Close this search box.
Close this search box.

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

© AdobeStock
In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Hall of Fame quarterback and serial entrepreneur Fran Tarkenton shares his thoughts on continuous learning, technology and staying at the top of his game at the ripe young age of 81.

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.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.