Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  16:12 

What made your parents come to the US?

Corinne Milien  16:16 

Probably the same as most other people opportunity. And it’s funny you ask because they definitely lived a better life in Haiti. It wasn’t a situation where they’re escaping some whatever in their immediate lives. My mother, I have a master’s degree and I’m one of the least educated people right so it was never think like the story people want to paint for immigrants is like, Oh, it was hard. And this is why they came over here. It was an opportunity. Both my parents are educated now supposed to be a doctor, lawyer, Nurse engineer or architect right now. So my mom is still holding out. She still drops little links to law school. My mom, we’re way past that. So yeah.

Jeremy Weisz  17:08 

Now you could just help the doctors offices, law firms and everything with their hiring, right?

Corinne Milien  17:13 

Yeah. Well, I used to think work in sports was going to impress her because he could come to games and hang out and I think she went to one lady ball basketball game. And maybe two because she only knows Brittney Griner. And I gave him my square garden with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State. She was not impressed with either experience. I even got to like VIP hospitality go wherever you want back. Press pass.

Jeremy Weisz  17:42 

She doesn’t care. Let’s move on to the Vols. The University of Tennessee and what did you learn from Pat Summitt?

Corinne Milien  17:55 

People matter. By the time I got there, she had already won eight national championships. But she never left an arena if there are people still waiting on an autograph, right? Like we did camp. And at the time, this is when camps were big time. Like, there was teen camp, there was individual camp, there was all these camps, we were having 1000 girls and on campus and every kid got assigned basketball. And it’s so funny because I can talk to someone now who is in their 20s 30s 40s 50s and they went to a past summer camp, they know they have that ball, they can tell me where that ball is that they got from summer camp. And she didn’t have to do that. I mean, we would be in another arena and people would want to autograph and she’s staying until everyone is getting one. The same with the letters like everybody’s getting a response. It was an every decision she made people were at the cornerstone of that decision. And I think when we see people at a super successful level, we assume like oh they’re so hard and like isolated and all these things that she was surrounded by love because she put love out there as well she homemade ice cream on official visits. Oh you have a project you need but we have this really important game go and do that project because what you’re doing after basketball matters so she did make me cry my first week every day. She wasn’t even in the state of Tennessee but it’s okay. Why is that? I was a mess. I was like coming out of undergraduate Bemidji State Minnesota. And I’m just drove from Bemidji to Knoxville. I don’t know what’s going on. And now I’m responsible for preparing for camp and moving in freshman that never met and I was not doing great.

Jeremy Weisz  19:57 

What is your favorite Pat Summitt story. Personally, whether it’s game practice outside?

Corinne Milien  20:06 

I don’t know this is a good story. But one year we only lost three games. Three games, that’s how many games we lost. And I remember one of those losses was in the Virgin Islands, it was like we were not supposed to lose in the Virgin Islands. And after the game, all the players were like sulking and moping around. But we had a catamaran riot arranged for them to go on. And they are in their minds thinking, we just last we’re not going on this catamaran ride, this is not what we’re about to do. She came downstairs into that dining room and said, you’re gonna have fun, you’re gonna go on this catamaran, you’re gonna do, we got to move on. This is what we came to do it, that’s not what happened. But now we’re here and we have this trip, we’re not letting these people down. People, you know, are counting on us to do this. And if I’m a coach, when I was a coach, if we just lost I’m mad, nobody, right? Like, we ain’t going on a catamaran, but she literally forced them to have fun. And it was a very interesting catamaran ride.

Jeremy Weisz  21:22 

The character where people really shows through when they lose.

Corinne Milien  21:28 

Yes, and again, we had only lost three games that season.

Jeremy Weisz  21:34 

So moving on to ESPN, what were some of the things with some of your favorite stories from ESPN and what did you learn from ESPN?

Corinne Milien  21:43 

As a basketball junkie, being able to go to Puerto Rico on a Coast Guard base, and literally build out an entire basketball arena in a hangar while they’re still running missions. Right? So in Puerto Rico, we’re dealing with local vendors to put the lights put the seats put the core and literally every element we are me and Scott Pomeroy shout out to Scott. We are on-site handling that for 14 to come and play basketball. So Minnesota Louisville, who at the time, the patinas are both coaching. So Mama Patina put them on the same plane and made everybody travel together. And I was like you saving us money, man, thank you, and the Coast Guard Academy. And I’m trying to remember the other team but four teams playing a doubleheader in Puerto Rico on live television was pretty this was kind of when they were just starting to do the ship’s basketball course on the ships and stuff like that. So being able to create unique experiences, not just for the fans, but for the players. Another memorable story is one of my events was the MEAC SWAC challenge. And it’s an HBCU football game Labor Day. And you said what? Who was playing? Well, I’m going to generalize it because I tried to create this kind of experience every year. But it’s a team from the MEAC and a team from the SWAC. And it’s on ESPN at the time. And for a lot of these guys, this is the first time they are on ESPN, or maybe the only time because at the time HBCUs weren’t getting a lot of airtime. But instead of giving another backpack or another journal, I said let’s give them haircuts. Let’s find local barbers in Daytona Beach. Let’s run out the ballroom in the hotel, just set up office hours with barbers. And the guys can come down as a team hangout and get haircuts, even though they will helmets and all these things you don’t see that when you look good, you feel good, you play good. And that was the great, those were the kinds of experiences that really propelled and motivated me during my time at ESPN.

Jeremy Weisz  24:04 

I love it more. I love to hear it, I don’t know any other creative things that you were able to implement and do. Just for ideas. There’s founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs listening. I love the haircuts like outside the box, what other creative things did you do with the events?

Corinne Milien  24:25 

Now I do professional headshots, I’m actually on a personal journey to provide 10,000 headshots. So anytime I go to a conference or I’m speaking or whatever, I have an app and people can scan the app and literally take a professional headshot on the spot by themselves or with a buddy and that could be the difference between them having a LinkedIn picture with their friend like this. Or not having anything right I talk to a lot of athletes and the usually the only pictures they have is of them in and you uniform, and they are so much more than an athlete. And so if I could talk to a group of basketball players and now they have headshots in 20 seconds that they can now put on their LinkedIn to help them see the, hey, it’s not that scary over here, come over here and get a job. So I’m very much about an experienced person I do. That’s my jam, like I’m everywhere nowhere, I’m antisocial. But I like to provide experience. So it’s weird.

Jeremy Weisz  25:34 

I love that headshots. And it’s also a lot of times people’s first impression. And I tell people treat LinkedIn like a high-converting landing page, because there are people even if they know your company, they’ll go directly to LinkedIn and look you up. And I had a person on my podcast yesterday. And he showed up and I was like, how honest do I want to be with this person? I told them I said, your LinkedIn headshot does not represent you. Well, I mean, in general, because they’re really impressive. And what they had on there was nowhere near what showed up in front of me. So it was really interesting. So I love what you said about that.

Corinne Milien  26:18 

Yeah, so yeah, I do. I’m a Georgia Tech women’s basketball season ticket holder. And I take a lot of like leads or clients or people I want to maintain a relationship, some to the Georgia Tech game with me there courtside seats. So that’s a new experience. For some people, they’ve never been courtside at a game and…

Jeremy Weisz  26:36 

I’m coming down Corinne.

Corinne Milien  26:38 

Done, I use Calendly. And you can find a game any game and it sends you all this stuff. And we have a good time and the coaching staff at one point where very lady vol. Ask, like the person who helped me get the job at Tennessee was an associate head coach at Georgia Tech. So when the staff got the job, I immediately became a season ticket holder, they won, I have not missed the game in four seasons, because that coaching staff has shown up for me in my professional journey. And I wanted to show up for them. So very big on relationships. So when you mentioned at the beginning, I was like yeah, this is gonna be good.

Jeremy Weisz  27:20 

ESPN seems like a dream job for you. Right. So talk about what was next and what was the decision to move on.

Corinne Milien  27:30 

I think what actually helped was that ESPN wasn’t a dream job. I have all these assistant coach jobs lined up because I just became a graduate assistant. I just finished being a graduate assistant for Pat summit and I go in, go on campus do the walkthrough could probably go to one of two of these places. And I’m not feeling it. This is not what I want to do. I’m like what people want to be in past summer the coach case will never happen again. In college athletics. The loyalty like both of them would have been fired in three years if they coach now. Like it just not possible. And there was the transition Pat was stepping down and one of her assistants was coming in and brought in a new operations person and he came from the world of football and camps were my jam I really the logistics and all that he was like, Have you ever thought about bowl games? That no because I don’t do football. Football is soccer. He made introduction to the now I think he’s the vice president of events. And I drove to Charlotte had a conversation. A couple of weeks later I’m at ESPN working in the events department. So it never was like oh, me and my family. We watch College Game Day every Saturday. No I did. I didn’t eat. I have never had cable since I worked at ESPN. So I never have seen the network unless someone else is providing it which was like the whole thing in my office. So it was not a dream job. So when I’m there, I’m an adjunct professor and I created a nonprofit with my friend Maria Taylor. It was we were really doing what we were setting out to do, which was create and connect opportunities for minority student-athletes and she was blowing up and we saw it as an opportunity for me to really dive into what we were doing full time. And again it was not the dream job so it wasn’t like oh my gosh, am I the benefits having Pat insurance all those little cute things? Pat insurance and like the Disney passes? Yes, those are sorely missed. But I still get into games somehow. And if I need a Disney pass, I could still get it,, but I wanted to I’ve always known there is a bigger picture for me if I’m running for office, I’m not surprised. So let’s see an opportunity to dive full-time into the nonprofit was something that really drove me.

Jeremy Weisz  30:11 

So what made you decide to start WRK?

Corinne Milien  30:16 

People were taking advantage of donations when they should have been paying invoices. All right, so the nonprofit was intentional about the career development, professional development and a lot of our partners wanted us to actually be a source of talent, they wanted us to go out and find the talent, bring them to them, all of that. And that’s a lot of work. That’s another conversation those are other systems that are need to be in place. And I am surrounded by a tribe of people who have seen me work consistently in this space of making sure one other people achieve their goals with their business. And two, if I can make a phone call an email, a text that can give someone an interview, I mean, that’s nothing that’s that doesn’t cost me anything but my reputation if you mess up but, and so I don’t know if I didn’t have the support of my tribe. Knowing BREAKTHRU Brands was gonna be there alongside me on the journey, if I’m doing it, but I’m so happy I did.

Jeremy Weisz  31:29 

We talked about Eastside Golf. Let’s also talk about Moolah Kicks and what you did for them.

Corinne Milien  31:37 

Yeah, Moolah Kicks, the only women’s basketball shoe. Fantastic technology. I’m afraid of getting hurt. So I don’t have time for rehab. So I do not go on the basketball court. But I have heard nothing but amazing things about literally how the shoe is designed for women’s bodies. It’s not like going to get a pair of Steph Curry’s and getting them in your size. Right? Like these shoes were built for your hips, everything and how a woman plays basketball. It’s built to support them. And she was blown up, she was in a Microsoft Surface commercial during the NBA Finals. And she had just got picked up to be in Dick’s Sporting Goods. And it was a big distribution for her and she wanted the sales associates to understand the technology. So when moms and players came in to buy the Steph Curry’s the associates were saying hey, have you seen Moolah Kicks let me show you the shoe. So we help them find about 16 community champions across the country to essentially be those champions in the Community right to help those associates understand the technology of the shoe and to be a point of connection for the community coaches the players like hey, you should check this shoe out and she was very particular about who she wanted to represent the brand and that’s where WRK’s unique experience and network stepped in. She wanted basketball players who were on campus who had a desire to work in sales or marketing. Right and so to be able to go out in a very short amount of time and find those community champions across the country. From LA to Texas to Indiana, New York and Georgia. It really helped them I believe they were the number one basketball shoe for women. In the last year it was like a big deal. So without being able to focus on the product, we’re coming in to help you find the talent was the big support the big lifts for them. And so we’re excited for what they are going to continue to do for the game because the tagline the built by women for women, right so and Natalie is going to go take this she’s not trying to be the Nike of shoes, right? She’s trying to be the speedo of swimwear, right like we are good at this thing right here come and get these women’s basketball shoes.

Jeremy Weisz  34:26 

You also, we talked about Eastside Golf and Moolah Kicks. And then Wilson Sporting Goods. So on a bigger scale you did work with Wilson.

Corinne Milien  34:37 

Yeah. And they are one of my favorite partners they came through CAA so CAA is a great partner of ours Creative Artists Agency. They also referred us to Eastside Golf who was one of their clients. So Wilson wanted to be intentional about the commitments that they were making in the summer of 2020. And there initiative was called allyship in action. And so we came in to really support what that looks like from a talent, workforce perspective. And I shouldn’t be shocked anymore because the time has passed, but I am shocked. And we get them to pay for 20 Micro internships for minority student-athletes to work in their marketing, their team Sales Team marketing department, which is adult 20 year if you’re listening, you’re like, oh, that’s not a lot. But those are 2200-hour, sorry, 2020-hour projects that assume athlete who normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to gain experience in something other than their sport, while they’re in college, they don’t get right. And so the Wilson team, they really embraced and I don’t use the word mentor a lot, because not everybody is a mentor, but educated these future leaders and the different aspects of sport business and products, right, they create products. So being able to show them that if you have an engineering degree from North Carolina A&T come on over here to help us design this zero waste football that we just launched, right? Like you can be, whatever you think your degree is, or what career you can get, you can find it in sports, and Wilson has been fantastic at creating those opportunities. And just being a great partner and I look forward to I actually ran into Joe Duty, the president of Wilson at the US Open, I’ll have to go see my girl Serena. I don’t know her. But she’s my girl. And it’s like this big, massive crowd, everybody’s trying to get to see the match. And I see Joe. Hey, Joe, what’s going on Joe, and you can see his look, he was so shocked that I remembered him. And I see Joe coming through the crowd, he’s coming to me, I’m like, the president of Wilson is actually trying to meet with me. And he literally said, I’m surprised you remember me, I’m like, you literally created opportunities for my community, you think I’m gonna forget you. So I’m excited about our continued partnership and how they really want to be intentional, again, with how they engage talent and increase equity in their workforce.

Jeremy Weisz  37:23 

Corinne who’s a good fit, what kind of a company is a good fit to work with you.

Corinne Milien  37:31 

A great fit is a company looking to scale, you probably have been running with a couple of folks and you got a big investment or you are getting prepared for big investment. And you don’t have HR internally, no one on the team has any type of people experience and you don’t really want to worry about that. That’s when you call us. That is the bulk of our experience. We have talent acquisition, talent management and fractional CHRO on the team. And they’re going to help you create those systems early. So you stay compliant later, as you’re growing your business. And they’re fun, right? We get to grow with them and really support them. And because we’re uniquely diverse in the language of sports, the nuance of sports, we know those challenges, we may get a call at 2am. Because the freelance photographer didn’t show up for a shoot in Paris or whatever. So we’re gonna be nimble enough to address those. And then for the large organizations, you’re pretty maxed out with your team right now and everything that they’re doing, because you’re supporting a large organization, but you want to implement a strategic initiative, or you want to roll out a Employee Benefits Program, something that is maybe new that you’re looking to implement, we can come in and support that strategy, and maybe even an execution depending on the size of the team.

Jeremy Weisz  39:09 

You said, Corinne before we hit record a little bit about that you check all the boxes. And so I love for you to talk about that for a second. And you get inquiries from people or maybe head of DEI of companies because of that. So talk about what you meant by I check all the boxes.

Corinne Milien  39:29 

Yes, kind of like my tagline. I guess it’s a thing that helps people remember me but I’m black. I’m a Veteran. I’m a woman, first-generation American. I’m a dog owner. I have a Jeep like there’s so many different boxes, I play golf, I love golf. I need to play more. That’s where I’m going today, but I’m looking at the clouds. But whatever your cup of tea, whatever your flavor, whatever you’re into I’m pretty, I might know something about it or I’ve done it, I got the t-shirt. I’m even taking DJ lessons right now. So if you love music, I’m gonna be right there with you talking about the latest Calvin Harris record. So and I love it. I don’t shy away from that. I embrace that, because that’s again, I said earlier, like I challenge people a lot of times I challenged Wilson, I’m like you want interns that are student-athletes, but student-athletes can do interns when you have internships. So we have to create we had to go out now and create a different type of experience for you to engage student-athletes and assess them as talent, right? So but if I don’t speak some language of a specific community in some rooms, maybe I’m not being able to get that across. So I love it. And sometimes we get those calls from DEI and we talk about what WRK is and we ask like, hey, we are not just a novelty, we are a necessity, right? Like when do you bring in the HR team into this conversation? What does that look like so that in a year we’re not trying to chase you down to do business again, because it was a novelty that space isn’t in the budget anymore. But we know there are going to be people there’s a people budget, there’s HR budget, and repeat business if you if you are committed to diverse vendors or diverse business engaging diverse business. Don’t just do us once don’t work with us once have us repeat business for you.

Jeremy Weisz  41:50 

I love it. Corinne, I just want to be the first one to thank you. Thank you for sharing your journey thanks for sharing your story. If you’ve been watching the video, you can see the website you can check it out and to learn more and thanks Corinne for sharing everything.

Corinne Milien  42:09 

Well, I have to thank you because I am excited for what I’m about to ask you after this conversation.

Jeremy Weisz  42:16 

Okay, I’m looking forward to thanks everyone. Thanks Corinne.

Corinne Milien  42:20 

Thank you.