Finding the bullseye with Nick Wellner
When I met Nick he felt like he was treading water, clocking in and clocking out, looking up the corporate ladder without any real enthusiasm.
He felt like there was something missing.
After six months together Nick landed his dream job working in sports betting. He's stepped off the "career ski lift" and has created a career at the intersection of what he's naturally good at, what he's interested in, and his life priorities.
Nick and I discussed:
- The value of constantly checking in on how you’re feeling
- Being true to yourself about what you’re good at and what you like to do
- How he created the perfect role for himself through networking
- The importance of going for things that really align with your interests
- What to focus on if you’re someone who avoids networking
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Anne: Welcome to the career studio podcast, where we boil down the noise and focus on the core concepts, essential for building an energizing career you love. One that is simply an extension of who you are and how you wanna live your life. Anyone can do it. It's just a matter of knowing what to focus on.
Hello, my next guest is Nick Wellner. Nick is the Director of Player Development at Points Bet, which is a global online sportsbook operating in Australia, Canada, and now the US. He is a self-described rabid sports fan and occasional sports better, and through our work, he was able to parlay his passion for sports into a dream career.
Nick and I had a fun conversation where we discussed the value of constantly checking in on how you're feeling, being true to yourself about what you're good at and what you like to do, how he found and created the perfect role for himself through networking and the importance of going for things that really aligned to your interests. Let's dive in.
So yeah, why don't you start off by just painting a picture about how you were feeling and what was going on for you in your career before you started this work on yourself?
Nick: Yeah. When prior to us, you know, starting our sessions, the way I would best describe it is just swimming in place or, or treading water, if you will.
It wasn't drowning, you know, it wasn't like I needed an immediate lifeboat, but certainly wasn't thriving. It was just a very sort of net neutral feeling. So there wasn't this burning urgency to, to identify something new, and I didn't feel like something was missing, but it was clear that there was a whole lot more that I could be doing.
Anne: Cool. And now like, how would you describe how you're feeling and, and what you're doing now?
Nick: It's funny when, when we started our work, remember one of the, the early questions, you ask it weekly, but how are your energy levels, you know, do how, how are you feeling today? How are the energy levels? And yeah.
Despite a 20 degree commute with four inches of snow, energy levels couldn't be higher right now. Yeah. I feel.... I'm sure we'll get into this later on during the conversation, but yeah, count my lucky stars that I get to, to work in a role where sports literally is my, my day to day and had a meeting about the outcome of Thursday night football last night. So hard not to feel energized about things like that.
Anne: Awesome. Yeah. You're living in Denver. Well, let me ask it this way. Let's just expand on that. You know, the core philosophy of my business is that it takes less energy to be yourself. That when you design your career intentionally around who you are and what matters to you, that's when you can really thrive and, and create the most impact.
And so I'd love you to just talk with a little bit more detail or specificity about how what you're doing now reflects what you know about yourself, in terms of your strengths and your interests and your environmental priorities.
Nick: Yeah, and I think that that really was the aha moment when, you know, we started this whole process, was that realizing when, when you really are happy is where you can identify that nexus between what you're good at, what you, you like, and what matters to you.
And thinking back to our first sessions, remember we filled something out, hobbies, interests, and a lot of like, sports. Fitness, outdoorsy things didn't want to be confined in a big city, you know? And now when I think back, sort of where I am today in Denver, working at a sports betting company where I get to talk to clients and companies and, you know, on a daily basis, it's I definitely feel like I've found the, the bullseye in terms of that intersection between the three.
Anne: Totally I agree. I'll, I'll just tell you what I see. I mean, you're, I think one of the things you're, you're naturally just so natural with people, right? And, you build relationships really quickly. And I think part of the conversation was getting super clear on that. And, and you're in a, in a business development role now, you're in sales before and, and you've kind of, you wanted to move to BD.
And then, yeah, getting to use that strength to think about the things that really interest you, you know, as you've said, sports and, and getting to talk about the games and, and the scores and the results. And then in an environment that allows you to be outdoors, right, in Denver with people who are kind of doing sports, outdoors, et cetera, in a smaller city.
So, yeah, just to, just to put a finer point on it, it really feels, it's such a good fit for you and, and it's so fun to see you thrive in that environment.
Nick: Well, I appreciate the help in, in getting me here. I don't think I was fully, fully prepared for the drastic change in temperature. But aside from that, it's been, it's been all good.
Anne: Yeah. Just to clarify, Nick was in Sydney before Living, living the Life, right. Five steps from Bondi Beach.
Nick: Yeah, this is good, it's a good 30 degrees colder today than any single day I experience in Australia. But listen, it's it's, it's well worth the, the few extra layers to, to do where I am now.
Anne: Yeah. Yeah. Well I'm jealous of your access to skiing, so it'll be awesome this winter. Okay. And you said that was really the aha part was kind of getting super clear on those components of your brand. Were there any other, perhaps unexpected or pivotal moments you think that really helped you go from feeling a bit like treading water in place to where you are now feeling really energized and aligned.
Nick: Yeah, the, the way I've sort of thought about the whole process is it's almost like a long tunnel with one light at the end of it. But as you're walking along the tunnel, you're, you're just, you're sort of flipping on these individual light bulbs along the way. It's not as if there's one real aha moment, so maybe I, I lied earlier, but really a whole series of them that in aggregate lead to this one large aha moment.
I think there are a couple of them. One, just that constant check-in on like how you're feeling, what energizes you, what, what excites you. And you know, throughout our work, so much of it was having just networking conversations. Not necessarily conversations with the end goal of getting an interview or getting a job from that, but just getting a better sense of lay of the land and understanding, you know, what energizes me? What makes me tick? What excites me?
And what I realized through all of that, and then, you know, checking in with myself after those conversations is that it was discussions in the sporting space about the burgeoning betting industry, that that left me more energized than anything else and, and buy a long shot.
So I think once, once you recognize like, Hey, there's something here, like this is clearly what, what makes me tick, then you can start to hone in a little bit more and that's one light switch flipped. So I think that was definitely a big one. You know, I think that, being true to yourself around what you're, you're good at, and what you like to do.
So I identified the industry zeroed in on, you know, really what it was that I thought, where I thought I could bring the most to the table, just in developing relationships, both internally within a business, externally with corporate entities or individual clients, you know, another light flipped on there. And just through a series of those steps, you start flipping on all the lights and it becomes crystal clear like, Hey, I've really identified the industry I wanna be in. And just so happy that along the way I found the perfect landing spot. So.
Anne: Yeah, and I think you, you did such a good job at having a lot of conversations and kind of creating this opportunity for yourself. I mean, I think one of the concepts I talk a lot about is this creating luck, right? Because what you, what you did is you had a lot of conversations and it wasn't necessarily like you had identified Points Bet as like the place you wanted to go.
It's that in the process you'd kind of, talk to someone there and then an opportunity emerged. How did that..... Talk a little bit more about how you managed the networking process for yourself, and then how this opportunity emerged because of it.
Nick: Yeah, it's funny, I tell this story to people internally you know, background on, on how I found the company. So maybe for those listeners less familiar. So, Points Bets, a global, you know, online sports book. We are live in Australia, Canada, and soon to be 14 states in the US. And I was living in Australia at the time and, and used Points Bet as an end user, was in a sales role at the time and thought, Hey, I think these guys could actually be a great fit for our services.
So, reached out to them just purely in a sales capacity. Got in touch through a connection from someone in my network. And this was as we were starting to make some progress in our own conversations, you and I, and somewhere along the way there I realized, okay, rather than sell to these guys, I would like to work for them.
Seems, like everything that they're doing, is at that exact point of intersection between the industry I'm interested in, what I think I'm good at, where, where I think can contribute and, and some of those lifestyle priorities that I have. And I'm lucky in that they, they sort of have the same feeling as well too, so can't pinpoint the exact moment, but somewhere along the way the script flipped from me selling them on buying this software solution to them really selling me on joining the company and joining the business. And you know, fortunately because of all the work we'd done, my appetite for that was pretty high at the moment. So yeah, it's just the timing, a lot of stars aligned. So I know you said, you know, make, make your own luck.
And I think just having those networking conversations in the industry, chatting with people who knew folks at Points Betd as, as a part of those networking conversations. Just all of it, in aggregate, you know, led to an opportunity opening up.
Anne: Totally, and, and I think you're, you're able to recognize that it is an opportunity and that you maybe wanted to flip the switch from a sales call selling the software you're working on before to how can I work there?
Because you had done the work, right? You'd done the work on yourself and so then you were able to identify, oh, actually this is actually ticking a lot of boxes. And then, you know, the other thing I'd say is, the environments that are a good fit for you will want you, right? They'll be interested in you.
They'll recognize themselves in you, right? This is, you know, again, it takes less energy to be yourself. So when you really know who you are and you're owning that and you find a space or a group of people or an opportunity that's a good fit for you, that opportunity will recognize you because you're so aligned.
Nick: Yeah, it's, it's funny you say that cuz now that I'm on the other side of the table, Interviewing people. I had two interviews today before we hopped on. It's abundantly clear straight off the bat when someone's innately passionate about the industry, about just the sporting world, tangential to the industry that we're in.
You know, that energy comes through in spades during a conversation. So much more so than someone who is like, oh, I saw the role. Seems kind of interesting. You know, one candidate can't hold a light to the other one. So yeah. Now being on the other side of the table can definitely appreciate how important it is to, to go for those roles in industries that you're passionate about, where the core competencies required of the role align with what you're good at, just because that, that passion's gonna come through not only in the interview process, but then ultimately if you're hired, like the work you're doing on, on a day-to-day basis.
Anne: I am curious, I don't know if we ever talked about this, but did you, did you ever think that a career in sports or sports betting was actually possible for you? Right? Like was there ever, I don't wanna lead you with this question, but like, was there ever, did you ever think to yourself like, Ooh, that's like not available, or, that would be too hard, or like, that's not a real job. Or, tell me a little bit, just react to that.
Nick: I remember when I was in college and was interning in a whole host of different industries to try and figure out, similar to the work we did, what I liked and what I was interested in. I always wanted to work in the sporting world, but, you know, it just seemed like the, the jobs at that entry level especially just didn't seem appealing and it just seemed so farfetched to get to those roles in the sporting world, let alone the sports betting world where you'd be doing things that excited you besides just getting coffee and making copies and stuff.
So while I, I could certainly envision myself working in this sporting world, working in a role that I would actually enjoy in the sporting, let alone sports betting world seemed pretty far fetched. So yeah, it was, it did seem bit, bit of a pipe dream at the time. But then again, the more conversations you have, the more you begin to realize, hey, this isn't just some fantasy that isn't exactly possible.
Like there are...., it's a, it's a growing industry or roles opening up left, right, and center. And you know, the more conversations you have with those in the industry in the know, the more of those opportunities are gonna be available to you. So yeah, I think that's another benefit to really investing time in all the networking conversations throughout the process is, it starts to give you that belief that, hey, something, something is possible here.
You know, it is, it is plausible that you can one day find yourself working in this industry doing something other than making coffee. So yeah, while, while it seems far fetched at the start, you know, it definitely begins to crystallize the more work you put in.
Anne: Yeah, I, I love that example because I think what you show there is what happens to so many people is that there's a preconceived notion about what's possible, right?
You were in your head, I'd love to do this, but you know, the entry level rules just getting coffee and what would it actually look like to enter that space? And you could have just stopped there, right? And been like, well, it's, you know, I don't wanna do that stuff, right? And, and so I don't, you know, I'm not gonna explore it further.
But by having conversations you can actually address those fears and concerns. And what you realized was, oh, actually, I can actually see how the path through is possible. So I love that.
Nick: Yeah. And the thing you realized too, People love talking about what they do, so I'm lucky in that, I'm not one to, to have much hesitation in reaching out to, to someone out of the blue to, to strike up a conversation. But I know folks that do, and what I would say to them is that people love to talk about themselves. They love to talk about what they do. At times, the hard part is sifting through, you know, what's real and what's, you know, what have they, they've blown up a little bit more, but, but yeah, folks are always open to having those conversations and the more of 'em you have, the more you can begin to recognize like, what about a certain industry company role excites you? What doesn't excite you? So I enjoyed the process of reaching out to people. And I know it can be daunting, but it yeah, it was, I had a weird enjoyment for it.
Anne: I know, I love that. And I think you are someone who is naturally really good at it, which is why you're in business development and have been in sales and hearing you know, what you're reiterating is stuff that I say to my clients all the time, people that are more hesitant about those conversations, it's that people love talking about themselves. It's flattering, right? Think about if someone's ever asked you, Ooh, can you gimme some advice about your career, you know, I, I'm 10 years behind you and I, I wanna try and get there.
I mean, it's an honor to be asked to, to think that I've been successful enough, that I'm a model enough for someone to wanna spend time or to want to get my advice. So, yeah. That's a great example. It's a good reminder to everyone. What do you think was either the hardest part or the most unexpected part of the process?
Nick: I'd say the hardest part is, there's no set timeline on how long this process will take. It's not like a football game where, you know, it's four 15 minute quarters, maybe a bit of OT, but like, you know when the game's gonna finish. You know, that's not the case when you're trying to make a career pivot or, or search for that dream job.
So I think that's the, the hardest part is just keeping that consistent focus over time and ensuring that you're allocating a couple hours a week, you know, a bit of time after work every day to set up those conversations. To do that follow up because, much like someone who's going to the gym on a gym plan. You don't, you don't just grow muscles overnight, like it's something that happens through that, just consistent commitment to going to the gym. And I think this process is very similar, in that regard where you know, you're not gonna one day to the next see that immediate result, or at least not in my case, have that, that one aha moment.
But it comes as a result of just doing the right things consistently over time. And honestly, I think that's part of where our work together was so helpful and just, you know, knowing that we would meet on a weekly basis. That's, that, is that opportunity to check in on what have I done over the past week and, and sort of measure those little incremental steps that have been taken along the way.
Because I think it can be easy without that guidance and without having those regular touchpoints to just get sort of lost in the abyss of, of the, the search process. So that, that's, for me at least, what, what I found to be the most challenging bit was yeah, not knowing where the finish line was.
Anne: Yeah. I think part of this is about learning how to be comfortable with ambiguity and learning how to be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings in general and I'd love for you to talk about if there's any other, I think we did some work on, on feelings that you've talked about before, but you know, I think that's a big part.
You know, let me take a step back for a second. This work is about strengthening the foundation, right? That there's kind of these foundational concepts that if you can really understand and apply, you know, will help you bring your career and life into alignment and just make you feel more energized overall.
So I'm curious, you know, from a mindset or feeling perspective, you know what, what was interesting to you about the process and is there anything you're taking into your life now that you use regularly from that work?
Nick: Yeah, the biggest realization is that there is this inextricable length between work and life.
You know, you can't just neatly compartmentalize one or the other, like naturally elements of both are gonna spill into the other bucket. So a lot of what we'd done, and part of what I didn't even consider, you know, something I really needed going in was this, the, the more like emotional side of things.
Checking in on how things at work are making you feeling or checking on things going on outside of work and how does that impact what you bring to the office. So our work, at the time, and certainly, you know, up through to now is maybe much more like introspective and, and doing that regular sort of health check on like, all right, mentally, how am I doing? Like emotionally how am I feeling? You know, how does what happen at work today relate to the attitude with conversations and, and interactions I have with people outside of the office?
So, yeah, it definitely helps the don't know if it would be like EQ, but yeah, more getting in touch with my own sort of emotions and, and the feelings side of things. And I know you, you call it the, the woo you know, never thought coming into this I'd, I'd give a moment's thought to, to that woo side of things, but yeah, I really did find it, it helpful and calming almost. Yeah, just, just being conscious of it all.
Anne: Is there any practices that you put in place more specifically?
Nick: Yeah. The breathing exercise that you taught me, honestly, it's, it's something I'll, I'll do every now and then is just slowing down, taking some, some deep breaths and kind of calming your mind, calming your body. Started doing it a lot before sleep too. It just leads to a great night's sleep for anyone listening who's a bit of an insomniac.
Yeah, but it's, it really is, you know, especially when you have those moments at work that get you stressed out and, you know, have you feeling all hot and, and red in the face, you know, just the ability to take that walk around the block and have a few moments of just taking those deep breaths and, and checking in with yourself. Yeah. It was a new skill that I hadn't ever done before, so yeah. Appreciate Yeah. Unlocking that for me.
Anne: Great. What would you say to other people in your shoes, let's say they're feeling, you know, work is fine, but it's not anything more than fine. What would you say?
Nick: Yeah. Well, I'd say the first thing is, think about those three distinct pillars.
Yeah. You know, work is, is one aspect of it, you know, life and your lifestyle priorities is, is another one. And, and you know, your skills and interest being the third. So, you know, if work itself and the job you're in is fine, you know, you've nailed the lifestyle priorities a bit and you know, think about where that balance is.
I think it really is a spectrum. But if you feel like, hey, things can, you know, maybe... I want to prioritize the work component a bit more than the lifestyle component for the next phase of my career. You know, use that as the kick in the butt, so to speak, to go out there and start having those conversations and just finding out like, Hey, is there something else I should be doing that that would energize me more at work, or is more in line with what I want to be doing on a day-to-day work basis.
So, yeah. I would say consider both elements of that, not only the work side of it, but the lifestyle priorities a bit, because those two are so, so uniquely intertwined.
Anne: Awesome. Yeah. Is there anything else that you would want to add or share if you had to share some words of wisdom or add anything else that you found helpful in the journey?
Nick: There's, I mean, especially if you're in that fortunate position where, not fortunate, but you have a job, you know, you're doing okay at it. You can tread that water, so to speak, but you do have, maybe there's this whole other part of your mind that's being untapped right now. You have the luxury of being able to invest a bit of time and exploring other opportunities and having those networking conversations.
And you know, that's more than a lot of people have. Like some people hate their job, but they're up to their eyeballs and work and don't have the luxury to go look around or, you know, don't have the luxury to maybe take time off to search for another job because they need that paycheck, you know, week to week.
So I, I would say if you do have the ability, you know, and you are just in that position where you're, you're treading water. There's nothing to lose by, by taking that leap and doing a bit of exploration by talking to those in your circle. Yeah. And, and that's another big thing that we worked on, is sort of your own personal board of directors.
Just like a Fortune 500 company has a board. Yeah. Every, every individual I think should, should have one too. And think about who, who would those directors on your own personal board be and have some chats with them and have them introduce you to a few people in their own networks and, and just start to really get a sense for, you know, are you good where you're at now?
Is there something else you should be striving for? Is there something else you think you'd be better at? Or that energizes and excites you more? And you know, maybe the answer is, no. Like if things are okay, where, where you're at today, but if, if that's not the case. You know, and you do find yourself in a position where you've got the bandwidth to do a bit of that extra searching.
There's nothing to lose by not taking that leap.
Anne: I love that because you know, the way that you've described it is you don't have to necessarily know what it is. And I think that's a mistake I often see is people think, well, I don't know what that other thing is, so I can't talk to people until I do. And what I love about how you described it is that it's not necessarily about knowing, it's about saying what else could it be? Maybe here are a few ideas and this is how you definitely did it right. Here are a few ideas of things I think it could be. Let me go explore them and let me see which ones spark energy, if any. Right? And then let me follow the ones that spark energy.
So I think that's really important for people to take away, is that you don't have to know what the answer is. In fact you won't. You usually won't until you get out there and have conversations and maybe even take it further and do a side project to test it further. So just get out there and remember people love talking about themselves.
Nick: Yeah, it is, it definitely is an iterative process. I think you start with this, this sort of theory on where you think your interest would be. I know we did that. There were a couple industries that initially we zeroed it it down to, and then, yeah, you just, you start having conversations and, and the scope begins to, to narrow and, you know, every conversation helps that, that lens of focus get just a little bit tighter until you suddenly have identified what, you know, what that, that perfect dream job is.
So yeah, the, you know, every conversation, while it may not seem in at the time, helps that, that view of focus tighten just a little bit.
Anne: Yeah, I love that. And then I would just add to that caveat slightly, like, you, you love what you do, and for you, it's definitely the perfect dream job, but also it's, it's great for you now, but like, who knows how you're gonna feel in like five years or ten years, right? And so I just wanna add that it's not always like one thing is the only thing, but certainly you're super aligned and energized right now and it's, it's awesome for the person that you are today.
Nick: Yeah, I mean at the end of the day it's, there's always gonna be elements of, of work that you don't love. Like I'm sure there are days Tom Brady doesn't want to come to the training facility and fling a football around, whereas everyone else across the country, that's, that's their dream job. So that, you know, there definitely are days or things that you do where you'd rather be somewhere else. But you know, I think it's when you take a step back and, and look at what you're doing in totality we can say, all right, I'm in the perfect spot. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. So yeah,
Anne: You're super aligned and it's awesome to see.
Nick: Feeling it.
Anne: Awesome. Anything else you wanna share?
Nick: Let me think. I mean those were really the, the biggest drivers for, for me, I mean the, the networking conversations we had, the, you know, you just holding me accountable to, I, I would say that like it's so much of, it's like you ever been bowling with with kids where they put the bumpers up or even just, I'm a very shitty bowler, so they'll sometimes put 'em up for me. The little bumpers in the gutters, the ball can still do its own thing within the lane, but the gutters will help keep it on the right track, you know, in a lot of ways. I feel like that's the, the role that, that you played for me is, you know, I've got the ability to......, I'm making my own decisions and having these conversations and, you know, whatever turns come, I'm, I'm taking 'em, but you're, you're helping point me in the right direction and, you know, really ensuring that don't stray sort of too far from the right processes and approach. So, you know, I'd say that was where a lot of the, the value in our, our conversations lied.
So yeah, that's maybe one, one last thing I'd add there.
Anne: Yeah. Well I think it was really obvious for me as we were talking that sports, sports betting was what lit you up. And I think sometimes having that other person to reflect back to you, the thing that you kind of know inside yourself anyways, but sometimes you second guess yourself.
I think that can be help too.
Nick: Yeah. You know, that's where the, sort of the emotional side of, of all the work that that you do comes in, you know, teaching clients to, to check in with yourself and see how you're feeling and seeing how, you know, certain situations make you feel. Because it's only when you do that that you recognize like, Hey, this........yeah, work's. Okay, I'm, I'm treading water, but I feel kind of flat in the office or frustrated. And then comparing that with, you know, having conversations in an industry or with a company that really excites you and seeing how you feel after those, you know, that's what leads to one of those little light switches going off, is just seeing, seeing your different sort of physical and emotional responses to to one situation versus the other.
Anne: Perfect. Yeah. You've nailed it and I'm really excited for you, and then the life that you're building in Denver.
Nick: Ah, thank you.
Anne: Awesome. All right, that's the podcast.
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