Jesse Itzler - Taking Risks, Selling For Millions, Living With A (Navy) SEAL, Married To A Billionaire


I had never heard of Jesse Itzler before listening to this podcast, below. He has an interesting perspective on success and as an entrepreneur. I wanted to learn more, so below are my notes on the podcast and some extra information I was able to find.

Here is a brief introduction provided on

Jesse cofounded Marquis Jet, the world’s largest prepaid private jet card company in 2001, which he and his partner sold to Berkshire Hathaway/NetJets. He then helped pioneer the coconut water craze with Zico coconut water, which he and his partners sold to The Coca-Cola Company in 2013. He is a former rapper on MTV and he produced both the NBA’s Emmy Award-winning “I Love This Game” music campaign and the popular New York Knicks anthem “Go NY Go.” When he is not running ultra-marathons or being a dad to his three kids, Jesse can be found at the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks games, where he is an owner of the team. He is married to Spanx founder Sara Blakely whom Forbes listed as one of the “100 most powerful women in the world.” Forbes labeled her as the one of the richest self-made American Woman with a net worth of $1.1 Billion.

Most recently, Jesse has written a new book titled, “Living With A SEAL.” When Jesse felt himself drifting on autopilot, he hired a rather unconventional trainer to live with him for a month-an accomplished Navy SEAL widely considered to be “the toughest man on the planet”! Lebron James says the book is “Hilarious!”

  • Common characteristic for high achievers: identify one thing that they are really good at and focus solely all of their energy on it. (Combination of passion and gift)
  • Non-traditional approach comes from his unique background. Started out in the music business. There was no plan B and started with an indie label. Best thing for him, in retrospect, was that he didn't sell many records.
  • Eventually he created his own niche in music combining sports and music. Itzler and a partner started Alphabet City Records which created and licensed theme songs for professional sports teams (Go NY Go!). Co. was purchased by SFX in 1998 for $4.3 million in cash and stock.
    • Itzler and his partner started an internet fantasy sports company called eSuperstars. Even though that was a bust, they were savvy in the structure of the deal.
  • Started Marquis Jet in 2001 after asking his partner how can they fly in private planes more often. Previous methods incredibly expensive and chartering questionable.
  • The first year was all about learning and convincing NetJets their business model was valuable.
  • Year two was staffing up and finding people who could fill in their weaknesses.
  • When convincing NetJets CEO Rich Santulli brought in their own focus group composed of young athletes and Wall Street guys. Explained why they would buy.
    • This is an interesting way to convince an investor or potential partner on a business plan.
  • Itzler is married to Spanx founder Sara Blakely and he says that he peppers her with questions all the time.
  • "If I see or hear someone interesting, I call them up." - great advice on learning from the best and building relationships.
  • Had a Navy Seal live with him for a month. Pushed him mentally to work "opened up my eyes to a whole new style... One day he took a boulder and cracked a whole in a lake and had me jump in. A lot of it was physical but a majority of it was mental."
    • Lesson - We all have a reserve tank. He forced me into discovering my own reserve tank. Favorite quote from SEAL "Jesse, when you think you are done, you're only 40% done."
  • Leaping outside comfort zones - Routine can be a rut. It's impossible to get better in your comfort zone.
  • Having no formal business education gave his wife "the Kermit the Frog" approach to business. Have to get very creative with no money.
  • Sometimes failure is the universes way of telling you that you are slightly off course - Failure forced him to re-look at his path and figure out what he is good at and to look at opportunities.
  • How manage success? "Money is a great magnifying glass. If you were a great person before, once you have money you'll be even a better person. If you were generous person, you'll become even more generous. If you're an asshole, you'll become a bigger asshole."

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