We here at Quintessential Gentleman had the pleasure of interviewing Dereck Faulkner. Dereck may be most known for his career in the NFL, but since then, he has developed multiple business ventures, two of which, Overtime Unlimited and Athletes for Vets, are developing niche opportunities for very diverse markets. We hope you enjoy our conversation with Mr. Faulkner as much as we did, as Dereck has an abundance of knowledge to share about being a business mogul in the 21st Century.
While you are a fantastic athlete you hold multiple degrees, talk to us about your educational backgrounds, and your experiences in obtaining those degrees.
I received an undergraduate business degree from Hampton University as a student athlete. I received academic awards from the schools athletic department multiple times during my 4-year career . After my professional playing career ended I was accepted into an MBA program at George Washington University where I concentrated in Strategic Marketing and nonprofit management. I will always remain super proud of all of my academic achievements but will always hold my HU achievements higher than most. I came to Hampton University by way of Moorestown High School and where I wasn’t a stellar student. I lacked confidence as a student and academic leaner. But at HU, I truly blossomed into an outstanding student but it was credited to my professors, campus mentors and coaches. That hard work ultimately helped position me later in graduate school. At GW, I founded Athletes for Vets and the schools support my career took off.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of your career and your current endeavor?
Since the conclusion of my athletic career, I am currently operating two-boutique companies. The Athletes for Vets Foundation, which was founded in 2011, and Overtime Unlimited a brand management and marketing agency I co-founded with an undergrad classmate. During my time at George Washington University School of Business while receiving my MBA, I interned at a major pharmaceutical company and after graduation from grad school, I worked for an Australian mobile application company for three years where as head of operations operation.
What have been your greatest motivations for developing multiple entities?
My greatest motivations stem from watching my both parents be multi faceted in their own professional careers.Learn from two driven entrepreneurs and also learning to always maximize your skills and always to continue to grow your skill sets. I have a true passion for business and watching Things s grow. With AV and Overtime, this is something that I birthed and through tireless nights and long hours, both are beginning to flourish.
What led you to create The Athletes for Vets Foundation?
When I began applying to different graduate programs most schools requested you provide a personal statement. I wrote a personal statement for my GW application expressing my family’s military background and how both my parents and grandfather’s military careers played very important part of my life. I talked about wanting to help the military community but never set anything in motion. After my first sit down with my graduate advisor I was provided a ton of support, that helped start my non-profit and quickly put me on a fast track to get things done and do less talking and more doing.
Can you give us an example of your most awe-inspiring moments or most surprising learning moment, you have experienced since working with Veterans?
I have two moments that I can recall that were very impactful for me while working with our Veterans. Three years ago, we participated in deployment ceremony for the Delaware National Guard. Over 300 troops were sent to Afghanistan for a 12-month deployment. That experience touched the organization and me because we watched mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, and wives leave their children. Of course, tears were shed and questions of maybe not seeing your loved one again were really apparent. The Athletes for Vets Foundation presented a signed football by 30 NFL players to the battalions General in hopes of returning the football as well as every troop deployed. 12 months later the football was returned as well as every solider. The troops really appreciated the gesture and it was something that I appreciated being apart of.
I see you offer scholarship opportunities, can you elaborate on this, and how our viewers can find more information on AV?
We offer college scholarships for military dependents. It is encouraged that Junior and Senior high school students apply. Our scholarship endowment is funded through our corporate fundraising events and through private gifting. Any dependent can apply online and submit all information through the Athletesforvets.org website.
Talk to me about Overtime Unlimited.
Overtime Unlimited was founded in 2013 with my business partner and close college friend Andre Wheeler. During my playing career in 2009, Andre and I worked together on negotiating my Canadian Football contract, which was pretty cool because in the CFL you are allowed to do so. We really didn’t have much experience but that’s when we kind of realized we could use our business acumen in a sports business setting. Overtime Unlimited is a holistic business management agency that specializes in the brand management and marketing. With my passion for music, we have also stepped into the music industry along with sports. We manage a handful of artists, songwriters, and producers while also working with athletes in the NBA, NFL, and MMA. We built a recording studio in 2015 and the company’s hub is there. Overtime Unlimited is my for profit business and it allows me to chase my passions and also grow a career. Because sports and music intertwine with each other my experiences allow me to help create winning opportunities for the business.
How did the NFL prepare you for the transition from star-athlete to entrepreneurial?
Honestly, the NFL forced me to put on my big boy pants and understand that business and many of the decisions surrounding business transactions lack emotion. The NFL helps prepare you primarily in a harsh way because the team will do what’s best for the organization. Teams and coaches have to make difficult decisions and as an entrepreneur, those same lessons apply. But on a positive note being a professional athlete is a ton of hard work and hours and hours of dedicated time working on your craft. Performing under pressure and under high scrutiny is also something you learn as NFL professional. But the most important aspect, in my opinion, is doing whatever it takes to WIN. I truly believe as an entrepreneur you will have wins and losses but in order to a successful entrepreneur you have to find a way to win and that’s what the NFL helps prepare you to do.
What would be your advice for young men trying to start their first business, particularly those with maybe a smaller budget and circle of connections than yourself?
For a young man, my first advice would be to be self-motivated and understand your vision. As African American male, it is so important to never look or want a handout. Because in 99% of most cases you will never receive one. Find and attach yourself to a mentor or even two in your prospective business, this will allow you to have a resource you can bounce ideas off of and also give you kick or push if you need it. Never be afraid to network and tell people what you are doing and the goals you are trying to accomplish. But before doing so, it would be smart to have a plan in order and a strategy in place. Don’t be afraid to start small and grow, so many times we become impatient with the process. We often lack trust in the process. Trust the process and put in the work. Results will come, maybe not as fast as you want but others will see momentum and upward movement will surely ensue. Finally, DREAM BIG and JUST WIN.
What can we look forward to from Dereck Faulkner?
Continued growth and raising the bar for organizations and myself. I want to impact more of our veterans and their families on a national level. Grow more awareness and garner more corporate partnerships, so our initiatives can exceed our goals. Overtime Unlimited will continue to push forward with a number of our music projects currently underway and also we are looking to land a top pick in the 2018 NFL draft as well as a lottery draft pick in next years NBA draft. I still consultant with new start-up mobile applications through the Overtime Unlimited brand. So my plate is pretty full. People always ask me how I balance all of this but I really don’t know any other way. I simply want to WIN and create winning opportunities for those around me. So stay tuned.