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Welcome to a new episode of Office Hours: a podcast with Front Office Sports CEO Adam White and figures from the sports industry. This season is focused on athletes, both current and retired, who have found success in business endeavors off the field.
On today’s episode, we’re joined by Justin Forsett, former NFL running back turned CEO & Co-Founder of Hustle Clean.
Forsett entered into the league in 2008 after being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. Despite being “fired six times” Forsett played nine seasons in the NFL, racking up 3,890 rushing yards, 1,351 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns.
Today, Forsett heads up Hustle Clean, a performance hygiene company he founded earlier this year after the success of his ShowerPill personal cleaning product, which is now in over 1,000 stores.
Forsett sat down to discuss everything from why starting a business is harder than making an NFL team to his experience on Shark Tank and how not getting a deal may have been the best thing to happen to him.
Edited highlights appear below:
On the successful transition off the field (2:29)
It’s been a smooth transition for me, partly because I prepared beforehand. The art of a smooth transition starts while you play and for me it started around year three. Unfortunately for my career, I was fired six times and I had to really think about the end a lot. There was a Sports Illustrated article that came out in 2011 or 2012: about 80% of retired NFL players either go bankrupt, get divorced, or are depressed. I didn’t want to be in that number. So I looked around at some really cool athletes that transitioned well, like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and started to figure out what was next for me.
On building a business versus making the NFL (4:57)
Running a business has been a lot. I would say it’s a little more difficult than making it to the NFL. I was naturally blessed with being able to have the ability to make people miss and run a football. It came really natural to me.
On the business side, I’ve had to work extremely hard to put myself in a position where I’m at right now. There are just so many things that can go wrong in a day. As an entrepreneur, it’s being a part-time firefighter and being able to put out fires left and right.
On life lessons on the field (6:14)
I faced a lot of rejection as an NFL athlete. I was always the underdog and undervalued, unappreciated, and that ability to persevere, to be able to get knocked down seven times and stand up eight served me well.
It really prepared me for this life as an entrepreneur where you’re constantly being rejected and constantly being told what you won’t be able to do or won’t be able to accomplish. It’s allowed me to have extreme focus and be laser-focused on the goal and my customer and has allowed us to really achieve some really cool milestones as a young startup.
On advice from coaches (9:58)
Pete Carroll used to tell us all the time, the three worst words you can ever say is, ‘I got it.’ You never have it. You’re constantly learning. You never can get complacent. You always have to be coachable and learn. That has served me well as an entrepreneur.
On the legacy he wants to leave (24:36)
I hope people will see me as an overcomer. I think a lot of people throughout my life have undervalued me, placed me in boxes and put these limitations on what I could do as a businessman and as an athlete. I hope people say I overcame it all. I want people to say that I made an impact and I made a difference in the lives of the people around me in a real way.
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