This week we interviewed Jared Green, former NFL Player (Dallas Cowboys, Panthers, Raiders) now turned entrepreneur. He is now the CEO of Strides.ai.
Jared Green played college football for Southern University and for the University of Virginia. He signed with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 2012. He had brief stints with the Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders before retiring from professional football in 2014 to pursue his business and philanthropic dreams.
Founded in 2021, Strides.ai helps companies to harness their untapped diverse leadership talent by going beyond traditional leadership development. Strides is an AI-based platform that facilitates conversations between diverse senior leaders to cultivate warm professional relationships that leads to advocacy and sponsorship.
Not only Strives is leveraging artificial intelligence to connect players and former NFL players get paired with different opportunities such as mentorship by some executives. But they also have job opportunities that their profile pairs them with via Artificial intelligence.
More precisely, Strives is connecting the NFL players’ pool of talent with hiring managers, executives, mentor executives who want to mentor, and executives who want to hire them. They can get board seats, sales jobs, or technical jobs.
📝Show Notes: Through this interview with Jared, we touched on his background in elite sports as a former NFL player. We also discussed his company, products and the benefits for the teams and athletes. We also touched on the best NFL players he played against and the best coaches he played for. Lastly we discussed his plans for the next 12 months.
Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Jared:
On his background in elite sports as a former NFL player:
“I think my background is different than many other football players. My desire was to leverage football to do my other desires, philanthropic desires, professional desires outside of the game. So I never was really in love with the sport, like some people who really love sports. It's a childhood game. I think it's fun to play and it's a great thing to build wealth in order to leverage that wealth for the things that you're really passionate about and the things that your purpose is driven by”.
So for me, my father played in the NFL for 20 years. He's in the Hall of Fame, Daryl Green, and my desire was to leverage what he had saved for me. So getting the full ride scholarship to the University of Virginia, and then start investing and doing things with those funds. And then also to make it to the NFL to accumulate more wealth for myself. So that was the goal”.
On how NFL players have to fit the style of play of the 32 NFL teams, just like in big corporations like Deloitte:
“Just because you're the strongest or the biggest or whatever, it doesn't mean you're going to play because there are 32 teams and they have 32 styles of player for each position. For example, Dallas (Cowboys) always has a big wide receiver. Ever since the beginning, they've always had a big guy (…) Why is that? That's just their style.
“That's what the Dallas Cowboys are looking for because that's their style of play. You have teams like Baltimore Ravens who have had a running quarterback for quite some time now”.
“So if you are Peyton Manning and you're coming out today, if you're a Peyton Manning style, the Ravens aren't interested in you because they're looking for a running gun quarterback. So that's kind of when you're thinking about profile talents, and skillset that aligns with a specific organization that you're looking for. And that's why when people try to go work for Deloitte, they're going to probably need some certifications and some background”.
On his transition from being an NFL player to being an entrepreneur where he is helping former NFL players land jobs in the corporate world:
“I think for me the transition was about timing because I always wanted to transition. I didn't want to play football for a long time. I didn't want to get a bunch of concussions and not be able to pick up my children or remember things that I'm saying during a keynote. I don't want to go through that”.
“And so my transition was really accelerated because I lived in the Bay Area. When I was on the Raiders and in the Bay there was the tech boom. And what was happening with Uber, Twitter, all of those companies, about 30 minutes from our facility”.
“So I started to dabble into that, and I started to get to know some executive coaches out there in San Jose. And I started to fall in love with business. So I would get out of practice, especially during the off season, and I would go and listen to people, learn, and connect with people, and make a ton of connections. Well, eventually I started loving that more than I love football”.
On the day he realized that there was a good earning potential in the corporate world:
“One day I remember going out there to practice and saying, why am I doing this? And at the same time also I was meeting people who were making $600,000 a year. At the time, the rookie minimum in the NFL was probably $475,000”.
“So I was like, okay, you're not sweating, and getting yelled at by a coach and being cussed out by fans and worrying about if you're going to get cut or not and all of those things”.
“And you're just going into different corporations and you're consulting or you're working for one of these juggernauts, or you have your own firm. Man, I'm in the wrong profession. You're not risking concussions and broken bones. So that really got me excited and the transition was easy because I saw it. A lot of times you have to see it. I meet a lot of young kids and I asked them, what do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a football player. Well, that's what they see. They see it on TV. Everybody's talking about it”.
“What people aren't seeing, and what they're not talking about is these corporate checks. These guys getting these sales deals where maybe their base salary is $300,000 and then they're closing an awesome quarter in getting a $200,000 bonus. They don't see that. They don't see these young people who go from intern to senior director over a course of 10 years or five years, whatever, and all the money that's being made in those industries. So I saw it and once I saw it, it transformed the way that I thought”.
On why he started helping former NFL players get jobs in the corporate world:
“The reason why I started engaging players is because you put a former athlete, professional athlete in that (corporate) environment, they're not going to slack off, they're not going to waste time. They're going to execute at a high level because they know how to rest and recover and they know how to perform. And that's what it means to really be a corporate athlete. So I'm all about the fun and the perks, but at the same time, you have to do your job”.
“We know that what the top employees, and the hiring managers appreciate are former military and former athletes. They have discipline. They know what it means to be accountable. They take correction and they take coaching well, and they push themselves”.
“They're self-motivated more than anybody else, and they want to perform. And they'll do it alone without waiting for someone to see them do it, because that's what's built in them. So we have this pool of talent that's world class, who've been proven to be the best in in their industry: The NFL”.
“And now we're connecting that pool of talent with hiring managers, executives, mentor executives who want to mentor, and executives who want to hire them. They can get board seats, they can get sales jobs, they can get tech technical jobs, all of that on our platform in addition to learning and upskilling and becoming better and better all in this community”.
So our goal is to do this for the NFL because I'm a former NFL player, but we want to go into the NFL to the NBA. We want to get into a number of different organizations, industries in athletics because it's just not a space for them. It just hasn't been done. It hasn't been done yet”.
On his startup Strides.ai and how they help former NFL players land job opportunities in the corporate world:
“We're a startup. We're raising capital and we're just getting off the ground. We've got some really awesome technologies, and we have some really, really, strong advocates, who are in our circle. Our advisory board is strong as well. So, so we have all the makings to be really successful”.
On their key differentiators:
“Here's the differentiator. For us. Not only are we leveraging artificial intelligence to connect players and former players and to get them paired with different opportunities such as mentorship by some executives. But we also have job opportunities that their profile pairs them with via Artificial intelligence”.
“But the differentiator is, and I'm a member so I can say this, I'm a member of the NFLPA, I'm a member of the NFL Players' Trust. I'm appreciative of the NFL, but the differentiator is we have no ulterior motives. We have no investors. We have no NFL owners that we have to submit to, or the NFL. We're our own people”.
“We're our own community and we're highly vetted. And we're closed in such a way that players can feel safe. To have these conversations and anybody that we bring into the platform that's not a player is only there to give players opportunities. There's no fans, there's no autographs, there are no requests.
It's strictly business”.
“And we think that this is what helps companies become more agile, but it also helps players to grow in the community that obviously is advantageous for them because it's their community”.
On the fact that 70%-78% of NFL players go broke or are in financial stress two years after retiring:
“NFL athletes went to school. They either left school before they graduated to go play in the league. And even if they graduated, while both parties were in the league, all of their colleagues from school were going and getting their MBA, or their PhD, their certs, and now they leave the game”.
“As an NFL player, you retire at 24, 25, 26 years old. And you're at a disadvantage because the other 24, 25, 26 s got all of their certifications and all of their programs. And we know that between 70% and 78%. of former players go broke or are in financial stress just two years after retiring. So there's a major need right now for NFL athletes, but then obviously the other communities”.
On how former NFL players can fill their education gap:
“I think there are two paths. So one path is the certifications by helping them upskill, and because they don't have the degree, it doesn't mean they're not smart. And to learn a number of plays, they had to learn a number of different things to be successful in their sport”.
“So it's nothing for them to get some of the upskilling. We have some courses that are available. We're also in the process of doing some partnerships with some major learning management system companies. And then there's an opportunity for strategic partnerships with universities”.
“We've met with Warden, the University of Virginia, my LA Mater. And so we're looking at ways that we can allow guys to go back and get their school in. Now the NFLPA offers that as well, and they will reimburse you 100% so you just have to take the initiative and pay for it. So we have all the right tools for them. Now it's just about getting them in our ecosystem and, and helping them go from good to great”.
On the fact that they will soon announce some former players and NFL Hall of Famers on their advisory board:
“So we've got some player ambassadors, and a lot of this stuff will be announced very soon. We have some former players on our team and we have some really amazing NFL Hall of famers on our advisory board. So we've got all the right ingredients to make this thing work. Now it's just about execution”.
On his goals for the next 12 months:
“We have two goals and these will spearhead every initiative moving forward. One goal for us is to raise $2M. That's our big plan, and those finances will help us not only take our product to the next level, but it'll also help us staff up”.
“So the second goal is to bring on leadership, and bring on employees, not a ton of people, but some really strong movers and shakers. We want the best talent. Myself I will come to the point where I would like to replace myself and bring in a CEO who can take us even further than I can. So at the end of the day, we want the funds and we want the talent. That's what we need”.
On the best players (Charles Woodson, Tony Romo, Des Bryant, Cam Newton..) that he played with:
“For example Charles Woodson who I played with at the Oakland Raiders, is definitely one of the most brilliant players I've ever played with in terms of just understanding the game. I have to put him slightly above”.
“But there's a person who comes in second place as far as brilliance, and that's Tony Romo. He is very know, very knowledgeable of the game. He knows every single player. He knows all 22 people on the fields, their roles and responsibilities at all times. For every game. He is that smart”.
“But then there are some of my favorite teammates I've ever played with.
My favorite teammate of all time has to be Steve Smith from the Panthers. He was older when I got there. I think he was 32. And I probably was 24 or 23. And he knew his stuff. He was tough and he was extremely confident. But he also had this gentle part of him where he would invest in me and other rookies. If he liked you, he had your back. And I'll always appreciate him”.
“My second favorite teammate has to be Des Bryant on the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most humble, genuine, probably the most humble genuine and loving teammates I've ever had in my life of all my years of all sports. He introduced himself to me the second I walked in the locker room and took me out to dinner that night. So just a good guy, a good man. But talent wise, all those guys are extremely talented”.
“A freak of nature would probably be Cam Newton. He just looks like Goliath. he can throw the ball, at probably the full length of the field, but he can run. He's fast. He can take a hit and he can make a hit. He could do it all. So it's been a great ride getting to know a lot of these guys, play with them. And for me, I appreciate that they respected me”.
“I don't need to be known as a good athlete. For me, I just wanted to be known as a good team member, a good friend, and a good community activist and supporter for any communities that I played in. So I appreciate all those guys that I played with”.
On the best coaches he played for:
“As far as coaches are concerned, Ricky Proehl was my wide receiver coach in Carolina. And he was like an uncle to me. He was like a close relative. He was a good man that was in the trenches with me when some guys doubted me or when some guys said anything negative or even coaches, he would always go to bat for me”.
“When I scored my first touchdown, he was right there to hug me. He was a really special guy and he was under the leadership of Ron Rivera, which I appreciate Ron as well. Now he's with the Redskins (Commanders)”.
On the best way to reach out to him:
“They can first and foremost email me. I don't mind my email being out there. Jared@strides.ai. Also reach out to me on LinkedIn. That's my pool. I don't do a lot of Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat and TikTok. I don't do all that stuff, but LinkedIn, I live there”.
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