January 22, 2018
Joe Fairless

What the NFL, NBA and NASCAR Can Teach Us About Real Estate

According to HuffPost, the average career length of a professional athlete is only 10 years. That means that by their late-20s, earlier-30s, a professional athlete is forced into finding another career path and, more importantly, a revenue source.

Unfortunately, even with the multi-million dollar contracts that are standard today, the statistics aren’t on their side. A Sports Illustrated analysis found that 78% of former NFL players were bankrupt or under financial stress within two years of retirement, and an estimated 60% of former NBA players were broke within five years of retirement. However, the athletes that do overcome the odds and successfully transition into the business realm have done so by using skillsets that are valuable to real estate entrepreneurs of all stripes.

On my daily podcast Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, where I interview and extract the best tactical business advice from investors and entrepreneurs, I asked four professional athletes about their keys to success. Here’s what they shared.

Explore New Ideas Fearlessly

Carl Banks, a former NFL linebacker, earned the football equivalent of the Holy Grail twice, winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants. What you may not know is that while still playing in the NFL, Carl was the first athlete to host a post-game radio show, The Carl Banks Giants Report, where he provided an insider’s analysis of his games. Consequently, he was the pioneer of the plethora of pre- and post-game sports panels led by athletes and coaches today.

Additionally, upon retirement, Carl took the business world by storm with his involvement in G-III Sports, the largest licensed sports apparel company in the world. However, when starting out, Carl and G-III lost over $3 million worth of licensing business to Reebok. Instead of throwing in the towel, he hustled to gain the business of mom-and-pop retailers. By providing them with such a high level of service, after 18-months, G-III was re-awarded the licensing rights, which – in combination with his newly won mom-and-pop customers – doubled G-III’s business.

Carl attributes both his radio and licensing success to his willingness to fearlessly explore new ideas. He told me, “As painful as it can be, don’t be afraid to fail, because entrepreneurism is about exploring every idea you have. It’s about blazing a trail, breaking new ground, and having a better idea.”

Click here to listen to my full interview with Carl Banks.

Give 100% Effort

Another Super Bowl-winning former athlete who found similar success in the business world is former defensive end Marvin Washington. After he exited the league, he delved into a relatively new business endeavor – a hemp-derived CBD product company Isodiol, where he leads the promotion of their IsoSport line – a hemp-based nutrition line that supports both mind and body wellness in training and competition used by high profile athletes.

Marvin became a Super Bowl-winning athlete and navigates the ever-changing cannabis industry by his ability to put forth the maximal effort, even when things aren’t progressing as quickly or as smoothly as expected. He said, “You have to give 100%. You have to really work hard and apply yourself because if you think you’re going to work 9 to 5 and have success, you’re misleading yourself.”

Tactically, this is accomplished by sufficient planning and visualizations. Marvin writes out a plan for his days the night before so he knows that if he adheres to his schedule, he’ll have a successful day. Additionally, on the weekends, he reviews the previous week to see what he could have done better, which he then incorporates into the next week. Finally, whether it was before a big game or an important business meeting, he performs visualizations. For NFL games, he visualized himself making the right play in specific situations. For business meetings, he visualizes himself going over talking points and getting the proper narrative across to his audience.

Click here to listen to my full interview with Marvin Washington.


Unlike most professional sports, there isn’t a defined career progression for becoming a NASCAR driver. Nonetheless, Kurt Busch was not only able to become a NASCAR champion, but he’s also a self-made millionaire through his racing brand. The key to his success was persistence.

Kurt told me, “When people are telling you to do this, do that, and yet you know what you’re focused on – that’s persistence. When it takes over your life, that’s when you know you’ve got to go that route.”

Similar to NASCAR, there isn’t a predefined blueprint for real estate success. Moreover, real estate investors can face a lot of resistance and negativity from their family and corporate career-driven peers. Kurt wants you to know that you aren’t alone. When he was in college, everyone told him that racing was taking over his life and he needed to study more. At his first job, he was told that racing was taking away from his focus and work ethic. Yet, he persisted, which ultimately led to him winning 27 NASCAR races and counting, including the 2017 Daytona 500.

Click here to listen to my full interview with Kurt Busch.


Empowered by Failures

Jay Williams is considered one of the most prolific college basketball players in history, which is reflected by his 2nd overall selection in the 2002 NBA draft. However, his career was ended prematurely after a devastating motorcycle accident. Yet, against all odds, Jay owned this negative experience and used it as something empowering. He pivoted to become a multi-talented ESPN college basketball analyst, motivational speaker, and best-selling author.

Jay told me, “I think a lot of people run away from bad things that have happened in their life, instead of documenting it, recognizing it, thinking through it, and then using whatever experience they’ve been through as a positive driver in their life to push them to be more.”

It’s about not letting failures define you and instead, analyzing what went wrong and applying those lessons to the future, which reminds me of a powerful goal-setting technique. Instead of a goal’s success relying fully on the outcome, 50% is based on that and the remaining 50% is about identifying systems, skills, techniques, or lessons learned from the process of striving for that outcome and incorporating those into your approach for pursuing future goals.

Click here to listen to my full interview with Jay Williams.

Question: Which of these four lessons can you attribute to your current level of real estate success, and why?

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

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