Saturday, July 3, 2021

Agent You: Show Up, Do the Work, and Succeed On Your Own Terms by Nicole Lynn (Book Review)


Agent Nicole Lynn

Hold on to your seats, people. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an advanced copy of NFL agent Nicole Lynn's new book entitled, Agent You: Show Up, Do the Work, and Succeed On Your Own Terms (Harper Horizon, July 13, 2021). Now if you don't know who she is, then let me get you up to speed. 

Nicole is the first Black female sports agent to represent a first-round pick in the history of the NFL Draft. Her client was none other than Quinnen Williams (DL) of the New York Jets who was selected 3rd overall in the 2019 class. The way that story unfolded will tug at your heartstrings, but you will have to read the book for yourself. She also reps Houston's own Jalen Hurts (Alabama '18, OU '19), quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles (Yes, I am biased. H-Town represent!).

2019 NFL Draft

After graduating from the University of Oklahoma and a brief stint on Wall Street, Nicole returned to OU and earned a law degree. While working as a corporate lawyer, she got certified as an NFL agent. She worked both jobs full-time for years, found time to get married somewhere along the way to Coach Gabe Lynn (OU Alum and DB coach at Houston Baptist University), shot a pilot for a tv show about her life, won a few awards, and wrote this book. She recently took the reins as Director of Football Operations at Klutch Sports Group. Oh, yeah. She is busy-busy. Check out her bio here.

If you know me, then you know how I love a good self-help book. The best ones address all of the questions that need answers: Who? What? When? Where? How? And, most importantly: Why? In Agent You, Nicole teaches you how to do for yourself what she does for her clients everyday. She is a gatekeeper, financial advisor, life coach, relocation specialist, cheerleader, mentor, and advocate. Each chapter breaks down the 13 critical actions that we must all take to position ourselves for success--however, we define it.

I literally read this book from cover to cover in about 3.5 hours yesterday (Did I mention that Gabrielle Union wrote the foreword?). In the intro, you will learn Nicole's "why" and how to discover what your purpose is. She will then invite you on a journey through each chapter where she shares anecdotes from her life and the lessons she has learned along the way. My favorite parts of this book are the exercises at the end of each chapter. They make you think about what you read and then put it into action.

Here's an example: In chapter 2, Nicole talks about getting your dream job. Sometimes life happens and your dreams can be deferred. The good news is that you don't have to stand by waiting for an opportunity to present itself. The assignment is to compile a list of 10 small things that you may work towards in the interim. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Be diligent. When you get to the bottom of your list, start a new one. When the opportunity does present itself, you will be ready.

The super-agent doesn't mince words either. She shares many cringe-worthy moments throughout the book that she turned into triumph. In chapter 3, she talks about being your authentic self. We hear that all the time though, right? But Nicole really spells out the perils of not having a "me statement," not knowing what you believe in, not having a true sense of what you stand for AND against, and not knowing what you want your legacy to be. Every decision that you make is rooted in the knowledge of self. Do the work in this chapter and you will be on your way to figuring all of this out.

There are some parts of Agent You that will stay with me forever. Nicole talks about why Black women should never "cover" and why we should take our "seat at the table" sooner (no pun intended) than later. She talks about the real definition of self-care and what to do when you lose. And the chapter about letting go and letting God? Whew!

I could go on and on, but I dare not stand in the way of your blessing. Get the book. Read it. Let me know what you think.

Agent You is available for pre-order on now. 

Be good to yourself. More next time...

Monday, January 2, 2017

Nike & The Fastest Runners In The World Attempt To Be The First To Finish A Marathon In Under 2 Hours

(Greetings, All! This is a piece I wrote for Terry Crews's blog, "Artbuff." Feel free to comment and share!)
If you are a long distance runner, this story is either going to motivate you to get your marathon times up, or make you feel like a mere mortal and hang your running shoes up for good. After two years of research, testing, and planning, Nike has teamed up with three of the world's fastest marathon runners in attempts to finish a 26.2 mile race in under two hours!

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea have started on a training program to prepare for a race in spring 2017. The goal is to run 1:59:59 or faster which equates to a pace of 4:34 per mile. Nike calls the plan Breaking2. It is a collaboration of 20 designers, engineers, coaches, and physiologists hand-picked for this project at the Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The team has been hard at work on this project since 2014.
The fastest recorded marathon time is the world-record of 2:02:57 set in 2014 by Kenyan runner Dennis Kimetto. His pace of 4:41 per mile is only seven seconds slower than the pace needed to break the elusive 2-hour barrier. It would seem that a few tweaks to training, nutrition, and technique could be all that is needed to set the new world record. The Breaking2 team concluded that their success is tied to five criterias: athlete selection, course and environment, nutrition, hydration, and equipment. They believe that they now have a winning formula.

According to Nike's website, the mission of this undertaking extends far beyond just beating a number, stating: "Attempting to break the sub two-hour marathon challenges the perception of what is possible in sport, resets the expectations of product and enables Nike to gather incredible athlete insight. These lessons can be applied across everything Nike does, including products and services, to ultimately serve all runners. The only real failure would be to not attempt such an audacious goal."

A photo posted by Pablo Gil (@gilzaragoza) on

The runners will be testing everything from weather conditions to Nike running gear which will enable them to maximize their potential. This trio will, however, forego the very lucrative spring running season to take on the Breaking2 challenge. Nike is compensating them for their participation, but the runners value the possibility of this first-time achievement in the history of the sport. And they want to be a part of it. Adese shared his sentiments saying, " I know one day [two hours] will be broken. I want to be part of it.”

Pretty exciting stuff, right? The date, time, and place of the 2-hour race attempt will be announced in 2017. Get ready! We might be witnessing history in the making!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Serena Williams Won't Apologize For Being Black And Confident & We LOVE Her For It!

Christopher Griffith for The New York Times

(Greetings, All! This is a piece I originally wrote for Rickey Smiley's blog, "The Rickey Smiley Morning Show" that I thought I would share with you here. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments!)


At 35 years old, this little Black girl from Compton has become one of the most decorated and accomplished women in all of professional sports. No one has matched her fierce work ethic, unstoppable drive, and sheer competitiveness—not even her big sister Venus. This winner of 22 Grand Slams has been ranked #1 in the world on 6 different occasions. She finished 2016 as the highest-paid female athlete earning $28.9 million. She is confident. She is Black. She is a living legend in the world of sports. She is Serena Williams and she offers no apologies for that. And why should she?

Recently, Serena sat down for a conversation with her good friend and former beau, Common, for ESPN's "The Undefeated" interview series. They discussed what it means to walk in her shoes against the current social landscape. Serena believes that she and her sister were misunderstood early in their careers. From the first moment they stepped on a tennis court, they knew that they were Black and that they were different. They let that reality fuel their efforts rather than stall them.
At very young ages, Venus and Serena's father (and coach) stressed the importance of knowing the history of their people. This knowledge instilled in them a sense of pride. The Williams sisters understood that they stood on the shoulders of their predecessors like Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson. Their focus, competitiveness, accomplishment, and tenacity were unfamiliar to their opponents, but they were able to shake off racist insults and focus on being the best. Serena explained, "We came from Compton. We came from nothing. We just wanted to play tennis."

Serena has always been true to herself and acutely self-aware. She thrives on being different and always looks to discover her own path. To stay focused on her craft and being her very best, Serena insulates herself against all negativity. At age 17, she decided to stop reading all press, good and bad, to keep her ego in check and the critics at bay. Her dad taught her to believe that she could be the best. When she first articulated those goals, Serena was often met with resistance from those who just didn't understand her empowered mindset. You see, little Black girls from the hood aren't supposed to speak in those terms.
Serena acknowledges that there is pressure when she is on the court to represent her race well but, when she considers her accomplishments, she accepts that the pressure is par for the course. The racism Serena has encountered spans from the crowds to tournament organizers, to advertisers, and even opponents. She has becoming painfully aware of the pressures that Black men face every time they get behind the wheel of a car, as evidenced by a Facebook post she wrote about her nephew. While opening doors for other Black tennis players and becoming a role model was hardly on radar at the start of her journey, it is now something she embraces. Serena wants to use her platform to make real change regarding race relations.
Serena embraces her physical and mental strength. Both have enabled her to become the greatest tennis player to ever hold a racket. Her beauty, grace, and her bold Blackness have earned the respect of those who once hated her solely for the color of her skin. So, if anybody owes anybody an apology, it is those people who owe you, Serena. Keep doing what you are doing. We see you, Sis.

Be good to yourself! More next time...