Glean some out-of-the-box inspiration from our interview with Atlanta business rock star Jesse Itzler, a co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks, a former hip-hop recording artist, an extreme athlete and a wildly successful entrepreneur.
Itzler co-founded Marquis Jet, which he sold to Berkshire Hathaway and its NetJets subsidiary, and ZICO Coconut Water, which he sold to Coca-Cola. He is raising four young children with wife Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Besides all that, he is a motivating, positive, introspective and humble whirlwind of a man.
Basketball star LeBron James said Itzler’s book, “Living With a SEAL: 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet,” was “hilarious.”
Itzler is speaking at a sold-out fundraiser for the Jewish Educational Loan Fund on Tuesday, Aug. 30, at Flourish in Buckhead. You can join the waiting list for tickets at jelf.org/itzler.
JELF has lent more than $10 million to more than 4,000 Jewish students in Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas and Virginia since 1961.
Jaffe: Reading your bio, I would infer that you are a daredevil.
Itzler: No, not really. I want to create an environment or pattern to challenge myself. Life gets hard. Experiences make it easier to deal with it.
My occupation or what I do for a living is building a life résumé. I don’t dwell on victories. I look for the next challenge. The harder, the more alive I feel. I am not one to quit. I push past discomfort. Yes, my occupation is to squeeze every ounce out of life.
Jaffe: Why do you support the Jewish Loan Educational Fund? You are headlining their Aug. 30 event.
Itzler: I think it’s a great cause to see how one’s dollars directly benefit others. I want to help and inspire the students who have benefited from JELF loans.
Jaffe: What is left for you to achieve on your bucket list? I know you have jogged 100 miles in 24 hours.
Itzler: I have business goals also, but my physical goals are to master Israeli krav maga (a martial art) and bike ride cross-country.
Jaffe: You are rearing four children under the age of 7. What is your philosophy toward that?
Itzler: I let each child experience his/her own journey. I want them to be able to handle difficult things, observe me using good habits and doing positive things.
Jaffe: I see your mother was an educator. What was your home life like?
Itzler: I was the youngest of four — sounds funny for someone 48 years old. It was a happy childhood. We were allowed a lot of freedom but with an iron fist. We had space and boundaries. We always had family dinner together. My mother had a cowbell (laughing). When she rang that bell, we all promptly returned home!
Also, my mother would not fly on a plane, so we took family road trips.
Jaffe: That’s ironic since you were in the aviation business. What healthy living tips can you share?
Itzler: I eat nothing but fruit before noon. I was greatly influenced by a book by Harvey Diamond, “Fit for Life.” By the way, cereal is a marketing ploy. I am anti-big-breakfast.
Jaffe: Leave us with some parting words that readers may not know about you.
Itzler: Hmm, that’s a tough one. I’ve been 30 for the past 18 years and will continue that for many more years. I do wish I had time to read more.
Jaffe: I get that you don’t rest much.
Itzler: That is correct.