“Focus On Getting Small Wins Daily” Words Of Wisdom With Wendell Hunter, ShowerPill Co-Founder And Former NFL Player
“Focus on getting small wins daily. Those wins lead to big results. Set goals for yourself each day, and check them off as you complete each task. Big success is the compounding effect that comes from doing the right things daily. Identify people in different fields to draw parallels to and study successful people to give your journey perspective. If you wanna be great you have to study the greats, it will humble you as you go through different obstacles.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendell Hunter, ShowerPill co-founder. A former NFL player with a degree from UC-Berkeley, Hunter co-founded the active care brand with his two former college football teammates. The trio, who has taken their business from their garage in West Oakland, Calif. to retailers from coast to coast, recently appeared on Shark Tank. Hunter has helped shaped the business into what is today — the trusted solution for active individuals striving to stay healthy, clean and fresh without sacrificing performance…anytime, anywhere.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
My entrepreneurial journey really began back in 8th grade, when my best friend Mike and I put our pennies together to a buy a DVD burner so we could create and sell sports highlight tapes. While that business didn’t exactly set us up for retirement, it planted the business seed in me and taught me how to hustle.
I went on to attend UC-Berkeley, where I had two goals: make it to the NFL and become an entrepreneur. After a successful collegiate football run and graduating with a degree in sociology, I’m proud to say that both of those goals were realized. But my stint in the NFL (with the Buffalo Bills) was brief, and I quickly changed gears, working as an EMT and ER technician for several years. I had no idea just how much my experience in the medical field would later help me in business.
A handful of years ago, I had a desire to get back to athletics, my first love. But this time, not as a player. I wanted to contribute to the culture and solve a problem. I set out — and still work to — blaze a trail in the sports/fitness/lifestyle space, just like sports brand icons Phil Knight and Kevin Plank did. ShowerPill was our authentic contribution to the culture. And we won’t stop until our brand is synonymous with household names like Nike and Under Armour.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your NFL career?
So, I was released from the Bills, and then brought back Week 5 of the season. But I didn’t return all smiles. I came back to practice with a chip on my shoulder, with intensity like it was the Super Bowl or something. It was actually just a Wednesday practice before a regular-season game. During our scrimmage, I went 110 percent and put a nice hit on our running back who was trying to block me. The linemen, especially a young Jason Peters (now with the Eagles), didn’t appreciate it. The next play, he slammed me to the ground and we wound up in a scrum during practice. I had to learn fast. But I’m glad I can look back and laugh at that now!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Man, this whole journey of entrepreneurship is one big, exciting project. We’ve gone from a three-person team, with each of us wearing a million hats, to an All-Star squad with experts in their fields. We are working day in and day out to expand our distribution and connect with consumers. Our goal is to take ShowerPill from a one-SKU product to a multi-SKU brand. We are actively building the “Gatorade of Hygiene.” There are no rest days. It’s hard work, but I can honestly say that each day is interesting.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
The day I met my favorite NFL player of all-time, Ronnie Lott, definitely goes down in the record books. I bumped into Ronnie, one of the most notable athletes-turned-businessmen of our time, at a movie premiere. I couldn’t help but stop him, introduce myself and tell him all about our start-up business. I can still hardly believe it, but he agreed to meet with us. And after several meetings, Ronnie raised his voice and told us three rookie businessmen that we needed to be quiet and just listen…in a way that only he could say it. Fast-forward to today, and Ronnie is one of our most supportive investors. Side note: I HAD to ask him to see his legendary finger. He showed it to me and shared a few candid 49ers stories about Bill Walsh to go along with it!
What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?
Start now. Be unapologetic. Don’t ask for permission — just do it. Humble yourself and surround yourself with good people you can learn from. If you’re an athlete, leverage your talent to gain greater access. Look around your locker room and cultivate lifelong friendships that will support you. Your teammates are your future accountants, lawyers and investors. And to all the pro athletes thinking about pursuing business: get involved with things you understand and can add value to, no matter what it is. Don’t just invest in AI or driverless cars or whatever is hot in tech because someone tells you to. Identify what sparks passion in you, and then go for it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Our mission at ShowerPill is to inspire and empower people to live their best lives. We believe that the cornerstone of this mission is grounded in our company’s commitment to give back.
Through our #Shower2ThePeople initiatives, we assist disaster relief areas (with little to no clean running water for showers) by contributing body wipes, as well as work with the military and various non-profits to provide product where it’s most needed. Whether it was during Flint’s water crisis or the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, ShowerPill had boots (and body wipes) on the ground — many of which were hand-delivered by pro athletes. Most recently, we traveled to Puerto Rico to donate 20,000 body wipes to Hurricane Maria ravaged communities without access to clean bathing water. We know body wipes can’t change the world, but we also know that giving someone the dignity of a shower substitute (when a shower isn’t accessible) goes a long way.
On a personal level, I also speak and mentor youth in the East Bay area, promoting entrepreneurship, higher education and early advanced technical training.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.
1. Don’t listen to just anybody. At the same time, know what you don’t know, and surround yourself with experts in their fields. But select your team, investors and advisors wisely — they are an extension and representation of you and your brand.
2. Lead with transparency. Skip the BS and start with the facts. While it can feel uncomfortable at times, people do appreciate direct communication. And in the same light, deal with people on a visceral level. Developing that personal/human connection will help you constantly improve and grow, in both business and life.
3. Focus on getting small wins daily. Those wins lead to big results. Set goals for yourself each day, and check them off as you complete each task. Big success is the compounding effect that comes from doing the right things daily. Identify people in different fields to draw parallels to and study successful people to give your journey perspective. If you wanna be great you have to study the greats, it will humble you as you go through different obstacles.
4. Always learn. To make time for learning, I always multi-task mundane tasks with learning. No matter if I am driving, washing the dishes or giving my son a bath I always am consuming information. I went through countless podcasts, audiobooks and TED Talks. You have to get your 10,000 hours in like Malcolm Gladwell preaches!
5. Both good and bad times are just moments in time. Understand that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, so you can’t get too high or too low. Think in terms of what you can accomplish in days vs. months vs. years. It will give you a new perspective. Trust your journey. Remember that whatever you go through is a part of God’s divine plan. Just do your part!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
LeBron James. He exemplifies what it means to be a walking brand. He has never forgotten where he comes from, and continues to make an impact on communities worldwide in a big way. LeBron clearly understands his place in the world, and has used his influence and platform responsibly. Ultimately, he has revolutionized what an athlete can do, and ShowerPill shares many of these same values. I would love to sit down with LeBron and talk shop. And I’d REALLY love if LeBron chose to invest in ShowerPill. Hey, you never know!