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Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, knows a thing or two about keeping his eye on the ball. As a Major League Baseball player for 22 years, he was a 14-time All-Star and four-time MVP and holds the record for the most grand slams ever with 25. His approach to business has been very much the same. From the time he was 18 years old and a star prospect from New York City, he was planning his exit strategy.
“I looked at most athletes in major league baseball, and the average career is about five and a half years,” he says. “You make probably 95 percent of your money from age 20 to 30. Then the question is, what happens 31 to 80? Less than 5 percent of our athletes have college degrees. I’m not a stock broker, but if I had just that information alone, I would short the stock.”
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Rather than become a statistic, he invested in his future outside of baseball. “I didn’t want to be one of these guys that ran into financial trouble,” he says.
A wizard at strategizing both on and off the field, he made a plan. “I figured if I played for five years and I bought five assets, and if I was 20, by the age of 35 with a 15-year mortgage on my loan, I would have five assets debt-free,” Rodriguez says. “That alone would be my insurance plan not to be part of the 70 percent of athletes that were bankrupt.”
It paid off big time. Rodriguez, who made his debut as the first-ever Hispanic shark on Shark Tank on Sunday, is the CEO and founder of the AROD Corp, a business conglomeration that includes an auto dealership group, international and domestic fitness clubs and a real estate empire. He has more than 200 employees and more than 12,000 units in 13 states.
At a recent press junket in Beverly Hills, Rodriguez arrived with girlfriend Jennifer Lopez on his arm and a giant smile on his face. He seemed far removed from the doping scandals the plagued the latter part of his career, and happy to be in his new role as a businessman swimming with the Sharks.
“It is a great thrill and privilege to be allowed to come to the Shark Tank platform and really do what I’ve already been doing, which is collaborating, helping these young entrepreneurs meet their dreams, and to be able to mentor them and work with their management team and help them scale it,” he says.
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Wanna be in business with A-Rod? Here are four things you need to do:
Be a leader, not a dreamer.
“I always bet on the jockey, not the horse. Because business, like sports, is just about people,” he says. “I want entrepreneurs and partners with a PhD. I don’t mean from Harvard or Yale — I mean Poor, Hungry and Driven. I want entrepreneurs that are gritty, that are scrappy and that can think outside the box and are winning players. Just like I want in the Yankee locker room.”
Swing for the fences.
“I always tell young entrepreneurs, don’t be afraid to try. Failure is part of it,” Rodriguez says. “When people think about my career — and I played for over 22 years — they think about the 2009 championship, the home runs, the RBIs, 2000 this, 2000 that. But what they forget to tell you is I’m also fifth all-time in strikeouts. That means I have a PhD in failing.”
Dust yourself off.
A-Rod may have a Ph.D in failing, but he says he also has a “master’s at getting back up.” “That’s what America is about, right? It’s about getting back up and not getting defined by your mistakes,” he says. For this reason he likes to work with people who “keep trying and push forward.”
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Keep your eye on the ball.
If you’re the kind of person who obsesses over past mistakes and worries about the future, you won’t be teammates with A-Rod. “Winners live in the present tense,” he says. “People who come up short are consumed with the future or the past. I want to be living in the now.”