JF1102: When You Feel Like You’ve Lost it All, or Have Lost it all, You’re Not Alone – with Former NFL Running Back Terrell Fletcher
When he was done playing football, Terrell had to figure out who he was. It took him about 5 years to learn what he was all about. When Terrell lost everything around the 2008 market crash, somehow he found himself and his purpose. It is impossible to not be inspired after hearing him speak! If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Terrell Fletcher Background:
– Former American football running back in the National Football League for the San Diego Chargers.
– With the Chargers he rushed for 1,871 yards and gained 1,943 yards receiving
– He currently serves as the Chaplain for the Charger organization.
– As of March 2012, he is the Senior Pastor of the City of Hope International Church in San Diego, California.
– He shares a message of transformation and action, motivating audiences of all ages to live to their full potential and realize their dreams.
– Just released newest book, The Book of You, where he shares his transformation from nearly losing everything to discovering his purpose. https://www.amazon.com/Book-You-Discover-Transform-Future/dp/1531835112
– Based in San Diego, California
– Say hi to him at http://terrellfletcher.com/
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluff. We’ve spoken to a whole lot of people – Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank, Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad), Emmitt Smith (former pro football hall of famer), and we’re gonna keep with the football theme/entrepreneurial theme with Terrell Fletcher. How are you doing, Terrell?
Terrell Fletcher: I’m amazing, how are you today?
Joe Fairless: I’m amazing, I love your energy, it’s so much fun. I am very grateful to be speaking to you, and more importantly, I am glad that the Best Ever listeners are gonna share in our conversation.
A little bit about Terrell, in case you have been living under a rock and you don’t follow football… He is a former NFL running back for the San Diego Chargers, and now he has transitioned since — let’s see, in March of 2002 I believe you’ve been the Senior Pastor at the City of Hope International Church in San Diego, California. Is that right?
Terrell Fletcher: 2006, but yes, [unintelligible [00:08:38].17]
Joe Fairless: 2006, okay. And when did you stop playing for the Chargers?
Terrell Fletcher: ’03 was my last year. We had this great talent named LaDainian Tomlinson that came in around 2001-2002ish, and he put that whole running back room out of business.
Joe Fairless: I wanna talk about from ’03 to ’06 what you were doing and how you transitioned, but a little bit more about you, real quick, for the Best Ever listeners. Terrell just released his newest book, The Book Of You, where he talks about his transformation from nearly losing everything (and we’ll talk about that) to discovering his purpose. It is available on Amazon now, you can go to it… Actually, we’re gonna include a link in the show notes pages so you can simply just click that link and go straight to Amazon and get it.
Let’s talk about the 2003 to 2006 period when you had left NFL but you had not started as a Senior Pastor… What were you doing?
Terrell Fletcher: Well, a lot of soul searching, to be honest with you. What I did when I was playing – I tried my best to prepare myself for the day that I wouldn’t play. My last two years — like I said, LaDainian was so amazing, and he was really starting to turn into the guy that would eventually be the hall of famer… And I had time to explore other parts of myself that football takes away from you.
We spent so much time with football that you really don’t get a chance to find yourself. All you do is find the football player in you, but you don’t get to find yourself. I had a little extra time to do that. One of my loves was real estate, one of my loves was public speaking, and my other love was inspiring and motivating people. During that three and a half year period or so, I tried to hone those skills down.
My brother and I, while I was still playing, my business partner and I formed a small company, we started to acquire real estate back in St. Louis where I’m born and raised. We rehabbed strip centers and houses, and we kind of jumped knee-deep into real estate, and that’s what I did during those years. I was trying my best to be a mogul and to be a TV personality with football, while at the same time exploring who Terrell Fletcher was.
The funny thing about football is that football is an identity to itself; to become a football player is an identity to itself. So I really wasn’t looking for a new job, I was really looking for a new identity. “Who in the world is Terrell?” and I just put my hand in a lot of things that I could do, and those were the things that I spent my time doing, hoping one or two of them would shake out.
Joe Fairless: As you were testing different things, identifying what that new identity was, since football had been your identity for so long, what did you start gravitating towards and what lessons did you learn along the way?
Terrell Fletcher: Interesting thing, I started gravitating towards people. Football is a funny, funny world, because that world centers around the team and you, and when you separate from the team, you have your secondary team, which are your handlers – your agent, financial advisors, your friends, your [unintelligible [00:12:20].03] and somewhere in that space, you’re the center of it. So without even realizing, even though you might give back a whole lot, you might not realize it, but when you become the center of your world, you become selfish.
I needed that time to rediscover the kid that handed out sandwiches to the poor, the kid that didn’t mind helping an old lady cut her front lawn back in Missouri. I needed to reattach with that, and that’s what I found again in those two and a half years. I realized that I could do a lot of things, but I wasn’t purposed for everything I could do. Being able to perform it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you should be doing.
I performed pretty good as a sports announcer, but my heart wasn’t connected to it. I performed pretty good as a sports coach, but my heart wasn’t there. It wasn’t where my purpose was. And I found myself just connecting with people… Inspiring, challenging, pushing – almost being a coach in a different way, except a coach toward being your best self, having a great life, chasing the dreams that’s inside of you, and not settling for what everybody else thinks you should be operating in.
I learned this the hard way – people will root for you at the level of their expectation for you. And if their expectation for you is lower than your capacity, then you will feel a void and feel insignificant, even though they’re applauding you. People will applaud you at average, man, so you can’t go off of what everybody else thinks; you have to find that thing in your heart and chase it, because that’s where you find real satisfaction… And that’s what I did. That’s what I had to do for about three and a half, four years, five years – chasing and digging and doing self-introspection and finding out “Who am I? What do I have to offer this world and what core tenets of life am I gonna operate in?”
As that started to shape itself out, I came up with this idea that I’m here to motivate, educate, inspire and entertain every person that I come across. I wanted to make sure that no matter what business venture I got into, I was able to motivate, educate, entertain and inspire every person that I ran across, whether it was a Ministry, or rehabilitating a community or what have you, I felt that this was a part of my job, to be able to do that.
So that’s what I had to do, and that’s what I did. It was a journey, it’s still a journey, but that’s what I had to do.
Joe Fairless: You mentioned you gravitated towards those people, and now your personal mission statement sounds like is to motivate, educate, inspire and entertain people you come across… What would someone who played with you on the Chargers say, if they were asked, “Did you see this coming?”
Terrell Fletcher: Funny thing – everybody saw it coming, except for me. Everybody but me. I talked to guys, Rodney Harrison (who would be great for your show, by the way) Fred McCrary – all of these guys, to this day, they’re like “Fletch, we saw this coming a mile away. You were the guy that kind of kept us centered, you were the guy that brought all the laughter and the energy.” Everybody saw it but me. I was following a path that I thought was what I was supposed to follow. It was the predictable path. Underdog athlete, reaches his dreams, and now he goes into the studio and he becomes this announcer, or he goes into the coaching room and he becomes a coach.
Somewhere along the journey I just wanted to not be normal. There’s nothing about normal that excites me. So somewhere along the journey I realized that my core competencies lend to more than to just what people are expecting of me. And I probably could have done it, it probably would have been the easy path, I probably would have some level of success, but one of the things I learned along the journey was that I didn’t just want success, I wanted significance. I wanted meaning, I wanted what I did to count towards somebody’s life, so it had to be more than a money grab for me, and it had to be more than a fame grab, getting my face on TV. I needed to find the underlying purpose for all of those things – “Why did I wanna build wealth? Why did I want to be a household name? Why did I want these things?” and now I have a better sense of my Why. I wanna motivate, educate, entertain and inspire every person that I meet, and as creative as I possibly can be: through real estate, through entertainment, through faith, inspiration… These are opportunities for me to do my mission and to have a sense of significance while I’m giving back to the world, and not just be a big success.
So yeah, the guys in the locker room would have said that they saw this a mile away. They still tell me, like “Nothing about you surprised us.” It surprised me, though. Everybody knew me but me.
Joe Fairless: You mentioned you describe yourself as an underdog athlete reaching his dreams… In what ways would you consider yourself an underdog?
Terrell Fletcher: Now, here’s the irony behind that – I never viewed myself as an underdog. I had no idea — I’m 5’8,5″, 5’9″ on a long hair day… [laughter] I had to eat seven times a day to stay 195 pounds. They used to fine me for being underweight.
Joe Fairless: What was underweight?
Terrell Fletcher: For me, if I got below 195, they would fine me. They wanted me at 201, 202, and there was no way in the world I could hold that.
Joe Fairless: How much would they fine you?
Terrell Fletcher: $368/day, per pound.
Joe Fairless: $368/pound?
Terrell Fletcher: At the time, that was the maximum fine that the Collective Bargaining Agreement allowed them to fine us. So some guys would be overweight and get fined that, and some guys like myself, if you were considered five or so pounds under your weight, you were considered too light. So I would frequently run in there at 190, 191… I just — listen, I was 135 pounds as a freshman in high school. I went to college, I was 170 pounds soaking wet as a freshman in college, so to be… I just, I didn’t have the body for it, and if you looked at my football pictures, you saw this little guy out there with all these big guys; it was just like “Where is he gonna fit in this game of gladiators, and bodies being thrown around?” And I’ll tell you something about the NFL – they’re not just tackling each other, they’re tackling each other with bad intentions. [laughter]
But I never really viewed myself as the underdog, but everywhere you turned around it was “What are you gonna be size-wise? How are you gonna deal with the injuries? How are you gonna keep up?” And the reality was that even though I was fast, there were guys that were more physically gifted that were just as fast as I was, that could jump higher, that could do circus things that my physical ability just didn’t allow me to do. And then playing running back was somewhat of a — that was a difficult thing as well, because when I played, all the running backs were 215 pounds or higher.
[unintelligible [00:20:39].01] who was our star at running back at the time, Nate was 244, 245, and was just as quick as me. [laughter] It was crazy – I’m looking at this guy and I’m like “How in the world are you as quick as me? Not as fast, but as quick as I am.” But the good thing for me is that they had a situation where a guy named Ronnie Harmon really revolutionized the running back position. He was a running back that could also essentially do everything a wide receiver could do. If you catch and run routes, and go in the back field and do the traditional running back work, there was a spot for you. And I was versatile enough to be able to do both of those.
Early in my career, I caught more passes than I actually was [unintelligible [00:21:28].15] because of the mismatches that I was able to create. And here’s the interesting thing – all of those things were considered, you know, “He’s too small, he’s not as physically gifted as everyone else… Where are we going to place them?” – those are looked at as all the reasons why you shouldn’t have a job in the NFL.
I had creative coaches and I felt like there was a pathway that had been paved before me, that if I can get in here and show them that I’m necessary, that I could create mismatches, that I can catch and I can beat a bigger guy who would normally cover me, or that I would make them put in a smaller guy and I could move back into the back field and we’d have a big guy and a little guy – if I could create mismatches, I could find a niche in the game for myself. And for a four-year period of my eight years, I was the highest-paid third down back in the National Football League, because we did that and we used it effectively, and I honed a skill for myself… Which interestingly enough is what I feel like I had to do in business, as well. I had to do it in people’s faith, I had to do it in Ministry and in my personal coaching business.
Finding those spaces where I fit in the market has really been the hallmark of what I’ve been able to do.
Joe Fairless: I love how you segued into what you’re doing now, and applying what you learned to what you’re doing now, so can you give us an example of how you’ve created a niche for yourself in any one of those areas that you mentioned?
Terrell Fletcher: Absolutely. I think one of the things that I do as a public speaker, that I bring to the table is this sense of being unassumable — I’m talking a lot about football right now, but I really don’t talk that much about football when I go to corporate events or when I speak face-to-face. I like to say that “I’m not a serious guy, I’m not just a fun guy, and I’m not just a guy that’s full of degrees and information, I’m all of it!”, and the interesting dynamic is that there really aren’t a lot of guys that do what I do in that sense – we engage you with information, but engage you with humor and engage you with personality. Usually, when that happens in our industry – you know this – it’s a head-to-head conversation, and I try my best not to have head-to-head conversations with an audience. I think my niche is having a heart-to-heart conversation, and a heart-to-head conversation.
Before you’re over-consumed and over-powered by information, I wanna touch your heart. I don’t want to just give you tips and tools to be successful, I wanna give you a purpose for wanting to be successful, and the only way we do that is not to just touch people’s heads, but to touch people’s hearts. That’s a really interesting space in our industry of speaking and in our industry of motivating.
Joe Fairless: How do you do that? How do you touch people’s heart?
Terrell Fletcher: You know, here’s the irony, man… It’s my gift? It’s really not my gift. You are one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our generation, and I thank God for you as an example, I follow you… I’m gonna really be on your tail now that we made a connection, really following you in that sense now that we’ve made a connection, but here’s the reality behind what you do – you don’t just have an amazing financial portfolio, you house people. You have found ways to help people who have families, and who need families, and you have placed them in a place that they can call home, a place that’s comfortable for them to build morals and to build foundation and fabric for their family lines.
Sometimes we miss that when we’re buying a multi-unit complex, or when we’re going downtown and putting up the latest condominium… We forget that “Hey, we’re impacting lives.” You’re changing people’s dynamic. And when you grew up the way that I grew up, in communities where everyone did not have a steady place to live, that your neighbor this week might not be your neighbor next month, or that guys that you went to school with one year may have had to move out of the community to go to another school the following year – when you get to that transient type of lifestyle, then you start to see that show up in the fabric of community.
What you guys provide is you provide opportunities for stability, opportunities for communities to be stronger, and very rarely does a highly successful entrepreneur see themselves as being a part of the continuum of humanity… But brother, that’s what you do, man, and that’s why you’ve gotta keep doing it at the level that you’re doing it. You are adding to the fabric of humanity, and that’s what everyone does if you’re listening to the Best Ever; all of your podcast followers – that’s what you do.
When you do your next business deal or when you go after your next project, keep that in mind. Connect to heart with the project, and you’ll operate not just in business, but in purpose.
Joe Fairless: That’s beautiful. And just taking a step out of our conversation, kind of putting on my analytical hat, what you just did is you put yourself in my shoes and you acknowledged the good that I’m doing, which clearly — well, sometimes I don’t even realize it… And that immediately connects us. So now from an analytical standpoint, a way to connect with people’s heart, as you just did, is to take that same approach, and that is put yourself into the other person’s shoes, acknowledge the good that they’re already doing, because a lot of times (I suspect) they don’t recognize that themselves, and it brings to light the positive things they are responsible for in their life.
Terrell Fletcher: You’re absolutely right. Remember how a few minutes ago you just asked me “What would your teammates say?” and I told you that they saw what I didn’t see… It’s the same way. A lot of times we’re doing things that we’re successful at, but we don’t really see how far the ripples in the pond go. It’s guys like me that come and just remind guys and gals that “Hey, you matter, and how you conduct business matters, and how you deal with your customers and treat your customers – all of these things matter”, because we’re not really in the marketing business, real estate business, faith business… We’re really in the human being business, and there has to be more of us, who have some level of influence and power in the community, to remember that there is a human being that’s on the other side of our purchase, and we want to treat them with dignity and with respect, and not just have guys and gals as being numbers, but have them being human beings. That’s important, and that’s critical for us.
Joe Fairless: Let’s talk a little bit about your book that just came out… The Book Of You: Discover God’s Plan And Transform Your Future. I introduced it by saying it talks about your transformation from nearly losing everything to discovering your purpose. “Nearly losing everything” – tell us the story about that.
Terrell Fletcher: Well, the book itself is about transitions, and I use my story to help any story who’s going through transitions. For me it was the period between leaving football and finding a sense of purpose and meaning on the other side of football. But what I’ve learned is that life is about seasons, and who you are in this season is not necessarily who you were in the last season, and what validated you in the last season may not be the thing that validates you in this season.
What happens is I learned that there were individuals that it looked different, but it was the same process, of going through a period of transition where they were searching for identity, and by that I’m talking about the stay-at-home mom who’s children just went back to school, or the empty nester, or the new divorcee, or the person who just got downsized from his job and has to figure out what they’re gonna do next. Transitions are a part of life, and part of the challenge of my book was not just to create change in your life, but to create transformation. And change is a much more cosmetic thing, and transformation is much more of an internal thing; it’s about transforming who I am, so that I can meet the demands of what my life should look like now.
So for me, I went through this interesting period for a handful of years where I was trying to figure out who I was, trying to figure out how I could contribute to the world in a meaningful way, and real estate became one of those ways for me. Ministry was one, but real estate was another one.
My business partner and I – we got interested in real estate right around the time that real estate flies out the [unintelligible [00:31:07].24] in the United States. We were really novices, holding on to a skyrocket, right? We were trying to hold on to this thing… And we were novices, so we just acquired properties, acquired properties, acquired properties, because we did not necessarily have all of the information of how trends worked, how markets worked etc. We just had pockets full of money, and opportunity… And we took advantage of it.
Well, when the market tanked, like many investors, we didn’t know what to do. We were such novices and it happened in such a fast three-and-a-half-year span that we didn’t know the conversations we should have had with banks, we didn’t know the conversations we should have had with other investors… We just didn’t know. So we basically went on a firesale and tried to dump as much stuff as we could dump, and you go one day from your portfolio being one way, and your business portfolio showing up within two-and-a-half-years looking totally different, and potentially owing banks money; instead of making money, now you’re owing more than you ever dreamt or imagined. Well, that was our situation.
It was scary, we really weren’t sure how to solve all of these problems… One way is to just dig into your bank account and pay everybody off; another way is to go and talk to an attorney, and then you’ve gotta trade off who you wanna give your money to – the attorney or the bank…? [laughs] And you know how the market was… We chose not to panic. Our futures were secured through other ways that we made money, but we chose not to panic, and we waited it out as long as we could. We made some very foolish mistakes at the beginning of the downturn; I got rid of a bunch of things, or we gave things back to the bank, or we sold out some things… In the panic, we made a lot of poor business decisions that if we had a bit more experience, we would have held tight or we would have talked to the banks in a different way, if we would have known the banks were in the situation they were in. We don’t kick ourselves too hard for it…
Joe Fairless: Yeah, you didn’t know at the time…
Terrell Fletcher: Not many people knew that, but that was the story, man… And we looked ourselves in the face, and here we have families, here we have people that were counting on us because we did start to find a sense of purpose… We had families in these homes that were trying to rebuild their lives… So it was tough on many levels for guys like me. It wasn’t just a business transaction, “Hey guys, you’re gonna have to move, because we’re gonna give this house back to the bank”, it was “How do we put a plan together where we can help families relocate?” In some instances we even helped with first month’s rent, because they just didn’t have it. Things were happening so fast that we just didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately for us, we built a great team around us, that helped navigate us through the back-end of it. There were some things that were not redeemable, there were other parts that were redeemable that we still hold today, that made it through and they’ve become pretty good investment opportunities for us.
Tough time, brother, but those things happen. I’m not much of a gambler, I never have been, so I never leveraged my whole life on any one thing, but from a business perspective we went all in in the real estate market during that time, and we didn’t know… We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Fortunately, we landed on the ground of some people that were experienced, some people that cared about us, and that helped us navigate through some very difficult times.
Now the foundation of our real estate business is not only strong, it is primed and ready to go to a whole other level… And I’m excited about that.
Joe Fairless: As far as the foundation goes, being ready to go to another level, what are you doing differently than you were doing before?
Terrell Fletcher: That’s a good question. A couple of things that I’ve done over the years – I’ve educated myself. Whatever market I’m operating in, whether it’s real estate, or faith, or public speaking, I’ve educated myself so that I could protect myself. As it relates to real estate, we’ve been saving money. As the market has been going up, we chose as a business strategy not to purchase right now, because we’re trying to hold on and follow trends.
We wanna be ready when the market takes a downward spiral – hopefully not as drastic as 15 years ago, but it will still take a dip, and we will be prepared to have some sound investment opportunities when that time comes.
That’s one of the first and most important things – learning how to be patient and allow the ebbs and flows of the market to work for us, instead of feeling that I can be this maverick and I’m going to be the one to go against the trend and it’s gonna work for me.
In this particular season, we’re being smart, we’re being patient. We’re taking our time. We have an end sight in view, and not so short-sighted.
The second thing is I’m starting with a good team; I’m not just starting with a good idea. The idea and the team go hand-in-hand. I’ve got a great headhunter out there doing some great research for me, I’ve got a good analytics team that’s helping out a lot… Just some good people in my ear that don’t need me to be successful; they’re already successful. So they’re not jumping on our back, trying to ride their own selves up to success. We’re partners now. That was different; I didn’t always have partners in the early parts of my business. I had guys that needed to build their name off of whatever I became. Now we’re partners, and that’s so much easier, because it feels like we’re all pulling an equal share of the weight.
So those are a handful of real practical things that I’m doing. You’re as good as your team, and you have to understand why your team members are on the team. In that way, everyone can be pulling their weight in the same direction, and you can get your business going the way you want it to go.
Joe Fairless: I was talking to Tony Delk… NBA guy – he played for a bunch of teams in the NBA – and he mentioned something that reminds me of what you’re talking about in terms of you’re partnering with people who aren’t needing you to be successful for them to be successful, because they’re already successful.
He talked about how he looks at his group, his close circle – as either an asset or a liability, and it’s such a black and white way to look at it, but it really resonated with me… Because it’s like “Are they empowering you along the way and you’re empowering them, or are they someone who you’re constantly having to give, give, give, and it’s just draining you, whether it’s mentally, emotionally, financially etc?”
Terrell Fletcher: One of the best books I’ve read during that period of time was a book called Necessary Endings. I found that loyalty is very important, but if you’re not careful, you can be loyal to the detriment of your own destiny and your own future. Sometimes it’s important — for the time you’re in relationship, you must be very, very loyal to the commitments that you make. But there are times in every person’s business career, personal life etc. that the relationship doesn’t serve where you’re headed and where you’re going, and it’s important to have those tough conversations, to sit down and to know that some endings are necessary. Some endings are important to have, and you won’t go into your next level if you continue to hold on to certain things that served you in your last level.
I always think about life in seasons, and one of the things that prohibit people from moving into their next season of success is their desire to hold on to the things of their last season of success. Sometimes you have to know that business relationships are a handshake and a “Thank you. It was a win/win for the season we were together, and now I have to keep moving on.” Sometimes friendships are that way, because you’re not the same person in every season of your life, so it’s important to re-establish your boundaries.
It’s a funny thing – while we’re talking… I just changed my cell phone number about three months ago, and all I was doing was just re-establishing my boundaries. It’s just gaining control of my life again, gaining control of who had access and who didn’t have access. Exactly what Tony was talking about – knowing that in every season of your life there are going to be people that will put in, and people that will take out, and you cannot have too many people withdrawing from you without putting in deposits, or else you will go into a space where you’re insufficient. And you don’t wanna have insufficient energy, insufficient funds, insufficient joy, insufficient happiness, because people in your life are taking-taking-taking, and never giving back. Your team has to have a reciprocal effect with you.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience as an entrepreneur, achieving at the highest level in your chosen profession, previous to you doing what you’re doing now, what is your best advice ever for real estate investors and entrepreneurs?
Terrell Fletcher: I think the best advice that I can give for anyone is to stay the course. Often times, as visionaries, we tell people to have the end in mind, and we don’t spend a lot of time talking about what’s gonna show up between now and the end. Barriers, enemies to your success, whether they’re external or internal – they show up along the journey, but don’t give up on the journey. Fight them, do battle with them, get victory over them… Because if you are on the right path, those barriers are not even designed to win, they’re just designed to make you stronger.
So if you know you’re on the right path, and you have a goal in mind, every barrier that shows up is meant to make you stronger, is meant to make you more wise, is meant to make you a more compassionate person, is meant to make you a warrior in your own right.
In that regard, the thing that should be your bad is actually gonna be for your good. So stick in there, go finish the deal, and change the world with your gift. I think that’s the most important thing. I wish someone would have told me that the troubles of my life were actually going to be the things that help make me the man that I am today, and I would not have run from so many things, I would have embraced the journey, understood it was a part of the process, got victory over it and kept on moving.
Joe Fairless: One of the things that Tony Robbins says is “Life happens FOR you, not TO you.”
Terrell Fletcher: That’s right.
Joe Fairless: And when you embrace that, then it really transcends your approach. I have my old banner behind me, so I can’t read it, but there’s a poster on my wall – it’s something along those lines: “Without challenges there’s no growth” or “Growth doesn’t happen when everything’s good, it happens during the challenges.” That’s when you really grow, and you have to embrace that stuff.
Terrell Fletcher: You’re saying something that’s so apropos to nature. The funny thing about seeds is that in order for seeds to grow they have to be placed under the ground, and then the seed itself has to break before something grows. And we wanna grow without breaking. That’s the challenge. You will grow big, you will grow to be enormous if you’re willing to go through the breaking process that life brings. That process is not always victories, and I know that you can attest to this; every deal that you signed up for didn’t work out the way you wanted it to, you didn’t get every deal, you didn’t get every level of compensation that you wanted. Sometimes that happens. Life is full of disappointments, it’s full of heartbreaks, it’s full of frustrations, but it’s the disappointments, heartaches and frustrations that make the joy, the happiness and the pure excitement about life that much sweeter.
If you can embrace the breaking, then you can grow. If you can embrace the breaking, then there’s no limit to how far you can grow, but you don’t get to take one without the other.
Joe Fairless: Powerful stuff. I have taken a lot of notes. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Terrell Fletcher: Let’s do it!
Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Joe Fairless: Okay, let’s see… We’ve got a special one for you… What’s more fun – and I said “fun”, not more fulfilling…
Terrell Fletcher: Okay…
Joe Fairless: Life as an NFL football player, or life after being an NFL football player.
Terrell Fletcher: Life as a football player. [laughter] Childhood dream, you’re living it! [laughter]
Joe Fairless: What are some pros and cons, top of mind, for each of those lives?
Terrell Fletcher: Well, the football player — listen, you get to go and knock somebody upside the head and nobody’s gonna arrest you for it, right? [laughter] You roll around in the dirt all day long and people will applaud you for it. We get to do something that we would have done for free, and get paid a lot of money to do it. What can you say – it’s the dream… Children grow up saying “I wanna be a football player” before they can even catch a football or run with a football, you say “I wanna do this thing” and to accomplish it is actually one of the biggest accomplishments of life as well.
Joe Fairless: Okay. And what about a con?
Terrell Fletcher: The con of it is the investment that you have to give to it. You almost have to turn off a part of your life to be great at this part of your life. Football is all-consuming, it demands your energy, your time, it demands your physical strength, your emotional strength, and sometimes you put so much into being great at an all-consuming machine that you don’t really get to build the relationships you wanna build, or develop as the man you wanna develop as, and unfortunately many of us don’t develop until we’re older – 28, 29, out of the game, and we are essentially 30-year-old children, trying to figure out how to be a man. You somewhat lose — you have the potential, rather, to lose on the development as a human being sometimes when you spend 7, 8, 9, 10 years in a fairytale.
Joe Fairless: Pros and cons for what you’re doing now?
Terrell Fletcher: Pros – I get to speak and I get to share my heart with people, I get to watch the a-ha moments happen, I get to motivate and to know that the things that I share transform and change people’s paradigm and their dynamic. I think the cons of what I do now is it can be somewhat limiting. It doesn’t always give me the space to express the full breadth of who I could be; the faith community by itself has its own culture, can be its own culture, and doesn’t always embrace us stepping outside of that culture to impact the world… So entertainment, or even real estate or things like that are not fully embraced by the culture that I work in. So it has its limits, but it’s hopefully rewarding, and I think that both of them have an eternal value; what I do now is soul deep, and not just wallet deep… And I appreciate being able to do that, too.
Joe Fairless: We talked about some of the hard lessons learned with real estate… What’s the best ever deal you’ve done?
Terrell Fletcher: The best ever deal I’ve done — this is not gonna be big in money, but I’ll tell you why it was the best ever deal I’ve done. It was when we sold my parents’ house to put them in the house that they’re currently in. It’s the best ever deal because when I was in college, I’d got into some trouble, and my parents were within two, three years of paying off their house, and they had to borrow every dollar on that house to keep me from having to stop my collegic career, collegic life. In my head, one of the things that I said was that if I ever made it, I was gonna buy my parents a house. And that’s what happened.
When I got to the NFL, the first dollars that I spent was making the transaction with my parents’ home to put them into the home that they eventually called home. To me, that was probably the most rewarding, gratifying deal that I’ve done, even though numbers-wise I’ve done better. But right now, that still is at the — it’s not even close to the best deal and the most rewarding deal.
Joe Fairless: I was reading your bio before we started talking and I saw you were (or are still, I’m not sure) involved with Junior Achievement; I’m on the board for Junior Achievement Cincinnati, and I did some stuff with them in New York, too. So actually I’m involved with that organization, but I’m curious what’s the best ever way you like to give back?
Terrell Fletcher: Here’s the thing with JA – it’s funny you say that, because we’ve just recently started dialog and conversation again about me volunteering time with Junior Achievement. JA was phenomenal when I played. I had opportunities to hold charity events for them, interact with young people… The journey of my second career pulled me away from some of my community service, because for the most part what I do now IS community service. So I had to really focus my attentions on some of those things.
We have built some amazing partnerships with the San Diego Food Bank with our church. We have built some amazing partnerships with Walmart, with Lincoln High School, which is a major high school right here in the city. [unintelligible [00:51:08].02] is literally 300 yards away from where our parish is. I’m really excited about the ways we’ve been able to give back.
We have live classes and Bible classes on the high school campuses of four high schools in San Diego county, in two middle schools… We’re able to be the parent to the Lincoln High School football team, we feed them every [unintelligible [00:51:35].29] we do their chapel services for them… We’re also able to be partnered with the San Diego Food Bank where we give away food on a regular basis to needy men and women in the community. We also have a major Turkey Drive that we do every year; we give away over 1,000 turkeys to families of four or greater, in partnership with Walmart and in partnership with Union Bank.
We’ve been really fortunate to give back, so in those ways — we’ve literally just had a meeting yesterday on a new mentorship program that we wanna pilot, where we want to create an opportunity for mentorship with teenagers that are coming from single-parent homes that need male mentorship in their children’s lives. So this is my life now. It all makes me proud and it all makes me happy.
DeVon Franklin just came and hung out with our peers a couple of weeks ago… In fact, it was Friday. Bringing that type of motivators and inspirational men and women to our community is at the tops. I think that’s what’s unique in the types of communities that I’ve served in.
Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on? Where should they go?
Terrell Fletcher: Sure, you can go to my website, TerrellFletcher.com, or go to my faith website, which is TheCityOnline.org. And of course, I’m a social media head, man, so I’m on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – find me on those. I love to live my life out in pictures and in 141 characters more than I like to live my life out on Facebook, but I’m on all of them.
It’s a great journey, man. We laugh, we talk, we inspire both traditional motivation, but also spiritual motivation, and I think you’ll enjoy the ride either way. To all your Best Ever guys, I wanna connect with you, I wanna help inspire your life and challenge your life, and your life pursuits as well. You guys do the good work, and I wanna encourage people that do the good work, so follow me, catch up with me.
Joe Fairless: Well, I’m so grateful that we had a chance to talk and learn more about what you’re doing, learn your philosophy, your approach, your story, and some lessons – I was taking notes the whole time – that I learned along the way… And all of these apply to not only real estate investors, but entrepreneurs, and that is prepare yourself for when you can’t play; we’re not talking just football, right? We’re talking about retirements, we’re talking about preparing yourself for the next season of your life, to use the analogy that you think of and you use often… And that is making sure we’re aware of where we’re at, and then where we’re headed.
In that transition, with your NFL background – you said that is your identity at the time, because it has to be, it’s all-encompassing, and when you need to create a new identity, you tested some things out and you gravitated towards people. Now your approach is to motivate, educate, inspire and entertain people you come across, and it’s very clear, and that’s the world that you live in and that’s what you do.
Another thing is – I love this – people will root for you at the level of their expectation for you. That’s something that we could probably talk about for 30 more minutes, I imagine. That’s some pretty impactful stuff, if you think about it.
And from a breaking into an industry – and this could be real estate, this could be whatever venture a Best Ever listener wants – one of the takeaways where you broke into an industry at the highest level (NFL), it was through your versatility, finding a way to be valuable. That can be applied to every business venture there is. If you wanna break into something, don’t square peg a round hole type thing — or square peg… Whatever, you get it. You want to be able to identify different ways in, and be able to maximize your unique abilities in those industries and show a lot of value in different ways, not necessarily just trying to be good at really one thing, but really what’s the best approach to take, and be versatile.
Lastly, I’ll say that when want to connect to people’s heart, you not only told us how to do it, but you showed an example of it, and we’ve talked about this earlier… An example for how to do that is put yourself in the other person’s shoes first; second, acknowledge the good that they are doing (assuming that they are doing good, which most people are), and acknowledge that because most of the times that person has not acknowledged it themselves. That’s really important, and that’s something that we can all use as a practical tip to connect with others.
Thank you so much for being on the show…
Terrell Fletcher: Absolutely!
Joe Fairless: I enjoyed it! I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Terrell Fletcher: Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!