Power Players

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen taught NFL star Russell Wilson this important lesson about success

Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks at the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl
Mark Brown | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson has already earned a reported $74 million in NFL salary. And, now, the 30-year-old quarterback is about to be the highest-paid player in the NFL after reportedly agreeing to a four-year contract extension worth $140 million (including a $65 million signing bonus), according to ESPN.

But Wilson also has his sights set on a successful business career outside the NFL, including launching mobile gaming app Tally, which is backed by investors like Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.

Wilson was also lucky enough to work with billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who owned the Seahawks before he passed away last year. And he taught the football star an important lesson about success in life and business.

"The biggest thing that I always learned about Paul, and that I always understood, was 'do what you're passionate about, do what you love,'" Wilson says. "He was a direct demonstration of that … [with] the things that he was able to do, from cancer research to brain research to creating Microsoft."

It's something Wilson has taken to heart.

"Whatever I do, whether it's something I invest in, something that I've been fortunate enough to create, like Tally ... the biggest thing for me is that I want to do what's authentic," Wilson adds. "I think that, ultimately, you've got to be passionate about it, you've got to love it, you've got to be authentic about it and make sure it's what you really know and understand, and go for it."

In recent years, the All-Pro quarterback has invested in a company that makes high-tech football helmets and he started his own media and production company (West2East Empire) and fashion label (Good Man Brand). Wilson has also launched two start-ups, Tally and a leadership consulting service called Limitless Minds.

In addition to Allen, who reportedly had a net worth of over $20 billion and gave more than $2 billion to philanthropic causes during his life, Wilson has a long list of successful entrepreneurs he sees as role models.

"Guys like Magic Johnson, who played a long career and he's been very, very successful in creating [a media and real estate empire] and owning teams and stuff like that," Wilson says. (Johnson is a part-owner of both the MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.)

"If you really want to be a mogul in this world, in terms of business, you've got to learn from others," Wilson tells CNBC Make It, "but you've got to be bold enough to do it yourself."

This article has been updated with the reported details of Wilson's new contract extension.

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