Kraft Analytics CEO Jessica Gelman On Creating Your Own Luck

In this episode of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Gelman recounts how her early fascination with Michael Jordan and experiences as a basketball player at Harvard fueled her passion for achieving success under pressure and her belief we make our own success on whatever field we play on.

Jessica Gelman grew up idolizing Michael Jordan not only for the skills and leadership he demonstrated as a member of the Chicago Bulls, but also for his ability to be at his best during high pressure situations.

While many people might have contented themselves with being a fan of the greatest of all time Jordan, Gelman devoted herself to learning from Jordan so she too could learn how to succeed under pressure. The journey took her to Harvard where she played point guard, breaking scoring and assist records and captaining the Crimson to become the first team to go undefeated in Ivy League competition.

It also took her to Harvard Business School where she took on a business development project for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Gelman so wowed her “client” that the Kraft family hired her into their organization. Today, she holds the title of CEO of the Kraft Analytics Group and, she says, is proud to be counted among that rare breed who is “not only a female CEO, but a female CEO of an organization devoted to sports, technology and analytics!”

Gelman offers listeners a number of tips for making their own luck. These include:

• Creating pressure situations in practice or your daily work to help your team perform better when the chips are down,

• Basing feedback on the “kind hard truth” to improve performance rather than calling out failure,

• Building camaraderie among your teammates to take pressure off of individuals, and

• Turning a “lucky” opportunity into a commitment to set yourself apart from the competition.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the Chicago Bulls and the New England Patriots, we hope you’ll seize this opportunity to learn from the extraordinary Jessica Gelman.

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events