Who is Tywanna Smith? She is a former professional athlete, a businesswoman, a best-selling author, a brand builder, a financial advisor, a speaker, a professional sports manager, a wife and a mother. Tywanna helps professional athletes develop a brand vision, use their voice in business, and attract media visibility for success beyond the game. Smith’s experience in the professional sports field gives her a first-hand understanding of the challenges that today’s athletes face and perspective on how to navigate and overcome them after their professional careers are but a distant memory. She understands the athlete and what they are going through, as she was once in their very position. This gives her an edge as the ‘fan experience’ from the spectator looking in doesn’t fully reflect the intense pressure and weight that professional athletes encounter.
Tywanna Smith has been focused on what these athletes do after their time in the spotlight is over. She created a blueprint for athletes to follow. Her book, entitled Surviving the Lights: A Professional Athlete’s Playbook to Avoiding the Curse gives insight to athletes on how to control their finances once their time playing is over. She believes that “the keys to success in professional sports are preparation and discipline. However, the majority of athletes struggle in those areas.” She wants to help athletes continually create success for themselves after their time in the professional-athlete field was over. Tywanna confessed that “it was very difficult for [her] to witness story after story the real-life struggles of professional athletes post-career” and she wanted to do something about it. Her ultimate goal in writing Surviving the Lights and the blueprint that she built was “to be proactive in helping young athletes understand the business of sports, all the non-sport activities that determine how successful they are in the game and in life.” Smith has worked with many professional athletes from the NBA, WNBA, NFL and overseas athletes, and has advice for anyone who needs help managing their own personal finances.
From the University of Mississippi, Tywanna Smith earned an MBA in marketing and landed a job with Merrill Lynch as a Registered Financial Advisor. She took her skills from financial advising and combined it with her passion of helping athletes to turn her career into her dream job. Smith recognizes what wealth can do to individuals and their families, and her interest is in creating a fulfilling life for a community that needs it most. Some advice that she always shares with athletes is to be educated in anything they are faced with and to do your research. She encourages her athletes to learn about business and finance to protect themselves from being exploited. Smith learned this advice from her mother who often said “Don’t take no wooden nickel!” making Tywanna think “How would I know a nickel was wooden, or that it shouldn’t be? The only way I could evaluate information is if I educated myself about anything I faced” and she keeps this mentality with her at all times. Smith shares this advice with the athletes she mentors, and she uses it in her everyday life.
Tywanna is the founder and President of The Athlete’s Nexus, A Sports Marketing & Business Management Group. Through this, she uses a unique business model to create longevity and long-term success for her clients well after they have left the field or the court. She offers personal coaching and mentoring to several athletes while simultaneously managing their non-sport activities such as finances, branding, marketing, and business management. Creating ‘The Athletes Nexus’ was not always easy, and Smith faced some roadblocks that ended up benefiting her and her business in the long run. When asked about these struggles, Smith confessed that her “biggest struggle was helping athletes and their families understand why the activities we focus on are so important to their career success.” She elaborated and stated that “in the sports industry, there is a lot of focus on a player’s athletic ability and performance. However, how athletes carry themselves, interact with others, take care of their bodies, and manage their business obligations have a far greater impact on their long-term success.” She aims for longevity and success for her clients while striving to teach them the importance of everything else that goes into being a professional athlete. Smith knows that overcoming these hurdles has made her stronger and that “educating athletes and their families has helped [her] establish a unique niche in the industry and position [her] service as one poised to shape the future of athlete management.”
Tywanna has a huge heart. She started her own philanthropy called the Tywanna Inmon-Smith Scholarship Fund. Smith has a passion for helping, supporting and motivating others. Smith started this scholarship “to sow into young ladies that followed a similar path as [herself] in being balanced athletically, academically, and involved in the community. This is important to [Tywanna] to be able to empower young girls to use sports to be successful and pursue higher education.” Her life and career have been nothing short of amazing. Smith believes to always “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” She lives by this quote when she interacts with others and while helping those in her power. Smith elaborated on how this quote helps her in business and stated that “sometimes, in business, we tend to only sow into areas that we can get something in return. This quote keeps me grounded and focused on living by a higher moral and spiritual code and on giving rather than receiving.” Tywanna is an absolute powerhouse of a woman and she will guide you in all of the right directions to succeed in your career and in life.
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