05:14 – The Differences Between Olympics And Paralympics
- 06:38 – Flame Bearers: Championing Stories Of Women
- 11:35 – Resilience, Failure, And Self-Leadership
- 25:26 – Athlete’s Mental Health
- 33:50 – How Jamie Maintains Her Own Personal Resilience
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
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Flame Bearers: Championing Stories Of Women Olympians And Paralympians With Jamie Mittelman
I have a great guest. We’re going to have a great conversation. Jamie Mittelman is a Founder of the award-winning storytelling platform Flame Bearers, the first company championing the stories of women, Olympians, and Paralympians. With listeners in 49 countries and counting, Jamie is committed to making sure girls from all corners of the world have role models who look and sound like them. Jamie has a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard, a Master’s in Business Administration from Dartmouth, and a background in Media. She is an amazing person. You’re going to love my conversation, so sit back and enjoy my interview with Jamie Mittelman.
Jamie, you hear your bio either read off or spoken back to you quite a bit in the work that you do. You hear people talk about your accomplishments, etc. My question to you is, what’s something that’s not in the bio, one thing that’s not a part of your standard introduction or bio that you would love for people to know about you?
I would say that I am an athlete myself, so it’s not something that I lead with when I’m working with the Olympians or Paralympians because, on that scale, I am not an athlete by their standards. We’re not at the same level. Sports have been a big part of my personal journey growing up. I was a three-sport athlete in high school. It was something I did in college for a little bit. I’m a Certified Yoga Instructor. Having that personal context as something that I identify with and has strongly been a big part of my life is one of the reasons why I’ve been drawn to working with athletes themselves.
Let’s talk about sports for a second here. What is it that you love about sports? Has that changed over time? Is it the same love that you had when you were eight years old, or is it different now?
It has changed. Growing up, it was a source of joy for me. It was how I built community. My family was very active. We were always outside kicking around a soccer ball, throwing around a baseball, going for runs in the woods, throwing on our skis, and going down the mountain. What I realized as I grew up is it transcends boundaries. You’re able to bring people together. it’s a unifier.Sports transcends boundaries. You're able to bring people together. It is a unifier. Click To Tweet
There can be tough stuff going on in the world. There could be massive political divisions, but you can sit down together, watch a baseball game, and get along fine. Sports is something that our world needs right now. There’s a lot of division and hatred and things that people are struggling with. It can hopefully bring people together.
That’s so interesting because, in sports, the goal is not to end in a tie. At least it’s not that I’ve seen or grown-up or anything. The goal is that there’s a winner or a victor, and then there’s somebody who is not the winner in that instance, whether it’s an individual or a team. That’s even in the individual sports. I swam in high school and college, and then I played some team sports. I played water polo. I played basketball and all that stuff when I was younger. There’s a conflict, but it’s on purpose. It’s a designed opposition or conflict between two opposing intentions to win, yet it’s done in an elegant way, not always.
If you go to a middle school soccer match or something, and the worst behavior is on the sidelines among the parents. The kids are out there wanting to pick the shit out of the ball, get it in the net, win, lose, draw or whatever, and have fun. I want to get your sense of that. What lessons do you think the world can learn today from sports and how hard-fought sports are and yet people still hug at the end of a match or whatever it is?
You get up and you shake hands. It’s interesting. Sports are inherently set up where there’s the oppositional factor, but there are elements like teamwork, especially in team sports, where you alone are not going to win a game. The success of your team is dependent on people working together. There’s comradery in that. There’s also sportsmanship. You know when someone on the other team is a cheater and you hold them accountable. Likewise, if someone on your team is not playing fairly, you’re going to call them out because it’s bad for your whole team. There’s also the very well often talked about themes of resilience. You strike out, you miss a penalty kick, and guess what? Tomorrow is going to be better.
You have to dust yourself off and get right back into it. Some of the best comebacks in history are from athletes who had a down day and a down year and came back stronger after that. There’s a ton of lessons that people can learn. That’s more the direction that sports have taken for me. They started as something like those middle school soccer games. I was having fun. I was having a great time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to see the lessons that we can draw from them and the ways that they can build community.
You mentioned the Olympics and Paralympics. For people who may not know the difference between those two things, could you share a little?
It’s such a good and important call out. Also, something else that is frequently thrown in there is the Special Olympics. The Olympics are what most people are commonly familiar with. They happen every four years. Between winter and summer, they rotate. Four years, the Summer Olympics, and then two years later, it’s the Winter Olympics. They are for able-bodied individuals.
The Paralympics, para means next to or parallel to. They are for people with physical disabilities. People who are not able-bodied. I love working with and championing these athletes’ stories because first of all, there’s a severe lack of coverage in this space. If you look at the sports media landscape, pretty much all of it goes to able-bodied athletes. This last Paralympics was the first time they were even shown on prime-time television in the US. If we’re looking for role models of resiliency and overall incredible athletes, these people are absolutely crazy. I have tried to play a lot of the para-sports and I get my butt kicked every single time.
Championing their stories, I want to learn more about that. I’m sure everybody is curious. What do you mean by that? How do you do that for those who don’t know what you do?
My company is called Flame Bearers and we are the world’s first storytelling platform. We tell the stories of women Olympians and Paralympians from around the world and we do so in three ways, video, podcast, and live events. In terms of why specifically that group, if you look at the sports media landscape as a whole, I mentioned that pretty much all of it goes to able-bodied individuals.
Historically, it has gone to men too. Until 2023, the most commonly cited statistic was that 96% of sports media went to male athletes. The number is now down to 85%. Women are getting 15% of the coverage, but that’s still obviously a very small piece of the pie. When you talk about sports coverage, historically, that’s a misnomer. It’s pretty much male sports coverage. We are trying to broaden who gets covered and how they are covered.
We tell the stories of women who are right now seeking to compete in the Paris Olympics and Paralympics. We work with women from all continents and backgrounds and tell their stories in their own words. I mentioned the quality issue. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of how women are portrayed. Oftentimes, women are sexualized. They’re focusing on their dating status and their marital status. The commentators don’t have a lot of knowledge about the players, their backgrounds, and the teams. We’re trying to change that.
I’m curious. There’s what I would say is obvious. I hope it’s obvious that when you say that men have gotten more coverage, people go, “I’ll get it,” because that has been historically how things have gone in business and a lot of areas. I’m also curious, is it based on the people who are consuming that media? Is it factual that more men watch or consume sports media than women do? Is that a factor at all? Is that not the case? Can you shed any light on that?
Historically, definitely. It does largely depend on what the sport is. Historically, more men watch football than women, though that gap is a little narrower than in some other sports. That said, what we are seeing is more women playing sports themselves, and they are being televised, so more women are actually tuning in.
It’s a virtuous cycle, if you will, that when young women and women of all ages get to see women in sports, they’ll have a reason to tune in and watch. However, if that wasn’t the case or hasn’t been the case, then maybe not so much. That was helpful. I asked you this before we started. What is super exciting to you in your business now? What’s something that’s going on that you’re totally jazzed up about?
Number one, the fact that the Paris Olympics and Paralympics are coming up, it’s wild that it’s already here because the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics feel like they were here with the postponement from COVID. We have twenty athletes lined up to be interviewed, including an amazing co-host who is a two-time Olympian herself and a four-time national champion in her sport. We’re very excited about this because we have some of the biggest names in sports lined up on our roster. I can’t quite announce who our co-host is yet, but this is something that I’m super jazzed about right now.
What’s also exciting about it is we’re not focusing on sports reporting, so we’re not going to be talking to you about this is the score of their recent competition. That may come up but what we focus on are the human elements of what makes these athletes tick. How do they get up in the morning when they don’t know if the Olympics or the Paralympics were even going to happen during COVID? What lessons can we learn from and draw from to find our inner Olympian and Paralympian?
That’s a good place. I want to go forward with the last thing you said because, in my work, I spend a lot of time speaking about resiliency, both as a speaker and in training and facilitating behind the scenes in work that our company, Workwell, does with organizations to develop more resiliency. A lot of times, when people will say to me, “The resilience thing is about bouncing back. It’s about grit and it’s about perseverance.”
I say, “Yeah, that’s true.” We’ve researched this topic for a number of years, so it’s clearly an element and a lot of people do have that as part of their definition. From our work, what we found is that it’s not the most important thing, this capacity to bounce back or even this ability to take life’s punches and disappointments and still get back up again. I get that. That makes sense, but there’s a lot more to it.
When I describe what we find is more important, we often talk about sports as an example of that, because in athletics, I was a swimmer, so I was used to long hours in the pool. We would swim 2 hours before school and 2 hours after school and stuff like that. That would go on for 6 months at a time or 6 months leading up to this big meet. What I found when I got to college was that there were a lot of swimmers who had been doing that since they were 3 and 4 years old. That started super early at the YMCA and in AAU. I didn’t get started until high school.
I was late to get that sport. By the time I was in college, I was still super enthusiastic about it, and my body wasn’t beat up. What I found then was a lot of athletes were burned out mentally on the sport for sure. Maybe it was too much chlorine. They breathed too much chlorine over the years or whatever it might be. Their bodies were also beaten up.
During the pandemic, I was swimming at a local YMCA where I live in California and saw somebody swimming next to me that was seemingly fins on or maybe even like an out outdoor motor because this dude was so lightning fast. I’m not a slow swimmer, but I’m not like I could swim super much faster. On my best day, this guy probably would’ve lapped me.
I get out of the pool and there’s a guy, an older man, that was standing next to the pool and I struck up a conversation. It turns out that this young man’s coach is not only his coach but also his dad. This is the swimmer’s Michael Andrew. Michael Andrew was in the Olympics. He won a couple of gold medals and a couple of other medals and is expected to be in the current Olympics and do phenomenally well.
Michael is a very nice young man. I enjoyed meeting him and developing a relationship. I had him on the show, he and his dad, to talk about resilience from the standpoint of not perpetuating burnout. You think about performance in any area of your life, it’s less about how you deplete yourself and more about the process of recovery. I wanted to get your thoughts on that because you talk about resilience, and obviously, you see it live and up close with your athletes and these women that you work closely with.
It’s interesting that you voiced that. That’s my personal ethos. I briefly mentioned that I’m a certified yoga instructor and that practice for me is all about grounding myself so I can show up the best day in and day out for not only the athletes but also the people in my personal life. If I don’t have that space to recharge and refuel, I’m going to burn out and I will not be of any help to anyone. That is very much the truth.
One athlete that I’ve worked with, her name is Deja Young-Cradock. She is a Paralympic gold medalist. She’s incredibly open about her battles with mental health and her attempt to commit suicide. One of the things she talks about is when she feels very off balance. She has talked about finding her voice and making sure that you do not get to a place where you feel so depleted and so alone that bad things happen.
It does start on a daily basis of having routines. Deja tells me every morning she gets up, she has to make her bed. Even if that’s the only thing she does, that is a grounding practice for her where she’s like, “That is refueling for me and that is grounding for me so that I know that whatever happens, whatever comes at me in this crazy world, I’ll be able to handle it because I made my bed.”
It seems silly to say this, but it’s a success that you’ve already done that. Maybe you’d prefer not to get after your bed first thing at the beginning of the day. I’m fascinated by the examples, as you say, more recently of giving people access to what I think is different information. It’s a different philosophy of how you develop your best. Our stance on this is that you don’t develop your best by working on your grit. No offense to Angela Duckworth, her work, her TED Talk, and all that good stuff. It’s great. To me, it’s an older paradigm and it’s one that the pandemic revealed will not work long-term.
In many ways, it’s one where you ignore yourself. You ignore your body. You ignore the signs and the feelings that you’re having because what overrides that is this concept of, “I have to keep pushing through.” What I draw on this is that in athletics, to do that doesn’t lead to success. It more often leads to failure. Simone Biles would probably be a great example of this.
That’s exactly right. I’d say failure or even injury. There are many examples when athletes push through it and they severely hurt themselves and then their careers are cut short and it is life-threatening. In sports where the stakes are so high, you mentioned Simone, where it’s life-threatening. If she makes an error, the world of her that she’s taken a step back and said, “I need to take a break.”
It was such great leadership. It was obviously self-leadership. She’s taking care of herself, but she was also leading her team in the same way. By stepping back, she made room for others who stepped up. A week later, when she got back to herself, she was able to reenter the meet and win a silver on the beam.
I thought she was very unfairly criticized.
I was going to say she was criticized pretty hard for that decision. A lot of people came to her aid or to support her as well, for sure, but it was so classic how people reacted to that. She’s quitting. She’s being disloyal to her country. It was crazy stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, grit is a very valuable part of the equation. If we’re a car and if the infrastructure is not working, it doesn’t matter what we put into it.
That’s a great example because if you’re a car and you keep driving on empty, I’m going to ask you, how is that going to work for you at some point?
You’re going to run out of gas. You’re done.
You’re on the side of the road with a tin can or something. In many ways, people take themselves for granted. They don’t do anything about it until they’re broken down on the side of the road or they get pulled over. They’re going so fast that they get pulled over because they’re speeding or they get in an accident. These are the things that don’t have to be part of your life experience necessarily.
With Michael Andrew, to close the loop there, why was he in the YMCA pool? We have a beautiful pool, like an Olympic-type pool. Why was he there? Why was his father there? Why was his father coaching him? Why wasn’t he at the Colorado Springs Olympic facility? It’s because they have a very different philosophy than the Olympic trainers. I remember what this was like. You swim whatever it would be, 10,000, 15,000, or 20,000 yards or meters in a day. You swim for months at a time and then when you get to the most important meets of the year, you slow down, you taper and then they shave their body and then you swim like lightning in the pool.
That process produces burnout mentally in other ways. It produces injury, to your point earlier. A lot of the guys that I went to school with had scars on their shoulders and on their knees because their bodies had been depleted. Yet what Michael Andrew was doing with his dad was not getting to that point of extreme depletion. He couldn’t do that within the Olympic system. He trained his son and clearly, the results are that his son was pretty fast and is getting faster. He’s got longevity. He can go on and on, almost like the way Michael Phelps went on for a very long time.
It’s interesting that you mentioned that. I walked away from sports in my junior year because of my mental health. I had a pretty debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. For me, sports growing up had always been my coping mechanism. In college, it was a different environment. They became the trigger for me. I decided it was not worth it. I knew I was not going to become a professional athlete.
Even though when I was a little girl, that was my dream, I realized that I was waking up every morning fearful, very anxious, and pumped up about going to practice, which was previously a source of joy for me. It was not worth it. I had to walk away. I completely understand the need to put yourself first and to make sure that you are training in the best environment that supports you and lifts you up.
This is how you get the best result for your best performances. It would seem so intuitive. Yet every time I get to have this conversation with so many different organizations, like a major US bank and so much of the culture in organizations that we work with are driven by this drive at all costs. They won’t say drive at all costs or profit at all costs. It’s smart enough these days that people don’t say those things out loud, but you see what some of these leaders are doing themselves and how they live. There’s not a lot of permission to do it otherwise.
I would say they’re not saying it out loud, but their actions speak for them. Before starting Flame Bearers, I got my MBA at Dartmouth and a Master’s in Policy from Harvard. Most of my classmates from both of those schools are in high-power consulting jobs and working for banks and tech, and their hours in general are crazy. Many of them are unhappy and are constantly working around the clock. It is what you’re supposed to do and their bosses penalize and if they don’t, so they don’t verbalize it necessarily, but actions speak a little louder than words sometimes.
I was a lawyer for a couple of dozen years, so I know that industry is driven by literally how many hours you put in that you can bill for. I want to ask you, in wrapping things up here, the mental health side. In your work, how often are you conversing with athletes about how they create the best mental health environment for themselves and where do you hear that people are struggling in that arena these days?
We have these conversations all the time. It is important to us not to go in with a narrative that we want to push through. The way we approach every conversation is we ask the athlete, before we start the interview, what it is that they want to focus on. We’ve had many athletes say, “Mental health. This is my wheelhouse.” We’ve also had athletes say, “I’d prefer not to talk about it.” We stay clear of it.
It’s important to us not to force them to have a conversation about something if they don’t want to have it. In terms of what’s been working for them, a lot of it is about surrounding themselves with the right people and tuning out the voices that hurt them. We spoke with Alexa Moreno, who is this incredible Mexican gymnast. She came in fourth place in Tokyo on the vault and she grew up being cyberbullied.
This is an athlete who is one of the best gymnasts in the world and people would make fun of her because they say she has an untraditional gymnast body. She told me that for her mental health, she had to build this community of voices that she would listen to and then ignore the trolls. Especially when you’re a professional athlete, everyone thinks that they have a right to weigh in on your life. They’re going to criticize you for the things you mess up on and they’re going to tell you when you did something good, how you still could have done better. They think they could do it better than you.
For her, it was all about creating her own little hype squad that she would check in with every day and say, “Uplift me. How can I feel good?” Ignoring the haters. Sue Bird said something similar in terms of she does care what people say, but only the people who matter to her and ignore the haters. Some people’s opinions are valuable. The people you love, the people you trust, the people who have good values, she said, “Don’t ignore them, but ignore the people who aren’t speaking your language and who pull you down.”
It’s so interesting. We’re connected on some level, yet the way that people utilize their connections to others is often in a passive-aggressive manner or that critic that’s never in the arena but isn’t in the arena but they’re a critic of those who are. It’s pretty prevalent. I’m not even upset about it because it’s the norm nowadays. I watch some videos that have a lot of views or something. If you track the comments that are happening, I like to do that. I check out what’s happening in the chat while that’s going on. It’s shocking what people will write in the chat during some of these great conversations and whatnot. It’s like, “What are you listening to? Are you listening to the same interview that I’m listening to?”
Also, another tip that I had from Michelle Akers is the FIFA Player of the Century. I consider her the GOAT in the women’s soccer world. We co-hosted a whole season in honor of the Women’s World Cup. She is grounded by being outside. She works on a horse rescue and her thing is, “Let me be outside with the horses.’ That is what grounds her. For every individual, you know what speaks to you. I’m happiest outside running in the woods. Put me in the mountains and I am on it. If I am thrown into New York City again, I lived there for five years, I’m going to lose my mind, but put me up in the mountains and I’m grounded and I’ll be on it.
I’m happiest in the water for the most part, like in the ocean, even more so than a pool. Lately, I took up a sport I hadn’t played since high school and that was tennis. It’s been so enjoyable to get back into being serious at tennis. I’m getting so much joy on the tennis court these days, which is freaking amazing. That’s such a mental game. I should say in golf too. I’m choosing the games that are helping me to take not just my mental health but my mental faculties to another level because those are games where what’s going on between your ears is so important. Sometimes in swimming or surfing or something, I could be zoned out and in that state of zoned outness, I can perform. My body will do what it knows how to do or whatever. In those other games, the mind is with you all the time.
A lot of other athletes that I’ve talked to talk about the power of meditation. Silencing their mind and or tuning into only parts of their mind. When they have the negative voices come up, you’re giving yourself self-talk about why you’re here and what your intention is, but tuning out the voices that are not serving you in that moment.
Meditation for a lot of people hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been easy for me in some respects in the past, but I’ve gotten more settled into that these days as well. For anybody who’s like me who’s tuning in to this that maybe hasn’t been successful, whatever that means, at meditating in the past, there’s a fun book on this that you could read called 10% Happier by Dan Harris.
It’s a book, in many ways, about meditation. If you don’t take it that seriously and you give yourself these opportunities to create some stillness in your mind or sit quietly, your thoughts are not going to go away anyhow. They’re like clouds. They’re always passing through, etc. If you’re not paying too much attention to every cloud and focusing and obsessing over a cloud, it helps the process along. There are some wonderful things inside and on the other side of meditating.
It’s interesting. I hated it when I started it. I was the antithesis of a person who would meditate. I mentioned I have OCD. I was super high-strung growing up, very intense, straight A’s like the annoying kid who had to be on everything, honestly. What I realized is that meditation doesn’t have to be the image that most people think of. The person chanting, sitting in a silent room with their eyes closed. I have meditative runs and walks. I have meditative conversations that are very reflective. For me, meditation is where I go inwards and give myself the space to heal, recover, and process.Meditation is where you go inwards and give yourself this space to heal, recover, and process Click To Tweet
Also, gratitude. A simple practice, like you say, walking and thinking about what you’re grateful for is a form of meditation. Yoga is a moving meditation in many respects. There are a lot of ways to be in that meditation. Jamie, my last question to you has to do with your own personal resilience. You’ve answered a lot of this already. At the place that you’re at in your life now, how do you maintain your resiliency?
As you said, the world we’re all living in, all of us, this is a shared experience now. It is complicated beyond any complicated environment I’ve ever lived in. I’ve been around five decades at this point. I can’t remember a time that was more complex and more filled with things that were tough to reconcile. We could say a lot of other things about it, but this is a difficult time that we’re all going through.
I think so too. I’ve not been around for five decades, but I’m fifteen years behind you, so I won’t ever catch up, but I’m working on it. What’s a little ironic. I started Flame Bearers as, in hindsight, a bit of a personal rescue mission. I didn’t realize it at the time. I had lost my dad to brain cancer and within pretty much a year, I almost lost my mom to an aortic dissection. I realized that I wanted to champion others who were sources of light and hope for the community. I didn’t realize that doing so would make me feel better and would help me. That was never my intent, but that’s how it worked out. It did end up personally helping me very much.
In hindsight, founding Flame Bearers was probably the best thing I could have done for my mental health, to be honest. What I’m doing now, it’s a lot of what a lot of the athletes have done. I feel very fortunate in the sense that I feel like my working zone is a little Petri dish where I have the opportunity to hear what people do and then pick and choose from my own life and say, “I think that will work for me. That will not work for me.”
My four biggest things are surrounding myself on a daily basis with loved ones. Those could be friends and family. They could be people who are positive sources in my life. I’m trying to minimize my interaction with people who are takers. We all know the people in our lives who are drains on us. I try to minimize my proactive engagement with those people.
The second one is when I am having a tough day because it’s not a matter of if they’re going to come, it’s a matter of when they come, I have a whole menu of things that I like to do that fill me up and that help restore me. I’m like, “Is this a pint of ice cream day? Is this a call your friend, call your mom cry? Is this a bubble bath day? Is this like, “Nope, sit on the couch and drink a glass of wine and watch a crappy reality show?” You know what, I enjoy it. I have a whole list of things that I like to do that I know make me feel better. I like to do that.
The third one for me is exercise. That always instantly makes me feel better. It can be hard to get off the couch and drag myself out, but maybe it’s a ten-minute walk, get out, feel the sunshine, but it instantly makes me feel better. The fourth, you mentioned it. It’s a practice of gratitude. I have a gratitude journal, so when I’m feeling down in the dumps, it’s like Deja. I like to focus on one thing that I did well that day and I write it down in my little journal and then I can go back and say, “Yesterday, I felt like I was a failure, but I did these things that were pretty darn cool.”
I so appreciate the fact that you gave us a list of those things and that you tied it to maybe the day that’s not going well. I certainly believe that our resilience is something we create before we need it so we’re working on it proactively, for sure. The hardest thing is when people do have a sideways day that turns into a sideways week or whatever it might be. It can push them many steps back. You can say thank you in those moments.
The way I think about it’s a muscle that I like to have trained before I need to use it. I will have the things ready to go because when it comes, I’m not going to be able to think. When people are grumpy, when people are sad, when people are down, you don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to do anything. Make it super easy for yourself.
I want to tell our audience that there are going to be links to find out and to tune in or listen to Jamie’s shows. There’s a lot more in this conversation that I’m thinking maybe we can schedule a part two or something like that. I’ve so enjoyed having this talk with you, Jamie. We’d love to get comments and questions. Of course, if you’ve got a question for Jamie or myself, you can go to AdamMarkel.com/podcast. Leave your comment or question there. As I have said in the past, it will not be any bot or AI that’s going to answer it.
We will answer those questions ourselves. If there’s somebody that you know, a colleague, friend, or family member that would benefit from hearing some of what Jamie shared with all of us in this episode, there are some tremendous insights, feel free to share this episode. It is super helpful to us when you do that anyway because it affects the algorithm and how it is that these things are more proliferated. When something’s positive, that’s what we want to proliferate. We want to spread that. We appreciate your help with that. Jamie, thank you for your time. Thank you for everything you shared and mostly, thank you for the work you’re doing in the world.
Thank you for having me, Adam. I appreciated this conversation.
I so enjoyed that conversation. Jamie Mittelman is amazing. She’s doing amazing work, and her Flame Bearers platform is making it possible for women and girls all over the globe to experience resilient role models in the form of other female athletes, both Olympians and Paralympians. We got to talk about those things in this episode. We got to talk about some areas that I didn’t expect we were going to go into.
I love that aspect of the show because the questions are not canned. I would say they’re not planned either. We always have some sense of where we want to take things, but what’s beautiful is that it’s organic. It unfolds on its own and we follow the breadcrumbs. I love it from the standpoint of I’m looking to have an interesting conversation.
That’s what I always tell my guests before we get going. If we’re going to have an interesting conversation ourselves, then other people will as well. Hopefully, you felt the same way. Talking about lessons from athletes. I never get dull on that topic, but I can sometimes feel like so many of the same things have been said again and again in that arena.
I feel like we covered things differently in this episode. We covered new ground and where it is we did cover topics that are maybe not new and novel. We spoke about them using our own life experiences and those around us that we’ve had the opportunity to learn from. That is super interesting because that means that learning keeps evolving.
The knowledge that we have, it’s a personal philosophy, but head knowledge is not that important in a lot of ways. I don’t think it’s that useful, let’s put it that way. This means that we read things and consume things, and we’re constantly consuming content these days by the jug full. We might feel smarter. It might feel good also to be taking in information from all corners. Usefulness is what I find more important than anything else. Information that you don’t put into application, information that you don’t get to experience firsthand doesn’t become useful. It doesn’t teach. It doesn’t provide lessons that are lasting and lessons that you can share with other people.
I love that we were able to talk about the things that we’ve learned that have changed our perspectives because we’ve applied them and gotten feedback. Sometimes feedback is not always a win. Sometimes it’s a loss, but a loss that we learned from. We talked about being able to be victorious without there being any victims. Being able to win without there being someone that pays the price for that. Yet at the same time, the goal is to win.
In business, the goal is to win and the goal in sports is to win. Yet in sports, often what we see is that people are able to shake hands and be cordial, courteous, and decent to one another even though they’ve fought it out on the field of play and battled it out even on the field of play. Yet in business, often what we see is that there are people who want to win, to be the victor. There are many victims often in those situations because people are used and abused in the workplace all the time and not thought of with high regard.
Those things can be endemic. They can be cultural. They can be costly to an organization. In fact, they’re always costly to an organization. Some organizations pay more dearly for that erroneous philosophy. When we think about resilience, when I am often brought in to talk about these topics as a keynote speaker or in our organization after work through our company Workwell, we talk about resilience as not being about grit. It is not about how we grind it out.
That is an aspect, of course, of resiliency that has to do with perseverance and tenacity and all that good stuff and grit being a part of that for sure. The key ingredient now, when we think about what produces long-lasting capacity, long-lasting performance, and higher-level performance is not grit. It is recovery. It is understanding that when we are depleted, we will not be at our best. An athlete that is depleted will not perform at their best. An athlete who is properly trained and recovered from even the hardest of their training sessions will play and perform at higher levels than those who are tired mentally, emotionally, and physically speaking.
We got to cover that ground in this episode. We talked about a number of things that I think were super helpful. Whether you’re an athlete, you admire athletes, you love to learn from athletes or you’re in business and you’re thinking about the business athletes around you, the ones you lead, those you are led by, etc. I hope you loved the episode and that you’ll share it with friends, family, colleagues, etc. Please do that.
Feel free to leave me a comment at any point in time at AdamMarkel.com/podcast. We’d love it if you’d leave a five-star review as well. I know it’s a selfish ask. I don’t mind making the ask, actually because hopefully what you’d want is to see this show in front of more people, that more people would have access to it and would be able to benefit from it.
The only way that that can happen is through the algorithm. How we can help ourselves that way is simply by having these great reviews and by having people share them with others. If you’re willing to do that, we can’t thank you enough for being a part of the community and for being willing to share with others and help us create that rising tide for all of us.
Thank you so much for that. Of course, as always, feel free right now in this moment to see where are you the strongest. Where is your resilient level now? You can go to RankMyResilience.com and you’ll get a score in three minutes or less. It will tell you in those four zones how you’re doing at this moment. It’s a snapshot in time as well as what you could be doing to raise those numbers so that you can feel even better more frequently and perform at your very best. With that, I want to wish you all a beautiful rest of your day, your evening, wherever I’m finding you now. Thank you so much for being a part of this wonderful community.
About Jamie Mittelman
Jamie Mittelman is the Founder of the award-winning storytelling platform, Flame Bearers, the first company championing the stories of women Olympians and Paralympians. With listeners in 49 countries and counting, Jamie is committed to making sure girls from all corners of the world have role models who look and sound like them. Jamie has a masters in public administration from Harvard, a masters in business administration from Dartmouth, and a background in media.