The Ohio State legend became a successful businessman—among other things—after a jarring end to his first career as a professional football player.
Eddie George has moved on from football. He owns EDGE, a Columbus-based landscape architecture and development company and Edward George Wealth Management. The Nashville resident teaches at the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business—a class called “How to Leverage Athletics for Business and Personal Success.” He even starred in a Broadway production of Chicago.
But getting there wasn’t easy. George had to rebound from what he describes as a time of uncertainty and depression following the end of his nine-year football career in 2004. During a recent visit to Columbus to speak at the annual conference of OSU’s Risk Institute, George sat down with Columbus CEO to share his thoughts on his own ventures and on the business of sports.
Of all your roles—what is your favorite hat to wear?
Whatever hat that I wear in that present moment—that’s my favorite. I’m very in the moment. When I’m acting, that’s who I am in that moment. If I’m an entrepreneur, that’s who I am in that moment. If it’s being a father, that’s who I am in that moment. So there’s not, “I choose to do this [one thing].” Some people feel comfortable with that, but that hasn’t been my calling, so if I’m a speaker right now, that’s what I love to do. I’ll transition into my sweats, and I’ll just be lazy Eddie.
How do you juggle so many different opportunities and endeavors?
I don’t necessarily focus on ancillary opportunities like being a passive investor. Instead, I’m building my business, establishing relationships—that’s the core. Once that gets to a level where it’s mature, then I can begin to expand on other tentacles within the business. My sole focus, 95 percent of the time, is spent on developing that. … Any other opportunities that would appear to enhance [my wealth management business], I’ll consider it, but if it’s a startup or anything that requires a great deal of risk, then I’m not interested at this point in time.
Have you sought out mentors in business? Why are they important?
I have different mentors for different things. … I like to say they’re my board of directors. They don’t know it, but they are. Any time I have a question on anything, I usually try to run it by them. … You want to have people in your life to help you realize and reach your full potential. Having the right mentors is having a great deal of humility to say, “I know what I’ve experienced, but let me take it to someone that has a little bit more experience and give me their perspective.” It’s not just about having mentors, but also being a mentor yourself and having people that you can pour into.
Is there an area of business you haven’t yet entered but would like to?
Eventually, I would love to delve into ownership of a sports team. That’s something I’m passionate about. There is this burning image in my head of my teammate [former NFL wide receiver] Kevin Dyson stretching out for the goal line. … Stretching out, trying to score the tying touchdown to win the Super Bowl, and that has always eluded me. So my goal is to win a Lombardi trophy, but [mainly to] create a championship culture. Sports teams to me have lost their mission or their purpose. It’s all about the bottom line, revenue.