Today, I spoke to George Foreman, who is a former two-time world heavyweight boxing champion, the face of The George Foreman Grill and a New York Times bestselling author. In this interview, George goes over his entrepreneurial journey, with sound advice that he’s experienced from both his boxing career and his business ventures.
How did you make the leap from word heavyweight champion to businessman?
I think that every heavyweight champion that’s ever been was a businessman they just never knew it. All I did was wake up to the fact that boxing is business. I was always in business I just never acknowledged it because no one ever told me.
George, how have you managed your entrepreneurial journey, while having ten children!?
I think if I had never had ten kids, I never would have taken this entrepreneurial journey because I had to feed those kids and I couldn’t come home with ten kids at the table and feed them an excuse and tell them all stories about how and what I used to have. The ten kids made it possible. I had to feed them.
Why did you name all of your children after you? Was there some kind of branding strategy there?
That’s a good one. I’ve never heard that question before but I’m going to use it.
I wanted to give my kids something that they would never lose. I told them that if one does well we all do well and if one does bad, it was a strike against all of us and if anything happened and we lost each other we could find each other by our name and it turned out to be good branding strategy.
Your the name and face behind the Foreman Grill. Why did you lend your brand to that series of products in the first place?
I was always doing commercials anyways on Madison avenue by doing one commercial after another from Oscar Meyer Wieners to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Doritos and Heineken. Someone told me that “George you’re making all these companies rich and wealthy why don’t you get your own product.” I never considered that I could be in the product business too. We launched this as a joint venture, “George Foreman Grills,” and put my name on it. That was the only way to do it.
What qualities and skills did you gain as a boxing star that have translated into your business success?
I knew that all the best fights in the world people would tell me about this was a great fight and no one ever saw the fight. I realize that the best boxing match that would ever be would be the one that people talked about and bought seats to. I realized that if you’re going to get a good business and a good product it was because you would have to make noise and make people pay attention to it. I got that from boxing. The quality of promoting.
The biggest challenge in anyone’s life in making yourself a success is understanding that you are at the bottom. It doesn’t matter what business you come into. You start at the bottom and then you can go all the way to the top. But most people are afraid, especially celebrities and people that are already known. So many of us don’t want to start from the bottom because that is admitting that you have a long ways to go. The toughest step is to say “I’m at the bottom and I got to go up.” Even if you have a lot of money in your pocket, start at the bottom and you can only go up.
What entrepreneurial lessons have you learned over the course of your life (name 3)?
- There is never a good business deal made unless everyone is happy. It will come back to haunt you if not everyone is happy.
- All the success in the world will not make you a good family man if separate. You’re going to have to work at your family yourself.
- It doesn’t how successful in business you are, you must make a contribution to society. Giving back is most important.
George Foreman, once boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world, is best known today as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is a frequent speaker at nationwide events and a New York Times best selling author. George is an ordained minister and preaches twice a week in his church in Houston. He became the oldest man ever to become heavyweight boxing champion of the world when, at age 45, he knocked out Michael Moorer, to reclaim the title he held 20 years earlier. He has been named one of the 25 greatest fighters of all time by Ring magazine. Foreman is also recognized for The George Foreman Grill bearing the slogan Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine. Foreman was the Olympic heavyweight boxing champion in 1968. His latest book is called Knockout Entrepreneur.