Headline Hockey

Aiming For The Top! – Episode 6: Will you be my Valentine

This is an in depth weekly series that chronicles the quest of a boutique hockey agency, VSM Hockey, to reach the top of the NHL hockey agent world. Its story is narrated by its president and founder, Nikolaï Ray.

Hello everyone. This last week has been a quiet week for us. We had our scouts at some midget AAA games, but there is nothing really special to say about these games. As with any job, people often have a very Hollywood way of seeing things. I often have friends ask me funny questions about being in the agent world. They seem to think that it is very glamorous and fashionable. The fact of the matter is that it is like any other job, very demanding! The important thing prior to getting into this field, or any other one, is to make sure that you are passionate.

The week started off with meetings with our legal/financial team in order to prepare our company’s yearly statements. Fortunately, we have some real professionals who are studs!

From there, we worked back and forth with our head scout in order to continue to establish our recruitment plan. Since we are a smaller firm, we do not have the financial freedom that the bigger firms have, so we must really target who we try and sign. I spoke with some interesting prospects out of Finland and the Czech Republic; only time will tell if we sign these kids. However, the first contact has been made, which is key! I may not have a degree in law; however I have advanced studies in subjects such as athlete development, psychology and business. The reason for me bringing this up, is that I have pretty much developed our approach in regards to recruiting players, based on principles that can be learned in a public relations degree. The first step is the awakening (the first contact which serves to let the player know that we exist), the second is the interest development (a second contact which serves to give the player and his parents as much information about us). The third part is the evaluation. Here the player and his parents evaluate whether or not they should choose us (this often shows up by the player and parents re-contacting us with very specific questions).  Fourth, the player decides to sign with us (I call this the try-out). The final part is the adoption (once the player is signed, we justify his choice by giving him the services that we had promised. We consolidate our relationship). During this last step, the player and parents have fully adopted us as their advocates and guides, trust has been built!

All this brings me back to the conversation that I occasionally see on this site. In order to become an agent, need I have a law background? If you want my honest opinion, the answer is no! The important thing is to be intelligent, resourceful, knowledgeable and caring. Being educated in the areas of law, marketing, psychology, public relations and communication are a must, but that does not mean that you need to have a specific degree in one of those areas. I think that a law degree definitely gives you a very solid background and work ethic but so do many other degrees. And let’s face it, the title on your degree does not necessarily define you as an individual. My advice: go to school and get an education. Get out of school, intern with as many leaders in as many areas as possible. Read, read and read some more, from everything that deals with law, marketing, business, psychology, etc. Finally, learn how to be a people person. Learn how to develop a network (I suggest reading the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferazzi), learn how to be a leader, and put your heart into everything you do!

So, back to being an agent. I will be spending an agent’s Valentine’s Day this year. As I said, many sacrifices are involved with this job. One of them is working on weekends and weeknights, which makes it very difficult to maintain a relationship with a significant other. However, I see it more as a choice. At the moment, my priority is to develop my business and to service my clients the best, with the resources available to me at this time. Does that mean that in 10 years I will be working every Friday and Saturday night? Hell no! But for the meanwhile, I am married to my work. As I read about successful business people, I think that one must be married and devoted to his company in order to achieve. The one thing to keep in mind for all you aspiring agents/entrepreneurs is to stay in balance. I neglected this for quite a while, and it hurt me and my business. Make sure, no matter what your schedule, to put time aside for sleep, family and friends, exercise, relaxation and make sure that you eat well!

Here is a little résumé:

  1. Qualities needed to become a successful agent: Compassion, people skills, stamina, perseverance.
  2. Subjects to study and be familiar with: Your sport, public relations, communication, marketing, law, overall business skills, psychology, finances.
  3. Put time aside in your life for : family and friends, sleep, eating well, exercise, relaxing.

Until next time, stay strong and stay hungry…