In the Huddle with Fran Tarkenton

This is the first edition of “In the Huddle with Fran Tarkenton,” a new weekly feature in our AMAC member newsletter. Fran is on the advisory board for AMAC and is an AMAC National Spokesperson. Each week, Fran will share stories, ideas, and news from his perspective as an advocate for small business entrepreneurs. Leading off, Fran talks about his background and how he got started in business.

I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. From when I was five years old, I was contributing to the family income and learning about hard work and helping others—building the foundation of my love of entrepreneurship. That passion for business and entrepreneurship didn’t end when I entered the NFL in 1961. As a rookie, my salary was $12,500—so come the offseason, I went right back to work! In my first years in the NFL, I worked for companies of different sizes, in different industries, and in different positions, learning about all the different aspects of running a business. That experience and knowledge made it possible for me to move into starting and running businesses even when I was still in the NFL, and beyond. Those experiences shaped the course of my life, and I’ve been on the entrepreneurial path ever since—providing value to other people and looking for new, creative ways to solve problems in people’s lives.

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Roger Armstrong
8 years ago

Fran – I enjoyed your article about the off-season jobs you needed to hold when you were beginning your pro football career because, in those days, you couldn’t live solely off what you made on the gridiron. I had a program from the 49er’s when they were playing at Kezar Stadium in the ’50’s which listed the players off-seasons jobs and one of the jobs I do recall was Y.A. Tittle’s off-season position as an insurance broker. His insurance business was quite successful and, as far as I know, is still going strong. About 15 years ago when I was working at another company I did some business with his firm. I suspect back in those days Y.A. made more money as an insurance broker during the off-season than he did as a player. I believe Matt Hazeltine was also in the insurance business during the off season.

James Higgins
8 years ago

Way to go AMAC! You’ve got yourself a winner with Fran Tarkenton.
Tell us more about “Go Small Biz”- what is that about?

8 years ago
Reply to  James Higgins

Hi James,

The web site looks like they cover a lot of the bases needed to help make a small business successful. Definitely a good idea and needed these days. You should check it out yourself to see all the offerings.

Diana Erbio
8 years ago

Great advice from both Fran Tarkenton & Paul E! Future generations need to hear about never giving up!

8 years ago

A lot of young people, not to mention some of their parents, could learn something from Mr. Tarkenton’s impressive story. Some of the takeaways are:

1) Don’t be afraid or ashamed to try new things to make a living. At the end of the day, the bottom line is we all have to earn money to live, eat and keep a roof over our heads. That’s our responsibility, not the government’s. Too many young people think that just because they have a degree in X and they can’t find a job in that particular field, that means they should hold out indefinitely for “just the right job”. A number of their parents share the same perspective. The problem is life sometimes doesn’t work the way you want it to and you have to adjust to changing circumstances. Sometimes settling for “something less” turns out to lead to much better opportunities down the road. Somewhere along the way the concept of re-evaluating the realities of the job market or a particular career field and making adjustments has gotten lost on the young. Either that or it was never taught as an option in the first place.

2) Everyone needs to have a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit to make it in the world today. The days of working at one company for 30 or 40 years, having them manage your career within the company the entire time and then retiring are long gone. It’s been that way for decades now. So people need to be a lot more proactive when it comes to driving their own careers. Mr. Tarkenton took control of his life and used each new position as a learning experience to build upon, which made him more valuable for his next position.

3) Never stop learning and not merely in the formal sense either. All forms of learning end up making us better over time. The world is constantly changing and we all have to adapt to those changes to both survive and hopefully prosper over time. Staying informed, learning new things, all add up to making us better able to take advantage of the opportunities life presents us with over time.

4) For young people, the days of simply having a college degree in virtually any subject guaranteeing a well-paying job are fading away. The reason is as college degrees become as common as what high school diplomas used to be, the perceived value-add is being diminished by the increased supply of people with college degrees. Only college degrees in certain skill sets still command a premium and pretty much guarantee a job upon graduation. So a lot of young people need to pay attention to points 1,2 and 3 themselves.

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