What Being an NFL Cheerleader Taught this CEO About Business
I had a chance to catch up with Nicole Rodrigues, former Oakland Raiderette (2003–2004 seasons) about her journey from cheerleader to CEO of one of the top publicity firms in Los Angeles. Here’s what I learned:
Nicole had always been a driven individual, always pushing herself to be her best. Growing up in California, she had a passion for dancing and sports, and her dream was to one day become an NFL cheerleader, specifically for the Raiders (now headquartered in Las Vegas). She worked tirelessly to perfect her dance and cheerleading skills from elementary school through high school, becoming the first cheerleader at her high school (Irvington) to be a Varsity cheerleader from freshman through senior year. Ahead of auditioning for the Raiderettes, she worked out regularly and took countless dance classes and training sessions offered by the Raiderettes, until she finally tried out for the first time in 2003 and landed a spot on the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleading squad the first time around.
As a cheerleader, Nicole quickly learned that being a professional athlete required more than just talent and hard work. It was a business, and she needed to understand how it worked in order to succeed. Over the years, she learned five valuable lessons that would stay with her for the rest of her life.
Lesson 1: Networking is key As a cheerleader. Nicole had the opportunity to meet and network with a variety of people from all walks of life. From players and coaches to team owners, fellow teammates, and brand sponsors. She quickly learned that who you know can be just as important as what you know. By building strong relationships and connections with these individuals, she was able to create opportunities for herself both on and off the field and many of those relationships have carried into her life today.
Lesson 2: Persistence pays off. Becoming an NFL cheerleader wasn’t easy, and it required a lot of hard work and dedication. Nicole learned the same with her career in PR. She saw that if she wanted to succeed in the business world, she needed to be just as persistent. Whether it was pursuing a new job opportunity or working towards a goal, she learned that perseverance was key to achieving success.
Lesson 3: Presentation is everything. As a cheerleader, Nicole was always in the public eye, and she quickly learned the importance of presentation. From her appearance to her attitude, she knew that every detail mattered. In the business world, she carried that same mentality with her, always striving to present herself in the best possible light.
Lesson 4: Teamwork makes the dream work. Being a part of a cheerleading squad meant working closely with a team, and Nicole quickly learned the value of teamwork. By collaborating with her fellow cheerleaders and working towards a common goal, weather it was selling calendars, attending charity events, performing well, she was able to achieve greater success the closer she worked with her fellow “Raiderette sisters,” as she put it. In the business world, she continued to prioritize teamwork, recognizing that no one person can achieve success alone.
Lesson 5: Adaptability is key. As a cheerleader, Nicole learned that things can change quickly, from routines, to appearances, and she needed to be adaptable in order to succeed. Whether it was a last-minute change in the routine or a shift in the team’s priorities, she learned to adjust and adapt quickly to new situations. In the business world, she carried that same mentality, always staying flexible and open to change.
As Nicole continued on her journey through life, she carried these lessons with her, knowing that they would continue to serve her well in whatever path she chose to pursue. Through hard work, persistence, and a dedication to lifelong learning, she was able to achieve great success both on and off the field and is now the owner and founder of one of the top positioning firms in Los Angeles, serving clients around the world. Nicole is proud to now be her team her cleint’s biggest cheerleader.