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Broncos Legend Terrell Davis is All Business Now

Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis offered a series of business tips at Denver Broncos Business Huddle


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As the keynote speaker at the second annual gathering dubbed the Denver Broncos Business Huddle, Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis sounded like a guy on a mission to make the business hall of fame.

“Visualize your success,” Davis told the attendees at the Nov. 1 event inside Mile High Stadium’s executive concourse. “My rookie year, I visualized the Super Bowl Trophy and a Super Bowl ring.”

Davis went on to earn two of those in back-to-back world championships, but the former Broncos running back isn’t just an ex-player resting on his athletic laurels. His business ventures include hotels, restaurants, a Denver-based real estate company, affordable housing and a signature barbecue sauce.

The Huddle event kicked off with breakfast, and opportunities for attendees to discuss business challenges with event partners Marketing 360, Ceridian, CenturyLink, University of Colorado Executive Programs, Xcel Energy and ColoradoBiz. Another interesting offering: an “elevator pitch” contest – inside an actual elevator.

“We try to be champions for business growth in our community,” said Brady Kellogg, the Broncos’ senior vice president of corporate sponsorships. “Denver is a great place to do business and we want to use our resources to add to that momentum.”

In his keynote, Davis shared a pivotal moment in his life: Oct. 15, 1994, sitting in the stands at the University of Georgia with an injured hamstring, watching his team play Vanderbilt. He’d missed the previous five games; four games remained in the season.

“I realized those might be the last four games I’d ever play,” he said. “I had a ‘rebirth moment.’ Had I given my best? No. That scared the hell out of me. I was just existing. How many of us are just existing? From that day forward, my mental approach shifted.”

HERE ARE SOME OF DAVIS' BUSINESS TIPS:

• Live life on offense. “You’ve got to think different than everyone else. Develop a glass half-full mentality,” Davis said. “On offense, you’re trying to move the ball, put points on the board. You’re not reactive, you’re proactive.”

• Seek motivation: “That’s the gasoline that’s going to fuel you every time you want to quit.”

• “You play to win the game. Hello!” Davis played the famous clip of former Jets Coach Herm Edwards uttering that statement on the screen overhead. “What I love about that is, it’s true,” Davis said. “Why are we in business? To win and make money.”

• Huddle. “In football, I used to think we’d meet entirely too long. But I understand why. That’s often missing in business; you don’t huddle enough. There’s no ideas formed if you don’t meet and huddle.”

• Be coachable. “As much as I know about football, I still need to listen to and learn from people who know more,” said Davis, an NFL Network analyst. “If you think you know it all, you shut people out.”

• Eat your broccoli. “I hate broccoli, but I eat it because it’s good for me,” Davis said. “Think about things in your business you hate doing but you’ve got to do. Do it first thing in the morning.”

• Throw out the excuses. “One thing I loved about football is that there are no excuses. Just think if you made no excuses, how much you could get done.”

• Best marketer wins. “It used to be, you couldn’t compete with the giants,” Davis said. “That’s not the case anymore.” He then showed on the overhead screen the logos of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, podcasts and blogs, and asked, “How many of you are taking advantage of these platforms? Now people can do crazy videos and they have 8 million followers. Use your creativity.”

• Learn how to manage people. “There’s something valuable about telling employees they’re part of a team. I try not to use the word ‘employee.’ I’m their counselor, their dad, their bank. I learned some of the best lessons from coaches I played for.”

• Take emotions out of business decisions. Davis related how, at a real estate auction he’d attended, one of the bidders got so caught up in outbidding some competitors that he overbid by $200,000 the amount he’d planned to spend.

• Anticipate change. “In football,” Davis said, “change is constant.”

• Failure is a part of success. “We lost to Jacksonville (1997 in the playoffs),” Davis said. “It was the most devastating day of my life. But we took that and were driven by it. And to tell you the truth, if we hadn’t lost that game, I don’t know if we win those next two Super Bowls. A setback is a setup for a step forward.”

• You must be willing to take chances. “I’m here because I took chances,” Davis said.

• Copy the habits of successful people. “Mimic and model yourself after them.”

• “Embrace an active lifestyle,” said Davis, whose fit appearance prompted emcee and former teammate Ed McCaffrey to remark that Davis looked like he could still play at 46.

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Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor is the editor of ColoradoBiz magazine. Email him at mtaylor@cobizmag.com.

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