Re-Imagineers: John Lisko

You had a very successful 35-year career in the advertising world and have now made a pivot into the International Paralympic Committee, the governing body of sports for athletes with a disability. Tell us, what led to this move?

Approximately 10 years ago, I decided it was time to really focus on my future—not just the financials—retirement savings, budget forecasts, etc. I also started personal reflection work, asking myself, “What about me? How much longer do I want to do this? What comes next?” 

I long believed you need to prioritize taking care of yourself before family, friends, and colleagues can fully rely on you. So, I prioritized myself and started making time to reflect, think and plan for what comes next. I reflected on purpose work from years prior, and began thinking about how I will activate what comes next for me.

I reflected on my 35+ year career, where I was fortunate to create and lead meaningful projects from business solutions with purpose. Opportunities for women in sports, U.S. veterans and military spouses, and the Paralympic Games are examples.

The “what’s next for me” was becoming clearer. I spent 3-4 months doing the hard work on the details—financials, how and when to activate what’s next, succession planning, real-life readiness (not just words on paper). Then, I was ready to begin implementing my plan. 

What is the exact role that you will play with the IPC? What are the new things that you had to learn in order to take on this assignment?

As the Managing Director of IPC Global Media Rights, my primary duty is to ensure the global broadcast and digital dissemination of the Paralympic Games. This role is pivotal in making sure that over 8 billion people worldwide can connect with the Paralympic Games. I lead the charge in maintaining and expanding commercial relationships with media broadcasters and digital platforms worldwide, striving to create new partnerships across all media channels.

Additionally, I spearhead the development of global commercial opportunities for Para Sports and oversee the growth of ventures related to the IPC Video Archives. This archive is a treasure trove containing over 13,000 hours of footage from the Paralympic Games, spanning from Barcelona 1992 to Beijing 2022.

Throughout my career, I’ve honed a variety of skills that are versatile and transferable across different roles and industries. These include gaining valuable perspectives and insights from experience, maintaining a curiosity and openness to learn and understand new concepts, embracing and adapting to change, and recognizing the importance of cross-functional collaboration. Innovation is key to staying relevant, as is the ability to forge strong business partnerships. Most importantly, don’t forget to leave your ego at the door and remember to say “thank you.”

There are many people in their 50s who are thinking about stepping out of their first career into new areas. What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a move? All wisdom is welcome.

  1. Be selfish and prepare for your future. Focus on you. Make the time for yourself to think and have a hard conversation with yourself about what’s next for you—your life, your job or career.  Consider your health and finances. No excuses, make changes if needed, don’t avoid the hard decisions. Be honest with yourself.

Set priorities and make decisions for you first and foremost; if you are doing what brings you joy and satisfaction, you will thrive and be good for your family, friends and colleagues.  

If the time or circumstances aren’t “right” to make change. When is the right time? What are the changes necessary to be at the right time?      

  1. Embrace what’s new and realize how you show up matters. Do you need to modify anything about you, your workplace protocols, your communication style? Think about it.   
  1. Don’t live exclusively in the past. You have new opportunities, so don’t hang on to past comfortable habits. Start new routines. Diversify, remember you want new.

Don’t rely on constant support from your former colleagues. They aren’t living in your new world, working on the same projects, etc. Instead, focus on the people and advancing your relationship with them.

Privacy Notice  |  Terms of Use

ROAR Forward is a Hearst Ventures partnership.
© 2024 ROAR forward, LLC. All rights reserved. ROAR forward and ROAR are trademarks of ROAR forward, LLC.


Not a member?