Business

3 Takeaways from NFL Pro Bowl Running Back and Entrepreneur, Justin Forsett

Undersized by most NFL standards, Justin Forsett played in 9 NFL seasons at one of the most grueling positions on the field. He’s disciplined, motivated, thoughtful, and intelligent. Yet these are only a few of the characteristics that helped the 5 foot 8 running back cut, duck, and spin through NFL defenses.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Forsett in February, a month before he made his decision to retire. On May 3, Forsett took to social media to make his decision, saying “I’m officially announcing my retirement from the game I love. It’s been an amazing ride and I’m grateful for every moment. My career has brought so many great people into my life, and I asked some of them to join me in saying goodbye.

Forsett had an idea in college for a Shower Pill – athletic body wipes developed for post-workout cleansing when showers aren’t readily available. Being fairly common in NFL locker rooms, Justin decided to start the company. He’s since developed the product and signed fellow NFL players and others to invest and endorse the brand. Among discussing his venture, Forsett and I talk about athlete performance, nutrition, and sports psychology. Here are 3 meaningful takeaways from the fourth episode of our podcast, Suiting Up with Paul Rabil.

#1. He’s frugal, and it’s refreshing to hear this coming from traditionally lucrative onfield salaried athletes.

Outside of operating costs for home and business, Forsett’s saved most of his salary and endorsement income from the NFL. He said he’s never been attracted to flashy cars or gaudy watches. He’d prefer having cash on the sideline readily available to support his family first, and business ambitions second. He also noted “nobody in his family has ever owned a house“, where it was a point of pride and reason when he purchased his first home, creating a safe and comfortable environment for his kids. Forsett works diligently with his financial advisor, weighing in on all decisions and reserving executive power over each strategic investment position. Having liquidity gave Forsett the runway to initially self-fund and launch his business. Available cash and sweat equity is the name of the game for Justin. Mark Cuban would agree, famously saying “sweat equity can be the best startup capital”.

#2 Teammates can double as co-founders.

Forsett started Shower Pill with his former teammates from UC Berkeley, Wale Forrester and Wendell Hunter. Playing college football, they learned how to work hard, handle victory and defeat, and most importantly (as Bill Belichick would say), focus on doing their job well. Their unity onfield enabled them to flourish off of it. The co-founders have driven the company from the beginning, combining their different perspectives and careers post-college, while utilizing multiple skill sets to handle the demands of running a startup.

#3 Advice on finding great mentors.

One of Shower Pill’s advisors is Ronnie Lott, a former 6-time All-Pro NFL player, who transitioned into one of Silicon Valley’s most notable venture capitalist’s and angel investors (I commonly refer to him as the OG of athlete-investors). Lott’s a mentor to Forsett, guiding him to overcome challenges in his personal and professional life. Forsett credits Lott for pushing him against letting sports identify whom he is, saying things like, “(you can only) excel at what you can control.” Beyond advising on business transactions and term sheets, great mentors can see more talent and ability within each of us, and know how to bring it out.

Here’s the podcast in its entirety.

As always, thanks for listening. I welcome any feedback and/or suggestions (feel free to tweet @paulrabil with your thoughts, it seems to be the best forum for dialogue). Finally, I’d greatly appreciate it if you subscribed to the pod, and gave us a rating and review.

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