The intersection between sports and entrepreneurship is stronger than some may initially think. Lamar Hunt, Jr. made this clear at Bloch Executive Hall April 6.
Speaking as part of First Wednesdays featuring the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Speaker series, Hunt’s presentation focused on the impact his family has had on the landscape of professional sports. Hunt’s father, Lamar Hunt, Sr., was inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2014.
Hunt gave a brief overview of his family genealogy before detailing the path that led his father on an entrepreneurial journey in sports.
Hunt, Sr. studied geology at Southern Methodist University, initially planning to get into the oil business alongside his family. But, it didn’t take long for him to realize he wasn’t pursuing his true passion – football.
After having his application for a National Football League franchise denied, Hunt, Sr. pondered what it would take to form a new league. Hunt spent an entire flight considering processes, and left that plane with a full business plan for the American Football League. Alongside seven other investors, eight teams were purchased, and the American Football League was formed in 1959, with Hunt becoming owner of the Dallas Texans, who would eventually become known as the Kansas City Chiefs.
Hunt, Sr. went on to become one of the original founding investors of Major League Soccer, and further invested in basketball, tennis and the National Hockey League.
“My dad was a serial investor,” Hunt, Jr. explained. “There wasn’t a sport he didn’t like.”
And while he learned a great deal about business from his father’s professional endeavors, these aren’t the most important lessons Hunt, Sr. shared with his son.
“One trademark of my dad is that he was loyal to a fault,” Hunt, Jr. said. “He didn’t do this work for money, power or prestige. He simply wanted to add value to professional sports.”
Hunt. Jr, founder of the Loretto companies, has continued his father’s legacy in professional sports by serving as the president and owner of the Missouri Mavericks, a premiere “AA” Professional Hockey franchise member of the ECHL.
As he’s delved into his own entrepreneurial ventures, Hunt, Jr. has acquired a few lessons to share along the way. One such lesson came from witnessing a locker room speech from Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, at the close of team’s 2014 season.
The Chiefs had just played their final game of the season, successfully eliminating the San Diego Chargers from the playoffs. The Chiefs season record was 9-7 overall, and they would not be advancing to the playoffs.
“After celebrating the win with the team, Andy Reid quieted the room and asked the team to remember this taste, and how bitter it was,” Hunt said. “This motivated the team to push forward and catch 11 straight wins in the following season.”
Hunt, Jr. took this as a lesson in leadership, and in closing, he shared with students and community members in attendance four points every leader should follow: know who you are, be unflappable with change, care to bring out the best in people and know that there is no external switch for motivation.
“Everybody has a chance to be a leader at some point in their life,” Hunt, Jr. said. “You don’t have to be at the top to lead, and it’s important to be prepared when your time comes.”