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I Am American Business

Annika Sorenstam

Producer Notes

Annika (as she prefers to be called) arrived at our shoot worn out from two extremely busy weeks. She had thrown out the first pitch in a Mets game. She'd read the Top Ten list on Letterman. She'd met with the press about her decision to step out of competitive play. She'd been playing in an LPGA tournament and making appearances non-stop. After we shot our interview and our "portrait" shot, we said we could get the rest of the shots without her. She could go home and take a break. But Annika is determined to do whatever she needs to do to help her business ventures succeed. She stayed. We were shooting at The ANNIKA Academy, her golf training facility in Orlando, Florida. It's located on the grounds of the sprawling, luxurious, Reunion Resort. Reunion has three golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, so Annika's surrounded by evidence of what a golf name brand can mean. One person we met said that Annika plays golf "like a machine". Whatever shot she wants to make, she makes. She has now turned that single-minded focus to business. It will be interesting to watch her play.

Video Interview

The "I Am" Q&A

What car do you drive?
A Lexus.

What is your favorite place to go?
I would say Bermuda.

What web site do you like to visit?
The Annika Academy dot com.

What's your favorite drink?
I would say a glass of red wine.

What's your favorite food?
I love pasta.

What's your idea of fun?
Hanging out with friends and family.

At work?
Doing deals.

What movie star do you like?
Tom Hanks.

Who is a business hero of yours?
Jack Welch.

What personal qualities do you admire in business?
Honesty, decision-making, creativity.

What was your greatest moment in business?
Building the Annika brand.

And in life?
Meeting my fiance.

What is your dream?
To live happily ever after.

Do you have a motto?
There are no short cuts to success.

What is your present state of mind?
I'm at peace.

Transcript

CNBC:
You've been very busy, since you announced that you'll be stepping away from competitive play. How do you feel about that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
It's been an amazing two weeks, I must say. It's been nice really to share what's been on my mind about my next chapter in life and some of the things I want to work on as well as some other dreams that I have. I'm fortunate to have the option to choose and I've been a professional now for fifteen years and I have other priorities in life that I want to spend time on. Developing the Annika brand, starting a family, I'm getting married, and it's just an exciting time. So I'm really happy.

CNBC:
Tell me about some of your interests besides golf.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I have a lot of interests outside the golf course. One of them is cooking. I've always enjoyed being in the kitchen. When I was a little girl I'd be in there with my mom helping her peel potatoes, clean the lettuce, and chop tomatoes. There was always something I wanted to do and lately it's been a way for me to get away from golf. It's very relaxing. I love to create a meal for my friends, like a three-course meal with a little starter; an entrée; a dessert, while trying to match it all together. My presentation skill's maybe not the best but the taste is okay. I always try to match it with a nice bottle of red or white wine. So, it's just really become a hobby of mine.

CNBC:
What would you like to do with the Annika brand?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I think there are so many things I could do with my partners today. Kraft is obviously a leader in the food industry and one of the things I'm also interested in is nutrition and fitness. I think that there are so many synergies to create, maybe an energy bar, or something like that, maybe a vitamin or a sport drink that will be sports-related. Those are things I enjoy and use daily. The Annika brand would be perfect to create an energy bar or vitamins. In college I studied nutrition, as a result these are things that I use daily, so it would make a lot of sense.

CNBC:
Can you talk a little bit about your style on the course and how that translates to your business attitudes?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I'm a very focused person especially on the golf course. I know what I need to do. I have a particular shot in mind. I try to stay in the moment and obviously do the best I can. Concentration has always been one of my strengths. I think of all the things I do, even in cooking I'm quite concentrated, When I'm working on the different businesses whether it's the golf course design or even the Annika Academy my mind is on what I need to do and I'm all about giving a hundred percent.

CNBC:
I read that you had something written on your visor?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
A few years ago I was leading going into one of our majors and it was an important tournament. I was really trying to calm myself down and make myself feel comfortable. So under my visor I wrote, "Face the Fear." and really what that meant is just to go out there, have some fun, embrace the challenge, and enjoy it.

CNBC:
Can you talk about the relationship between golf and confidence?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I think life in general is full of challenges. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. We all have to face it in one way or another and I think people with good attitudes just come out on the better end. I have to stay positive, if you relate that to golf, which I do a lot, it's all about de-associating the bad shots and remembering the good ones. Trying to stay focused on the present. Golf and concentration go hand in hand and if you're not there or if your mind is thinking about a previous shot that cost you then you can't move on. Forget about the bad stuff, move on, and just think positive.

CNBC:
What are your goals for your brand?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
The goal I have is to build an Annika brand and to build an enterprise. If you take a look at, athletes in general, a lot of men have been very successful at taking their competitive edge that they have into business. I don't really see that in a lot of women, so it's obviously a huge challenge and it's something that I want to pursue. I feel like this game has been great to me in so many ways and golf is a game where you can do so much more than just compete. I'm really excited about this opportunity. I think the academy and my foundation are great platforms for me to do that and my goal is to create inspirational experiences. So, it's going to be a fun time.

CNBC:
Many people got to know you for the first time when you played in The Colonial. Can you talk a little bit about what that was like for you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
The Colonial was an amazing week. The four months leading up to that big tournament I was under the spotlight and everybody had an opinion of my game. "Is she good enough?" "Can she hit it far enough?" "Why is she doing it?" I felt very comfortable with the challenge and was excited about the opportunity to really test myself against the best male golfers in the world. My goal is really to reach my own potential. I want to get as good as I can and I view the colonial as the greatest moment when I look back at my career. I think of the Colonial as a turning point, not just for me golf wise but also for me as a person. I felt very comfortable and that I was accepted for the reason of wanting to test myself. It was an amazing week.

CNBC:
It seems like you weren't doing it for political reasons.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
The reason for me to play against the men was really just to challenge myself. I've always looked for different challenges to reach my potential. My goal is to become the best golfer that I possibly can and I've always practiced with the guys and learned from them. I couldn't see a better opportunity that I could really play with them under tournament conditions. So when I got the opportunity to play at the Colonial it was just a dream come true. I remember standing on the first tee and I had butterflies, sweaty palms, everything that were signs of being extremely nervous. So I said to myself, " this is a test and just remember that you've hit millions of golf shots in your life and this is just another one" and it was a great experience which I learned so much from. I took that on to the LPGA, through majors, etc…. and it's just really helped me and elevated my game.

CNBC:
What impact do you think this had on the game of golf?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I think it was an important week for golf, for women, and for me. I think it opened several doors. It showed that women are competitive, women want to get better and they don't mind a challenge. I think it was very important and I've received a lot of great feedback the last few years. I'm going to remember that week forever.

CNBC:
You were a groundbreaker then. Now do you feel like you're breaking new ground again?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
Unfortunately, we don't see athletes trying a new career or stepping out and building a brand and making something more out of it. I'm a lucky person to do something I enjoy so much, and I also feel the responsibility to give back to the game that's been so good to me in so many ways. I think through the Annika brand I can really create these experiences. It could either be through the academy where I'm sharing my passion for golf and fitness. It could be through the Annika Foundation, where we are inspiring kids to really follow their dreams and here I am living my dream. I think it's going to be great to be able to accomplish all this through the Annika brand in different ways. While also showing women that if you have a dream to pursue it. Embrace the challenge and go with your instinct and see what happens.

CNBC:
I think a lot of people think, "Well, golf was her dream. Why is she leaving golf?"

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I'm not leaving golf. I'm leaving competitive golf and I'll be focusing my time on really trying to grow the game again give back to the game in so many ways and I'm excited about that. I have a passion for it, but sometimes it's the daily grind and the travel week after week that gets very tiring. You know when you get a new spark or a new idea and it gives you a lot of energy and adrenaline. I have that and I think it's important to have that, in order to move on. I kind of lost that a little bit in the competition. When you feel that way it's tough to continue. I want it to come naturally and I want to feel the motivation; I think that's when you do the best job.

CNBC:
What got you interested in business?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
Growing up, my mom worked at a bank and my dad worked for IBM, so I was introduced to numbers early. I was introduced to computers early also and that was a part of our daily life. In school I studied not just nutrition but also chemistry, which was all about numbers. As a little kid, I was very interested in money. I would save all my money. I was very particular and looked at my bank statements regularly. It was just something I cared about. I knew how hard my parents worked to support my sister and I. They took us to all these sports events, so I really appreciated that early on. When it was my turn to step away from college and start to work I realized that it's hard work and you have to appreciate that and take care of it. I think that's where I got my economical interests and obviously the last few years I wanted to be in control of my finances. I wanted to make the most out of my money and really have it work for me. Putting all that together I guess that's what makes me interested in business and I've always felt an urge to follow my dreams. That's always made me happy and I think with golf it's given me that opportunity. I can't see a better story than coming from a little town in Sweden and here I am in, in this great country pursuing everything I want. I love it.

CNBC:
Do you get the same thrill from business as you do from golf?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
Absolutely. I think a good business deal would give me the same thrill. I'm sure I will have the adrenaline pumping and feeling the excitement and maybe even being a little nervous. In terms of thinking, can I pursue this? Or, is this going to happen? I think that everything I've learned from golf, I'm going to need that-maybe even more, cause it's very competitive out there. It's going to be tough but, I'm all about trying, I'm all about giving my best and, sometimes you might not reach your ultimate goal but, if you set it high enough, you're going to come a long ways.

CNBC:
What do you think you've learned through playing golf?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I've learned a lot on the golf course. Obviously it's all about setting goals, working hard, and about being determined. Something that I think is important is to think long-term. It's not just about that day, or thinking about, the nearest decision. To me, everything is all about tying it all together. Everything needs to have a purpose and I am patient. I have learned all that through golf. You are going to hit a bad shot or you might get a bad bounce here and there but, if you stay patient, if you stay positive, things will turn around and go your way.

CNBC:
What are some of the projects you're going to be working on?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
Part of the Annika brand is the Annika Academy here in Orlando. It's been a dream of mine for many years. It's a way for me to share my passion for golf and fitness with my coaches in a very exclusive, boutique-type atmosphere. I really believe that we create one-of-a-kind experiences. Another thing I'm doing is the Annika Foundation. I'm also very proud of that. It's all about giving back to the game that's been so good to me, through scholarships. I give these kids an opportunity to live their dream. Also just being involved in things that are important to me like, health education, fitness, nutrition, things that I think are very important to teach young kids at an early age, so they get these good routines that will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I will also will be hosting golf tournaments; I have one tournament on the LPGA, one on the European tour, and then also an event for junior girls. It's to give back to the game that's been so good to me, and I'm excited about that. Golf course design is another passion I have. I've been lucky to travel around the world so many times and seen so many places and wonderful courses, and now I'm taking all that information and creating my own experience in a golf course that obviously will help create memories for other golfers that will hopefully last forever. With the clothing line I have this Annika collection that's been fabulous. It's all about functionality, being comfortable, being feminine, athletic, and obviously what they stand for is modern technology. It's innovative fabrics and I'm very proud of that.

CNBC:
How personally involved are you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I have a lot going on and I'm one of those people that are very involved and very hands-on. I love to learn about things. It needs to represent Annika. What I stand for and if I can't be a part of it then I don't want to be associated with it. I love to help other people with their stuff, so when it comes to the Annika brand, it needs to reflect my thoughts, my beliefs, and me. So that's why I'm hands-on. The Annika brand is all about delivering a promise. It's about creating inspirational experiences. Some of the things I like to stand for are being feminine, athletic, casual elegance, focus, concentration, and I would say trust.

CNBC:
I saw that you rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
A few years ago I had the opportunity to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. It was an amazing experience. I watch CNBC all the time and I see people ringing it and finally I had the chance to do it. So yeah, it was cool. The day that I rang it was actually a good day in the market. So that made it even better. I do watch the stock market regularly. I love to invest in big companies. It's kind of the same strategy I have on a golf course. I'm all about the long-term and consistency I would say. Companies are giving me dividends. It's a safe investment I'm not a risk-taker. I'm a little bit conservative and I would say that's my approach to life and definitely in the financial sector.

CNBC:
What do you think about where women's golf is today?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:
I think that women's golf is at good spot today. There are a lot of great vibes and very positive comments about the tour. I think we have tremendous young talents from all around the world. It's really a global tour because we don't play just in the U.S., but we play in Europe and Asia. It's great to see the growth. I've been in the profession for fifteen years and I can really see a difference. The level of play is really there and the depth is also there. Now that we're in a good spot we have a commissioner that is really doing a good job. So I feel good about the tour and where women's golf is going.