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[Rewind] Marcus Lemonis on Profit, Product, People, and the Process

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In an interview with Roland Frasier, Marcus Lemonis, host of the hit TV show, The Profit, breaks down what really matters most in business.

Marcus was scheduled to speak at T&C 2020, but the event never happened. Roland and Marcus still had a chance to sit down and chat though, and this podcast episode revisits that brilliant interview. 

And exciting news! Marcus will be speaking at Scalable Impact Live in Austin, TX on November 2-3, along with NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith and Kendra Scott, who has had a billion dollar exit in her fashion brand.

Marcus is known for looking at the 3 Ps—people, product, and process—when he’s evaluating a business to invest in. When asked to break that down, he said it’s important to first establish the fact that this framework works for everyone. It’s an easy way for him to communicate with people on TV about how to think of their business differently. The application is universal.

Product, Process, People

These are the three things that matter in a business, but you have to rank them in terms of priority, Marcus says. 

Product is the easiest one to think about. A relevant product or service is something everyone can understand. It’s got to be real time, digestible. It has to be able to change when the environment changes, and it’s got to be driven by the market, not your emotion.

Process is all about how you develop the idea, how you properly document it, build the case study around it, test it, roll it out to people, and continue to improve on it. Where a lot of companies die is that they don’t evolve, and you have to. Your process has to evolve and take into account new technology, trend changes, etc. 

People are the most important. It’s easy to say you care about people, but Marcus has started to rev this up a little more recently. Start with yourself. You can’t respect other people if you don’t respect yourself. 

2020 has been a crazy year. It has wreaked havoc and played tricks on people’s minds. We’ve lost a lot and need to take stock in who we are as individuals, family members, community people, and leaders. Then apply that to people who work with you, not for you. We get frustrated with people, and we change our tone. We have this mindset of you work for me, instead of you work with me. We can be collaborative and thoughtful and still be good leaders. 

“I can go into any business and help them to think differently about themselves and other people,” Marcus says. “If you’re not capable of thinking differently, you shouldn’t be a leader.”

What Is So Attractive About Turn-Arounds?

The Profit is all about turning around businesses that are having challenges. What makes someone want to tackle something so difficult? Marcus says he’s always just been more at home with looking at things that are broken (processes, products) and really understanding it. “I’m more comfortable with things that are fractured,” he says, “because I like to be the guy with the glue who puts things back together.”

How does he decide when to help people and when to cut his losses? He says a lot of people think he’s crazy. “Why do you waste your time with knuckleheads?” people ask him. And he does it because of what other people learn while they watch him do it. He invests time in people to prove something to himself, to help others, and he knows it also resonates with the people watching. He wants to raise people’s self-awareness about their behavior.

How does he deal with people attacking him while he tries to help them? Well, that part isn’t much fun. When the cameras leave, those relationships don’t always work out. If they’re delusional about themselves, they usually don’t change. Don’t rely on the other person to dictate your behavior, he says. You can’t let people take you off your game. 

The Profit is one of the longest running shows on television today. He’s ultimately learning for himself and teaching others to think differently. It would be easy to kick people to the curb, but it’s better not to. Marcus thinks of people like himself when he was starting his own business. How would he have wanted people to have treated him while he was struggling? That’s what he does for others. 

The key to business isn’t about being the toughest person in the room and having a poker face. We all struggle in our businesses at some point. Businesses closed daily because of Covid. At the end of the day, be transparent about who you are and where you’ve come from, and don’t try to create a fantasy life. Create wealth for yourself that allows you to have freedom and to invest in others. Don’t create wealth to separate yourself and have an elitist mentality. 

A Business Partner Has to Bring Capital, Expertise, or Contacts

The important part of a roll-up, Marcus says, is partnering with like-minded people. You don’t have to agree on everything, but share goals and vision. A lot of people talk about balance in life, but he doesn’t subscribe to that. 

Any potential business partner has to bring capital, expertise, or contacts to the table. And, honestly, capital is the least important asset of the three. Marcus loves networking. He loves to learn from people like Roland and share his own experiences so people can learn from him. Surround yourself with people who can be additive, he says. 

What he really wants a partner to bring to the table is a new way of thinking about something. He wants to hire people who are smarter than him, people who can make him better. 

The Importance of Diversity in Your Business

Marcus doesn’t do equal partnerships. He won’t ever do a deal that’s 50/50. He’ll either be the minority and let the other person take the lead, or he wants to drive. You can’t get in a car and have two people take the wheel. There might be exceptions to the rule, but he won’t do it. There’s got to be a clear leader. However, when he gets into a deal, even if it’s just 10%, he does like to have financial control. 

“For those people who own 100% of your business,” he says. “I would encourage you not to. I think it’s important to have gender and racial diversity. I’m not saying it to check a box. You have to represent your consumers. All of them.”

He says you have to truly know your audience. And to know them, you have to reflect who they are, or you’ll serve them one thing when they’re asking for another. Surround yourself with people who look like your audience. Your audience isn’t all middle-aged white guys. You need a diverse team running your business. 

How Covid Changed His Investment Thesis

Marcus used to be very public about not investing in technology, because he didn’t understand it. He likes brick and mortar, tangible products. Then someone approached him about a technology-driven fund/deal. They wanted a $2M investment. “They wanted me to think in new ways,” he says, “and they wanted me to partner with them, because I see things differently too.” Now he finds himself only wanting to invest in digital tech stuff. 

“Covid accelerated my need to change my thinking,” he says. “I realized that the brick and mortar environment we lived in won’t exist anymore. Technology is the future of the world. What I do hope happens though is that technology people and digital marketers can lend their credibility and experience to brick and mortar stores.”

He says we all come from different places, have different experiences, and we all think about life and business differently. “We don’t want to get into a homogenous way of thinking about things,” he says. “The key for me in business is that conflict is healthy. Getting different opinions and learning from other people is essential to growing yourself and your business. The key for me is respect. Respecting others’ opinions, no matter how much you disagree. Make me better. I want to make you better too.” 


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    Over the next few podcast episodes, we’ll walk through the 7 Levels of Scale—everything you need to know to grow and scale your business.   Everyone always asks Roland Frasier and Ryan Deiss “Where do I start?” when it comes to scaling their business. Their new framework they call The 7 Levels of Scale answers that question.   In the previous episode, they covered Levels 1 and 2. In today’s episode, they unpack Level 3, but here are all seven:   Level #1: Sell and serve 10 customers. Level #2: Build a growth flywheel.   Level #3: Build an upgraded scalable operating system.   Level #4: Double your take-home pay. Level #5: Build your board. Level #6: Complete an acquisition for expansion. Level #7: Hit your number.   If you haven’t listened to Part 1, go do that now. This framework doesn’t work out of order. Sequence matters in a big way. Then listen in for everything you need to know about Level #3: Build an upgraded scalable operating system.   Two Big Errors Entrepreneurs Make   The first error entrepreneurs make is setting up an operating system without going through the first two levels. You don’t need an operating system if nothing is happening in your business.   The second error they make is just go go going without putting an operating system in place. If you build your growth flywheel, then fail to build and implement an operating system, you’ll grow your business into non-existence. It will implode from system overload. You can’t serve the people coming in, because it’s all happening too fast, and you don’t have a system in place to handle it. This will wreck you, wreck your family, and wreck your business.   This happened to Ryan. He almost lost his marriage over it. To build something that’s actually working—but have it almost destroy you—is one of the worst things that can happen.   What Is an Operating System Exactly?   No one can actually agree on a definition, but Google says this: “An operating system is a set of algorithms and a common language that enables different components to communicate with one another in the support of the desired outputs of a machine.” It’s like a computer where the mouse, the CPU, the printer, and everything else has to communicate with each other in order for it to work.   What do we mean by a set of algorithms? Standard operating procedures. What is a common language? Communications and meeting rhythms. What are desired outputs? Your goals and objectives.That forms the foundational framework of what it means to have an operating system.   The business owner generally knows what the desired outputs are, but they haven’t really been fully flushed out. You need goals and objectives and a way to communicate them throughout the company. You need standard operating procedures (SOPs) where one person knows how to do something, and documents it so others can learn and repeat it.   Roland and Ryan built a tool for their company internally and now it’s available to people in their  Scalable OS Accelerator.    Document Your Set of Algorithms    Visualize how your company creates value. What is your growth engine? Once you’ve acquired a customer, how do you serve them? That’s the fulfillment engine. In the entire process, you might have half a dozen value engines. There might be 3-4 stages that are really important. These are the ones that need to be documented.    Start with the customer and work backward. Go all the way back to Level 1: sell and serve 10. How do you do this well?    Document the entire process value flow Identify the power stages and build step-by-step checklists/playbooks around those Assign accountability.   Then use that to build company scorecards and establish the meeting rhythm. When will you meet as teams, leadership, all hands? Figure out your meeting schedule once you know about the scorecards. The meeting and scorecards are your common language.    Map Out Your Weeks, Months, and Quarters   Roland and Ryan do 90-day quarterly sprint plans. They look at their scorecards and ask: how are we progressing toward our goals? What’s working and what isn’t? What do we need to optimize? That determines the activities you need to do in the next 90 days.   If you don’t have all these systems in place, then what do you do? Everybody just has their own ideas, their own pet projects, then no one can agree on what to do next. You have to have the OS in place.    One you’ve got your growth flywheel spinning, you’ll need to spend 8-12 weeks building your operating system. While you build, you’re also tracking and measuring. That’s all through the scorecards. Then, the way you install the OS is to host your first quarterly sprint plan. Day 1 is a clarity day. Day 2 is your first quarterly sprint plan. You’re looking forward but also back.    Every three years: clarity day Quarterly: sprint plan Monthly: business review Weekly: team meeting reviewing scorecards   Roland and Ryan aren’t big believers in annual planning. They plan in 3-year cycles and execute in 90-day sprints.    The 6 Primary Tools that Go Into a Scalable Operating System   Value engine (visual representation like a whiteboard with post-it notes) Playbooks (step-by-step checklists that drill down into power stages) HOT canvas (High Output Team, assigning responsibilities) Scorecards (metrics and tracking weekly, reviewed monthly) Meeting rhythm (how often each team is getting together) Clarity compass (visually demonstrating desired outputs)   Roland and Ryan want to create more Level 7 entrepreneurs. They want to help more entrepreneurs scale themselves so they can scale their companies. They’re sick and tired of entrepreneurs burning out and quitting on themselves. They want them to stay at the helm of their companies for as long as they want to. It’s better for the world.   When you pass Level 3, you pass the scalable line. That’s when your company is officially scalable. Next up: making more money. Stay tuned for Part 3!   RESOURCES: 7 Levels of Scale Workbook - Take a brief assessment to see where you’re at and what’s next.   OUR PARTNERS: Get a free proposal from Conversion Fanatics Get 3% cash back on your ad spend with AdCard Get Roland’s book, Zero Down, FREE Join Roland's next EPIC Challenge  
  • Business Lunch podcast

    What to Consider When Buying a Company (Part 1)


    Acquiring and selling businesses is one way to live a rich and happy life, but how do you know which companies to buy?   In today’s episode, Roland Frasier walks us through some important things to know when buying a business. This is part one in a series where he’ll be sharing some of his extensive knowledge and acquisition experience.   Listen in as he talks about the first two questions you need to answer before you buy.   How Am I Going to Define My Acquisition Criteria?   That’s question #1. If you don’t know what kind of business you want to buy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You’re like a kid in a candy store. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches by establishing criteria first. Roland uses a matrix for this. It can be as simple as a whiteboard or a piece of paper with four quadrants:   What you enjoy What you have experience in What skills you have What connections you have   Quadrant #1: Make a list of things you actually like to do. Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s more motivating to go forward and deal with problems if you’re actually passionate about it. Take an inventory of your interests.    Quadrant #2: What do you have experience in? Brainstorm all your prior experience and things you’ve actually done in the past. Write down all of it, even if it doesn’t seem relevant. You might see connections later.   Quadrant #3: What do you have knowledge, training, skills in? This is similar to #2, but this time you’re writing down specific skills you have.   Quadrant #4: What are your connections? What networking resources do you have access to? What things are you a member of? What business contacts do you have? List all of them; don’t leave anyone out.   These four things will help you determine what kind of business you want to buy. You’re looking for common threads among things you’re passionate about, have experience in, are skilled at, and have connections for. What kind of business makes the most sense when taking all four of those things into consideration?  How Do I Select a Target Type?   This is the second big question to ask yourself. How do I select a target type of business? The type of company you’re looking to acquire can fall into several categories:   A company that no longer exists A company that exists but isn’t profitable A company that’s breaking even/profitable   Roland recommends focusing on that last category, unless you have specific skills in turnaround. Not everyone is cut out to acquire failing businesses and turn them around. It’s hard. There are plenty of profitable companies to acquire. In the break even/profitable category, if he doesn’t see things that could make it profitable in 30 days, he’ll pass.   How do you decide how profitable a company needs to be before you acquire it? Roland doesn’t care about sales. He cares about profits. There are two types of profit. The first is SDE (seller discretionary earnings). That’s how profitable an owner-operated company is. Then there’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) for a company that’s professionally-managed.   You might want a company with an SDE or EBITDA of a certain amount. What do you want that amount to be? First, ask: how much do I want to pay myself for doing this deal on a monthly business? Let’s say $10k/month. That’s his new target type—a company that’s profitable and making at least $10k/month.   In addition to that, ask: what am I going to do with this company? Let it go as is, or do you actually see growth potential and there will be a little bit of investment to help it grow, either to sell or to make more money to pay yourself more?   And finally, ask: how much money do I want to budget to spend on increasing growth? Let’s say you want to spend $10k/month on growth. So you need a profit of $20k/month total. You need to find a company with an SDE or EBITDA of $240k/year.   That’s how Roland selects the kind of company he wants to go after. He asks which businesses fit his four criteria and have a profitability of $240k/year or more.    Stay tuned for Part 2!   OUR PARTNERS: Get a free proposal from Conversion Fanatics Get 3% cash back on your ad spend with AdCard Get Roland’s book, Zero Down, FREE Join Roland's next EPIC Challenge  
  • Business Lunch podcast

    Kendra Scott on Fashion, Family, and Philanthropy


    Kendra Scott started her iconic brand with $500, a spare bedroom, and a newborn—and now her company is valued at over a billion dollars.   The 1st Annual Scalable Impact LIVE took place in Austin, TX in early November of this year, and Kendra Scott was one of the big-name guests. She sat down with Roland Frasier to talk about how she started her business, how it became so wildly successful, and why she’s so passionate about giving back.   Listen in for some inspiration and brilliance from this woman on fire.   How It All Started   Kendra’s first son was born on 11/11/01, just two months after 9/11. She vividly remembers what it felt like to be given this tiny human being in such an uncertain time. No one knew what the world was going to be like going forward, but there was an incredible opportunity for hope and connection.   Kendra knew she wanted to be the best mom she could be, but she’d also loved fashion and design since she was a little girl. “If I could do what I loved,” she says, “that would be the greatest thing in the world.” Her first business failed, then her stepfather died, leaving her with this thought: “We have one life, and it is short and it is fast. While we’re here, we need to use the gifts we’ve been given to do good.”   She started her business very quietly, because she didn’t want people to see her fail. She was terrified that people would laugh at her.    How She Worked Through That Fear   Fear is real, Kendra says, and it is okay to be scared. “I wake up every morning, leading a business that is bigger than it was the day before. I’m walking in uncharted territory every time I get out of bed.”    It helps knowing she doesn’t have to do it alone. She’s not afraid to ask for help. Mentors are huge for her. And she has built “the most awesome team ever.” She has 3000 employees, and 96% of them are women. The brand is the DNA of all the people who work with her at her company. It’s her name, but they’re truly a team. She was alone in it for a long time. Now, when she has a problem, everyone puts their heads together and rolls up their sleeves, excited to help solve the problem.    Choosing entrepreneurship means not choosing the easy route. It is so fun when it’s fun and so scary when it’s scary. Entrepreneurship is peaks and valleys, just like life. When you’re in the valleys, you think this is it. I’m going to lose my business. When you start realizing you can get out of the valley, and you have a team doing it with you, it’s so cool. You overcame something together, and your bond is so amazing.    The Kendra Scott company is on a mission to do good. Their core values are family, fashion, and philanthropy, and their customers share those values. They’re caring, optimistic, and fun, and have a heart that beats for their community. “You can put your team and your community first and still have a fiscally successful company,” Kendra says. “And now I’m teaching others how to do it.”   What 2020 Was Like For Her Business   In a retail business where you have 120 brick and mortar stores, “a pandemic isn’t great,” Kendra says. She remembers all the news channels with their doomsday pronouncements of “brick and mortars have seen their last day.” She didn’t sleep for a couple days in March 2020. She and her team went back to the white board and started completely over. They changed everything overnight.    The only thing that didn’t change was their core values. How do we stay true to our core values? was the only question that mattered. They did all their Kendra Gives Back events virtually. They created new connections with their customers—sending them letters, calling people and checking on them, making masks, delivering things to people’s homes.    They fought the urge to over-strategize. “We have to paint this train while it’s moving,” Kendra told her team. They couldn’t stop the train. They knew they might make mistakes, but they were determined just to learn from them. You can’t be inflexible and unwilling to change your plans. You’ve got to be agile. You’ve got to pivot. Or you won’t survive.   How She Managed Growth While Maintaining Control   When Kendra first started her company, no one would invest in her. She had two small sons, went through a divorce, had no investors, and was doing everything on lines of credit. She signed everything she owned up for collateral. Her sister, who had a good job, moved in with her to help with rent. She couldn’t pay for her tiny team and couldn’t afford to lose anyone. She sold her car to pay a vendor for stones and jewelry.   Looking back, she says she’s not really sure how she did it. But she would look at her sons’ little faces and think, “Failure is not an option. We are going to figure this out.” She didn’t get any investment capital until 10 years after she started her business.    After 10 years, she wanted the cadence of going to a board on a quarterly basis and getting feedback. So she set up an advisory board with three people and gave them an earned-in, very small equity position over a four-year period. One of them became her first investor. He gave her a very generous $20 million evaluation and bought 5% of the company.   Building a Team and Stepping Away from CEO   Bringing on a COO changed everything for her. She read a book by Marcus Buckingham called Now Discover Your Strengths that talks about writing down everything you love and loathe. She loved the customers, engaging, design, marketing, and creation of the experience. She loathed dealing with vendors and negotiating marketing contracts. She knew she needed a team that loved the things she loathed. She hired a COO and everything elevated, because she was no longer doing the things that sucked the life out of her.    She knew she wanted someone with a personality that fit with hers, a winner, someone with passion and drive, who gets excited about this age and stage of a business. He got an offer from Whole Foods at the same time that Kendra couldn’t match, but he saw something in the Kendra Scott company that he believed in. His equity position turned into $40 million.   Kendra recently stepped away from CEO into a chairwoman position. After 20 years, her strengths have changed. “The biggest impact I can have is to be out there and focus on our core pillars,” she says. “I’m out in stores, I’m on calls. I want to learn so I can make this brand better every day. The philanthropy pillar is huge for me. My mission is to get more women entrepreneurs funded and help them be successful in their businesses.”   She sees the Kendra Scott brand as a pre-teen. Ralph Lauren did men’s ties for 25 years before he branched into other things. This doesn’t happen overnight. She knows there are opportunities to expand beyond jewelry, but she doesn’t want to do just anything. She wants to do it thoughtfully. She wants to see where the white space is, where the gaps are. Where are things her customers need and desire that they can’t find? It’s got to be something disruptive, and that excites her.    We all have the opportunity to change the world, she says. Lead with your heart. Let your team fly. Give them the tools to soar. When they become leaders like you, that’s how you’ll know you’ve become a true success.    RESOURCES:   Now Discover Your Strengths Scalable.Co The Ready to Lead podcast DigitalMarketer Podcast Perpetual Traffic podcast   OUR PARTNERS: Get a free proposal from Conversion Fanatics Get 3% cash back on your ad spend with AdCard Get Roland’s book, Zero Down, FREE Join Roland's next EPIC Challenge
  • Business Lunch podcast

    5 Exits of Every Successful Business Owner


    What is often called “the five evolutions of a business” can also be thought of as “the five exits every entrepreneur makes in a business” over the course of their entrepreneurial journey.   Today’s episode is another snackable one with Roland Frasier. It’s short and sweet, something you can listen to while you’re running a quick errand or getting something done around the house. This one is all about the five exits you make on your journey from solopreneur to selling your business.   Exit #1: From Solopreneur to Manager   When you first start a business, you’re wearing all the hats, doing all the services. You’re the CEO, CMO, janitor, sales team, and everything in between. Your first exit is from doing to delegating. Instead of you doing the basic thing the business does (offering a service or actual product creation), you hire someone (or several someones) to do it for you. When you hire your first person, you start this first exit.   Exit #2: From Manager to CEO   The next level of exit is going from manager to leader or CEO. We’re not talking about a CEO who does everything—that’s a solopreneur, not a true CEO. A true CEO is someone who has people reporting to them and getting their marching orders. The CEO is truly leading the company and figuring out how to implement the Board of Directors’ vision for the company. When you stop managing and delegating, and you’re responsible for bigger things and being an actual leader and communicating/channeling the directors’ vision, that’s the second exit.   Exit #3: From CEO to Board of Directors   The third exit is when you go from being the CEO to being on the Board of Directors. At that point, you’re really responsible for the strategic direction and vision of the company, how it’s doing in the world as a corporate citizen. You’re communicating with the CEO and saying, “This is our vision, and it’s your responsibility to communicate this to the company and get them to execute it.” You’re not the leader. You’ve stepped off the organizational chart of the company, but you’re still very involved in it. You may have sold a majority part of the company at this point.   Exit #4: From Board of Directors to Investor   Your fourth exit is when you go from the Board of Directors to investor. At this point, you might sell more of your company. You might decide you don’t want to be burdened with, or responsible for, creating the vision of the company any more. You’re interested in what the company is doing, and you’re a shareholder/owner, and you have the ability to impact who is on the Board of Directors, but you’ve moved back several levels to being a simple investor. Your main concern is: how will this asset perform for us in terms of income generation?   Exit #5: Exiting Ownership   The fifth exit is exiting ownership. You don’t want to be an investor anymore. You’ve gotten enough return on your investment, and you’re going to retire from the entire relationship you have with the company. Now you’re a free agent with your capital, moving on to whatever else you’re ready to do.   It’s good to know about the different exits, the different levels of evolution. It’s good to know your options. Maybe you’re tired or burnt out or have other ideas to explore, and it’s time to start making those exits one at a time. Maybe the responsibilities are more than you want to shoulder as CEO, and you can move to the Board and still have impact, but less responsibility. You don’t lose the ability to impact the company until you go through all the exits. Seeing the big picture helps you figure out what fits best with your life and other business opportunities.   RESOURCES: Scalable.Co The Ready to Lead podcast DigitalMarketer Podcast Perpetual Traffic podcast   OUR PARTNERS: Get a free proposal from Conversion Fanatics Get 3% cash back on your ad spend with AdCard Get Roland’s book, Zero Down, FREE
  • Business Lunch podcast

    Emmitt Smith on Entrepreneurship and the Business of Football


    Football great Emmitt Smith knew two things from a very early age—that he would play football and that he would need a plan for life after the game.   The world-famous NFL Hall of Fame running back and serial entrepreneur was a guest speaker at this year’s first annual Scalable Impact Live. Emmitt sat down for an intimate chat with Roland Frasier to talk about his entrepreneurial journey and everything he’s done since retiring from football. The man has been busy, to say the least.   Listen in as he shares some secrets to his success and what drives him as an entrepreneur and a human being.   The Entrepreneurial Spirit Was With Him As a Kid   Emmitt became an entrepreneur at a young age without even realizing what he was doing, whether it was taking a lawnmower around the neighborhood cutting grass or working for a TV network in high school or detailing cars in college. “I did whatever I needed to do to subsidize,” he says, “to get the money I needed for clothes or gas.”    He remembers one incident in particular when he was at his Pop Warner football coach’s 3600-square foot house. It was his first time ever at a white person’s house, his first time seeing a home office. He saw papers laying on a slanted board, and his coach started explaining what he did for a living. He started teaching him how to read blueprints and floor plans.   “He said football wouldn’t last forever, and I’d need a plan after it was over,” Emmitt says. “I was 11 years old.”    He put that advice in the back of his head, because football and getting to college were at the forefront. He started getting college letters early on. He got so many he was sick and tired of looking at them. “Boxes and boxes and boxes of letters. It was ridiculous.” When his friend told him he could get a scholarship, and his parents wouldn’t have to pay for college, football became his first business.    The Business of Football   Things have changed very recently in the world of college sports. Athletes are finally getting the opportunity to pocket some of the money that once went entirely to their schools. Emmitt remembers in 1987 getting a Pell Grant for $7000 and he only saw $700 of it. They also told him he couldn’t work and be on scholarship at the same time. He’d look up in the stands and see all these people in #22 jerseys and think, “Where’s my cut? They’re making millions of dollars off of me.”   He remembers being in class trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He was reading textbooks but not getting anything from them that would help in the real world. When he left school to become a professional athlete, the world opened up to him.    He started asking Cowboys owner Jerry Jones questions. He said, “I know how much you’re paying me. How much are you making?” He told Jerry he wanted to sit down in his office and listen to him negotiate contracts. Jerry said sure. “He knew I was on a mission physically in the world of sports, but he could tell I was thinking much broader. It helped me out learning his tactics when I was negotiating my contract.”    It wasn’t long before marketing and endorsements entered the picture. Michael Jordan paved the way for all athletes to understand what endorsements could be like and how to package yourself. Then he met guys like Roger Staubach, a childhood hero of his, and started to understand what he was doing beyond the game.    Entrepreneurship After Football   By the time Emmitt hung up his jersey for the final time, he already knew what he wanted to do. Roger had asked him to come talk to him when he retired. Emmitt wanted to get into the real estate business as a developer. He wanted to build big things, like retail shopping centers. Roger asked him if he’d ever thought about the broker side of the business, but Emmitt saw the developers making all the capital.    He called Magic Johnson and said, “I’m about to cut a deal with Roger. What should I know? What should I ask for?” Magic told him everything. Emmitt says, any time you’re going down a path someone you know has already gone down, reach out to them for insight before you jump full in, before you get too deep, or make a mistake in your negotiations. That’s what he did with Magic.    One of the first deals they did was a big shopping center in Arizona just before the recession hit. It was poor timing, but it was a good experience. Emmitt learned how to put a deal together and how to get out of a deal. He went to CCIM and got his certification. He told Michael Irvin that the two of them should put their money together and buy some land in Dallas. He knew it would be valuable someday. He has an eye for what could be. He has vision. “I can see the potential of things,” he says, “whether it’s land or people. What I’ve done in my life is try to maximize my gifts.”   As he saw all the new roads and bridges happening around Dallas/Fort Worth, he looked around and asked, “How many African Americans are in this space?” He couldn’t find any—not at a high level anyway—so he started his own construction company.   Authenticating Sports Memorabilia   Over the course of his career, and in the years following, Emmitt signed a lot of sports memorabilia. But he became concerned when he started seeing fake signatures on items. Someone was ripping his fans off, and it bugged the crap out of him. He tried to find ways to protect these consumers, but nothing worked very well.    In 2002, this guy came to the Dallas Cowboys with this new technology, a tracking system. Emmitt said to him, “If you’re tracking it, you can authenticate it, right?” The answer was yes, but if the consumer didn’t have a reader to scan it, then they were out of luck. The process of verifying and authenticating was spot on, but the timing of getting devices in the hands of the consumer was off. Emmitt and his team perfected the art of putting tags on and inside the items and got 7 patents. Then 2010 rolled around. Emmitt had his first Android phone. The phone could read the tags. Now iPhones can too.   Emmitt’s company, PROVA Group, is a resource for sports memorabilia collectors who want to verify items before they buy them using the PROVA tag. The sports memorabilia industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it’s been proven that 70% of it is fake. He’s looking to partner with the NFL to get players to take better care of their merchandise.    Emmitt’s father told him long ago, “Son, keep everything you have, because you never know your place in history.” He took that advice, and he kept every single one of the 164 footballs he used to score rushing touchdowns (the NFL record) over the course of his career. He kept most of his jerseys and helmets as well.    Speaking of good advice, his mama always told him, “no matter how high you go, never forget where you came from.” He’s never forgotten that. “Your attitude determines your altitude,” he says. “I try to stay positive and upbeat every day. I enjoy and love what I do. I love who I am. I love being grounded. I like to keep it real with myself. I could easily get caught up in a whirlwind of stardom, fame, and fortune. But then I’d miss out on opportunities to connect with people and who they are. I always think about people and how things will impact their lives.”    RESOURCES: Scalable.Co The Ready to Lead podcast DigitalMarketer Podcast Perpetual Traffic podcast   OUR PARTNERS: Get a free proposal from Conversion Fanatics Get 3% cash back on your ad spend with AdCard Get Roland’s book, Zero Down, FREE

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