It sounds simple, but Super Bowl champion wide receiver Brandon LaFell’s advice for student-athletes on the rise are words of wisdom.
In this Influencer (INFLCR) athlete ambassador interview, LaFell sits down with INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale
following a speaking engagement in Nashville to talk about life after sports with three main messages: work toward your future, stay positive and do your job.
LaFell, who caught the opening touchdown pass of Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks, spent two seasons with the New England Patriots in 2014 and 2015 before signing with his current team, Cincinnati, in 2016. He says his biggest take away from his time with the Patriots is do what you’re supposed to do.
“You’re not going to get patted on the back for doing your job,” LaFell said. “When you’re in a well-oiled machine like (New England), it’s all about being accountable, being loyal, and being where you need to be on time, always.”
He says this lesson continues with his work off the field when managing the business side of his life, which includes the LaFell Group Foundation.
“If I can rely on you doing your job, I don’t have to do it for you,” he said. “If you don’t do your part, and I have to do both our parts, that makes both parts of our job a little stressful. That causes tension between both of us. The moment both of us are out there doing what we’re supposed to do, it goes smoothly.”
Now in his eighth season as an NFL wide receiver, by doing his job, Lafell is projected to reach 5,000 career receiving yards this season. He has 4,774 career yards on 350 receptions and 26 touchdowns entering Week 4 of the 2017 season.
LaFell’s dream of playing professional football began in the fourth ward of Houston, Texas. His personal website bio says his time at Gregory Lincoln Middle School and Lamar High School not only shaped his athletic talents but also “discovered a passion for a quality of life that exceeded his ability to run and catch the football.”
That is why LaFell believes in developing a Plan B.
“What you’re doing right now, that’s your Plan A. While you’re doing your Plan A, work on your Plan B. That’s your life after sports,” LaFell said.
LaFell says athletes can discover and develop their Plan B first by connecting with those around them and asking questions to help with the transition to your next phase. This may begin with one's teammates.
In LaFell’s case, there are 52 other players in the locker room he interacts with daily for six months out of the year. They can be resources to learn from or resources to help grow a personal brand or a product an athlete is marketing. As the brand grows, whether for a business or a non-profit foundation, LaFell adds it is important to remain positive on social media.
In most cases, the brand begins to grow in college, or earlier, which is why LaFell believes it is important to watch what you post even as a young student-athlete.
“Don’t have that page where you’re doing one thing positive, and on the next post you’re doing something negative or you’ve got curse words … Don’t have it painting a positive picture one day and the next showing smoking, bad language or drinking,” LaFell said. “Use it to your full advantage in a positive way.”
Prior to being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, LaFell was an All-SEC standout at LSU, helping lead the Tigers to the BCS National Championship in 2007. He became part of the Panthers’ history on Christmas Eve 2011, with a program-longest 91-yard touchdown reception (63 yards after catch) from rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
Follow Brandon LaFell on Instagram and Twitter at @Blafell1.
About Jim Cavale
Jim Cavale has been an entrepreneur since college when he co-founded a sports TV/Radio streaming network for his university, and then created a product to sell to other universities to help them stream their sporting events. Since then, Jim has exited multiple businesses, most recently selling his equity as President of Iron Tribe Fitness after more than six years in which he helped lead the brand from one gym in Alabama to more than 40 gym locations across America from Seattle to Miami. He is a three-time INC. 5000 entrepreneur who has recently founded two new emerging brands in the GLOW beauty on demand app and the Influencer SaaS product that empowers brands to partner with their brand ambassadors on social media. Jim is a published author with Entrepreneur Press, has spoken on stages of all sizes and publishes content regularly at http://JimCavale.com
Follow him at @JimCavale on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
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