Tennis superstar and entrepreneur Venus Williams joins with business leaders, artists, doctors and "other visionaries" to dish out advice on how athletics can help make you the best at what you do.
Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
The arc of an athlete's life is funny. Just when other young professionals are peaking, hitting their stride, and consolidating their skills, we're starting, if we're smart, to think of our future, one that doesn't depend on our athleticism and our injury prone bodies to pay the rent. Let's be clear: I'm not retiring anytime soon. At thirty, I still have game and can think of nothing more gratifying than traveling the world to play tennis. But I am putting into practice something my mother, Oracene, and father, Richard, who once owned a security-guard company, told me and my sisters, Lyndrea, Yetunde, Isha, and Serena: Think entrepreneurially. When we were growing up in Compton, California, the whole family would have these sit-down meetings led by my dad, who is a philosopher type. He'd ask questions such as, "Why is it that the poor person stays in the ghetto and the rich person gets richer?" or "Why is it that when you do something for someone it doesn't work as well as when you help them help themselves?" We wouldn't always have an answer, but that was, in a way, beside the point. He was training us early on to be independent thinkers. Of course, he was also training us to be financially independent. I remember him talking to us about the mechanics of buying properties out of foreclosure. While I was too young to absorb the details, the basic ideas seeped through. And if he was teaching us about real estate when we were young, you can only imagine how much my parents stressed the importance of education.
I coveted getting a degree as much as I did having my own business. After enrolling in an interior design program through the London-based Rhodec International correspondence school, I launched V Starr Interiors, a commercial and residential interior design company, in April 2002. I received my associate's degree in Fashion Design in 2007, the same year I debuted my clothing line, EleVen. And last year Serena and I bought a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins NFL team, a wonderful way to become even more entrenched in the business world. Let's say my parents' advice made a lasting impression.
A multitasker, I wanted to play tennis and study, and I also wanted to launch my first businesses while I was still playing rather than wait until after my career was over. There are a few benefits to starting a business early. The obvious one is I get to use my name to help market my endeavors; but, just as important, I gain experience and credibility now so that when I do retire, I'll already have industry knowledge as well as a client base. As Earvin "Magic" Johnson points out in the pages that follow, it's harder than it looks for athletes to start businesses because many people will take meetings with us just to get a ball or jersey signed with no intention of taking our proposals seriously. Like Roger Staubach, whose story also follows, I want to log in the hours that lead to credibility in the businesses while I continue to play professionally rather than get in after the fact, when it will be more difficult to be taken seriously.