It’s Super Bowl 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. Radio Row consists of over 100 news and radio stations—all live-broadcasting interviews with players, alumni, and coaches. The space is buzzing with NFL stats and sports analyses. But former San Francisco 49er Ronnie Lott isn’t there to talk Super Bowl or draft picks, and his sidekick isn’t a former teammate. His daughter, Hailey Lott, is sitting by his side and they’re discussing a subject that surpasses chalk talk: their new podcast, The Mind Games, which focuses on mental health and mindfulness.
The idea of a father-daughter self-help podcast started when Hailey, who manages San Francisco meditation studio Anchor Meditation and teaches one-on-one mediation to clients, was on a month-long soul- searching trip. “I was going through a rough time and was working on cutting a toxic relationship out of my life,” she recalls. “I was all alone, so I had to handle that moment on my own.” Hailey turned to the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön and she felt immediate relief. “Her words and advice helped me so much,” she recalls. It was in this moment that she felt a growing desire to create a digital realm where she could support other people in their low moments. “So I started thinking, ‘Should I start a podcast? Should I ask my dad to join me? Would he say yes?’”
“Hailey is so funny. She knows when her dad needs a laugh.”
Cut to the Bay Area, where Ronnie’s schedule is a busy one with days spent with his family, checking up on his car dealership, Tracy Toyota, investing with NextPlay Ventures, or doing charity work with All Stars Helping Kids, an organization that provides seed funding for start-up nonprofits in the Bay Area. When he went to pick up Hailey from the airport after her solo journey, she began to share with him the type of podcast she had in mind. Ronnie immediately said yes. When asked to explain the quick response, he replies, “Well, first of all, we all want to sit around with our kids and share moments. And, in this case, we can focus on how we learn from these moments in order to improve our lives.”
As podcast hosts, they are fluid, candid, and receptive. Whether it’s sorting through “daddy issues” or how to handle a painful loss, no subject is off limits. “Mental health is something that, a lot of times, people don’t want to talk about,” Ronnie says. “But we all have issues that we should share with others.” Hailey adds, “I think the intention behind this podcast is to create not only a community, but a safe place for people to feel okay with not being okay.” They ask the hard-hitting questions to a collection of guests who have included not only notable football greats Steve Young and Jerry Rice, but also inspirational mindfulness leaders such as Jennifer Prugh of Breathe Together Yoga and empowering female leaders like Hannah Gordon, lawyer and chief administrative officer and general counsel for the San Francisco 49ers. “We are very fortunate that our podcast can help others deal with not only life’s challenges, but life’s opportunities as well,” Ronnie says.
And just like any good team, there is a yin/yang dynamic to Ronnie and Hailey. “We have definitely learned a lot about each other during this process,” Hailey says. “He’s so supportive and really good at giving me feedback.” Whether the dynamic is father/daughter, athlete/child of an athlete, or older/younger, their differing perspectives come together for an open and direct discussion. “I don’t always have to agree with him,” Hailey adds. “But I’m really thankful that I have this other perspective.”
Ronnie is thankful to enjoy this journey by her side. “When we were on Radio Row, I had so many guys tell me how smart Hailey is and what a great voice she has,” Ronnie recalls. “I was so proud to be in my element and have friends and colleagues comment on her and all the wonderful things she represents. Those were some great moments we shared down at the Super Bowl.”
When they aren’t at the Super Bowl or in the studio, they can be found laughing tougher. “Hailey is so funny,” Ronnie says. “She knows when her dad needs a laugh.” Hailey laughs, quickly adding that they also enjoy dancing and dining together. “People talk about a life’s scrapbook of memories,” Ronnie says. “Our scrapbook, right now, has had some really great moments.”