Justin Gimelstob was born and raised in Livingston, New Jersey. He began playing tennis at the age of eight and was the top-ranked player in every age group from 12 years of age through 18. In 1991, 1993, and 1995, he won the USTA National Championships. During his High School career, he led Newark Academy to the State Championship. Years later, he was inducted into the High School’s Hall of Fame. Gimelstob then achieved extraordinary athletic and academic success while attending UCLA. In 1996 Gimelstob earned Academic All-American honors while achieving the #1 ranking in singles and doubles while leading the #1 ranked UCLA tennis team. He also won the 1996 NCAA Doubles Championship while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
After UCLA, Gimelstob turned professional and competed on the ATP World Tour for thirteen years. Justin had wins against many of the best players in the sport, including Andre Agassi, Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Gustavo Kuerten, and Michael Chang.
In 1998, he won the Australian Open and French Open Mixed Doubles Championships with Venus Williams. He represented the USA in the US Davis Cup in 1998 and 2001. Gimelstob achieved a career high ranking of #63 in singles and #18 in doubles while winning seventeen titles.
Gimelstob retired in 2007 after losing his final match under the night lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US OPEN against his good friend Andy Roddick. Justin immediately transitioned to every facet of sports business, including broadcasting, production, talent representation and brand management. Since 2014, he has coached and mentored the number one ranked American tennis player, John Isner, helping him achieve a career-high world ranking of #8 and reaching the 2018 Wimbledon semifinal and 2018 USOPEN quarterfinal.
Justin is passionate about philanthropy and is dedicated to the Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund which has raised over $1 million for children’s focused causes. Gimelstob was recently honored for his charitable contributions by the Hope for Children Research Foundation as their 2020 Humanitarian of the Year.
Gimelstob has recently taken over his parents’ company after his father’s sudden passing. He is now the President of the Financial Benefits Research Group (FBR Group), a full-service insurance and financial management business.
Gimelstob is a proud father of his 6-year-old son, Brandon. They live in Brentwood, California.
Where did the idea for [Insert Company Name] come from?
Steve Prefontaine is one of the most successful and iconic track and field athletes of all time. He was a complete outlier in the way he viewed distance running. He refused to adhere to conventional wisdom of pacing himself. He believed in going all out from the start. I loved the movie, and it resonated with me. Also, he was right at the cusp of the beginning of Nike. His coach, Bill Bowerman, teamed up with Phil Knight to start the iconic brand. As a result, Prefontaine became one of the earliest Nike athletes. He was a total renegade.
Prefontaine transformed middle distance running from an unpopular event to the most anticipated and electrifying event of meets. One of his famous quotes was, “I’m going to be the best because I can endure more pain than anyone else.” He punished himself in training so he could punish others during races. He believed his heart and sheer will were even more important than his lungs and feet. He’d say, “I’m going to go out as fast as I can from the start and see if anyone can keep up with me.” Anybody that knows me understands why that quote and mentality resonates with me!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day in my life depends on one thing — my son. I’m a single father with a beautiful six-year-old. I have Brandon half the time and, on those days, everything revolves around him. I do every pickup and drop-off, meal, bath time, bedtime story and playdate. I volunteer in his classroom and chaperone the field trips. I try to be as involved as possible in every aspect of his life. I coach his sports teams: football, basketball and t-ball. The only sport I don’t coach him is tennis! I just watch him play with another coach! After I drop Brandon off at school I will either work at my office in Brentwood or my home office. After I pick Brandon up, the typical day will consist of either a sports practice, game, or play date with a friend followed by dinner. After dinner we usually do some reading, writing, and/or math. Then we start our bedtime routine. We always read together in bed, say our prayers, and Brandon always asks me to scratch his back until he falls asleep. Those moments are some of my most cherished. My workday resumes when he falls asleep. On the days I am not with my son my workday rarely stops. I try to maximize my time and get as much done as possible. I also work out every day — either through tennis, yoga, Pilates, hiking, lifting weights, playing basketball or biking.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m a big believer in working from the finish line backwards, as opposed to from start to finish. Growing up, I used to watch a show called ‘Inside the NBA’ hosted by Ahmad Rashād and Willow Bay. It featured weekly highlights, interviews and some technical segments. It inspired me to apply this workflow to the game of tennis. I knew the need was there but needed to figure out how to most efficiently produce it and bring the content to life. The result was ‘ATP Uncovered’ and with that my production company was off and running. That’s generally how my brain works and how I do things.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am inspired by learning, growing and new challenges. I have an insatiable appetite to understand more and improve. For example, I am not great with technology and, therefore, it piques my interest. In addition, my dad and brother found their success in finance. Most of my life thus far I’ve leaned on them for those skills. Now that I am entering that realm of business, I want to learn every detail about every aspect of finance. In order to do that I tirelessly read articles about the industry, investing, the economy, etc. My appetite for information is insatiable.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My work ethic and my love of people. I’m passionate. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. It’s my energy, my passion, my will, my enjoyment of people, my inquisitive nature… it’s all those things. I’m not afraid to put myself out there. If it works out well, great, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. A lot of people are paralyzed by a fear of failure. Failing fuels me. Perhaps, it’s something I learned to accept as an athlete where losing is inevitable. I also think people misunderstand confidence. I believe confidence isn’t just about believing you’re going to be successful but simultaneously understanding, growing from and accepting failure. With that said, I don’t enjoy losing but I do believe it’s a crucial part of the process.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to remember to breathe and keep things in perspective — to appreciate and enjoy the process. I’d tell myself to give my body a break, rest more, regenerate and heal. I’d encourage myself not to take everything so seriously and to find more balance in my life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe there are two major emotional forms of motivation: love and fear. I think both are invaluable. I think the challenge is figuring out the ratio to which both these qualities work for an individual. When you solve that equation, you find tremendous value in both.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am a big believer in habits. More specifically, I abide by Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours philosophy. You are what you do. Repetition and muscle memory are very real. Behavior needs to be learned and taught. I believe in a positive attitude, work ethic and great communication skills. Master the things you can control and do your best with the things you can’t. Almost everything in business comes down to relationships and how you navigate them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I hire good people and give them the freedom to do their jobs. I heard an amazing quote from Steve Jobs about how as a leader it is so important to hire the best people and give them the freedom to do their job without stifling oversight. All too often people in power are insecure and weak. Because of this, they hire weak people and control them. A strong person wants other strong people around them. They thrive on other people’s opinions and learn from them. On any successful team — athletically or in business — you’ll find each player or member to have clearly defined roles.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had tons of failures over the years. Many have been made because of being impatient, trying to do too much too quickly or trying to do too much on my own. I have learned to delegate and trust the people that work for me more. I am constantly trying to find the right balance between being energetic and overzealous. In order to be more efficient and effective. I’ve had to learn to adapt. I am a firm believer that life is about the makes and not the misses. Mistakes are part of the process. It’s important to learn from them but focus on the successes and not solely the failures.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I lose my AirPods constantly. With that said, I am always telling myself they should have a tracker connected to them that syncs with my phone. They’re so small and if you’re me you lose them every time you put them down. They need to have a tracking device in them so I can have my iPhone find them when I’ve misplaced them. Perhaps they already do, but if so, I’m not aware of it which further reveals my disconnect with technology!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’m sure it was something I bought for my son. Anything that makes him happy and he gets good use out of is worth it to me. He’s really into dinosaurs right now. He’s six and getting into reading, too. So, we purchase a lot of books.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’m not really a technology guy. I enjoy the simple things. I love my iCal feature on my iPhone. I love the reminders I get for appointments and things. It helps me to keep track, book things and stay on schedule. To be honest, I’m more of an old-school, whiteboard kind of guy.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Art of Happiness by the 14th Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, and the Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. The Art of Happiness is about reaching the goal of happiness, of nirvana. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior because it’s about learning to balance your inner warrior and peace.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt. The reason this is one of my favorite quotes is because this is how I live my life every day!
- Remember to breathe and keep things in perspective — to appreciate and enjoy the process
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
- Be inspired by learning, growing and new challenges!
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.