Atlanta Hawks

Hawks Mean Business Networking Series: Innovation And Entrepreneurship



This past Wednesday I attended another installment of the Atlanta Hawks ‘The Hawks Mean Business Networking Series’ with speaker and co-owner of the Hawks Jesse Itzler. Outside of checking out his Instagram before attending, I hadn’t heard of Jesse nor did I know his incredible story. Jesse kept the audience captivated with how he started on his entrepreneurial journey and dropped the major keys to success. The woven theme throughout his speech was persistence and resilience. Being a former rapper, he took the money that he made and didn’t use it to buy material things but in return used it to invest in himself. Jesse went on to write the New York Knicks’ “Go New York, Go” and NBA’s “I Love This Game” and 50 more theme songs for the NBA.

Years later, he co-founded Marquis Jet, one of the largest private jet card companies in the world. He would travel on private jets but didn’t have the money to actually afford to purchase one so him and his friend decided to ask other musicians if they’d be down to buy a pre-paid jet card that expired in 25 hours. Got a yes and went to meet with Warren Buffet and his pitch failed. “Failure isn’t really failure. Failure is just a tap on the shoulder that lets us know we need to shift our path.” Jesse was on to something but his PowerPoint pitch didn’t close the deal. He came back but this time he brought with him the same people that said they’d use the card and the rest is history. Jesse was a partner in ZICO, a coconut water company acquired by Coca Cola in 2012.

Persistence and resilience.

If that wasn’t enough, Jesse was training to run 100 miles and came across a gentleman that weighed 235 pounds and all he had with him was a chair, a bottle water (the last item escapes me) He watched this man crush every bone in his feet, he was peeing blood but he didn’t give up. Persistence and resilience. Who was this man? A Navy SEAL. Jesse wanted what he had, he wanted to push himself. He asked this man to come live with him for 30 days and for 30 days he led the life of a Navy SEAL. Jesse turned his experiences into a book titled Living with a SEAL 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet.

Oh, here’s a lovely tidbit; his wife is the youngest female self-made billionaire Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx. SWISH!


Get into these tweets


As an entrepreneur, another gem Jesse gave was never to ask for advice until you need it. There’s no need to look for validation, hold your ideas close to the vest. Reason being; if you ask someone, they may not like your idea and this leads you to abandon it or they may say they love it to not hurt your feelings. “Trust your gut,” Jesse says. You know better than anyone. Trust your gut!

This was an amazing series and the things that Jesse spoke on aren’t JUST for entrepreneurs, the message he conveyed were major key life lessons. Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of failure. Think outside of the box. I can’t wait to crack open his book. Thank you for the autographed book, Jesse!

Remember, she’s always #TrueToAtlanta



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