174: Why First-Gen Student-Athletes Make the Best Entrepreneurs

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Professional athletes spend a large majority of their energy, time, and money training and competing. They also make personal, professional, and financial sacrifices to turn their passions into high-performance careers. But there always comes a time when they must consider life after sports. (It puts me in the mind of first-generation college students and graduates–it’s extremely crucial that you map what comes next after high school and college graduations.)

However, the transition from being a pro-athlete into entrepreneurship can be brutally challenging. Luckily, transferable skills such as working hard, training, and commitment are highly desirable in business. This is why it’s no surprise that most top-tier executives and successful entrepreneurs are former professional athletes.

Why All Experiences Matter – 05:15

For the most part, life is all about experiences. Yet, interestingly, how we articulate our experiences usually forms part of our stories. Our stories describe goals, aspirations, fears, identities, and the way we handle adversity. Although you may not have control over what happens to you, you can choose how to respond to the experience. Lisa C. explains that thinking about the good memories is easy when telling the story of your life. But, it’s way harder to make sense of experiences that turn our lives upside down. Whether your journey is filled with adversity or good tiding, suck it all in and enjoy it. Remember, we all dream, strive, and fail before getting to where we want to be. But, a time will come when you’ll realize that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination. So, relish the journey and appreciate the experiences that go with it. 

How to Face and Overcome Life’s Challenges – 06:32

As you journey through life, brace yourself for a series of peaks and valleys. Sometimes you’re up; sometimes you’re down. According to Lisa C., how you respond in your moments of defeat determines how you overcome life’s adversities. She explains that people who improve their ability to navigate through difficult times often live happier lives. So, you might be wondering, “how do I improve my ability to navigate through life?” First, remind yourself why you started in the first place. Every time you get distracted and start moving away from your goals, chances are, self-doubt and fear will start creeping in. When this happens, look at everything you’ve accomplished so far. Achieving goals takes time, and the road to success might not always be a smooth one. Just remind yourself of how far you’ve come, all the wins along the way, and the reason you started your journey.

Lisa C.’s Journey into Entrepreneurship – 13:45

Athletes always have to deal with the prospect that their careers will eventually come to an end, no matter how good they are. Sadly, many athletes struggle to transition from sports into other disciplines. In Lisa C.’s case, once her playing career was over, she began to realize that entrepreneurship and sports are essentially two peas in a pod. Both demand hard work, dedication, and focus. In both, you’ll also have your wins and losses. Lisa C. knew that once her sports career was over, the only option was to get into business because, to her, entrepreneurship resembled sports in every way possible. 

With that, she started one-on-one training sessions, which later incorporated mindset training. The feedback was overwhelming and opened doors for her to begin speaking in schools and later in large corporations. She believes that venturing into entrepreneurship is not for everyone and by no means easy. But if you’re into sports, you already have most of the essential traits to build a successful business.

How to Sell Yourself – 13:45

Selling is the one important skill every entrepreneur must master. We all know that not everyone is blessed with the gift of selling and continuously attracting business. However, Lisa C. believes that we should all be able to sell at least one thing: ourselves. For starters, the ability to convince potential customers to do business with you is based on your ability to communicate your competence, reliability, and commitment powerfully. Lisa C. grew up relying on her father and agent to do the selling for her. She maintains that this is the one thing plaguing new entrepreneurs. Most new business owners are not sales savvy and only concentrate on bettering their products and services. 

No matter how superior your product is, you will always fall behind your competition if you can’t communicate its benefits. So, whether you are an employee or a solopreneur, it would be best if you learned how to sell yourself. You do not need to spend lots of money to get started. Just focus on creating your brand, get your name out there, and build credibility around your brand.

Lisa C. Willis is a specialist in the field of leadership development.  She exemplifies the championship mindset compiling an impressive track record during her stellar athletic career.  

Lisa C. travels the world teaching corporations elite business strategies so they may gain and maintain the slight edge advantage, stay highly competitive and accelerate performance.  

Lisa C. was the 5th pick in the first round of the 2006 WNBA draft, playing four seasons until 2010 after retiring due to a knee injury.  After her injury, Lisa C. emerged as one of the most requested women’s empowerment speakers, teaching her Leadership Pillars That Elevate Performance. Connect with Lisa C. Willis on LinkedIn and Instagram.