Finding Your Way
By: Jeremy M. Evans, @JeremyMEvansESQ
“Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” Been hearing those words in your head lately? Are you tired of not working in a job that you love and finding yourself contemplating that the sports and entertainment industry is a difficult one to make a good name? For many, the answer to the above questions is yes.
1. Get an education. This could be your formal or informal education. Some of the most successful people in the world dropped out of school, high school, college, or otherwise, with an idea, passion, and great work ethic. You do not need to graduate from the best institutions to be a success, but it can give you a head start to a wonderful career. Informal education can come from experiences, friends, mentors, family, your pastor, or a teacher. Ideally, you would want to get your informal and formal education at the same time as they can benefit the other. Informal education is really learning about relationships, people, and learning from your mistakes. Keep the following in mind: you learn more from your mistakes because not everything went right as planned. Be encouraged when things go wrong because it means that you are doing something right (working for a goal) and you have the opportunity to learn from it (the failed experiment). What does this mean? Try something new. Be bold. Keep trying. Keep learning.
2. Serve in leadership roles with volunteer organizations and specifically sports organizations. Be service minded. Every opportunity comes from being involved. Personal experience has shown that people provide opportunities. Why is that? It is because companies and ideas come from people and people in turn have the opportunity to provide others (you) with opportunities to succeed. However, you must be involved to see the fruition here. You cannot sit on the sidelines and expect a call or email. The sports and entertainment industry, unlike and more so than any other industry, requires personal attention and appearances. You must make the effort. You must challenge yourself to become and stay involved, consistently.
3. Be genuine and network. Related to point two above, being genuine means taking a real and sincere interest in other people. It means asking questions that matter to the other person. (Note: in a non-threatening fashion, you may and should do your research before meeting someone you want to meet). In a related fashion, networking means (1) showing up to events, and (2) being genuine at those events and in your actions in general. One rule of thumb to remember: being there is everything. However, while “being there” and being genuine, you should not be asking for an internship or a job before meeting someone in person or when meeting or talking with the person for the first time. It does not mean sending random messages or emails asking for jobs or internships. What it is does mean is looking for a formal introduction to the person you want to meet, introducing yourself, and then forming a genuine relationship. You will come to find that asking questions that matter, leads to answers that matter. Knowing someone is hiring can be very helpful information, but let the other person volunteer that information. Similar to dating, you must be patient and wait. You cannot force a good friendship.
4. Work in internships. Get experience. Many times the question has been asked: “I have an internship (or job) offer, but it is not in sports or entertainment field. Should I take it?” Absolutely. One of the beautiful things about the sports and entertainment field is that it compliments and encompasses many different areas of the law and business. For example, the sports law field encompasses employment and labor law through contracts, unions, and collectively bargained agreements. If you are an agent or talent manager, managing the personal affairs of others can include all different kinds of business or otherwise. The possibilities are truly endless. In taking an internship or a job, you are agreeing to learn from experiences and mentors. You are agreeing to learn what you do not know. You are also agreeing to meet new people. New people means new ideas, relationships, and then opportunities. People often change their major in college, so the same goes for people wanting to practice in a certain area of the law or another area of employment. Do not let your presuppositions about life, experiences, wants, and likes, determine where you end up in life. Let your experiences and your passions determine your path.
In closing, to find your way, you must make your way through experiences, mistakes, meeting people, and establishing genuine relationships.
Next steps: When attending your next event, make sure to attempt to meet everyone. Focus on meeting people, not one specific person (takes the pressure off you).