Ten Great Business Lessons You Can
Learn from Arnold Palmer!
While his fame as a golfer will live forever, many forget what a great businessman this poor boy from Latrobe, turned out to be. Unlike many other players of his time, Arnie not only amassed an army but an astonishing fortune as well. Arnie made almost one billion dollars in his lifetime which ain’t half bad when you think that despite being the first player to make $100,000 in a season and the first to make a million in career earnings, he actually made less than two million in total, for his 62 PGA Tour, victories!
Ten Great Business Lesson We Can Learn from The King
1. The best business deals are sealed by handshakes, not 50-page contracts. His deal with Cleveland lawyer Mark McCormack was the foundation of his fortune. That deal, which spawned a global empire was never secured with anything more than a handshake. Says Palmer. “After a few months of talking to Mark about him representing me and me only, he came back and said he was ready to commit. Well, him being a lawyer, he had a several-page agreement that he had drawn up for me to sign, in order to make it all official.” I looked at him and said, “Well, I’m not going to sign anything. I’ll give you my word and you give me your word, we’ll shake hands and we have a deal.” That deal lasted 50 years!
2. That handshake also illustrates another key point lost on many great athletes or business owners focused only on cost. It always pays to hire people who are experts in what they do, so you can focus on what you do best. After McCormack’s untimely death, he was guided by Alastair Johnston.
3. Charisma is always sexy and helps sell any product, service or idea. Your image and the feelings it projects to your customers is always important. Take care how you dress, talk, walk and smile, it makes a big difference to your personal “sell-ability” and all business comes down to people’s “sell-ability.”
4. Your brand will outlive your’ playing career, your first great product or hit record, so build it carefully and protect it at all costs. This was some of the best advice Arnie said he ever got in his life.
5. Arnie was the King of brand extension and longevity. He was a pitchman for Cadillac, Hertz, Pennzoil, Arizona Beverage and dozens of other brands. At 85 years old, in 2014, Rolex extended its relationship with him for another decade. The half-century together for Rolex and Palmer marks one of the longest relationships ever between an athlete and corporate partner. Arnie never tarnished his brand or endorsed products he did not believe in.
6. With his playing career over, he re-invented his career from scratch when he switched to course design and eventually designed over 300, with a million-dollar signature fee.
7. While all the spokesperson roles were great, aggressive licensing of his name produced even greater income with his signature on everything from dry cleaners, to car dealerships and shirts and shoe shops all over Asia. There is no income like residual income!
8. Never lose your personal touch with your customers. Even as a living legend, Arnie never lost his personal touch with his fans. He always had time to sign an autograph, pose for a picture or reply to a letter! But Palmer said the advice of his father, Deacon, a golf course greenskeeper in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, helped him stay grounded, “Just play your own game. Mind your own business. You can still drive a tractor when you come home.”
9. You can learn more about a person in a round of golf than in a year of meetings. Said Palmer in a CNBC interview, ”From the first day of playing with business groups; there was one thing that I always have contended, and that is you can almost without fail tell the character of a person after 18 holes of golf. If you have any question about a person’s character after 18 holes then play 36.”
10. It pays to give back, as Arnie always did in spades, including the Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando, both helping thousands of people in his local community and worldwide.
Thank you, Mr. Palmer, for all you taught us and all the joy you brought wherever you went.