LaVar is a legend in NCAA college football, being selected #2 in the 2000 draft by the Washington Redskins, going on to be one of the most celebrated and hardest hitting linebackers in the history of the National Football League (NFL). He is a sportswriter and broadcaster. LaVar is the Co-Founder of Warrior Woke.
Pgmag: LaVar, great to have you on today’s interview.
LA: Thank you for allowing me to share my vision for the future of youth with your readers. It’s our responsibility to prepare them to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Pgmag: You are both an athlete and a businessman. And your passion is to help the youth to live a life of purpose and fulfillment. This obviously led to the setting up of ‘Warrior Woke’. Please tell us about your program and how it benefits your service users.
LA: As an athlete, I realized that there were a lot of incompletes and blanks that were left when I played football, and these voids ultimately led to me becoming a businessman – a businessman who prioritizes impact. My development as a businessman was based off the improvement in myself that I gained while endeavoring to fill those gaps. I started Warrior Woke, a company that is committed to building the “complete athlete”, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially, to build on the attributes that make an outstanding athlete – strength, resiliency, leadership, teambuilding, patience, courage and empathy – all of which are the same attributes which make someone an outstanding businessperson – an outstanding individual. Further, a key philosophy with Warrior Woke is based on the importance of bridging the communication gap between coaches and athletes, parents and their kids. When Warrior Woke was launched last month, it was the result of my realization that, after many year of mentorship, experience, perspective and commitment to athletes, I am only one person, so my ability to impact many lives will only be realized if there is a broad-reaching program to support my philosophies. By creating a program based on my beliefs, experiences and successes, I can use a “train the trainer” approach to work with coaches, athletic directors – and parents, to administer the program on a scalable basis. I am proud to have created a vehicle which will allow me to contribute to the development of athletes around the world, allowing us to impact lives, shaping the character of athletes, building them physically, mentally and emotionally, while also helping to develop the perspective and understanding of coaches, parents and families, who are integral to the success of the athlete. Warrior woke is a platform that is dedicated to the development of our sports community, but the take-aways transcend sports. We focus on habit building and identity building to maximize sports, academics and life experiences. This is so important to me and the people with whom I’ve worked closely and diligently with for the last 13 years, to drive home quality content which will aid in the development of “the person”. If you can build wining habits as a person, and have winning thoughts and have a winning mindset and apply those attitudes to your life, then for me, we will have succeeded in putting one more positive person into our society who can make a difference and will give back to others, believing in helping to restoring humanity the way we do.
Pgmag: Before you hung your ‘Cleats’, you earned three Pro Bowl and All-pro selections. How easy was it for you to decide on what to do next after such a successful career?
LA: It was easy for me to transition to the next stage of my career beyond football because I love helping people, and being a person of service, my awards and achievements in sports don’t amount to anything if I don’t use those experiences to help others achieve at a high level – high enough to potentially be an all-pro, pro-bowler or professional athlete. For me, the ability to communicate this message to younger athletes is something I’ve been good at. I’ve been a better teacher and a better mentor than I’ve ever been an active player. I take a great deal of pride in my ability to communicate clearly the different ways to approach sports AND life to be as successful as you can possibly be. Helping to develop youth into the “complete individual” is something that has been a tremendous passion of mine, and I’ve been blessed to have enough success where I can make that my daily focus in what I do in both life and business.
Pgmag: I love the phrase (conquer you). These are two powerful combination of words that ignite light in the mind. Could you please explain further what it means to ‘conquer you’ and how we can apply this in our daily living.
LA: it’s a great question. I love “conquer you” as a phrase and statement because we all have to decide that we are going to face the realities of life no matter how harsh, no matter how real, we have to look into the mirror and commit to empowering, supporting and bettering that person looking back at you. You must decide that, whatever challenges you are facing, you will commit to developing the personal skills necessary to conquer those challenges . If we don’t embrace these opportunities to improve ourselves, then we go backwards…we regress. There is no middle ground. To be a better ‘you’, you have to challenge yourself to get to a place where that daily battle – your daily approach is controlled by a strong and developed mindset, allowing your outcomes to be controlled by conscious decision-making. When you wake up each day, you decide if you are going to be the best you can be – or not. If you continue to address yourself and address your issues and weaknesses, you will ultimately create a winning mindset and a winning approach to life. Challenge yourself to conquer yourself. In many cases, elevating yourself is scary and at times, seems unattainable. Too often, people are just not willing to do what it takes to be what they are destined to be, and if you’re not willing to conquer yourself to tackle those challenge, then you’ll just live as a normal person, settling for mediocrity. The greatest people – athletes, leaders, inventors did not settle for a life of mediocrity, and neither should you.
Pgmag: The youth are the future – no doubt about that. What can be done by industry leaders to help support those involved with youth empowerment?
LA: Invest your money! Give youth access to programs like Warrior Woke which will help them to develop the life skills they need to compete in athletics and to be able to compete in life. We have a responsibility to prepare the youth for the future. When corporations commit their social responsibility budgets to programs that support the development of youth, they are making an immeasurable commitment to the sustainability of our future. Contributing to the development of youth will make a quantifiable impact to the future of business, preparing future employees, innovators, leaders to take the reins of our transformational business future. Business leaders can play an important role in the future success of youth through the power of mentorship. I was so fortunate as a kid to have Dwight White, who was a legendary football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, as a neighbor in my community. Jerome Bettis and I had the same barber, so I had an opportunity to learn so many significant career and life skills from Jerome. I had an opportunity to put a normal view on successful people. For the longest time, until I got to an age where I was actually able to comprehend what success looked like and have that physical interaction, I saw success as a fairy tale. It’s not different for youth with business leader mentors…by encouraging industry leaders to open up their daily routines, methodologies, decision-making strategies and to humanize success, we are giving a reality and a relevancy to the things that are behind success, showing kids that they can actually achieve success if they work hard and go through the process. The methods of building success are truly a learned and applied process, and it’s not something that drops out of the sky. You are not randomly chosen to be successful, rather, success comes to people who are willing to put in the time and energy, and what the beliefs are that make success a reality.
Pgmag: As a global influencer, what is your message for those who are struggling to with low self-esteem?
LA: Don’t base your worth and values off of other people’s opinions. It is much easier said than done. In my life, as someone who has struggled with tremendous self-esteem issues growing up, I never thought I was the best-looking guy, I was never the coolest guy, I dealt with a lot of insecurities and they were based on what I thought were the societal definitions of success. The way my face was shaped, or my eyes, my teeth, the way my voice sounded when I spoke, whatever it was, I based my self-esteem off of what I thought the mainstream definitions of “acceptable” were. As I got older, I learned that my cool is my cool, my sexy is my sexy, my amazing is my amazing, and the more I learned about myself, the more comfortable I become with knowing that I am enough. You don’t have to base your value off of what the world says you are supposed to be. Self-esteem is one of those things that if you put it in somebody else’s hands – if you aren’t being proactive in your own self-development, all you are doing is allowing external forces to dictate and influence how you feel about yourself. If you think about it, more times than not, those external forces don’t even know you. They don’t understand your value your talents or your excellence. They aren’t aware! If you recognize this, you can dial in and focus on who you are, who you want to be, and what your feelings are, recognizing that nothing else really matters. Instead of listening to other’s opinions of yourself, think about how other people can contribute to the value that you already have for yourself.
Pgmag: Were there times when you felt like giving up on your dreams? If yes, what was the one thing that kept you going?
LA: I thought about giving up plenty of times! You think about giving up on your dreams, but what you really need to think about is why those dreams continue to persist in your mind. For me, however, if I can see a dream vividly in my mind, then I know that dream was put there for a reason. Ultimately , a dream is a guide. It is an ultimate destination. For me, I kept going because I couldn’t get the visions of what I was aspiring to out of my mind, and I committed to seeing those visions through to the end. Whether that dream or vision was as small as a play that I made on the football field, or something as big as the person I would marry and what my family would look like – no matter what the vision was, if I kept it vividly in my mind, I knew it was put there for a reason and I kept pushing forward until I achieved it. In the moments where I was thinking about giving up on something that was so vivid in my mind, I was more afraid of what ‘giving up’ meant – afraid of the consequences of ‘giving up’. For me, when I see something vivid in my mind, and I lock on to that goal or purpose, I do not stop. I believe that, divinely speaking, it was put there as a guide and as a goal to check off, which means that it is not a choice at that point. You realize it is your duty to fulfill that vision and dream, and to give up would mean living with regret.
Pgmag: If you knew what you know now, what would you do differently?
LA: A lot. I would have spent more time getting to know myself in my younger years. If I had known to spend more time on truly challenging and learning who I am, I would have been more appreciative of some of the most influential figures that have been in my life. I would have been more appreciative of the challenges that I went through in my life, and I would have been more aware of my direction and purpose. The reason I created Warrior Woke was to give youth access to these critical self-development experiences. I think if you make youth aware of how important it is to learn who you are and develop who you are, they will be on a course for a more enhanced life. Had I done this, my life could have potentially been more enhanced, which may have even made me a more phenomenal athlete. In the end, I look at things from the very simplistic standpoint that, undoubtedly, I am more than enough, and also valuable enough to continue building and growing who I am, and that is my “magnificent obsession”, as C.T. Fletcher would say.
Pgmag: And finally, what would you say to your younger self?
LA: I’d say, “thank you”. To give context to that, I’d say thank you to my younger self because he was a bad, bad dude, and even though I didn’t have the benefit of my current wisdom and knowledge, my younger self was one of the most fearless people that I’ve ever known in my entire life. It’s because of this fearlessness and willingness to do what others wouldn’t do and go where others wouldn’t go, pushing myself beyond the parameters where others give up and quit, that I just want to pat my younger self on the back and say thank you. The younger LaVar was going to figure it out. Any problems, with bumps and bruises, broken bones and wounds, torn ligaments and tons of surgeries – whatever, younger LaVar was going to figure it out no matter what the challenge was from a very early age. This mindset of always wanting to get after it, to have the ability to actually become smart enough to shape and mold determination, well, I’m just thankful for ‘him’ being that type of dude.
Pgmag: It has been an absolute pleasure to have interviewed you.
LA: It is truly an honor to be featured in Powerhouse Global. Thank you.
Pgmag: Please share your links with our readers.
“I would have spent more time getting to know myself in my younger years. If I had known to spend more time on truly challenging and learning who I am, I would have been more appreciative of some of the most influential figures that have been in my life. “LaVar Arrington