In this episode, Felisa Israel, Founder of 10 Fold Entertainment and IMPACT Internship, joins Dr. Diane Hamilton as they talk about creating an impact in a male-dominated industry and Felisa’s passion for sharing her success. Felisa shares her journey through the sports and entertainment industry and how she took twenty years of experience in the NBA to build her own full-service event production company. They talk about the importance of imparting knowledge to up-and-comers and how Felisa hired an army of rockstars and trained them herself. Learn the impact Felisa and her team are making through her internship program and how they continued to strive and educate students amidst a global crisis. Get to know how you can infiltrate the sports and entertainment industry and get closer to achieving success.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Felisa Israel here. She is the Founder of 10 Fold Entertainment and IMPACT Internship. She’s got quite a bit of experience in the NBA that she’s taken to help others explore their ability to work in the entertainment and sports industries. It’s a fascinating show. I’m looking forward to having Felisa on.
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Succeeding In A Male-Dominated Industry: Making An Impact In Sports And Entertainment With Felisa Israel
I am here with Felisa Israel. After more than twenty-year career in the NBA, including serving as the NBA Entertainment’s Director of Live Programming and Entertainment, she started to create her own live event production company, which is based in Los Angeles. It’s called 10 Fold Entertainment. It’s a full-service event production company specializing in celebrity talent booking and live sponsored events on a regional, national and international scale. It’s nice to have you here, Felisa.
It’s nice to be here. I’m looking forward to chatting with you. How are you?
I am great. I thank my good friend and dean from the Forbes School of Business, Ray Powers, for introducing us. He had great things to say about your work. I want to talk to you about what you do. I know you’re working on this IMPACT Internship. I know you had this twenty-year plus career in NBA. You have this 10 Fold Entertainment. I want to get your background that led to all this. Can you give us the backstory?
It might be good to start with the fact that I am a former student at Arizona State University. I’m a proud Sun Devil. The reason that I’m bringing it up is important. I don’t know about you, but school was not easy for me. Little did I know at that time how the brain works. I wanted to be a business major. My dad wanted me to graduate with a business degree because he wanted me to learn how to be financially independent and not to rely on anyone for my style of living. I had a hard time, Diane. I have to read the same line over and over again for it to retain in my brain.
In the business college, I had to read twelve chapters and then apply that to multiple question tests. It was challenging for me but I always knew deep down inside that I would do well in the real world. It took me six years to graduate Arizona State, but at least I did it. I wound up transferring to the Communication College. Years later, when I chose to leave the NBA, ASU Alumni Association called me up and they said, “We’re going to be in California. We would like to meet with you for coffee.” I was like, “Okay.” I was thinking if they’re going to hit me up for some of that alum donation.
We’re sitting having coffee. They’re asking me about this new company that I had started and my career at the NBA. I was answering their questions. He stopped me in the middle of it. He said, “I need to tell you the real reason why we’re here. Your name has been selected to be a keynote speaker for the winter commencement ceremony at the School of Communications.” I was like, “Felisa Israel?” They said, “Yes.” I said, “I’m flattered but you realize it took me six years to graduate with barely a 2.5.” They said, “Yeah, we have your transcripts. We know.” I said, “I’m honored but why me?” They said, “Because we’ve been following your career. We find you to be an accomplished ASU alum. We want you to tell your story.” I said, “If you choose me, I will be honored. I will tell my story but I’m not going to lie.” He’s like, “We don’t want you to lie but what does that mean?” I said, “School wasn’t easy.”
My first job out of college was at the Phoenix Suns as a marketing assistant. It was the year that they came off the championship run with Charles Barkley. They are playing Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. I wasn’t a big Suns fan, which is funny. If somebody would have told me that you’re going to have a twenty-plus career in professional sports, I would have been like, “No, wrong girl.” I was passionate and wanting to be in the music and entertainment industry. Somebody told me that sports is entertainment. I was like, “Yeah.” When I started at the Phoenix Suns, first of all, that ticket was on fire. I didn’t realize the power that ticket had. There was no Diamondbacks at the time. There were no Coyotes. After that championship run, it’s the hottest ticket in the country.
I tried to understand many things differently. I understood the power of the value of that ticket exchange. I started understanding how to book talent and work with people in the entertainment industry and how fascinated entertainers were by athletes and vice versa. The first job that was given to me was to be in charge of the National Anthem audition. I was like, “Yes, I am going to find the next Whitney Houston.” I got excited about it. I had my career starting off at the Phoenix Suns in ‘97. I remember Bryan Colangelo who at that time was the president of the Phoenix Suns.Every effective leader builds a team of smarter people. Click To Tweet
He took me to lunch one day and he was like, “Felisa, what would you do if I was to tell you that we acquired a professional women’s basketball team?” I said, “I would say, congratulations. That’s great.” He’s like, “What would you say if I told you that I wanted you to help us build it and run it?” I was like, “Okay.” We didn’t know the name. We didn’t know who the players were going to be. We didn’t know anything but it turned out to be the start of the WNBA and the Phoenix Mercury. It was something that was magical for me, especially as a female, to be part of such a historical time watching these women’s dreams come true right before their eyes.
Never thinking that they would have the opportunity to play in a professional sports league and here they were, living out their fantasies and their dreams. It was something wonderful to be a part of and watch. As I was working for the Suns and helped start the Mercury, I was like, “I want to go to the big city.” I wound up getting a job at NBA Entertainment in New York. I moved to New York in 2000. I helped produce and direct large-scale live events like the All-Star Weekends and international exhibition matches.
There was a department that had started there called TMBO, which stands for Team Marketing and Business Operations. I was one of the original handpicked people to help start that department where we would travel around to the different NBA teams, meet with their presidents, owners and some of their high-level executives and evaluate them. We share best practices, areas of improvement, maintaining the standards of excellence across the league, and reporting our findings back to the commissioner at the time, David Stern.
That was fun and great. I’ve had a great career. It seems glamorous and you’ve experiences too, when you’re traveling and you’re staying at nice hotels. Even though you’re sitting in first class, the coughing and sneezing starts getting a little bit louder and you start getting more sick. I was traveling on six flights a week on three teams a week. It started getting to be a lot. I remember walking into The Four Seasons in Houston. They said, “Hello, Miss Israel. Welcome back. We have your room waiting for you.” I was like, “It’s not my room.” I went into the room and I remember going to sleep that night, lying in bed and thinking to myself, “There are thousands of people laying in this bed doing God knows what. I miss my own bed. I miss my sheets knowing what’s going on.”
You have that realization that you’ve done it enough.
It was a pivotal moment for me. I was a female working in a male-dominated industry. I also happened to have an A-type personality. When opportunities get thrown at me, I say, “Yes.” All I want to do is like a baseball player. I want to keep knocking them out and hitting home runs. That’s the nature of my personality but meanwhile, life moves by quickly. I wanted to be a mother. It’s hard because I proceeded with integrity, a lot of self-respect and a moral compass. I didn’t ever cross any inappropriate boundaries. I focused on the work, accomplishing, being successful and try to make everybody and mostly myself proud. I started passing up time realizing that if I want to have any kids and if I want to be a mom at the end of the day, I got to get to it. People say, “Don’t worry about your clock.” Nope, you got to worry about your clock and stuff.
I made some lifestyle changes. When the economy crashed, I took the initiative and the risk of becoming an entrepreneur. I’m like, “I’m going to do it.” At that time, the NBA had a celebrity entertainment basketball league that was under the radar in Los Angeles. Prior to that, when I was living in New York, I was there during 9/11. That was the most unbelievable experience of my life. It made my family who was still in Phoenix feel very far away from me. I was able to transfer at that time to the NBA satellite office in Santa Monica. I became in charge of the Western Conference region with all my travels and evaluations. There were two other people working in that satellite office and they were running this celebrity league, which was called the NBA Entertainment League at the time.
In ‘08, I negotiated a deal with the commissioner, Adam Silver, and I wound up acquiring that property. It had guys on there like Jamie Fox, Will Farrell, Casey Wasserman, Bob Myers who was the GM of the Golden State Warriors, and all of these different people, producers, directors, agents from CAA and WME. It was a very powerful networking room. I didn’t realize the power of the Hollywood industry. I joked that for the girl who never wanted to do anything with basketball, I wound up owning one of the largest celebrity basketball leagues in Hollywood. After I did that for a few years, I’ve wound up going back to my passion of starting up my own live event production company called 10 Fold Entertainment, where we produce large scale live events, everything from the World Series of Beach Volleyball. We executive produced that for five years. Those are pre-qualifying events for the Olympics.
The man who owned that property, Leonard Armato, was Shaquille O’Neal’s former agent. We came together and built something that was fun and amazing. It was broadcast live initially on all NBC platforms nationally and internationally, and then transferred to ABC, ESPN. We also had a music festival. Bleacher Report and all of these other properties have become our clients, which is Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. It was so fun. When I left the NBA in ‘08, I quickly realized that I didn’t have the NBA resources, money, or their entire infrastructure including lawyers, CPAs, etc.
I had to get creative quickly and I started a relationship with UCLA Anderson Business School. At the time when I had the Entertainment League, otherwise known as the E League. It’s not what’s now known as the E League. That one is E-Sports. What I had was Entertainment League. I hired all these amazing students. I had a sexy product. I had a room full of celebrities and influencers. They came and they build business models, ticketing strategies and marketing strategies that was awesome. Transferring over to when I have 10 Fold Entertainment and World Series of Beach Volleyball. I remember I went to Leonard. It was a 60 live events broadcast.
I said, “Leonard, I’m going to need a budget to hire a team.” He said, “I don’t have that budget.” As an effort to not lose that opportunity, I went back to the well at UCLA Anderson. I told myself, “I’m going to go hire an army of rockstars. I’m going to train them. I’m going to turn them out into these amazing professionals.” I taught them how to do sponsor activations, stage managing, how to be a producer, how to be a director, how to write a script, run a show, and deal with the TV trucks and NBC. I fell in love with this process of working with the younger hungry generation, and seeing what they absorbed, what they were made of, how they took what I said and became rockstars.
Fast forward a few years ago, Anderson Business School at UCLA asked me if I would teach a high-level sports and entertainment class. I was like, “Yeah. Let’s do it.” I did it and one of my former interns, I asked him to come on and be my TA. His name was Nathan. We did it and I wound up loving that process. My former intern but now co-founder, Lexie King said, “Felisa, since you left the NBA in 2008, we have trained, mentored and helped to place upwards of 100 students. We need our own program at Anderson Business School. I want to build a business model and pitch it.” I was like, “Great, let’s do it.”
We built a business model, we pitched it and Anderson bit. I’m proud to say that we have our own professional development internship placement program for students who want careers in the fields of sports, entertainment and media. We own this program called IMPACT Internship. It’s housed out of UCLA Anderson Business School. They are officially our educational host partner. It’s not exclusive to UCLA students. It’s open to students all over the world. Our pilot season was in 2019. We launched as the college scandals came out. It’s not the best time to start something new.
The dean was like, “Let’s quality over quantity for the first year and see how the pilot season goes.” We’re like, “No problem. We’re grateful for the opportunity.” We had a student from ASU that we placed at the agency on record for Disney, Marvel, Lucas Films, and Ryan Seacrest Management Company. We had a student from Indiana University that we placed at Wasserman Sports Agency. We had another student from Concordia Irvine that we placed at the Dodgers. We’re so happy. It’s a lot of work but we were so proud. Going into year two, our business model was working. As of March 1st, we had over tripled our numbers. We were on our way, then in March 15th, everything came to a screeching halt.
We also had confirmed our 501(c)(3) scholarship fund as well, which we were excited about. A few days after COVID was official, the time period where people were sitting around twiddling their thumbs, trying to figure out what’s next, Lexie, my co-founder was like, “Let’s start reaching out to your contacts and our contacts and see who would maybe do a speaker series.” This was before people started understanding what Zoom was. One of the first people I texted is Jerry Colangelo and he’s like, “I’m in.” He was one of our first speakers, the Chief Revenue Officer of the New York Mets. I got an hour and twenty minutes of Jerry before he was like, “Felisa, it’s time to wrap things up.” I was like, “I’m squeezing the juice out of this orange.”
Are they all sports leaders? Who are your speakers?Knowledge is power; and experience is power. Click To Tweet
It’s sports and entertainment. We have the speaker series, but then UCLA asked us to rebuild our business model to a completely online format. We said, “Yes. We’ll figure it out and make it happen,” so we did. We had a masterclass and we’re finishing up the six weeks of experiential learning projects, etc. It’s considered extended learning. Before we started the masterclass, I was so frustrated as we were building out the programming. I couldn’t stand with every fiber of my being my 25-year career working in professional sports. I loved my job not because I loved the sport. I loved it because I loved the fans. I loved my work. One of the things that made me successful at what I do is because I didn’t get emotionally caught up in the actual game. I was able to focus on my responsibilities in the fan experience and catering to that.
During COVID, when people were like, “When are games going to come back? When is the fan experience going to come back?” I was like, “This is crushing my spirit.” One day I was like, “Screw that. I’m a master in this language. I know the fan experience better than anybody. I know the game day experience better than anybody. I’ve mastered that language. I’m going to bring that experience to our educational platform.” We called it The Fan Experience. We build out this program where we had pregame, post-game, halftime, which was lunch. We had a company that comes in who does college tours with Amazon where they produced live performances, deejays and stuff for the students who were the fans. The speakers were the players. We had time outs. We had quarter breaks. It was great. It was so fun. We created an interactive experience and the students had a great time. We build it out and we teach in a way where I wish I had that more than jobs.
It’s interesting to see the way that ASU and others have expanded and changed what they do. From our timeframe of what we experienced, I’ve taught so many online courses. I would love to hear how you did this. When you built this out, are you using LMS’s like Canvas, Zoom, or something like that? What are you doing to create this experience?
Every effective leader, one of the smartest things that I’ve learned that they could do is build a team of smarter people. That’s what I have. I know where my strengths are and I know where my lane is. I also know where my areas of improvement are. I supplement those areas with people who have strengths in those respective areas. One of the partners that we have as a digital media partner who encouraged us. She’s like, “You should build an online platform.” I was like, “I don’t know what that means.” I didn’t have online learning at ASU. I barely had computers. I had to hire a typist to write all my papers for me.
She encouraged us. She’s a coder and she knows how to build online programs. We followed her lead. We were a little bit ahead of the game. I used to love the word pivot. Now it’s takes everything out of me. We’ve adjusted accordingly. We wound up doing this online platform. It’s because we had the right people. It’s one of the reasons that we were introduced to Ray with the Forbes School of Business. I’m excited to have a partnership officially with them as well, building out program and content for his program as well, which is super exciting.
In January, I was like, “I’ve got the Phoenix market to tap. Why don’t we go in there and start infiltrating in?” We did that to try to test market online. In 2019, we had our pilot season to do proof of concept. We knocked it out. We did the proof of concept. We were confident that 2020 was proof of business. This is when we’re going to generate some dollars. With that said, we were going to do proof of online with the Arizona market. Once that was established, we would build that to other relationships and placement partners throughout the country and throughout the world. I have an incredible Rolodex.
When you say you did it in Arizona, are you working with schools like you did with UCLA? Are you working with businesses? Who are you working with?
When we came here before knowing anything about COVID and wanting to look to build an online presence, we met with the Suns, the Mercury, the Arena, Talking Stick, the Diamondback, and the Cardinals. They all agreed to become placement partners. For example, last summer, when I told you we placed those three students at the Dodgers Talent Agency.
Those are the place where your interns will end up. You’ve worked with them to place them at these companies.
We also did speaking engagements at ASU like sports business classes, GCU Grand Canyon University. We had some good success happening. We had some students from ASU in our program this summer, which I was proud of. I’m proud of everybody that’s involved. We’re looking to expand and build our relationships with everyone that we can so that we can give a fulfilling and rewarding experience to people that might not have access or know how to infiltrate the sports and entertainment industry. It’s my give back. It’s something that I’m proud of as well.
When they do this online experience that you’ve created, how long of a timeframe does this encompass?
It’s eight weeks.
Do they have to be attending at UCLA?
They can be going to school anywhere or not even in school, or do they have to be in school?Show up or show out. Click To Tweet
They don’t even have to be in school. We had two students who have graduated. One graduated from Pepperdine in 2020, and the other one graduated from GCU but he also went to business school. They could be undergrads who are serious about the work environment. They could be graduates in business school. They can be graduates and not be in business school, but people who are serious about work and work experience.
If I came to you and said, “I’d like to go through your internship program. Not so much sports but more entertainment.” What would that entail?
The first thing you would do is you would go to Google and you would type in www.ImpactInternship.com. There’s a place where you can register. You can submit an application. We would ask you to submit an application. It is free to do that. In that application, it asks you all kinds of questions about your passions, your goals, what are some of the things that you want to accomplish and learn more about, sports, entertainment, media. It breaks it down so it’s intricate in understanding who you are. We set up an interview with you. We get to learn a little bit more about you. It’s a very informal conversation. I don’t like to use the word recruiter because I don’t see myself as a recruiter and that’s not what we intend to be.
We want to look to match it. Before I got the job at the Suns, I wanted to be in the music industry and the entertainment industry. I had no idea how to access it. I got jobs at Tower Records and radio station in Arizona but I didn’t know big Hollywood. We get to learn a little bit more about you. Let’s say, you come and you’re a student. You’re like, “I want to have a nationally syndicated radio show one day. I’m not quite sure how to go about doing that, but I would love to learn more about what it takes to accomplish something like that.” We go into our 30-plus placement partner Rolodex. We’ll start seeing what are some good opportunities that would help support your interests and desires of what you ultimately want to accomplish in your professional career.
We set you up with interviews with some of the respective areas of our placement partners. You have to earn it on your own merit. This is not like you pay us. We guarantee you a placement. It’s free to interview with us. It’s free to apply. It’s free for us to set up secondary interviews for you. You have to earn it on your own merit. We coach you up, mentor you and help guide you. We help prepare you for what should be a successful interview. We also teach you how to research everything so that you gain the knowledge and the basic fundamentals of knowing what you need to do to nail that interview. We don’t do the work for you. We guide you through it. You earn it and then once you earn it, they make you an offer. Usually, it’s only paid internships. Because of COVID and because there weren’t a lot of internships available, and because they all froze because everybody was getting furloughed, we made some adjustments. At the end of the day, knowledge and experience is power. We have some interns who are in paid internships and some who are not in paid but are learning incredible experience. That’s where we are with that.
I’m doing some work with Dr. Gilda Carle, who has always been on all the talk shows and all this through the years. She’s very much like Dr. Phil spun off of Oprah. She spun off of Sally Jessy Raphael. She is a media professional and more on television. Since I have radio experiences, the two of us would do something we would call Your Media Docs. We train people if you wanted to have a radio show, if you wanted to get media experience, we do that kind of thing. I’m thinking of the things that we do. When you’re training people in the eight weeks of what they go through, what does that experience look like?
It’s a very intensive masterclass. They’ll hear from about 4 to 6 speakers a day for 5 days. Everyone from high-level executives and high-level decision makers to specialists in certain fields, resume building, LinkedIn, contract negotiation and academic professors. It’s 80% in the workplace and, 20% academic. We teach them that in the first week. They then start their internships for the next 7 to 8 weeks. Every Friday, all the students culminate back with us when it was in-person at UCLA. For the people that we’re going to have virtual internships in other places, they would dial in on Zoom. That’s what our initial plan was pre-COVID. Every Friday, they culminate back with us and we would either do field trips and more high-level speakers.
The students become peers and colleagues of each other in this program. They will start sharing their challenges of what they’re experiencing in their internships, their growth opportunities, examples of how they overcame any adversity. Some of the things that they’re proud of and why. What’s great about this too and something that I personally love is we were dealing with students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s very diverse before it became a hot topic as it’s become. One of the reasons that I say that is because my co-founder, Lexie King, started with me several years ago as an intern. About a year into working with me, she divulged that she grew up homeless. Her parents were incarcerated. I was like, “This is not a conversation that I’m accustomed to having every day.” I immediately was taken aback only because her work ethic was so fierce. She was in her early twenties. She was a Millennial. The word lazy doesn’t even come into the vocabulary when describing her entitlement. It’s none of that.
I said, “Aren’t you a student at UC Santa Barbara?” She goes, “Yes.” I said, “How are you managing?” She goes, “I’m working three jobs.” I said, “I’m one of those jobs?” She said, “Yep.” I would have never known. I have a simple philosophy, show up or show out. She’s one of those people who showed up 100% of the time. I realized in that moment when she divulged these things to me, I was like, “This is a human being who has used her upbringing as a reason to succeed rather than as an excuse why she’s not.” I felt that it was immediately my responsibility to give her wings. It’s funny because I say that she now flies circles around me because she does. She is extraordinary.
She always says that she’s learned a lot from me, but I’ve learned a lot from her as well. We continue to every day. It’s a beautiful thing. With our scholarship, we wound up having 3 or 4 students on scholarship from multiple various backgrounds. This is going to become an alumni group of people who will become a sports agent, a coach, and different kinds of things in the field of sports and entertainment. They’re going to be able to comfortably call each other and help each other out in the future. Regardless if this one went to an Ivy League school and if this one didn’t have the fortune to be able to do that. That’s another thing we’re extremely proud of.
The scholarship comes through what means? Is it part of UCLA?
We built it ourselves. It’s under IMPACT Internship. It’s run under the umbrella of The Giving Back Fund. It’s called the Impact Internship Access Scholarship Fund. There’s more information about that you can apply for a scholarship on our website as well.
Normally if they don’t have a scholarship, who pays for this, the student or the potential employer?
It’s the student.
As you’re looking at the entertainment industry, let’s say somebody wanted to do this but they don’t want to go into sports necessarily as a form of entertainment, but more Hollywood type of entertainment type of situation. Do you have to have live in LA or New York to get those positions? For example, you want to live in Arizona. What opportunities are there outside of those two main fields?Every single human being on the planet has an individual story. Click To Tweet
A student that came to us from ASU in 2019, she very much wanted to be in the entertainment business. We got her an interview with Tandem Entertainment, which is the agency on record for Disney, Marvel, Lucas. It is also a brand and marketing management company for performers, actors, influencers, and fashion designers. She wound up coming out to Los Angeles for the internship. She wound up getting an incredible experience, lifelong relationships and she networked. She was able to prove herself and they loved her. She had one year of school left. This girl, her name was Jessie, was able to learn about what she likes and what she doesn’t like about the entertainment industry.
She’s a dancer. It’s funny because one of the guest speakers who spoke in our class one summer is the manager for Boyz II Men and Joey Fatone. He used to work with NSYNC and Justin Timberlake. He was so taken with Jessie in class because she was so inquisitive and engaged. He called me one day and he’s like, “We’re going to have a boy band reunion theme at Dancing with The Stars. I’m wondering if your girl Jessie would want to shadow me that day.” I’m like, “Are you kidding?” I called Jessie and she’s like, “Yeah.” She figured it out. She got herself to LA. She spent the day on set with him and followed around Joey Fatone and met Cher. She was there that day and works with some of these professional dancers that she’s so enthralled with.
There are opportunities all over the place. There’s constant coaching, mentoring and it’s forever because this is something that I and my team are so sincere and genuine with wanting to teach these students. People have said to me for years like, “Felisa knows everybody.” I’m like, “Yeah.” It’s great for my ego but what do I do with that? You heard people say, “Your network is your net worth.” I thought to myself, “Let’s put that to work.” All these people want to give back and they want to deal with students. It’s such a lovely thing. I have to tell you the amount of people, coworkers, peers, colleagues of mine that have been interested. They see what I’m doing on social media and they’re like, “Felisa, I’m in. I want to teach. I want a curriculum. I want to be a part of this.” These are heavy hitters.
I’ve been teaching online since 2006. Back then, it was such a different thing. COVID had made this an awareness that has never been seen in my time at least. It’s fascinating to see where this is going to go. I love how you said you want people who want to give back. You mentioned you did work with charities like Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. You also have Straight But Not Narrow. I’m curious about that. What do you do with them?
Do you know who Josh Hutcherson is? He played Peeta in The Hunger Games. You might not know who he is, but there are millions of others too.
I could see him in my mind now. I didn’t realize that was his name. Is he a part of this?
That’s his charity and it’s for straight people who support gay lifestyle. First of all, Josh is an extraordinarily good human being. I love working with him because he’s such a genuine person. With all of the events that I’ve produced, my Rolodex gained a lot of people in the entertainment industry when I had the Entertainment League. He was one of the people on the Entertainment League. Because they trusted me and I spoke a certain language that they love called basketball, I would put on these different events and charity. I produced charity events for celebrities and all kinds of people that way. He asked me, “Can we collaborate and do this together?” At that time, I had produced the Nike 3-on-3 tournament for AEG at LA live. It was a natural transition in, but then when I was doing the World Series of Beach Volleyball, we transitioned over to them. There was a much larger audience. I was able to get him on NBC promoting SBNN, Straight But Not Narrow. He was happy about that.
When you started with the Sun at that time, that was such a big deal, KJ, Majerle, Barkley timeframe. I remember going back to meet them in the locker room for something afterwards. A friend of ours knew them or something. It’s interesting to see behind the scenes. I found that interesting when I went to an Oscars After Party. It’s not at all behind the scenes what you think it is. Is there anything that was surprising to you when you got to Hollywood and found out what it is? When you talk to students, does that come up that what you think it is might be different?
Thank you for thinking of it in that perspective. People have said to me often in knowing a lot of people, “How do you get many people to respect you?” First of all, it’s because I respect myself. Second of all, I love people. Every single human being on the planet has an individual story. As a matter of fact, I refer to my classes as #ClubNoJu, which stands for Club No Judgment. I set a precedence right off the bat. I say, “Everybody in this classroom has their own story. They’re made up of their own thoughts, opinions, convictions, desires, passions, storylines, whatever it might be. We are here to be a supportive and safe space for each other. It doesn’t matter what your thoughts are. It doesn’t matter what your opinions are. We are here to support each other, not judge each other, and have mature, respectable conversations so that we can grow together.”
People change all the time. With that philosophy, I treat people like people. One of the greatest compliments that I received was when I first left the Suns and I started working at the league in New York. They were going to have the first WNBA All-Star game. It was going to be hosted in Phoenix. My new colleagues at the league went back to Phoenix to do a site survey. I did not go. They came back. We had a huge debrief in the conference room with the whole staff that went. I was new. I was still a rookie in this infrastructure. One of the guys was like, “I have to say Felisa Israel is like the mayor of Phoenix.” I was like, “Is he going to be sarcastic? Where’s this going?” He said, “Felisa, everyone loves you. The security guards love you. The janitors love you. The guest service representatives love you.” I was like, “Yeah. They love me because I treat them as importantly as I treated Jerry Colangelo,” who’s the owner of the team at the time.
Have you done a TED Talk by chance, TEDx Talk or anything like that?
You should do that. You would be such an awesome speaker talking about that thing, how everybody’s got their individual story. You’re unique in how you’re helping people in what you’re doing. I was on a call with the GCU. They have a TEDx group here in Phoenix. I was talking to them about that. I do some work with TEDx Wall Street. There are many TEDx groups. You have such an inspirational story, especially you’re like me. I didn’t love going to school. It’s funny I ended up with a PhD because I hated going to school. I hated driving and parking. I love this whole online way of learning. Sometimes not everybody gets straight A’s. Even the ones who do aren’t usually necessarily your best people out in the world. It’s people like you who have that desire to do more and to be more. It’s not about memorizing for the test.
It’s true. My father was a street smart guy. There are book smart people. I had a little bit of both as far as influences in my life go. I knew who I was, what I was capable of, and what’s important to me. One of the things I’m struggling with and trying to stay in a grateful space of gratitude is with this whole online thing because I’m such a lover of human connection. I love looking into people’s eyes. I like feeling. I’m responsive to energy. I’m very careful and I bite my tongue more so than not of saying, “I can’t say it. I hate it.” When I’m interviewing someone and it freezes for a second, I want to pull out every strand of my hair. I’m also a producer so I’m a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to that.
It is a different means of communicating. That’s for sure. There’s a place for all of this different type of learning. I love that you’re doing these internships because I liked that whole speaker series. We did something similar at the Forbes School of Business, which is now University of Arizona. We did the same thing. We’d bring in Steve Forbes and these amazing speakers. That’s such a great way. Maybe now we have to do it through Zoom or whatever. When you could bring in the top people in their fields and share some of this knowledge with the people who are trying to learn and get experience, everything you’re doing sounds like a perfect model. I’m excited about it.
If you want to broker the TED Talk situation, help me, Diane.
I’ll have to introduce you. There are many good ones in California. I know a lot of people have done them at Berkeley. They have the different TEDx groups throughout.
We’re expanding to Arizona. We now have a presence both in Arizona and LA.
What was interesting about the GCU TEDx is that it’s completely student run. I like that because I want to support the students. The TED Talks are getting to be even shorter. Some of them, the optimal length when I was talking was 7 to 8 minutes. They’re starting to do even shorter ones.
That’s all part of the quippy thought process.
There are many great groups though. Sometimes it helps to watch a bunch of TEDx videos to see the production value in some of that and what you want to have. Since you have that ability to have that entertainment and quality production eye, you’d be able to see which groups do a great job at that. If it’s more important to you to have the student focus or the local focus, whatever it is. There are a million of them. Every year, they look for applications. Their focus is spreading ideas if you have a unique idea and a unique message that you want to share that no one else has shared. For me, since my work and my research is in curiosity, I discovered the factors that inhibit curiosity. No one else has researched that before. That’s a new idea we’re spreading. When you talk to them, it’s having a great idea that’s about the listener. A lot of people go in to sell books or to get business for their company. You can’t go in for that reason. It’s got to be more this is what I want to share with the world. You’d be a natural at that. You’re a great speaker. I hope you end up doing that and we’ll have to talk more.
Thank you so much. First of all, I feel like you and I are kindred spirits. I can talk to you forever. I don’t feel like that with a lot of people.
We had so much fun the first time we met. This has been great too.
A little word of advice for your readers as it pertains to what I’ve experienced and what is staged tried and true for me, is that if you hold on to what you are authentically passionate about, you will succeed in finding and accomplishing what you want as long as you stay true to yourself. It might not come in the form or fashion or the package that you think. I didn’t think that I would find or gain any fulfillment working in professional sports because I didn’t think that’s what I wanted to do. I want to be working with more celebrities and performers. I’ve worked with them all, just on a completely different platform. To me in basketball, the court is not a court. The court is a stage.
That’s a great way of looking at it. What you’re doing is amazing. A lot of people who are reading this are going to want to know how they could find out more about 10 Fold Entertainment and IMPACT Internship. Are there some sites that you want to share or some way to follow you on social media? What’s the best way?
I’m not a Twitter person. We do have Instagram and Facebook. Instagram is the way to go if you want to follow us for updates. That’s on @10FoldEntertainment. That’s for the production company. For the internship program, it’s @IMPACTInternship. You’ll find us on Instagram with that and also the websites. Each company has its own individual website. Please feel free to reach out. I love talking to everybody who’s interested. You can’t pay people to be passionate. Anyone who has a glimpse of passion about any of these subjects, I encouraged to reach out. It’s my pleasure, my privilege, and my honor to be able to help people reach things in their life that they struggle to reach on their own.
Felisa, thank you so much for being on the show.
You’re doing such a great thing. What an incredible opportunity. I’m grateful for the chance to be able to chat with you. Thank you for spending the time with me.
I’d like to thank Felisa for being my guest. I always have such a great time talking to her and what she’s doing is impressive. We get many amazing people on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you take some time to check out the site and check out some of the shows. I hope you join us for the next episode.
- 10 Fold Entertainment
- IMPACT Internship
- Facebook – 10 Fold Entertainment
- @10FoldEntertainment – Instagram
- @IMPACTInternship – Instagram
About Felisa Israel
Felisa Israel is the Founder of 10 Fold Entertainment. After a 20+ year career in the NBA, including serving as NBA Entertainment’s Director of Live Programming and Entertainment and helping to start the WNBA, Felisa started her own live event production company. Based in Los Angeles, 10 Fold Entertainment is a full service event production company, specializing in celebrity talent booking and live sponsored events on a regional, national and international scale. Guided by a passion for creating memorable live moments and a philosophy of doing everything tenfold, Felisa and her team have partnered with some of the biggest names in Sports, Entertainment & Media to produce a variety of successful events, using their unique blend of expertise to excite audiences and exceed expectations at every stop. After leaving the NBA, Felisa wanted to make an impact beyond the world of sports. She has since worked with charities such as Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Straight But Not Narrow to produce fundraising and awareness events, moderated and participated in panels with industry experts to help further positive and creative discussions, and built a strong relationship with the UCLA Anderson School of Management, teaching students, hiring and training interns, and influencing the next generation of rockstars in their fields. This experience led her to create IMPACT Internship, a professional development training and internship placement program for college students interested in careers in Sports and Entertainment.
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