Amy Trask began her Raiders career as an intern in 1983 and eventually became one of the most prominent women in professional sports. Al Davis named her CEO of the Raiders in 1997, a position she held until 2013. Trask, author of You Negotiate Like a Girl, made a seamless transition to the media world. She is a staple of That Other Pregame Show on CBS Sports Network. She’s also a very fun follow on Twitter, @AmyTrask.
We caught up with Trask for this week’s “Friday Five” …
1. Who is your biggest mentor?
My sincere answer is, I don’t have one mentor. I have learned so much from so many people that to name just one would really be inaccurate. I find that I learn something from everyone with whom I work. I try to learn from everyone with whom I interact, and I could not point to one mentor. There have certainly been strong influences in my career, Al Davis being a primary influence in that regard. But I don’t have “a” mentor. I never have had one. I like the worldview that one can learn from everyone with whom one interacts as opposed to just one person.
2. What’s your top pet peeve?
When people don’t say “thank you.” I actually wrote an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle on the lost art of saying “thank you.” What does it take, two seconds to say the words “thank you?” Maybe not even a full second. How long does it take to type out the words “thank you?” When someone sends you an email, sends you data, sends you a text? Thank you – I think that takes less than a second as well. What is so hard about saying “thank you?” And why do so few people do it these days? If someone gives you an assist, helps you out, offers you information, provides some assistance, anything thoughtful … say “thank you.” It’s not hard, people. You type “thank you,” or say “thank you” or text “thank you” or DM “thank you” or Tweet “thank you” – whatever platform you want to use. It is very easy to say “thank you.” And it’s important.
3. What’s your favorite book?
It would be a series. It would be the Nancy Drew books. And yes, I’ve read a lot of books since the Nancy Drew books. I love to read. But I was very slow to take to reading. I learned my ABCs at a young age, but I never took to reading. My mom very patiently just continued to hand me a book, and I wouldn’t read it, and she continued to hand me a book. And she did it over and over again, and she was very patient. And I was slow – not necessarily to learn how to read, but slow to read. I wasn’t interested in it. And she gave me a Nancy Drew book, and I put it aside. And she gave it to me again and I put it aside. That happened a number of times, and then one instance, she handed me the Nancy Drew book and I started reading it … and I stayed up all night long to finish the book. And then I was a voracious reader. I read every single Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on, and I then started reading anything and everything else suggested to me.
I got a library card – okay kids, we had these things called library cards back in the day – and I would go to the local library. But what turned me onto reading was the Nancy Drew series and my mom’s patience in encouraging me to read through the Nancy Drew series. And that’s what got me started reading.
4. If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
I’m going to take liberty with the idea of “historical.” Because I’m going to say histrical, but not necessarily dead. One of them would be … his real name is Eugene Kranz but he goes by Gene, and he was the aerospace engineer who was with NASA. Ed Harris portrayed him in the movie Apollo 13, which – notwithstanding all of my Animal House tweets. I do love Animal House, but Apollo 13 is my favorite movie. And Gene Kranz is the person in Mission Control who is credited with saving the crew of Apollo 13. It was Gene Kranz who found a way to get Apollo 13 safely back to Earth. So he’s on my list.
Who else? My 10th-grade teacher, Mrs. Hernandez. Her name was Jeanne, but of course since she was my teacher, even at this age I call her Mrs. Hernandez. It’s often said that a teacher can change the trajectory of a life, and she changed the trajectory of mine. I was a crummy, crummy, crummy student, all the way from kindergarten through 10th grade. She was my English teacher. She pulled me out of the room into this outside area, she pointed her finger at me and she said, “I’m not taking this from you.” And she went on to convey to me in her own way that she had expectations for me that were far more than my expectations had ever been for myself, and that she was going to hold me to a standard that I had never held myself to. She was going to require of me and expect more of me than I had ever required of myself. And she changed the trajectory of my life. When I was with the Raiders and moving myself through the organization, I sent her a thank-you note. … I don’t know if she’s any longer alive, but she’s one of the three people I would name.
And the third – kinda mushy – but I would have to say Al Davis. I would like to have another dinner with him. Unlike Mrs. Hernandez and unlike Gene Kranz, I have had the opportunity to have many, many dinners with Al Davis. I would like another one, to again tell him how much I appreciate that he afforded me the opportunity of a lifetime. He hired me at a time when it was really… remember, this was back in the early to mid-‘80s. The whole subject of women in the NFL and women in sports business wasn’t even a subject. And he hired me way back then, and I would like another chance to thank him again.
5. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your teen self?
I’ve been asked this a number of times and I’ve usually struggled to come up with something. Because the answer is, I wouldn’t give myself any advice as a teen. Don’t get me wrong. I did so many things wrong, I got in so much trouble for so many things. I had stumbles and fumbles and mistakes and errors. But I am who I am today because I did all of those things as a teen. So I wouldn’t go back and advise myself anything. Because were I to change anything I did as a teenager, to fix the things I did wrong, to correct my errors, I don’t know that I would necessarily have the life I have today.