TROY, Mich. -- Glover Quin heard it from teammates early in his career. They saw how he lived, how they lived and chided him. “Stop being so cheap,” some of his teammates in Houston said. Quin ignored them.
He continued to drive the Yukon Denali he bought when he entered the NFL in 2009, a car he still owns. He stuck with his budget. He had a plan. It meant doing everything possible to make sure he had a long NFL career while using it to set up the rest of his life.
Quin saved 70 percent of his take-home pay each year and invested in well-known, publicly traded companies. He and his family lived on the remaining 30 percent, about $6,000 a month -- $72,000 per year -- the first three years of his career.
Not flashy, but effective. And it led to his monetary success.
Occasionally, Quin had a higher budget if he got what he called “unaccounted-for” money for doing an appearance that wasn’t planned. He and his wife would use that money on vacations and other potential luxuries they didn’t initially budget for. Other than that, it was always about the plan.
“I’ve always trusted in the plan and never really let other people sway me away from it,” said Quin, now a safety on the Detroit Lions. “I like to call it tunnel vision. It’s not good to have tunnel vision on the field, because you need to know what’s going on around you, but when you’re in life, especially in this field, you need to have tunnel vision, because you see so many guys around you buying cars, buying jewelry, doing this, spending money, talking about the money that they spend.
“And you’re sitting there like, ‘Man, I’m living off this much money every month, and this cat spending this much money every day.'"
Quin majored in business at the University of New Mexico. He understood the power of investing and creating generational wealth. The 70/30 save-spend strategy brought to him by his financial advisor, Humble Lukanga, made sense.
The two met sitting next to each other in a 7 a.m. business ethics class at New Mexico. Quin eventually hired Lukanga, who has many other NFL clients, and Quin bought into the save-spend strategy immediately and carried it through to now, even with a lucrative second NFL contract.
“That 30 percent just gets a little bit bigger,” Lukanga said. “You have a little bit more breathing room, but the discipline is the same. If you can’t save on your first contract, you’re probably not going to save on your second contract. So the key is to develop. First, you form habits, and then habits form you.”
Quin entered the league wanting to build his wealth, although he wasn’t initially thinking about investments. After signing a free-agent deal in Detroit in 2013, Quin decided to venture into a more risky investment world -- private equity, using 10 to 20 percent of his wealth to fund private, up-and-coming businesses.
Think "Shark Tank" with a specific plan.
“We like companies that we feel can change the world,” Quin said. “That can make the world a better place, so that’s one thing we look at as well: Can this company change the world?
“If we feel that way and we believe in the company and we believe in the direction that they are going and the people that are behind it, I feel a lot more comfortable.”
So far, the strategy has worked. Quin and Lukanga estimate a five-year projection where his private portfolio could match the money he has made in the NFL. When his contract expires after the 2017 season, Quin will have earned more than $21 million, before taxes, in his eight-year career.
Quin understands the risk of private equity investment, a reason he diversifies his dollars in multiple companies. In the offseason, he’ll sometimes study two or three deals per month, starting by reading it over to see if it hits certain metrics he has for investments.
If those things happen, he talks with Lukanga and does more research. He’ll often chat with his wife, asking her opinion on a potential product without divulging there could be an investment opportunity.
“I just want to get her intake,” Quin said. “Like, ‘Oh, I would never use that or I think that’s a great idea, you know. If somebody did something like that, it would be dope.’ See what she says about it because she has a good feel for stuff.”
After all that, if a deal excites him, he has four benchmarks he typically uses to decide if a deal makes sense.
Does he have an opportunity to get more involved with the company? Quin wants to work with up-and-coming companies to learn and gain experience. That includes sitting in on meetings and potentially going on the road to trade shows and expos to help conduct field tests and marketing. It’s helping him with what Quin and Lukanga call Quin’s “Field MBA,” because he has no plans to attend business school.
Quin has to understand the business plan and what the company is trying to accomplish. Before Quin decides on any investment, Lukanga has Quin explain to him why he’s excited about the company.
Quin won’t go in as a solo investor. He needs to see other experienced investors putting capital behind a company before he’s willing to go in. This has also helped to make sure he’s diversifying his investments. “Whether it’s private equity firms, whether it’s venture capital firms, his money always has to be with good money,” Lukanga said.
Quin has to believe in the product and that the company fits his "change and better the world" philosophy. It is part of what attracted him to three of his companies: Health Warrior, a company that makes food out of chia; pawTree, a customized pet nutrition company; and PeerWell, an app that helps people prehab before joint replacement surgery to aid in their post-surgery recovery.
Quin declined to divulge all of his investments, partly because of privacy and contractual agreements, but most fit this mold. A notable exception are daily fantasy sports providers FanDuel and DraftKings, an idea he liked because of his interest in football.
But when Quin gets involved with a company, the benefit is typically more than just his investment dollars. Quin is big on giving his companies exposure. A peek in his locker, where Health Warrior bars are often prominently placed, is an example. The conversations between Quin and the entrepreneurs he works with also provide insight and advice, for Quin and for the companies.
“The conversations are just fun,” Manish Shah, the co-founder of PeerWell, said in an email. “He shares how he thinks about decisions and how he is preparing for the season. I like to hear about how others prepare as it informs my own approach to preparing, whether for a conference I’m speaking at, an investor I’m pitching or a hospital we are working a contract with.
“I think Glover is taking his on-the-field thinking and applying it to what he does off the field. Like anticipating how a market will develop, it’s very similar to how a play develops on the field. It may not happen as fast, but having the skill set to see it happening in real-time is valuable.”
As much as Quin identifies with football -- he emphasizes he’s a football player first -- he wants to be viewed as more than that. He knows the average person looks at an NFL player and doesn’t immediately think intelligence.
“I want to be seen as, yeah, I’m in the NFL, but I’m not a typical guy, you know,” Quin said. “I’m different. I’m smart. I know business. I didn’t go to [junior college out of high school] because I didn’t have grades. I do like for them to look at me as I’m an investor.
“I’m in your world right now. I didn’t come in here in shoulder pads and a helmet. I came here with a suit on, just like you. Right now, I’m in your world. So let’s talk business, but I am a football player.”
Many high-level investors are NFL fans, and Quin parlayed his experience as an NFL player to bond with mentors in the investment world. He believes he’s viewed as someone willing to learn and get involved more than just using his name.
From August until the end of the season, Quin makes it clear football is his priority. If there’s a deal requiring attention, he addresses it on Monday or Tuesday, when there's little or no on-field activity. After that, it’s all football. He recognizes football got him here in the first place. In the offseason, he’s as involved as any other investor.
“To be a successful investor, and the kind that I want to work with as a founder, you need a few things,” Shah said. “A curious mind, disciplined approach to reading people and an aptitude for thinking strategically. Glover has these in spades.”
Quin is being smart with his private equity approach. He knows some of his investments will fail. If he hits on an average number of deals, he believes he has put himself in good shape. Some of the failed deals end up as a successful return on investment because of knowledge gained.
He might have made his money in the short-term NFL world, but he’s in the investment game for the long haul. Because in business, that’s often how you win, and that, as always, is Quin’s plan.
“To sit here and say I’ve played for eight years and made this much money, I was in a couple investments for five years and kind of made the same amount of money,” Quin said. “It’s kind of like having a double NFL career, you know.
“It’s one of those things that’s very exciting. Hopefully, everything continues to work out great and I can be one of those stories that they say, ‘You know what, I probably made more money investing than I made playing football.'"