This past week the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce hosted its Leadership Luncheon “Pigskins and Profits”, featuring Washington Redskins Pierre Garçonand Kedric Golston – respected leaders on the football field and successful Loudoun business owners off of the field.

The Luncheon was packed full of people interested in learning about key lessons in entrepreneurship that transcended the football field and transferred to the business playing field. Here are key highlights from the event.

1. Laser Like Focus on Intentions

Kedric Golston spoke of how entrepreneurs must be laser focused on their goals and the core mission of their business. It is easy to be distracted and come off message when it comes to communicating your value as an entrepreneur and business owner. It is when entrepreneurs get distracted that their business is put at risk. Customers can get confused about what you are offering and selling if you do not have a laser like focus on your products and services.

2. Work Hard
Both players discussed how they work hard at running their business and are engaged. As Kedric put it, on the field he will work harder than anyone else and if you beat him one day, then at least he know he gave it his everything. It is critical to know that you put your heart into something and know there was nothing you could or would have done differently. But at least you know that you worked harder than the competition, and if they still beat you, than it was out of your control. “Everyone has to start somewhere, be willing to do what it takes and work. Don’t think you are too good for anything”, said Kedric.

3. Be Brutally Honest
This point was really about how entrepreneurs sometimes are not honest with themselves when it comes to the success or failure of their business. It is very important to be honest with yourself as an entrepreneur and if the business is not functioning, be open to that feedback. Be open to saying maybe this choice was not for you.

4. Ask for Help
Both Pierre and Kedric talked about having mentors and asking for help. Kedric spoke of his wife Christal as his mentor and that her success and how she has grown to be a broker with 50 agents in real estate has provided insight and helped him succeed as an entrepreneur. Pierre said to “talk to people from different walks of life, stay grounded.”

5. Be Willing to Course Correct
Evolution is critical to surviving as an entrepreneur. If the market changes, then you need to be able to evolve and adapt. It could also be that customers are looking for something different, be willing to course correct as you need to and keep your business relevant. Kedric pointed out that people sometimes let their emotions lie to themselves. As part of being brutally honest, know when you need to take corrective action and don’t convince yourself with the lies your emotions tell you.

6. Being a Star vs. Great Customer Experience
Although being a football star might have gotten people to come to their businesses, it won’t keep customers coming back. Both players discussed how critical it is to deliver a great customer experience and to make it part of the mission and culture of their companies.

Giving Back
A critical part of the discussion was also around how to be present in your community. Both players take an active role in non-profits and engaging with the Loudoun community. Kedric spoke at great length that he constantly assesses where he spends his time and making a difference because he knows that not only will he learn, but it will help the community too. Kedric particpates in several non-profits, one of which is Every Child Fed, focused on solving hunger and malnutrition in Africa.

Planning for the Future

Both Pierre and Kedric were practical in their insights and proactively planning what is next for them after football. With the average football career lasting only 3.5 years, both players realize that this is really their “first” job and that they have to plan for the rest of their lives to take care of themselves and their family. Kedric budgets his income based on his yoga studio to make sure that he lives within his means.

Both gentleman were outstanding to listen to and their pragmatic advice would be helpful for anyone, especially entrepreneurs. Larry Millers did a fantastic job leading the discussion as we learned more about Pierre Garçon and Ashburn’s SpinFire Pizza, which offers made-to-order individual pizzas and salads in the heart of Loudoun County; and Kedric Golston co-owner of “The Studio – Mind.Body.Soul” in Ashburn, which provides Reformer Pilates and Studio Barre training for customers in Loudoun County and beyond. 

Be your best self,