Rolling Out

From NFL to founder: Kristen Ingram offers tips on leveling up, power shifting

From NFL to founder: Kristen Ingram offers tips on leveling up, power shifting
Kristen Ingram (Photo credit: Bjoern Kommerell)

When the NFL Network recruited Kristen Ingram from her cushy position at ESPN, they saw a spark in her that would prove to be a great move on their part. An affiliate marketer, she built a department from scratch and spearheaded marketing strategies that drove viewer engagement, grew traditional platforms and invented new ways to increase viewership. In 2015 alone she garnered over $40M in media value through negotiated barters.

She vaunts, “I put on the most sensational Super Bowl party — NFL media has never done anything like this,” she says, in no way overselling an event that made its own headlines. “I’m doing things that have never been done, simply because I won’t accept ‘no’ for an answer.”

The humble founder of PLUS ONE society, Ingram recently said goodbye to her employee badge and office, with her multiple awards in tow, but not to the NFL Network.

She leads the PLUS ONE society, which she launched in 2015, full time. It’s a social club catering to spirited, enterprising individuals in the Los Angeles area. Committed to creating an experiential environment for like-minded humans to genuinely connect and unplug. The movement represents a reprieve from the digital age with a fundamental belief that we are all in desperate need of real human contact.

Every month PLUS ONE curates a dynamic event designed to engage its members in an enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere. Allowing them the freedom to simply be without egos or pressure.

In 2017, Ingram expanded PLUS ONE society to include a marketing and events consultancy. Predominantly servicing sports, entertainment and media industries this thought leader and award-winning marketer advises clients on how to optimize resources, leverage partnerships and drive engagement to build high-performing campaigns, create invaluable experiential events and negotiate elevated media value across multimedia platforms.

“Social club members network monthly, we create an experiential moment for them where they network and connect, unplugged, Ingram adds. “The rule is there is no cellphone, video, photography or Snapchat. We have these great people come in and do events with our group, like Warren G. or Biz Markie. At first, people are hesitant but once they are in the moment, they forget about social media. They live in the moment. It’s really profound and amazing to see.

“The marketing and events consultancy developed during my transition from a full-time employee with the NFL to a full-time consultant, I now have the freedom to consult in my industry,” she says with a huge smile.

Read what Ingram says about taking the entrepreneurship leap of faith, knowing your worth and surrounding yourself with a high-level network of friends. And how she managed to nab the NFL Network as a client.

What was the tipping point when you decided to give up a steady paycheck to start your own business?
I have secretly been dreaming it for quite a long time. The real push was the restructure in our department and it had been the fourth one in the last two years. It felt like I was starting over so I decided to start over on my own terms and define my value for myself.

How do you as an entrepreneur convey your worth and help people understand that your time and experience have a dollar value? How do you make the distinction?
I am in the fortunate position to have the résumé, nearly 14 years of industry expertise behind me. The great thing about coming from the NFL Network is that it has been my body of work for the last five years. People know me as Ms. NFL. The reputation enters the room before I do. The credibility and price tag are really already established when I get to the table. I am lucky to have that. I haven’t been in a position where I had to justify my value to a client in a meeting.

Your previous employer, the NFL Network, is a client. How important are relationships for you?
They are everything. To the credit of the work, I am great at what I do but so are a lot of people. How I care about people is the thing that separates me from anyone. When I am with you personally and professionally, I am all the way in. I am going to make sure both sides are happy and successful.

The social club speaks to that as well. While it is a business, it is a really a community service that I provide to my peers and colleagues, and people in the city of L.A. I want everyone to have these moments, these connections and be able to thrive in a way that meets their needs.

I have a skill set based in marketing and event production that’s my contribution.

What was your biggest success story in terms of event production at the NFL Network?
It was this past year’s Super Bowl party for the NFL media group. I went into it knowing it was possibly going to be my last one in my then current capacity. I wanted to leave with a bang just in case you didn’t know about me internally. You came to that party and were blown away, and there was no way you could ever replicate that. The great part about that event, party and experience for that client is that it was priceless due to the relationships and the talent who were personal friends and friends of friends. It’s a great position to be in and it’s how I set up a lot of my lanes in the NFL. It puts me in a niche where you have to hire me if you want the same experience.

Biz Markie, a personal friend of mine, deejayed; T.I. did a pop-up performance. Ludacris, Marshall Faulk, Lance Gross, Willie McGinest, and Hall of Fame athletes, among others, were there. The event was valued at $1 million but I managed to produce the event for $150,000 based on my relationships. It was all on GP love, that’s why relationships are so important to be able to level up.

How would your eulogy read?
To read what your clients and C-level executives, as well as colleagues like Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk think of you — they’re so complimentary. It’s really flattering and humbling. I would hope the tone of the event would be really light and celebratory.

In its simplest form, I hope that people would say and feel they were loved by me and they became their best selves or were pushed to a level they didn’t think they’d be able to accomplish.

How do you balance motherhood and work?
I had Tarin when I was 21 and married at the time. When I had her, my career started at the same time. I don’t know any other way. There was no transition. Being a woman and [the] added layer as a woman of color is double the work to get half as far and to add single motherhood to that with no nannies … there are no long hours and working late. You can’t compare your path to someone else’s path, your path is more effective because you have to adapt to be flexible and adapt to many different situations.

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