By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Louis Bing, Certified NFLPA Agent and Managing Director of Zoe Sports. He is an alumnus of the University of Miami where he received his Bachelor's degree in Finance. He also holds a J.D. from SMU Dedman School of Law. He is currently the youngest agent in the NFL with an All-Pro client. He was gracious enough to offer up his insight on networking, what it takes to be an agent, and how relationships are the most important part of the player representation field of sports.
What previous positions did you hold prior to your current position? How did they help you get to where you are today?
I’ve had a very diverse career path as I didn’t decide to be in the sports industry until after college. I wouldn’t say any of my previous positions lead to my current position because I started my own business. But as far as the positions that help me in my day to day activities, being an analyst at Goldman Sachs certainly helps me understand the financial world. Working for law firms and a Federal Judge during law school definitely helps my understanding of the legal world. Having a legal and financial background is extremely beneficial when representing professional athletes.
As Managing Director of Zoe Sports, what is a normal day like for you? What are some day-to-day challenges?
Every day is different. I usually start out every day making a list of what all my clients need from me and go from there. It’s also recruiting season right now so I’m on the road almost every week. Talking to scouts and player personnel guys, talking to athletes and their families, talking to training facilities, business meetings, etc. I really wouldn’t trade any of what I do.
What is your favorite part about working in the player representation side of sports?
Helping my clients achieve their dreams both on and off the field.
What are some tips for students who want to break into the field of player representation?
It’s all about your relationships with players if you want to work for an agency. Nobody cares about your academic accomplishments and non-sports related experience to be honest. It’s all about which players you can help them sign. That’s really what it comes down to, whether other agencies admit it or not.
What is the best career advice you have received?
This business is about trust first and everything else second. I think a lot of new agents focus way too much on their academic credentials when selling themselves or try to come up with some new a brilliant idea when entering the business. I’ll put my academic and professional credentials up against any agent in the business, but I rarely ever bring them up. All the players want to know is “Can I trust you?”
If you were going to hire someone today what would the ideal candidate possess to be able to succeed in the field of player representation? What kind of experiences would they need?
They definitely need to be the type that I can see relating to athletes and being comfortable around them. I can usually tell within a minute of speaking with a potential intern whether they could ever successfully recruit. They need to be competent of course, and bring something to the table that I don’t have: whether it’s a network or a skill set, but they have to be able to bring something that I don’t already have. Otherwise, why hire them? I’m not going to hire an intern just because she is attractive like some other agents in the business do.
Many up and coming students think being an agent is all glitz and glamour, could you offer some insight on how much work it actually takes and why it’s not all glitz and glamour?
The vast majority of agents have other full time jobs because they never make enough money from representing players to make a living. So unless you have a ton of money to start out with, you are going to be barely making ends meet when first starting your career. Ninety percent of agents will never represent a first round pick. Ninety percent of agents will never represent an All-Pro. You have to truly love the business to last because there are a million better ways to get rich or be around “glitz and glamour.”
How important is networking? In your mind what strategies should students and new professionals use and what strategies should they stay away from?
If you want to work for a company, show them how you can help them. It’s about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. It’s annoying when I see emails saying “I am a sports management major and I need to do an internship as a part of my program…” I mean seriously... do they really think anyone is going to hire them because they need an internship to graduate? Show the company how you are unique and what you can bring to the table that will improve their business. I would never consider hiring someone unless they were significantly better in some aspect than I am.
What is one thing that your agency does differently than the others to set yourselves apart and make players want to sign with you?
We are very focused on helping our clients become entrepreneurs off the field. We feel it is critical that every athlete in the league becomes educated on entrepreneurship and has cash flow coming in from businesses that they own when they retire. An absence of cash flow, is the root cause of all their financial troubles as has been well documented as of late.