Mindset For Mastery: The Right Mindset To Success With Former NFL Superbowl Champion Ryan Harris

January 19, 2022




GDNI 187 Ryan Harris | Mindset For Mastery

Choose your own mindset, so that you can create better leaders for the next generation. When you talk about financial literacy, choose the right mindset of how to handle money. Or in sports, succeeding in a sport can only be done with the right mindset. Join Jamie Bateman as he sits down with former NFL Superbowl Champion, Ryan Harris. Ryan is now retired but that doesn’t mean he isn’t earning. He got into real estate and investing. He is also the author of the book, Mindset for Mastery. Join Jamie and Ryan as they talk about choosing your mindset, financial literacy, and building connections. 

Listen to the podcast here:

Mindset For Mastery: The Right Mindset To Success With Former NFL Superbowl Champion Ryan Harris

Financial Literacy, Growth Mindset

We have a special guest, Ryan Harris. He’s a former NFL player, Super Bowl Champ. Ryan, how are you doing?

I’m doing good, Jamie. Thanks for having me on.

I’m happy we could connect. You’re a couple of hours behind. I appreciate you getting up for this. You’re already up and at them, is that right?

Yeah. I have an ecosystem that includes broadcasting. I do CBS digital hits for their CBS Sports HQ show, Wednesdays and Fridays in the mornings. As a father of three, a husband of one, the early morning is the only time I’m allowed to have fun and to do some of my personal passions. It’s fun to jump on with you, talk about financial literacy and money, and give some examples from my life in the NFL locker room.

I appreciate you joining us. There are many different directions we could go with this. Financial literacy is important to me and to our audience. It’s something that we need to grow as a culture and a country. There’s so much growth that needs to happen there. Before we dive into all that, let’s hit on your background a little bit for those who are unfamiliar with you. Who are you and what’s your story?

I’m Ryan Harris, ten-year veteran of the NFL, Super Bowl 50 champion. I’m a Notre Dame graduate. I’m a broadcaster. I have a radio show here in Denver. I do a TV show with the Denver Broncos. I do the Notre Dame football radio games. I also do NFL games with Westwood One. I talked about my work with CBS. I’m also a mortgage broker, a public speaker, and a bestselling author. I got a little ecosystem working here in retirement. I’m thrilled to stay busy.

GDNI 187 Ryan Harris | Mindset For Mastery

Mindset For Mastery: When you win the Superbowl, everything you believe about yourself comes true for other people. You can only do that by choosing your mindset with the words, “I am, I can, I will.”

This is outside of our typical guest profile. It all ties back to some of the things we’re getting get into, mindset, leadership, and financial literacy. Ten years in the NFL, can you hit on that a little bit more?

I got drafted in 2007 to the Denver Broncos, got fired from them in 2011, went to the Houston Texans for two years, then the Kansas City Chiefs for a year. The Kansas City Chiefs said, “Ryan, we love you, but we don’t think there’s any football left in you.” I went back to the Denver Broncos with my coach from the Houston Texans, Gary Kubiak. We won Super Bowl 50. I finished my career in Pittsburgh.

After that, I had 9 surgeries in ten years, 4 on my back, 1 total toe replacement, 5 surgeries to save my leg below my knee, and called it quits. Fortunately, I chose my mindset throughout all those surgeries throughout the different obstacles I had to overcome from college, the NFL, and the obstacles I had to overcome beyond my career.

Retiring at 33, I don’t want my kids to see me sitting on the couch, waiting for the next slate of TV shows. I was deciding how I wanted to make an impact in my community and how I wanted to bring value to others. I chose my mindset in doing that. That’s what my book is on. I’m trying to continue to move. I love the Japanese concept of kaizen, constant improvement. I walk that line of self-acceptance and constant improvement every day.

I have not had that number of injuries or surgeries, but I have dealt with some of that myself. It’s not easy. I’m not saying it was the same level by any stretch. It’s easy with the fantasy football and things like that to be like, “Is this guy in or out? Does he have COVID or not? He’s not a human.” I can imagine that sounds like a whole lot of obstacles you overcame. Do you mind drilling down into the mindset that allowed you to overcome those obstacles?

When you win the Super Bowl, everything you believe about yourself comes true for other people. I want others to have that moment in their life. I was only able to be there by choosing my mindset. I did with the words, “I am. I can. I will.” I was knocked out of my cleats in my fifth practice at Notre Dame. I said to myself, “I am here because I can play football. I will focus on this one drill tomorrow and knock this guy back.”

Save 60% of every $100. Own what you buy. Know the difference between cost and price. Click To Tweet

Fortunately, the guy I was going against didn’t do any different than what he had done kicking my tail the previous five practices, but those same teammates of mine that were questioning about me were like, “Ryan Harris can play.” That ended up turning my career around. It saved my career in the NFL when I was arrogant and unwilling to learn with the Denver Broncos. I was released. I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life.

I had to tell myself, “I am never going to lose my job again because of my unwillingness and my arrogance. I can ask questions. I can eliminate distractions. I can focus on the craft that I love and want to be a part of. I will be a champion.” I even said it the night before the Super Bowl. I am terrified that my greatest achievement’s going to be my greatest failure, but I’m also ready.

I’m excited. I am prepared. I can go out there and put on my pads. I can knock the crap out of somebody. I will be a champion. I used that throughout the seventeen years that were formative for myself, my career, and my future. With 1,600 players playing in the NFL, only 53 will call themselves champions. It’s all because of mindset. It’s a choice each of us makes every day.

It sounds like you hit rock bottom when you were released. There’s an element of humility there that you had to accept. With that humility still existing, you were able to build back some real confidence. That’s a struggle for a lot of people to find that balance or, “How am I confident and humble at the same time versus being cocky and maybe not as humble?” Being a sports fan and former athlete, that’s a tough one to overcome mentally. You find that right balance there. That’s good. Post-NFL, you’re passionate about financial literacy and what else? What does your life look like after the NFL?

Less stress, more fun, that’s the number one thing. Seventy-eight percent of NFL football players are bankrupt and either chemically dependent or divorced two years after they’re done playing football. I am somebody who blew their first $1 million dollars. In my first year in the NFL, I made over a cool $1 million. I did not know what to do with it. I gave money away. People stole money from me. I didn’t invest. I didn’t do the things you’re supposed to do.

One of my degrees from Notre Dame is in Economics and Policy. The behavioral side of having money, understanding that saving money will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do as an adult. When you have the money to go buy something you want, how could you stop yourself? I’m big on encouraging people to choose their mindset and their language.

GDNI 187 Ryan Harris | Mindset For Mastery

Mindset For Mastery: Stop trying to live like other people. Reach for your greatness in your own way. The world will be a better place when you make the impact in a way that you’re capable of.

I had a buddy who was going through a divorce. We were on the phone. “I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” I said, “What can you do?” He took a breath and said, “I can still be a good father. I can make sure my kids want for nothing. I can focus on the positive. I can smile, even when I don’t want to.” He started moving. I want to encourage people. Often, we find ourselves around people when an obstacle presents itself. They say, “I told you something would happen. Maybe it’s not for you. Why don’t you calm down like I’m living my life?”

That’s not the way to win. That’s not what you want to do. You will scare the crap out of people living an average life if you try to reach for your greatness. I want to encourage you to do so. The world’s a better place when you make an impact in the way you’re capable of. All of us are far more capable than we know of producing, engaging, and connecting with others. It’s my passion to encourage people to choose their mindset, create better leaders for the next generation, and talk about financial literacy so we can have safer communities, more intelligent communities, and less crime.

I love all this as far as taking ownership of your personal financial situation and larger situation. My mother is a retired public school teacher. I come from the public school system that I’m used to or that I’ve been exposed to. I didn’t necessarily do the best job of teaching financial literacy. I still believe there’s a lot of room for improvement. My mother would say, “We tried, but the kids weren’t ready for it or weren’t open to it.” What would you say to that kind of debate? Did you find that in the NFL? Were there support systems, but the individual players oftentimes weren’t open to it?

The NFL has no financial training that they provide their players. It shocks a lot of fans to learn that. It benefits NFL teams if you are not financially literate. Jamie, if I’m willing to pay you $3 million but you’re broke, and I offer you $650,000 with a $50,000 signing bonus that’ll be in your account next week, what are you doing? Are you holding out for $3 million? Have you made financial moves, owning what you buy, buying stocks you own? If you got an Apple phone or you like going to Starbucks on the way to Target, own those stocks.

Look at real estate. I’m a real estate investor. We have a couple of residential multifamily properties. That’s huge. If anybody says, “Kids aren’t listening,” that’s a lie. Everyone wants to talk about money. If you talk about money, everybody’s listening. The wealthy don’t talk about it as manners. The middle class doesn’t like talking about it because most of the middle class has debt. The lower socioeconomic stratus don’t even have the time to think about what you could do with the amount of money that many people make.

The important thing is to empower people. Save 60% of every $100 you make. Own what you buy. Know the difference between cost and price. That new iPhone’s a $1,300 price, but the cost of that iPhone is whatever it takes to feed your mouth, entertain your eyes, and keep you active per month, and then the $1,300. Depending on where you live, that could be anywhere from a $3,500 phone to a $7,500 phone. It’s important to understand that. Nobody’s talking to our kids about this. Many studies show that when you are financially literate, you increase your leverage power, your leverage ability in negotiations. You increase your overall earnings.

You need other people for your success. Click To Tweet

There are very simple things we can do that make a huge difference in our life. I’m somebody who didn’t know it could pay down debt. That can make a huge difference for you. I love being able to do that in the different realms that I’m in, talk about it on my radio show, help people when they’re purchasing their home, or talk about it to youth other organizations as I did with Google. It’s fun to talk money with people encourage people to choose their mindset with money as well.

The way I personally view money is it’s important. It’s very powerful. In some ways, in my mind, it’s like the internet. It could be used for good, for bad, or in between. It’s not going away. It doesn’t do you any good to bury your head in the sand and pretend that money isn’t important. I love the mindset piece.

Our audience is primarily mortgage note investors within the real estate investing space. We’re not going to drill down into the specifics of note investing on this episode, but as a mortgage note investor starts to scale their business, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a business. In the ‘70s, Chris may own 250 mortgage notes in his different entities as far as mortgage notes. At some point, you’ve got to figure out how to scale. What I’m getting to is I’ve found more every day. My focus is on leadership, team building and that kind of thing. How would you address our audience in that sense, regardless of whether they’re investing in mortgage notes or whatever, but they’re building a small business? What experience do you have that you could enlighten us with there?

Number one, you need other people for your success. That’s the biggest thing that high performers forget. That can be players and coaches. It happens in the NFL every day. The good coaches in the NFL understand they’re a part of their team. Gary Kubiak is one of my favorite coaches that I have ever had.

Former Raven coach, right?

Yeah. He and I had some big discussions sometimes on the field. “Gary, pull your head out of your tail. I know you’re a quarterback, but run the bleeping ball.” Do you know what he did? He did it. I credit to Gary Kubiak for how he listened. Great coaches in the NFL listen to the players on the field. You have naive experts everywhere around you. Use them and empower them. We lost John Madden, a titan in the NFL. One of the things that have come out is the stories of people. If you’re on his broadcast team, he will bring you on his bus. Once a year, he’d bring you on his bus and things like that.

GDNI 187 Ryan Harris | Mindset For Mastery

Mindset For Mastery: Bad leaders focus on themselves and believe it’s their success. Great leaders encourage and empower others. Make sure that the people around you feel part of your success.

Often, people believe that their independent success matters most. I’m here to tell you as a Super Bowl champion, you will never reach elite performance without the help of others. Jeff Bezos needed his wife to help start Amazon. Warren Buffett’s been married for over 30, 40, 50 years. Your success depends on other people. Bad leaders focus on themselves and believe it’s their success. Great leaders encourage others, empower others, lift them up, let them fail, let them succeed again after failure, and seek solutions.

If you’re going to lead, lead to win. That means including others, leading with examples of your past life, and making sure other people want to be around you and feel a part of your success. What coach in the NFL have you ever heard that said, “I’m so happy I won the Super Bowl. It was a tough season. Thank you so much, fans?” A lot of us do that in our personal life. We’re the head coach of a team, or we’re the leader of a team, and we think it’s our success. You look as foolish as that coach would. Credit your team, reward your team, and take care of your team.

When things go wrong, take ownership of that. Take responsibility.

Don’t panic. There’s going to be an interception at just about every game in the NFL. Every game has bad plays. Bad plays happen. Bad coaches and bad leaders focus on that. “How could you make that mistake, Jamie? What do you think? Jamie, we need you to play. I believe in you. You understand what you’re supposed to do. Let’s go. Let’s finish this.” It’s not just failure. Failure’s a certainty. How you react is the variable that dictates your success.

As we move toward the end of the show here, what does your personal investing strategy look like? Not so much your business, all that stuff, but what’s your approach to your own financial situation? You mentioned some real estate stuff. Is that right?

Yeah. Jamie, it’s changed for me because I’m a retiree. Anybody looking at retirement, let me tell you what you need. A stable income. I love real estate. I love residential real estate as it kicks you that income. I’m a huge believer in value stocks. When is Starbucks going to stop making money? When is Disney going to stop making money?

Always ask yourself how much money you’re making in month one. And that answers everything you need. Click To Tweet

I had this period of time that I saved 80% of every $100 I made and invested over time. That’s done well for me. I love my plan. I encourage everyone to have a plan. If you’re like me, you get a bunch of offers every week to join a fund or a group. My question always is, “How much money am I making in month one?” That answers everything I need. If your investment doesn’t make me income month one, I’m looking somewhere else. I am an income investor as I turn into retirement. I was a growth investor during my career.

It depends on your personal situation. If you’re making $500,000, $700,000 a year, you may not need that income. You may not even want it from a tax standpoint. That’s one thing I love about real estate and notes. It goes back to taking ownership of your own situation, but market conditions change. Your own situation will change, but there’s more than one way to skin this cat. Your approach shouldn’t be identical to somebody who’s currently in the NFL, maybe. What projects, books, or what are you learning from these days?

I’m a huge reader. I’m reading that Will Smith book. I highly recommend it for anybody who’s looking to hear a personal story of success. I’m also learning a lot about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, more specifically. Calling Notre Dame games, one of the benefits is that I get to talk to many wealthy people and many people who have done things differently.

One of the most successful people I know, I said, “What are two things that have made you successful?” He said, “Staying open to influence and surrounding myself with people better than me and more intelligent than me. Everybody who’s more intelligent and successful than me, their focus is cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, how the secure transfer of data is going to change the world, the speed in which you can verify transactions.”

That’s a big interest of mine. I’m also looking forward to more change. We talk about financial literacy. Financial literacy’s a great way to talk about social justices. To somebody who commits a $500 crime, are they worth $35,000 in our tax money? I don’t know. Let’s talk about it. Does it sound logical? I continue to want to make a difference for those who’ve made a mistake in a nonviolent way and continue to use financial literacy, money, and my experience to learn, grow, and seek new frontiers.

There are many little rabbit holes we could go down with this conversation. Can you think of a good deed that you’ve done either in your your professional NFL career, but maybe even more importantly, post-NFL working with friends, family, or somebody you know on the financial side of things or somehow that you’ve helped somebody out?

GDNI 187 Ryan Harris | Mindset For Mastery

Mindset For Mastery: An NFL Champion’s Guide To Reaching Your Greatness

First and foremost, in the NFL, I led with an example. We had a teammate the year we won Super Bowl 50 that wasn’t playing his best. Coaches and players screamed at him on the field. None of us do well when we’re embarrassed and being screamed at. You don’t want to work harder at that moment. I walked up to him. I said, “When I was your age, I made 1 to 3 mistakes a game. I started feverishly taking notes and I made 1 to 3 mistakes a year.”

The next morning, he showed up with a pen and paper, wrote down notes, and won the Super Bowl. As a leader, I engaged with somebody who depended on my success and gave him an example instead of telling him what to do. Leading by example is a lazy way to lead. You don’t give any context. You miss the opportunity to connect and show vulnerability. Tell somebody how you overcame a similar obstacle to grow.

I’m a Muslim. One of the sayings in Islam is, “One of the greatest charities you can give is a smile.” I’m a big smiling and hi guy. I say, “Hi, it’s good to see you. Hey, good morning,” even if you’re not in that mood. I’ve started many great relationships I have to this day by simply smiling saying, “Hi,” and encouraging people to enjoy the day you have. Enjoy the opportunity you have to win, to follow-up on your goals and intentions and celebrate every win. Enjoy it.

Over the last couple of years across the country, we could use another smile or two. That could go a long way. That’s good. We normally ask for a Note and Bolt, a little nugget as something somebody may not learn in a training program. You’ve dropped over ten already. Does anything else come to mind that you want to share with the audience?

Continue to try something new, whether it’s leadership, finding a way to do a good deed, or helping somebody. Find something new. Many of us in relationships wouldn’t like to go into the same restaurant every single day, but that’s what we do in our professional lives once we find success. Keep reaching. Learn something new. Connect yourself to new communities, and watch your possibilities grow.

You mentioned your book. Do you want to mention that again?

You can check out my book Mindset for Mastery. It’s available on Amazon. Check me out, RyanHarris68.com. You can check me out in the crypto world, RyanHarris.eth because I got the DAP. I still don’t know what that means, by the way, Jamie. I believe it’s a great easier way to collect crypto transactions without having that long 09EB76 lines. Check me out on Instagram at @RyanHarris_68. I’m on Peloton, Jango_68. Other than that, I’m a resource for anybody who wants to learn and grow. I’m here for you.

I followed you on Twitter. I look forward to interacting. Ryan, this has been fantastic. We’ve covered so many key points. I love the mindset, taking ownership, financial literacy, growth mindset, positive attitude, leading by example, but also humble confidence and listening. I tried listening to this whole episode and spit back much of what you said, but I need to listen to this one again. This was good. Thanks a lot, Ryan. I appreciate you coming on. For the readers out there, don’t forget to go out and do some good deeds. Take care, everyone.

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About Ryan Harris

Super Bowl 50 Champion Ryan Harris is a 10 year veteran of the NFL.  Ryan was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2007 as an offensive tackle. Ryan left Denver for a few years and continued his career with the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs. He then came back to Denver and played left tackle in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 Championship year. Most recently Ryan was with the Pittsburgh Steelers before retiring at the end of the 2016 season. Ryan played college football at the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with two degrees, one in Economics and Policy and the other in Political Science. Ryan is a practicing Muslim, from Minnesota, and currently resides with his family in Denver, CO.

Off the field, Ryan believes that together we can change the world. He believes that “It is your right to be extraordinary.”  That when we embrace that right, we create positive change in the world. And through our commitment to educate ourselves, invest in our communities and act on our passions, real change happens.

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