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Volume 22 No. 35
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Forty Under 40: Al Guido

Photo: san francisco 49ers

The movie “Invincible” is the real-life story of a bartender who makes the Philadelphia Eagles after a public tryout attended by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hopefuls. The NFL has another story like that, just off the field.

President, San Francisco 49ers; CEO, Elevate Sports Ventures

Age: 39

Born: Washington Township, N.J.

Education: College of New Jersey, B.B.A.

Family: Wife, Thea; children, Estella (9), Sloane (8), Tatum (6)

What gets you fired up: Coaching my girls’ sports teams.

Something your friends would consider “so you”: Sending random voice notes with business ideas at all hours of the day and night.

Causes supported: Board member, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley and Coach K/Fuqua School of Business; advisory board, Positive Coaching Alliance and San Jose State Institute for Study of Sport, Society & Social Change.

People in the industry you’d most like to meet: Sue Bird, Becky Hammon and my wife 15 years ago. They’re all people I look up to and want my girls to meet and emulate.

Sports industry needs to do a better job of … : Teaching young kids the importance of sport and rooting for each other.

Al Guido grew up in a blue-collar family that moved 13 times by the time he was 17. Twice he came home to a padlocked door because the rent hadn’t been paid. He spent months in high school living with a friend. He put himself through a small south New Jersey college. Several months after graduation his father, a truck driver, sent him a classified ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer for a job fair held by sports conglomerate Comcast Spectacor. For $15, Guido got an upper-level ticket to a 76ers game and a fair attended by 1,500.

How many got jobs? Three, and yes, Guido was one.

“I was always told I could sell things, so I was very personable during my time in and around the concourse,” he said. But he also credits his upbringing, how hungry and motivated he was.

Fast forward less than two decades and Guido is the president of an NFL team, one of the youngest ever appointed to the position.

His own key to success? To ensure he and his family don’t have to experience what he endured in his childhood.

“I actually wanted to be a teacher and a coach. I never wanted to be anything more than that, but I was afraid I wouldn’t make any money,” he said. “I didn’t want to have to worry about my next meal or TV dinners or not having a mom or dad around, I didn’t want that life. … I wanted to have more security, so that fear is still the biggest motivator I have.”

When he leaves his home every day he is reminded of that by a sign he put up on his front door. It reads: “Work hard and be nice to people.”