Nicole Wool and Crystal Yang Edwards are WISE LA’s Vice Presidents of Communications. Both have served on the Board of WISE LA for nearly two years, bringing with them decades of experience in communications, PR, and marketing. We sat down with both of these brilliant minds to learn how each has paved their way as women in the world of sports.

 

Crystal Yang Edwards, Principal, Make Waves Communications

 

Crystal began her career as an intern at 20th Century Fox. From there, she moved to ESPN, where she spent nearly six years working on The X Games and The ESPYs before moving on to a creative agency, then branching out on her own for a few years. In 2013, she was asked to return to ESPN and became their Associate Director for West Coast Publicity, working on The X Games, ESPYs, espnW, and more. Now, she is a Principal at Make Waves Communications. This journey has truly shaped who she is and Crystal gives us a peak into what she learned from it all.

What was one pivotal moment in your career that has led you to where you are today?

The time I left ESPN the first time (a job I loved dearly), being unhappy at the creative agency job I left ESPN for, and then leaving the agency without a set plan for the first time in my life – that period was the most pivotal. Anyone who knows me knows that I plan everything in advanced, so I took a huge risk outside of my comfort zone. However, I realized I had no right to complain because I chose to take that job and I had the power to change my situation to be happy. So I did. I quickly realized without that agency experience, I would not have known what client servicing meant or learned how to get creative in my pitching in order to secure coverage for products that were tough to sell. Going on my own the first time was a complete happy accident that helped me get where I am today. Coming back the second time was my choice and I’m in a way better position than I was the first time.

What are some of the professional goals you hope to still reach one day?

I’m always learning and I always have my press hit wish list that I’m working towards. However, I can honestly say that I’m really content professionally where I am. I just want to keep learning and improving on what I deliver to my clients. Under promise, over deliver!

How has WISE LA helped you along in this journey?

The workshops are awesome and the connections through the board have been priceless. I’ve had several project leads through this group through the years, and often times, they are opportunities that aren’t posted publicly. It’s all about connections, and having the work ethic and skills to back it up.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

Spending quality social time by being active with friends and family – surfing, playing beach volleyball, taking yoga/Pilates classes, walks – almost any type of sport or exercise! I am a big foodie, love to travel and see the world and spend, all with my family and friends.

What is a book you read recently that you would recommend?

The Circle – scary that we are living in a time where social media and over-sharing is a real way of life.

If you could grab lunch with any famous woman from history, who would it be?

Michelle Obama – She is just the coolest. I want her to teach me how to dress and be as stylish as she is! But really, she is what I think of as a role model and someone who exudes true grace in everything she does. She is also a super active person and led the movement against childhood obesity in her “Let’s Move” campaign while she was our FLOTUS. Also, she did Carpool Karaoke so that means that she’s that much more awesome in my book.

What sports team do you root for and why?

I enjoy watching all sports but don’t necessarily follow any one team religiously. I was a die-hard Angels fan for many, many years. Now I watch beach volleyball, snowboarding, and skateboarding because of my clients and projects.

If you could swap careers with any woman in the world for a day, who would it be?

I would swap with someone on Broadway or in some kind of traveling orchestra that accompanies big-time musicians. I grew up with music being a HUGE part of my life but was never encouraged or supported to pursue it professionally, so there is always that “what if” part of me. Of course, we would have to assume that I could sing and dance like those on Broadway but one can still dream!

Nicole Wool, Vice President of Digital Marketing, Rogers & Cowan

 

Nicole’s career started as far from sports as you can possibly get: working as a civil litigator. However, the contentiousness of litigation combined with the fact that she wanted to “build people up instead of taking them down” made her realize she was not on the right career path. Although she had no intention of going into sports publicity, Nicole fell into the industry as the result of a funny turn of events involving former reality star Heidi Montag and a ski weekend in Sun Valley. However, it was a life-changing sports tragedy that she credits for who and where she is personally and professionally today.

What was one pivotal moment in your career that has led you to where you are today?

Sarah Burke’s death. It not only caused me to shift professionally, but losing someone so extraordinary, so talented, and so gracious affected me profoundly. I was so ill-equipped, so broken… It was indescribable. I wanted to walk away from everything. PR was not supposed to be a life or death, and now it was. I was ready to give up. Sarah Burke? She did everything right. Sarah was supposed to win the Gold Medal in Sochi, the one Gold Medal that eluded her, and which she subsequently made possible for every woman in her sport. This was not supposed to happen. The world needed and needs people like Sarah.

Sarah used to say “Dream Without Fear.” I’d never lived this way and didn’t know how to… My entire career was spent avoiding risk. In fact, just weeks before Sarah’s accident, Crystal and I had breakfast and we talked about how neither of us had faced a real professional crisis and whether we felt we could handle such a thing. I remember telling her I wasn’t ready.

I know it sounds strange, but Sarah’s death, it gave me a new life. I no longer worried about what might happen or stressed about trivial things. I stopped worrying about whether this client got a mention in some story… None of that mattered, at least not to me. On the day of the accident, I received a note in the mail from Sarah regarding some business stuff. On the envelope she’d written a single simple line which said, “I love Nicole.” And that was the best and last thing she ever said to me. I realized that if this incredible person who touched people all over the world could believe in me, I needed to start believing in myself.

As I was contemplating what to do next, a girl I knew, Lauren Jones, who’d been working for Perez Hilton decided she wanted to start her own digital media agency. Truthfully, I desperately needed a distraction – a new direction would give me an opportunity to focus on something else besides my grief. Though Lauren was pretty much a stranger to me at that point, the idea of learning again and doing something new, and not knowing if we’d succeed or fail, made perfect sense.

In fall 2012, Lauren and I formed one of the first full service LA-based boutique PR and digital media companies, Jones Social PR. After five crazy and amazing years, in June, Lauren and I decided to fold our company and join Rogers & Cowan’s new rapidly-growing Digital Department. This transition marks my third major career move in 17 years… It’s an interesting turn of events for a girl who grew up in a home without a computer and whose first social platform was Friendster. Yeah I admit it.

What are some of the professional goals you hope to still reach one day?

Run a large company surrounded by a great team. Ideally in the sports industry but regardless, I just want to do great work which I love.

How has WISE LA helped you along in this journey?

I’ve met some incredible women who are crushing it. Through being in WISE, I’ve gotten to interact and become friends with some very inspirational badass chicks.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

I love going to concerts and sporting events (which is ironic since I still don’t really follow any teams or players), but I love the camaraderie and the energy of being at a live show or game. I’ve also become politically obsessed and am passionate about defending the rights of others. I have a real problem when I see injustice small or great taking place. I have to do something. I’ve found that my law degree has best been put to use in this capacity these days. I’m finally using my skills to help people because I can and want to, which thrills me to no end.

What is a book you read recently that you would recommend?

I know it sounds corny, but The Secret. I’m a firm believer in energy and the power that it wields. It’s completely reshaped my perspective and helped make me a much more positive person.

If you could grab lunch with any woman from history, who would it be?

My mother. She died when I was 15. Years ago, I would probably have said someone iconic like Madonna or Oprah. But today, I’d give anything to have lunch with my mother and ask her all of the questions I never thought to so many years ago… I’d love to hear her opinions and advice on so many topics as well as what she’d make of the world and of me today.

What sports team do you root for and why?

I really don’t… Though I’ve met Susie Spanos twice and LOVE her. So I may become a Chargers fan. We’ll see!

If you could swap careers with any woman in the world for a day, who would it be?

I’d swap with Michelle Obama. I’d love to spend the day hanging with Barack and experience the world, both personally and professionally from her shoes even just for a day. There seems to be this idea that in order to get ahead professionally, a person has to be tyrant. I just refuse to engage in this type of conduct or mentality. I think it’s the job of those at the top (regardless of gender) to help encourage others and foster an environment so more people can get ahead. Michelle strikes me as someone who lives by the principles she espouses. She’s just everything.

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