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Excerpt from "Take A Shot"

by Jake Steinfeld

Fear is the one thing that will hold you back from success. Jake Steinfeld, world-renowned fitness expert and motivator who founded Major League Lacrosse (MLL), knows this first hand. He has been a pioneer at everything he has attempted but it wasn’t always that way. A self-proclaimed “chubby kid with a stutter,” Jake overcame many fears to become the remarkable leader he is today.

In his new book, Take a Shot! A Remarkable Story of Perseverance, Friendship, and a Really Crazy Adventure (August 2012), written with MLL co-founder Dave Morrow, Jake shares his personal stories and the strategies he has always used to conquer fear and move forward in life.

Following is an excerpt from Take a Shot:

You can’t always tell from hanging out with him, because he’s quiet, casual, and laid-back. But Dave never gave less than 150 percent of himself, and he always had my back no matter what—just like he promised he would. Dave never quit.

When we joined forces, Dave’s company, Warrior, was small but growing. One day Dave got a call from a sales rep, Jim Teatom, who told Dave that his boss wanted to meet him.

“Who’s your boss?” Dave asked.

“Jim Davis.”

Jim Davis is the chairman of New Balance, one of the biggest sports-footwear companies in the world.

Dave can take you through what happened next:

I flew to meet Jim Davis at the New Balance corporate headquarters in Boston. It was a 12-story building with the giant NB logo on top. I felt a little intimidated just walking into this place. Then I went up to a conference room and saw Jim and several executives waiting for me around a big table. Now I felt even more intimidated.

Jim asked me about Warrior, and talked a little about New Balance. The vibe was friendly, and I finally relaxed. Maybe I relaxed too much. “You know,” I blurted out, “I came here thinking you guys would be big-shot jerks, but you’re all right.”

Everyone laughed. The ice was broken. Then Jim got down to business.

“Dave, the reason we invited you here,” he said, “is we want to buy your company.”

I sat there in stunned silence while a dozen executives tried to read my body language. What my body was saying was, “Huh?”

Honestly, the thought that they wanted to buy Warrior never once crossed my mind. And I never thought about selling it until that moment. They caught me so off guard that I hemmed and hawed and said something like, “That is really cool, but, gosh, it’s not for sale.”

Jim said, “Everything is for sale.”

I explained that I felt Warrior was just getting started, that I had a lot of unfinished business and really wasn’t interested selling it. What Jim said next really surprised me.

“I like you,” he said, “and I want to help you out. What can I do to help you out?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“Well,” I said, “Jake Steinfeld and I started Major League Lacrosse, and we’re looking to raise more money. Maybe you can help with that.”

“Send me the numbers and we’ll look them over,” he said.

New Balance wound up not only buying a major stake in Major League Lacrosse, but also developing a new lacrosse cleat and becoming our footwear sponsor.

Over the next year or so, he kept asking me about Warrior, and I kept telling him it wasn’t for sale. Finally, he invited me to see him again. He’d heard that I’d been approached by a couple of other equipment companies, and that I’d even taken a meeting or two. He basically said that if I was going to sell Warrior, I absolutely had to give him first crack. I was really given the full-court press in that meeting.

I left completely unsure of what to do. I had discussed selling Warrior with my wife, Christine, and we both thought it was something we could do if the price was right. But now that I had to make a decision, I felt really confused.

So I called Jake. I told him all about the meeting and asked for his advice.

“Do you want to sell your company, buddy?” Jake said.

“If the price is right, yeah,” I said.

“Do you have a number in mind?”

“Yeah, I have a number. But I haven’t done any valuations or a market plan or—”

Jake cut me off. “If you have a number in mind, and you think it’s a fair number, then Jim will think it’s fair, too. Tell him the number, and he’ll do it.”

That’s it? Just come up with a number and blurt it out? I repeated that we hadn’t combed our books and run the numbers and come up with an official valuation. Jake cut me off again.

“Cancel your plane ticket home, call his secretary and set up an appointment. Then go in there and get it knocked out.”

Only Jake can make selling your company sound as simple as folding your laundry.

After I got off the phone, I called one of my best friends from college, Billy Frist. Billy and his wife, Jennifer, were the ones who made a crucial early investment in Warrior that allowed us to grow. I told Billy that I was thinking about going in to see Jim Davis without an offering memorandum or any other paperwork.

“What are you, crazy?” Billy said. “They will laugh at you.”

“Maybe,” I said, “but it just feels right.”

I cancelled my plane ticket and called Jim’s secretary to make an appointment. In the cab over to New Balance headquarters, my heart was pounding so hard I thought I was going to pass out. I went to the elevators and pressed the Up button, then felt so nervous that I walked away. I was halfway out of the building when I stopped and walked back. I felt light-headed and nauseated. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. But I sucked it up and went upstairs.

“So what’s so important you had to see me this quickly?” Jim asked.

“I’ve been thinking,” I said. “I need the right financial partner, and I feel you guys are the right ones. Let’s make it happen.” Then I just blurted out my number.

Jim thought about it for a moment and said, “That sounds reasonable.”

We came to terms right there in his office—and just 90 days later, I sold Warrior to Jim and New Balance. For exactly the number I asked for.

Looking back, I can’t believe I had the confidence to walk into Jim’s office and negotiate that deal. Just a couple of years earlier, I would have walked out of that lobby and never come back. Heck, I wouldn’t have even been there in the first place. But now I was developing this new confidence. I was starting to believe in myself more than ever. And somehow I summoned the courage to go in there and get my number.

To this day, I refer to that as my Jake moment.

Storming into meetings without lawyers and accountants is exactly the kind of thing Jake does all the time. I went to so many meetings with him where he just got up and won people over with passion and persistence, and I guess his way of thinking just seeped into my brain. He also taught me that the key to a good business deal is to make it fair for both sides. Jake never took advantage of anyone, ever. He was always, always respectful of the other side. I mean, the guy is sweet and polite to receptionists and waiters and basically everybody. I never once saw Jake big-time anyone.

In that way, he taught me about the power of relationships. Jake’s whole life has been about relationships and friendships. He always says he’s a really rich man, not because he has money but because he has so many great friends. So when I had this amazing opportunity in front of me, it made sense to me to make the deal with Jim one-on-one. I would have never dreamed of doing that if I hadn’t met Jake.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

Jake always says life is about moments.

Well, that was one of those moments.

Looking back on it all, it’s been a crazy, amazing ride, and there were a lot of really scary moments along the way. But I never stopped having Jake’s back, and he never stopped having mine.

Take a Shot is the story of how Major League Lacrosse got started. I hope you take some inspiration from our story. I hope you realize that amazing things are possible if you dedicate yourself 110 percent and never quit. Take it from us, there is no dream too crazy or too far-fetched to come true, as long as you believe in that dream with all your heart.

We can’t tell you exactly how to make your dream come true. We barely knew how to make ours come true.

But we can tell you what you absolutely have to do to have any chance of succeeding. You have to get up, get out there and take a shot.

Good luck, and don’t quit on you!

Excerpted from Take a Shot (Hay House) with permission. Jake Steinfeld is a world-renowned fitness expert and motivator. The founder and chairman of Body by Jake Global® LLC. He served as chair of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for California, and is presently the chair of the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils. Jake is also a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling.

Join Jake on HayHouseRadio.com every Monday, 9:00 am - 10:00 am PDT.

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