Molly Fletcher’s is an inspiring story of how hard work pays off. Her love of sports led her to a career as a sports agent, which is a largely male-dominated space. ESPN recognized her as the female Jerry Maguire, which pretty well sums up her success! These days, she makes her rounds on the speaking circuit, delivering inspiring messages and helping others find their own successes and joy, just as she has. Today, we’re thrilled to welcome Molly Fletcher as our FACES of Atlanta feature!
Are you from Atlanta, and if not, how did you arrive here?
That’s actually one of my favorite stories to share when I am speaking. I moved to Atlanta in 1993 after graduating from Michigan State University. I was a student-athlete there (tennis) and knew I wanted to work in the sports industry. The Super Bowl and the Olympics were both coming to Atlanta, so I packed up my Honda Accord and drove to Atlanta with my summer savings in my pocket—$2,000 in cash. To make a long story short, I ended up negotiating free rent at an apartment complex in exchange for teaching tennis lessons. That gave me enough time to build connections and get a foot in the door.
Tell us a little bit about your family—human, furry or otherwise.
My incredible husband, Fred, is my rock and my best friend. He has amazing faith and is a wonderful husband and father. We have three daughters—our oldest, Emma, is 12, and our twins, Kate and Meg, are 11. All sporty and great, great fun.
CNN dubbed you the “female Jerry Maguire.” Tell us about that— how did you wind up in the world of sports, and what did you do there?
My first job when I got to Atlanta (outside of teaching tennis for free rent!) was answering phones for Super Bowl XXVIII. “Super Bowl 28. This is Molly,” hundreds of times a day. I met enough connections in that role that I was able to land a marketing job with a local sports marketing agency, and we saw an opportunity to grow the representation business. I loved recruiting the athletes and managing their careers, so that became my focus. Over almost two decades, we grew from a dozen or so clients to hundreds and formed a great team of agents. CNN started the “Jerry Maguire” nickname and it stuck. It seems to give everyone an immediate frame of reference and connection point.
What was the most challenging part of working in a male-dominated industry?
I was often the only female out on the range or in the boardroom. I would say to myself, aren’t I lucky that they remember me? In the sports agent industry, there are actually more agents than there are athletes to represent, so it’s incredibly competitive. Being a female was an obvious differentiator, but I definitely reframed it as a positive. I could bring a different perspective than my competitors. I was also lucky enough to have strong mentors who gave me the opportunity to go after it and didn’t see my gender as an obstacle.
What inspired you to transition from sports agent to starting your own company?
I’m a big believer in staying open and curious in anything in life. That’s when unexpected opportunities arise, and I’ve always welcomed evolving. I have always been a self-help junkie. I wrote my first book while I was still a sports agent, with no intention of it turning into anything other than a tool for young people who wanted to get into the industry of their dreams—sports or otherwise. I started getting requests to speak, and I discovered it was something I was really passionate about. It’s a special feeling to be able to impact people from all walks of life in all different industries. I’ve always been fascinated by what drives peak performance and how we discover our best selves. I started my own company to really share that passion and help people, teams and organizations dream, live and grow fearlessly.
What has been the most fulfilling aspect of running your company?
The most fulfilling part is the emails, letters and stories from people of how my keynote message, books, team build—whatever it might be—helped them. The woman who emailed me after hearing my negotiation message, went in and asked for what she wanted with her boss and got it. Or a team build with a sports team and then watching it translate into more wins on the field. The moments are endless. I absolutely love what I get to wake up and do every day. I am very thankful.
Do you have a mentor? And if so, tell us about that person.
We usually think of mentors as older, wiser people in our field, but when we filter the world through a lens of curiosity, we find mentors all around us. Yes, I’ve had wonderful mentors who have helped me professionally, but equally powerful have been the unexpected mentors—powerful, brief little moments that happen daily. I have spiritual mentors, fitness mentors, parenting mentors, peak performance mentors, other leaders. I love getting advice and gaining clarity by seeking diverse perspectives.
What is one piece of advice you’ve been given that you treasure?
That when you say “no” you say “yes” to something else.
What is your best piece of public speaking advice you can offer someone?
Know your audience, and know their world. What are they worried about? Excited about? Be prepared. Be authentic. Be relatable. Be humble. Make them cry, laugh, and try to have them on their feet when you end.
With so many pro sports teams in Atlanta, do you ever find yourself wishing you were still signing players and working with teams?
I love the Atlanta sports scene and am thrilled to see it continue to grow. My career as a sports agent was a special chapter in my life, especially the relationships I built and the unique opportunity I had to help players and coaches maximize what’s really a short window of their lives. I’m lucky to still have a lot of those relationships, but I have found my true calling now.
What was your most recent “wow” meal in Atlanta?
My husband’s baked codfish with grilled asparagus. Sorry, probably a boring answer, but the truth.
What books are currently on your bedside table?
When you’re not working, how do you unwind?
My family is definitely what energizes me. When I’m not working, I’m probably driving carpool or watching my girls’ games. Working out is also a release for me, and I like to switch it up—tennis, yoga, lifting weights. Thunderbolt Power Yoga in Atlanta is my go-to spot for a great workout that also clears my mind! The best yoga in town, period!
Where in the world would you most like to travel?
Top 20 golf courses in the world, a tour with my husband, would be great fun. The Galapagos Islands, African safari, BVIs on a boat with my family.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
That I call my mom EVERY day, and I am 43. That I go to bed at 9 p.m.
What three things could you not live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
Working out, our goldendoodle, Brees, and laughter
Thank you, Molly, for sharing your insight with us today. To learn more about Molly, visit her website, mollyfletcher.com.
And thank you to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for today’s great photographs.