As a kid, the first day of school used to bring anxiety and resentment, but now as I am older (and wiser) I welcome the opportunity to get back into the classroom. I have noticed how an appreciation for learning grows stronger when you see in hindsight the value of that knowledge.
Today marks the first day of the 2012 NFL Business Management & Entrepreneurship program at the Kellogg School (Northwestern) in Chicago. This program takes a twp-year MBA program and consolidates it into five days for NFL players as a form of an executive education that many of the top business schools provide. This is a great example of how the NFL helps the personal development of its players beyond the gridiron.
This program consists of approximately 30 current and retired NFL players, and two of my classmates are fellow Falcons teammates, Lawrence Sidbury (I'll make sure to keep him awake in class) and Garrett Reynolds.
The Falcons organization is passionate about its players' overall well-being, and it starts at the top with owner Arthur Blank. When I first got to Atlanta, Kevin Winston, who is the Falcons senior director of player engagement, said to me that the Falcons take pride in attracting athletes who challenge themselves in the offseason recognizing that that the Falcons are a better team with stronger all-around players.
For me, I have found that success, whether on or off the field, requires essentially the same approach — start with defining and then focusing on the right objectives, devote your attention to details in order to master the task at hand, and have a willingness to ask the key questions to thoroughly understand the game plan.
I approached my course assignments for this week in the same way I do my weekly game plan for each opponent. But instead of landing in Chicago on Saturday and heading to Soldier Field to play the Bears, this has become a different type of "business trip." Although I have worked hard training my body during the offseason, this week I get to shift the focus somewhat, and sitting alongside other NFL players with the same interests that I have, I get to learn from some of the top minds in business.
I finished all my pre-course reading and it is now time to head to class. First topic: angel investing.
Keep checking back with me for the next five days and I'll give you insight on what we are learning, maybe a few pictures and even a funny story or two. Feel free to shoot me any questions and/or comments by following me on Twitter @WillSvitek.
I feel fortunate to have another chance to tackle the important ideas that are shaping businesses today — a passion of mine that I didn't leave behind at Stanford, but something that I have been able to cultivate throughout my career in the NFL — including through two previous executive education programs at Harvard and Wharton Business Schools. But the business world moves fast (almost as fast as a defensive lineman) and I expect this to be a whole new experience this year, and I am ready to match up with some of the great minds in business!
Time to Rise Up, Falcons Fans!!!!