Ep. 25 Recap – Tony Grossi

Tony Grossi is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and has been covering the Cleveland Browns for almost 35 years.  He currently is a Browns analyst for ESPN Cleveland, 850 AM WKNR radio, and Fox Sports Ohio.  He also hosts the 100 Years Podcast available at www.thelandondemand.com.

Highlights from this episode include:

*Tony’s early beginnings in journalism and his path to becoming the Browns beat reporter in the 1980’s.

*his reactions to the Browns leaving in 1996.

*thoughts on the last 20 years of covering a consistent losing team and some of the horrible draft picks that have ensued.

*his passion and desire for seeing the Browns return to their glory days.

*some of Tony’s fondest memories of the 1980’s playoff contender teams.

*how the industry has been impacted by the Internet and social media.

*Tony’s thoughts of the Browns’ off-season moves and who he predicts they will draft this year at picks 1 and 4.

Connect with Tony www.twitter.com/tonygrossi

Connect with Nate www.instagram.com/nathanhaber

Ep. 17 Recap – Montana ‘Too Pretty’ Love

Having first stepped foot into a boxing gym at the ripe age of five, Montana ‘Too Pretty’ Love has become one of the fastest rising professional boxers in the sport over the past two years.  This after having taken approximately 180 amateur fights in his youth, teen and early 20’s.  Now at only 24 years of age, his current undefeated 10-0 professional record – coupled with his genuine swag and flashy lifestyle – have earned him over 50,000 followers on Instagram alone.

Montana, who also rocks a sombrero during his pre and post fights, is currently training with Adrien Broner and other professionals to help him get ready for some bigger fights this summer.  From fancy footwork to precision punching and a lot of smack talk in between, I look forward to seeing where Montana’s career goes next.  Can he be boxing’s next star?  Only time will tell…

Ep. 13 Recap – Andy Simms

Absolutely loved reconnecting with my man, Andy Simms.  Whenever you spend countless days, weeks, months and years with someone on the road, you develop a bond that lasts a lifetime.  Listening to our conversation, it is easy to see that Andy and I had a very unique dynamic and friendship that was formed through our business ventures.  When you go into battle with someone, that person becomes a brother for life.

Our battles were in the form of recruiting college players in hopes of beating out all the other agents and agencies vying for the same prize.  And quite often, we found ourselves on the winning end of those battles.  It was our energy and contagious positive attitude (I took that from my Episode 7 with Ryan Young!) that often made the difference.  It was those hard-fought, intense battles that taught me how to win in the real world; and, at the same time, taught me how to handle the brutal realities of losing.  I use those priceless experiences now on an almost daily basis in both business and in life in general.

“It ain’t about how hard you hit.  It’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.” –Rocky Balboa

There’s no doubt that Andy has kept moving forward in his 20+ year career as he has now partnered up with Young Money APAA Sports – the heavy hitters in the music and entertainment industry.  I look forward to seeing what Andy does in the next five to ten years now that he has the backing of Lil’ Wayne, Mack Maine and Cortez Bryant.  And I am hoping to see him negotiate some of the most lucrative deals — “a (hundred) milli” — in NFL history.

Lessons Learned from Jacob Copeland’s National Signing Day Moment

Note to parents :: Build your kids up.  Don’t break them down.  Stand by their side, support their decisions.  If their decisions are not causing harm to anyone else or to themselves, then embrace them.  Sure, you may not agree with everything, but in pivotal moments such as the one shown in the video below, it is your dutyand not your option – to show solidarity and support.  Your kids need you.  They need to feel like you’ve got their back.  Don’t dim their light, especially when that light is supposed to be shining bright as it should have for Jacob Copeland this past week.

Ep. 5 Recap – Larry Grant

Was really great getting a chance to reconnect with my former client, LG.  LG was a big part of my transition into the NFL agent business and I will forever be grateful that he gave me a chance to represent him as he clearly had many options to choose from.  It was a thrill watching him get drafted by his hometown team in San Francisco and an even bigger thrill to watch him play on Sundays.

Listening to Larry, you can see how much time and dedication is required by these players in order to have any sort of chance at making it in the League.  “Cutthroat” is exactly what the League embodies, and “NFL” often stands for “Not For Long” in many sports circles (the average NFL career last three years or less).

LG beat the odds and played for six seasons.  He showed that hard work and persistence, coupled with doing the dirty work that many players shy away from – i.e. special teams – is what allowed him to stick around and even gain a starting role for several games as a veteran.  It is often not the type of natural talent that you have when you are at the top of any major team, business or organization, but instead the mentality, mindset and attitude that you bring to your craft.

Hard work and a “can do” attitude trumps talent every day of the week… including Sundays.

Ep. 4 Recap – Megan Kohler

So you think you can dance?  Then listen to Ep. 4 of The Optimal Life Podcast with Megan Kohler.  Megan went from high school cheerleader to college cheerleader to college dancer to NBA dancer.  A lifelong Clevelander, she knows what it takes to make it at the professional dance level.  She also knows what it takes to stay in shape so that an optimized body translates to an optimized mind.  5 A.M. workouts are not just a novelty – they are part of her everyday routine.

I want to thank Megan again for coming on the show.  She peeled back the curtain to life as an NBA dancer :: providing insight into its intense tryout process, practice schedule, and the mental focus required to handle “audibles” during live NBA games.  She also had a cool story about LeBron and Kobe.

Check her out @missmeganvk on Instagram and be inspired by her intense fitness and nutrition regimen & journey.

Ep. 3 Recap – Andy ‘Bull’ Barch

Thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with longtime friend, Andy ‘Bull’ Barch, as we discussed his journey in the broadcast radio industry.  The key lesson to take away from Andy is that networking is the name of the game.  Who you know is arguably the most important factor in the professional world.  The greatest talent doesn’t necessarily come with the greatest opportunities.  You have to create those opportunities by putting yourself out there and expanding your network wherever possible.  While honing your craft is essential, it is not the only factor that you must address in order to “climb the ranks.”

I look forward to Andy’s continued rise in media.  He is undoubtedly one of the best play-by-play voices in all of sports.  I have no doubt that we will see him as the voice of the [enter major pro team name here] in the years to come.

Ep. 1 Recap – Beanie Wells

Wow…what a way to launch The Optimal Life podcast!  I could not have asked for a better guest to join me as we introduce ourselves to the podcasting world.  I hope you were able to feel Beanie’s authenticity in our hour-long conversation.  He’s a remarkable man who has always kept with him a winning mentality in every facet of his life.  It was clear that he was raised by a good family; a sound support system who only wanted to see the best for him.

I was blown away by his USC recruiting story near the beginning of the episode.  Here he is, this young, 17 year old in the Hills of LA, rolling with some of USC’s elite players – its city’s biggest stars at that time.  Beanie was a senior in high school and had already committed to Coach Jim Tressel at Ohio State, and, most importantly, had already committed to his mom that he’d be going there!  But, like he said, he simply wanted to take one visit outside of Ohio to see what else was out there.  So he went to the bright lights of Hollywood, and, rather than a typical tour of the facility and maybe a quiet dinner off campus, he ended up at the Playboy Mansion surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful women.  Talk about pulling a 180 from Columbus’ Short North!  And you can imagine what happens the next day when he’s with USC Coach Pete Carroll as his mind has completely shifted away from Ohio and instead now to LA… (I will leave the rest for you to listen to as Beanie said on the show that this was the most detail he’s ever shared publicly on this event).  The power of [persuasion] recruiting!

I was really impressed with how Beanie seemed to handle the pressures and responsibilities of being THE star player at THE Ohio State University during his junior season.  He knew that temptations were always there, but that he did not want to let down the people who believed in him the most.  I also found it fascinating that he could hardly go anywhere on campus – including class – without getting hounded for pictures and autographs.  What a crazy year that must’ve been for #28.

I also thought Beanie said it best when he said many guys face an ‘identity crisis’ once their professional sports careers come to an end.  All these guys have known since they were kids was athletics.  Now you take athletics away and force them into the real world and it can be a crazy, emotional tug-of-war to find your next purpose in life.  He mentioned someone he knew who only played less than two years in the NFL but needed ten years thereafter to figure out his life.  Find what makes you happy.  Bless the fact that you were able to play in the league for even one year.  Make it a part of your journey and understand that each and every player – no matter how successful – struggles with this next phase in some shape or form.  To all former professional athletes: you are not alone.  Take time to bless the situation and then to accept the fact that this universal cycle exists.  Don’t let your best years in life be the ones you had before age 30.

Throughout our conversation, you notice that Beanie always felt that he had to prove someone right and to prove someone wrong.  “For every person who thinks you’re the best thing since sliced bread, there’s two others who think you ain’t shit.”  And that’s why this 6’3″, 230 lbs beast has always succeeded at every level.  And why he continues to succeed in life after football!  Restaurants, day care centers, a trucking company, and successful radio and TV gigs are just some of the things that consume Beanie these days.  The grind never stops.  You can never get complacent.  If you want to be the best, you must always work; always grind.  There is always someone there to take your spot the moment you begin to slip.  It’s a warrior mentality that has allowed Beanie to remain at the top.

Unfortunately too, sometimes that warrior mentality can be a hindrance if not managed properly.  Beanie admits that he came off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list in his fourth NFL season way too early.  It was his “grind” mentality of not letting the next guy in line take his spot that forced him back onto the field prematurely.  And likely that which caused his injuries to intensify and ultimately lead to the end of his career.  It’s a subtle, underlying lesson that can be learned from :: we must maintain a balanced approach in all that we do.  We must have that warrior mentality, but we must not let that warrior ego get in the way of what is ultimately best for us as individuals.  We must hone it and make sure that we know when to push and that we know when to pause.

At all times, life is about trust.  Trusting in yourself and in your faith.  And having perseverance, yet also having patience.  And just like Beanie said as we wrapped up the show, “Not rushing the process.”  It’s this balanced warrior mindset that we should all seek to achieve.