083: Circe Wallace/Odyssey

Circe Wallace, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, April 2019. Photo: Tozer

“You can get the good deals and still be a nice person.”

Anybody who has managed to find one job they love is doing pretty well. Excelling at two life-defining careers suggests somebody operating at a different level entirely.

Yet that’s exactly what Circe Wallace has succeeded in doing. Of course, she initially came to prominence as one of snowboarding’s most legendary and pioneering women professionals. Her career perfectly mirrored the arc of snowboarding’s first boom, and Circe took full advantage, achieving incredible success and setting the standards for the next generations to follow.

With her snowboarding career winding down, Circe then shifted her focus to the nascent world of action sports talent management – and over the next two decades carved out an era-defining career in that industry, too.

Today, she is Executive Vice President for Action Sports and Olympics at the Wasserman Group, and acts as agent and mentor to luminaries such as P-Rod, Torah Brighton, Travis Rice and Nicolas Muller.

By any measure, it’s a wildly impressive record of success, and today Circe enjoys a reputation as one of the action sports industry’s most successful and inspirational figures. And yet, as we explore during our conversation, the journey has not been as straightforward as it appears.

As a confident, unapologetic female entrepreneur determined to safeguard her own value in a male-dominated industry, she has faced obstacles at every turn and refers to herself as a ’pariah’ among certain elements of the industry.

Yet Circe’s story is ultimately a positive one. This is a story of a driven, focused woman taking on a male-dominated industry – and succeeding on her own terms. It’s about how she coped with the collateral damage sustained along the way, and found a way of overcoming the toxicity that – depressingly – seems to come with the territory whenever a women attempts to achieve parity on their own terms. Listen to the episode below:

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Show Notes

  • Misty mornings.
  • Early days surfing the Pacific Northwest coast.
  • “Trying to do the family thing as much as I can”.
  • Having children as a professional woman.
  • “America is behind the curve with having babies and work”.
  • Why women have to prove so much.
  • “Anger is so toxic and I don’t want to carry that”.
  • Carving a path for her daughters.
  • “The action sports industry is really behind”.
  • Why she discovered the inequalities later on in her career.
  • The 45 campaign.
  • “The 2016 election was so devastating and brought up so much stuff that I didn’t even know I had been carrying around”.
  • Her personal experiences of inequality in the sport.
  • The changes for women she’s seen recently.
  • How the Olympics has helped women in skateboarding.
  • The Adidas campaign for women in sports.
  • Her first appeal to snowboarding in 1984: “being the little shits on the hill in nature”.
  • Memories of camping trips with her family.
  • Finding a community in board sports.
  • Being with Jamie Lynn and refusing “to live under his shadow”.
  • Retiring aged 27 after her 2nd injury, and being fired by Ride.
  • The climate for female snowboarders now: “it’s too physically demanding”.
  • Mergers and acquisitions for small board sport brands.
  • Epiphany to “help the talent fight the corporate monsters”.
  • Working with Steve Astephen in business.
  • Transitioning from boarder to entrepreneur.
  • “I’m a pariah”.
  • Proud moments working as an agent.
  • The level of investment in people’s wellbeing through her business.
  • Her sixth-sense as an agent in “who’s going to pop next”.
  • The kind of people she looks to support.
  • Coping when athletes leave her.
  • Learning from a coach: “you can sit around all day being the victim of your own circumstances, or you find ways around it”.
  • Her change of attitude in her 40s.
  • Advice to women facing sport’s toxicity.
  • “There’s more opportunity now than there ever has been: but you have to demand it”.
  • The generational problem with millennials.
  • Exploring her creative side, including her fashion line ‘Circe Snow’.
  • The plans for her cannabis business Hot Nife.
  • “Hot knifing is a lost art”.
  • The cannabis industry is a tough one to crack in California.
  • Living up to the symbolism of the greek goddess Circe.

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