NFL Draft: 1983/ Round 2
When Leonard Marshall Speaks…People Listen.
Former 2x Super Bowl champ, Leonard Marshall, is a winner, and he proved it every time he stepped on the gridiron and has proved it every day since he stepped off the field. His passion for excellence shines through everything he does, and make no mistake, Leonard’s drive and determination creates an indelible impact on anyone who has the privilege of knowing him. He continues his quest to equip former professional athletes with information and resources to help them thrive and discover mental success in their post-athletic careers.
What follows is an up close and personal glimpse into Leonard’s mindset and mission.
￼My Elite Network: Briefly, describe your professional football experience?
Leonard: Professional football was awesome! My first game as a New York Giant was against the Seattle Seahawks in 1983. I was so eager to play I forgot certain uniform equipment in the locker room (like my helmet). I played Right Defensive End, and during my 12 years in the NFL, I played for three teams: Washington Redskins, New York Jets, and the New York Giants where I performed on the field for a decade, winning two Super Bowl Championships.
My Elite Network: What business did you choose to go into after football, and why did you choose the particular company(s)?
Leonard: I dabbled in several businesses when I began my life’s journey after professional football. There’s one thing I’m glad I did: One of my teammates, George Martin, was pivotal in getting players to return to school to work on their education.
I took advantage of that opportunity and attended a local university in New Jersey along with several of my teammates.
Fast forward to today, I’m now working with a company called Elixinol. They’re a US-based international company who manufactures cannabidiol hemp oil products, also known as CBD. The number one reason I got involved with Elixinol is to help other players. It’s well known that I’ve been diagnosed with CTE and after using Elixinol’s products personally, I say, “Don’t knock it till you try it.”
I didn’t feel like myself on the prescription medication for CTE which made me reluctant to add another substance to my body. But I did my research and came to the conclusion that there’s no need for weed. CBD doesn’t get me high, but I feel more like myself again.
My Elite Network: Tell me about your diagnosis with CTE and how it has affected your life.
Leonard: My journey into the world of CBD and medicinal marijuana usage began in 2007 when I started seeing signs related to cognitive issues. I started noticing behavioral changes such as mood swings, short-term memory loss, sleep deprivation, and migraine headaches. Things just did not add up which didn’t make me too happy.
I was very aggressive with my ex-wife and very assertive with my teenage daughter, Arianna Nicole. Maybe you can relate to what I’m saying if you’re raising a teenage daughter who is somewhat attractive (wink wink) and smart. I loved my daughter too much to let her fail and I was so in love with my ex-wife, even to this day, so I don’t understand where we went wrong except for my cognitive issues.
As these changes started happening I began receiving phone calls from other players; Dave Duerson and a few others who played with me on the New York Giants, NY Jets, and Washington Redskins. Players referred additional guys to me such as Reggie Roby and David Little who are both dear friends of mine.
I began writing a book about it entitled “When the Cheering Stops,” released in 2010. While speaking to several attorneys and medical practitioners in the field of study of neurology I just had to get tested at UCLA. My classmate, Dr. Julien Bailes, and my dear friend, Dr. Bennet Omalu, suggested that I look into my cognitive challenges with grave concern. In 2013 I tested positive for CTE. I am very thankful that I was proactive in getting tested, so I didn’t meet the same fate as a few of my former teammates.
My Elite Network: How do you handle inquiries regarding the use of CBD?
Leonard: These questions are not only from current and former professional athletes but their loved ones too. CBD questions come to me from around the globe. The first question is often, “Does CBD have THC?” or, “Will I get high if I used CBD?”
I answer those questions by saying, “Elixinol’s CBD products have .003% THC, which isn’t enough to get you high.” A good comparison would be eating a poppy seed bagel. Elixinol’s products are made from hemp, which is the oldest form of anti-inflammatory known to humanity. It’s non-pharmaceutical and sold globally. We openly address all questions and concerns from the community and professional athletes with the utmost integrity supported by facts.
My Elite Network: Once you determined what business you wanted to go into, how did you go about starting the process?
Leonard: I applied the basics associated with my journey in athletics. First, I want to make sure my values align with any company with which I associate myself. Second, I also want to feel good about the enterprise and its people. If those two things line up correctly, I begin to engage deeply in the organization’s strategy.
My Elite Network: What value do you bring to the product, Elixinol?
Leonard: What I bring to Elixinol is increased brand awareness, visibility, and integrity already associated with this product. I’m extremely open when it comes to discussing my life after professional football. I’m also very candid about my position on traumatic brain injury and my willingness to talk to people who just don’t understand the differences between CBD and THC. It’s understandable that there’s confusion, but my personal journey with CBD is something I’m happy to talk about with other players and the public.
My Elite Network: Describe the marketing strategies you implemented to grow your business.
Leonard: The primary strategy regarding marketing Elixinol is to simply be honest, forthright and informative when an opportunity arises to discuss what the company does openly. I utilized the platform offered to me as a professional athlete to become a sounding board for other athletes. I also use my brand as an athlete to create active discussions and coupled with the integrity associated with my sport have been instrumental to my successes in life. My platform enables the marketing team at Elixinol to candidly reach a captive audience.
My Elite Network: What is your educational background and how does it apply to your business?
Leonard: I attended Louisiana State University for four years as a collegiate athlete, where I studied Business Administration. In 1984 I began a continuing education program at Fairleigh Dickinson University to achieve my Bachelor’s degree in Finance. I graduated in 1990 while at the same time winning my second Super Bowl. I then went on to work on my MBA and Certification in Management at Seton Hall University. At Seton Hall, I taught and served as an executive in residence for six years.
My Elite Network: What non-traditional education methods have you utilized to manage your business? (e.g., classes, seminars, teleconferences, books, online research)
Leonard: I’ve used all of the above as points of reference to understand better the suitability associated with CBD. I’ve done a lot of personal research, and I’ve also talked to researchers and doctors.
I’ve often found it much better when I take a hands-on approach to what I’m doing while understanding that I’ll reap the greatest impact on the people who inquire about the products and services I offer.
My Elite Network: How do you plan to expand your business in the next five to ten years?
Leonard: Most important is education about CBD, and that’s where sharing my story of how CBD has impacted my life is the most beneficial. It’s great when you’re extremely transparent with consumers who loyally use your products. By continuing to re-invest myself in CBD education and efficient product delivery, I think Elixinol will continue to grow internationally.
My Elite Network: How would you describe your leadership style? (Dictatorship, collaboration, results-oriented, teamwork)
Leonard: My leadership style is extremely collaborative! I participated in Super Bowl’s based upon collaborative effort, and through the process, I learned that “Teamwork” makes a dream work!”
I love when the Elixinol team assembles as teammates on a weekly conference call, using a think tank model. We bounce ideas off of each other while establishing goals and creating a stronger vision for the future of the company. We want to keep it transparent, science-based and high-quality. We don’t want to take short cuts, so we hold each other accountable on every level.
My Elite Network: How do you motivate yourself, your management staff, and Elixinol employees?
Leonard: I’m motivated daily by this quote! “As long as you remain green you’ll continue to grow; it’s when you think you’re right you begin to rot!”
I also utilize the classic poem by Peter Wimbrow, called The Man in the Glass. I urge you to Google it and read the timeless words.
My Elite Network: What are the three top lessons you’ve learned from managing your business?
1. People: The integrity of the people make all the difference.
2. Places: Where are these people going? Where have they been?
3. Perspectives: What can we learn from each other and how can we help our teammates through our experiences?
These three lessons have served me well as a recipe for success.
My Elite Network: How would you describe your mindset now, all these years after your pro days?
Leonard: Always maximize the use of your brand to the best of your ability. Be certain to align yourself with people of like mind and interests. Never compromise your integrity for the benefit of others who aren’t committed to you.
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