Arnold Palmer had great instincts as an entrepreneur. He was able to build a great leadership brand that extended beyond the golf course and his career. I believe he was great at creating and seizing new opportunities and markets. What can we learn from Arnold Palmer, the entrepreneur? What key skills did he possess that allowed him to excel as a business leader?
Arnold Palmer’s key strength was he knew himself. He knew how to work every course he played. Just as importantly, he knew how to maximize his impact on other golfers. In a game that is known for being very low key, he could intimidate people on the way to the first hole. A writer once described it as Arnie owning the tee. Long before Mohamed Ali understood the power of getting in competitors’ heads, Arnold was already there when he played against many of his better competitors.
The fourth rule of life the Arnold Palmer way is trust yourself. How did Arnold Palmer continue to win on the golf course after his career was over? He was very good at understanding what people wanted. Arnie shared why he was the right person to give it to them. He seemed to possess perfect timing when choosing products and services to endorse. He had an entrepreneur’s sense of when it was the right time to get involved with a product or service.
When sponsors wanted his time he developed strategies to help him remain a leader in his sport and other social issues. He was an ambassador of both golf and entrepreneurs. He took time to improve his interpersonal skills so he could represent many different organizations as their spokesperson.
He was always quick to shine the light on causes and organizations that could use the exposure. His simple language and grace attracted attention for his clients. It was said he made people feel good about themselves by finding something remarkable about every person he met. He made people feel like they could accomplish anything because he did. His appeal spanned the generations.
The fifth and final rule of life the Arnold Palmer way is to learn how to leverage the conditions you are given. Arnold started his career when great athletes had to pursue other careers in the off season if they hoped to provide for their families. Arnold Palmer’s father was the grounds keeper at a country club. This could have been a limiting factor for most children.
This gave Arnold the opportunity to play on the course only at certain times when the members weren’t there. He developed many different ways of getting invited to play at the course including his ability to coach others on golf. He was always looking for new ways to earn money. I believe his friends called it going for the green. I don’t believe it was always about his golf game.
While others wanted to be caddies on the course his father managed, he strove to play and hustle to earn additional money to keep golfing. If he had chosen the easier path, we might never have seen Arnold the golfer emerge from the crowds of potential golfers to become a great champion.
Arnold’s biggest contribution to business may have come when he signed with Mark McCormick of IMG in 1960. He not only ensured his family’s financial future, this ushered in sports marketing and sports agents. It changed professional sports and marketing forever. Today, many good athletes have the opportunity to become great because of sponsorships and sports marketing.
Arnold Palmer saw the opportunity to help athletes get compensated for endorsing a wide range of products and services. These endorsements and sponsorships changed marketing forever. This also allowed professional athletes to have a more balanced life and career. In the 1960s, athletes had to work other jobs to pay the bills in the off season. Many never achieved their potential or were injured on their other jobs.
Rest in peace, Arnold Palmer. You made such a huge difference to so many people with your life and how you lived it. See you on the other side where I can only imagine how you’re helping the Saints improve their short game. If your interested in supporting Arnold Palmer’s Foundation you can learn more here at Arnie’s Army website. You can ready many great stories on Arnold Palmer and even share your own memories of the King.
See you next week.