Sarah Robb O’Hagan isn’t happy with the search results when she googles her name. Which is surprising, considering the accolades that show up immediately, including being named to such lists as “Most Creative People in Business” (Fast Company), “Most Powerful
Women in Sports” (Forbes), and “Women to Watch” (Ad Age). “I
just started feeling super uncomfortable about it,” Robb O’Hagan
told Convene. “I was like, ‘ Well, that’s fine, but you’re missing the
big pieces of the story where I was a train wreck and having to
deal with some really, really tough experiences.’”
So last year, the former leader of global brands including Virgin,
Nike, and Gatorade resigned as president of fitness-chain company
Equinox Holdings to devote herself to writing and speaking about
how those tough experiences led to her “Extreme You” philosophy.
She wrote her new book, Extreme You: Step Up. Stand Out. Kick Ass.
Repeat., “to flip” the rosy narrative of her career trajectory. “Yes, I
led the turnaround of a $5-billion sports-drink business when I
was 38,” she said, “but had I not been fired twice back-to-back in
my 20s and recovered from that experience, I actually don’t think I
could have led such a di;cult corporate turnaround.”
During a Main Stage presentation at PCMA Education
Conference 2017 in New York City in June, Robb O’Hagan — who
was recently named CEO of fitness studio Flywheel Sports — will
talk about the countercultural revolution she hopes her Extreme
You platform starts in the workplace, and what she’s learned
about failure and leading extreme teams.
Some people perceive “extreme” as a
negative. How do you de;ine it?
That’s a great question. I define being
“Extreme You” as operating at the edge
of your potential. What I mean by that
is at any moment in time — when you
take on a new project or task or client, or
an event that you’re putting on — you
may be doing it for the first time, which
means you’re learning and growing. Or
you may have achieved mastery, which
means you already know what you’re
doing and you’re comfortable. If you’re
living at your extreme, you’re aware of
where you are on that spectrum, and
you’re pushing yourself to learn and grow.
For my book, I interviewed 25 people
across all di;erent career spectrums,
from Condoleezza Rice to skier Bode
Miller to tattoo artist Mister Cartoon.
All manner of highly successful people.
What they all had in common is self-
awareness and humility. They never
act like they’re “all that.” They always
believe that they have more to learn and
they’re curious to push themselves to
learn more — I think that’s the definition
of being extreme. It definitely is not an
extreme-sports addict or an extroverted,
big personality. It could be Susan Cain,
who’s leading the introverts revolution.
She’s a great example of being extreme,
because she’s found something that she’s
uniquely brilliant at in the world and
she’s continuously pushing the boundar-
ies on what that movement can be.
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