The following “Six Questions” short interview is with Lyle Yorks, Group Director/FIFA sports agent, with James Grant Sports. Connect with Lyle on Twitter.
1) When did you realize you wanted to work in sports, and more specifically, in the sports agency industry?
Everything in my life led up to what I do now for a career. I played at every level in the sport and feel I can really relate to the players/clients and their respective needs on and off the field of play.
2) Granted, no two days are the same in sports. However, how do you spend any given work day? What types of projects, tasks, and jobs are you working on?
My typical daily routine – if there is such a thing as a global sports director – pretty much goes like this for me. I will get up, go through my e-mails/voice and text messages on my iPhone and BlackBerry, then get in touch with my clients overseas and executives at the European clubs. That’s the best time due to the time difference. The latter part of the day is spent dealing with all business related to our players in the U.S. and Mexico in a similar fashion.
3) How has your position evolved and changed with James Grant Sports over the last 10-plus years?
Basically, I started at the ground level 12 years ago and worked my way to the top as global managing director and one of 10 board members at James Grant Sports. I’ve been in the sports business industry since 2000, when I was an agent/player representative without any clients, and really worked hard to get where I am at today in the industry.
4) What are 3 skills necessary to work in the agency industry? Why are those necessary?
First and foremost, you really have to be yourself. Secondly, you have to think long term with strategic planning when it comes to the company and its clients. If you think “short term” in either or both, you’re really burning bridges. Most importantly, you can’t be successful sitting behind a desk in this world of business. You have to travel all over the country and get out there. This is a relationship-driven business and face-to-face situations with your clients is possibly the most important thing. Your phone is also on 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There are no exceptions. Your clients are your top priority. And hopefully through your work with those clients, you develop genuine friendships and relationships. It really goes beyond just a player-agent relationship for all of us in all departments at James Grant Sports.
5) What is the most challenging part about being a FIFA agent?
Obviously, the biggest hurdle is the travel aspect of the job. You can’t be in two places at one time. Basically, you are living out of a suitcase half the year. Another hurdle you can face or encounter is others trying to get to your client. That said, you’re always making sure you do your best for each client to keep them happy and give them no reason to look elsewhere for representation. And you also have to pick the right battles to fight and the ones you can win. You always try to keep a client/player out of those things.
6) In 100 words or less, what advice would you give aspiring sports business professionals who want to work at an agency like James Grant Sports?
I would say the best thing to do is start as an intern for a group in the industry. We have actually employed a few of our interns full time who have made a material difference to our business. And do anything else you can to get involved in the industry. Knock on some corporate doors and be ambitious. It makes a difference to be noticed.