I’m always searching for women who inspire me, whether it be their progression created by a humble upbringing, their hunger to reach new heights or the discipline to do the things they said they’d do. Nicole Lynn has checked all of those boxes off. Outside of being a Sports Agent and Attorney, she wears many other hats. Read about Nicole’s journey below –
Tell us about the adversities you faced as a child and how they helped shape your future.
What many people don’t know about me is how rough of a childhood I had. To say I grew up in humble beginnings is an understatement. I wasn’t just the poor kid in school… I was the poorest. To give you a sneak peek, many days I wore the same clothes to school, I didn’t always know what I would eat when I got home, and lived in homes with no water, gas, and electricy. I had to grow up REALLY fast, so I essentially raised myself with very little parental guidance. I started working at the age of 14 years old and have had a job (or two or three) ever since. Because of my traumatic childhood (and to be honest, I haven’t even scratched the surface of what that childhood looked like), my drive and determination was and has always been off the charts. I never had anyone to fall back on, so it was either be successful or be nothing. My childhood made it difficult because everything I had I had to work for… never once was given a hand out (and sometimes you truly need these). However, it was helpful in the sense that I am able to relate to a LOT of NFL players on a personal level. Many players grew up in similar situations like I did. They, too, have demanding families that they have to support and families that pull at them from all sides. I know exactly what this is like so I am able to relate to players on a level that many other agents will never be able to. I can also provide guidance to them on how to navigate their family and I am also a voice of reason on how to never go back to that life by retaining their wealth long term.
Did you always know that sports would hold a spot in your adult life?
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a sports agent. I didn’t always know the title of the role I wanted but I knew I wanted to help athletes to be successful in the league and long term. Because of this, every single move I ever made was to complete this goal. After completing a business degree I got into finance with the thought process of helping athletes retain wealth. I went to law school knowing I would later sit for the NFLPA agent exam. I worked at the NFLPA before starting as an agent so I could learn everything I could about life after football. Every decision I have ever made has been extremely calculated with the same end game in mind. I realize it can be rare for someone to almost always have known what they wanted to do in life, but that was the case for me.
You originally began your career as a financial analyst on Wall Street, helping athletes achieve and maintain wealth. When you decided your heart was really set on being a sports agent, were you discouraged by the additional amount of time and schooling it was going to take for you to achieve your goal?
Well no one really wants to go back to school after spending so much time there, right!? I was already on a career path that could have been very lucrative, but I wanted more. I wanted to wake up every day and do something that was fulfilling to me personally, so I knew that redirecting my career was the only way to go. Did I feel like I was back-tracking a little at first? Yes. But did I know that it would all be worth it in the end? YES! There was no time to be discouraged, I just had to do what was necessary.
Let’s talk about the discipline that it took to become a sports agent during your time working for the NFL Player’s Association.
I like to think my work ethic has always been pretty strong. Once I set a goal, that’s it! I know I have to put in the work to get exactly what I want. Working on Wall Street was difficult, law school was difficult, having to always prove I am capable in this industry is hard. But I always try to have the “light at the end of the tunnel” mentality. It sucks in the moment, but the payoff will be worth it in the end.
To become a NFL Sports Agent you have to sit for the contractor exam. That exam is only offered once a year. Unfortunately, it was offered the exact weekend of the bar exam (the exam you take after finishing law school to become a licensed attorney). When I found this out I decided to up my classes and graduate law school a semester early, allowing me to take the earlier bar exam and still sit for the agent exam. IT WAS ROUGH but I knew I didn’t want to wait an entire year to begin walking in my purpose.
Your day-to-day life varies due to your career. You’re a full-time attorney and an NFL Sports Agent, which requires you to visit clients, negotiate endorsements, and keep up with college potentials. What’s the best advice you have for balancing it all while keeping your sanity?
Organization and time management is key. My to-do list is never-ending, so I have to make sure that I am prioritizing effectively. I never want to waste my time or my client’s time. My fall schedule is pretty nuts. During the week I am working as a big firm attorney with late nights and high billable hours. Then on Saturdays I am standing outside a college game hoping to meet a player (even if for just one minute). Sometimes I drive 8 hours to see a potential client for just 5 minutes. Then on Sundays I am at a NFL game visiting a current client and then the week starts over. In the spring it is also busy, with the Senior bowl, NFL Combine, visiting players who are prepping for the draft, the NFL draft, and off season workouts. I am at all of it and usually just trying to keep my head above water. In the summer I have a bit more free time, but you can usually catch me at a Softball game watching my softball client (yes! I am a Softball sports agent too for pro players!) or interviewing with potential clients for the upcoming seasons.
I would be lying if I told you I was succeeding in balancing it. Unfortunately, a lot of times my personal life takes a hit. I have less free weekends to just hang out with my peers. Due to the nature of my job I have to be available at a moment’s notice – not only for my players but also their family members. I spend a great deal of time as a life coach to my guys and their mothers, their wives, etc. I get those 2 am phone calls from a client. It doesn’t bother me though, it is just a part of the job. I would not change it for the world!
How intimidating was it to be hired on as PlayersRep Sports Agency’s first and only female sports agent?
To be completely honest, I was too excited to be intimidated in the beginning. I was just happy to be in a place where I knew my career goals could be reached. The magnitude of my new role didn’t really click to me until my friends and family began to point it out. Or when I would walk into the NFL Combine with the other PlayersRep agents and would be the only woman in the room. I am reminded every single day that I am a woman and that it is not the norm. Whether that be the shocked look on a college player’s face when he walks into the room to interview me, or the change of tone of voice of a NFL team’s general manager over the phone when he hears he is negotiating with a woman. That 30 seconds of them being shocked never ever changes. I have learned to deal with it. I sit there, I give them their moment of being shocked, then I get to business.
There are other issues I face that my male counterparts will never understand. For example, I have to be extremely cautious on the outfits I choose. I have to find the fine line between being presentable and pretty but never too pretty. You never want to be prettier than any other wife or mom in the room. The last thing you want to do is make a wife feel uncomfortable. So because of this I have to be strategic in whether I choose to wear lipstick that day and ensure it isn’t “too much.” I battle with whether wearing a 5 inch heel is appropriate, so usually settle for a 2-3 inch heel out of an abundance of caution. And to make matters worse, being a black woman who likes to change her hair frequently, I have to think of how potential clients will take it. Can I be the girl with Beyonce weave? Will they be okay with my 3C natural hair with a twist out? It can be extremely difficult.
Again, although being a woman can be a little overwhelming, I knew that I could not let fear or intimidation overcome me. You have to be bold and confident when negotiating contracts and endorsement deals, so there is no place for fear in this industry. As the first and only female sports agent with PlayersRep, my job is to prove that women are just as capable. I just want my work to be impactful enough to make it easier for women like myself to also have a seat at the table.
You’re usually the minority in every aspect, from sexuality to profession to race. In what ways have you learned to take the things that are normally viewed as negative and turned them into positives?
I cannot change who I am, so I just have to do my job and do it well. That is the best way to prove that I am not less capable than my non-minority male counterparts. I am usually the first female agent a player has worked with or interviewed, so I have to make sure I leave a good impression and set the standard. I always tell potential clients “I can do a lot for you- get you the best deal, market the crap out of you, and work hard for your family, but there is one thing I can’t do, and that is change the fact that I am a woman. If you can look past that, we can make magic happen together!” I pray that my work always speaks for itself and shows that I am equally knowledgeable, negotiate just as aggressively and possess the tools necessary to help clients propel their career.
In my legal career I am also used to being the minority. There are not as many black lawyers working in large law firms as we would like. On my specific litigation team I am the only one. It can be uncomfortable at times mostly due to cultural differences and the constant feeling of feeling alone. However, I am learning to be myself and be okay with that- whether I fit into the mold or not. I can only be me, corporate America can love it or hate it!
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job? And the most challenging?
The most enjoyable part of my job is being able to help my clients make their wildest dreams a reality. Negotiating the perfect endorsement deal or helping them secure a spot on their dream team is extremely fulfilling. Even more than that, I love the day to day with my clients and their families. My clients will attest to this when I say, I am a life coach for them. It is truly my favorite part. The phone conversations about whether they should pursue the second degree, whether their current girlfriend is “the one,” or the times when I can just pray for them when times get tough. I love being their go-to person. If I don’t know the answer, I will find it- they know that.
The most challenging part of my job (besides the fact that I am a black, female agent under the age of 30) is that I spend a good amount of my time focusing on the needs of my clients and sometimes lose sight of my own needs. I am everyone else’s life coach, therapist, trip planner, etc. that I sometimes forget to take care of myself. The balance can be rough, especially considering I am also a full time practicing attorney.
What is your B Werd?
Balance: I’m a full-time attorney and sports agent. Although it can be extremely difficult, I try my best to balance each of these roles the best way possible. God has blessed me with so many amazing people and opportunities. I just want to make sure I’m showing enough appreciation for it all.
Blessed: God has blessed me beyond measure! I have so man beautiful people surrounding me and have experienced so many amazing opportunities. I’m not quite sure what I’ve done to deserve it, but I thank God for the good, bad and ugly every chance I get!
Bold: Because sometimes women have to be bold to get what they want. You can’t be timid in my line of work. You have to go after everything aggressively and be confident while doing it.
Best: Because I’ve always known that, in order to reach my goals, I have to do better than yesterday’s best. I am always in competition with myself. It keeps me on my toes. Which is especially important in my line of work.
Benevolent: Because I always try to have good intentions in everything I do. With my family, friends, clients or anyone that I meet. I have a big heart, and I want to make sure that I leave that impression on people.
To learn more about Nicole, visit https://www.agentnicolelynn.com/ as well as follow her on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with her moves. If you know of a Boss Lady worth highlighting, please send them my way!