Name: D.J. Fisher
Profession: Sports Agent/Philanthropist
One Word That Describes You: Ambitious
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
About 12 years ago I founded Defining Sports. I started the business to provide what was missing from a city that was a hot bed for breeding talented male and female athletes. Wichita, Kansas, has produced Hall of Famers Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, Lynette Woodard, Antoine Carr, and Darnell Valentine, just to name a few. However, during my era, the mid-1990s—an era filled with gang violence, drugs, teen pregnancy, truancy and drop-outs, incarceration, and death—none of these athletes were around to be a positive distraction for those kids of the community. We always heard about them but we’d never seen them. A kid is like a sponge and a pro athlete is one of the most influential figures EVER! Could you imagine the impact that an athlete could have on a child within the community? That is what we do at Defining Sports. We don’t just market and manage pro athletes. We encourage them to live up to our slogan: “Heroes In Sports, Legends In Life.” It’s a great accomplishment to lead the league in scoring, rushing, tackles, blocked shots, and rebounds. It’s a great feeling to hoist a trophy high above your head. But there is no feeling like knowing that you were able to use your platform to change someone else’s life.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
Black Enterprise alone is a remarkable feature for any businessperson of color. I remember collecting magazines of Black Enterprise, reading and becoming inspired by the many success stories. Now some little boy or girl is going to be able to read about me in BE and be inspired. It is an incredible honor to be chosen as a member of such an accomplished group of men who are revolutionizing their respective industries.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Wow! What stands out the most is overcoming those that you believe are for you, the ones you expect to support and encourage you are your worst enemy. I had a select few distant kindred . They weren’t close or even around enough to know who I truly am but always had the most to say. It really took a toll on me and pushed me to the limit. I became distant, quiet, didn’t talk much. I felt as if I didn’t belong. I would skip school to go to the library at the local university. I failed to graduate high school on time. Skipping school to go to school. I would find my comfort in reading books on sports and business. In those quiet times, I got to know myself, who I am and my purpose and begin to apply myself and fulfill my purpose from the knowledge I gained from books and a class I took called “YEK” Youth Entrepreneurs of Kansas. A class that was created by the Charles Koch and his wife geared towards educating and informing students about everything business and investing. I learned so much in that class. I used all of the negative energy, business knowledge and combined it with my passion for sports. I knew who I didn’t want to be, so I trusted God and here I am. If it wasn’t his will for my life, I believe I wouldn’t have come this far. Now I am one of the most accomplished in the business. It doesn’t matter who is for you or who is against you. If you trust God and apply yourself, there is nothing in this life that you cannot accomplish.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
A person with a great character and personality. A person that can be fun, focused, and yet effective. I am motivated by others with a story about overcoming adversity and absolutely destroying the odds.
What is the best advice you ever received?
My grandmother, Helen Fisher, used to always say: “Tend to your own business and leave other folks alone.” That eventually became a family motto of the Fisher family!
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Trust God and do what you can’t! Don’t be afraid of failure. Embrace it and learn from it. Dare to be different and believe in yourself. Understand that God has given you all the tools to make your wildest dreams come true. Believe in yourself! You will have more naysayers than supporters, but don’t be rattled by that. Be mindful of the company you keep and how you invest your time. Hard work always pays off and when the rewards and accolades begin to roll in, it will be so surreal. Thank God and do everything within your power to give back, encourage, and inspire someone else.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I do as much research as possible, not just on the topics for the meeting but on the individuals within the meeting. I want to be able to connect with them on a personal level, gain their trust in an effort for them to feel comfortable enough to go above and beyond for me and my client(s). I learn to listen. My mother tells me, “In all thy getting, get an understanding.” I later found out that it’s a scripture, and one of the most valuable things is listening and asking questions in order to gain complete knowledge before making an executive decision.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
A vacation, what’s that?! (laughs). Home is where the heart is! I enjoy returning back to my hometown of Wichita, Kansas. Spending time with family, friends, and reuniting with those from my home church (Paradise Missionary Baptist Church) and old neighborhood as well as the community. It’s reviving and comforting to go back to where it all started. I live in South Florida, literally two miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and yet it does not even compare to home.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to visit Northeast Africa: South Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. I would love to live a quarter in each country.
South Sudan specifically because of one of my mentors, Manute Bol, sacrificed and gave pretty much all he had to his people. It’s one reason why I am so dedicated to my hometown. Sudan has an active civil war going on where many, including the Dinka Tribe, are being slaughtered and is notorious for human rights abuse. I know I am not able to help everyone but I just want to go and help as many as I can.
Egypt, simply because of the history of ancient Egypt and the pyramids—how they developed so much with so much simplicity but yet difficulty which we, with all of this ‘advancement,’ cannot figure out to this day.
Eritreans are some of the most beautiful people to ever walk this earth but yet very hardworking and a determined group.
Ethiopia has one of the most unique and best preserved cultures in the world. The only country on the African continent to have never been colonized, Ethiopia has maintained much of its traditional food, music, dance, and history. Food-wise, the country is famous for injera, a sourdough flatbread made of teff, a super grain grown in Ethiopia.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.