If you’re a movie lover, chances are you’ve seen the movie, Jerry McGuire. It’s the story of an agent who has a sudden change of heart and looks to create an agency based on personal integrity and mutual partnerships with his clients.
We all may recall Tom Cruise’s intense monologue illuminating the ills within the cutthroat world of sports agencies only to get fired the next day.
Leigh Steinberg is the real-life Jerry McGuire. A man who found ways to create change within a divisive industry and carve out a different kind of agency.
We sat down with Leigh to talk about how he has been able to weave integrity and authenticity into his business dealings as a sports agent for some of the biggest names in the NFL.
He shared two of the principles that guide his philosophy in business and his partnerships with clients to this day. They come from the inspiration of his father.
Leigh states that to be an effective agent, you must see the world as the player sees it. That starts with listening.
He adds that to truly understand someone, you must be willing to listen and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. That builds trust and peels away the layers of the onion to an individual’s root values and core beliefs.
Understanding a player’s hope, dreams, and aspirations are central to Leigh’s philosophy for his agency, SSE Steinberg Sports Entertainment.
It could be as simple as whether a player wants more playing time, is looking for the right fit, or wants a place to make the most money. It all depends on what the player is looking for that sets the negotiations.
One thing that sets his agency apart from the rest in the sports entertainment world is that he seeks ways for his players to give back at the high school and collegiate levels. That requires vetting players that share the same goals and values as the agency.
He realized long ago that football players are some of the most idolized people on the planet, and using that influence for good can create significant change in the world.
For instance, many of his clients have created scholarships at the high school and collegiate levels. They’ve also created many charitable ventures to help communities.
People learn who the player is off the field through their charitable service and causes close to the player. That helps to establish a brand identity that interweaves with their play on the field.
Because not every player cares about making a difference in the world, his agency profiles clients, they look for the players engaged in their communities or players who have served others. Finding clients that share their values makes it easier to find creative ways to give back.
Leigh’s clients have provided education for important causes such as domestic violence and racial prejudice. Additionally, his Super Bowl parties are some of the most lavish each year, and all proceeds go to support humanitarian causes and charities.
It is this firm belief in treasuring relationships and making a difference in the world that is foundational to his professional success as a sports agent.
If you’re curious about starting your own agency like Leigh Steinberg or working for another agency you admire, you can now enroll in courses that teach you how to be a great sports agent. You can enroll in his Sports Business Certificate and Agency Academy courses.