Brent Celek is a 9-year NFL veteran playing tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles. Brent has been the team’s starting tight end for almost a decade and recently signed a four-year extension. Off the field, he is a successful self-made businessman. Celek’s entrepreneurial spirit can’t be stopped and he has even been named the Philadelphia Business Journal’s prestigious annual “40 Under 40” list – the first Eagle to ever achieve this honor. I had the privilege to hear from Brent first hand what it’s like playing in the NFL and starting your own business at the same time! Here’s how it went:
Jay: Playing in the NFL is no easy task and there’s no question that it takes tremendous preparation, focus and time on a constant basis. The same is true with running a business. How have you been able to put your focus and attention to sports and so many ventures at once? I think so many entrepreneurs have great ideas but don’t have the way to manage their time and focus. This is especially true for those who are currently holding down jobs, and they’re scared to leave their position and branch out to another idea.
Brent: Obviously playing football is a full-time job and requires a great deal of my time and attention. That said, in my free time instead of playing video games or watching TV to unwind, I have always enjoyed learning about and helping my friends grow their businesses. In all the ventures I have started, I have partnered with people that I know and trust. I work to help them grow their business and expand their networks in any ways that I can and to genuinely develop those relationships. Once we are partners and in all of my current ventures, I take a back seat on the day-to-day operations and pop in and out as time allows. Regardless, I will say this… Being an entrepreneur is not easy at all and you have to be prepared for a roller coaster ride on a daily basis.
Jay: Regarding your experience in the music arena with Bank On It – the competition is fierce and things are always changing, what have you been able to do to keep Bank On It at the top, especially in such an exclusive market? Brent: I think with every business that it ultimately comes down to the product. If the product is good, it will sell itself and if the product is not well-received, you are fighting an uphill battle that is hard to win. I want great product in every situation and Guordan Banks just continues to put out hits. His first song “Keep You in Mind” went No. 1 on the Urban AC chart. Once that happened, we released a song with Dej Loaf that we feel people are going to love called “#WYWDT”. Check it out!
Jay: As a tight-end, you have to constantly look for opportunities to exploit the defense and find ways to advance the offense. How has that mindset helped you in business, as you must constantly look to “break through” your competition and find ways to get your product through?
Brent: I have been playing football my whole life, so I have a great understanding of the sport and how to evaluate my competition and ultimately to defeat someone. In business, it is just as competitive a market as the NFL, there are just different rules to the game. I am always learning and slowly but surely picking up the ins-and-outs to all these business ventures. I did not become an NFL player overnight. It took an entire life of training and preparation to get there. In business, I am not a professional yet but I know that I will get there!
Jay: What business executives and entrepreneurs have inspired you?
Brent: First of all, I would definitely have to say my parents. They have owned and operated hair salons my entire life and I have learned a lot from watching them. In Philadelphia, there are two guys that I really look up to. The first is Jonathan Brassington, the CEO of LiquidHub. He has been a friend of mine for about six years now and has shown me the ropes on what it takes behind the scenes to be an entrepreneur. He has introduced me to some incredible likeminded people that have helped me in business as well. The second is Charles Robins, Managing Director at Fairmount Partners. I actually met him pretty recently, but our personalities really click. One thing that I have learned from all of these people is that business is about building relationships and learning how to manage and work with different people and how to push and keep them driven. Building a great team around you is key!
Jay: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Brent: If you believe in something, go for it. If you fail, learn from your mistakes and try again – never give up. The greatest things in life don’t come easy.
Photo Credit: Philadelphia Eagles