How FLyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita is using the esport platform to affect real change and make people happy
Describe your business in a few words?
FlyQuest is an esports organization competing in the franchised League of Legends League Championship Series (LCS).
What made you take the leap to help transform FlyQuest into the organization it is today?
One of my primary goals throughout my career in esports has been to create a community where I can affect real change and make people happy. As CEO of FlyQuest, I saw an opportunity to do that on a large scale, to help everyone “Showcase Greatness” together.
What was your background prior to joining FlyQuest?
I started competing in Starcraft II over a decade ago, eventually branching out into hosting and interviewing at major tournaments. From there, I joined Azubu.tv in 2014 as the Global Director of Esports, which opened up a whole new world of intriguing esports management. I continued my esports management journey at Immortals and LA Valiant, and was hired by FlyQuest as its COO in 2019. I was promoted to CEO early last year and couldn’t be happier to run this fantastic team.
Did you always know you wanted to be a CEO of an esports organization?
I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact on people’s lives, and when I joined FlyQuest as COO, I saw that my values aligned with Ryan Edens, our President and former CEO. I immediately knew that FlyQuest was the type of company I wanted to help lead. I was drawn to the opportunity to instill a company vision that meant something personal to me.
Take us back to when you began rebranding FlyQuest, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out, and did it go as planned?
Part of what excited me about FlyQuest was the opportunity to reset and define our brand. For most of FlyQuest’s existence, it was defined primarily by the sponsors we had, not by our vision or strength of voice. We were a canvas that other entities had colored, and then I suddenly found myself holding the paintbrush. The first stroke I made was “Showcase Greatness,” and that philosophy guided us down the path of raising awareness about environmental issues through our “Go Green” initiatives. The activities we executed exceeded our most ambitious expectations, captivating the entire LCS community with our ideas and positivity. It was a successful first step!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Work-life balance is so important. While working at Azubu, I got three coin-sized bald spots on top of my head. It was an indication of how stressed I was. As soon as I quit, my hair grew back instantly. During the eight-month break, I enjoyed life and unwinded. During this time, I helped my friends plan their weddings, traveled with my boyfriend, and got back into gaming. Reflecting now, I can laugh, but sometimes we need to remember to slow down and reset.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish at FlyQuest since I took over. There’s no better feeling than seeing your vision carried out. We turned a brand known for its cringe-level social media, aka Team Snickers, into the recognizable brand it is today; I think that’s not as apparent in many other esports organizations, being known as the “so-and-so” team. I think we’ve positioned ourselves distinctly as the wholesome, good, charitable organization. I’m very proud of this because we stated what we wanted to do, to help others and the planet. We’ve taken many steps towards these goals, and the fans seem to like us and acknowledge us for this.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
If we want to be a company that has a vision, then everything starts with the people. When I’m making a hire, it’s important to get a sense of who they are beyond resume qualifications. I want to know what they are passionate about. Do their values align with the company’s vision? What drives them? The character of a person means so much more when shaping a team.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We were lucky to see esports really thrive amid the pandemic. When many live events were canceled, we were fortunate enough to continue competing and doing what we love in a virtual capacity. It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come this past year.
What’s next for the business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
FlyQuest will continue to showcase greatness within everything we do. This means constantly aiming for competitive success, but ultimately, it’s more than that.
Earlier this year, we welcomed someone who embodies FlyQuest’s values of positivity, thoughtfulness, and generosity into the #FlyFam as a streamer under the FlyQuest banner – Joedat “Voyboy” Esfahani. Together, we’re raising awareness around social issues such as mental health, a passion point for Voyboy. We look forward to shedding light on topics that are not always top of mind for the gaming industry. FlyQuest strives to pave a way forward for teams looking to establish their brand beyond a legacy of winning.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
As CEO, my priority was to share our vision so that everyone knows what we do always has a purpose and ties back to our vision, Showcase Greatness.
We knew we didn’t own our narrative, and we found so much success in taking it back.
Internally, we had a clear vision to showcase greatness. It provided direction and shaped everything we did. We learned that we needed to put that same energy out into the world. Our internal alignment allowed us to manifest into our brand identity. We were able to take control of who we are.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting as FlyQuest CEO?
To save me from embarrassment, I wish I knew I would sing a duet with G2 Ocelote CEO Carlos! I would have taken voice lessons or practiced the song more! This duet was probably my hardest challenge as CEO. I was totally mortified singing in front of an audience, but I did it for the people to enjoy and be happy.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Showing gratitude. I have a gratitude journal where I keep a list that helps keep me grounded. I try my best to be grateful for everything life throws at me, especially this past year. We might not feel grateful in the moment, but it’s important to reflect, appreciate the good and the bad.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Absolutely, we have to remember to reset and focus on ourselves! The best tip I can share is to dedicate a few minutes of every day to yourself. Mental health looks different for everyone.
Through May 14, we are challenging FlyQuest’s fans to focus on themselves and improve their overall mental wellness through a community-based action plan with MeQuest. We’ve invited everyone to participate in weekly tasks aimed at healing and rebuilding healthy habits.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I love practicing the Japanese art of flower arrangement known as ikebana. It was something that I’ve been doing since I was three-years-old. Honoring nature is important and personal to me. Before the pandemic, I gave lessons as part of one of our tailgate parties, something less traditional than making t-shirts or playing carnival games. It is also something I integrated into our team jerseys and speaks to our vision of showcasing greatness.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
I always begin my day with my morning mantra or prayer to start the day with gratitude and is level set. If you can be grateful, then how can you not be happy?
Only work when you are going to be productive. I wish I learned this tip earlier in my career. It takes self-awareness, but it allows you to plan. To be more effective when you take the time to focus.
Also, listen to your body and brain. Remember, it is okay to slow down. Take naps when you want to nap. Sleep regularly and drink lots of water. Exercise in the morning to stay energized throughout the day.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Always giving it your all, never giving up.