Bonnie-Jill Laflin, Ageless
NBA Scout, Sportscaster, and Founder of Hounds and Heroes
In the all-male realm of the NBA, Bonnie Jill-Laflin became the first-ever and only female NBA scout after years of dealing with the onus of the perpetual “boy’s club.” Adding to this gender disadvantage was her previous career in modeling and cheerleading which, she says, created further barriers between herself and her male counterparts. “The stereotypes of being the first female brought on a lot of scrutiny, judgement and jealousy,” she remarks, adding that it was ultimately this gender-based bias that pushed her to get where no woman has gone before. She shoots, she scores!
1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?
I've been in love with sports since I was a child and would attend games with my father from baseball to football to basketball. I knew I would make sports a part of my life and career. My biggest professional achievement is the honor of being the first and only female scout in the NBA. I am also incredibly proud of my non-profit organization, Hounds and Heroes. My charity combines both my passions of animal welfare and supporting our troops.
2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?
The stereotypes associated with being the first female brought on a lot of scrutiny, judgement and jealousy. From bad write ups in the media to dealing with the bad attitudes in the workplace. This was only made more intense because of my background as a model and NFL/NBA cheerleader, in that many people made the assumption that I was hired for my looks, rather than my knowledge of both the game, players and the business of the NBA.
3. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?
Having to constantly deal with this until I was accepted by the "boys club". One of the few humorous stories to come from it was when I was at a game for the Lakers' Developmental Team, the Los Angeles D-Fenders where I was the assistant GM.
The players were all throwing their usual smack talk around, when everyone heard, "Oh yeah? Well, our boss is cuter than your boss." It wasn’t exactly the kind of attention I was looking for, but in retrospect, it was pretty funny.
4. What did you learn through your personal journey?
I did the job. Seriously. I worked harder and longer hours. I traveled to as many colleges as I could and I dug through every player in the country until I could find those who would not only play well, but could fit into the triangle offense, culture and mindframe unique to the then-World Champion Lakers Organization. I met with sports reporters and writers who started the interviews with the intent to dismiss me and demonstrated that I knew the job until they changed their minds. I trusted that the people who hired me (namely Dr. Jerry Buss, Jeanie Buss and our GM Mitch Kupchak) would remember WHY they had hired me and would let me do my job. And they did. They believed in me.
5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?
Never give up on your dreams and push harder to prove the skeptics wrong...those people should give you the drive to want to succeed. You should never give up no matter how hard it gets, you must believe in the end something beautiful will happen and it will all be worth it. Regardless of gender you can do whatever you put your mind to. Don't Dream It..Be It!!!
Laflin and co.
"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.