Kathryn Ducey is the founder of Hire An Athlete, an organization created to support athletes transitioning from retirement to their next career.
Ducey’s mission is to create opportunities for athletes after sports and to influence companies’ perception of athletes with limited “conventional” work experience. With an extensive background in talent management, she is a connector at her core and, in her own words, a “massive empath”. We had the chance to sit down with her where she spoke candidly about the motivation to start her own company and her ultimate goal to impact people on a global scale.
We’re excited to announce the launching of our new video series: #CareerGoals. We’ve been thinking about our career path since we were kids. We want the career that’s as unique as we are. We want to be inspired by the jobs we haven’t heard about. And we want to know how to get them too. #CareerGoals is a video series that will showcase Notable millennials with the dream jobs, the crazy jobs, the coveted jobs, the surprising jobs and the jobs you are dying to get. This content series will inspire audiences to think outside the career box, learn about interesting career paths and help them figure out how to get there. #CareerGoals
What is your organization Hire An Athlete all about? Athletes often don’t have a plan after leaving sports. Hire an Athlete was created to support athletes transition from retirement to what’s next. We have a twelve-week curriculum that has the athlete look inward first and ask the question, “Who am I at the core?” “As a kid, what did I want to do?” Being an athlete is a choice, just like becoming the head of talent. It’s not my identity, it’s not the only thing I can offer. It can transition to other things. Athletes have a coachability and resilience that exists everywhere.
Tell us about your career journey? I have been running people and talent for a long time. At the core, who I am, what my values are, is that we are vulnerable and that we are accountable and we really care and mentor each other. That really helped me transition into what was next. In my opinion, we are all born with the same abilities. When we’re born, we’re all kind of a blank slate and then your parents imprint these limiting beliefs on you that are their own that are passed on from their parents and you become this person. It is possible to actually remove those limiting beliefs and change that framework as time goes on and we evolve.
I was the kind of head of talent who went into companies and turned them upside down. I’d say look, I think we need to get people doing other things that they really love because you are nothing without your people, your people are your engine and 99% of the problem is people are doing jobs they don’t love!
What are 3 tips on how you’ve found success? – A morning routine is really important. That means waking up at the same time every day no matter what. I wake up at 6:30 am. Your writing, your meditating, your reading affirmations, reading a book. The last one is visualization. I practice just like an athlete, I visualize the end goal.
– Break out your day into chunks. Have a few hours where you are doing creative work. No phone. No answering your emails. It’s so important to just be free, to be like a kid again. There is no distraction.
– Follow your instincts. Stay true to yourself. Don’t let someone else tell you how it has to be. There are a hundred ways of doing something and the way that you want to do it is great. Just rock it.
How can people get involved? I run a mentorship program with millennials. A lot of people are so deeply unhappy. The first thing I ask people is what do people come to you for, often? What’s that thing that you will put at the top of your to-do list? You’ll put it above everything else. For me, it was connecting. Everyone always said, you connect so well but you also connect the right people with each other. It’s a small exercise of looking inward and saying what can I be counted for?
How fulfilling is it seeing your work positively impact others? It’s really fulfilling! I grew up as a kid who really cared about people. I was a big weirdo, I drove my parents crazy. I am a massive empath. It runs really deep in my core. To the point where it’s almost a blessing and a curse. The reason I left talent is that I was only impacting 250 people. Most people would say, “that’s a lot!” and I thought, it’s not enough. I want to impact people on a global scale. So this is huge, because sport being at the core, everybody knows an athlete! Who doesn’t know an athlete? There are 300 million athletes in the world. So to me, it’s so awesome because I get to impact people on a global scale and I’m solving a problem that I can actually solve.
I’ve often said this to people, just because it feels easy doesn’t mean it’s not real. We always look for something to feel really challenging in order to think that it is good. We’re told it should feel hard. This doesn’t feel hard. This feels really easy. It’s like being in one of those relationships, it just feels good. It just feels right, it’s aligned with my values. It’s natural.
You’ve clearly found your passion, do you love what you do? I didn’t know what this was going to feel like. They don’t prepare you to when you are 100% aligned with what you are starting. Some people just start stuff or it’s just about the money or fame. For me, I love this idea. I’m fully engaged and it’s fully aligned with who I am. I’m excited. People are seeing the value. All I care about is creating value. That’s it. This is not about anything else, as soon as you see someone’s eyes light up and they say “this is solving a problem” you go, “wow, I’m so thrilled.” This is my mission in life, to solve really big problems.
Some of the biggest associations and companies in Canada have their eye on Hire An Athlete and are hoping to help Ducey fund, launch and get the organization off the ground and running. Make sure to check out Kathryn and the rest of the Notable Connector of the Year award nominees here.