Sunday, October 9, 2016

Be An Advocate

Amidst all of the various and super fabulous advocate/ambassador programs out there, I think something to remember is that you do not need to be accepted into a program to be an advocate. Simply BE an ADVOCATE.

This year Trek announced their Trek Women's Advocate program and I was stoked! I had been wishing and hoping for something like this to come along for quite some time.

Of course, with nervous anticipation, I applied. I knew it would be a chance for several reasons-
1. I live in a decidedly small town, tho increasing in popularity, Decorah is still "small."
2. I've only been involved with cycling since 2012 and I have been working at the shop since 2015.
3. I started my women's off-road group FWD in 2015

So looking at it and seeing how "grass roots" everything appears on paper, even tho you can tell I'm extremely passionate about getting more women on bikes- it's still very much in the beginning growth stages.

So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that I was not chosen as a Trek Women's Advocate. I will admit that my pride was sore. I thought all of the things that one who faced disappointment would feel- "Am I not enough of a women's advocate?" "Am I not doing enough?" "Will I ever be enough?"

Thing is- if you never take chances, you'll never know what you're missing. Sometimes those chances elicit a positive response and other times it may not be the outcome you were hoping for, but you got it anyway. You have to be able to take those "missed" opportunities and make them into something positive. I hate to sound like I'm perpetually looking thru rose colored glasses, but not getting in as a Trek Women's Advocate helped me realign myself with my own brand, goals, and mission.

I think it's important for us to step back and look at the bigger picture when it comes to the various programs out there. It's fabulous that they exist, but it's easy to get caught up in the process on an emotional level and feel maybe, just maybe, you aren't "doing enough." Do you love your sport? Are you passionate about riding? Do you enjoy getting more women involved with biking?
Question- do you absolutely without a doubt, need a program to make you an Advocate?

No.

If you love what you do and are passionate about it, then be Your Own Advocate. Sure, you may not have the same backings as you would if you were involved with programs offered by Trek, Bell, Liv, and others. Everyone else who is not an Advocate chosen by a program but loves what they do, who are passionate about getting more people on bikes, are in the same boat.

Remember- there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a self-designated Advocate for a sport you love.

Being an Advocate doesn't mean you have to have a program behind you. I see an Advocate as someone who is passionate, respectful, and kind. A role model. Someone who works hard at achieving their goals, a person who is open and welcoming to all, and who genuinely wants to see others succeed. An Advocate wants to elicit change in a positive and affirming way- they do not need sponsorship to feel that they are "truly" an Advocate.

Don't get me wrong, I have and am an ambassador/sponsored by a couple different companies/brands and I truly value their support and what they are about. It is awesome to have a company or brand feel that you are a fit to represent their product and mission, but it shouldn't make or break you being an Advocate on your own. Branding. It's a powerful thing, especially in this day and age of social media.
Your passion for what you love should not be influenced by a discount or free swag- but it should be influenced by your determination to make a difference in a person's life. You shouldn't feel your self worth is dictated by whether or not you get chosen by a program or brand. There will almost always be a "you can try again next year" or another brand to connect with.

When I read the "I'm sorry" letter, I was bummed- but I looked at it as a chance to further what I thought would be possible solo. Further motivated by ideas when we went to Trek World- the Decorah Bicycles Ride Ambassador program came to fruition. Shortly after, I was told that there was a FWD- Fearless Women of Dirt group that was started in Canada- inspired by my post I wrote for Dig In. So when one door closed, two more apparently opened themselves up wide and were just waiting for me to run thru them.

The new Decorah Bicycles Jersey!
FWD branded water bottles were made (they will be in store, soon!) and the fabulous folks at Borah Teamwear helped me create a Decorah Bicycles jersey that is totally rad and will be ordered for the store early 2017. Price point would be similar to our other custom jerseys ($90) and be the Team fit (Semi-fitted) with Men's and Women's cuts.

Shoot an email if interested if you would like to commit to a pre-order!

Long story short, I was completely shooting my own foot when it came to seeing the potential good that I could do on my own-
I needed a kick in the proverbial ass to remind myself that I am doing positive things, that I am inspiring others...that I am an Advocate for women and biking.

Life is too short to sit and feel sorry that one didn't get this or that sponsorship, you have the capacity to do great things right now! You have to be willing to do it on your own and put in time and effort to make something happen that you want to have happen. The journey isn't always easy, but that doesn't mean it isn't possible. If you can't believe in your mission and goals, why would anyone else? Believe and live them; you are capable and you are valuable to women and cycling!

Be the change and be the best version of yourself; the best Women's Cycling Advocate anyone could ever ask for!
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Would you like to start a women's off-road ride group in your area?
I would be happy to help you create a FWD Chapter!

You can connect with me by filling out the Contact Form located at the top of the website.

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