There were only 34 NFL players chosen to participate, but two of them were Bills at the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at Harvard this past week. Ruvell Martin and Kirk Morrison took part in the week long lecture series that included prominent guest speakers and valuable networking opportunities.
"I've always wanted to take advantage of the chance to attend one of these Harvard programs," said Morrison, a seven-year veteran. "I was going to go last year, but with the lockout in place the program was canceled. This year I had the full offseason so I enrolled and hope to use this as a step toward returning to school to get my MBA."
Taught by full-time Harvard Business School faculty members, the customized five-day program at the Business School aimed to help participants learn to develop a business idea or plan in such areas as investments, real estate, and retailing.
"It definitely opens your eyes to some of the different decision making processes you should go through before you just jump on an idea," said Martin. "There are different questions you should ask and they present different ways to evaluate business plans. I think it's a bit better for someone that has a business already up and running, but it helps if you're trying to formulate a business plan as well."
The five-day program has a demanding schedule that typically made for a 12-hour day for the participants.
"There are group discussions, lectures, presentations, receptions and guest speakers," said Morrison. "We've had individual preparation, self-assessment, case studies. So it's an all-day thing. I'm glad I was able to finish it."
"We had the guy that used to do the contract deals for the New England Patriots," said Martin. "He was the COO of the Patriots for a while. He came and gave a lecture on negotiations. There was a big wig real estate guy and his resume was pretty impressive. The real estate deals this guy made over the years were significant. We heard from the inventor of the Spinbrush toothbrush.
"In day to day life we just talk about products. This program you talk about the people behind the products, which I had never really thought about before. You see all the decisions they had to make including whether or not they should undertake a project or not. We saw a lot of successful projects and some they had to pull the plug on. It's all based on case studies and we did some of those ourselves."
Inspired by the program and all it had to offer, the Bills players feel it has planted a seed for their careers after football.
"I think this is a big stepping stone toward the business world if that's the direction I choose. You also have contacts in the NFL world that have the same aspirations that I do so it's good to have people that you can talk to about it. As well as the contacts I made from the people that led the discussions groups and professors as well."
"I see myself putting my mind to being an innovator, whether it's in business, the sports world, politics," Morrison said. "Wherever my path may lead programs like this give me knowledge and help provide the connections to open those doors. It stimulates you to think and formulate those innovative ideas. It's always good to have options."