NFL Hall of Famer, Emmitt Smith has a long list of notable achievements. The former Dallas Cowboy's resume includes three-time Super Bowl Champion, 2010 NFL Hall of Fame inductee, as well as the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards in his 14 seasons of play. He is also the ONLY player in history to win the NFL MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and NFL rushing crown in the same season. Not to mention, displaying his range of athleticism by becoming the 2006 Dancing with the Stars Champion. Smith's list of achievements only continues, as he pursues success off the football field as a well respected entrepreneur. He is the President and CEO of one of the most valuable personal brands in sports-entertainment, Emmitt Smith Enterprises, Inc., where he oversees the marketing and management of his brand. Within this brand are the company's two core businesses, EJ Smith Construction and E Smith Legacy, a real estate company. In addition to this, Smith also authored his own book in 2011, "Game On: Find Your Purpose- Pursue Your Dreams", telling his inspirational story of his childhood in Pensacola, FL to his success as a businessman today.
Smith appeared as a guest speaker at the Brown-Forman Corporation Conference Center as a part of their Black History Month Celebration to speak about his life after football as a businessman. Brown-Forman welcomed Smith to their company as he became the brand's ambassador of their tequila, Casa Herradura, as well as the first celebrity athlete to buy Herradura's exclusive Double Barrel Reposado. Why Herradura you ask? "Most importantly my relationship with Brown-Forman and their Herradura brand is something I believe in because I like tequila. I love tequila," Smith answers, also adding that he has passion for endorsing something he likes. "You have to be passionate about what it is you're doing, then it doesn't become work. It's fun," said Smith.
After a humbling introduction and warm welcome from the audience, Smith took the podium as Brown-Forman's newest Herradura brand representer. He began his speech touching on the Brown-Forman's Black History Month Celebration, and the importance of this month. "Black History itself, it means the world to me because it truly represents both cultures in terms of where we were, and where we are today," Smith says. He acknowledged historical figures of the past, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Louisville's own Muhammad Ali, that opened doors and created opportunities for people like himself to become successful. Smith referred to this as "standing on the shoulders of giants," explaining that these "giants" showed great courage, foresight, heart, and passion to make sure equality in our country became reality.
Smith also discussed some of his on-the-field football experiences and compared them to his business experiences, explaining that both share similar approaches in order to become successful. He used key concepts such as teamwork, flexibility to make adjustments, preparation, and balance to illustrate just how similar and important they are. Smith would name-drop a few celebrity athletes such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Walter Payton, who he credited for motivating and mentoring him to become the best he can be, on and off the field. The success of these fellow sports figures and their brands had encouraged Smith to pursue business opportunities in life after football and become an entrepreneur. When asked how the business of the NFL compared to running his own business today, Smith answered, "I'm used to being coached. In sports, I had a structure that was already tailored for me." From little league to the NFL, Smith always had a coach to tell him where to be and what to do. After retiring from the NFL, he asked himself, what structure he would need to achieve in the business world. "I never had the experience of running a business. So I had to find people and reach out to mentors to help me understand what running a business was all about, " Smith said.
It would seem as if Smith's passion has not gone anywhere. That same passion that drove him to run every single one of those 18,355 yards and become the NFL's all-time leading rusher. That same passion that led him on stage to become the 2006 Dancing with the Stars Champion. That very same burning passion that has inspired him to pursue his own business, and continue to have success in life after football. Smith tells just how his passion has turned his work into fun, and how it can lead to being successful with his companies:
"I'm very passionate about helping retailers find great locations (a visible location), and the right demographics for their product, and watching them become successful. That in itself makes me happy. Watching the success of another company that I had a hand in helping them find their site selection. On the construction side, when you can send out a team onto the job site and they come home everyday without any injuries, and not only come home everyday, but they're putting the work in place, on time and under budget. That in itself is a reward. And not only that but doing quality work where you leave the job and the owner of that job says, 'Job well done,' that to me is satisfactory. That to me says success."
Photo Courtesy of: Louisville.com