I believe this, I really do. Listen, you can try to convince me we belong in the corporate world and maybe you can convince some, but not me. Safety, pensions, insurance, those aren’t any words any athlete has ever heard before and let me give you context. There isn’t any safety when you enter in the world of sports, what safety?! I mean really? I was nine years old I broke my wrist and cracked a growth plate in my throwing elbow, all from baseball — a non contact sport! Hey, I’m not complaining though, the girls signed my cast. But, really safety? What safety net was there and is there for athletes except extreme heartbreak for most of us. I get the successful ones, but even they retire and suffer from the anguish.
Here’s the point, the point is Athletes are full blown entrepreneurs from they day they become serious about their particular sport and want to become a college athlete. You are taking all the risk. You are a personal brand, you’re building your personal brand daily. That daily work on perfecting your craft , 4am wake ups, eating the good stuff instead of the tasty stuff, it’s all YOU building your brand equity! So that someone looks at you, see you play/compete and says, “Yeah, they have a shot, they have “it”, they don’t have “it”.”
You’re an entrepreneur taking risk trying to fulfill this dream of athletics. Team athlete, individual athlete, I can see your argument for entrepreneur or corporate team member but remember, everybody on the team is trying to get to the top and the next level, people in corporate become complacent and “safe.” It’s just my opinion, it’s my perspective, I get it if you don’t agree, but this is aimed at all the ex-athletes out there struggling to find their passion again, graduated college with a degree in “sport” without much knowledge of anything else; like me. I’m baseball through and through, I never listened in class, I was just lucky they gave us study guides and I had to study my ass off the night before, but I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand, baseball was all I knew. Nobody told me it was going to be this hard after baseball.
I had to figure it all out in my own (well with some help, that’ll come later). Network they say, build connections, stay in touch. Look, I had tons of college acquaintances that are doing huge things and honestly I’m happy for them and all, I just don’t want that lifestyle. I don’t want to put on a suit and tie and do something I hate. I listened to A TON of Gary Vaynerchuk content — you should too, but he says, “Love your family. Work super hard. Live your Passion.” If you can do those three things. You’ll be happy. It’s not cliche, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out what I’m good at — you know what? I’m really good at baseball, I can teach it, I can explain it, I get where your heads at. That’s my strength, I’m choosing to double down on my strengths — going all in on my strengths (more Vaynerchuk — if by chance you read this, THANK YOU). That’s my DNA, that’s who I am naturally, I can’t be someone I’m not, I know baseball, it’s my passion and I want to teach it.
You understand that being an athlete you take risks to elevate your potential and current standings. That’s what an entrepreneur does. I believe, firmly believe their is a bigger parallel between athletics and entrepreneurship than anything else. You’ve trained your brain all ready to work on its own, to stand out, to separate yourself, to sell yourself, to believe in yourself. I just want you to know, from one athlete to another going through this transition I’m not taking the 3–0 pitch with the bases loaded — I’m swinging and I will do whatever it takes to feed my family, but I also need to do life my way, for me and mine, not for someone else’s dream. My own.
My wife’s parents have an unbelievable story and I’ll leave you with this: Val is on the Olympic bobsled team for communist Romania, they enter into a competition in Italy and defect. Refugees. Leaving behind his girlfriend, now wife, Adela for six years. He was in Italy for a few months at a refugee camp, but then made his way to Los Angeles, then to Lake Placid, NY to train athletes at the Olympic center. Long story short, six years pass and he goes back to get his then girlfriend and marry her on the spot, back in Romania. (They were in limited contact throughout the six years) I remember my wife telling me they couldn’t afford to buy her a Barbie, so they bought old, old ceramic barbies from tag and garage sales when she was a girl. Fast forward, passed their apartment complex management jobs, passed her climbing the ranks to a leadership position at a bank, they successfully own an import/export business, Valdada Optics (sorry for the plug, but they have high quality scopes and optics — www.valdada.com) it’s the American Dream. And, honestly, it made me realize the opportunity here in America, the stories of them fighting for Levi’s in Romania for $300, having to steal toilet paper, it makes you realize how good we have it here and how they were able to find opportunity and seize it here. It’s an incredible story, one that has really helped my transition from athlete to entrepreneur and realize it’s still all about the hustle.