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Defying The Odds, The NFL And Being Elite with Derrick Tatum

We are talking to Derrick Tatum, who is training the next generation of elite athletes. What's interesting about this show is it’s all about the mindset to get into it.

You're going to love this show because Derrick is bringing the classic mindset motivational message to kids starting at age six all the way up to their teens. If you're getting to know Derrick, you should know that he is a father. He's that in every sense of the word. He played four years at Kentucky. Before that, he was an All-American football player in an All-State in two different positions, which is not easy to do. He played for four years. I can tell it's not easy to do to play all four years. He played for the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks.

He would go on to launch what he's doing now, which is Elite Talent Football, a place where kids can come work on their mindset, work on the mental aspect of the game in addition to setting themselves up to get scholarships and enter schools that they might possibly not go to. In this show, we're going to talk mindset. We're talking football, but most importantly is how do we perform, how do we make ourselves perform? For those of you that have kids, how do you get and inspire them to perform whether or not they're into sports so they can achieve in school, at their job, in their career and in everything that they do?

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Dustin
Derrick, you've defied the odds most your life starting in high school in Cleveland. Not only were you a football, All-American, but you were All-state in two different positions which is not easy to do. You went to Kentucky and played all four years. Statistically, usually you got to earn your keep before you can start generally. You played all four years again against the grain. Your next stop is the NFL. I did some digging. Less than 2% of people make it from the NFL and that is from college. One can easily say you've been beating the odds your entire life. Do you see it that way?
Derrick
At the end of the day, everything is a struggle. Life is all about overcoming your struggles. I felt like all my life I've been battling and I overcame those struggles.
Dustin
How do you think those struggles shaped you? Meaning like if you had been born in a different part of the world, if you hadn't had influences along the way, do you think you would be where you're at?I say that because I know you train the next generation of athletes. They're coming from all different walks of life. You see that. I'm curious about how important that is or can desire?
Derrick
It molded me who I am. When I was younger, I always wish I was rich or I wish my mom had more money or I wish this, I wish that. When I looked back at my life, I am truly glad and blessed that it happened when it happened because it showed me how to deal with adversity. It showed me that life is not fair. You're going to have to adjust to life. Life is not going to adjust to you. Life is going to keep going. The world is going to keep moving, but you got to persevere. You got to adjust to what's going on in front of you every single day, every single year.
Dustin
That's definitely something I subscribe to. We’re fortunate for every obstacle that's been put in the way because it makes you stronger and you're totally echoing that. You've competed at a high level. You're training the next generation to compete at the highest level. What do you think are the most critical things that someone needs to develop or own or be put in the way to achieve success?
Derrick
The main thing is it starts off with having the right mindset. My son is five years old. He had said something outrageous and my daughter was like, "That's impossible. You can't do that." He said, “Dad said anything that I think of, anything that I can imagine can happen." That’s part of the right mindset that I instill in my five-year-old son. He says he can do anything as long as he believes he can do it. The reason I say that is because everything in this world came up in someone's mind as a thought. We have a functioning world. Whatever you believe you can achieve. You can achieve it, but you’ve got to believe it. You’ve got to have the right mindset and it has to be something that you work on daily.
Dustin
You work with a lot of kids. Some of these kids I imagine aren't coming from great places in terms of getting that mindset that you corrected your daughter in. How are you cracking the mindset? How are you improving the mindset of the folks and the people that you come into contact with?
Derrick
The main thing is when someone comes to me, I always ask them what their goals are. I want to know how high are you thinking, how far are you thinking, and how in-depth you're thinking. I want to help them formulate their goals to be more specific. I want them to think in five years, in three years, in one year, in one month, in one week and then one day. I want them to have specific goals so they know where they're going. They know, “If I don't do this, then I can't get here.” I challenge them. When they come to the first practice, I am in them. I'm yelling at them. I'm pushing them to a limit they haven't been before. I want to test your mental capacity because anything that you think about you can achieve, but we don't know how far you can go until I push you there.
Dustin
Derrick, I wasn't going to ask this, but it popped in my head. Everyone is winning a medal for showing up nowadays or a ribbon, a participation trophy. I got to imagine you're a guy that doesn't subscribe to that level of thinking. You want to push people. What's your thought on that?
Derrick
I don’t pretty much hate anything. I don't like getting a ribbon for participation. I don't like the mercy rules in sports because in life if you're losing and you will have a loser's attitude, you're going to keep losing. You're going to keep being dominated. If I don't have a job and I want to sit up here. I want to cry. I'm going to complain about me not having a job. Life is going to keep pounding on me. My bills won’t get paid. My car note is not going to get paid. My mortgage is not going to get paid. I'm going to be in the streets. I don't get an award or a trophy for being here. I'm a guy that says, "Good is the enemy of great." Good is the enemy of great because so many people want to be good, but I don't want to be good. I want greatness. I said, "You never remember the good players. You only remember the greatness, only the great ones." If you want to be good, I tell them, this probably isn't the program for you because I want greatness. I want to be the best ever. When people think about athletes and training football camps, I want them to think about Derrick Tatum, Elite Talent Football Academy.
Dustin
I want to take a step back, Derrick. I want people to truly get to know you. As an athlete yourself, as an elite athlete, I'm always curious to understand what goes through your mind. When you were in high school if you can go back to that timeframe, what went through your mind in terms of picking Kentucky to go to school? How did you arrive at that decision at such a young age?
Derrick
What happened was I wanted to go to Ohio State real bad. I went to visit Iowa State many times. West Virginia was my dream school besides Ohio State. They offered me first. Kentucky offered me going into my senior year. I wanted to go to Ohio State. I went to visit West Virginia. They wanted me to commit right then and there, but I wasn't ready to commit. I'm asleep. It's like a dream. I get a call at 7:30 AM. It'sWest Virginia coach telling me, "Your offer is not valid anymore." I'm bummed. I'm like, "What's going on?" I visited Kentucky and it felt good. It was like a euphoria feeling when I was there.
I was playing running back at the time. I literally prayed about it. I had a dream that I was playing quarterback at Kentucky with the 21jersey on. My number in high school was number three. I played running back in high school. I had a dream I was playing quarterback with number 21 jersey on for UK. At the time, the21 jersey was already used by somebody. I called UK the next day and I committed. I wind up getting number 21. I'm one of those quarterbacks. It was crazy that I'll play quarterback. I got in practice the first day. I looked over there. It was for good running backs. Three of them was better than me. I had to admit, "Those guys are pretty awesome." Two of the guys were only one year older than me. I say, "I'll play quarterback." It was probably the best decision for me.
Dustin
That dream, do you think that's divine intervention there or what do you chalk that up to?
Derrick
I'll tell anybody again that it's all about mindset. Whatever you believe, whatever your mind believes, it will manifest in your dreams. It is what it is. It's like visualization. It's part of life. I know if your mind is set on something, you can achieve it.
Dustin
You must have had another dream because you went to the NFL, which is again statistically against the odds. It blew me away to see how many high school football players, how many college football players. It dwindles down considerably to the NFL. You were with the Titans and the Seahawks. Tell us a little bit about that. What was that experience?
Derrick
It was one of the best experiences of my life to be able to reach your dream and to be able to see all these wonderful athletes. It was a great experience. It was also a great learning experience for me to understand that life is not fair. When I got cut, I literally hit rock bottom. It showed me like, "What's next, Derrick? Are you going to sit here and be depressed for the next year or are you getting off your butt and make a living outside of football?” I've been blessed that I had that experience, but it taught me something that after football there is life. You have to put your mindset that after all that is said and done, what am I going to do? I've been blessed that I'm doing what I love to do right now, which is to help athletes, mentor and train them and help these kids get college scholarships.
Dustin
Even Brady, there's going to come a day that you’ve got to do something. I got to imagine, I haven't walked in your shoes but if you've been doing this your whole life and then it stops, that's not an easy thing for guys to do or women that are growing up in other sports or other things that they do. Why do so many people struggle with that?
Derrick
Let me say what happened. I said playing football was the best thing for me, but it also almost destroyed me because when you're playing football all your life, you've been catered to. Everybody makes exceptions for you and you think that's life, but it's not reality. Let me tell you a story. Right now, if you play football, you are a star player and you come late, your coach may yell at you. You may run a few laps or if you yell at your coach, he may suspend you for a half, maybe for a game. That attitude carries with you outside of football. I literally was fired six times because I had that same attitude of,"I can do what I want to do." If I yelled at my boss outside of football, you get fired. There's no coming back from that. That's what I'm saying. That's why some football players struggle because they don't understand the business aspect of life. It's still football. It's a game and outside of football is a reality check. I received that reality check numerous times. Until I learned and I started reading more, started being around successful entrepreneurs, I didn’t realize that you can't do what you do on the football field in the real world.
Dustin
Does the NFL give you anything? Did they give you any sort of prep for exiting?
Derrick
No. They give you a phone call at 6:00 AM, "Derrick, come on to the office and bring your playbook.” You come to the office and you talk to the coach. You don't know what's going on and they say your flight leaves at 12:00. The ride is outside waiting on you.
Dustin
You can't even keep the playbook. You can't even keep a memento.
Derrick
Your locker is already cleaned out. You can grab a few things, but I got a black garbage bag with all my stuff in it.
Dustin
It reminds me of the movies, Derrick, where you see your typical corporate America. They get their bodyguards. They got your stuff packed on. They just want you out. I appreciate you sharing that. Let's talk Elite Talent Football. You're out of the NFL. You're trying different things. How did you come up with the idea that you're going to start this academy? You're going to start Elite Talent Football?
Derrick
What happened was I realized that a lot of students outside of the football training, they're missing the mental aspect. What I wanted to do is I want to start a program that can help these kids get better in the football field, but also mentor them and teach them how to interact outside of football, how to be a good student, how to be a good person and how to be an entrepreneur. I started this company. I've been blessed in that last few years, we've got over 130 kids who receive scholarship offers because we have a system in place where we understand how to market. They way I’m marketing my business is the same way I teach the kids to market themselves. You are a brand. That's what I tell the kids. “You are a brand and you have to treat yourself as such.” I always tell the kids, “You are what you tweet because you can't put things on social media that can be perceived a certain way.” I realized that if I had someone like me in my life, I probably would have played at least ten years elite because I would have understood going into the NFL, the business aspect. I would understand how you act in public and how you can and cannot do certain things.
Dustin
The social media stuff was coming out at your time.
Derrick
It's years ago. It's still relatively new, but social media is good. It's also been bad for a lot of kids because kids don't understand that once you press send, it’s out there forever.
Dustin
Derrick, I got to tell you, I'm grateful that it's a little before my time so the world didn't capture it. It's a different era nowadays. I think kids are having to mature faster, especially if they're in the spotlight no doubt. I want people to get a real clear picture of the business model all the way down to what are the ages that you accept into the camp? What are the positions you're working with? What does that look like? What does the business look like?
Derrick
We have kids young as six years old in our program. We train them. We mentor them. We have social media classes. We have a whole course on how to carry yourself outside of football and during football. We train kids and we take them on college visits. We took 25 kids to Georgia State. It's a good experience to be able to teach them. It's a small thing. I teach them that this isn't a college trip. This is a job interview. How would you dress if you're going to Amazon and Google? Most kids want to wear tennis shoes and flip-flops. When kids travel with us on business, I tell them, "We wear a collared shirt, tie or khaki pants. No tennis shoes, no jeans because this is a Fortune 500 company you're visiting. This isn't a college visit." We do that and now our kids understand differently about how to market themselves. They understand that this is pure business. This isn't just a game.
Dustin
Is it true that you can spot talent like at six? Can you know by working with the kid a little bit that he's going to make college or not?
Derrick
Yes and no. You can see a kid and see the potential. The problem with a lot of young kids, they are so good they don’t have to work for it. When they get about fifteen, sixteen, that's when it evens out a little bit. They're so talented and they’re used to not working because they'd been having the success that it's hard to turn the switch on. They don't have as much success in high school or if they do have success in high school and they go to college, they don't have success in college because everybody is good in college.
Dustin
I want to know about a situation, one that comes to mind where you've got someone that maybe they’re already at that gap. They're in their fifteen, sixteen range. They're at a good age. Everything equaled out. Tell us about a situation where you got natural talent versus a guy that maybe he's above average, but he's not gifted. He can work and make it because a lot of people think, "That guy is born with it,” or “That lady, that girl, that woman, she's born with it," versus the journey person that comes in there and works their tail off. Tell me about that.
Derrick
My very first client was a guy named Mr. Monday. He's5'10", 180 pounds, 47/40. He wasn't the biggest. He wasn't the fastest. He wasn't the strongest. He had the best work ethic that I've ever seen. He had no offers going into his senior year, training with us. I taught him how to carry himself and wind up picking up fifteen offers and going into Kent State. He was a four-year starter there. He made All-Conference, three years. He was up for the Jump Up award going into his junior year. He's playing in that new league. He graduated on a dean's list. To me, that's the story that I want to talk about because I've had plenty of kids become All-Americans. They had twenty, 30 offers but this kid wasn't the most talented, but he worked. He continued to get better every year. That's the kid that I want. I want a kid that understands that,"I want to work to get there. I may not have the most talent, but I'll work to get there."
Dustin
Statistically, not all kids can go to college and play ball. What's your advice to them?
Derrick
Some people say, "If you have a 3.0 GPA and you have some kind of size requirements, there may be a school for you. It may not be Division 1, but there's D2. There's D3. There's NAIA. People don't understand. There are several hundred schools that play football. We all think about the Division 1 schools. It's only 129 Division 1 schools, but there are like 500, 700 other schools that play football in other divisions. I tell the kids, "You got to understand that there may be a fit for you somewhere, but you got to be realistic in your goal and realistic in your thinking. Because if you're a 5'11" D tackle, you're not going to get recruited to Alabama. Why are you going to Alabama on a visit?”You got to cater your goals to fit your situation.
Dustin
What are you sharing with them to set them up for life?I can tell this is more than a mission. Obviously, you're trying to get them scholarships and rides and make them better people. What is the philosophy that you're sharing with these kids?
Derrick
I tell them an elite athlete is a complete athlete. It’s more than football. You have to be, "Yes, please. Thank you. How can I help you outside of football?" In between those lines, you can be a different person. You've got to always want to build relationships. Relationships to me are one of the most important skill sets that you can have. You don't want to burn bridges. Their kids that are doing things right now is sixteen, seventeen years old that may hurt them later on in life. I got a good friend of mine, he said, "Derrick, tell the kid that’s right here, you might make a mistake at sixteen, seventeen that you could never come back from." I said, "That's a profound statement."He said, "Derrick, I made a mistake in college that I'm paying for right now and I'm 37 years old." It was a decision for him to transfer as a sophomore from our school. He made an emotional decision because he was upset. He transferred instead of thinking through and understanding that, "I got to think this thing thoroughly. I'm already in a good situation even if I'm not playing football. I graduate from here, I'm still in a good situation."
Dustin
What do you say to parents? What's your advice for parents that want their kids to be the next Derrick Tatum? They aren't there. The parents want it more than the kids. How do you give advice? How do you tell that to the parents?
Derrick
I say, "I can't count somebody else's money." What I mean is your glory, your success is not my success. I have to be happy in my own skin and happy with what I am living with." I tell my wife all the time, "I'm living in heaven on earth right now." That's on my mindset. You may say, "I'm rich. I'm living in a mansion. I'm driving a Lamborghini. I'm living the best life." That's your life. That's you. To me, I'm happy with being married and having two kids and being able to see my son and my daughter in the morning, make breakfast with them. See my wife go off to work and make her tea in the morning. That's my glory. I tell people, "Be happy with what you have and understand that happiness is all in your mindset." You can't pick just because this guy is going to Georgia. He's going to Ohio State and you have an offer to Albany State or Mercer, and you're not happy with that. You have to be happy in your own skin and understand that that is your glory right there.
Dustin
What have been the biggest obstacles in starting, growing, maintaining Elite Talent Football?
Derrick
It's trying to change parents and kid's mindset because it is hard to break these habits. When they come to me, you got to change the technique, change the habit, change their mindset and it's difficult at times. It's very difficult at times, but that's the challenge. That's what I do this for. I know I was born to do this because if I didn't play in the NFL and made millions and millions of dollars, I don't know if I’ll still be doing this.
Dustin
What do you do when you get frustrated? Because changing habits and mindsets, that is no easy job.
Derrick
I get frustrated every week, every day. These are kids and all that I can do is continue pushing the right things to them. Keep giving them positive reinforcement and continue to work with them because they're still young children, young students that if you continue to work with them, eventually they'll figure it out.
Dustin
Derrick, what surprised you in starting this business?
Derrick
What surprised me was the success that we had so early. I knew we're going to have success, but I didn't realize that we were having the biggest camp in the southeast and having over 300 students get offers after coming to our camp. That was the biggest surprise for me. It's been a blessing. I'm still growing. I'm still learning. I'm still trying to get better every single day.
Dustin
One of the things we do here at WealthFit, we have a course on selling information, being edupreneurs. Basically, taking your specialized knowledge and packing it into products and selling it. I noticed on the site that you have some DVDs. You've got some information. How did you come to think of that and start offering it?
Derrick
What happened was I was going places and people want to work with me in different parts of the country. I made some DVDs. I made some training videos. People went, "How all of your kids getting recruited?" What I did was I wrote down everything that I did with the last couple of years and I made it and called it Recruiting Bible Blueprint. It's a seven-step series of step-by-step of everything you need to know if you want to get a college scholarship. If you don't know anything about football, if you take the Recruiting Bible Blueprint course it’s going to go through step-by-step of everything you should do to help get your son the exposure that leads to scholarship offers.
Dustin
Have you been surprised at how people have been into that and that's been an additional revenue stream for you?
Derrick
No doubt. That was very important for me to do that because now I'm able to reach people outside of my area. Everybody, if you're an entrepreneur, you have to have some digital products to sell. You have to because that's a way where you could reach people outside of your area, outside of your town, your city, your state even outside of the country.
Dustin
What's the future look like for you?
Derrick
We are bought into the NFL flag franchise. We are opening up two new NFL flag in 7on7 Leagues in Cobb County and Gwyneth County. We're looking to expand to at least ten more leagues in the next year. Hopefully, in the next five years, we'll have 100 leagues going.
Dustin
Give me the why. It makes sense that you'd buy into this because potentially then folks could come to the camp and you can help them get a scholarship. I want to understand from you why you decided to make that move.
Derrick
I'm here to change lives. I wanted to give people an opportunity be able to change their family's outcome. I'm the oldest of 22 grandchildren. Most people in my family aren't as successful as they want to be. I want to be able to help these students do great things. That's why I do this because I know that I was brought here to help people, so that's why I do it. That's why I let them do it.
Dustin
Derrick, I'm going to move us into WealthFitRound, which is my fancy name for saying rapid-fire questions. What's been your most worthwhile investment ever?
Derrick
Investing in myself and educating myself, reading books and continue to getting online training on internet marketing.
Dustin
What's that investment or maybe that misstep that you took in life or in an investment? What's that misstep investment that you took that you don't even want to tell?
Derrick
The main thing is I thought you can get it quick. Building wealth is not about getting it quick. It's about building wealth. It takes time.
Dustin
When life is great, maybe you're selling a bunch of Recruiting Bible Blueprints, you're getting kids to the academy there. What's that guilty spending splurge? When you want to treat yourself to something, what is it?
Derrick
I'm so selfless. I haven't brought anything in a long time because everything I do, I'll give it back to my family or I'll try to help somebody else. I haven't bought anything that was crazy lately.
Dustin
As an entrepreneur and as a guy on a mission, you certainly get presented with opportunities. If you said yes to everything, you would run yourself ragged. You've got the family and you've got a big mission. Maybe in the last few years, what have you become better at saying no to?
Derrick
Everybody comes with a scheme or plan. We're always telling people, I say, "Put it in writing." Put it in a writing. Send it to me. Let me take a look at over my board. When you do that right there, you automatically weed out most people because most people, they have a plan or a scheme, but it's not structured. I always tell them, "I'm going to look over it and I want to sleep on it. I want to be able to evaluate." When I do that, I eliminate 99% of people trying to come and meet with different plans or different ventures. That 1% that does make sense, now we can talk. Most of the time, it's always no.
Dustin
Do you have any special routines or rituals you do to get yourself going, get yourself in the right mind?
Derrick
I try to wake up early, 5:30 AM. I may lay down a little bit until 5:45. I get up. I read and I meditate. I think doing that in the morning, it helps get you going.
Dustin
Who do you learn from? Who are your mentors?
Derrick
It's plenty of them. One of my favorite ones is Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill is a great person. Keller Williams has written some great books. Russell Brunson, Chet Holmes, these are people that if you read their books, if you listened to their story you would figure out there are some things that they're talking about that relates in any aspect of life.
Dustin
Looking back over your life, Derrick, thus far, what would you say your biggest defining moment is? A single moment where you chose something and now looking back, you know it completely took you down a different path.
Derrick
There have been some defining moments. I think choosing to move to Atlanta. I was living in Cleveland and I was living in my mom's basement. I was broke. I was playing the NFL. Moving to Atlanta changed me because it showed me how to live on your own and go out here and learn. I had to start reading. I probably learned more outside of college by reading these books and going to webinars and buying these all new courses and online courses than I've learned in college.
Dustin
Derrick, I appreciate you making the time. I know we were going back and forth, so I'm glad we finally connected. We did the show. I love what you're up to not because you're helping kids get scholarships, which is awesome. Getting kids into schools that maybe they don't go into. I love even more importantly is the mindset, the stuff that you're reading and that you're giving to kids. You're sharing with them, their brand and how they conduct themselves and what life look like if they do get that opportunity to play at the next level. I appreciate what you're up to. If folks want to check out everything that you're doing in the world, what is the best place for them?
Derrick
The best place is going to my website. That'sEliteTalentFootball.com. I'm on Instagram @EliteTalentFootball, on Twitter@EliteFootballAC or Facebook @EliteTalentFootball.
Dustin
Thanks,Derrick. I appreciate having you.
Derrick
Thank you, Dustin. I appreciate you.
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