- October 7, 2021
President of Elite Life Management
As a former professional athlete, it’s only fitting that Jeremy Shelby met his mentor, Aaron Rutsky, on the pickleball courts in Lakewood Ranch.
The pair bonded over sports, both bringing honest opinions to the discussions. Eventually the bond trickled down to their families getting to know each other. And soon what started as healthy competition grew into something much bigger. “You can tell how people are by how they compete,” says Shelby.
Shelby started his career as a professional baseball player in the Baltimore Orioles’ minor league system. Just a year into his career, Shelby was released from the team. His mom immediately told him to go back to school.
Shelby also spent several years with the Boys and Girls Club of America. That experience still plays a role in his career today. In the position, he was put in charge of finding ways to retain teenagers. With it being an afterschool program, the teenagers’ attendance wasn’t necessarily required. This taught Shelby how to work with people and keep them interested in the club.
“Adults are just older teens,” he says. “That teen director position was the toughest position, but I take that experience with me everywhere.”
Shelby still spends time volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club in Sarasota, as well as staying in touch with past members. “It’s awesome to walk through life with them,” he says.
He also supports the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease at 14. Two years later, he was in remission. He recently was nominated for Man of the Year through the society and raised $50,000. The society showed Shelby how to share his story and understand the journey he went through.
Shelby’s career, meanwhile, took a financial turn when he accepted a position with Merrill Lynch. He saw that the finance industry lacks diversity. He was determined to change that.
“I definitely want to bring attention to show it's available,” he says. Now, he’s doing just that with his own company Elite Life Management, which focuses on money management for athletes. He’s in the process of developing an internship program at Elite Life he hopes will bring more diversity to the industry.
Shelby gives credit to the bible verse Luke 1:37 — For with God nothing shall be impossible — for playing a role in his career. The other credit goes to Rutsky, Shelby’s first client at Merrill Lynch.
Eventually, Rutsky invested in Shelby’s company, giving him a financial start. Rutsky also helped Shelby find his niche in the industry, as Elite Life Management provides professional athletes the information they need to be successful after the sports career ends. Even with his short career, Shelby says he struggled with this.
“I spent my whole life preparing for that moment,” he says. “A lot of athletes don’t prepare for what’s next. It’s tougher to start over the older you get.”
His clients range from athletes already in Major League baseball to the amateur draft.
Apart from the company’s niche, Rutsky also provided honest feedback on Shelby’s business model and what the finance industry was missing. “It goes beyond friendship,” says Shelby. “If he didn’t trust me and didn’t believe in me, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Name: Jeremy Shelby
City of Residence: Sarasota
Employer: Self-employed (Elite Life Management)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Years in the area: 8
Marital Status/Children: Married, 1 daughter (19 months)
Alma Mater/Degree: Grambling State University/Sports Management
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Leukemia Lymphoma Society & Boys & Girls Clubs
What's the weirdest job you've ever had? Batboy for the Los Angeles Dodgers
What's your top tip for being productive? Only focus on the things you can control: preparation, perspective, prayer & performance. Always write down your plans, dreams & desires. Then have faith & make them happen.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Musician
What's your favorite off-hours activity? Pickleball, beach, family time & music
Have you gone to the movies in 2021? If yes, what did you see? Yes, The Courier
What's the top item on your bucket list? Leave a legacy for my great great grandchildren
What's your favorite podcast? Joel Osteen
Where is your happy place? With my family
Describe yourself in three words: Faithful, optimistic, energetic
Who is your mentor for your career and why? Aaron Rutsky. Aaron is my close friend and business partner. We quickly connected over our love for sports and ability to understand and dissect them. Aaron gave me confidence by his trust in my abilities and character.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? Sell opposites. Believe in your ideas. Don’t be afraid to be creative, think different and use your imagination. When building your process: Break it down. Then, break it down again. Then, repeat until you can no longer repeat. Do right by people and the money will take care of itself. When building a team hire good people.