Jackson made his first mark in Tampa on the football field. His next mark is coming in the boardroom.
If business success involves defying expectations, relentless pursuit of a goal and having the humility to lead others in a common theme, then consider Vincent Jackson a winner.
Two years into retirement after a dozen NFL seasons, five with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jackson, 35, has a handful of business and philanthropic interests in the Tampa area. It ranges from private equity and real estate to military family housing and restaurants.
Jackson’s main vehicle to win the day in business is CTV Capital, a firm he co-founded in 2012. It includes entities for single-family and multifamily housing construction; mortgages; insurance; property management; and a real estate brokerage. He also has ownership in three restaurants: Callaloo, a Southern comfort and Floribbean eatery in St. Petersburg; Cask Social Kitchen in South Tampa; and Ferg’s Live in Tampa, near Amalie Arena. CTV Capital is now based in Tampa, with seven full-time employees and 15 independent contractors. Jackson says it's developed and/or held about $100 million in projects and transactions.
‘Our business is all about being opportunistic and open-minded.’ Vincent Jackson, CTV Capital
Jackson — who cites star pro athletes-turned-business moguls Magic Johnson and Roger Staubach as inspiration — has some 30 projects at various stages, from permitting and planning to construction and operations. His latest pursuit: mixed-use real estate projects, in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, including office, retail and residential components.
“Right now the Tampa Bay area is on fire,” says Jackson, speaking at a Conversation with a CEO event hosted by the USF Muma College of Business in early October, held in downtown Tampa at the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation. “Our business is all about being opportunistic and open-minded” to new development and project opportunities.
Both at the USF event, moderated by USF Muma College of Business Dean Moez Limayem, and in an interview with the Business Observer, Jackson talked about his career, leadership and the transition from sports to business. Edited excerpts:
• Big planner: Jackson learned from other pro football players that the league’s letters also mean Not For Long — so he knew early on to prepare for life after football. “It’s a cyclical business,” he says. “You know someday your career is going to end.”
• Surround thyself: Knowing that, during off-seasons Jackson found his way around business leaders, first in San Diego and later Tampa. “Being a professional athlete opens a lot of doors,” he says. He kicked down many of those doors after the introductions. “If they were successful in their careers I wanted to be around them,” he says. “I emailed, I called, I hung around doctors, lawyers, accountants — anybody who is successful.”
• Love and LT: Being a good leader, says Jackson, isn’t about how loud you get in a locker room or a sideline. His role models in leadership in the NFL, instead, were people like former Chargers star running back LaDainian Tomlinson and former Bucs coach Lovie Smith. Jackson considers Tomlinson a humble warrior, “who treated everyone the same, no matter if they were a star or the third string.” And even with a Hall of Fame career, Tomlinson, he says, also practiced harder than any other Charger.
Smith, meanwhile, taught Jackson the value of subtle leadership and how to reach a diverse group of teammates. “He could be quiet and reserved, but everything he did was well thought out,” Jackson says. “I learned from him you have to have a vision and you have to be able to articulate that vision to everyone to be a good leader.”
Good eats: Jackson worked in the restaurant business when he was younger, and saw how tough and fickle it could be. He’s in it now, he says, because of its intrinsic values like providing a service and a great experience for people. “It’s something you have to be on top of all the time,” he says. “You get one bad Yelp review and it can kill you.
• Draft room: Jackson seeks out headstrong problem-solvers with a top-notch work ethic when hiring, either at the restaurants or CTV Capital — not an easy find. Other attributes he seeks: people who represent his brand well in the community; value what a business can do philanthropically for the region; and have the resiliency to bounce back from mistakes or just simply getting beat. Two more things he looks for: creativity and curiosity. Says Jackson: “We want people who can be flexible and adapt and have open minds to explore other things.”