NFL linebacker Brandon Chubb recently led an Opendorse Ready™ NIL Masterclass – an exclusive addition to the Ready program, the leading NIL readiness solution in college athletics. The NIL Masterclass is built to provide student-athletes with live lessons from leaders and brands in the NIL ecosystem including Instagram, Twitter, the Players’ Tribune, and Heartlent Group.
Chubb, who is now an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and Head of Athlete Growth at Heartlent Group, provided insight into his athletic and business pursuits, offering lessons learned from his career.
Here are three of the top takeaways from the NIL Masterclass with Brandon Chubb:
1. Build your brand for the longterm
A successful brand isn’t built overnight. Personal branding is about learning about yourself and it’s a process that takes time. It can be difficult for athletes, especially at the college level when athletes are hyper-focused on their sport. As a 2-star athlete at one of the smallest D1 schools in the country, NIL could have been huge for Chubb. His jersey was being successfully sold for several years, 2 years while he was playing and 2 years after. After he experienced jersey sales at the NFL level, he realized how much he could have been making from his college sales. Aside from jersey sales, the university was a pillar in the community and Chubb could have had many opportunities to earn deals from local businesses.
Chubb shared that setbacks in his college and pro career opened his eyes to new opportunities like community service and starting a non-profit. He began to realize that what he was doing now would set himself up for the next 40-to-50 years. His interests off the field were just as important as his performance on it.
It’s important for athletes to find hobbies and interests beyond athletics. Share what you really care about and the followers will come. Chubb stated that sharing what you love is important, but interacting with others who share your interests is equally important and can help to establish greater social capital.
2. Own your narrative
Chubb made the point, “your sport doesn’t determine the outcome of your life. Your sport doesn’t determine your worth.” By owning your narrative throughout your career, you’ll earn media and grow your social equity. Athletes can act as their own media outlets and have the power to share their own news to control their story.
JJ Watt’s recent announcement on signing with the Cardinals is an excellent example of an athlete breaking their own news on their own timeline. All the media attention went directly to his channels.
Part of this process is being vulnerable. It’s not easy and can take time. Share your passions and momentum will build over time. Athletes often have many different talents and interests outside of athletics and oftentimes, people can relate to those more than only athletic endeavors.
3. Leverage the logo
People want to connect with athletes. So, you should start networking early in your career and find people you trust. Log into LinkedIn, send emails, and even pick up the phone; your social equity expands into professional industries. Every college has impressive alumni lists. Tap into those networks as there is already a commonality of attending the same university. These opportunities don’t hit the same when the jersey comes off.
Building your inner circle early will allow you to make informed decisions in the future. In the first few years of NIL, there will be deals that seem too good to be true. Lean into the professionals you trust and gain their insights. Nurture relationships that are transformational, not just transactional.