Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Fwd: That's a wrap! #CGSports2021

December 29, 2021

Good morning from Cejih. 
If you are reading this sentence, I want to say a huge "Thank You" for letting our team and our athletes be part of your inbox each week. 

In this week's edition of the newsletter we get to hear from the amazing team at CG Sports, which I am incredibly lucky to work with.

Below are two highlights, one lesson learned and what I'm excited about in 2022.

Two highlights
The first highlight of 2021 was seeing 10 of our clients compete in Tokyo between the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Equally remarkable, 8 of these clients were medal winners at the Games. As a smaller but growing sports agency, our athlete medal count from Tokyo 2020 is on par with many of the larger legacy sports agencies in the industry. 

The second highlight of 2021 was the success of our in-house publishing label, CG Sports Publishing. Here's the backstory: in 2020 we had the idea for CG Sports Publishing as something to explore in 2021 (after the Olympics). 

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, we decided to pull this initiative in and launch it one year ahead of schedule. The move came with some very serious risk. 

The costs were high. We had limited data to go off of when making this decision. The market was competitive and no one had ever heard of us. 

But we believed strongly that an author should own 100% of the rights to their work and that we could help them market their stories better than other publishers in the industry. 

Our goal was to publish 4 books in 2021. We will finish the year with over 10 books published and a very exciting pipeline for 2022. 

One Lesson I Learned
The big lesson I learned this year was the power of "focused energy" in one direction. Oftentimes when we get a new project, athlete, sponsorship, or book deal our inclination is to "hit the ground running." I tracked our most successful projects, deals and brand launches this year and noticed one theme: we took the time to get everything really organized before starting the next task. The success we saw when this method was applied to our projects was pretty incredible. 

What I'm Excited about in 2022
The secret sauce of CG Sports is our high-functioning team of people here at the agency. This is the most organized and prepared we have been to start a new year. I'm excited to keep working with this amazing team and most importantly, give them the space and tools to do what they each do best. 

Thank you to all of you for being part of the CG Sports community and for all of your support over the years! We are incredibly grateful for your words of encouragement, replies to our newsletter and cheering us on in the background.

Wishing you all a happy new year - we will see you on the other side in 2022 with some big announcements coming your way in January. Stay tuned!

2021 Wrapped: Matt Amerlan, Vice President & Partner
Matt oversees the sales of some of our largest properties and helps to run the day to day of the agency.

2021 has been a dynamic and rewarding year for the CG Sports team. While 2021 had its continued challenges that everyone and every business continues to face (i.e., continuation of the pandemic), as I look back it is the groundwork that we laid during the height of the pandemic in 2020 that positioned as well for a successful 2021.  We've shared this previously, but the start of the pandemic in 2020 put us at a crossroads, do we lay back and see what happens or do we take action and dictate where our company needed to head? We chose the latter.

Taking action has been positive in many ways including that it allowed us to better define our product offering. Going into 2021 this helped us set a clearer vision and continue to build our amazing CG Sports team within this. The most rewarding part of this experience in 2021has been the continued growth of our talented individuals that make up the CG Sports team. The goal is to maximize everyone's talents by empowering each person to be creative, take chances, and we operate by always looking for opportunities to remove barriers for our team so that each individual can do what they do best. I can't wait to see where this culture and mindset leads CG Sports in 2022.
2021 Wrapped: Taylor Brien, Editor - Newsletter
Taylor manages the famous CG Sports weekly newsletter and also works with Holly on publishing projects.

Confession time: I had never read an email newsletter prior to starting with the CG Sports Company. So when Cejih called me in February 2021, I not only subscribed to some newsletters, I actually started reading them. 

Over the past 10 months, I have learned three important lessons about writing a newsletter: 
  1. Outline your goals and stick to them. It can be easy to think that you need to be a knowledgeable expert on everything in order to keep people interested in reading your newsletter, but all that does is cause unnecessary stress. Write about what you know and the rest will follow. 
  2. Don't stress about the numbers. It can be very easy to get caught up in click rates, open rates, and more. Truthfully, I decided early on that I wasn't going to stress about the numbers (just casually observe them) and it has made all the difference. 
  3. Have. Fun. It took me a couple months to find what I believe is the "voice" of CG Sports Co and part of that time was just learning to lean in to the content/what's happening in the world. Being true to you, your voice, and your brand will draw people to your newsletter. 
I can't coherently express my gratitude to the entire CG Sports Co. team and all of our readers for the continued support as I continue to develop this newsletter. I cannot wait to see where we take this newsletter in 2022! 
2021 Wrapped: Rachel Draffen, Sr. Manager of Customer Success
Rachel oversees the branding and launch of every athlete at CG Sports. She is the first person an athlete works with once signed with the agency and provides valuable resources for athletes to continue growing their brand.

Rachel here. Happy to be reporting on what a transformative year we have had at CG Sports. One of the most exciting things for me personally was watching this newsletter become a trademark of our company, written by the hilariously witty Taylor Brien. (Shout out, Taylor.) We've tested and tried through various branding strategies to better ourselves, and gotten to witness what you guys love (or maybe don't), all while growing our client list and expanding our services from video creation (all starting with Calvin's 2021 trailer) to in-house publishing and a sea of online resources straight from Cejih and the team. 

While the tangibles are clear, the inner growth may not be as evident from the outside. Let me assure you, it's here. There is immense value placed on efficiency and transparency. Every individual involved is invited to play to their strengths, challenge themselves in new realms of business, and use their talents to find new, sometimes risky, opportunities. This goes for both our internal staff and our clients. The CG Sports Company is one powerful team because of it.

Cheers to embracing our mistakes and leveling up in the next trip around the sun. 
Aka Team of the Year! 

*Not pictured: the amazing and talented Nicole Wurtele
2021 Wrapped: Nicole Wurtele, Creative Director
Nicole is our amazing graphic designer who works on athlete logos, website creation, athlete media kits, marketing proposals and social media.

This has been my first year as a graphic designer with CG Sports Co and what a year it has been! 

We have helped dozens of athletes develop their own personal brands through brand education, logo development, and website launches. We have helped numerous athletes/authors tell their stories and share their knowledge through publishing their own books. It really warms my heart when a design comes together for a client and they get so excited! 

Personally, I consider myself very lucky to work with such a great team at CG Sports Co. We all know how to work hard, but keep it fun, and we all appreciate each other's hard work. I think CG Sports as a company has grown a lot this year -- we have developed a stronger sense of "self" as a rand and we are really coming out of our shell.

There are still a lot of things in the works and it will be an exciting 2022! 
2021 Wrapped: Holly Neumann, Director of Publishing
Holly oversees the fast growing CG Sports Publishing division, managing a team of writers, editors, authors and marketers. Holly also manages many of the speaking engagements that our authors and athletes are sought out for.

At CG Sports Publishing, we're "words people," but we can't help but be happy with the math this year. In just our second year in the publishing business, we saw a 200 percent increase in titles published, and we launched six new books since June alone. That made for a busy back-half of the year, giving us plenty of momentum to ride into 2022. 

We're proud of our books, which tell stories from athlete, coach, and fan perspectives and share a love for all things sports. Our publishing team is made up of editing, design, and marketing pros who work to preserve our authors' voices and attract and reach the right audiences. Highlights from 2021 include four Amazon best sellers (we're No. 1), author visits at schools and universities and in-person book signings where our writers interacted with their readers. 
2021 Wrapped: Lisa Vetterlein, Accounting Bookkeeper
Lisa is our amazing bookkeeper who keeps our entire agency organized and ahead of the ball game. Lisa is our team's biggest supporter and is always cheering on our clients.

I love what I do. More than that, I love the culture and celebration of CG Sports Company. When someone coined the phrase there is no "I" in team, that works for sports…. and companies (at least this one). In my eyes, client and employee are valued here. Non clients can gain key elements regarding sponsorship and branding via the weekly newsletter and website (How Cool is that? Who does that?)Apologize for my digress. 

While I am not creating social content, graphics, or selling to clients, nor in the same demographics as my co-workers, I feel valued. So that means…. I want to work harder to aid our clients and my co-workers where everyone has a value. For 2022 I wish all to see theirs. Happy New Year – go cash in!
2021 Wrapped: Dane Vanderkaay, Manager of Athlete Partnerships
Dane oversees all athlete sponsorship deals and marketing opportunities. He has brought in and negotiated some of the agency's largest deals. Dane has a talent for bringing new companies to the table to sponsor our athletes.

Looking back at 2021, there are a ton of aspects about the company's growth that have been awesome to witness and be a part of. One aspect I want to focus on in particular is the growing team of employees at CG Sports. We currently have a team of amazing people who all take a lot of pride in what they do to help our clients. We are a small, but mighty team that works as a cohesive unit with roles that have become more specialized to fill their talent to ultimately help grow the business. It's a pleasure to work with the growing team at CG Sports each and every day. 
2021 Wrapped: Calvin Werts, Video Producer
Calvin is the head video producer at CG Sports and has created many of our most successful marketing materials for both athletes and the CG Sports Company.

As a University student-athlete and a proud member of the CG Sports team, 2021 has been an absolute rollercoaster. With every exciting new experience has come an equal yet opposite abundance of obstacles. Whether it be attending the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field or navigating a swim season in a global pandemic, I've been given a variety of learning opportunities. Through it all, the most important thing I've learned this year can be summed up in this guiding mantra: "control the controllable and let go of the rest." 

Juggling a million different passions, obligations, and unforeseen challenges can be overwhelming to say the least. For me, the best way to go about alleviating this feeling has been to create a list of all the stressors present in my life, cross out the ones I have no control over, then get to work on the rest. Not only has this helped me in my professional life, but it has thoroughly assisted my academic and athlete careers. With that, I feel more prepared than ever to enter 2022 with the incredible support of my teammates and friends at school, CG Sports, and in the pool. 
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Monday, December 27, 2021

Transition Team: Eager to begin work

Members of Gainey transition committees eager to begin work

At the turn of 2021, Ed Gainey launched his campaign for mayor of Pittsburgh on the idea of bringing people together — that city government could “change lives, uplift communities and fix what’s broken” — and as the year ends, he’ll rely on those people to help him do it.

Mr. Gainey, the mayor-elect who will take the oath of office in January to succeed outgoing Mayor Bill Peduto, will lean on the help of four transition committees, packed to the brim with members he picked to “reflect the rich diversity,” he said, of the city he hopes to unite.

In interviews with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and in public comments, members of those committees — guided by subject areas that were pillars of Mr. Gainey’s campaign platform — said they will be driven by a desire to make Pittsburgh more equitable for its residents, especially in low income communities and communities of color.

“There are lot of people in the city of Pittsburgh who have not been seen for a very long time,” said Tiffany Taulton, director of community initiatives for the Hazelwood Initiative and a member of the transition committee on infrastructure and environment. “I’m really excited about this opportunity for [Mr. Gainey] to show all of us that we all belong here — that our struggles are real and they’re going to be addressed.”

Leaders of the transition effort said the committees will meet biweekly and will issue a final report of recommendations in mid-April to the new mayor and the general public — built on “an extensive process to engage the public” and solicit feedback from experts, said transition co-chair Angel Gober.

Ms. Taulton, a member of the committee that — according to a written plan — will explore how to improve and maintain the city’s physical infrastructure “with a special focus on environmental justice,” said she wants to ensure that low-income communities and communities of color are considered when city government thinks about health, safety and sustainability.

Hazelwood is one of those communities that’s been “historically neglected,” said Ms. Taulton, who also teaches environmental justice at Duquesne University. It’ll take consciously investing in those communities that have seen long-term disinvestment, and thinking of how long-term plans can weave between numerous subject areas to build infrastructure that’s good for both the city and its residents, she added.

A self-proclaimed “lover of trees,” Ms. Taulton said one of her biggest priorities is to talk about how trees can protect air quality and help to manage storm water in low-income communities that don’t traditionally have much tree cover.

“You have very big disparities in communities of color that often times leave them more vulnerable to flooding, air quality issues and heat island effects,” Ms. Taulton said. “Studies have shown areas that don’t have tree cover can be up to 17 degrees higher than areas that do.”

A desire to right these disparities and foster a “city for all” was at the center of Mr. Gainey’s campaign, and in a welcome letter to the transition plan, he wrote that it’s “our opportunity to unite and plan for the future” of a city long called America’s most livable, but where Black residents — specifically Black women — face outsize challenges. The common thread that should unite the transition committees, the Lincoln-Lemington state lawmaker wrote, is an “equity and empowerment lens.”

Dr. Kathi Elliott, who serves as CEO of Gwen’s Girls and is a co-chair of the health and safety committee, said Mr. Gainey has been engaged on the issue of systemic inequities impacting Black girls and women in Pittsburgh — an issue that she’s worked to address in her professional life.

Dr. Elliott said she’s looking forward to working with the mayor-elect to “tackle the inequities that were highlighted in the Gender Equity Commission report,” a study that Mr. Gainey cited numerous times during his run to assert that Pittsburgh is turning its back on many of its own residents.

The 2019 report found that Black residents in Pittsburgh could move to almost any other U.S. city of comparable size and have a better quality of life — with Black women, for example, facing higher rates of maternal mortality and poverty and lower rates of college readiness and employment.

The health and safety committee, co-chaired by Dr. Elliott and Wasi Mohamed, who is senior policy officer at The Pittsburgh Foundation, will also work to “consider social determinants of health and approaches to eradicating health disparities.” It’s a goal reminiscent of Mr. Gainey’s repeated pledge to bring a comprehensive public health plan to address the root causes of violence, from drug and alcohol use and education to poverty and the lack of opportunities.

The lack of opportunity will be a main focus of the committee on education and workforce development, tasked with making recommendations on how to “achieve shared prosperity” for residents by matching their skills with the needs of the city’s growing economies.

Eager to work with a committee he said “touches all sides of the city” in its diversity and expertise, Darrin Kelly, president of the Allegheny Fayette Central Labor Council and co-chair of the committee, said that in respect of the committee’s work, he’d like to get together with members before talking about specific policy recommendations.

Mr. Kelly said he’ll approach the work by emphasizing the need to protect workers — specifically those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic — and to provide opportunities for people who may not have had them.

The committees will begin their biweekly meetings and public town halls in January, officials said.

Julian Routh:; Twitter: @julianrouth

First Published December 26, 2021, 6:00am