From Field to Classroom: Jalen Richard discusses Harvard Business School experience

To the untrained eye, an NFL playbook can look like a foreign language, especially Jon Gruden's, which Jalen Richard seems to have a good grasp on; however, the talented running back recently decided in 2020 to expand his vernacular outside of football.

Similar to football, marketing has its own language, and if you don't live in that world you might need a translator. Since he entered the league, Richard has always been interested in learning more about business, but never had the platform to do so, or at least until now.

"Just being in the league and getting this new deal, it brought more things to my mind and I should try to learn more about money, more about business," Richard explained. "I saw that the Harvard opportunity was there through the Crossover program and I just couldn't pass it up, but it was also a selection process."

In 2017, Harvard Business School created the Crossover Into Business program, designed for professional athletes interested in learning more about the industry. Earlier this year, Richard applied and was fortunate enough to be accepted, along with 39 other athletes from around the world. The opportunity to learn with like-minded athletes was enticing to the 26-year-old and he was eager to get started.

"I had to go out to Harvard [in February] and do an on-campus kickoff, where we actually sat in on a business class," he said. "We were able to sit in on the class with the students and go through our own mock class as if we were in the full program. We did some exercises, got to meet the director, Ms. Anita, and also got to pick out two mentors that we would leave the campus with on an email and phone call status. Those mentors were meant to help you throughout the course of the semester and also any other questions you had; whether it's dealing with business or anything that those mentors' expertise was in."

On top of his on-site experience, Richard was required to complete three case studies and present a final case study to a pair of mentors and the Harvard Business School director, Ms. Anita, at the end of the semester. For his final, Richard presented a case study on NBA Legend Dwyane Wade and his investments outside of sports, which was met with high praise from the judging committee.

"The Dwyane Wade study was about his level in the company of Stance, with the socks, because he's a big contributor to that, so we had to come up with a way how we'd restructure his contract with Stance, and he's on the backend of his career with his shoe company, he has through the China importer, and his stance over there," Richard said. "I learned a lot about D-Wade through this case study."

The Crossover program gave Richard the extra push he needed to start thinking more seriously about his goals outside of football. Going forward, he has a lot he'd like to accomplish, but isn't quite ready to act just yet.

"I've got different ideas, but I haven't committed to completely anything yet," he said with a grin. "I did start this offseason my own marketing company Privé, so I have that going on. I'm continuing to try and grow in that with my partner Rafiyq Cromwell — who's my manager and also handles my marketing — so we put this together to try and change the realm of how football players are doing their marketing right now."

Privé is designed for athletes not on the superstar tier, who don't garner business opportunities as easily, but are interested in expanding their reach to gain more notoriety.

Richard's experience at Harvard isn't something he ever envisioned doing a few years ago, but given his platform, it was too good an opportunity to pass up and he's benefitted immensely from the process.

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