Let me begin by sharing that I flatly reject Floyd’s treatment of women.  He has shown abhorrent behavior which should have put him behind bars.  But this blog isn’t about Floyd the human, it’s about Floyd the boxer and Floyd the businessman.  In the history of sports, he has accomplished what no other athlete has in their career.

During his 19 year professional career, he is 48-0 with > $600M in lifetime earnings.   It would be hard to imagine how he could have done a more brilliant job of managing his boxing career.  His take in the Pacquiao fight alone (> $250M) almost matches the richest multi-year contracts in all of sports – here.  All of this leads me to two questions about his career: how did he do it and what can we apply to our own careers?

  1. Legendary Work Ethic

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King

Floyd’s level of preparation is unmatched in his profession.  CEO of Mayweather Productions Leonard Ellerbe has this to say about Floyd’s work ethic, “One of the things that amazes me all the time about Floyd is that he works and trains like he’s never made a dime in boxing.” It’s remarkable to note that Floyd’s maniacal approach to preparation extends to all facets of his craft:  conditioning, technique, mental preparation, etc.  “People say that he’s got a gift, and yes, he has great talent,” Ellerbe said. “But nobody has ever worked harder to try to make the most of that talent. Nobody.”

“Never cry! Never complain! Just work.”  Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Are you dedicating yourself to your career? Will your level of preparation produce the outcome you’re looking for?

  1. He Fights on His Terms

“Everywhere I go, I will make a good payday.  But we got to choose the right opponent and the right time and the right venue.” Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Floyd’s dedication to preparation has another payoff for him.  He knows his craft, his career & his opportunities so well that he intuitively understands how to manage his career.  The fight we just saw against Pacquiao took 5 years to happen and that wasn’t by coincidence.  I believe he knew years ago that he wanted to match Rocky Marciano’s career record of 49-0 and retire.  In multiple interviews, Floyd has stated that his love of boxing has waned and now it’s all about business.  With this in mind, the question became what fights would get him to 49-0 while maximizing his earnings?

The fight every fan wanted to see was against Pacquiao.  He waited until every detail was on his terms instead of taking that fight when the fans and the promoters wanted it.  Knowing that he had all the leverage, he patiently chose opponents that yielded larger and larger paydays until the timing and terms were right for this fight.  With the Pacquiao fight over, he has one more fight left.  This fight should automatically draw fans (and their $$) looking for one more opportunity to watch the most successful boxer ever.  I think he scripted it that way.

Are you crystal clear about what your strengths are and disciplined enough to only accept jobs that play to those strengths? Long-term, do you have a vision for your career? Is the position you’re in challenging and preparing you for your next step? Do you turn down short term gains that could undermine long-term opportunity?

  1. He Sticks to his Plan, aka Controls His Emotions

“My game plan is just to take my time and do what I do best.” Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Intuitively it makes sense to have a plan and work the plan.  Doing it, is a whole lot harder than it sounds.  To quote Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”

Consider for a moment what Floyd has accomplished in the ring.  For 48 straight fights, he has stuck to his game plan while literally getting hit in the face.  Even boxing’s greats (Ali, Tyson, Sugar Ray, etc) could be angered into dropping their game plan in the name of taking it to the other guy.  Floyd never once made that mistake in a professional career that’s spanned 19 years.  Simply amazing.

Do you keep executing and exceeding quota even when your company, your boss, [fill in excuse here] is treating you poorly? Are you patient enough to stick to your career plan? Are you strategic enough to create your plan when your head is clear?