NFL Agent Leigh Steinberg on the Work in Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning for and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

Two years into this podcast and over a quarter-million downloads, I still get nervous before every single interview. The process of interviewing is daunting, I love it, it gives me great joy, but there is this overwhelming concern for sounding like an idiot or asking a dumb question.

Often, due to technology, there is a bit of a lag before you hear the other person responding. Those few seconds can feel like a lifetime! I ask a question...and then it’s silent for a moment, and in that brief window you can convince yourself, “Oh my gosh, did I just not make any sense and they are thinking right now, how do I answer this garble?”

Your heart races, and then they start to answer. Phew. Crisis averted. leigh steinberg on the work in sports podcast

I spend so much time crafting my questions and researching, primarily because I am so afraid of sounding ridiculous and losing the respect of my guest. And then I get into the actual interview and don’t want to sound rehearsed so I start adlibbing… and I babble on and on.

Does any of this sound familiar? 

Hit a little close to home?

While this is all very true for me, I pretty much guarantee it is true for you as well during your interview process.  

You are smart, so you research and prepare. 

You are savvy, so you don’t want to sound rehearsed.

But you are also afraid to miss out on this opportunity, so nerves can take over. 

You want this to work out - it matters to you - so you put pressure on yourself to do well. Pressure is a tricky thing, it affects everyone differently - Tom Brady handles pressure better than Matt Ryan. Reggie Miller is better under pressure than Nick Anderson. Is that too old of a reference?

1995 Nick Anderson of the Orlando Magic missed 4 free throws in the final seconds of Game 1 of the NBA finals against the Rockets which opened the door for the Rockets to win and then sweep the young Shaq led Magic -- that was so painful to watch. 

Does anybody remember Rick Ankiel? Top pitching prospect of the St. Louis Cardinals… electric stuff. I had him on my fantasy team back in the day.  The kid had all the talent in the world, comes in second in the 1999 rookie of the year voting, lighting it up in 2000… then game 1 of the playoffs comes around, cruising through 2 innings against the Braves and Greg Maddux...and all of a sudden he can’t find the plate. He’s throwing it behind guys, 10 feet off the plate, wild pitches walks...he was a mess. Never the same as a pitcher. 

Pressure affected him. 

So how do you deal with this? How do you get yourself ready for an interview so that you can be your best and not succumb to these thoughts of “what if?”

For me, I’ve learned that having perspective makes all the difference. 

I think back to high school and college, how many tests I took or papers I wrote that stressed me out, I thought they were the lynchpin to my success. 

But today, I couldn’t tell you about a single one of them. Those moments I thought were life-changing… weren’t. All the stress, anxiety and nervousness ended up being wasted emotions in the grand scheme of things. 

Then I remember, this moment is what defines me. Michael Jordan didn’t make the varsity team in high school. At the time, he may have doubted he was good enough or thought this was a life-defining moment. It wasn’t. JK Rowling was rejected by 30 publishers who thought Harry Potter wasn’t marketable. Oprah was fired as a Baltimore news anchor. 

You will have multiple chances at everything in your life -- jobs, relationships, interviews -- don’t build pressure into the equation on each one. Breathe. Be the best version of you.

Now, with all that said, I interviewed Leigh Steinberg for this here podcast and was nervous as could be. Nobody is perfect...but as you’ll hear in this podcast interview, I don’t think my nerves affected my performance. Even Leigh said to me afterward...that was really good.  

Listen for yourself -- here’s my interview with NFL Super Agent and OG … Leigh Steinberg. [this is the part where you decide to listen to the podcast]


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By Brian Clapp | September 25, 2019
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