Millions of people like to play volleyball. Fewer want to play in high school. Even fewer hope to play in college. Even fewer imagine themselves playing in the Olympics.
And then there's Kerri Walsh Jennings, who not only dreamed of playing in the Olympics... but who won actually won a bronze medal and three gold medals.
Clearly Kerri thinks big -- which is why it's no surprise that her latest venture is of a similarly grand scale. p1440 ("p" stands for platform, "1440" for the number of minutes in every day) is an event series and digital community designed to elevate the sport of beach volleyball and provide inspiration and resources to live life more fully.
Where the events are concerned, think Coachella, Wanderlust, and professional volleyball all rolled into one: Music festival, health and wellness village, yoga and Pilates lessons... the goal for Kerri and her husband Casey is to provide something for everyone -- or at least, as Kerri said when we spoke, "for everyone who wants to live a life of intention."
Which, of course, is everyone.
Clearly you're capable of achieving at an extremely high level, but still: This is a really big venture.
(Laughs.) You're right. It is a lot. But what we're doing is needed not just in our sport but in the world at large.
Start with the sport of beach volleyball. Our goal is to give back to a sport that is sick at the top level but healthy everywhere else. The sport is too great for it to stay status quo, so we're thinking big.
That's why we're incorporating broader avenues like health and wellness, optimal performance, personal development... we're all put on earth to get the best out of ourselves, and we really want to engage and grow and learn with our members and our fans.
As for the entertainment aspect... who doesn't love music and a festival atmosphere? That elevates the experience and makes it more immersive. Music makes everything better. (Laughs.)
That's a smart way to expose more people to the sport.
We absolutely want to serve the existing volleyball community, but at the same time we want to bring more new net eyeballs to the sport. No one -- even someone totally unfamiliar with the sport -- leaves a beach volleyball tournament saying, "That's lame." No one.
So by bringing in people who want to enjoy the festival, who want to enjoy the music, who are interested in other aspects of health and wellness... that will naturally bring more eyeballs and create more fans of the sport.
We also want to honor everyone's time. The more we offer, the better we honor people's time.
We filter everything through the concept of time. Even though there are 1440 minutes in every day, most people say they're too busy, they're overworked, it's hard to handle the stress of today... we want to remind people that in life, choices are everything. We want to inspire them to fill their minutes the best way possible -- for them.
When you work on yourself, the chances of living a great life go way up.
I think it's a great idea, but it's also daunting to think about pulling off: Events, digital, building a community...
We talked to a lot of people and they said, "This is a lot." There's no denying that.
But the potential is also huge. The festival business has an extremely high success rate. There are 900 million people playing beach volleyball around the world. Health and wellness applies to everyone, and that category is booming. Everyone can name at least five people they know who are self-help junkies. (Laughs.) People want to take back ownership of their lives.
So al the elements exist, and we have the best of the best in all those pillars. We are little... but we are mighty, and we are focused.
Also keep in mind approaching a pursuit on multiple levels is something I've done forever. As an athlete you get to work on all sides of yourself. You're much more successful when you work on your mental game, too. All the things you need to be an optimal performer in a sport are the same things you need to be an optimal performer in life.
You need to service your body and your mind and your spirit.
So in a broader sense you're talking about execution and purpose, both for your business but also for all the people you hope to touch.
So many people feel they have no purpose. We want them to see all the untapped potential they have inside themselves.
That's why building the digital platform is so exciting. We'll only have a finite number of events at first, so that's why we're building an online community. We want to have the best original content, the best long-form, short-form content... we want to provide it all.
I use the term "serial achievers" to refer to people who accomplish more than one thing. How do your athletic achievements inform your approach to this venture?
I know I'm capable of doing hard things. I know I'm capable of working in a team. And I know I'm not the smartest person in the room.
I have achieved lifelong dreams... but I also have more dreams.
My husband and I love personal growth. We love the idea of learning, of growing... that's where the joy is for us. And that's why p1440 is designed to serve the whole person, in a holistic way.
My parents encouraged me to do great things, to do things that are meaningful to me... so when I get involved in something, I don't try to hit singles. Sure, base hits accumulate, but you need home runs if you want to stand out.
That's why we're thinking big.
You also will compete in the events... and you're focused on competing in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Absolutely. I'm still in competitive mode. I want to launch this platform... and I want to win every event I enter. (Laughs.)
Competition in life brings out the best in me, as it does in most people. When you compete, growth happens.
I've been through a lot, as a wife and athlete and human being -- losses and injuries and sometimes it seems like there's no tomorrow... we all have these moments when we think, "Okay, what am I going to do now?"
I've learned how to suffer failure and come back from it. I've learned to be a great team player, and to be accountable. And I've learned, over and over again, that when you want to do great things, it's not going to be a straight line to success. It's going to zig and zag.
And that's okay. That's just part of it. You work through the zigs and enjoy the zags.
All of those experiences have served me well, and helped make me who I am.
How will you measure success with p1440?
Our goal is to be wildly successful by every marker. We'll start with a free model, then add a subscription model, and our goal is to have 4 million paid subscribers to our platform.
As for events, we want to see them out ahead of time. I believe that's possible.
And just as importantly, our goal is to give the athletes in our sport actually careers. That's something they don't have right now.
We want to lave our sport ten times better than it is now.
How do you define success on a personal level?
Success is a job well done -- doing something well, and doing it the right way. And never losing sight of myself and my priorities in life.
Success is deeply personal. In Rio I failed to get what I wanted but ultimately it was a huge success because the journey was successful: I let that loss, and winning a bronze medal instead of a gold, make me better in life.
I live my life in quadrennials, and in one of those quads I was only end-result focused and I almost lost everything near and dear to me.
I learned the hard way that you can't wait until the end result to figure out if you're happy or not. You need to work towards the end result in a way that makes you happy.
You're launching this with your husband, which is great... but as any people who are partners in life and in business knows, can create certain challenges.
We love each other very much... but we also have arguments in regards to the business. (Laughs.)
We expect to go through tough moments. That's just part of it when you try to do something big.
We've been together for 17 years, 12 of them married... and like any couple we've been through a lot, and that has built a real foundation.
We know how to get through stuff. We know that engaging and butting heads can be valuable at times. Even so, I get pretty sensitive to tone. (Laughs.) Criticism is hard for me. I never want to feel like I'm wrong in his eyes or that I'm letting him down. That only makes me work harder.
We're committed to the business, but we're even more committed to each other. We trust each other to get the job done. We know how to enjoy the successes and take the hits.
And this is another chance for us to grow both individually and as a couple and a family... which might be the best reason of all.