Today’s guest graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s in business management. They then went on to earn their Doctor of Law with honors. They then went on to work on Wall Street as a Financial Analyst and obtained both their Series 7 and Series 63 certifications through FINRA.
But there is something that happens to most people between their brain and their eyes. There is often a disconnect.
You brain observes this person based on qualifications. Data. Details. It tells you this person is smart, motivated, qualified…
But sadly, most, if not all people, make decisions with their eyes. They judge what they see -- based on external appearances, based on pre-conceived notions, based on superfluous data points.
This happens to everyone, not just today’s guest. People judge you, every one of you, day in and day out, without knowing a thing about you. They assume, they guess, they predict.
You’re too young.
You’re a woman.
You have blond hair.
You wear braces.
You’re dressed different.
You have darker skin.
You have different eyes.
You have different beliefs.
We are all guilty of judgement. I can’t change that today, there is no way I can impact that on a scale that will make any difference, there is no way any of us can. It is our sad reality.
Don’t blame it on social media, don’t blame it on video games, or helicopter parents or millennials – because this has been around forever.
When I was a kid I remember there was a girl that came to our school, I’d guess it was around 6th or 7th grade and she was always dirty coming to school. Her clothes were a mess, her hair was in knots, she had an odor about her.
We all assumed she was gross.
What we didn’t know, was all of things she was going through on a daily basis in her life that would have rocked our safe, little suburban bubbles. She was smart, athletic and scared to death every day… yet all we saw was a dirty girl and we judged her. We made her days even worse.
This is the sad reality of our world and it doesn’t stop in middle school, or after high school, or after college. There are cliques, there are groups, there are bands of people who will find comfort in their community of judgement. And at some point, it will likely be aimed at you.
So what do you do?
I wish I knew… I wish I had some great advice, some bumpersticker, meme, shareable quote logic. But I don’t really think that way. I draw inspiration and perspective from the people I talk to each week on this podcast. I learn about myself through every conversation, and I’m self-aware enough to realize I’m still a work in progress too.
Today’s guest, the one with the incredible resume, is Nicole Lynn a young black woman, who faces this judgement every day as an up and coming sports agent…in, let’s speak frankly, a white man’s world.
68 % of the athletes in the NFL are African American and that number jumps to 75% in the NBA and yet, of the top 50 sports agents in the world for 2018 published by Forbes, there were only 5 African-Americans….and zero women.
When Nicole Lynn walks into a workout, or a pro day or a negotiation, the other people in the room figure she’s one of the players girlfriends. This bad ass negotiator, who has earned every bit of knowledge and power she has, is unfairly judged every day…because a smart, talented, attractive, well dressed confident woman can only be a girlfriend to the stars right?
Shameful. Shame on us.
But here’s the thing…I mentioned earlier that I don’t have any great advice how to fix this, I don’t have any insight on how to fight against judgement. But Nicole does. She doesn’t bat an eye. She doesn’t stop being her. She doesn’t change for anyone. She doesn’t take off the heels, or change the lipstick, or change her outfits. She does exactly what got here to where she is, a sport agent in Lil Waynes Young Money APAA managing the careers of multiple NFL, CFL, ballet dancers and softball players – that’s right she does it all.
She is 100% Nicole Lynn through and through, and that is why she will be on that forbes list soon. Here’s Nicole Lynn.
1: Forbes recently published a list of the top 50 sports agents in the world – and not a single woman was on the list – how does this make you feel when you read something like this?
2: Why become a sports agent? What drew you to this profession?
3: I watched a video of you speaking at the Hustle’s evening of storytelling …. you have a natural confidence, an I’m in charge grace about you – where does that come from?
4: You also in that speech talked about how your tough upbringing in Tulsa, your concern for your next meal, sleeping in a car and wearing the same clothes to school, helped create who you are now. Can you explain how your tough upbringing helped form you?
5: Athletes are respected and admired for their drive – they all have talent, but it’s that extra commitment that will often separate the greats – is this the same for agents, is that extra drive necessary to succeed?
6: There are 830 registered agents by the NFLPA, everywhere you go you are competing against hundreds of other agents - how do you separate yourself from the competition and create a bond with the athletes?
7: As you look at the professional sports world from a macro perspective – what do you think athletes really need from their agents, what is the most impactful service you can provide?
8: You represent multiple players in the NFL, but also a handful of female athletes, specifically ballet dancers and softball players -- it’s not a stretch to say women in our world are often underpaid and underrepresented, how important was it for you personally to balance your efforts to include deserving women in sports as well?
9: What is game day like for you? I’d imagine with multiple players across the league you have to have your eyes on about 10 screens at once…including social media streams…
10: We’ll finish up with this – so many young people are driven to be sports agents, and right now are looking at you and emulating your moves… what advice would you give them on this journey?
Listen in to sports agent Nicole Lynn answer these questions and more on the Work in Sports podcast!