Director of Sports, Visit Sarasota County
Shelby Connett says she “was one of those kids who tried out every sport when I was young.”
That lifelong, general interest in athletic pursuits is now paying off for her in her position as director of sports for Visit Sarasota County.
Connett started out at the visitor bureau as an intern after graduating from Florida State University. She has worn a lot of different hats over the years, also working in meetings, conventions and sales. In her current role, she gets to do everything from sitting down with presidents of national sports federations to learning about niche sports, such as BMX and ultimate Frisbee.
“What I like about my job is that there really is not a standard day,” she says. “I cannot remember the last time I’ve been at work and have been watching the clock. If anything, it’s like, 'Where did the time go?' That makes it exciting and a lot easier to get up in the morning.”
Doing her job well requires juggling a lot of different tasks at once, and she has seen what happens when you take on too much. “I’ve learned how to say no to certain things,” she says. “We have a lot of balls in the air at the same time. When they start to drop, you can look back and find out the root of the problem was we were stretched too thin and should have said no to some things.”
Connett has also discovered the importance of being able to accept and learn from rejection. “We put in so many bids for events, and the process can be a couple of months to a couple of years,” Connett says. “And we don’t get a lot of them. But for every one that we don’t get, we pay close attention to finding out why and how we could eventually get to the point where we are successful in securing the event.”
ON THE RECORD: Shelby Connett
City of residence: Sarasota
Employer: Visit Sarasota County
Title: Director of Sports
Years on the Gulf Coast: 25
Marital status/children: Single
Alma mater/degree: Florida State University: Bachelor of Science in communications
Where is the best place to network? Community events. Attending different fundraisers are a great way to meet people outside of your usual circle.
What's the best business lesson you've ever learned? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Some of my best achievements have come after a few hard losses, and if it weren't for those losses, I would have never gained the knowledge I needed to eventually succeed.
What's your top tip for being productive? Determine what time of day you are the most productive, and try to generally avoid booking meetings and appointments during that time.
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? I was a personal assistant in college and did all kinds of odd chores and tasks for my employer.
What community group or organization are you most involved with? I enjoy volunteering for a variety of organizations through events and projects. My favorite causes are those that support local youth.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? I used to side hustle as a hostess at Indigenous, and I would definitely do that again. I love being around foodies.
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Doing anything outdoors — going to a festival, game, the beach — anywhere to enjoy our Florida sunshine.
What's your favorite board game or video game? Mario Party
What's the top item on your bucket list? It changes monthly, but attending the Olympics has always been in my top five.
Where is your happy place? In the kitchen, I like to cook, but it's also the place that turns into the dance floor during family vacations and holidays.
What's your favorite podcast? Current favorite is "The Dropout"
Who/what is your favorite musical artist/band? Johnny Cash
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Kristen Bell
What was your first album/tape cassette/CD? "Baby One More Time" — Brittany Spears
What was your first concert? The first "American Idol" tour
What's one song that will get you out on the dance floor? "Burning Love" — Elvis Presley
What's your favorite karaoke song? "Gold Digger" — Kanye West
What instrument/role would you play in a band? Tambourine
Please describe yourself in three words. Compassionate, dedicated and adventurous