Being an All-Pro running back in the NFL was not Tiki Barber’s dream job. Microsoft or another computer programming giant was Barber’s goal until the New York Giants called his name in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft.
Barber graduated high school with a 4.0 grade point average, played football at the University of Virginia on an athletic scholarship. When he stepped foot on campus, he wanted to be an astronaut, but then found his way studying management and information systems (MIS). The former ACC Player of the Year went on to spend 10 seasons with the Giants, where he set more than a dozen franchise records before retiring in his prime, one year before the Giants’ victory in Super Bowl XLII.
“I was very comfortable walking away from the game when I did because my dreams were going elsewhere and my passion was going elsewhere,” Barber said.
He says it is serendipity that his path took him to New York. The shy boy from Blacksburg, Virginia, who was born premature, was now in the middle of the media capitol. This led to weekly media appearances and host opportunities to help land his first post-playing endeavor as a correspondent on NBC’s Today and an analyst for Sunday Night Football.
But he realized just because media was a common post-retirement career for pro athletes, it was not his dream.
Born premature, along with his twin brother Ronde, Barber says he and his brother were always taught by their mother to be their own person, never what someone thought you should be.
“As you get older and you turn into a really good athlete, that’s how people want to define you,” Barber said. “My mother wasn’t going to let that happen.”
In 2012, Barber and business partner Mark Gerson founded Thuzio, an online marketplace for talent booking. A second business, Julius, followed as well as authoring his autobiography, Tiki: My Life and the Game Beyond, and a number of children’s books. He remains in broadcasting as co-host of national CBS Sports Radio show “Tiki and Tierney” with Brandon Tierney.
Barber, a father of six, hopes others realize the same message his mom taught him as they begin their careers, whether it be in professional sports or the finance world.
Influencer (INFLCR) founder and CEO Jim Cavale, a lifelong Giants fan, sat down with Barber at his New York City offices to hear more of his story and his advice for young athletes, leaders and entrepreneurs. In this conversation, Barber gives advice for those pursuing a college athletics career today:
- Have confidence in yourself and learn to be sociable
- Use the access your name will get you to engage with alumni
- Be a self-starter and take initiative
- Think about social media with a purpose to tell your story
- Know your market, your followers on social media
- Have a plan
Follow @TikiBarber on Twitter and Facebook or on Snapchat at tiki.barber.
About Jim Cavale, INFLCR Founder & CEO:
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 @JimCavale on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.