June 20, 2021

JF2483: The Pro-Athlete’s 7 Step Guide to Entrepreneurship| Best of Best Ever

In this episode of “Best of Best Ever” we talk to three ex-pro athletes from the NFL and the NBA. Carl Banks talks about his biggest business flop, what he took away from that, and his best advice for entrepreneurs. Marvin Washington  gives us practical tips for planning ahead, forming successful habits, and self-reflecting for constant improvement. Lastly, Jay Williams tells us the benefits of creating your own group of board members for accountability and feedback, as well as the importance of reinventing ourselves consistently.

Carl Banks

  • NFL
  • Founded G-III over two decades ago, and responsible for bringing back the iconic starter satin jacket
  • The Carl Banks Foundation – raises money for a variety of causes, most notably autism research
  • Episode #1206

Marvin Washington

  • NFL
  • Crusader for the healing power of cannabis and getting the league to consider the benefits
  • Involved in a hemp-derived CBD product company, Isodiol, where he leads the promotion of their IsoSport line.
  • Episode #1196

Jay Williams

  • NBA
  • Multi-talented ESPN college basketball analyst and motivational speaker
  • Turned a life-altering motorcycle accident into an opportunity to reinvent himself
  • Episode #1169

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Theo Hicks: Hello Best Ever listeners and welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Theo Hicks and we are back with three more clips from successful entrepreneurs. Today, we’re going to hear from three professional athletes, ex-professional athletes, that is. Two from the NFL and one from the NBA. They are going to give us their takes on how to be a successful entrepreneur. All of the advice given today can very easily be applied to your real estate investing business. The first clip comes from ex-NFL star Carl Banks, and his advice is to not be afraid to fail. Listen to what Carl has to say.

Carl Banks: As painful as it can be, do not be afraid to fail… Because entrepreneurism is about exploring every idea you have, that’s what an entrepreneur is. It’s about blazing a trail, it’s about breaking new ground, it’s about having a better idea. That’s what an entrepreneur is. He finds either a better way to do it, or he has a better idea, or he has a unique idea. Sometimes you find out that your idea is not unique, and you either abandon that idea and go to the next one. Or you find a better way to make your idea even more innovative but it can be painful. Even when you’re successful, your one or two ideas for expansion could fall flat on its face and that’s painful. But you’ve got to be able to say “I’m not afraid because I have many more ideas to come. So I’m just going to keep coming at you.”

Joe Fairless: Well, let’s stick with the painful thing. What is a painful flop business-wise that you have been responsible for accomplishing?

Carl Banks: Well, this is just recently… I had an idea that I was trying to work a licensing deal with Classic Media. They have just the greatest library of cartoons, from Rocky and Bullwinkle to Richie Rich; they had this incredible catalog and I thought I would be able to take those images and really create some fun stuff on apparel… Because we’ve seen it, junk food has done it with vintage, from Coca Cola to Seven, or whatever it is. I thought the time was right in the market. I invested a lot, hired a lot of people, we created some incredible products, and nobody wanted it; nobody understood it, no one wanted it. It’s unfortunate, because I still have some great designs that eventually… And I’ve been ahead — that’s how I also look at it, too – sometimes I’m ahead of the curve in some of my ideas. But that was a very painful and very expensive failure. Very, very expensive, because you get licensing rights. They gave me everything, I gave a great presentation, I built great products, I even had a product in the warehouse, and just no one wanted it. That was interesting, because I thought the timing was perfect for it. It happens, it happens, but I still have great products and I know at some point, if I have to revisit it with Classic Media, I’ll be okay. I think they’ll be ready for it.

Joe Fairless: If presented a similar type of opportunity or if you have a similar type of idea, how would you approach it differently, knowing what you know now?

Carl Banks: I don’t think I would approach it any differently.

Joe Fairless: There’s no way to test that before sinking in a bunch of money?

Carl Banks: Sure. You have to spend money to build it. But you do your market research, you see what’s trending, you see where fashion’s leaning, and you say okay, this fits. And it didn’t. But that’s okay, because it’s about instinct. Entrepreneurs have to have instinct, you can’t be numb. If you feel, it feels good, you feel great about the research that you’ve done, you feel great about the way and the integrity of what you’re building, you go for it. I had the same instincts on the Starter brand that’s extremely successful for me right now. I wore it when I played, I was a spokesperson for it, I was building a jacket program, and I wanted to get the Starter label on it, because we were recreating the scene from coming to America with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall.  Eddie had a Mets on and Arsenio had the Jets on, and they had all the buttons and everything on it… I said, “I want to do this, but I want to authenticate it.” I was able to reach out to the folks that Ikonics, the IP holder, and ask for permission to do it. I said, “You know what? I think it’s time to bring this entire movement back.” So we worked together with Ikonics, I got the license for the brand, and it has been on fire. Instincts felt good, I built it the right way, I made sure that the integrity of the product was as authentic as it used to be… And I knew there was a generation of millennials and even people that are of my age group or a little younger that had an emotional connection with the brand. This was a brand that resonated even before Nike started to enter into sports, so there’s heritage. These are the guys that created what we know as sports fashion, as sideline apparel; these are the guys that were innovators, they created that… So I brought it back and it is on fire right now. I’m very excited and very glad I trusted that instinct as well.

Joe Fairless: Oh, yeah. You’ve got the pullover Starter jackets?

Carl Banks: The breakaway. Yes, sir.

Joe Fairless: I do have a place in my heart for that, and I think I will be getting one after our session.

Carl Banks: You should break the old one out. Yeah, like starter.com, but we do a great job. The number one thing I wanted to do when I got permission to do it from the NFL, and then I went to Ikonics and they granted me the rights to the license – the first thing I want to do is find out where the product was made in the old jacket. I looked in the old jackets to see what country of origin they were made in, and then we tracked it down — I have three people on my staff that actually worked for Starter during that period, so they knew some people and we tracked down the original factory, and we’re still working with that factory to make sure that we have some level of authenticity to it.

Joe Fairless: That’s incredible.

Carl Banks: And how about this – this is something for entrepreneurs to know about, too… I also went to the Vintage dealers, because those guys are so true to the essence of a product, because they sell it. I became really good friends with… There’s a guy here in New York, he has a vintage store called Mr. Throwback, and he specializes in Starter jackets. I went to him to make sure I had all the details right. And if there’s a detail off, he talked to me about it and we got it right. So to also bring an outside expert point of view into what you’re… You’re not surrendering your thought process, you’re just perfecting it.

Theo Hicks: So Carl’s advice is to be willing to explore every idea that you have. He gave an example of an idea he explored that didn’t work out, as well as an idea that he explored that did work out. He talked about how it comes down to trusting your instincts, but also relying on the experts if it’s something you’re not an expert in, in order to ensure you will be successful. To hear more from Carl Banks, check out his episode, episode JF1206: He Doubled His Business In 18 Months After Losing $30 Million In Contracts, with Carl Banks.

Break: [00:08:45][00:10:47]

Theo Hicks: This second clip comes from another ex-NFL star, Marvin Washington. He transitioned from the NFL into the cannabis space. He gives us his advice on how to be a successful entrepreneur, which is ensuring that you give 100% consistently. Hear what Marvin has to say.

Marvin Washington: The thing that I put away and I tell people is to work hard and be consistent. Whether it’s in the financial industry, the financial gods will bless you. If the cannabis god is going to bless you, you got to go at it. If you’re giving it a half effort, you’re going to get that back.

Joe Fairless: As far as working hard and that consistent piece, what do you do consistently?

Marvin Washington: I have my schedule and I’m setting my habits. I get up early and I always plan my day the day before. On the weekends, I review what I did the previous week and see what’s ahead and what I can do better. Because especially in this cannabis space, things change day to day, week to week, month to month. It’s tricky in this space, because rules are different with different cities and municipalities. Cannabis may be legal in Colorado, but Denver’s rules and regulations are different than Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs, they’re different than Boulder. You always have to stay on your toes and be malleable, but the whole thing is getting back to the fundamentals. It’s like be consistent, have your goals, don’t go with the fads and the trends. You know what you’re trying to accomplish, so go after that every day. That’s what I do. One of the things I learned in football is I write down a list and I study. If I’m looking at a new company or meet with new people, I’ve already done my research on them, because that’s what I did in sports when I was going up against the offensive line; I have to study them. That’s the way I learned and that’s the way I brought some of that to the corporate world that I’m in now.

Joe Fairless: Digging in a little bit – or maybe a lot a bit – on the planning the night before and reviewing the previous week… When you plan the night before for the next day, will you tell us exactly what you do in terms of keyboard, notepad, bullet points? What does that look like?

Marvin Washington: The same thing. All of it. On my laptop, and I have an old school planner, and I visualize. Because when I was in sports, the Saturday before the game or the week before the game, I would visualize myself making plays in certain situations. This is the same thing, I visualize myself being successful. I prepared for this interview, I prepare for all the meetings that I go to, and I visualize certain talking points, standard talking points, and try to get the narrative that I want to get across. That’s the way I prepare. And it may not be for everybody, but if you’re not prepared, don’t think you’re giving yourself a chance to be successful. Definitely not against me, because I’m going to know everything that I need to know about your company and about you. I’m going to use that to, like I said, control the narrative. But I’ve been lucky enough to work with good people and have good companies. I sit down with excellent companies, excellent people, smart businessmen, so we’re a team and we go out and we get things done.

Joe Fairless: As far as now reviewing the previous week, what’s your process for that?

Marvin Washington: It’s on a Sunday, a habit that I picked up when I was with Merrill Lynch is reviewing the week and seeing what I could have done better. Because one of the things is that you don’t want to have regrets in business or in life and seeing what you could have possibly done better. If I didn’t close an account, I would do a review and see what could I have done differently. It’s the same thing in this industry, with the different companies that I’m with. I’m always reflecting and seeing what I could have done better, because the buck stops with me.

Joe Fairless: Is it challenging to have that self-assessment on a regular basis to identify things that you could have done better?

Marvin Washington: No. This is the way that I’ve always been taught. You always have to do a deep self-assessment, because sometimes when there’s an issue, it’s not other people, you’re the common denominator in that. If you hop from girlfriend to girlfriend, from wife to wife, from job to job, what’s the common denominator in there? I think people should do that all the time. Sometimes they have bigger — if you’re really honest with yourself, you can see where you can be at fault. But if you do a self-assessment all the time, you should be at fault 100% of the time, but there are some things that you can always improve on. Because everybody can always learn and everybody can always improve, no matter what age they are, no matter what industry. Once you feel like you’ve mastered something and you’ve got it, you probably don’t, and you probably need to adjust or get out that that space entirely if you think like you know it all.

Joe Fairless: When you identify an area of improvement for yourself, what do you do at that point?

Marvin Washington: I take action on it. I try to improve and do something better. Sometimes it can come down to something like “I didn’t listen to that enough.” You’re in a meeting and you want to get your point across, but having a conversation is a two-way deal. It’s listening and it’s talking. I like to talk, I can talk a lot, but sometimes I have to listen. Sometimes I have to perceive things from a different point of view, instead of just my point of view. The way that I see things, and I think I’m kind of lucky like this, I see things vertically, horizontally, and then I can see them from up above. That’s where I’m doing my reflection and even thinking ahead. I’m trying to look at it always and get the whole picture, to make sure that I’m getting it. Making sure that the issue is not coming from our side or coming from me. But I think everybody should do that. I think you should do that in your relationships, I think you should do that in business, I think you should do that in your religion… Do that self-assessment.

Theo Hicks: Marvin talks about the requirements of giving 100%, being the first person to start working and the last person to stop working for the day, but he also gives us a lot of practical tips on scheduling, forming habits, and then he goes into a lot of details on the consistent self-assessments that need to be done in order to make adjustments. In reality, it’s not just giving 100% consistently, but giving 100% consistently and smartly. If you want to hear more from Marvin, check out his episode JF1196: From The NFL To The Cannabis Space – Hard Work And Self Reflection, The Keys To Success, with Marvin Washington.

Break: [00:17:56][00:18:33]

Theo Hicks: Moving to the third and final clip, we will go to the NBA. Ex-NBA star Jay Williams gave his advice on how to be a successful entrepreneur and it is on reinventing yourself. Here is what Jay had to say.

Jay Williams: I would ask that individual, “How do you measure your hustle?” I think I’ve been really blessed, because one of the things that I can’t stop doing – when I was playing basketball, I was always on the court and working out. When I started to get involved in business, I found that same burning desire. My thing was that, yes, the value prop for me was nowhere close to the value prop that it was for the names that I just mentioned. But my thing is, I think I was vulnerable enough with them to recognize that I didn’t know that. Once again, I think the more transparent you can be with people… When I’m vulnerable — and obviously, I’ve had a different background. Being on TV gives me leverage due to my platform. So it opens the door for me to have these types of conversations with these individuals in conjunction with the people that I already know. But one of the things I would tell somebody who maybe didn’t have that platform is that, “Are you doing the small things to make sure that you’re noticeable?”

One thing has happened to me… I did an internship and it was a really cool experience for me, because I wanted to recognize how hard somebody would work. Now, without saying, I had multiple people come up with this internship and I put it out there, and a lot of people came to me and wrote long-winded paragraphs via email. But about 98% to 99%, that was to the extent they went.

Joe Fairless: Yep, that’s how it is.

Jay Williams: Okay. A lot of people who say they want to achieve success, they say they want to do all these great things, but they once again do the bare minimum and then they get angry if you don’t respond. Me – I don’t respond to anybody, because I want to see, “Okay, who’s going to constantly send me a note? Who’s constantly going to find different ways to make themselves stand out?” When you’re trying to form that relationship and you’re trying to form that connectivity, what things are you doing that is different to really attract that person’s attention? Are you waiting for them one day after school or you know their location and where they’re going to come out of? I know some of these things may sound crazy, but at the same time, I want somebody who’s a little bit crazy. I want somebody who is willing to push themselves to go to a different level, that all of a sudden, the regular person wouldn’t do that, because I know that at the end of the day, that person is going to do whatever the hell they need to do in order to get it done.

Now, as long as it’s in a credible way, I’m never going to turn down the spirit of the hustle, and I don’t think a lot of people have that. With this internship, there’s one person, one in particular, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, they got the internship and they’re waiting for me to give them instructions, and I didn’t give them the instructions. I want to see what you bring to the table. What’s your value prop to me? I know what I can do to help you. The internship doesn’t mean that now all of a sudden I’m going to just give it to you. I want to see how long this goes. I want to see what kinds of things you’re going to do for my business. The more you do for me, if you get me, and if you hustle with me, I’m going to go over and beyond to make sure that you are successful at the end of the day. But if you come into this opportunity and you worked your tail off to get my attention, and then just because you got it, you think I’m going to give it to you – that’s not the real world. That’s not how I got doors open, and that’s not how the people I worked hard to get their attention, they got their door open. Once again, it comes down to the measure of the hustle for me.

Theo Hicks: For those who don’t know, Jay had to reinvent himself after suffering a major injury from a motorcycle accident. He had to reinvent himself from an NBA star into something else. Probably one of the best people to get advice on reinventing yourself from. He talks about how reinventing yourself isn’t necessarily a one-off event, but something that you need to consistently do, consistently stay up with, and updated with the times. He talks about the importance of thinking of yourself as a business. Then he goes into a lot of details on the benefits of having your own board for accountability and feedback purposes. They talked about how to attract the right board members. The people that you look up to, the people who are where you want to be. To learn more and hear more from Jay, check out his episode, episode JF1169: #2 Overall 2002 NBA Draft Pick & Entrepreneur Jay Williams: How To Reinvent Yourself When In Life-Altering Situations.

In summary, we have three professional athletes, two from the NFL, one from the NBA giving us their Best Ever advice on how to be a successful real estate entrepreneur. We started with Carl Banks, who talked about not being afraid to fail and be willing to explore every idea that you have. By explore, he means investing time, money, and realizing that some of these ideas probably aren’t going to work out, but all you need is that one unique idea in order to be successful. Then we heard from Marvin Washington, whose advice was to give 100% consistently and smartly. We learned his tactics for scheduling and performing consistent self-assessments to ensure he’s making those half-time adjustments if things aren’t going according to plan. Lastly, we had an ex-NBA star, Jay Williams, who gave us advice on reinventing ourselves. Thinking of ourselves as a business and creating a board of different entrepreneurs who we look up to, who are where we want to be, in order to hold our feet to the fire as well as receive expert feedback so we can make those adjustments in order to succeed.

Thanks for tuning in. Make sure you check out those full episodes. As a reminder, Carl Banks is Episode 1206, Marvin Washington is Episode 1196, and Jay Williams is Episode 1169. Thanks for listening, have a Best Ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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