Former football player visits CHHS

Published 9:47 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The tips on entrepreneurial business were head-on, but it was probably the life’s lessons that will have the most lasting impact on the business education students at Charles Henderson High School.

Former Alabama gridiron star and Super Bowl champion Wilbur Jackson spoke to Jennifer Sanders’ and Pat Rodger’s classes Wednesday in recognition of National Entrepreneurial Week.

Jackson owns and operates a successful commercial cleaning service in Ozark, and his advice for the students, business minded or not, was “to keep up the grades.”

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“When I was at D.A. Smith in Ozark and the University of Alabama was recruiting me,” the first thing they did was to look at my grades,” he said. “If I’d not had the grades, then I would not have had the opportunities that I had to play football in college and in the NFL. When my NFL career ended after nine years, I had my education to fall back on.”

Jackson provided the students with information about the different aspects of starting a business and what it takes to make a business successful.

“Every morning in the jungle, the lion wakes up and he knows that he is going to have to outrun a gazelle if he is to eat,” Jackson said.

“Every morning, the gazelle wakes up knowing that he is going to have to outrun the lion if he is to survive. The lion and gazelle both get up running. When you have your own business, you have to get up every morning running because the competition is out there doing the same thing.”

In today’s world, the lifespan of a new business is five years. Most fail for financial reasons.

“When going into business, you have to build a strong foundation,” Jackson said. Those building blocks include research, marketing, advertising, insurance, taxes, accounting, good people skills and hard work.

“And, no one will work as hard for you as you will work for yourself. But at the end of the day, satisfaction will be there. And, if you think that by working for yourself you won’t have a boss, you’re wrong. You’ll have 50 bosses because your customers are the boss.”

Jackson said being an entrepreneur is not easy.

“If it was, everybody would be doing it,” he said. “And, if you do get on top, it’s like Coach ‘Bear’ Bryant said. ‘It’s tough to get to the top and it’s even harder to stay there.”

Jackson took questions from the students and most of the questions were spurred by Jackson’s Super Bowl ring.

He played running back for the Washington Redskins when they beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

When asked about his Entrepreneurial hero, Jackson said he would be disrespectful if he looked outside his own house for a hero.

“My dad worked for the railroad and I can remember him coming home and his shirt would be white,” Jackson said.

“He said the white was salt. I didn’t know until years later that the salt was from where he had worked and sweated all day. My mother was a domestic and they put my two older sisters through college and it was hard times.

“My brother went into the military and I got a football scholarship. That took some of the load off our parents. But they worked hard and made a good life for us. I don’t have to look outside my house for heroes.”