NFL athletes are notorious for being ill-prepared for life outside of football. It is not uncommon for former players to fall into financial distress or bankruptcy soon after their athletic career ends. Sports Illustrated reported that 78% of NFL players are broke within three years of retirement, not the case for Smith. His preparations for a post-football career began before his time in the NFL.
Growing up on a farm, Smith was familiar with hard work. “The farmer knows when he plants a seed, he doesn't get a crop right away, but in the right season his hard work will be rewarded,” Smith said. As a walk-on at the University of North Carolina, he was able to secure a football scholarship and earned a B.S. in Business Administration and Management. After graduation, his reward was an NFL career lasting nearly ten years, three times longer than average. Former NFL Star Thomas Smith Jr. is experiencing continued success as the owner of PMI.
- Who is Thomas Smith?
Thomas is a small town country boy. He grew up on a farm and woke up early everyday, sports became a way to get away from the work on the farm.
His father instilled a work ethic early on and that has had a major impact on what Thomas has been able to achieve in life. Working on a farm from sun up to sun down will do that.
- What attracted you to football?
Thomas had always been fast and he enjoyed playing in elementary school. Football just seemed like a good fit and it was something he excelled at. His parents made sure that Thomas kept his grades up and maintaining his education and playing sports was always something he was good at.
- Why were you able to make the transition after retirement?
When Thomas first retired from football in 2002, he was going through a divorce and wondered what was next for him. Most athletes can’t figure out how to move through life after their sports careers are finished. His business education gave him a good foundation for building and maintaining wealth after his career.
- Why property management?
Even when Thomas was playing football, he dabbled in real estate and property management. He got some experience in mortgage banking, hotel investments, and even transportation for a while. Thomas eventually settled on PMI and is now focused on growing the asset management side of his business.
Real estate is one of the best entrepreneur games to be playing, you can get in with little capital and are just looking for the right deal.
- How have all those experiences helped you?
Football taught Thomas to be mentally strong, you can let a bad play mess you up or you can keep your head with you and move on to the next play. It’s the same thing as a business.
Learning the trucking business from the ground up allowed him to start his own transportation business. He took the job to learn rather than earn. It was there that he learned that sometimes you have to adapt, and sometimes you have to pivot.
Getting into real estate taught Thomas about having a vision, and creating a plan of action.
- How important is it for the CEO of a business to have some working knowledge of the job?
It can be very important for the head of the business to understand what is going on on the frontlines. You will learn how to deal with conflict and adversity and solve problems that people directly encounter.
There are going to be bumps in the road on the path to achieving what you desire. Learning to fail is about learning persistence and determination, as well as creativity. The contrast in your life is what inspires you to get on the path to what you desire. Focus on what’s ahead and not on the obstacles at hand.
- Property Management
Property management is a different game entirely. Getting the franchise support from PMI has been very productive for Thomas and has helped him expand and grow faster than he would be able to on his own.
Don’t try to self-manage your property, hire the professionals and let them do it for you. They will help you build a plan and keep your investment performing well.
- Thomas’s Takeaway
Don’t pay attention to the outside voices, just listen to the inner voice. But you have to understand why your inner voice may be telling you something negative and be willing to make a leap of faith. Once you take action, don’t worry about the how of getting things done, just put together a plan and start doing. The how will come to you as you move through life. The passion, will, and determination to succeed will make it happen. Don’t quit and keep going.
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