Hall-of-Famer Fran Tarkenton To Business Leaders: ‘Never Stand Still’


Fran Tarkenton played professional football for 18 years, mostly with the Minnesota Vikings. During that time, he reinvented the position of quarterback by honing the craft of scrambling with the ball rather than allowing himself to be sacked by opposing defenders. Today, the 81-year-old CEO, who has founded some 20 businesses, hasn’t slowed down one bit.

In fact, he is still scrambling, only now he does so with his brain rather than his legs. “It would be easy for me to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got my fastball. We’re building businesses and doing great things,’ but you know what…I want to learn something every day. It doesn’t matter who you are, everybody should want to be mentored—or else you’re just missing out.”

As an 18 year-old redshirt sophomore at Georgia, Tarkenton might have missed out playing both college and professional football had he not taken it upon himself to tweak the status quo and enter a game against Texas without his coach’s consent. The brazen (and now legendary) act of self-creation led to a badly needed touchdown against Texas as well as Hall of Fame careers at Georgia and Minnesota.

Like all players of his generation, Tarkenton didn’t make big money playing football and endorsing products, so he reinvented himself as an entrepreneur whose main focus was serving small businesses. In this podcast, Tarkenton offers key lessons he has applied from football to entrepreneurship. These include:

• The business lesson he learned from being redshirted at Georgia.

• How Tarkenton bowled over an IBM team at a client meeting.

• Why he values curiosity above all other leadership qualities.

• The surprising football failure that continues to fuel his drive for business success.

Listeners to the podcast can plan on skipping their second round of morning coffee. Tarkenton brings enough energy to light up any recording studio he enters. Have a listen and find out for yourself.

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