On this podcast channel we talk to Jack Brewer, a truly remarkable man. Jack is the founder and CEO of The Brewer Group, a former NFL Player (and Captain on all three teams he played for – listen and learn more), a United Nations Ambassador, Investment Advisor and philanthropist. It’s a remarkable conversation about his life and how he is making the world a better place.
Jon Sabes: Alright, well, good afternoon. Here today with me is one of my greatest friends and business associates. I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Mr. Jack Brewer over a course of many years. Jack Brewer, for those of you who don’t know Jack, is the chairman and founder of The Brewer Group. He’s a former NFL player. He serves as a UN Ambassador to the United Nations. He’s an investment advisor and philanthropist, and all around hell of a good guy. So, he’s been a great motivator for me, and a pleasure, just an incredible human being to get to know through my life. He’s been a big contributor to the things that are going on here at GWG Life. So when we talk about innovating life, which this podcast is all about and is about innovating life, in terms of your own success, innovating life insurance, innovating all aspects of being the best version of yourself, Jack Brewer is certainly on the top of the list. Welcome, Jack.
Jack Brewer: Thanks, Jon. Thanks for having me, man. It’s humbling to hear those comments from you, given our relationship and how much it’s meant to have someone of your stature in my life, you know, from my background. You know, it’s few and far between that you find people who you can call your mentor and really leaders, who you can try to emulate and learn from everyday, and you serve as that for me everyday, so to hear that coming from you means a lot.
Jon: Well, I appreciate that. You often say that, and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I’m doing, but I’m going to keep doing it, so I’m being true to myself, keep being the best version of me, and again, that’s awesome because it’s right back at you. So, we’ve kissed and made up enough (laughs), and so we’ll get onto talking. Talk to me, Jack, you served as a three-time NFL lead player and team captain. What’s it like to be a team captain of an NFL team? That is really incredible.
Jack: I got to tell you, Jon, it’s probably one of my proudest accomplishments. You know, I was never, I wasn’t a really big guy, so coming out of college, I was rated I think number twelfth at safety. Started my career, I was actually a better wide receiver than I was safety, and so I was a gritty player. When I played wide out, I was really an extra blocker, extra fallback. I loved contact. You know, that mentality of kind of being selfless, and putting my body out for the team, and always trying to kind of lead as an example, and really serving my team and listening to my coaches, I was able to get me and earn respect above and beyond just my ability to play on the field. So I came and basically walked onto the Minnesota Vikings. I was a free agent, priority free agent, ended up not getting drafted and watching about 26 safeties go in front of me. So that was a tough situation, but I used it as my strength, had the opportunity to play right here across the street for the Vikings at the Metrodome, and really got into my team, and go in, and tried to instill some of those principles that I had learned through my life. You really lead by example, not just on the field but off the field. I was the guy bringing out team together, and having events, and doing different charity functions, and really trying to get my teammates to think bigger than just football. And I think that’s what really lead to them electing me team captain, and I was fortunate enough, I’ve been a captain on every team I played on.
Jon: That’s incredible, Jack. I mean, really, I mean it’s amazing, again, to make it to the NFL period. But to be elected captain three times on all three teams, it’s really incredible.
Jack: And I wasn’t a starter. So it was rare. For me that’s my ultimate accomplishment in regards to sports. It’s just getting that respect from my teammates, but also my coaches.
Jon: Yeah. How does the process work?
Jack: Each team’s different.
Jack: Some teams, some coaches will assign their captains. Most of the time your teammates are voting for you to be captain. My first, I played my rookie season with the Vikings. I really lead the team, my specialty was tackling, and next season my team voted me as the team captain in my second year, which is, it’s rare that that happened, and then my next season I played with the New York Giants, and I came in with Tom Coughlin and his first year we drafted Eli Manning in that year. I was on the team with Michael Strahan, and Tiki Barber, and all the big name guys, and looked up, and after the second week of the season, they voted me captain.
Jack: I go flip the coin with Tiki Barber, next to me on one side, and Michael Strahan on the other. So you talk about humbling for a little boy from Texas.
Jack: So you know that was really cool, and then played another year at Philly for the Eagles. Actually came into the Eagles in week five, due to an injury that I had, and wasn’t able to play, and I came on, and ended up being team captain on the Eagles. It’s humbling to think about it when you look back, but I don’t know, it’s just a light that’s always shined in me, to be a leader of people, and an influencer of people, and trying to push people to think outside the box, and not just focus on what they necessarily might think is what they should be pursuing, but remembering that there’s always purpose, right, and I try to live a purpose-driven life. And I think that above all else is the reason that I’ve been elected captain so many times.
Jon: It’s incredible. I mean, you know, congratulations.
Jack: Thank you.
Jon: That is just phenomenal, and to hear you talk about it is really meaningful too. And it explains a lot too as I’ve watched you. I didn’t know you back in the day, but I’ve seen you post NFL, and you continue to be selfless and purposeful, and thinking greater than yourself and of others. You recently came back from Haiti on a mission.
Jon: That’s been a big part of your life again, and one of the many areas in the form of what, is that part of the UN ambassadorship or was that just something that you just came across?
Jack: So, you know, when I started my foundation and really doing my charity work, I started reaching out to Africa. I’ve always had a real deep passion for working with the world’s most poor, extreme poor people that don’t have access to food, water, and shelter. A lot of places where their government’s not functioning, or they just have a lack of resources. And so after the earthquake in Haiti, the place was so close to us, I put together actually a conference call with the National Football League Players Association right after I said I wanted to work with them to get something going for Haiti, and we ended up partnering with the NBA, the NFL, Major League Soccer, and the NHL, and we started One Team 4 Haiti. And that was seven years ago now, and we’ve continued those efforts. I’ll also give you some recognition for this. You’re our biggest sponsor of this year’s tour, and have been our biggest sponsor of our foundation, so GWG Life gave us a tremendous amount of resources to be able to do that work. You know, we’re unique. We’re a small organization. We have no paid staff, so all of my full time staff volunteers their time and they work their time, and we sacrifice the bottom line. We take time away from making money sometimes, and that’s the way it’ll always be. And so in doing that people really understand your passion, and we’re an organization where we don’t have a huge marketing budget. Our goal is not to raise millions of dollars a year, but our goal is to take small amounts of money and give people the ability to come and be hands on and really see the work that they’re doing. We try to empower organizations on the ground, and that’s why our motto is empowering from within. We don’t try to come in with our own philosophies, and you know, we’re the smart Americans that are going to tell you how to get out of poverty. We actually go into these places and partner with the organizations that are already there, built of the people from that country. We try to provide them resources, and so that’s always been kind of the focus, and it’s the reason I started the foundation, was to create a way for people to be able to volunteer and not have to work with an organization that’s paying CEOs and staff salaries that are massive, but that are really affecting the people.
Jon: That’s amazing, and I mean, the effort that you put forth, there was a recent mission into Haiti. I wasn’t able to join that, but ninety some odd individuals. Ninety eight did you say?
Jack: Almost a hundred, yeah.
Jon: Almost a hundred individuals you took to Haiti to introduce them to the challenges there, and give them first hand experience, as well as deliver some incredible resources to people in need. And this year was a big year. I believe you were able to arrange for a very large medical donation of sorts, and made a really big difference in people’s lives down there.
Jack: Yeah, we were able to partner with the city of Hope, and we brought down seventy million dollars, or about sixty nine million dollars, in medicine, urgently needed medicine. Haiti’s a place, it’s deep extreme poverty. You have almost seventy percent illiteracy rates in many portions of the country. You have obviously disease, disease spread from lack of resources, lack of clean water in many areas. Just a situation where, when you don’t have the government infrastructure, you don’t have any civil services, there’s no waste management in Haiti, there’s not proper electrical channel and access for people, and that’s just kind of the top tier, so there’s just a lot of need there. It’s definitely economically the most underserved place in the Western hemisphere.
Jack: It’s ninety minutes from my border in Miami.
Jack: So you can get there really easily. So for me, being able to give a donation of that size
Jack: It made a statement for our foundation. We partnered with hospitals and pharmaceutical companies through city of Hope, and they trusted us, the little Jack Brewer foundation. They trusted us to go and deploy that, and that’s one of the things that we’ve been able to build, and that’s why we have such strong partners with our foundation, like Starkey Hearing and other people, because even though organizations are large, they may not have the people on the ground.
Jack: And the ability to do that, and I think people trust the fact that we’re working really as volunteers.
Jack: We spend time there. I’m in Haiti ten times a year, spend holidays there, bring my kids down, and so I really try to become a part of the society, and a part of the people. I think for us that’s what’s the most rewarding.
Jon: Well, Brewer Foundation, again, is an amazing organization, and really, again, through your leadership, selfless and purposeful, right. It’s clearly making a difference for those in need, and it’s been a pleasure and an honor to support the efforts, and will continue to do so because, again, the impact that it’s able to have. Again, impact is a phrase you like to use a lot. Impact investing, impact philanthropy, and again, I can see it now even when you talk about your days at the NFL, making a difference, right, so impact is something I hear a lot from you.
Jack: Yes, it’s a word that means a lot to me. I used to try to bring impact when I hit people on the football field too, Jon. But you know, it’s about people. I love people. I always have. I believe that most people are pure, and if they’re around the right folks, and you put the right team in place, you can bring the best out of people, and so that’s something that I’m addicted to, to impacting people, and I want to continue to do so.
Jon: Who’s impacted you the most? Can you name a few that off the top of your head that just stand out in terms of, made that change, impacted you in a way that set you on a trajectory, which was, maybe, not the one that you originally thought you were going to be on, and as you look back, can be thankful for that?
Jack: Yeah, it’s been so many, man. I mean, I think early on in life one thing that I was blessed with is an ability to, even when I was around people who may not have necessarily been a positive impact on me, I turned it into a positive impact because I tried to always learn from what others were doing around me. I grew up in a family for humble beginnings, and I watched a lot of my cousins who were my idols growing up, and they were athletes and they were bigger than me, stronger than me, and I always wanted– I was a competitor– I always wanted to be good at sports or school or whatever. And so I think watching them, watching their mistakes, right, watching the people around me make so many mistakes, and at a young age, I knew they were making mistakes, and I was learning from them, each and every time. And so those things really made a huge impact on me, just watching so much talent in my family not really be fulfilled, not really do anything with what the god-given talents had blessed them with, and so that pushed me and motivated me from a really young age.
Jack: And then I had, you know, I got a mom who’s just tireless. She’s a woman of God, and just supports me, and prayed over me all my life, and that’s the kind of house I grew up in. She was the backbone, so that put in me the giving side. I’ve been doing charity stuff since I was a kid, whether it was canned food drives, coat drives. I was doing the same thing in high school, in college, I’d go to the locker rooms, and pick up, whether it was our old cleats or our old gloves, and donate them to the local youth programs. I just, I’ve always enjoyed doing that stuff. I’m a busybody. I don’t know how many events I’ve thrown, but it’s a lot.
Jon: Yeah, yeah.
Jack: And so, you know, I just, I’ve always enjoyed that. So I think it’s a collection of people, but as I’ve gotten of age. When I was in high school and college, my coaches. I learned so much from those men, and just watching how they managed, and kind of dissected them. I played for Tom Coughlin, played for Andy Reid. I played for Dennis Green. I played for John Harbaugh. These are not just –you know, Glen Mason– these are not just good football coaches, these are good men, and generals, and leaders, and CEOs. These guys are running organizations, and that’s really where I learned a lot of my principles from, and my understanding, and that’s how I approach business. I’m a team guy, at the end of the day, everything I do. A team means family to me, and a family means a team, and so you need people. You need people to believe in you, and them to know that you believe in them. You need to push each other, so that’s really what I am, I’m a coach, Jon. That’s what I always saw myself as. That’s what my dad was. And so I’ve learned from my coaches, and I probably had the most impact from them.
Jon: So you take this, and you keep growing yourself, your profession. You recently completed your MBA. You developed a program for NFL players to get their MBA to help, again, show them a means beyond proball to continue to better themselves. I mean, again, the themes as I learn more about you, they’re constant, right. I mean you just keep moving forward, helping others be the best version of themselves.
Jack: Yeah, you know it’s rewarding. My path is unique, right. A lot of, whether you’re athletes or entertainers or people in the sports world or entertainment world, don’t necessarily see some of the things that I’ve been able to see just because they learn it at a later stage. I appreciate that, but I think it also gives me some responsibility to share my experiences. Again, I wasn’t drafted. I wasn’t a guy that made a ton of money from playing in the National Football League. I made, the salaries that I was making, your first year lawyers would make it. So I didn’t make a ton of money, but I had a lot of experiences, and I understood early on that if you could leverage, whether it was what you did socially in the community, what you did from a business perspective, you could leverage that to become a better person. It’s a constant job, right. So you talk about the education program, why that’s so important to me, is that I saw time after time that youth and athletes were taught that you’re a football player and then once you’re done, then that’s the time you start a transition. And for me it was never that way. Your life is a transition. You got to always be working on all aspects of your life. It can’t start and stop.
Jack: So if you’re an athlete, and that’s all you focus on, then that’s all you’re going to ever be.
Jack: So if you want to be a well-rounded person that has to continue. And so unfortunately the systems that have been in place have made it difficult for athletes because a lot of times you force athletes in just focusing on football.
Jon: Sure. Who’s got time for anything else? Yeah.
Jack: Exactly. But I challenge that philosophy.
Jack: And I actually got cut from an NFL team at the Vikings because of that, because I was doing so much extracurricular. I know how tough it can be for some athletes that may not be used to that or may not have anyone in their life that’s pushing them towards that. So that’s what this program was, and that’s why, you know, partnered with the University of Miami. Now we also have a partnership with St. Thomas University, and really are giving a tangible program to professional athletes and artists, where they don’t have to come in and go full time to go to school, but at least, you know, if a kid went to the NFL at twenty years old, or twenty one years old, at least every off season, he can take three, four, five, six credits.
Jack: And to think that that hadn’t already been the situation
Jack: It’s kind of disturbing to me, and so I’ve really taken it upon myself to try to make a big dent in that, and we are. We’ve grown. We’re the largest secondary education program for athletes and artists in the country, maybe the world, and we’re going to continue to grow, and I don’t care if I make any money doing it. I’m going to do it because I know it’s the right thing, and it’s a way that we can share our love and help change.
Jon: Well, yeah. You really pushed the NFL to in fact support, right, this type of program, which heretofore hadn’t been there.
Jon: Not certainly at the scale that it was.
Jack: The resources were there for it, but no one put it together in a way that made it practical for the guys to be able to
Jon: Took action, took action on it. Took action on it.
Jack: It’s not a profitable deal. You’re not going to get much doing it, you know.
Jon: Right. And so, right, you again continue to grow more. Most recently, right, a regular contributor to FOX News, right.
Jack: That’s right.
Jon: That’s incredible, with Maria?
Jack: Yes, Maria Bartiromo.
Jon: Yeah, how is that? How is that going?
Jack: It’s another blessing that I’ve been able to experience. It’s been great working with Maria and everyone over at the FOX Business. The first time I went on the show, I could tell they were, they liked a different perspective. I tried to bring some positivity to the show, and I try to come and keep it as real as I can. For me, a lot of times my audience used to be, I did a lot of stuff with CNBC.
Jack: Which is a little bit more liberal of a station, but I try to stay kind of middle ground, but I’m a conservative.
Jon: You don’t let your politics get in the way.
Jack: I don’t let my politics, not usually. I am a Texas boy, so I grew up around a lot of conservative thinking, and at the end of the day, I’m a lover of people, and so I think I bring some balance to the show. At least I try to.
Jon: And with that you continue to build your practice, right, so you run a practice of boutique consulting firm for growing companies. You have an RIA as well. You do wealth management. Tell me, again, just for the listeners, just a little bit of your professional work outside of the things we’ve talked about, right, philanthropy, education for former NFL players, impact speaking with FOX, CNBC, and others, being a UN ambassador, and in between, as an entrepreneur yourself with your own practice. Please, let the listeners know what’s the professional side of Jack Brewer all about.
Jack: Well, we try to keep that same social focus with our businesses. We try to work with companies and people, who are, going back to that word, making an impact. So when I left the National Football League, I went and started my career at Merrill Lynch, working in private client, and I really went there because I had a group of players, former teammates, who wanted me to help them manage their money and their lives, and kind of help keep them in order, and so I did that. And then I transitioned from there, and started my own RIA, which we have now. It’s a small boutique RIA. That’s a business that I love doing because I like to help the athletes, and really working with a lot of the athletes and entertainers, and really on the financial side, and making sure that they at least have a platform where they can find success. I can’t make a guy not spend his money, but we can certainly put those things in place where he can find success if they choose, and so that’s what we’ve tried to do. I’ve done a good job at it. We’ve got some huge success stories.
Jack: I mean, really our education program is another layer of servicing on that on the financial side, and we’ve helped over twenty five professional athletes finance their businesses.
Jack: We have guys that own successful franchises and healthcare facilities and restaurants and real estate holdings, and so we’re proud of that. We don’t have a lot of athletes that are the headline guys, just blowing all their money. We have our occasional case where guys spend too much, and we try to deal with that as such. You’re going to have that when you have a young population, getting so much money so early.
Jack: But I really spent a big portion of my life kind of understanding the factors around athletes and artists and how to help them find success, and that’s really what we’ve tried to model with our investment advisory firm. And then on the corporate side of our business, I started my company when I was nineteen, so I’m nineteen years in business, almost twenty years, that I’ve been kind of running and operating my own businesses, and so with that, I met a lot of people. I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve been all over Africa, and Asia, and Latin America. I’ve been lucky enough to really meet a lot of powerful families, and groups, and organizations. And so about three, four years ago, I really decided that I start focusing more on the corporate side because we could offer so many resources and services to companies who could benefit, and so working with people, like Mark Peikin and some of our other key partners, we’ve been able to build a successful practice. It’s not huge, but we’re selective, and we can pick companies and people that we want to work with, and help to bring some of our resources. Most of these companies, I serve as either a spokesman or endorser for, so it all works out really well, and kind of ties into our overall vision of bring some positivity to the world.
Jon: You guys do a terrific job, again, and that’s just the common theme of Jack Brewer, I mean, selfless, going above and beyond the call, always, whether in business, in philanthropy, or otherwise. It’s just awesome to see you continue to grow as a professional, and to hear about it firsthand, some of the other stories behind the scenes as you’ve been kind of growing your practice and yourself. I mean, talk about an innovator, right, you’ve been innovating your whole life it sounds like to really just be an incredible individual.
Jack: Thank you, Jon.
Jack: Appreciate it.
Jon: Yeah, well, it’s amazing to see. I wish there were more of yous out there because the world would certainly be a better place, given the caring and personal effect that you have on the people you touch.
Jack: Thank you.
Jon: Well, with that, I’ll think we’ll bring it to a close. I want to thank, again, Jack Brewer for being here on the Innovating Life podcast. He’s an innovator, I’m sure as you can tell, and follow him. Follow him on FOX News. Follow him at the Brewer Foundation. Give your time. Give your money to help Jack continue to do the great things that he personally, first hand is doing, without pay.
Jack: That’s right.
Jon: Which is selfless and purposeful, and making an impact. So Jack, thanks for being here on the podcast today.
Jack: Thank you, Jon. Appreciate it, man. Thanks for all you do.
Jon: Yeah. We’ll talk soon.