Greg Norman: Advice is priceless. Thinking you know everything is stupid. I'm Greg Norman. I'm Dàbái shā, the Great White Fish.
I've been very, very fortunate enough to be halfway decent in my career about chasing a white ball from point A to point B, and it actually gave me an opportunity to observe, how do you make a business out of playing golf? When I was endorsed by Reebok, we came up with the Greg Norman collection, we came up with a logo. So, all of a sudden, I'm a brand. My future for beyond golf, my back nine of life, was start my own business. So I decided to venture out on my own, which I did in the early 90s, and now I'm in Great White Shark Enterprises, financed everything myself, and I'm staying true to that and to this name.
In my career, I was never afraid to ask Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson or Raymond Floyd or Arnold Palmer, "How do you go about things? Once you reach a certain level, what do I do now?" I can go down the list of people that I have been lucky enough to be with that have given me certain pieces of information that I've actually applied directly into my life that's been, quite honestly, a godsend in a lot of ways.
So anybody who thinks they know it all, good luck to them. Because at the end of the day, I think they're gonna have a hard time.
Greg Norman, Jr.: Most people out there don't know how to do most things. The only way you learn how to do it is by going out and seeking advice. He's no different. He was number one golfer in the world to just starting up his businesses. He'd seek out advice. He'd constantly try to be learning.
Greg Norman: Alright guys, down here to the right, this is Okeeheelee State Park, and then if you see in the lake right down here under construction right there, this is our Shark Wake Park. My son is building a cable park system here, and these are all the kickers and sliders that he has in place. I'm very, very proud of him for identifying this opportunity because it's a great business model that he's established here.
Greg Norman, Jr.: He's not a hands-off guy, not a hands-off CEO or president that can just say, "Go do it." He's there every day. He's trying to make sure everyone's got what they need to continue doing their job.
Chris Campbell: He's on every project. He always thinks out of the box. Anytime he's told the way things should be, he questions that, you know, and he wants to know why that is. He's very aware of what's going on around him. So, Greg always challenges everything.
Greg Norman: I was off fishing down near the Turks and Caicos a few years ago. So I'm running my sport fish boat, and I look at the radar and there's this boat coming from four o'clock catching up to me. So, on the radio, "This is the U.S. Coast Guard. We need you to come out of gear and come to a stop." And he was asking, "Okay, is this the master of the vessel? Where are you going? Blah, blah, blah. What's your name? Blah, blah, blah." And he says, "Oh, you're the wine guy." And I went, "Yes, that's what I want. I'm the wine—not the golfer, I'm the wine guy." That's what you want. That's how you want your legacy and that's how you build your business.
The one thing that I know I am is I'm 100% hands-on, in all my businesses, I must admit: wine, beef, real estate, interior design, clubhouse design, golf course design. You need to have your impetus on it because this is the Greg Norman brand. I get involved with the label, the shape of the bottle, color palettes, to type of materials we'd use, how it'd fit, get away from the boxy style to a slim fit. Oh yeah, I'm very hands-on, believe it or not. And I like it that way.
It's not materialistic things. It's not how much money you got in the bank. It's the validation of the business model that I originally set out to do. And today, when I go to different places around the world, I go to China, they call me Da Bai Sha. I go to Mexico, I'm Tiburón, the Shark. The Shark. The Shark. The Shark. It's a logo, it's a brand, but it's a moniker that sticks with me and has stuck with me since day one.
I have learned that everybody puts their pants on the same way every day. We all are human beings. Most people who are successful want to hand off a little piece of information. That's a gift that people I don't think realize and utilize enough. I used it, and it's helped me get to a place where I never, ever expected.
I'm a front-seat guy. I'm a big time front-seat guy.
Swimming with the Shark.
How Hall of Famer Greg Norman is redefining retirement.
Few golfers in the history of the game boast a playing resume that matches Greg Norman's. The Queensland, Australia native amassed 91 professional tournament wins in a career that began in 1976, including 20 on the PGA Tour and a pair of British Open titles, at Turnberry in 1986 and then Royal St. George's seven years later. He also finished 2nd in eight other major championships. A big-hitter who was considered as good a driver of the golf ball as anyone who has ever picked up a club, Norman spent a total of 331 weeks in the 1980s and 1990s as the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world. In addition, he also earned more than $1 million on the PGA Tour in five different seasons and was the first ever to make more than $10 million in his playing career. It was no wonder, then, that the now-64-year-old Aussie was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
Equally as impressive is Norman's Curriculum Vitae as an entrepreneur, and even as he was still winning golf tournaments and competing in championships all over the world, he was building a business empire of sizable proportions. It began, quite understandably, with golf course design, and he started working in that realm in 1987. Five years later, he and then-Reebok chief executive officer Paul Fireman developed an apparel line that featured a newly-created shark logo that played off the Great White Shark nickname Norman had acquired when he played in his first Masters in 1981, in part for his aggressive play and also for his longish, almost-white hair and the tales he told of fishing and scuba diving off his homeland's Great Barrier Reef. That enterprise prospered greatly, and so did a wine venture, Greg Norman Estates, that he founded in 1996.
Initially, Norman operated his various ventures under an umbrella organization that he called Great White Shark Enterprises. "It was a way for me to plan my future beyond golf," he says. "I was coming up to the back nine of my life and thought that to best prepare for that, it was time to start my own business."
Today, that concern is known as the Greg Norman Company, and the multinational enterprise based in West Palm Beach, Florida represents more than a dozen different businesses and produces hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues, with Norman serving as its chairman and CEO. The course design is as vibrant as ever, with its name on more than 100 golf courses around the world, and the apparel and wine operations are flourishing as well. Other holdings include a real estate development division, an eyewear company, and restaurant in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and a branded line of premium Wagyu steaks and other beef products named Greg Norman Australian Prime.
To be sure, Norman owes a great deal of his successes in the business world to the fame and notoriety he attained as a professional golfer and the ways he was able to leverage them through the years. But they have also been the result of his immersing himself completely in whatever venture he pursues. He was also adamant about educating himself in every aspect of his off-course, and he quickly learned that the best way to do that was to ask questions.
"Getting advice from people with knowledge and experience is priceless," says Norman, whose father Mervin was an electrical engineer and mother Toini an avid golfer who introduced young Greg to the game when he was 15 years old. "Thinking you know everything is stupid. And I was never afraid to ask peers of mine in golf, like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, about their businesses outside of golf and how they built them. I was also not shy about reaching out to people like Paul Fireman and picking their brains, to learn how they became successful."
Norman's formal education ended after high school, by which time he had given up his childhood dream to become a professional surfer and started to contemplate a career in golf, having worked his handicap down to scratch by the time he was 16. But by interacting with the likes of Palmer, Nicklaus and Fireman, he earned what surely must be regarded as an advanced degree in business, and by doing so set the stage for a life that was as successful off the golf course as it was on.
Ask Norman about the lessons he learned from those fellows, and he rattles off several. For one thing, he says, he developed a habit of thinking outside the box and not being afraid of challenging the status quo. "I want to know what things are done in certain ways," he says. "And what we might do to do them differently, and better."
He also came to appreciate the importance of being involved in every aspect of his operation, especially with each one bearing his name in some way, shape or form. "I am 100 percent hands-on," he says. "With apparel, for example, I have always been deeply involved with the fit of the clothes," he says. "It's the same with the Greg Norman Estates, from the wines themselves to the shapes of the bottles and the labels that go on them. And with all of our course designs. I do it that way because I enjoy running my businesses and being involved with them, and because I believe that is how we make sure that what we are offering is as good as it can be."
"I am a front-seat guy," Norman adds. "Whether in the plane or helicopter I am piloting or with one of the businesses I am running. It is always important for me to be engaged like that."Another thing that Norman has long appreciated is the value of the brand he began establishing more than three decades ago. And he delights in telling a story that demonstrates how well he has been able to do that.
"I was fishing a few years ago off of the Turks and Caicos in the Atlantic Ocean," he says. "I was running my sport fish boat and all of a sudden noticed on the radar another boat coming at me from four o'clock and catching up. "Then a voice came on the radio announcing that it was the U.S. Coast Guard and asking me to come out of gear and come to a stop. I did so, and when the guy came on board, he started asking questions. 'Are you the master of the vessel?' 'Where are you going?' 'What is your name?' And when I said Greg Norman, he replied, 'Oh, the wine guy?'"
"I loved that," Norman says with a wide smile. "He knew me as the wine guy, not the golf guy. That's just what you want. That's how you build your legacy, your brand and your business. That's how you succeed."