Outside of football, Bennett runs The Imagination Agency, a company that produces his creative efforts, like his children's book series based on daughter Austyn Jett Rose Bennett, and an app that lets readers interact with the characters. Bennett fully funds his own projects because it allows him the freedom to focus on building a catalog of content, instead of trying to sell millions of copies.
More than an all-star athlete.
When Bennett played for the New England Patriots in 2016, the team won the most recent Super Bowl against the Atlanta Falcons. That same year, he published the first book in his children's series, Hey A.J., It's Saturday, created a digital series with his daughter called Cartoons and Cereal, a short film called Zoovie, and a mixtape called I'm Not a Rapper, but Some of My Friends Are.
The football star and author originally wrote the series to create more stories about black and minority characters going on adventures, something that he felt was lacking. Last month, he released the first issue in his comic book series Towel Boy, about a young football player.
Here, the athlete and entrepreneur reflects on lessons he's learned along the way.
What are some valuable lessons you learned when you started the company?
First, invest in the people, but don't hire your friends. That just doesn't work out. You can have talented friends, but their work ethic might not match with yours. Second, to really understand that success isn't going to happen overnight. There's no such thing. It takes hard work, and you have to sacrifice a lot of stuff that you may enjoy.
How do you find balance in your life?
First and foremost, I am a husband and a father, which is a full-time job. I'm trying to be the best dad ever. And being a husband is a whole other business itself.
You have to pick and prioritize. I don't club, I don't really go out, and there's a lot of stuff I don't really do socially. You have to learn how to delegate work, which is one of the toughest things, because the you have to hire people who you can trust.
What's you secret to balancing so many projects at once?
I've [messed] up a lot. The best way to learn how to swim is to jump in the water. Most people try to figure out every single thing before starting. I hated my first animated series, but I learned so much in the process of making it.
I only outsource to people who I can learn from or who will teach me along the way as well. I don't enjoy working with people who want to do all the work on everything, because I get very little out of that. No one should be working for me; everyone should work with me. Much of it isn't about trying to invent the wheel, but finding a wheel that you can make better.
What do you want other young entrepreneurs or children to learn from you?
I'm very tenacious. I feel like there are not a lot of us, in terms of African American owners or creators. I'm trying to get kids and communities to think not just about playing for the team, but owning the team. You don't always have to be the worker bee.
How can I tell my daughter--or any kid--that they can be anything they want to be, like every adult says to a kid, when those adults never go try to become everything they ever wanted to be? If you say, you can start your own business, [he or she might ask] "why didn't you?"
I am pushing them to think bigger than what we felt like we are given. Coming where I come from, they throw you a basketball and say "good luck."