The PHDs: Be Careful Who You Trust

“Fall guys?” Here’s my definition: The guys who cause your career to fall. For every star athlete, they are a reality; I call them the PHDs. Why? I wrote about this in my book RELENTLESS


Some years ago I worked with a star athlete who had one of the most legendary entourages in the history of bottle service. A solid entourage is a thing to behold.

Basically you have a bunch of unskilled, untrained, generally inexperienced losers from the old neighborhood or some other unknown origin, guys who showed up to a party and never left, all swarming around hoping for a stray groupie or a free drink. Then those losers bring around other losers, just to show they know how to party for free. Always free, because none of these bums have a dime in their pockets.

The entourage usually stays away from me, because I never hesitate to say: “Explain to me why you’re hanging around here for the next three hours while we’re working out. Go read a book, get the car washed, pick up the cleaning…just get out of here, you serve no purpose.”

And technically, I guess that’s false, because they actually serve two purposes: 1) telling a superstar how great he is and 2) filling the role of PHDs—Professional Holders of Dicks.

One day I’m going to make PHD T-shirts, congratulate these guys on their accomplishment, and hand them out; those guys will wear anything they get for free.

When your rent, car, meals, drinks, and entertainment are completely paid for by a “friend” who happens to be an athlete, when you can’t do what he does to earn all that money, you have one real responsibility: Do everything in your power to protect him, his name, and his success….because without his success, there is no you.

What happened to the superstar I mentioned earlier? He got hurt, needed surgery, spent a few months rehabbing…and his entire crew slithered off into the night to search for someone new to bankroll the party. One day he’s surrounded by an entourage of grateful dick holders, the next day he’s just got me and an ice bath. No posse, no one kissing his ass, no one to tell him he’s the man.

When you’re the one everyone else leans on for financial support, social support, emotional support, and every other kind of support, you already know that when people say, “It’s lonely at the top,” they’re talking about you.

Who do you trust? Anyone? No one? Tough question, because no matter who you are, part of success means recognizing the people who can help you get where you want to go, putting all the best pieces in place. You have to surround yourself with people who can operate at your level of demanding excellence. You can’t be unstoppable, or even great, if you can’t do that.

Athletes are surrounded by an endless parade of experts on everything; they have coaches, trainers, doctors, agents, advisers, wives, parents, and, yes, the dick holders. Everyone has an opinion. Know what you know, and what you don’t know. Most of the time when we ask for advice, we don’t want the truth. We want the answer we’re seeking. Be open to advice that goes against what you want.

Surround yourself with those who want you to succeed, who recognize what it takes to be successful. People who don’t pursue their own dreams probably won’t encourage you to pursue yours; they’ll tell you every negative thing they tell themselves.

Attaining excellence means seeking and accepting the truth, and adapting as necessary, not just settling for the convenient, easy route.  –TG

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