NIL Undressed

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Ryan Schachtner

09 January 2024

30m 57s

Attacking NIL & Setting Up Other’s NIL Success with SMU Volleyball Middle Blocker Alex Glover



[00:16] Ryan: Welcome to Nil Undressed. Today we're talking to an athlete that has made her mark in one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. They're even getting a pro women's league here, right? We head back to the volleyball court to talk to Alex Glover. She played her club volleyball with someone that's near and dear to our hearts now the Houston skyline, which is part of our friends at League one volleyball. She won a gold medal with them, went on to high school where she was two time all state selection and homecoming queen. She took her talents to Dallas with SMU Southern Methodist University, where she was a middle blocker, and among many other career accomplishments, she made the All Academic team second team All American and finished tied for 7th for the most matches played at SMU. That would all be great, but she didn't stop there. Alex is a prolific content creator who partnered with brands way before nil legislation was passed in 2021. Her ten plus years of experience in professional modeling and acting has given her a solid foundation to build from as she's made, really the most of her time on the big stages throughout her NCAA career, her love for content creation and being behind the camera has led to several brand deals. She was a member of Meta's Nil Empower 2.0 program and had deals with Kellogg's Ulta beauty coach Kendra Scott, Buffalo Wild Wings, just to name a few. To date, she's collaborated with over 70 brands, but her passion for nil does not only comprise of completing deals, she loves to educate and advocate for female athletes in the NIl space. Alex, welcome to Nil undressed.

[02:09] Alex: Thank you so much for having me.

[02:11] Ryan: So we got you fresh off the season, and I want to hit you to start out with with some rapid fire questions, right? So, Southern Methodist University, what's your favorite SMU tradition?

[02:24] Alex: Favorite SMU tradition, hands down, is the prune run. We actually have our own little. I don't even think she's a mustang. She's like a pony and she runs across the field during the football games and we have like runners in the front who are like sprinting for their lives. I love seeing it. We don't get to go to many football games, obviously because of volleyball, but it's so funny to see and I just love it.

[02:46] Ryan: So it's like the running of the bowls in Spain, but with the horse.

[02:50] Alex: That's pretty cool.

[02:51] Ryan: I love it.

[02:52] Alex: She's not slow. She is quick.

[02:53] Ryan: Yeah, you better get on it then. All right. If I'm taking a trip to campus, what restaurant do I need to go to and what's the go to order.

[03:03] Alex: So definitely, if you're coming to campus, you have to go to downtown Dallas, like, ten minutes away. It's this restaurant called Nick and Sam's. It is a steakhouse, literally my favorite restaurant ever. And anything literally. I will bet that you would love anything on the menu. My go to, it's like they have this appetizer. It's called bang bang broccoli. So good. And then obviously the steak for dinner.

[03:26] Ryan: Oh, sweet. That's how now I'm hungry. Best part about being part of the.

[03:32] Alex: SMU volleyball team, my favorite part was obviously the girls. You could probably see that through my content this year. But we really were a family. There was no drama. We were all supportive in every aspect of life. So they support me on the volleyball court. They're now supporting me in my journey and trying to figure know what I want to do. So I just love that I love them, and I know I can always call them if I need something.

[03:58] Ryan: Very cool. Go to hype song before a match.

[04:02] Alex: This is a weird one. But this year it was actually water by Tyler. Because I'm not a big, like, let me listen to rap and all that stuff because I don't want to get anxious. So I like to listen to a little bit of r b slower music. So that was my go to calm down.

[04:16] Ryan: I love it. Yeah. All right, so you played your club volleyball. You played for a year with Houston Skyline. How did that club experience prepare you to kind of get to the next level in high school and then beyond?

[04:29] Alex: Yeah, so I just played within my 17th year because I graduated early my 18th year, so I did not play that club season, but I moved from kind of like a hometown club. It was a little bit smaller, and I felt like Houston Skyline was more competitive. They had a lot of girls who were committed to really big schools, and that were really good. So I feel like just playing them was, like, perfect for me. Going into college and having played with those super competitive girls who were kind of above me and skill, it kind of made me rise to the occasion and get better.

[05:01] Ryan: Very cool. So you committed to SMU, right? What was it about SMU that you were like, yeah, I'm all in. I'm going there.

[05:11] Alex: Yeah. So when I was getting recruited, I actually committed my sophomore year. So something that was super important to me was my academics, and I wanted to be a stem girl. And I would go on a lot of visits, and they would be like, there's no way you could do this with volleyball, and SMU was one of the only places that let me get my engineering degree as well as get a double major and play volleyball. So it was kind of a no brainer to me. It's such a great academic school and the athletics were doing great when I committed, like volleyball had gone to the tournament and was winning conference. So it was kind of a no brainer to me, and it just felt like home when I visited. So I would say definitely the good balance of being able to do what I wanted to do and not have to give that away because I was playing volleyball was one of the reasons, one of the biggest reasons why I went there.

[05:59] Ryan: Well, that's cool and I'm sure we'll touch on this later on. But the values of the school and the team aligned with what was important to you, with your values. You didn't compromise yourself to just go to a certain place because they went to the tournament or that stuff. That's awesome. So SMU is making a big move across all sports, right? They're going to the ACC. So what are your thoughts on getting to that power five going to the ACC? How do you think that's going to impact on field or on court?

[06:38] Alex: Off court, yeah, I think we've already seen a lot of it. A lot of people are pouring a whole, the donors are pouring a whole bunch of money into SMU to try to make a smooth transition to the ACC, which is great. That's turning into different resources for student athletes, which I think is amazing. Obviously, I'm a little sad that I'm not going to be able to play in the ACC, but I am honestly really glad that I'm going to be able to see a lot of my friends and different athletes at SMU go into that. And I think it's just going to help overall as a school and for the student athlete experience because a lot of the power five, we do miss out on some of those things, being in the AAC. So I'm super excited to see how it is right now. It's kind of like this gray area of what is going to be offered that's different to student athletes and kind of what renovations are going to go on within the athletic department, but I'm super excited to see it.

[07:34] Ryan: Yeah, that's pretty cool. It's good that the alumni are backing it, too, right? Because I think we see with some of the conference realignment and shifts that there's some schools that the alumni are not always backing, so it'll be cool to see how not just football and basketball, but how that all kind of trickles down to all sports.

[07:56] Alex: Right. I think it'll be great, and I think that we're going to start getting some really high level recruits, which will just bring up the competitiveness of SMU, which will be great for all aspects, especially nil, because we'll have those bigger athletes coming and there'll be more eyes on SMU, which will be great.

[08:13] Ryan: Cool. So let's talk about Nil, right. Because as a freshman in 2019, it wasn't a thing. This was before Nil was even being thought of as coming to fruition. So when Nil passed, what were your initial thoughts on nil and volleyball and being able to participate?

[08:36] Alex: Yeah, I was completely on board. I did modeling and acting in high school. I did not play my last two years of high school ball to be able to have that part of my life, which I had been working on since I was four. So I had been doing that. So I was actually allowed to do brand deals going into college. So my freshman and sophomore year, I was still allowed to do brand collaborations, but I was never able to say that I was a volleyball player at SMu. I could not use that. I could not use my name, what I do. So it was kind of hard to create content because that was such a big part of my know. I almost felt like I was hiding it because it was part of the know, you cannot use that. So when Nil came out, it kind of gave me free rein to use that in my content and create this brand story and tell people a little bit more about me. And that's when I really saw the growth in my personal brand. So I was completely on board when that came out. And I think it was long overdue for student athletes to be making money on something that we spend so much time doing.

[09:40] Ryan: Absolutely. The collectives aren't really a part of the volleyball world. Right. And so everything that you had to do, it was entrepreneurial, it was organic. You had to figure out that path on your own, and you had a little bit of experience. So were you like the mother hen of the volleyball team? Did you help pave the way and help the other sports to figure out how to actually line this up to accomplish some deals?

[10:10] Alex: Yeah, I think it took a little bit of time for my teammates and other women's sports at SMU to see that I was kind of really passionate and doing a lot of deals for a lot of people to come to me and ask, like, hey, how are you doing? This, and something that was super important to me from the jump was trying to make equal opportunities for men and women. So, speaking on the collective, we do have a collective at SMU. It's called the boulevard collective. And they were working with men's basketball and football. And I actually emailed them and I called them and, hey, you know, there's a lot of us on my team and on women's basketball team that are really passionate and nil. And even if you don't want to add us to the collective, I understand that is up to the donors and who they want to be in the initiative, but please, at least give us an opportunity to showcase what we have. And he emailed me back and was super responsive, super great, and was like, hey, we want to partner with women's volleyball and give them a deal to a local company around here. All of you all can make content. You'll all get compensated for it. This is where we'll start. So we did that and it turned out really well. So now they include us in a lot of their stuff. But it was just kind of like I had to speak out because I knew that if nobody was going to say anything, it was kind of just going to be everybody fighting for their own life, my teammates, and ask how they can get deals. But not everyone like women's basketball. Maybe someone who doesn't know me wouldn't come to me personally. So I just took that initiative to try to change that. So that was really good. And then I try to be an open resource for everyone, even if I don't know someone on campus. Like, if you want to ask me, you can come and I want to help.

[11:55] Ryan: Yeah, well, and I think the key lesson in that is just taking the initiative, right? I mean, you don't know what the answer is going to be. I mean, they could have said no. And I think a lot of times athletes have in their heads that, yeah, this brand is probably going to say no, and so it stops them from actually going out and trying. Whereas you said, yeah, that's a possibility, but I'm going to send the message anyway, and then look what happens. Right?

[12:26] Alex: Yeah, I completely agree. I think that rejection is a lot of things that student athletes specifically sometimes struggle with. We don't want to fail, we don't want to lose. But I think that's the thing that helped me with modeling and acting when I was younger. I heard no ten times more than I heard yes on acting role or this gig. So it doesn't bother me at all. And honestly, if there's a possibility and it's something that I want, the worst that can happen is someone says no or maybe another time, and that's completely fine.

[12:57] Ryan: Yes, absolutely. When you first started, the world opened up. You could use volleyball content, right. Nil is there. Did you set goals or expectations? Because as athletes, that's what we do, right? We set small goals, big goals, team goals, personal goals, all that. Did you set goals or expectations for what you wanted to do?

[13:21] Alex: I think for the first year, it was kind of like murky water. No one really knew what an Il was, so that was kind of just testing the waters, dipping my feet in. I wanted to see what I could accomplish. And then I think the second year of nil is when I really took it off. I was like, okay, I know what I did in the first year, and I want to do better. I want to work with bigger brands, and I want to do better collaborations for myself. I want to make better videos, and I kind of just want to expand my range to creating that personal brand that I had been working on. Instead of just making these videos for brands, I wanted brands to start coming to me because they liked my personality and what I was doing. So I think it's still a competition with myself. Every year, every month, I'm like, okay, I want to do something better than I did last month.

[14:11] Ryan: So I've always wondered this, right, because we like the pursuit of perfection as athletes, right? Even though it's not obtainable, right. It's just the pursuit of it. And so there's athletes, whether they be high school or college right now that they're looking at making content, but the video doesn't look perfect. Right. How did you get over making that perfect video and just kind of let that evolve? What advice would you give to athletes?

[14:48] Alex: Yeah, I think this is something that I struggled with, too. Coming straight out of high school, I wanted every single picture on my instagram to be like, okay, this is my best picture. And I was that person that would post once every three months, waiting for that time where I'm in my favorite outfit ever and I look the best that I think I could look. And I think I fell into that trap. And that's where I saw kind of my growth hindering, because nobody wants to look at someone's page who has one post. Nobody can get to know you. And I think once I started posting more and I started seeing that growth, then it started getting a lot easier for me. So now it's like, I'll post videos and I'll see them months later. I'm like, ooh, that wasn't my best work, but something in the process of when I was posting that, I didn't care because I had grown to learn that there were going to be some videos that I put out that weren't my best work. But it's a work in process and I'm getting better at it. So I think once you get over that hump of figuring out that every single picture and every single post is not going to be perfect and it's not going to be your best day, that that's when you're going to see the growth. Because I think that people really like relatable people and none of us are perfect. So I think showing that throughout your content is really my best advice that I could give someone.

[16:06] Ryan: Yeah, that's great. And you're absolutely right. People like relatable people. I mean, they can look in magazines and see the perfect photoshopped and touched up image, but that's not reality.

[16:20] Alex: Right?

[16:21] Ryan: Another thing, I think athletes, they have this misconception that they're going to post some content and their brand deal, some brand is going to give them $10,000 to make a post about something. So tell us a little bit and now it can grow there for sure. But tell us how your deals kind of evolved from when you first started out to where you are now and kind of what that progression timeline and what that progression looks like so athletes can have a better understanding.

[16:55] Alex: Yeah. So when I first started, I definitely was doing a lot of gifted deals just to try to get videos. I was trying to get experience for myself and also make good content for brands. So I think I had to start with doing, they were just sending me product and then from there it turned into brand deals for little compensation, like 100, $200, maybe for a couple of deliverables. But again, it was about that experience piece. And then from there, once I had that experience in that videos, I started to create a portfolio where you could see my work. And when brands would reach out to me, I could kind of give this portfolio to show them what my content style is, how much time I put into it, kind of some analytics behind some of the posts that I've done for other brands, just to give them a gauge of what I'm about, if they like my content style, if not, so that they know if they want to put their money in me, or if not, they can go a different direction. So once I started sending brands my portfolio, after they would reach out or after I would apply, then they would start offering more money because they could see the work that I had previously done. And then I think from there, it was kind of a snowball effect where I really didn't have to reach out to a whole bunch of brands because bigger brands were now working with me and my portfolio had bigger brands in there and nationwide known brands. So from there, I started getting four figure, five figure deals. But I still do deals to this day. If I feel like it's a brand that really resonates with me, maybe it's either a small business or women owned or black owned. I'll always do lower for them because the marketing budget isn't as big and that's something that I'm passionate about. So I still do deals that I may not get paid for, maybe if I'm super passionate about the brand and it's something that I really want to do.

[18:51] Ryan: Yeah, that's cool. So you said two things there. One is the analytics of it, right. And being able to show these bigger brands that, and that's what they make the judgment off of from a financial commitment to the athlete. And so it's having that resume, but having those analytics that you can show them so that they can make the best decision, but also to show them that you don't mess with me. I know what I'm doing. I know my value and that kind of thing.

[19:25] Alex: Right.

[19:26] Ryan: The other thing you said, and this hits back on, aligning with brands. Right. Things that you're passionate about. And so how do you make sure that the brands align with you and what your goals are versus a big brand comes to you and it would look great on the resume. How do you vet that? How do you make that decision?

[19:52] Alex: So I do a lot of research. I look first and foremost at other creators that maybe because a lot of these brands will have not just college athletes but professional athletes also behind their brand or maybe spokespersons or models or whatever. So I like to look to see who else is representing them to see if I'm kind of like them. Am I along with the other brands that that person is resonated with? Because I don't want to be tied with. Let's say I worked with Ulta Beauty and they were amazing. Let's say that they were working with trying to think somebody that I wanted to be tied, like, I love their image, I love everything that they stand for. That makes me want to work with Ulta Beauty even more so that maybe I'll become up in conversations like, hey, she's signed by Ulta Beauty and so is this other person, and I love everything about them, so that's great. Whereas if I was working for someone else and I was tied to someone who maybe had different views than me or different morals than me, or maybe was stuck in a little bit of a social rut, maybe had some backlash behind something that they've done, I kind of want to stray away from that because I wouldn't want to be the rebound or the backboard for that brand. And maybe some of those morals or views would be projected onto me, even if that's not how I felt. So I do do a lot of research on what brands I want to work with. Yeah.

[21:25] Ryan: And I think it's important to not just go for the money because you never know if you are tied to a brand and something negative happened with that brand, even if you never met the person that was associated with it, you never know when that's going to pop up down the line. Right. And you don't know. It may be financially a good deal, but you saying no to that might actually get you an opportunity because you're not tied to that brand, a bigger deal down the road. Right. So you just never know. So I think it's really important to do that research and make sure that your values align with the brand.

[22:05] Alex: Yeah.

[22:06] Ryan: So you played volleyball your whole life, right? How has volleyball and nil prepared you for life after volleyball?

[22:17] Alex: I think that the main thing it's helped me do is create a personal brand. So now I kind of feel, especially from nil, I feel this freedom that I can take my life in any direction that I want to, kind of, because I've had time to create this brand, everybody knows what they're expecting of me and I can go different pathways. So if that's content creation or sports broadcasting, people know that what I'm passionate about, and even though a lot of student athletes don't have per a resume with experience, because we can't get internships and jobs as easily as people who have more free time, I almost feel like my social media and my personal brand is my resume. So I feel like that's given me a chance so I can go in any different direction and work with anybody that I see fits for me. And I didn't have to have that job or internship that would help me do that.

[23:14] Ryan: Yeah, you nailed it. Your social media is your resume. Right. And I think once athletes realize that, that these companies, and even when they're being recruited, we know schools that they have three to four people on staff that just look at social media posts every day of everybody they're recruiting to make sure that it's not just the pictures are good and they're not doing something they shouldn't, but how do they describe what's going on in the picture? Is it the team did this or I did this? Right. And they analyze everything. So it is completely your resume. I love that you said you if we went back, right, and you're in high school and you're being recruited today with Nil now being part of the equation, what would you be looking for in a university as it relates to nil and then outside of nil?

[24:11] Alex: I think definitely my viewpoint is a little bit different on this because I'm coming from SMU is a little bit of smaller school, but in a huge city, so there's so many opportunities and I love that. I don't think that I would change going to a college town because I think that I've created networking opportunities here with so many different, we have so many sporting teams. We have the men's basketball, women's basketball league. We have the Texas Rangers here. We have ice. Like, I feel like we have everything here. So I would not change going to school in Dallas, but if I were to change it, I would definitely look to see if schools had nil resources. So I know a lot of schools now have nil advisors, or maybe they're outsourcing people to come in and take videos and pictures for student athletes. And I think that's something that's super helpful and not a lot of schools are hopping on board. And I think if Nil is something you're super passionate about and something you want to get into, definitely look for that. Because the amount of time that I have spent myself trying to get my friends who are already busy. Can you take this video for me? Can you take this picture? Which if they're not busy, they'll usually do it. But that is a lot of work trying to get that all together. So I think if there was people on board, out of school helping you with that 24/7 that would have helped me so much. So I would definitely look for that. Yeah.

[25:39] Ryan: And you're going to quickly become one of my favorite guests because you hit something that I've been saying for a long time, especially with these high school athletes and transfer portal and all that, it may sound great going to a huge power five, huge school, college town, but if you're serious about life after and you're using nil for life after sports then sometimes a smaller school in a bigger city is more valuable to you than the bigger school in the smaller city just because of the opportunities that it presents.

[26:15] Alex: Right.

[26:16] Ryan: That's awesome. High school athletes now that are trying to build their brand. Right. What advice would you give them? You went through the modeling, the acting, so you got to kind of learn about you at a younger age than, than most people. Right. You got a lot of self awareness sooner. So what advice would you give to athletes as they start building their brand and putting themselves out there?

[26:49] Alex: Definitely my number one advice would be to find someone who can help you and who can hold you accountable. So for me, that's my parents. They're always on my social media. They're always looking at it, but they're not managing it. They're not telling me what to post, what not to post, but they are helping me with ideas. And they're always, like, filtering to make sure I'm trying to make the right brand image, which is super nice. But that also has to be someone that you can trust, because I trust my parents to tell me when something doesn't look right. So that would be my number one advice. My number two would be to post as much as you can and as consistently as you can. That is honestly not something that I picked up on until I would say this year, like, after I did the meta program, they were pushing me and pushing me and pushing me to post, and I did not understand the significance in that. And literally, over the volleyball season, I started in August with 10,000 followers on Instagram. And at the beginning of December, I hit 40,000. And I had been stuck at eight, 9000 for years and I could not figure out why. And I just started posting more consistently and I saw that growth. So if you're really trying to build a personal brand, I think letting people in to see parts of your life consistently will help build that trust between you and your audience, and that's when you'll see the growth well.

[28:13] Ryan: And if you're looking for growth, going back to something you said earlier, you can't worry about it being perfect if you're going for volume of content. So that might also help you get over that hurdle, having everything's got to be picture perfect, right? So you went to the Nil summit last year. How was that experience and how did it help you kind of formulate an NiL game plan?

[28:41] Alex: Yeah, I think the main thing that the summit helped me with was finding like minded individuals who also were passionate about Nil. So some of these girls and guys are still people that I talk to, bouncing off the content ideas or collaboration ideas with them. Student athletes from different schools that can be a whole different look to your content. So I think it just gave me kind of this support group, too. They know that when I'm posting, I know that they're going to support me and I'm going to support them, too. So I think it just gave me like minded individuals that I kind of found my people who also had the same passion are putting the same amount of work into it. Yeah.

[29:23] Ryan: And I think that's key for every aspect of your life. Right? Finding those people that have the same goals are going to push you sometimes, but surrounding yourself with those people that are going to help elevate you. And I think the coolest thing about Nil is all the collaboration and the ideas that are coming out. And it's been fun to watch from my seat to see all of the stuff that is coming out and the careers that are being built potentially with nil and these athletes that when I played, wasn't an option.

[30:07] Alex: Right.

[30:08] Ryan: Man, Alex, this was awesome. Again, I think you're quickly, you became one of my favorite. You echo everything that I've been saying for the longest time. But thank you so much for spending some time with us. People want to link up with you and find you.

[30:22] Alex: How do they find you on Instagram at Alexjean? So I'm going to spell it out. It's A-L-E-X-J-E-N-N. So four n's. Same thing on TikTok, and that's pretty much the two platforms I use the most.

[30:38] Ryan: Awesome. Thank you for joining us on Nil undressed. As always, every like subscribe share is greatly appreciated.

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