Basketball

Zak Boisvert on Creating Value and Building Your Personal Brand

<p>Pickandpop.net founder and Army men’s basketball assistant coach shines light on how hard work and creating value for others helped him progress through his career. </p>

Competition for jobs in the coaching profession is fierce – which is why creating value and building relationships is a must for video coordinators and analysts aspiring to be coaches.

Zak Boisvert, the recently-hired Army men's basketball assistant, took this advice to heart early in his career. Boisvert turned his passion for breaking down film and coaching into a side hustle that netted him increased recognition and a vast network of contacts in the industry.

Leveling Up & Providing Value

Boisvert’s career began in 2007 when he served as an undergraduate student manager at Fordham University, regularly balancing his schoolwork and the 50+ hours a week he spent at the basketball offices. It didn’t take long for Boisvert to realize that in order to break into the coaching industry, he had to find ways to set himself apart from his peers – that’s when the letters started flowing.

Boisvert sent countless letters to college coaches around the country, requesting advice on how to move up in the coaching ranks. Although Boisvert was very detailed in his inquiries and even used Fordham stationary for credibility purposes, he didn’t receive a single reply.

Undeterred, Boisvert asked himself an important question: “How do I create value for people who don’t even know me?”

Boisvert started attending as many clinics as he could to learn from other coaches. The clinics provided valuable takeaways he could bring back to Fordham, but he also learned that coaches who weren’t able to attend would find value in the notes he was taking. Instead of writing letters, Boisvert decided to put together notes and diagrams, sending weekly letters to about 150 coaches.

In addition to building contacts within the coaching community, Boisvert increased his value as a student manager by identifying work he could take off his own coaches’ plates, allowing the staff to dedicate more time to actual coaching. He realized his niche on the team was diving into the film work the staff needed completed, so he immersed himself in Sportscode.

With a new tool in his arsenal, Boisvert began to think about adding value to his relationships. To share his new film review process, he started including DVDs with the notes he sent to coaches. As the quality of his communications rose, Boisvert developed a routine of sending out 10 letters a day and 50 each week.

Boisvert’s persistence paid off as he picked up a coaching job at Iona College under head coach Tim Cluess. The starting salary was a humbling $5,000 a year, but the experience of moving into an assistant coaching role and reaching the NCAA tournament was priceless.

Boisvert later pivoted his experience to earn coaching positions at the University of Maine and most recently Army, but it was another one of his passion projects that netted him the most notoriety.

The Rep Grows Bigger

In September 2012, right before his final season with the Gaels, Boisvert created the PickandPop YouTube page, where he published his Sportscode edits and coaching notes.

Want to know the most effective ways to attack a zone defense? You can find that and more on the PickandPop YouTube channel.

“From there, it just kinda moved,” Boisvert said. Tied to the other channels he created, Boisvert had created a platform connecting the coaching community to content they found most valuable.

Pickandpop.net, an extensive library of coach-centric articles ranging from Xs and Os to coaching motivation, combined with his YouTube and Twitter pages to make Boisvert a recognizable figure in the basketball coaching industry. This notoriety led to speaking engagements and calls from recruits.

“It’s allowed me to work when I’m not working,” Boisvert said.

Naturally, most of the content on his site is basketball-related – clinic notes, breakdowns of plays, and news from the NBA and NCAA – but there are occasional posts covering topics from other sports. In all of the articles and videos he posts, Boisvert is clear to give credit where it’s due – many of the posts link to outside articles on popular sites like ESPN or NBA.com.

5,000 YouTube subscribers, 2 million YouTube views, 10,000 Twitter followers, 60,000 monthly site views, 5,000 newsletter subscribers PickandPop By the Numbers

With coaches expecting quality content on a regular basis, running a site like PickandPop should be stressful. But Boisvert doesn’t consider it work. His passion for breaking down film and sharing insights with other coaches makes it an enjoyable experience.

“For me, it’s an hour a day,” said Boisvert. “Every single day I want to send five letters and watch an hour of film.”

You may be wondering how Boisvert balances PickandPop with his coaching responsibilities, but he clearly understands his priorities.

“My job comes first,” he said. When he’s on the clock, it’s all about the team.

Put in Work, Reap the Rewards

Boisvert’s advice for aspiring student managers is straightforward: Look for ways to create value for others within the profession.

“This industry is about building relationships,” said Boisvert. “How do you build a relationship? The best way to do that is to create value.”

Throughout his career, Boisvert dedicated countless hours to providing value to his network without asking for anything in return. Patience was crucial to his success.

“You never know when the opportunity is going to come,” said Boisvert. “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”

Boisvert and his work educating the coaching community was recognized in this year’s Hudl 100.