This Is Capitalism CEO Stories: Tiki Barber

Tiki Barber
Former NFL running back, Host and Entrepreneur

For former New York Giant Tiki Barber, playing professional football was a way to fulfill just one of his passions. He is also a published author (having written a series of books with identical twin and fellow football great Ronde), broadcaster, and he even did a stint on Broadway in Kinky Boots.



He also is one of the founders of events company Thuzio, which like so many other businesses, had to rethink its business model during the pandemic.

LESSONS FROM THE FIELD

As someone who first studied engineering, then business, and came to professional football almost as an afterthought, Barber is a firm believer in never being afraid to try new things and having an open mind. He says the fast-paced nature of football and its win-lose mentality trained  him to act quickly and be willing to move on and try new things – a necessity for being an entrepreneur.

PANDEMIC PIVOT

Barber and Thuzio co-founder Mark Gerson wanted to offer a way for people to have “live and unfiltered” experiences with those who shared their enthusiasm – hence the name “Thuzio.” Their selling point was intimate experiences: dinners with an athlete, a cooking lesson with an award-winning chef. The pandemic forced the company to explore virtual events, which are proving to be a scalable business that complements in-person offerings.

ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

Whether it’s in sports, business, or his personal life, Barber says it comes down to relationships, because you never know the role people might play in your life. His partnership with Gerson came about because of his friendship with Gerson’s brother. One of the most gratifying things about writing the book series was the chance to honor his mother and is grateful to have reconciled with his father after a decades-long estrangement.

POC: Welcome to This is Capitalism, CEO Stories. I’m your host, Patricia O’Connell. Today I’m excited to speak with gridiron great turned broadcaster turned entrepreneur, Tiki Barber.

For Tiki, a career with the NFL wasn’t the fulfillment of a childhood dream. He had set his sights higher, literally, with hope of being an astronaut. But instead of going to the stars he became one, playing 10 stand-out seasons for the New York Giants where he set franchise records for rushing yards and carries. The former running back was also a three-time Pro Bowler.

Tiki joined “This is Capitalism” to talk about how football, family, and friendship have shaped his life; what’s happening with his latest venture, his company Thuzio; and how being an entrepreneur isn’t so different from being an athlete.

Tiki, welcome and thanks for joining us today.

TB: Thank you for having me, Patricia, I’m looking forward to this.

POC: Well, I have been too, Tiki. First of all, Tiki, I remember when we chatted a little bit before, you told me that football was not your original career plan. Talk to me a little bit about that, Tiki, because it’s not many people who have a star-making career as an NFL player as

Plan B.

TB: [Laughs] That’s right. Well, I have to back up a little bit. So I was a Challenger baby, 1986, we all remember this, if you were old enough, and it influenced me, in scarring ways in some regard, you could say. And for the longest time after that, I wanted to be an astronaut. It intrigued me, the sci-fi side of me was sparked by that. And all of my friends and people around the country were going to space camp. My mom couldn’t afford space camps so we would just sit at home and pine about wanting to be astronauts.

So when I got of age, that is about to go to college, and I was a smart kid already, my mom said, “Well, why don’t you just find a place where you can go study to be an astronaut?” So I chose the University of Virginia because they had a great engineering program. And obviously we were good football players, me and my twin brother were football players, and I was a good athlete but I really wanted to be an astronaut.

So I ended up going to UVA and in the first semester I was not sleeping at all because I was playing football, I had all these labs and up studying all night. But I fell in love with computers in that first semester. I mean I learned how to type on a typewriter. It seems like…I don’t know, that’s just crazy to think about now.

POC: I remember typewriters, Tiki, don’t worry about it.

TB: You remember as well, right? So I learned to type on a typewriter so I get exposed to this computer that has processing power and has…I don’t know, it was so intriguing to me. So this dream of becoming an astronaut kind of went by the wayside as I got distracted by the emerging computer technology.

And so I got out of the engineering school at UVA and went to the business school and studied management information systems, which is database design and programming. And so for the longest time I now wanted to be a tech entrepreneur. I wanted to work for Oracle or Microsoft or one of those companies.

And then in my third season, my third year at UVA, I got really good as a football player and my path went from like, “Hey, let’s go work at Microsoft to hey, we’re going to go to the NFL”. So my Plan B kind of worked out but my Plan A has always been there in the back of my head.

POC: So, Tiki, it actually sounds like the NFL was Plan C.

TB: Yeah, it kind of was Plan C after the astronaut to being a tech entrepreneur and then ultimately I got to become a football player. And then I got to Plan D, which was getting into media and working at The Today Show and Fox News and a bunch of other places throughout my career, including where I currently am, at CBS Sports Radio and CBS Network.

POC: And we’re going to get to Plan E later, Tiki, because I know you were on Broadway in Kinky Boots.

TB: That’s right.

POC: Okay, and I don’t even know what ones I’m missing here. But let’s talk a little bit then about how Plan C, football, your very impressive career with the New York Giants, how did that help prepare you to be an entrepreneur?

TB: Yeah it’s a good question because when you look at my ten years with the New York Giants in totality, it looks like man, you had a great career, ten years of success, everybody must have known it right away. But the reality is the first three or so years of my NFL career were hit or miss. I had a lot of injuries, I was up and down, I wasn’t really utilized that frequently.

I was just trying to hang on, which sounds familiar if you’ve been an entrepreneur. I was just trying to hang on just to stay long enough to figure it out. I mean there’s a cliche that people always use: fake it till you make it. But it’s different for me. It was like, “just do just enough that they still believe in you. “

And then ultimately my real opportunity came in 2000. We had a new coaching staff, or a new offensive coaching staff, and it changed the use of me and it allowed me to excel and become the player that I ultimately became. But what that taught me was that even if you’re extraordinarily talented, naturally talented, gifted, things aren’t going to come easy.

And so I translate that to business and entrepreneurship because even if you have the greatest idea it’s not going to come easy. There’s still work that has to be put into it and there’s still missteps that you’re going to take and there’s still pivots that are necessary till you find your right path and that is exactly how I mirrored, in some ways, my NFL career to my entrepreneurial career after I finished playing.

POC:  I think you make a really interesting point that when there was a new coaching office and coaching staff it really changed things. So it really also points out the importance of leadership or mentors or working with people that you click with.

TB: That’s right. I think the most important thing that you are alluding to Patricia is you can’t have too much pride in ownership. It can’t be like “this is mine, this is the way we’re going to do it and if it doesn’t work this way we’re just going to fail.” Well that’s just stupid, right? The idea that you learn from being in a team sport like football is that it takes all of us and it takes everyone depending and standing on the shoulders of everyone else in order to find success.

So once I got out of the NFL and went through a couple of different iterations of professional life, non-football related, I found Mark Gerson, who is a great entrepreneur. He founded a company called the Gerson Lehrman Group, which is one of the largest collections of experts in the world and they do investing and other types of things and we partnered together. His expertise was obviously aggregation of talent and presenting it to a client base. Mine was obviously interactions with athletes.

And so Thuzio was founded by these two separate minds that came together and formed an entity that created a marketplace for athletes to engage with their communities. And we have had many different iterations that we can get into later but you are absolutely right – partnering with the right person is paramount to success in anything that you do. I mean this is life, this is marriage, this is business, this is sports, it’s everything, and it’s been a tenet to my existence.

POC: And who might be the right partner for you might not be the right partner for someone else and vice versa.

TB: That is exactly right. There has to be a meshing point, there has to be a collaborative energy that exists between you two. And you kind of know it right away. It was interesting how I met Mark because I actually went to school with Mark’s brother, Rick Gerson, at UVA. We were both in the business school together. So I knew Rick pretty well. I didn’t even realize that he had a brother who had been so successful in business.

And then when I was going through…not a tough time but it was a transitional time for me. I was going through a divorce, I wasn’t really working that much, Rick reached out to me. So the value of that relationship, which has also been another key part of my life is relationships, the value of that relationship and reaching out to me and saying you know what, go have a conversation and a cigar with my brother Mark and you guys will figure something out.

So we went to Club Macanudo and six months later we launched a company that is now eight years in and we’re doing some really fun things.

POC: So another kind of interesting lesson there is I guess in some ways you also never know the role that someone is going to play in your life.

TB: That is exactly right. And it’s why it’s so important to sometimes just say “hi.”.You know what I mean? Like, “Hey, how you doin,’ I haven’t chatted with you in a while” or send a Christmas card or whatever it may be. Because keeping those connections is paramount.

I mean, this world is enormous. There’s 360 or 370 million people in the United States, there’s a billion people in India, a billion plus and a billion plus in China. But the world is small, it really is, and you tend to, because of who you are, you tend to walk in the same circles of people that you are connected to maybe years ago. And so you are absolutely right, Patricia. Being able to be a people person has been extraordinarily beneficial to my career as an entrepreneur but also just as a friend to people around my life.

POC: You have gone through some transitions, you’ve gone through some things that you decided weren’t working as well as you liked and you said even with Thuzio, you’ve gone through some iterations. But why do you think you were able to succeed and make the transition to business? Because frankly not every athlete can.

TB: Yeah, yeah. It’s funny because my brother used to always say “we will succeed because I don’t believe that we can fail.” It’s just, I will never stop trying. And it has gotten to this point where I have this utmost confidence in myself. And sometimes it’s misguided but it doesn’t matter. Like, sometimes you have to lie to yourself that it’s going to be okay and if you believe that it’s going to be okay then you tend to find the positive and you tend the find the next steps as opposed to constantly being a downer and saying, “Well, this isn’t going to work.” Like, the self-fulfilling prophecy thing actually happens.

And I will give a personal story here that really hit home for us – me and my twin brother, that is. My last year, before my last year at University of Virginia, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she ultimately had to have a double mastectomy. And one of the things she would always say to us is “I have to get busy living or I have to get busy dying and I’m choosing to live.”

And now she is a 26-year survivor of breast cancer and is thriving and doing fantastic. And it was the lesson…. We were young, I mean we were 21 years old at that time, and this was a life issue that my mom created this positivity around this sometimes-terminal disease and it was an example for us. And so my life has been based on how my mom raised us. And that is a personal example but it also translates to how I have lived my life.

POC: And you were raised by just your mom, correct?

TB: Yeah, just my mom. Yeah. My mom and father were both Virginia Tech alums. My dad was actually a football star at Virginia Tech and he was roommates with the actual defending Super Bowl Champion head coach. Bruce Arians, down at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was my dad’s roommate at Virginia Tech.

And my dad got misguided by the early ‘70s and the substances, etc., caused them to split. And he was out of my life for decades, Patricia. In fact, I didn’t reconnect with him until I got remarried, I had my first child with my second wife, Brooklyn, and my wife, Traci, reached out to my father. And I remember this story she told me. She said, “You might be upset with me”. And I’m like, “All right, what did you do?” And she said, “I sent a Christmas card to your dad.”

And I didn’t know how to process it because I didn’t really have a relationship with him. It turns out that he and my wife had been chatting for a while and then ultimately the next March or so he came to visit. And after not seeing him for years, I mean years upon years, he came and sat in my kitchen, met all my kids at that point, I only had five, and we drank wine together and I…I reconnected with this man who I only knew from kind of stories.

And you know the crazy thing, Patricia, is the day he left I got a note from my sister, a half-sister, Krista. She wrote me this note, it was so, like, emotional and poignant. Because she said, “I have been wanting to write you this note for almost 10 years. I have always wanted a bigger brother, an older brother, and my dad would always talk about you all but I never could have a relationship with you and now I can.”

And here we are, God, this is at least four years ago, maybe four and a half years ago, I have a great relationship with my half-sister who I didn’t know for the majority of my life. So it goes back to that relationship side. You can in your mind say “that’s past, that’s over,” but you never know when a reconciliation is the right thing for everybody.

And so yes, I was raised by a single mother but I have gained a grandfather for my kids that I have reconciled with my father. And it’s for the better for everyone. It really means a lot to me.

POC: That is a great story. Your wife obviously has a lot of wisdom.

TB: She does, she’s the smarter one of us. She’s into the details despite me being the one that gets all the front press.

POC: Well again it’s about teammates, right?

TB: It is, it absolutely is about having the right teammate and I have a wonderful one in my wife, Traci.

POC: When I hear the word “Thuzio”, I’m hearing enthusiasm.

TB: That’s exactly right, you nailed it. That’s exactly what we thought. We struggled for like weeks, like, what are we going to name this company? Is it going to be like “Play With a Pro,” “Engage With a Pro?” We didn’t know what we wanted to do because we were focused on athletes in our mind. But then Mark suggested, he’s like, “Yeah, but what if there’s a poet that

someone wants to engage with, like, that doesn’t really work with “Engage With a” or “Play With a Pro.”

POC: “Play With a Poet” doesn’t have the same ring.

TB: It doesn’t at all. And so what we settled on and what we realized is that everyone could engage with something, they would have an enthusiasm for it, right? Everyone has an enthusiasm for something.

And so we took that word – enthusiasm – and truncated it and came up with Thuzio. So that’s the genesis of the company name, Thuzio. And it’s interesting because we have now branched outside of just athletes. We do authors and actors and musicians and celebrity chefs. It’s what people are enthusiastic about. So it’s been a really great journey for us.

POC: Let’s talk a little bit about how Thuzio works. Correct me if I’m wrong but in the beginning you really focused on in-person events? And then obviously 2020…the year everybody had to talk about Plan B.

TB: Yeah. [Laughs]

POC: So how have you found changing it from going from in-person because I would also imagine there is a certain buzz and an excitement that people feel about being in a room with someone whom they admire, somebody who they share a passion with – maybe they can get an autograph, maybe they can have that little side conversation of their own. How do you transfer or create that kind of enthusiasm to an online event?

TB: Yeah, it’s a great question, Patricia. So, for those who aren’t familiar with Thuzio, Thuzio started as just a marketplace to meet an individual athlete. “Hey, go play basketball or go have a dinner with an athlete.” But we realized that was limiting. And touching, if you know what I mean by touching, touching every event makes it unscalable.

And so the only way that we could grow was to create a membership base that could come engage with our athletes and that’s what Thuzio is now. And we have 150- to 200-person events in major cities, major sports markets – New York, Chicago, Philly, Dallas, Boston, L.A. etc. – around the country but it’s usually one or two a month.

So think, “Hey client of mine, do you want to go to a Giants game?” And the answer is “Maybe oh, yeah, I’d love to go to that Giants game,” or it’s “Ehh, I don’t know, that’s a five-hour commitment on a Sunday; I don’t know if I want to spend that time away from my family.

And instead what we’re offering is, “Hey client, you want to go to a two-hour event with Lawrence Taylor, one of the great Giants of all time on a Wednesday in the city and then we’ll get dinner?” It becomes an easier sell, an easier client opportunity we believe, or at least a complementary client opportunity.

And you’re right, the engagement is awesome, you’re hearing these stories that you have in the back of your head about these players from their mouths and you get to take a picture with them and get an autograph. It became really engaging for our clients and their clients. But then the pandemic happened and that’s when we had to pivot.

POC: Before then you weren’t really having the things though where it was about the athlete coming and doing a talk, per se, it was really more of…

TB: Yes, it was an intimate setting. We called it “Live and Unfiltered.” But they’re amazing stories. And you kind of have heard these things tertiarily but now to hear it from the horse’s mouth? It’s entertaining and its fun. And you’re in a room with like-minded business professionals so it also becomes somewhat of a networking event.

But you alluded to the pandemic, Patricia, and when that hit a year and a half or so ago we kind of… We felt like we might go under because we are a live-event company and there was nothing that we could do to force live events again. Even if you tried to do it by socially distancing you take a 150-person room and now all the sudden it’s 20 people. Like it wouldn’t make sense.

But we still had clients that needed to service their clients. And so we got asked to produce an event, a virtual event, and we did it. The CEO of the company interviewed me with his clients on the line and it was just this unique engagement and all the sudden we found ourselves onto something.

And now you fast forward a year later, as opposed to doing one or two events per market as I was alluding to, now we are doing three or four events a day because it’s not just our clients that we are serving, our Thuzio clients, but it’s also these white-labeled events that we are doing for clients, producing them, whether it’s via Zoom or other virtual platforms, and creating these experiences through this network, through this thing that we have all come to love and appreciate over the last year.

POC: Do you think that this will be the business model going forward or do you think it will be a dual model?

TB: Yeah, it will definitely be a dual model. And the reason is, is while it’s easier to do virtual events the margins are significantly lower. And so it’s probably more scalable and that’s a good thing because it gives us more reach and exposes more potential clients to our services, but ultimately what you said before really matters. Having that “in-person, I’m looking at, I’m shaking the hand of, I’m engaging with this athlete, celebrity chef, whoever it may be in person and experiencing it, not just watching it but experiencing it”. We want to be a business experiential company and that’s where we think we are headed.

One of the great things about troubled times in this country is that there are opportunities. And we saw an opportunity about six months ago for a company that’s based out of Canada called Robin, who was an expert in experiences, live, in-person experiences, whether it’s tickets to games, whether it’s concerts, other type live events for the business professional. They were obviously in a similar situation as we were as a live event company, just stuck.

And so we acquired them and we acquired them for two reasons. One, for their technology but also because it now adds another product that we can offer. And so before the pandemic we had one product, we offered live and in-person, live and unfiltered events with athletes and celebrities, chefs, etc. Now we have a virtual product that we can white label for clients or we can do our own. We have live and in-person Thuzio events, and now we have a portal that we can offer our clients to go to any event that they want to – concerts, games, etc., through Robin that’s now part of Thuzio. And so the pandemic was an opportunity for us even though it was at the very beginning, it was damaging to our business model.

POC: But you have said before that you are someone who looks at the positive side of things.

TB: And look, I’m not an executive at Thuzio so I’m not making these decisions personally. But our CEO, Jared Augustine, has a great mind for these type of opportunities. He sees them and he goes after them aggressively. As a board member of Thuzio and obviously I do a lot of the events with Mark Gerson and the Freemans, who are our lead investor now in Thuzio, we have been able to pivot in real time.

It’s one thing to think about, “Oh we’ve got to make this move, let’s go raise some money and do X, Y, Z” and make this move but to do it in real time, where we have to…we need to survive in order to be around for another year.

I give Jared a lot of credit for being able to pivot and then find the new opportunities and then… not exploit them, that’s the wrong word but I’ll use it, exploit them to the point where it has made us closer to profitability than we have ever been.

POC: Let’s talk a little bit about capitalization if we can. Did you have to do a capital raise? Did you have to get new investors?

TB: Yeah, we did. And we did it old school. So let me step back for two seconds.

POC: Is old school putting it on your credit card, Tiki?

TB: No, no, no. Well, kind of. A little bit. Lines of credit and things of that nature. But to step back for two seconds, when we started Thuzio it was a marketplace, it wasn’t a tech platform per se, it was just a marketplace where you log in and you say, “Oh, I want to engage with this athlete.” And then you’d pick up the phone and you’d call and we’d arrange it. It’s a lot of touch points.

And eventually we moved to the business model that we have been talking about. But as we started to grow the number of athletes, the influencers as they now call them on the platform, we realized that this was actually two businesses, not just one, not just an event business but an influencer business.

And so the company split about three years ago. Julius is our event company, Julius Works is the website, Juliusworks.com. It is an influencer marketing company, SAS products, so that brands can find the perfect influencer for their campaign or live event or whatever it may be. And then Thuzio became the event company.

So when that split happened, Thuzio essentially became a new company, if that makes sense. So even though we had been operating collectively for three or four years, Thuzio became a startup again. And so we brought on new investors and it changed the capitalization of our business. And so we were raising money. And that’s where the Freemans came in, Mark re-upped, Gerson, re-upped as well, and we started this new journey for Thuzio.

And then the pandemic hits. Here was the challenge, it was how are we going to raise money when nobody is spending money and everybody is hoarding money and it’s kind of an uncertain time? So we basically did like a Kickstarter program and had people reach out who knew the product. So, some of our clients, they helped us and as I mentioned Mark re-upped and etc. And eventually, because we were now virtual and doing more events, we were able to push closer to profitability than we ever were before just doing one or two events per month, per market.

So when I say old school, I mean it’s not like, “Hey VC, give us money” or “Hey, private equity firm, acquire us and push us to profitability.” It was, like, “Come on, come support us, you know us.” And it worked and it kept us afloat and here we are now and we feel like we’re thriving.

POC: So when do you see profitability?

TB: That’s a good question. This is the challenge of an entrepreneur and you know this Patricia because you’ve seen this so many times. At what point do you rest and say, “All right, let’s just grow?” Or are you saying, “Well, we still need to keep innovating?” And I feel like because Thuzio innovated during the pandemic and became this virtual company as well as this live-event company. And then we acquired Robin so it added this technology and a whole new product that we still need to invest in growing these new verticals that we have.

And so profitability I would say is a year away or so, especially if we are able to capitalize on all the new eyes that we have been able to acquire because we’re doing virtual events. And if we can convert maybe someone who was a guest of a financial advisor to a client and not just a client for a Thuzio event but a client to go to a Yankees game or go to an Angels game in California or go to a Texas Rangers game in Texas or a hockey game in Boston – whatever that may be – if we can convert them because now we have three offerings as opposed to just one, then it pushes us even closer to being that company, that profitable company that we all desire.

POC: This company obviously has played on two of your big passions: football and business. Do you have any astronaut influencers?

TB: [Laughs] No, we don’t. I mean, we should. That is a great, great point. [Laughing] Because they are so interesting to me. Like, I’m a sci-fi geek. I watch Star Wars, I’ve watched all of them now because Disney+ has everything, so I have watched all the Star Wars and all the iterations, including The Mandalorian, etc.

I’m a big Star Trek fan, Star Trek Discovery is now on Paramount+, which is good because it’s episodic. Anybody who likes Star Trek, you go watch the old Star Treks, they’re just random episodes, they don’t mean anything, they’re not going anywhere, but Star Trek Discovery and Picard on Paramount+, it’s episodic so you have to follow it.

I’m a big Doctor Who fan and –

POC: Oh Tiki, I’m giving you a new nickname: Geeky Barber.

TB: Yes. I tell people all the time, Patricia, I am a geek. They don’t want to believe because, “Oh no, you rushed for 10,000 yards.” I’m like, “Dude, I’m a geek, man, I made straight As in high school, I wanted to be an astronaut and work for a tech company, football just kind of got in the way.” So I think about that, I think about…

I’m doing a podcast for this new social company called Display. It’ll be Display TV. And one of the things that I’m doing, because it’s a visual podcast, similar to what we’re doing, Patricia, is interviewing experts in certain fields. So I will interview a guy like say Mark Synnott, who climbed Everest in search of these two explorers back in the early 1920s, who might have reached the peak of Everest but did not.

I want to interview scientists about how close are we to space travel? Like, when can we actually do this? We know that Space X and all these other things are happening, we know we landed a rover on Mars and they flew a little helicopter on Mars but how soon can we actually go to these places? And so it’s this other side of me that’s really interesting. I don’t know how to integrate it into Thuzio, though, that is the only problem and how I find that client base that will also carry my geek-ness with them if that makes sense.

POC: Speaking of other enthusiasms, you along with your brother Ronde, you wrote children’s books.

TB: Yeah, we did. This was one of the great endeavors that we happened upon. So my editor was a woman named Paula Wiseman. And her son loved The Giants. So he suggested to her hey, “Why don’t you do a book with Tiki and Ronde? “And it was perfect timing for us because I had just had my second son, Chason, Ronde had just had his second daughter, Justice, and we said to ourselves, “Well what a great way to pass down stories.” And they were still babies so we did picture books.

So the first one was called By My Brother’s Side. It was a story about me wrecking on my bike and hurting my knee and not being able to play sports and just watching Ronde but he was always supporting me and eventually I got back and I was healthy. The beauty of it was that it was a story about me and my twin but it was also about my mom.

And so we realized we happened upon something, right? It was kind of like dumb luck in a sense because who buys books for kids, especially boys? Moms. And so we’re telling these stories about twins who are athletes, ultimately athletes obviously in the NFL, but it’s about the relationship with their mom.

So we did three picture books and then realized that our picture-book readers are getting to the age where they need to read chapter books. And so we ended up doing nine chapter books as well, so twelve in total, that I still get comments from moms who say, “My boys loved your books and even my girls, my kids loved your books.” And what’s a little bit not scary but it really makes me feel old because I just turned 46, Patricia.

The other day there was this kid Dan who came, we had to work on a project for the NFL draft. He was maybe 24 years old, I don’t know how old he is. He comes to my house and he’s like, “I read your books when I was a kid.” And I’m like, “Oh my God! Right? [Laughs.] I’m working with you now and you were reading my books?” That means…I mean I can’t even imagine like how long ago that was. But it’s been a blessing for sure.

POC: Tiki, now they’re grown up, now you can write grown up books for them.

TB: Yeah, that’s right. I got to find a topic and then I will do that.

POC: A business book.

TB: A business book, you’re right, you’re right, how to move from sports to business.

POC: You also are still doing broadcast; you’re expanding your business. What’s next?

TB: Yeah, so I always love this question because I have always been an opportunist, as I’ve told you, I have also been an optimist. And sometimes you feel like you’re stuck and you’re scared to go take a next step somewhere else. I have always believed you can’t be afraid. And maybe this is because of my football background where there is an immediacy to success or failure and so you knew right away whether or not you succeeded or you failed and it almost made you unafraid to try.

And so as I moved out of the NFL and became an entrepreneur and started a couple of businesses and then tried Broadway…like, all of these great things were a part of who I was. And it’s a lesson that I think is important to people: Don’t be afraid to try. Yes, it’s risky at times but you can’t be afraid to try something new because you never know when that’s going to ultimately be your passion.

And also having so many friends in the business community, the business world, a lot of them entrepreneurs as well, the one thing they have always told me is, “Tiki, yes, you did okay playing football but never, ever be afraid to diversify your income streams.” And so when you do that you create redundancy in success. And so that is why I’ve always tried and never been afraid to try something new.

POC: Well that is a great piece of advice for other entrepreneurs out there or would-be entrepreneurs. And Tiki, people can find out more about Thuzio at…?

TB: Thuzio.com. It is very easy. “T-h-u-z-i-o.com” And you’ll see all the great offerings that we have out there as we continue to grow and expand our platform. And you’ll enjoy it, I promise you. You go to one event or you experience one live event, virtual or otherwise, you will enjoy it and keep coming back.

POC: Okay, I will check that out. And Tiki, thank you so much for joining us on This is Capitalism.

TB: Thank you, Patricia.


About the Series: Featured stories from the intersection of the free market and entrepreneurial success. Here we speak with leading CEOs, academics, philanthropists and up and comers on their contributions and perspectives on the American economy.

About Patricia O’Connell: Patricia O’Connell is one of the original contributors to “This Is Capitalism”, a content site sponsored by Stephens Inc. and is host of the site’s podcast, CEO Stories. Patricia, a former editor at BusinessWeek and a best-selling author, blends her experience as a journalist with her passion for storytelling to her role as editor of “This Is Capitalism”.