Every entrepreneur has a story, but for sheer size, it's hard to top Neil Fingleton's.
If you watch Game of Thrones, you already know who Fingleton is. In the most recent battle-packed episode, which first aired Sunday, June 8, he played a giant named Mag the Mighty. And he spent most of his time attacking The Wall.
In real life, Fingleton happens to be the tallest man in the UK, standing seven-foot-seven.
It's fitting, then, that he also owns an online store called 7-Foot-7, which specializes in clothing and footwear for tall men. Here's how Fingleton tells his tale on the company site:
I was officially recognized by the Guinness World Records in January 2007 as the United Kingdom's tallest living man. I was born on the 18th of December 1980 and raised in Durham, England. Ever since I can remember I have always been extremely tall for my age. I was over 7 foot at the age of 11. By the time I was 14 I was 7'5 inches. I finally stopped growing at the age of 18 peaking at 7 ft 7.56 inches. There are over 64 million people living in the United Kingdom and I happen to be the tallest.
Andrew Sharp, who writes for Grantland.com, correctly recalled Fingleton as a touted basketball recruit:
I was a [University of North Carolina] fan, so I vaguely remember the recruiting battle to land him, and vividly remember watching him in the McDonald's All-American Game. Then he showed up to North Carolina, couldn't see the court, got back surgery, transferred to Holy Cross, and everyone sorta forgot about him. He only lived on as a punch line across various college basketball message boards. He might still be a punch line on college basketball message boards, actually. Until now.
Sharp found a Fingleton interview with the Daily Mail from 2011, in which the actor-entrepreneur shared his post-college story. After graduating with a degree in history, he played basketball professionally in Greece, Italy, and Spain. Then he decided to focus on acting.
While his GoT appearance put him in the spotlight, it wasn't Fingleton's first brush with the stars of movies and television. As Sharp points out, Fingleton's IMDb page includes appearances in one of the X-Men films, as well in movies with Keanu Reeves and Mila Kunis.
I'd hoped to interview Fingleton for this story, but my emails to 7-Foot-7 were not returned. I was curious about his decision to open an online-only store, given that the nature of clothes (especially for tall customers) creates the need to physically try them on.
I also wondered how acting had helped him as an entrepreneur. Were there marketing benefits, like sales spiking after a GoT appearance? Were there psychological benefits, with the acting creating natural breaks that mentally refreshed you from the grind of owning a business?
I'll keep trying to track down Fingleton. Until then, those answers will have to wait. But from what we already know, this much is clear: He possesses the most important quality in an entrepreneur's arsenal: persistence. As Sharp points out, back in 2000, Fingleton didn't exactly live up to his promise as a ballyhooed basketball recruit. (Check out his slow-footed defense, at the 41-second mark.)
Yet Fingleton still made it as a professional basketball player. And now he's arguably pursuing two dream-paths at once, as an actor and entrepreneur. It's hard to make it in those two fields if you're someone who quits at the first sign of resistance.