The Importance of Relationships in Football, Business, and Life.
This Rev-Tech Podcast was recorded live in New York with Tiki Barber—the former New York Giants running back and successful business owner. Join the conversation as Riva’s Ken Lorenz discusses football, technology, and the importance of building and maintaining relationships with Tiki. This once-in-a-lifetime conversation is a great listen packed with lessons that translate to business—and life.
Guest: Tiki Barber, former NFL football running back
Tiki studied computer engineering at the University of Virginia and was on the path to becoming a programmer at Oracle until one play changed everything. He is best known for his ten-year stint on the New York Giants. Since retiring from the NFL, Barber joined NBC‘s The Today Show and Football Night in America/Sunday Night Football as a correspondent. He is currently the Chairman and Co-Founder of Thuzio.
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Speaker 1 (00:04): Welcome to the Rev-Tech Revolution Podcast. Today, we have a special live episode where Riva’s KenLorenz sits down to talk with Tiki Barber. They talk about Tiki’s football career, how Tiki almost went to work for Oracle, and life lessons about teamwork and failure. All of this and more on the Rev-TechRevolution Podcast.
Ken Lorenz (00:30): Want to get this right. So, first of all, I want to thank everybody for being here tonight. Most of all, I want to thank Tiki Barber. I want to get this right now. Three-time Pro Bowler, leading rusher for theNew York Giants in New York Giants’ history, New York Giants Ring of Honor member. Am I missing anything?
Audience (00:50): Goodguy.
Tiki Barber (00:51): No. [inaudible 00:00:52].
Ken Lorenz(00:52): Good guy.
Tiki Barber (00:52): Other than I missed the Super Bowl. I retired the year before the Super Bowl. Other than that, my career is great.
Ken Lorenz (01:01): All right, that’s the part where the script ends. All right, so we’re mostly going to talk about relationships, but we’re going to have some fun. And so Tiki’s been kind enough to allow me to ask him some questions about relationships, and some of this can be serious, and some of this, we’re going to have fun. But we were told we couldn’t talk about certain topics, right?
Tiki Barber (01:20): Like what?
Ken Lorenz (01:22): My early retirement. We’re not going to talk about that.
Tiki Barber (01:26): I retired at just the right time.
Audience (01:29): Are you telling me something here, Ken.
Ken Lorenz (01:30): I know. Right? All those over there shaking in his boots a little bit. So we’re not going to talk about that. We’re not going to talk about the Buffalo Bills unless you want to.
Tiki Barber (01:38): We can.
Ken Lorenz (01:39): All right. We might go there. All right. Let’s start off with something easy. Something I like to call lightning round questions. Now, these are easy.
Tiki Barber (01:46): All right.
Ken Lorenz (01:48): Coffee or tea?
Tiki Barber (01:50): Coffee, without a doubt.
Ken Lorenz (01:51): All right. The beach or the mountains?
Tiki Barber (01:54): The mountains. The beach, you know, Black people don’t like sitting in the sun.
Ken Lorenz (02:00): I had to put it out there.
Tracee (02:01): I like.
Ken Lorenz (02:05): Other than Tracee. Other than Tracee, with two Es, by the way.
Tracee (02:08): Thank you. Appreciate it.
Ken Lorenz (02:10): All right. We’ll go a little technology. How about Macintosh or PC?
Tiki Barber (02:17): This is a tough one. No, I can’t punt. I am all Apple right now. But I grew up on PCs because at UVA, I was in the business school, the McIntire School of Commerce, and I studied management information systems, so I learned how to program on PCs. And the functionality is better there than on Macs. It’s too complicated.
Ken Lorenz (02:44): But you’re Apple now.
Tiki Barber (02:46): But I’m Apple now, but I prefer the PC. I got indoctrinated and stuck. Everything is Apple now, but I prefer the PC.
Ken Lorenz (02:57): All right. Aldo, you hear that?
Aldo (03:01): Yeah. It went out the other ear.
Ken Lorenz (03:02): It’s a standard interview question in the company. All right.
Tiki Barber (03:06): It would’ve been better if you would’ve asked me C++, Cobalt or Visual Basic.
Aldo (03:10): There we go.
Ken Lorenz (03:10): Okay, go ahead.
Aldo (03:12): Where did that come from?
Ken Lorenz (03:14): [inaudible 00:03:14]. Of those, your favorite
Tiki Barber (03:19): C++. Even though it’s basic.
Ken Lorenz (03:22): What about Ada or Modular 2 or Lisp?
Tiki Barber (03:26): At that point, I was playing football. Moore’s law passed me, man. Trust me.
Ken Lorenz (03:34): Yeah. All right. Last one and we’ll get off the lightning round. Star Wars, Star Trek.
Tiki Barber (03:40): Oh, see, God, you asked good lightning round questions.
Audience (03:43): Star Trek. Which one?
Tiki Barber (03:45): No, it’s not. So if you want to do originals, it’s Star Wars without question.
Ken Lorenz (03:53): Right.
Tiki Barber (03:53): But Paramount+ has come out with Discovery, with Picard. There’s the new one with Captain Pike, who people don’t know, Captain Pike was the pilot, episode captain of Star Trek.
Ken Lorenz (04:09): That’s right.
Tiki Barber (04:10): He was only there for one episode. And then it became, obviously, William Shatner. So it’s hard because now I love Star Trek, but my soul is Star Wars. So even though it got kind of convoluted and George or Bing C.
Audience (04:29): Originals.
Tiki Barber (04:30): Originals, exactly. Star Wars originals. How about that?
Audience (04:34): Peacock has some sort of new-
Tiki Barber (04:36): That’s right.
Audience (04:36): Star Wars thing going on.
Tiki Barber (04:39): That was Star Trek.
Audience (04:40): Star Wars.
Tiki Barber (04:44): Star wars-
Audience (04:45): Paramount was Star Trek.
Tiki Barber (04:45): Yes. Star Wars is Disney.
Audience (04:45): Disney+.
Tiki Barber (04:45): Is Disney.
Ken Lorenz (04:46): Yeah. Obi One is pretty good.
Tiki Barber (04:49): That’s right.
Ken Lorenz (04:50): But it’s Disney. It’s not George Lucas.
Tiki Barber (04:53): Yes.
Ken Lorenz (04:55): Anyway, let’s get down a serious question for second.
Tiki Barber (04:57): Those weren’t serious?
Ken Lorenz (04:58): No. All right. So I can tell you, personally, this was my first business trip in three years, which although, and the team know I traveled extensively 95% of the time, never turned in my expenses on time, almost as bad as Stefan. But this was my first trip on the road. And when you think about building relationships, we all think about three years ago and before that, where we spent a lot of time face to face. Now, coming out of Virginia, moving to New York, you’ve got a lot of people to meet and spend time with, with everything you’re doing. How’d you build relationships during this period? And how did you keep those relationships when you’ve got things like FaceTime and Zoom and so on?
Tiki Barber (05:46): It’s a really good question. I can answer this from a personal standpoint and a professional standpoint. About nine years ago, I started a company with mark Gerson of the Gerson Lehrman Group called Thuzio. It’s an event company, and we have a influencer marketing platform, a SaaS product, that we push out to different companies. And when the pandemic hit our event company basically ended, and we were dead in the water. We had no shot at producing revenue because we did this. We did in-person events. But very quickly we realized the power of Zoom and the power of networking over the internet,and we became one of the leaders in virtual events. And through that process, we figured out how to connect by doing things that are off the beaten path for events. So we would do cooking events. We would do demonstrations, whether it’s sports or otherwise. And it made a different type of connection, but it allows us to serve our client. The beauty of it is that we learned how to do something new that ultimately let us double our revenue and it led to an acquisition event.
Tiki Barber (07:01): And so while a lot of people will look at the pandemic and the negative effects of it, there was also a lot of opportunities in it. And we made a lot of new friends, business clients, that we otherwise Wouldnt have had the bandwidth to reach out to.
Tiki Barber (07:15): From a personal standpoint,it was rough. Because all of a sudden you’re stuck inside. You can’t go have hose Tuesday drinks or Wednesday drinks or Thursday drinks, whatever it is. And for those of you who have kids, especially if you have young kids like me, all of a sudden you’re a teacher, and it was challenging. But it was also revealing. I know this from personal experience. Some of my friends, they’re getting divorced now, because they didn’t enjoy it. But some of our other friends bonded in ways that they didn’t even think they could do. Because they’ve been so busy. They’re doing so many different things. But now all of a sudden they were inside with each other and they found out how much they really enjoyed being around each other, and they don’t hang out on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday with us anymore. And so I think, using a negative to create a positive is what we did professionally. And the same thing could be said for us personally, in a lot of ways. I actually loved it, because I commute in the city for my radio show every day.
Tiki Barber (08:25): And back then when the pandemic happened, we were 3:00 to 6:00 PM, which meant that I was fighting traffic for an hour and a half to get home. I’d get home at 7:30, my kids would be getting ready for bed and I would never see them. And then the pandemic happened and my commute was 10 seconds to the kitchen. And so I saw my kids. We’ve subsequently moved to WFAN locally. We do the midday show. And we’re 10:00 to 2:00. So my commute is tougher in the morning, but great in the afternoon. So it’s all worked out. It’s not always the case. But I think the effort in trying to create new ways to make relationships is what most of us, or some of us, got out of the pandemic.
Ken Lorenz (09:04): That’s an awesome answer. Tiki.
Tiki Barber (09:05): Thank you.
Ken Lorenz (09:06): Yeah. Very well done. We had a meeting of our senior team earlier this week. Guys, can I share this a little bit?
Audience (09:21): [inaudible 00:09:21]. Where is the restroom?
Ken Lorenz (09:26): Yeah, no. So we had a meeting in Stefan’s room. It was an internal meeting.
Tiki Barber (09:37): With Stefan there.
Ken Lorenz (09:38): Stefan was there. Hey, you got to picture this. In the hotel we’re in, there’s only a little desk and then there’s a bed in the middle of the room. So we pull up chairs-
Audience (09:50): Who was on the bed, Ken?
Ken Lorenz (09:50): Nobody was on the bed, but we used the bed like a conference table. So we had the chairs pulled up at the side of the bed.
Audience (09:57): Oh, that’s excellent.
Ken Lorenz (09:57): We had a Zoom call, not Zoom, Teams call going.
Tiki Barber (09:58): Yes.
Ken Lorenz (09:59): We’re on video. And one of our team members was still in Edmonton, so the rest of us are in the room. And I looked down and I realized, the three of us are communicating with each other, looking at the camera, not at each other in the room. And there was a level of comfort, actual comfort, of being able to look them on the screen and then look up, oh, all those actually in the room. Oh, Stefan is actually in the room. And I think people are going to have to deal with that what’s reality difference.
Tiki Barber (10:30): That’s right. But I think eye contact is something that actually increased
Ken Lorenz (10:37): Yes.
Tiki Barber (10:37): Because of the pandemic and being on devices all the time.Because all of a sudden you became acutely aware that someone was looking at you. Otherwise, you kind of just there’s traffic in the room. You don’t think about people looking at you. But when you’re sitting in front of a little eye, you know that people are looking at you. Even if they’re not-
Ken Lorenz (10:59): That’s right.
Tiki Barber (10:59): Even if they’re looking whatever at the book or the iPhone or whatever it may be-
Ken Lorenz (11:03): They’re not multitasking.
Tiki Barber (11:05): Of course they are. That’s what we do. But you’re right, I think it created a different connection that I didn’t think would happen from technology, but it does.
Ken Lorenz (11:16): It’s an odd thing.
Tiki Barber (11:17): Yes. But it’s a great thing.
Ken Lorenz (11:19): And we’ll see where it goes going forward.
Tiki Barber (11:21): That’s right.
Ken Lorenz (11:23): All right. More fun questions.
Tiki Barber (11:25): Go ahead.
Ken Lorenz (11:27): So let’s talk a little bit about what have you been up to since you left football?
Tiki Barber (11:33): Oh man, a lot.
Ken Lorenz (11:34): You’ve had a lot going on-
Tiki Barber (11:36): I have six kids.
Ken Lorenz (11:37): Well, that’s one thing.
Tiki Barber (11:38): I have six kids. One is at Princeton. He’s a 20-year-old, almost 20, which is crazy to me that he’s20. An18 year old that graduates tomorrow. He’s heading up to Brown. I have 12-year-old twins who are divas. They’re the girls. I start now having all girls that I deserve. Some 12-year-old twins that are beautiful and they’re great. I got a divorce, which also happened in the interim since my playing time. And I got remarried. And my eight-year-old is doing competitive cheer, which if you don’t know competitive cheer and you think travel baseball is hard, wow, it’s rough. And then a five-year-old who’s my baby. She’s the one that still wants to lay with daddy. Everybody else is done with me. So raising kids is one. I started a company Thuzio that I told you guys about. And I’ve also been in media. Media has been an interesting journey for me. So a lot of people wondered why I retired when I retired. And I mentioned that timing’s a bitch. I left right before the Giants won a Superbowl.
Tiki Barber (12:45): But a couple of things started to happen to me by virtue of being a New Yorker. So during my days, nobody lived in the city, nobody. It was me and Jason Garrett, who was the former office coordinator here; he is now on NBC. Everybody else lived in New Jersey. And I wanted to live in New York. And so I lived in New York, and I met all of these amazing people. And I was walking in these circles that I didn’t belong in because I wasn’t financially well off enough to be in these circles, but I was cool. So I was in these circles, and it just created so many different opportunities, to the point where when I wrote my first children’s book with my twin brother, I was doing events for Fox News. And so Brian Kilmeade said to me one day, he’s like, “Man, you’re really good at selling these books. You should come co-host with me on Fox and Friends.” I was like, “All right, I’ll do that.” This is before they dictated the narrative and all these other things. Did I say that out loud?
Ken Lorenz (13:44): No.
Tiki Barber (13:45): So anyways, I’m now of asudden doing media, talking about things other than sports. And what that led to is relationships. One was with Tony Snow. Now Tony Snow was the Fox News anchor who left to become George Bush’s press secretary. And he ended up getting sick, and ultimately, he passed away. But when he left the White House, he went back to do Fox News radio. And he called me one day and said, “I’m tired of talking politics. I want to talk some sports. Can you call in every Thursday?” So every Thursday, I would call in, and it was awesome. We’d talk about, whatever, Washington, then Redskinsand the Giants and whatever. And then, one day, he says to me, “Tiki, you know who really wants to meet you?” I’m like, “No, who?” He said, “Condoleezza Rice.” And I was like, “What?” He said,”Yeah. She loves sports. She loves football. And she loves the Barbers.” I was like, “All right, have her secretary call me.”So the secretary called me, and about three months later, I go down to the State Department, and I’m having lunch with Condoleezza Rice.
Tiki Barber (14:55): Now, remember, this is 2004-ish, five, maybe. And the war is going bad. And so she has a meeting with the president about the war. She has a meeting with the Japanese finance director about some trade agreement. And then, sandwiched in there is lunch with Tiki Barber. And so that first thing I said, when I walked in was, “I hear you want to be Commissioner of the NFL.” And she says, “I do, but I got to figure out Iran first.” I was like, “All right, so you’re never going to be Commissioner of the NFL.” But it started this interesting whirlwind of chance meetings. I was at [inaudible 00:15:39] and I met Shimon Peres. And he invited me to come to Israel as his guest to see these twin sports schools. And so all of a sudden, all this stuff outside of football, unrelated completely to the sport that I played for a living. But because I lived in New York and I had an image, and a brand, and whatever you want to call it, I was getting these opportunities.
Tiki Barber (15:57): And football was a grind, man. It was beating me up. And I loved it, but I hated it. If that makes sense.
Ken Lorenz (16:04): Oh, it does.
Tiki Barber (16:05): And I saw my next path. I saw it. It was clear as day in front of me. And so I decided to retire. And instead of staying at Fox, I ended up going to NBC and working for the Today Show and Football Night in America and covering the Olympics for MSNBC. But all of a sudden, my life was this. I was viewed as this. Football player, all-time great, leading rusher, blah, blah, blah, that other nonsense. It doesn’t mean anything unless you’re a Giants fan. And then it went hard, right. And so it was awesome, but it taught me about reinvention. And when I went through my divorce, that was the most important lesson that I had. How do I reinvent myself now? Professionally, it’s kind of easy. Personally, it’s hard. Yeah. So I’ve been on a track of reinvention for the last 16 years now. I’ve been retired for a long time.
Ken Lorenz (17:00): And what kind of grade do you give yourself?
Tiki Barber (17:03): I’d say a B, just a B.
Ken Lorenz (17:06): Just a B.
Tiki Barber (17:07): Yeah.
Ken Lorenz (17:08): What would make it an A?
Tiki Barber (17:09): What would make it an A? That’s a good question. COVID was challenging.I didn’t see my kids, my older kids, for a good year because they lived in Connecticut. So FaceTime and all that other stuff was fantastic, but the physical wasn’t there. Because you couldn’t leave Connecticut and then go back to Connecticut. I’m in Jersey, so Connecticut through a state to New Jersey, they would have to miss a week of school every time they came see me. So I didn’t see them for a year in person. And so this is the relationship side, back to that first question. 10-year-old to 12-year-olds, it’s an impressionable moment in their lives, and I completely missed it. And figuring out how to make that bridge happen. I don’t know how you make up for lost years, but if I could figure that out, I’d give myself an A. But I haven’t figured that out. There’s a connection that it was lost a little bit. Not for my older kids because they’re boys-
Ken Lorenz (18:22): They were fine.
Tiki Barber (18:23): They’re knuckleheads, they’re whatever. But for those girls, and for those who have girls in this room, you know, there’s something that happens between 10 and 12 that if you miss it, you’re stuck on the outside. So that’s what I’m trying to figure out.
Ken Lorenz (18:39): Really good. Really good. Let me go down a little different path. First of all, I want to get everybody involved in this. So when you think of yourself, and you think of the job that you’re in right now, some of you probably think of yourselves as a player, a direct producer, whether you’re a banker, you’re an investment banker, you’re a salesperson, you’re on the field. And then a lot of us are in positions where we’re supporting those folks around the field, making sure their systems work, that they got the tools that they need to run their business. I won’t ask you to raise hands in which one you identify with, but we’ve got both in the room. Very similar to what you’ve got in football. And now actually, with all the stuff that you’re doing, you’ve got a lot of people that are supporting you.
Tiki Barber (19:26): That’s right.
Ken Lorenz (19:28): Talk a little bit about what kind of things did you do to bridge that gap? Not just between you and other players, but you and the people that we’re supporting you.
Tiki Barber (19:37): Yeah. I gave this presentation. I wish we had a video. It was just a play. I’ll try to describe it to you. So on Christmas Eve in 2005, we played the Oakland Raiders in Oakland. So we’re on the road. It’s hostile out there. And our first, no, our second series of the game, I ripped off a 95-yard touchdown. It was awesome. And if you watch it, it’s focused on me, Bob Papa’s our play-by-play guy; he’s calling it. And it’s just like, ” Tiki Barber makes [inaudible 00:20:16]. He’s at the 40s. He gets in the sideline. He’s at the 50s.Touchdown. Tiki Barber.” And they show these signs of Tiki with an MVP. And I showed this video. And talked about the importance of relationships. And in my existence as a football player, I spent all of my time with the big fatties up front, the offensive line. They were my gold. They were the ones, to use your example, that were producing and supporting me. Because they’re the ones that take the hits. They’re the ones that have to pull. I would get all the glory, but it was always them.
Tiki Barber (20:53): So come Christmas time, I’d get the TVs. I bought them Panerai watches. They were like, “What is this? I don’t know what’s a Panerai.” They never wore them because thought it was too expensive. I almost bought them Harley’s, but it would’ve been bad if one of them crashed and it was my fault, so I ended up not doing it. And so I talked about my relationship that I had with them. And I spent all these meeting time with them. And after games, I’d take them to Promoloon the Upper East Side and they’d shut down the restaurant. We’d order all these bottles of wine and pasta. I took care of them because I knew that they were actually taking care of me.
Tiki Barber (21:31): And so, at the end of my presentation, I went back, and I showed the clip again, but I had the audio-visual guys slow it down at certain points. And so I started by saying, “The Oakland Raiders knew exactly what play we were running.” They knew it. Because when we got up to the line of scrimmage, they’re going,”Power, power.” Power is a strong side play. You got a leading fullback. You got a leading tight end. You got a guard pulling from the backside. They’re all just smashing in one place. It’s really just to get three yards because we’re backed up. We’re on the five-yard line. We got 95 yards to go. We just need to get three yards. So they’re cheating, and they know what’s happening.
Tiki Barber (22:09): And in my mind, I’m saying, “God, if Sean O’Hara, my center, cuts off the backside. And my right guard shuts off his guy. It’s going to be a hole here.” And so I ran the video. They take about three steps. My left tackle’s blocking two guys. The right guard is pulling around the center. Sean O’ Harris shuts off the back side, the right guard does his job; he smashes his guy and turns him. So there’s just this massive hole. The play’s supposed to go outside, but there’s this massive hole. So what do you do if you see a massive hole?
Ken Lorenz (22:42): Got to run through it.
Tiki Barber (22:46): You take it, you’re on, do it. So I run through it. And I let the tape run again. There’s a safety coming down to meet me, and I get him in the hole. And I’m old at this point, but I still shake him. And he misses me. But the safety is there, but the corner’s coming too. And I’m like, “Oh shit, here’s the corner.” I stopped it again. And I said, “What happens?” Plaxico Burress, who is one of our wide receivers, comes in, ears hole the shit out, just nails him right in the side of the head. And I was like, “I couldn’t have made that guy miss:” but Plaxico Burress cleaned him up for me.
Tiki Barber (23:14): So now, all of a sudden, I let the tape run again, I’m on the sideline. And here comes Amani Toomer. Amani Toomer is on the other side of the field. He comes all the way across the field and blocks the other safety, and holds him up. Plaxico, by the way, hits this guy on the side of the face, turns around, and escorts me up the sideline. And so, in the original showing of this video, it was about me. It was Tiki Barber with a great cut. He cuts to the sideline. Touchdown TikiBarber MVP. Nonsense. But in actuality, the only reason that play worked is because Luke Petitgout did more than his job, because he blocked two. Sean O’Hara cut off the backside, did exactly what he was supposed to do. Chris Snee, he blocked his guy, created a hole. I make a guy miss, but then Plaxico Burress blocks a guy. Receivers are divas, they don’t block. But he blocks a guy.
Tiki Barber (24:08): More than that, he turns around and goes above and beyond and escorts me down the field. Monihustles his off across the field and blocks another guy. So it happened because of we, not me. And so when I think about team and success, it has to be we. It may look like me, but it has to be we. And so when I think about team, a lot of my lessons come from my years playing football. And it’s a reason that athletes get asked to talk a lot because they have immediate examples. Sometimes you got to wait a quarter if you’re in your business, or you got to see the results, you got to see the big picture come in. For us, it was, “Did you do your job right now?” And you’re going to get booed, cheered, whatever. Right now. The eye in the sky don’t lie. But it also reveals a lot, including the power of teamwork.
Ken Lorenz (25:06): Great story.
Audience (25:07): Great story. That’s great.
Ken Lorenz (25:10): I’ll choose you on that one.
Tiki Barber (25:12): Cheers. That’s why they got good gifts.
Ken Lorenz (25:15): All right. I’ve got one last formal question, then we’ll just switch out. You had an interview back in January. I actually did a little homework, except I can never remember this gentleman’s name, nor can I read it without these readers.
Tiki Barber (25:30): I’m at that stage too, man. It’s so depressing, dude. My mom used to hold stuff like here, and I’m like, “What are you doing, mom?” Dude, it happened like that.
Ken Lorenz (25:43): I used to text and drive. I don’t do it anymore. You know why? Because I can’t see with these on while I’m texting.
Audience (25:51): [inaudible 00:25:51] pulled over.
Ken Lorenz (25:51): What did I say?
Audience (25:51): You got pulled over, my friend.
Ken Lorenz (25:53): All right. So you had an interviewer, Orlane Casadore.
Tiki Barber (25:56): Yeah. Casadore.
Ken Lorenz (25:59): He interviewed you back in January. And he was talking about your time in Virginia, he was talking about success in failure. And you were talking about it, and you made a comment that actually quoted your mom.
Tiki Barber (26:09): Yeah. My mom’s the best.
Ken Lorenz (26:11): Mom’s the best.
Tiki Barber (26:12): Yes.
Ken Lorenz (26:12): Absolutely. She said, make sure I get the quote right, “You never really fail unless you stop trying.”
Tiki Barber (26:19): That’s correct.
Ken Lorenz (26:21): So it made me think about something I say to my team on a regular basis, which is, “You can win alone, but you can never lose alone.” And I put those two things together. What I’d love to hear, and I think everybody would love to hear, is, look, you’ve hit a great career, you’ve got great things going, but there’s got to be times where you went, “I got to stop.”
Tiki Barber (26:47): Oh yeah.
Ken Lorenz (26:47): “I got to give up.”
Tiki Barber (26:48): Oh yeah. I’ve failed a lot, but I’ve also learned to embrace it. I’ve learned to not fear it and be scared of it. So I’ve done a lot of shit. Obviously, I played football. But early on in my career, I was doing WFAN, these station I work for now. I was doing during my career in the overnights. So I’d go work at 10 o’clock in the off-season. 10 o’clock at night, till 2:00 in the morning. I took an acting class, and I acted. In fact, I ended up on Broadway about two years ago, three years ago, doing Kinky Boots, which was amazing. I started a business in the real estate space, in affordable housing, because Steve Ross, who owns the Dolphins, had a portfolio down in my hometown, and he wanted to acquire it, and he thought I could help. It was in 2008. The time makes sense. Tax credit equity went from 98 cents on a dollar to 68 cents on a dollar. And nobody was giving you any debt financing. So we defaulted. He saved me, so it was okay.
Ken Lorenz (27:50): So hang on, I got to back you up. You played, was it, Danny, in Kinky Boots?
Tiki Barber (27:55): I did.
Ken Lorenz (27:56): How was that?
Tiki Barber (27:56): No, I played Don.
Ken Lorenz (27:57): Don.
Tiki Barber (27:58): I played Don. It was originally played by Dan Sherman. Now, Dan had seven weeks off because he was going to do a play at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, so they asked me if I was interested in learning the role and playing Don, who is the thesis of the show. I don’t know if anybody seen Kinky Boots, anybody see it?
Audience (28:17): Yeah.
Tiki Barber (28:20): This is a timeout. Let me take a 30 seconds. I’ve done a lot professionally, Kinky Boots might have been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I’m not joking. If you don’t know the show, the production, it’s about a shoe store owner whose dad dies. He takes over. It’s struggling. He goes to London, he meets a drag queen, and the drag queen convinces him to make Kinky Boots, tall boots for drag queens. So you can imagine what the final scene was like, my thigh-high stiletto heels. And my character Don is the antagonist. He doesn’t want this to happen. And so I’m playing a role that clearly you guys know is not me. Someone who’s just mean and like… But I learned it.
Tiki Barber (29:16): And over the course of the show, Don changes his tune. And the last line of the production is a song, the Six Stages to Success. And the last one is you change the world when you change your mind. And so by that point, even if you don’t know the show, you are on your feet, you are singing, “Just be who you want to be. Celebrate yourself. Try openly. Just be.” No, dude, I’m not even joking. I literally almost cry every night. So I didn’t take off from my radio show. So at six o’clock, I would sprint to my car, get in my car and I’d fly around up 8th Avenue. I’d park somewhere down there. And then I’d walk the last two blocks to the theater, which was on 8th and 43rd. And so I’d be walking up 8th Avenue, I’d usually sit on the other side, just in case someone recognized me.
Tiki Barber (30:23): And I’d see this line, a line out of the theater and down 8th Avenue. And I used to get emotional just walking up the line, because I’d see these people who maybe knew it, where they were in for, but didn’t really know. But I knew that every one of them in about three hours, were going to be on their feet, singing a song and feeling love. And I asked Callum Francis, who played Lola when I was there, he’s the main character. I was like, “Man, this is amazing.” He’s like, “You know why you feel that way, Tiki?” He said, “Because this show is about love. It’s about acceptance. It’s about seeing things in a different light. And we throw all of that out to the audience.” We’re like, “Here, take this love, take it, take it.” And like a tidal wave, eventually, it all comes back. And so at the end of the show, you’re overwhelmed. And so football was great. Some people cared that we [inaudible 00:31:32], and some people didn’t. But very few people changed their perspective on the world and people in the world than those that watch this show.
Tiki Barber (31:43): And here’s the funny thing. So his boyfriend, Callum’s boyfriend, Ainsley, was Aladdin in Aladdin Latin at the same time. And so my daughter was like, “I want to see Aladdin, I want to see Aladdin.” And so Callum said to me, “You’ll go see Aladdin, but you won’t like it.” I was like, “What are you talking about?” Everyone watched Aladdin when you were growing up. We’d love Aladdin.
Ken Lorenz (32:07): Sure.
Tiki Barber (32:08): I was like, “You’re going to love it.” He’s like, “Watch it and then come talk to me.” So when we go and watch it, we take Brooklyn; she loves it. She’s in her glory. And I’m watching it. I’m like, “I don’t really like this. It’s just entertainment.” And so afterward, it’s like, “Callum, you were right.” And he is like, “It’s just entertainment. There’s no meaning.” And so very few things that I’ve done had the meaning of doing a Broadway show about acceptance. And I don’t know why I got on that tangent, but.
Ken Lorenz (32:46): For those of us that haven’t seen it, we’re going to go see it now.
Tiki Barber (32:51): Well, it [inaudible 00:32:53], but it is coming back off-Broadway, and Callum is the lead.
Ken Lorenz (32:57): Nice.
Tiki Barber (32:59): My Lola, I mean, it was originated by-
Ken Lorenz (33:01): Are you going, man?
Tiki Barber (33:02): I am going. It was originated by, what’s his name? Billy Porter. And he’s fantastic. But Callum, if you didn’t see it with Callum, Callum is beautiful. He is a beautiful, tall, gorgeous man. And most of my male friends, non-homosexual, would come up to me after the show and say, “There’s no way that’s a man.”I’m like, “He’s standing right here.” “I love him. He’s so gorgeous. There’s no way he’s not.” “He’s a man. Trust me.” And so if you go see it, when it comes back off off Broadway, Callum will be the lead, and he’s fantastic. I forget what your original question was.
Ken Lorenz (33:47): That’s quite all right. I’m not sure it matters. Well, we were talking about you don’t fail-
Tiki Barber (33:54): Oh, not failing, not failing.
Ken Lorenz (33:55): Not failing.
Tiki Barber (33:56): So my point was, I tried everything. I didn’t know if I was going to be successful at that. I had no idea. But I’ve never been afraid to fail. And I also know that if you do have moments of setback and you’re part of a good team, they’re going to pick you up. My biggest issue in my professional career as an athlete, football player, was fumbling. And I remember when coach Coughlin, our new head coach, came in 2004. The first thing he said to me was, “I don’t care how good you are,” because I was good. “I don’t care how good you are, if you’re fumbling and you’re a liability, you’re not playing.” And I was like,” Okay.” It’s like dicey.
Tiki Barber (34:40): And so I ended up working with my running back coach, Gerald Ingram. And for the entire off-season, I carried the ball high and tight. It became mechanical. It used to be like, “Hold the ball, just hold it across and squeeze it tight.” It doesn’t work. It’s mechanically flawed to hold a football like this because there’s access up top, and there’s a void in the bottom. And so he said, “We got to hold it vertical. You got to keep your elbow to your side at all times. And when you come into contact, a linebacker is stronger than you, so he could pull your arm away, so when you go on the contact, take your off ball hand, cover it and go to go through contact like this. If you come out of it, you can take it off. But if not, keep it there and go to the ground like that, learn how to fall like that.” So it was mechanics and learning how to fall. And I drilled this for months.
Tiki Barber (35:31): And by the time the next season started, that ’04 season, I’m carrying the football right up under my chin. And people, if you follow football, you recognize this; it’s become something I’ve been known for. But it was because coach Coughlin was like, “Take me high and tight.” And I was like, “Fuck you, high and tight.” [inaudible 00:35:47] right there. And so I carried it high and tight. And interestingly, it made me faster. So speed, and I only know this because I ran track speed, is three things, stride length, stride frequency, which is important, and strength. How powerful you are, how many iterations of your steps you can do, and what the distance you cover and eat with each step you take. So there’s nothing I can do about stride length, I’m 5’9.5″; it is what it is. I could get stronger. So I started working out and building stronger, deadlifted and squatting. But frequency, my frequency changed when I started carrying the ball like this.
Tiki Barber (36:30): So your arms, I don’t know if anybody’s a runner here, but your arms have to match your leg frequency. They have to. Your arms can’t pump faster than your legs are; it’s just natural. Because think about it. If this leg is going forward, this arm can’t pump twice. And so what would happen was because I was right here, so instead of running like this, I’m tight like this. Now my feet are not doing that. My feet are going like this. They’re striking faster. And so I actually became faster. So even though I was 29 years old and beat up, almost a decade in the league, I got faster because I fixed my ball-carrying style. And I turned into an Elite Player. I rushed for as many yards in those last three seasons as I did in my first seven. The last three, as many yards as the first seven. And was an All-Pro and was one of the best players in the game. But it only happened because I failed gloriously, but then had my team and my coaches help me fix it, instead of being combative against failure.
Tiki Barber (37:50): Most people want to combat failure. You should brace it and fix it. And then what are they going to say about you? That was my stance. Never stopped trying.
Audience (38:02): [inaudible 00:38:02].
Ken Lorenz (38:02): All right. So two questions.
Audience (38:04): Yes.
Ken Lorenz (38:04): We’ll make them easy. Okay.
Tiki Barber (38:06): Yankees, Mets.
Audience (38:06): LGM.
Ken Lorenz (38:09): Yeah. Okay. Let’s go there. Yankees, Mets.
Tiki Barber (38:10): Yankees, man.
Ken Lorenz (38:12): Islanders, Rangers.
Tiki Barber (38:15): What was the question? I missed it.
Ken Lorenz (38:16): Islanders, Rangers.
Tiki Barber (38:17): This is a historical question.
Audience (38:19): [inaudible 00:38:19] Devils please? Jersey. He’s a Jersey guy.
Tiki Barber (38:24): Is Ken Daneyko coming back [inaudible 00:38:26].
Audience (38:26): [inaudible 00:38:26]. He’s good, dude.
Tiki Barber (38:29): I’m going to say Rangers because of Shesterkin. And Yankees.
Ken Lorenz(38:35): All right.
Tiki Barber (38:36): Even though I think the Mets, we had this debate on my radio show today, if the Mets and the Yankees played in the World Series, and the Mets get healthy. So Scherzer comes back, which looks like he is, he is going to come on Sunday, and deGrom comes back. Who has the inch? And McNeil. Who has the in chin the World Series? It’s the Mets. You’re right.
Audience (38:57): Thank you.
Tiki Barber (38:58): If the Mets are healthy, the Mets are better than the Yankees.
Audience (39:04): All right. You heard it here. I felt like there was a little coaching going on there.
Ken Lorenz (39:06): All right. Last two quick questions.
Tiki Barber (39:06): That’s reading the room.
Audience (39:18): Exactly. [inaudible 00:39:18].
Ken Lorenz (39:18): Is there anything you want to share with this crowd? Anything you want to share? You’ve got the opportunity to share any piece of advice you want to share.
Tiki Barber (39:26): You get the operative word, and this is because it’s my life. It’s funny, another story, I can’t help it, can’t help myself. So I got asked to do a Cadillac commercial back in ’05 after I had one of my really good…Actually, I think it was before that, maybe it was ’04. I got asked to do a Cadillac commercial, and they gave me the Caddy; it was awesome. Driving this free truck, it was great. But they filmed this commercial over in Brooklyn, and it was all this makeup and do all this walk up to the car. And this was pre-social media commercials. And so we did a traditional commercial. And at the end, they said, “We’re going to try something just for our Facebook page.” And I drove, and they had a guy sitting in the front seat, and he just had a little handheld camera. And he was just asking me questions. Like, “Hey, tell me about New York, playing in New York.” And tell me about this and tell me about that.
Tiki Barber (40:26): And they asked me about my time at Virginia. And they said, “Well, tell me about your career at Virginia.” And it just led into this stream of consciousness. So at Virginia, I was just a guy, a Jag, they call us, J-A-G, just the guy. A guy who’s there. If you call a JAG, be better. Someone calls you a JAG, be better. So I was just the guy at Virginia. And going into my third season, I wasn’t the starter. And then Kevin Brooks, this is the story I told. And then Kevin Brooks hurt his hamstring right before we played the University of Michigan in the Pigskin Classic, which was a standalone game on national television.UVA playing Michigan in the big house.
Ken Lorenz (41:07): Right.
Tiki Barber (41:08): And first, second series we want to draw. Jared Irons hits me in the hole, nails me, separates my shoulder. But I knocked me outside, and I go 80 yards for a touchdown. I ended up having 180 yards in that game. And my career took off. I was the ACCOfficer Player of the Year. From that point on, instead of thinking, “I’m working at Oracle, I’m now going to the NFL.” And that’s not a joke. It happened. Seriously, I was a programmer. I went from working at Oracle to going to the NFL in that game. Really, one play. But it was because I was ready for the opportunity. And I was nervous as hell. Here I was, third-year guy. Not really anything. My brother was a star, but I was just a guy. And I got this opportunity and became a star.
Tiki Barber (42:02): And so in this Cadillac interview, this guy sitting next to me. And we’re driving over the Brooklyn Bridge or whatever bridge it was in Lower Manhattan. And I say, “Opportunities are rarely perfect, but I also know if you’re not ready for them, they might not come again.” That became the commercial. All that that shit we did beforehand. The eight hours of filming in Brooklyn, they scrapped it. They took this little handheld video, and it became the commercial. In fact, they played it in the Super Bowl. It became a Super Bowl commercial. And it was pre-doing internet stuff. And so, what I know is that opportunities are rarely ideal. It could be like, “Yeah, no, I really want to do that.” “Man. Do you want to go on Broadway, really?” “Do you really want to try to be a Today Show correspondent?” “Do you really want to start a business?” All these things. They’re just opportunities.
Tiki Barber (43:04): And so if I was leaving you a message, it would be, don’t be afraid of the opportunities, man. Because you don’t know where they’re going. You don’t. And if you let it pass by, it might not come again.
Ken Lorenz (43:20): Very cool.
Audience (43:20): Very cool.
Ken Lorenz (43:26): So tradition, the last question is actually yours. You get to ask me anything you want to ask. Now, this could be one of those opportunities.
Tiki Barber (43:38): Yes.
Ken Lorenz (43:40): Or a great risk. But I’ll let…
Tiki Barber (43:44): I will ask you because you’re head of sales, and this was centered on relationships and all the ones that I now have made. I feel like I know you guys now. In your career, the most important relationship you’ve ever made was what?
Ken Lorenz (44:05): It’s an easy one.
Tiki Barber (44:06): Don’t don’t say, Aldo.Ken Lorenz (44:07):No. My wife of 30 years.
Tiki Barber (44:15): Why?
Ken Lorenz (44:16): So I will share this story. And I got somebody that knows that’s going to keep me honest on this story. SoI went to Canisius was studying programming. I thought I wanted to go to Berkeley and be an AI researcher. Some things happened in my life with a girl I was dating in college that didn’t work out. Fourth year of college, I end up connecting up with now my wife, who had moved to Texas and worked for a company called Great Plain Software. She was a channel manager. And we hit it off in Buffalo. And she said, “This is too quick to end. Why don’t you book a flight and come to Austin, spend two weeks. If we like each other after two weeks, and you can find a job, stay. And if either one of these things doesn’t work out, get on a plane, go home, call a two-week vacation, go back to your life.” Never turned around.
Ken Lorenz (45:14): And so opportunity was, “I’ve got this opportunity to be with this fantastic woman.” And I took it. And it led me into this career, into this industry. I’ve been in this industry since I left college.
Tiki Barber(45:26): Wow.
Ken Lorenz (45:26): And haven’t left it and have had just a fantastic roaring time. So easy question, thank you.
Tiki Barber (45:33): That’s why you’re still married 33 years later.
Ken Lorenz (45:35): Yes.
Tiki Barber (45:36): You’re successful because of her.
Ken Lorenz (45:37): Yes.
Tiki Barber (45:39): That’s right. Absolutely, you find the right partner, you’re good to go.
Ken Lorenz (45:41): Absolutely. Tiki, it was a pleasure.
Tiki Barber (45:43): Thank you, brother.
Speaker 1 (45:50): Thank you for tuning into the Rev-Tech Revolution Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please don’t forget to rate, review and share this with colleagues who would benefit from it. If you would like to learn more about how Riva can help you improve your customer data operations, check outrivaengine.com.