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Franco Harris & a Super Donut

After retiring from the Pittsburgh Steelers as an NFL legend, Franco Harris did not rest on his laurels.  He got to work.  Shortly after retiring, he and a partner created a company to sell nutritional products to schools.  From this venture came the Super Donut, a healthy donut with no artificial flavors, no preservatives that contains minerals, vitamins and protein.

Say What?  Yep, a truly healthy donut that actually tastes good.

You may have heard of the Super Donut.  After all, Lebron James put a picture of the Super Donut on Instagram as one of his most cherished memories from school.

I recently had the honor of speaking on a franchise panel with Franco at the Sports Business Entertainment Conference in Las Vegas (btw, the SBE Conference is fantastic, and hosted by a super-talented, sincere, gifted and first-class individual in Charles Smith.
Beyond the panel, I had an opportunity during the conference to speak with Franco about his transition from sports to business.  I learned of his fears, set backs, and successes.  And I learned of his of un-ending quest to transfer his competitive spirit from the sports field to the business world.
Below are 4 important traits that helped Franco become a successful entrepreneur and will certainly help you on your journey.
  •  Effort: It may sound cliche, but there is no substitute for hard work. Franco tells a story of working every aspect of his business for many years when he first started.  Answering the phone. Taking deliveries. Loading  and unloading trucks with product.  Taking out the trash. And hustling in every possible way for the betterment of his business and those his business serves.  Hard work, there is simply no substitute for it….no matter who you are.
  • Determination:  Just like all entrepreneurs, small business ownership is filled with highs and lows.  Franco has experienced both.  But through it all he has exhibited a dogged determination to push through the challenges always believing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  If you want any real shot of matching your abilities with your potential, you must have a determined mindset.  Many people can do well when times are good, but most flake out when times get tough.  Develop a mindset that finds the silver lining in what otherwise could be seen as a problem, and you will be well on your way to creating a dogged determination that will help carry through.
  • Strategy:  You can have the best intentions, attitude and work ethic but still fail if you don’t have a strategy.  Before retiring from football, Franco had thought about business, contemplated what life after football would look like (or at least what he hoped it would like) and began to put together a plan.  Thinking about your future endeavors before you dive in is the very first step of developing a strategy that will help you map out your course.  Create a strategy that is developed enough to provide you with the direction you are going, the market you are serving, and the model you are using, and then go and do it.
  • Service-Minded Mentality:  Customer service is not just a slogan to Franco Harris.  Within 2 minutes of meeting him it was obvious to me that everything he does he does with service in mind.  He understands that the customer is king, and that service runs up and down the chain of his business ventures.  Take this same mentality to your business, and you will be amazed at how people respond with their hearts and their checkbooks.
It’s easy as an entrepreneur to go in many directions.  To over strategize.  To over think.  And to follow the “magic” that we falsely attribute as the key we see in others success.  But the truth is, we have the  “magic” inside of us.  We just need to release it in the effort, determination, strategy and mentality with which we approach what we do.  So what is your Super Donut?

2 thoughts on “Franco Harris & a Super Donut

  • Great post, Josh! A lot of people get challenged when they’re just starting out a new season in their professional life, whether it is retiring from the NFL and moving into business or media, or for lawyers who are just adding speaking, writing, or networking to their professional activities, or business owners or executives who are shifting towards a franchise model for their next season.

    Sometimes we struggle mightily when we experience success in one area of our lives and then move forward in another, only to find that we are beginners again when it comes to that skill. We’re so used to being the fastest runner, the best lawyer, or the best sales person, that we get frustrated when we find that the additional activity or next venture doesn’t come as easy.

    These four suggestions are a great way to embrace the new beginnings as a new beginner and work your way up to success. Your past experiences are certainly not irrelevant. They’ve made you who you are and will help you envision the possibilities for the future and be more comfortable with your success. But effort, determination, strategy, and service-mindedness is absolutely necessary to succeed in subsequent seasons!

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