HealthReel views customers holistically and understands the interconnected relationship between mental, emotional, and physical health outcomes. The HealthReel app has the ability to tell people how healthy they are today, while also providing them with a roadmap to get them to where they need to be for a healthy future.
So, how was Femi able to create this app that provides the most complete virtual health assessment ever? Well, it turns out pretty much the same way that he was able to play pro football as an undrafted free agent. Femi worked extremely hard, educated himself – receiving a BA in Psychology at San Diego State, an MBA from the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University, and an advanced negotiations certification from Harvard University. He also has a personal training certification and recently recertified his nutrition certification from Precision Nutrition. Oh, and he’s also a NASA Tech Transfer Partner.
MuscleTech.com had the opportunity to catch up with Femi Ayanbadejo, founder and CEO of HealthReel, Inc., and creator of the HealthReel digital self-health assessment and education platform, to talk about why it was so important for him to create HealthReel, the ways that people can complicate their health, wellness, and fitness journeys, and what you should be doing right now in order to improve your overall health and wellness. The Human Performance Expert, Nutritionist, and NASA Tech Partner also shares what he believes is the biggest problem in life, what he has learned from the top athletes, athletic trainers, and medical personnel in the world, and how you can become a beta tester for HealthReel and start using the digital self-health assessment and education platform today.
Q: Your app HealthReel seems like it’s the culmination of pretty much everything that you’ve learned in your life. So, to be able to better understand who you are as a person, can you talk a little bit about your upbringing and where you grew up?
A: “I was born in Chicago. My mom is from Chicago. Her family came to Chicago from Ireland during the Potato Famine in the mid-1800’s. My dad came to the U.S. from Nigeria to do a Master’s program at Chicago State University. My dad and mom met in a history class. They started dating, eventually got married, and had my brother and I. When I was about 18 months old, we moved to Nigeria. And remember, Nigeria in the 1970s was like a Third World country. We had no running water. We had no electricity for good stretches during that time.
Eventually, we ended up leaving Nigeria and moving back to the U.S. Then I spent almost a decade in a housing project in Chicago. But when I was 11, we moved to Santa Cruz, California. When I moved to Santa Cruz when I was 11, my whole life trajectory changed. And that happened because my stepdad did his PhD at UC Santa Cruz. Had he not gotten offered that opportunity to be a graduate student, between gangs, drugs, poverty, you name it, who knows what would’ve happened? We were still raised well. My mom found ways to get us into a Catholic elementary school just outside the housing project area we lived in shielding us from a lot of negativity.
There’s a lot of trauma associated with my background and sometimes I get a little nervous about how I present it. I don’t want to present that I came from just a housing project in Chicago and a Third World country. That’s just part of the story. As far as I am concerned Santa Cruz is my hometown. Chicago and Nigeria will always be a part of my story, but Santa Cruz is my hometown.”
Q: You then went on to play college football in San Diego. Following your collegiate career, you were signed as an undrafted free agent by Minnesota. Then you were cut by the team and did not play football that year. What made you believe that you’d still become a pro football player after that experience? What stopped you from giving up right then and there?
A: “Yeah, so if we go back further, I was a 16-year-old senior in high school. I skipped fourth grade. Tested out of it… So, I was always at a bit of a disadvantage with kids in my own grade. I was a year younger; I wasn’t a late bloomer per se, but it probably seemed like it because most kids didn’t know that they were a year older than me. And there were some kids in my grade who had been held back or started late. They were two years older than me.
During my senior year of high school, I turned 17 in March before I graduated in June. I was All-Conference in baseball. I was Top 5 in hitting, Top 5 in pitching as a senior. I played well on the basketball team. I played well on the football team. But no one realized how young I was. And in the ‘90s, there wasn’t the internet access and the technological access to athletes anywhere. It just didn’t exist.
So, I’m in this beach town in Santa Cruz. And I come up with a plan…. By the way no one supported it. (Laughing) The plan was: ‘I’m going to take a year off. I’m going to get a job. I’m going to get my ass in the gym,’ which I had already started doing as a 15-year-old anyway. ‘And then I’m going to go to junior college.’ So, I sat out a whole year between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college, not knowing that that would prepare me for what was to come down the road.
So, when you asked me, ‘How did I know?’ I had already been through it. I had already removed myself from competition for a year to get better, to get bigger, and to get stronger. When I unexpectedly signed with the Minnesota Vikings – from most people’s vantage point, I wasn’t even supposed to be there. I worked out for 32 teams. Only one offered me a deal. And it was for a thousand dollars as a rookie free agent.
I wasn’t supposed to be at camp anyway. I should’ve been making movies and been a Hollywood star or something. (Laughing) I had aspirations of getting into acting. But I was like, ‘Nah, I’m going to stay the course. I’m going to go back to school. I’m going to work on my degree.’ I was still a semester short because I switched from a journalism major to a psych major while I was in college. And I just grinded. I continued to work out and continued to get better. Then that December, Minnesota called again and re-signed me to a futures deal. And with that futures deal came an offer to play in Europe. Then, not only did I get re-signed by Minnesota, I got to go play in Europe that spring, which also helped my confidence, and got me playing time. As you noted, I missed that whole rookie season.
So, I was battle-tested already. I think, as a 22-year-old, I had already been through enough things in my personal life and enough things in my athletic career. I had been battle-tested in a way that had made me resilient already. So, it was easy for me to sit out and figure out, ‘How do I get another shot at this?’
Did I struggle? Did I act like an a**hole sometimes because I was so frustrated? Absolutely. I wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a pro athlete so badly, and then to have it be taken away from me was difficult to process. But, nonetheless, as levelheaded as you can be for a 17-year-old, and then a 22-year-old, I think I had it. And that’s really what kept me on course.”
Q: By believing in yourself, and not giving up, you were able to achieve your dream of playing professional football. But after you retired from professional football, you basically had to start all over again as an entrepreneur. Did people know better than to bet against you and your vision for HealthReel, Inc. and your HealthReel digital self-health assessment and education platform, or did you find that you still had to fight your way to the top as an entrepreneur the same way that you did throughout your football career?
A: “I’m a dog, or maybe I’m a cat. I’ve got nine lives, right? Maybe I have the luck of a cat and the grit and grind of a dog. If you don’t know me, you don’t know the passion and the heart that I have. I’m smart, but a lot of what gets us places is our grit and the stick-to-itiveness that it takes.
If I’m having a breath-holding contest with someone, I’m going to pass out before I take a breath. Not the best analogy, but you get the point. (Laughing) You’re going to take a breath before I do. It’s that important to me. There’s a certain level of grind that’s just in me. It has always been in me. It’s just who I am as a person. And you don’t know it until you talk to me. And you don’t know it until you work with me and see me on a daily basis. I only have one speed. I’m all in or I don’t do it.
So, there are two things that I think really carry the day for me in regard to entrepreneurship. One is that I’m a strategist at heart. I don’t do anything random and I don’t do anything based on impulse. Instinct, yes. Impulse? No. The second thing is that I’m a lifelong learner. My education and certifications speak for themselves.
HealthReel is just an extension of who I’ve been as a person, and I love the human performance space. I call myself a ‘Human Performance Expert’ because if you think of the human performance table from the view of the consumer, the athlete, a practitioner, and a technologist, I’ve sat in each one of those chairs. I know what it feels like and I know what I need to build because I use this stuff. It matters to me. I really do care about helping people self-actualize.”
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your HealthReel digital self-health assessment and education platform? And why was it so important for you to not only create this app, but also share this information with others?
A: “There are four levers in what I call the ‘self-health’ space. I’ve been writing a curriculum, and using information that I’ve pulled from pioneers, and other behavioral health psychologists. I’m about 200,000 words into a fairly unedited, but systematic process of my life long learnings and experiences in Human Performance. HealthReel and my philosophy are an extension of that.
If you look at depression, anxiety, and stress, those are precursors for obesity, being overweight, and a ton of other health issues. So, for me, living in the brick-and-mortar space as an athlete, as a consumer of fitness, and as a practitioner, I felt like the mental and emotional piece was missing in a lot of these tools. I wanted to impact more than just 50 or 500 people. I want to impact five million, fifty million, five-hundred million people. And the only way to do that is on the digital side. I gave up the brick-and-mortar opportunities, and the intimacy, to have a further and broader reach. The best way to do that was to leverage the evolution in the space, which is AI, machine learning, using regression, using applications to get to people and to guide them, and to empower coaches with technology.
So, if you really look at what HealthReel is, HealthReel has a D2C component (Direct-to-Consumer), which is where the beta is now. It also has a B2B2C component (Business-to-Business-to-Consumer) where we can help trainers help their customers. We can help corporate wellness folks help their customers. We can help doctors, diabetes coaches, and nutritionists help their patients. There are multiple sides to this and I wanted something holistic that really looked at how mental and emotional health really does drive physical health outcomes. And the best way to do that, in my opinion, was through HealthReel. It’s still evolving, but I have a really good idea of what it needs to be, and COVID only strengthened my resolve in the ideas behind this holistic tool.”
Q: You mentioned that there are four levers of what you call ‘self-health.’ Can you talk a little bit more about these four levers and why they’re so important?
A: “Yeah, for these four levers of what I call ‘self-health,’ I pulled certain things from different people in the space, but ultimately it’s kind of my IP (intellectual property) in a way. Those four levers, for me, are really the drivers or levers of health.
The first lever is survival and survival events, which cause trauma. The next is information and communication quality. The information that we digest and process and how we communicate it. We already know right now there are three or four massive misinformation campaigns that are affecting us on a global level. I won’t get into those now, but we know what those are if we just do a little reading. The third is awareness. How aware you? And not just, ‘How aware are you?’ Are you selfless in your awareness? Are you able to see what you need simultaneously with what others need? The truth is that selflessness plus self-awareness is self-actualization. That is a symbiotic relationship between you and the people in your environment. That’s what self-actualization really is. And then the last lever is what I call, ‘Traditional health performance metrics,’ which is what you really see in HealthReel. Readiness, nutrition, exercise, sleep hygiene, and support.
If you look at those four levers, which each have subcategories, you can pretty much talk about anything that is relevant to your long-term health. They’re going to fall under those four levers. And that’s what I’ve been writing, that’s what I have been creating, and it’s really what has gotten me to this point. It really summarizes my life experience.”
Q: It seems like everything in your life has led you to this point whether you originally realized it was going to or not. Are you someone who believes in a higher power or that the universe has your back and everything is meant to come together for a greater purpose and a greater good?
A: “Absolutely. There’s a bit of kismet. I’m not religious per se, but I would say that I’m very spiritual. I definitely believe in karma. I definitely believe in what you put out into the universe comes back to you.
If you truly want to do good things, and you’re really truly willing to be vulnerable to take your life experience and mix it with education, aspiration, and dream, that’s a limitless, powerful thing that you can become and be. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to fail sometimes, but you’re going to learn.
I can tell you that there’s probably not an entrepreneur on the planet that’s going to disagree with this statement I’m about to make: The biggest problem in life isn’t having a problem because there are problems everywhere. The biggest problem in life is having a problem and no solution. That is what will drive a human crazy.
You want to see a human go crazy? Tell them something and hold them in limbo in perpetuity. Or tell them that you don’t know when you’re going to be able to give them something that they need. Uncertainty will drive you mad. As an entrepreneur, you don’t want to hear about prolonged uncertainty. And as a human being, you don’t want to hear about prolonged uncertainty.
So, one of the cool things about being an entrepreneur is that I get a chance to problem solve and strategize, which, at my core, is what excites me the most – strategizing and problem solving. That’s really what I love. And that’s what HealthReel really is.”
Q: What should the MuscleTech community expect to get out of using the HealthReel platform?
A: “One of the things that I want people to understand in the MuscleTech community is that although I’m a high-level athlete, and I take my fitness very seriously, you don’t need to be like me to get benefit from this. You can be a weekend warrior, you can be a professional athlete, or you can be a type 2 diabetic. We’re fitness agnostic. However, we all want to feel that we are reaching our full potential. Whatever that is.
Our goal is that if you’re a world-class athlete and you’re fit, we want to keep you fit. If you’re a type 2 diabetic who’s struggling, we want to get you fit. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that we’re not judgmental about anybody. We’re always going to be here to help and support you. I’ve seen people from all walks struggle.
We cover 24 data points, starting with mental and emotional health. You’ll have an overall health score. You’ll have what’s called a ‘readiness’ score, which basically summarizes your ability to understand how nutrition, exercise, and mental health play a role in your long-term fitness. We’ll give you a score for depression, anxiety, and stress. The next thing we’ll do is we’ll calculate your body comp, which is body fat percentage. We have a data point called ‘Corrected BMI.’ And one of the things that we haven’t covered so far is that I’m a NASA Technology Transfer Partner. We’ve acquired that data point through a partnership with NASA. Although NASA created it, we refined it. We have a great marketing and branding relationship with NASA, but we also have an amazing partnership with them.
This corrected BMI (body mass index) data point is an up-to-date version of BMI. It’s much more accurate than regular BMI. And once we calculate your body fat, we’ll also give you a recommendation on what a healthy body fat percentage is for you. It’s based on your individual demographics. We’ll provide you with a healthy weight recommendation, as well. There are no apps doing what we are attempting to do right now.
Once we give you your body fat percentage, your corrected BMI, your healthy weight recommendation, then we tell you how to actually get there. Remember, almost 75% of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s just the reality of it. And to get there, what people fail to understand is that caloric deficit is the key to any weight loss. Well, the MuscleTech community is probably a little different and understands this better than the average American citizen. But if I burn 3,000 calories in a day and I eat 2,000 calories, I have a 1,000-calorie daily deficit. If I multiply that by seven, which is the deficit over the course of a week, that’s a 7,000 calorie weekly caloric deficit. That’s two pounds of fat loss per week. There’re 3,500 calories in a pound of fat.
We can project this for every customer and track it. We predict the amount of fat you’ll lose in a week if you stay on task and comply. We’ll also provide you a macronutrient split. We’re technically diet agnostic. We don’t care what type of diet you’re on, but we’ll basically tell you in regard to carbohydrates, fat, and protein the number of grams of each macronutrient you need for the day.
So, there are 24 actual data points embedded into HealthReel that are there to help look at your mental and emotional health, body composition, metabolic performance, caloric deficit, and macronutrient split. I’ll tell you right now, from when you download the app to when you actually create your profile and actually do your first assessment, we’re talking six to seven minutes max. And then every assessment after that is probably going to take you three or four minutes, maybe less.”
Q: Let’s say there’s an athlete who’s having trouble putting weight on. Will HealthReel be able to help them do that in a safe way?
A: “One of the things people always ask us about is safety and taking proper precautions. We put a max on the caloric surplus that you can ask for. So, for men, I believe it’s 500 calories per day. For women, it’s 250 calories. So, yes.
I have a nephew who’s a collegiate offensive lineman. He’s like, ‘I want to gain weight.’ And technically, his body fat is probably a little higher than it should be, but for the job that he’s doing that’s what is required. He needs to do that. So, I understand. For him, I wouldn’t shy away from that.
And I don’t know what everyone’s job is, or goals are, but we just trust that people have done some of their own research. Because we can’t cover every use case. So, we’re just there to make sure that we don’t let them go completely off the rails. And yes, you can add a caloric deficit. If we find there’s someone who’s at an unsafe weight, guess what? We don’t allow them to create a deficit. We actually tell them, ‘You need to be at a surplus.’
On the opposite side of that, we actually are able to catch men and women that are underweight that may not realize it. And we say, ‘Hey, you’re X number of pounds underweight.’ Or, ‘You’re X amount of body fat underweight. We suggest that you gain.’ And we won’t even let them do anything other than that. So, we catch both and we allow for both.”
Q: HealthReel seems to give people all the tools that they need in order to take ownership of their own health, and not just for today or tomorrow, but for their entire lifetime. Is that correct?
A: “This is about long-term mental, emotional, and physical health. And it’s about long-term mental, emotional, and physical ‘self-health’ or self-care. Giving you the tools so that you can deploy the information. It’s the difference between handing someone something or showing them and teaching them how to do something. We want to teach you.
We are an assessment and education platform. That’s really key. And we are technically really about self-actualization. We’re not just about weight loss. However, obesity is at global epidemic levels. It’s the largest problem on the planet and in America. People assume I’m building something for someone like me. No, I’m actually not. The top one percent of fitness athletes don’t need another tool to make them more fit. But we all can use this tool because it is about more than fitness.
When people come to me and say, ‘Hey, we want to work with pro athletes.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t.’ There’s like 4,000 of them. If you look at the TAM SAM SOM, the business school cliché modeling of opportunity, they are not an opportunity. And they have all the help in the world. Why help them? They don’t need as much help. And I’m talking about myself. I know, I get it. I know it sounds weird sometimes, but that’s the way that I look at it.”
Q: For those of us in the MuscleTech community who are interested in using HealthReel, can you take us through what we need to do to get started as beta users?
A: “The version that I’m trying to get out to the MuscleTech community and MuscleTech family is the beta version. We’re looking for people from all different walks of life and people with all different kinds of fitness goals. The foundation of this algorithm is AI. And for the AI to work at its best, we need a heterogeneous mix of people to participate in it.
To access the HealthReel app, download TestFlight from the app store. You don’t need a code. You don’t need anything. Then go to HealthReel.com and click on the app store link. Now, you’ll have access to the app. Everything you need to do from there is self-explanatory.
For android, in the app store. You can literally just go to the app store, you can download it from HealthReel.com, as well, if you have an android phone. Once again, no code or anything is needed. Just download it and you can get to work on it.”
Q: You were surrounded by some of the top athletes, athletic trainers, and medical personnel during your professional playing days. What are some things that you’ve learned from working with them?
A: “I just liked to pick their brains. You know, I started reading books on these subjects early on. There probably weren’t a whole lot of 17 and 18-year-olds reading these types of books, but I carried them around in my backpack.
I think that there are a number of people that dropped nuggets of wisdom on me along the way. I remember talking about metabolic typing right around 2002-2003 with some of my teammates in Miami. That’s really what got me going and thinking about metabolic typing and different things around inflammation, around food, and things like that. Without them, I may not have even taken this as seriously. I just took that and ran with it.
I don’t know if some of my teammates would even realize some of the discussions we had about foods, inflammation, fecal analysis, and things of that nature that we talked about in the locker room. They don’t realize what a foundation that gave me. I have stories that go on and on about stretching and flexibility and counseling and Eastern philosophy medicine in regard to cupping and scraping and acupuncture. I’ve been through all of that and done all of it.
There were a number of guys that I played with on five different teams over the course of 11 years that made an impression, as well as doctors and practitioners. I just kind of pulled a page from all their books and I created my own thing under one single umbrella. I literally want people to come in, figure it all out, and let’s go.
You know, one of the reasons I’m talking with MuscleTech is because there’s a place for supplementation. There’s a place for other companies to do meal prep. There’s a place to do online and digital virtual coaching. Let’s have it all in one place though. You give the customers the best chance of success then. Don’t make them search and look and find all these different things. Put it all in one place. That’s the goal with HealthReel. It needs to be a digital, self-health marketplace. That’s really the future.”
Q: Listening to you speak, we’re motivated and ready to run through a wall right now. Are you going to be including yourself speaking and motivating as part of your HealthReel platform?
A: “Absolutely. So, one of the cool things that we’re going to do with the app in the future is that we’re going to have video content that’s going to be me on video. Imagine some of these influencers on social media that are teaching us, but it’s through these three to five-minute videos that cover a specific health topic.
I’m going to cover all the health levers in HealthReel. I’m going to cover all of the 24 data points in HealthReel. And I’m going to talk about hot button topics in mental health, nutrition, and exercise science. It’s going to be basically what we call a ‘user journey.’ It’ll be one video per week. It’ll be me posting it and talking like we’re talking now. But we’ll also have all of the data visualization stuff in the background. My goal is to teach people. I’m going to be transparent about the things I’ve done right, the things I’ve done wrong, and what I’ve learned.
It’s so humbling when people give me that compliment because I truly do love this stuff. I’m not faking it. It’s really important to me and it comes across. When I talk to people, they say that quite a bit. So, that has prompted me to create this weekly customer journey video that we’re going to be adding into HealthReel. So, the future of HealthReel is really, really bright. The beta is only a sliver of what is to come next year.”
Q: What are some ways that people can complicate their health, wellness, and fitness journeys? And what do you think they should be doing in order to improve their overall health and wellness instead?
A: “First of all, use HealthReel. That’s the first thing. Second, I would say, sources definitely matter, who you’re getting your information from really, really matters. Also, just be voracious about learning. And once again, it does matter where you learn from and how you’re getting your information.
There are no shortcuts in this. We’re looking at the marathon of self-actualization in life. There’s no sense in running into the wall. Walk. Take your time. Figure it out. And if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
There are a lot of people who are really focused on unsustainable approaches to exercise. There are people who are focused on unstable diets. And if you don’t understand how quality foods play a role in your mental health, your emotional health, and your satiety, feeling full. If you take shortcuts, there’s a price to pay for that later.
People always ask me, ‘Is there a perfect diet?’ No, there’s no such thing as a perfect diet. It’s a diet that you can maintain for the rest of your life, which does include alcohol, chocolate, pizza, and burgers, if you want those things. They shouldn’t be the staple of your diet, but they should be included. I like to drink wine. I like to have a margarita. I like to have some scotch once in a while. I love chocolate. I want to have some chips and things like that. Are those things the majority of my diet? No. But do I enjoy those things in a calculated, planned out way? Absolutely.
Also, I think when it comes to exercising, pick the movements and the exercises that you can do every day for an hour, or forty minutes, or thirty minutes, or however long it’s going to be. High-intensity interval training every day for an hour is probably not realistic for everybody. And maybe doing yoga isn’t realistic every day for everybody either, right? But maybe some combination of walking for 30 to 45 minutes a couple of days a week, strength training 30 to 45 minutes a couple of days a week, with yoga, swimming, and something else might be sustainable. The goal here is to just move. We don’t always have to pick the most intense, longest duration exercise all the time. There’s a price to pay for that, too.”
Q: As a professional athlete who used to take supplements, what advice do you have for any younger athletes when it comes to selecting healthy and safe supplements for them?
A: “So, first of all, when you say younger athletes, I want to be really clear here. I don’t condone any kids that are not in college or older to be using any supplements. That’s the first thing. I don’t condone any of that.
Secondarily, I definitely believe in reading and doing your research. And this goes back to one of my levers about self-health, which is information and communication quality. Make sure that wherever you’re getting your information from is a verified and trusted resource. Don’t just go on social media and get any guidance on anything that is about your life. That’s not the place for it. So, those are a couple of things.
Next, I believe that simplicity is huge. I think you need to understand what your goals are and what’s going to get you there. For example, I’m huge on meal replacements. I’m huge on certain kinds of protein. I’m huge on a multivitamin. I’m huge on vitamin D. And I can go down a whole list of things for me, but this isn’t really about me. We’re talking about giving people guidance, right? So, understand what’s going to get you to where you want to go to.
I’m big on electrolytes. A lot of kids out there are depleted, they’re about to start football camp, and they’re going to be out there sweating. Understand how electrolytes and hydration play a role in your success. Not just in saving your muscles, and not getting hurt, but also your mind and your ability to think and function.
The best supplements that you can possibly put in your body are really good, whole nutrient-dense foods, first and foremost. And then, everything else comes second. That’s my advice in regard to younger folks, kids who are 18, 19, 20-years-old.”
Q: There are often a lot of similarities between elite athletes and successful entrepreneurs such as yourself. What are some valuable lessons that you’ve learned both as a professional football player and also as an entrepreneur?
A: “I would say that first off, have a schedule. I think it’s important to have a schedule. There are all these people who say, ‘I’m a free-thinker and I need to be spontaneous.’ Well, good luck with that. It has never worked for me. I’m sure it has worked for some people. But I enjoy having a schedule. I do leave some room for spontaneity within my schedule, or a particular day of the week where I’m just going to do whatever I want today, and I planned it that way. So, I think having a plan and having a schedule matters. Routine matters.
Surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you is important. I think conflict is good, as long as it’s respectful. I think learning, or being able to apologize, is very important. Because you’re going to do things wrong. You’re human, and we’re emotional beings. I think we live in a time now where people forgot how to apologize and say, ‘Sorry.’ It’s important to do that because I think people will remember that you took the time to acknowledge a mistake. I think sometimes that’s even more important than having the best answer.
And I would say, make sure that you create some time for some fun. Have fun. I know that everything can’t always be fun. And when I say this, I mean this literally and figuratively, give yourself a cheat day. Give yourself a little time. Have a goal in place, and when you reach that goal, celebrate it and move to the next goal.
I’m that person. I love to have goals. I love to reach my goals and then set another one. But I also like to celebrate them at least momentarily, and then move onto the next thing. If you asked me on another day, I’d probably have a different answer. But that’s my answer today.”
Q: You were part of Baltimore’s radio broadcasting team in 2020, which is a full-time job in itself during the football season. Yet, you continue to educate yourself on topics outside of football as you’ve talked about. Where does your eagerness and willingness to always be learning come from?
A: “I like to have information. I like to be prepared. And like I said earlier, I found myself negotiating with big industry, big tech, and other attorneys all the time. I didn’t have the cash to always hire an attorney to delve into this stuff. I’m not talking about contractual things here, but in regards to negotiating. So, what did I do?
Instead of spending a couple of grand on attorneys, I took that money and I went and got a negotiations certification at one of the top universities in the world. I got a chance to live a dream, be on that campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, immerse myself there for a couple of days, and talk to other entrepreneurs that were doing the same thing that I was. That was amazing. I plan to keep doing things like that.
I just took the PN nutrition certification. That was this year. I got my negotiations certification two years ago. I believe MIT has an AI digital visualization program. I’m probably going to do that in the next year. It’s a week. And I’ll go there and do it, not do it online. I just love learning. I just really enjoy it. It’s just kind of in me. I feel like if I’m going to claim to be cutting edge, trailblazing in this digital health space, then I need to keep my tools sharpened and educating myself is how I do that.
And with Baltimore, I’m the radio analyst. So, I don’t really look at it as work because I would be watching these football games all day on Sunday anyway. So, now I get paid to talk, which clearly, I have a problem with. (Smiling) And I get to be in the stadium. I get to be around people now because last year we did it in empty stadiums. So, I’m going to be doing more of that. And it’s not really work because that’s kind of like my cheat day. That’s kind of like my downtime to do something that I enjoy. It is work technically, but it’s not.”
Q: When it comes to partnerships, how do you choose the companies that you work with?
A: “The first thing that matters to me is the mission of the company and the problem that they’re trying to solve. And if it’s not necessarily a problem per se, what is the goal behind the product? And if there’s some synergy between the mission and the problem-solving aspirations of the company, I’m absolutely game.
If it’s a digital health tool, if it’s an application, if it’s some type of telemedicine platform, if it’s a supplement company, or if it’s a nutrition company, I’m in no position to turn down a conversation with anybody. So, the first thing I always do is have a conversation. I’ll do my research. And if there’s some opportunity, synergistically, I will listen and I will see what we can do. That’s really how it all starts. That’s the basis of any partnership.”