Building wealth as a professional athlete isn’t as easy as it sounds.
In 2009, Sports Illustrated published the article: How (And Why) Athletes Go Broke. The article shocked readers with two eye-catching stats:
• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress.
• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
ESPN followed up the Sports Illustrated article with the critically acclaimed series: ESPN’s 30 For 30: Broke. ‘Broke’ further shocked viewers with personal accounts of wealthy athletes that had lost it all.
Amobi Okugo, a professional soccer player, saw the ESPN special and a fire was lit to find a way to be part of the solution.
Amobi, with the aide of his brother, founded A Frugal Athlete.
A frugal athlete is a website built to “highlight the prudent financial decision-making of athletes across sports”. The site shares personal financial insights from popular athletes such as: Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Nash, Andre Iguodala, Derek Jeter, and many more.
The Frugal Athlete movement continues to pick up steam with Forbes writing the article: How One MLS Player Created A Transformational Website That Could Save Athletes From Going Broke.
Amobi’s goal is to utilize the platform afforded to popular athletes to make developing personal finance literacy as cool as the sport they play.
Amobi joined us on the RealCrowd Podcast to discuss the game of soccer, developing a personal finance plan, and the athletes he looks up to when it comes to personal finance.
To keep up with Amobi’s story be sure to follow Amobi on Twitter: @amobisays.
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RealCrowd – All opinions expressed by Adam, Tyler, and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of RealCrowd. This podcast is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. To gain a better understanding of the risks associated with commercial real estate investing, please consult your advisors.
Tyler Stewart – Hey, listeners, Tyler here. Before we start today’s episode, I wanted to quickly remind you to head to realcrowduniversity.com to enroll into our free six week course on the fundamentals behind commercial real estate investing. That’s realcrowduniversity.com. Thanks.
Adam Hooper – Hey, Tyler.
Tyler Stewart – Hey, Adam, how are you today?
Adam Hooper – Tyler, I’m great. It’s a sunny day here in Portland, so I’ve got no complaints.
Tyler Stewart – It’s beautiful out there. You know what’s a good sport to play in the sun?
Adam Hooper – What’s that, Tyler?
Tyler Stewart – Soccer.
Adam Hooper – Do you anybody that plays soccer?
Tyler Stewart – Well, in fact, I know Amobi Okugo, professional soccer player, formerly with the Portland Timbers and now overseas playing, who happened to be our guest today?
Adam Hooper – What?
Tyler Stewart – Well, that’s awesome. What will Amobi talk about?
Adam Hooper – We connected with Amobi again, as Tyler said. He was Portland Timber. He’s got some really interesting stuff going on in the financial literacy world. This is a little outside of the typical box that we would have on the podcast but a very wide-ranging conversation. Everything from how he got his start, the parallels between professional sports and investing and discipline. A lot of really good stuff in the conversation.
Tyler Stewart – Amobi’s a guy who seen the ESPN Athletes Go Broke special that ESPN did. Amobi saw that special five years ago, was inspired and said, “You know what? I need to be a part of the solution.” He put together a site to help athletes and fans learn financial literacy.
Adam Hooper – Yeah, it’s called the Frugal Athlete. We’ll have links in the show notes here for anybody who wants to go check it out. Talked about a bunch of stuff. He’s our first international guest. He dialed in from Germany today, so we thank him for that. One of my biggest takeaways from the conversation was around networking events and having intention when you go to these networking events. Not just going there to have conversations and waste your time. Really do you research, have a plan for when you’re there, who you want to try to meet with, and something you want to accomplish and have that intention. I think that’s a big thing here in the Silicon Valley world where we started the company. You can go to 10 different meetups every day and really not get much done. Having that intention and networking was a pretty key point for listeners out there. There’s some good reading material, recommendations in there which you’ll hear in the podcast. That’s enough of us talking. As always, listeners, if you have questions or comments or feedback or if anybody you want us to try to track down to get on the podcast, please send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s get to it.
RealCrowd – This podcast is brought to you by RealCrowd, the leader in online real estate investing. Visit realcrowd.com to learn more about how we provide our members with direct access to commercial real estate investments. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Music, or SoundCloud. RealCrowd, invest smarter.
Adam Hooper – Amobi, thank you for joining us today on the podcast. You are joining us from where again?
Amobi Okugo – I’m currently in Osnabrück, Germany.
Adam Hooper – That’s quite a departure from the states. What are you doing in Germany?
Amobi Okugo – I’m currently right now a free agent. My contract wasn’t extended. My contract ended with the Portland Timbers and right now I’m a free agent. I’m currently in Germany training with a couple of teams, waiting for the summer window, seeing what’s going to happen, whether I sign with the team out here or figure something else out stateside.
Adam Hooper – Well, we were hoping to get you here in the studio in Portland but now you’re our first international guest. I’ll take it.
Amobi Okugo – By default, by default.
Adam Hooper – We were talking just before recording here. The environment in European soccer is very different than here in the States, right? It’s an upcoming sport here in the US, for sure. But that’s a whole different level of rabid fan over there, isn’t it?
Amobi Okugo – Just the history alone, you touched on it. In terms of a true first division sports league, or soccer league in the states, they didn’t start until, well, it started in the 70s with the NASL, but then it went defunct. And now with MLS, it’s 20 years, 20-plus years strong. In Europe, all across the world, these clubs have started since the late 1800s, early 1900s. A lot of history, and then, just soccer, or football, as it’s called in other countries, it’s the number one sport. It’s not competing with American football or basketball or baseball to that level.
Adam Hooper – We had a while ago looked at doing some work with one of the potential expansion teams here at MLS, and the ownership structure, historically, in Europe, is much more like what we do at RealCrowd, right? It’s kind of this club. Used to get together. The town would get together. Everybody would kick in and they would have their own part of the soccer club. Which is, again, a completely different concept of how ownership here in the states work. It’s very much just owned by a couple of people, or a small tight-knit group and it’s a for-profit enterprise. That kind of encourages a very different level of community involvement. I think it’s really cool, to see that it still persists over there and, hopefully, something that can maybe start over in this side of the world, too.
Amobi Okugo – As soccer continues to grow in the States, I think they’ll start to piggyback on some of the cool things that you touched on that is happening in other parts of the world. Where the communities not only engage as fans, but they’re invested into the team, as well, with their own dollars.
Tyler Stewart – On that note, how have you seen… You’ve had a long career in the MLS. How have you seen the MLS change from when you entered to now? Is it growing, is the fanbase growing? Is there passion around the MLS?
Amobi Okugo – Yeah, it’s so crazy because I’ve only been a professional eight years, and when I first came in, I was with Philadelphia and we were an expansion team. I remember we’d have to drive vans to practice. We didn’t have our own facility. Five years later, when I signed a new contract with Orlando, which was a new expansion team at the time, we saw the renderings for a new stadium, practice facility, playing with a superstar like Kaka. Just take this year, for example, or the last two years, for example. Atlanta United has just come in and blown everyone’s expectations out of the water. The new LAFC team. That’s doing much of the same. It’s just only going to continue to grow, and it’s really exiting to see. Even though, right now I’m currently not in the MLS, it’s still so exciting to see.
Adam Hooper – And has soccer always been your game? Or what got you to the sports?
Amobi Okugo – Yes, so soccer’s always been my game. It’s was kind of by default. I’m first generation Nigerian-American. Growing up, my parents, my uncles, they all supported soccer. That was the main sport in Nigeria. I remember stories that have been told to me. I don’t really remember it. I only remember parts of it. But my dad used to take me to the park and we’d just, me and a soccer ball, and he would just basically make me play until I cried, telling him I wanted to go home. Soccer was the main sport. Growing up, I played soccer and basketball but it was always soccer that was number one.
Adam Hooper – I didn’t expect the story to go that route. Was this something that you… Did you grow to love it or was it just what you did? I guess I’m curious kind of the motivation behind. That’s a big jump from a kid in the park to a long career as a pro. Something had to fit, right? Something had to click there.
Amobi Okugo – It was just to keep me active. When you’re a kid, you have bundles of energy, but then, you want to go home and play with your toys. But my dad would just keep me outside. When I finally got on my local school team, the local club team, and then, scoring goals, playing with your friends. It was fun. Everything’s always fun when you’re winning and when you’re good, so. From that, I was just fortunate enough to keep having good opportunities. It just went from there. When my parents first started, they, “Let him play a sport. Stay out of trouble. Stay active.” And then, you start getting good at it. Let’s see if you can get a college scholarship. And then, he does that and just went pro. Sorry, I was going on a little long.
Tyler Stewart – No, that’s awesome. I’ve got to give a little shout-out. Our head of real estate here at RealCrowd. He’s nearly become a soccer with his daughter. She’s a third-grader. Her name’s Raina, and they had a contest of who can get to 50 juggles in a row the quickest, and she annihilated him. She went from single digits to 20s all the way up to, like, 77. Just a little superstar. But that’s what it takes, right? You have to spend that time.
Amobi Okugo – Exactly. Definitely.
Adam Hooper – That’s something that, again, we were talking about before, there are some parallels between the investment world and sports, not to elevate one above the other. Again, playing professional sports is a very different caliber than the investment world. But the discipline. That’s oftentimes what makes a good investor, and what makes the best investors, are people who have a plan and they’re disciplined enough to stick with that. To get to any caliber of professional sport, discipline has to be at the absolute core. That’s how you excel until you get there. There’s natural talent, of course. But the discipline to work on your craft and get to that level. There is an interesting parallel with the best investors out there who have the discipline to follow along with their plan.
Amobi Okugo – Yeah, I completely agree. It’s all about establishing those good habits. Take the example you just said with the daughter juggling. Okay, now she has 77. But is she going to stop? Because she has those good habits, she’s only going to continue to get better, continue to grow, and you can easily relate that to the investing world.
Tyler Stewart – Absolutely. As far as strategy goes on soccer, what strategies occur on the field that you can translate to other parts of your life. For instance, I played basketball. It was all about teamwork and being able to motivate your teammates and just kind of knowing where your teammates were at all times, and then, you can take that to the business world and say, “Okay, how can I work better in a team? What do different areas of our company need help with and how can I provide the assist or the alley-oop, so to speak?”
Amobi Okugo – That’s great. Especially, team sports, you can learn a lot when it comes to investing. In soccer, for example, I really think having to think two steps ahead… Because in soccer, it’s not like basketball where there’s a hundred points a game. It’s one mistake, the other team will punish you. If you have this one chance, you’ve got to score. It’s always thinking about the possibilities and the options. For me, for example, I play center mid. I’m just always be aware of my surroundings, being aware of the possibilities. If I play this pass, how is the player going to take the next to make the other pass, or how can I set up this pass to make sure the forward can score? How can I cut off an angle to make sure the attacking players has to go another way? You can use that and relate it to investing where sometimes there’s adversity with investing. Something may have happened that you can’t control. How are you going to respond to that? Or you have a set guidelines and something happens. Are you going to stick to your guideline or are you going to have to readjust? That’s how I kind of relate to, especially, with soccer.
Adam Hooper – Was it always your goal to play professionally or at what point did you think, “I can do this.”?
Amobi Okugo – Obviously, when you grow up, everyone wants to be a professional athlete.
Adam Hooper – Sure.
Amobi Okugo – But that’s just throwing it out there. But it wasn’t until I was 13 when I first got invited to the U14 National Team Camp for soccer. I was just exposed to the best of the best and I always wanted to continue getting called up and continue challenging myself. After that, and then, getting invited into the residency program at IMG, I knew it was a serious possibility if I stayed disciplined, and I kept perfecting my craft.
Tyler Stewart – On the topic of discipline. So I saw a video, Amobi. And I noticed, when you encouraging your teammates, you have some go-to phrases you say. “Be sure, be sure. Everything, everything. Let’s go. That’s great stuff. Keep it going.” I’m curious, when you’re motivating teammates, these are the phrases you go to. Are these always the go-to phases? On a personal level, when times get tough for you on the field, you’re tired, you want to sob maybe, maybe twist your ankle. What are you telling yourself to keep yourself going, as well?
Adam Hooper – That’s a good question, Tyler.
Amobi Okugo – That’s so funny. That’s a great question. Yeah, so I would say those are some of my go-to soundbytes, per se, just because they’re not too rah-rah. They’re to the point. They just get the job done. Be sure, be sure. Be confident in what you decide. Because you can tell, in soccer, when someone’s thinking too much. Just be sure you’re, if you want to make that pass, just make that pass. If you take a shot, take a shot. I like to not only give that advice but take that advice as myself. And I know you said something about if you need a sub, you never ask for a sub unless you really need it, like, you’re injured. But, nah, you have to follow through it. Because you never know. If you give someone else the opportunity to take your spot, they might keep it.
Adam Hooper – Take your spot.
Amobi Okugo – Exactly. You don’t even want to give them the luxury. Every day, you have to play like it’s your last day.
Tyler Stewart – I know my dad told me growing up and playing soccer and basketball, never look at the coach when you make a bad play or you’re hurt. Because you’re getting subbed out if you look at the coach. I would stay focused on the field and never look at the coach.
Amobi Okugo – Especially, basketball, when you’re subbing consistently. The coach looks through the side, like, alright, don’t even make eye contact.
Adam Hooper – Those are some good tips for our younger listeners out there. Tyler already managed to throw Brandon under the bus with Raina. Alright, so getting back on track here. With the professional sports thing. I know you began Frugal Athlete, which we’ll talk about in a bit. How did you start making that transition to professional athlete to now more focused on the financial side of it. What has that transition been like, and where do you see that going to start that part?
Amobi Okugo – I’d have to say my rookie year. Because, up until that point, you’re playing soccer competitively for fun. But then, once you start getting paid, things just changed. I remember my first year, I did my taxes and I was just, like… I called my dad and I was, like, “Dad, I’m getting taxed… I’m getting Utah taxes.” I didn’t even live in Utah. Why am I getting taxed in Utah? He’s like, “Now, you’re a grownup. Now you see what we have to deal with. Welcome.” When you have to start paying bills, it’s now a job. Yeah, it’s not a sport. I think that’s one I really like. It flipped a switch, it being the financial aspect, as well.
Adam Hooper – You’ve referenced, I guess, now it was probably, what, like, early 2011 or ’12 with the ESPN special, the Why Athletes Go Broke special, which is a very real thing. Still, even to this day, years after that, there’s still a huge issue in that world with professional athletes and poor financial management. That was something that kind of got you aware of that early on.
Amobi Okugo – Exactly. Matter of fact, I really think ESPN needs to play that documentary once a week on their show just to continually remind athletes, and not only athletes, but the fans that watch them, as well, that it’s important to have that base, that solid financial base.
Adam Hooper – That was kind of the kickoffs for you. You saw that that was the problem there. How did you turn that into something beyond, “Now, I’ve got to pay my taxes in Utah.” How do you go beyond that into, like, now you’ve got the platform with Frugal Athlete?
Amobi Okugo – After watching that documentary, it was really interesting because, MLS, we’re not at the level of the Big Four, NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL. If these guys that are making millions of dollars, in the high hundreds of thousands of dollars, are going broke, imagine someone in the MLS that’s, for sure, going to have to get a job after they retire, no matter how well they do with their finances. Depending on certain athletes, David Beckham, guys like that don’t have to worry about it. Myself, even though I was well-compensated, it’s not up to the level of these guys that I’m watching on this documentary. After I watch the documentary, I was like, “You know what? Let me see, let me try to find some athletes that are doing good with their money.” What I kept finding were more athletes that went broke, or athletes that I couldn’t really compare myself to, like Lebron James, or Kobe Bryant, guys that, I mean, they’re going to be good no matter what happens. That’s kind of what sparked Frugal Athlete, just trying to find, trying to create a platform where there are athletes that I can kind of role model myself after that were making prudent financial decisions and career decisions to help set themselves up long after their playing days.
Adam Hooper – Not to tie too many parallels, but a lot of the investors that we see, and we started our company down in the Bay Area, in Palo Alto, and there’s a lot of potential for quick money, right, for people that don’t have necessarily a deep background or experience in managing their finances, with start-ups and small businesses that can come into just huge amounts of money quickly. And then that caveat…
Tyler Stewart – Yeah, it’s like what do they do now?
Adam Hooper – Yeah, it’s similar to your Utah taxes. That’s where, again, kind of with all the listeners out there, trying to find some of those parallels of how to set things up beyond just that initial windfall, that initial effort that’s put in to get to that spot. How do you make sure you don’t lose it, right? How do you make sure you keep it? That’s a lot of what you’re trying to do with your platform.
Amobi Okugo – I completely agree with what you just said. I mean, especially, in Palo Alto, you have a lot of, especially, in the investing world, you have a lot of people that have capital. Then you have a lot of capital. It’s either you spend it or you don’t know what you want to do with it, so… If you don’t have that financial base or that guidelines, like you said, or that discipline to know how you want to go about it, then you can start throwing money at different things and not really keep track and, ultimately, falter.
Adam Hooper – And when did you start Frugal Athlete?
Amobi Okugo – Frugal Athlete didn’t start officially until 2016. But you know how we talked earlier off-record about just starting, started the podcast from the closet, or straight from the phone. It was a little like that. I didn’t know what I was doing. I literally just got on Squarespace, made a blog with the help of some people, got some of my graphics designs on it. But, luckily, six months later, as I started to build, I redesigned and now it’s actually… It’s easy on the eye, the website interface.
Adam Hooper – We will put links on the show so we can go check it out. Is it just for athletes or is it for everybody? Are there learnings in there for all people?
Amobi Okugo – It’s definitely catered to professional athletes and student athletes. But because athletes are trendsetters, we ideally want to cater to the fans that follow these athletes, as well. Athletes have a way of, especially, professional athletes have a way of shaping the culture in terms of what clothes to wear, what music to listen to, other things. My hope is with Frugal Athlete is, if we can get professional athletes to promote financial literacy, that fans will follow suit, because these fans are the ones that are paying the tickets to go to the games in these real life situations where money is more of an issue compared to the athletes. That’s kind of my goal. It’s catering to everyone but, specifically, for professional athletes and student athletes.
Tyler Stewart – And then, when fans go to the website, what kind of content will they see?
Amobi Okugo – We have a lot of content. We’ve got the podcast on it, where every Wednesday, I’ll have a podcast talking about the latest in sports business and just various topics from the sports finance sector. Every Tuesday, we have a Team Frugal where we highlight professional athletes, either current or retired, that’s done something that exemplifies what it means to be a frugal athlete, whether it’s doing something prudent, financially, or career-wise to help them for their career. We recently started two new segments. Kyle Hines, he shows his financial tips from overseas, because it’s different playing overseas to what it is in the States. Twice a month, he’ll come in and share a blog. We do money talks with Jonathan Perrin. This one I’m kind of really excited about because he’s a professional baseball player with the Milwaukee Brewers organization, and he’s also a certified financial advisor.
Adam Hooper – Oh, wow.
Amobi Okugo – We just started his segment and he’s going to give us weekly happenings in the financial sector from a certified financial advisor, not just someone that’s very interested in finance. He has the expertise, the experience, and the backing to give his views from an athlete’s perspective, but also circle back to his investment credentials as well. Then we had the articles and interviews with the professional athletes and financial managers and business managers and stuff like that.
Tyler Stewart – As far as spreading the word about what you’re up to and getting other athletes involved, how are you going out and networking and getting other athletes onboard with your mission?
Amobi Okugo – Social media has been great, especially, LinkedIn. That’s how we connected. LinkedIn has been great to meet with the different professional athletes and different individuals in their financial and business space who cater to sports. In terms of promotions, I’ve been using Facebook a lot recently, Twitter, because I have a knack for Twitter. Instagram’s a little bit harder for what we’re trying to do but you’ve got to find a way to get on Instagram, too, because that’s a game-changer, as well.
Tyler Stewart – Absolutely. You have a solid Twitter game. If our listeners wanted to follow you on Twitter, where would they go?
Amobi Okugo – Oh, for Frugal Athlete? They would go to @FrugalAthlete. Every day, we’re posting. Either retweeting, quote tweeting, sharing articles from our site. It’s a good platform. Still growing but give it a follow.
Tyler Stewart – That’s awesome. We learned about your story from the Forbes article which, I imagine, helped accelerate your growth, as well?
Amobi Okugo – Oh, yes. Being able to be on a national publication like Forbes, it did a lot. Just being able to have that credibility.
Adam Hooper – Right.
Amobi Okugo – And prove that we’re not just telling people where to put their money and doing things. We’re actually trying to help. Give people the information to take to their own financial playbooks and build their own solid financial base.
Tyler Stewart – Absolutely.
Amobi Okugo – It was cool to be on Forbes.
Tyler Stewart – Absolutely, and having a positive impact. On you site you have a concept you call Team Frugal. What is Team Frugal?
Amobi Okugo – Every Tuesday, we highlight a professional athlete, current or retired, that exemplifies what it means to be a frugal athlete. Whether it’s doing something prudent, financially, or having the foresight to do something, career-wise, that’s helped them long after their career is over. Because studies show that within five years, over 50% of athletes go broke or have some financial trouble. With the whole Team Frugal initiative, it’s basically just to share a collection of professional athletes that you can aspire to or look to as role models to see what it means to be a frugal athlete.
Adam Hooper – If we had to put you on the spot and give us a top three for your Team Frugal All-Star Squad, who’s making the cut?
RealCrowd – Top three? Paul Rabil is one, for sure because he’s a lacrosse player, and lacrosse not being a major sport, how he’s had the foresight to use social media to his advantage and invest in companies that align with his brand and his investment strategy. He gets paid more than NBA/NFL player off endorsements and off his investments just because he knew what it was to be a frugal athlete. That’s one. Oh, dang, guys, you really put me on the spot here.
Tyler Stewart – At least it’s not an 11-man roster.
Amobi Okugo – Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, the starting with 11. Another one I like is Junior Bridgeman. He’s an old-school guy because, back in the day, the NBA guys… I mean, relative. Everything’s inflation. They weren’t as much money as they do now but he was able to have the foresight, again, to… He didn’t really spend his money. Once he retired, he started franchising restaurants and he has a franchising conglomerate worth well over 400 million dollars.
Adam Hooper – Wow.
Amobi Okugo – Junior Bridgeman would be number two. And number three, the final for the top three… Who can I say.
Adam Hooper – You can put yourself in there, too, if you need to. Oh, no, I’m not there yet. When we do a recap in five years, then I’ll put myself on the list. Alright.
Amobi Okugo – I would probably say… Who can I say? How about I say Magic Johnson. I know it’s kind of unfair because he’s showtime, Mr. Magic. For every Magic Johnson, there’s a guy that lost their money. For him to create a conglomerate, use the location of LA to his advantage, create a conglomerate he owns… Every good thing that’s happening in LA, he has a piece of the pie. Whether it’s the Dodgers, the new LA team, Lakers. He did a great job.
Adam Hooper – He’s big in the real estate game, too. He’s got a lot of real eastate investments.
Amobi Okugo – I heard, I heard about that. He has the real estate, and then, he has a bunch of Starbucks locations and movie locations. I don’t know if that’s under his real estate umbrella. But I’d put him as the third one.
Tyler Stewart – There it is, the top three. Does it matter if you have someone who’s making $50,000 or someone who’s making a million dollars a year. Do you still need those fundamentals to manage your money?
Amobi Okugo – Oh, for sure. It doesn’t matter. Between $50,000 to a million. Because everything’s all relative and it’s relative to your profile, your portfolio. Having that set of guidelines and having that set of rules will take you further than you can imagine.
Adam Hooper – You mentioned earlier that, certainly in the MLS arena, and other athletes, too, and again, quite frankly, for the real world, after you’re done playing, you need to be looking forward to that retirement, how you set yourself up to be able to continue post-career, whether that’s, again, official retirement before… most of the listeners out there know what an actual retirement is or just post your sports career. What are some of those steps that you’s seeing, again, through kind of learn through these athletes and from the researching that you’re doing? What are you seeing are some of those key steps to set yourself up beyond when that gig stops or when you retire, post-professional sports. How do you set up for that life beyond?
Amobi Okugo – The biggest things I’ve seen in my time is… The athletes that are doing it well, it’s like they have a plan. It’s not like they retire and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I wasn’t expecting to retire. What am I going to do? I guess I’ll be a coach, or I guess I’ll be a broadcaster.” Little do they know it’s not as easy as it seems to just go into coaching or just go into the national spotlight of being a broadcaster. What I’ve seen is athletes having a plan. Whether they started doing externships or internships the last couple of years of their career when they see the light at the end of the tunnel so they can easily jump into their next phase. Budgeting. Budgeting is another thing I’ve noticed, or I’ve witnessed with the right athletes. I remember, one of my teammates, we would get per diem for road trips, and he literally would just put it straight into his backpack and not touch it. At the end of the year, he would put it into a fund for his kids or something. We would always joke with him. Like, “Man, come on. Get some dinner or try to…” He’d go, “No, this is diaper money…” Having a budget and being strict with your budget, that’s another thing. Just taking advantage of the resources that you’re exposed to as a professional athlete. Whether it’s the 401K. Everyone has their own opinion whether, a traditional Roth or if they should max it out or stuff like that. Taking advantage of that. Taking advantage of the corporate sponsors that you’re connected with. Taking advantage of the ownership groups
Amobi Okugo – that pay you your salary. Taking advantage of the fans who may be passionate about some things that you’re passionate about. As a professional athlete, you’re exposed to so much, and I think a lot of athletes take it for granted because it’s just there. The best athletes are taking advantage of the spoils that are given to them.
Adam Hooper – It was one of the things we talked about with Kelvin Beachum too. The corporate events and not just looking at that as a corporate event gig but using that as an opportunity to learn to make those connections and get something beyond just the fee for that event. And that’s something that you’re big in, too, just this kind of job-shadowing, and when you go on these events, you want to learn from these experiences and begin from that network that you’re able to have access to. How has that been important to you, or how do you recommend to people that maybe aren’t in the professional sports world how maybe they can still gain some of that experience that you guys can through these events and that job-shadowing type of atmosphere?
Amobi Okugo – That’s great that you brought that up because I remember talking to a mentor of mine and he literally told me, “Next time you go to one of those celebrity events or appearances, find out who’s going to go there beforehand. Don’t just go there to be there and sign autographs or just to network. Be intentional in your networking.” I myself, if I’m into real estate and investing, if I knew your company was going to be there, I would do my homework before so I don’t just find a way to come up to you and say hi and then have nothing to talk about. Just be intentional in your networking. If you go to a coporate event, find out who’s going to be there, find out who you’re interested in hopefully talking to. Bring business cards. Be prepared. Especially, as an athlete, we had these corporate dinners and we had the big sponsors like Adidas and wealth management services and whatever. If I was interested, I don’t need to be sitting at the Adidas table because I’d rather go sit at the wealth management services table because that’s who I want to talk to. That’s who I’m interested in and that can lead to something better for me down the road. If I’m a shoe guy, then I should be at the Adidas table. Just being intentional as you’re networking, that would be my biggest takeaway.
Adam Hooper – Yeah, that’s a huge thing. There’s very much, again, getting back to our earlier days in the Silicon Valley world. There’s this event and meet-up culture where you can fill your days with completely nonessential meet-ups but you get to feel like you’re doing so much. You’re just wasting time… Being intentional with your networking is such a huge key because you can. It’s really fun to go to these things and you can meet a lot of really interesting people. But if you’re not intentional about what you want to achieve by that, really, at the end of the day, you just went to have a couple of conversations and meet some interesting people. There’s not much that really comes from that unless you have that intention, you do your research, you have a plan going in. Again, getting back to the discipline, How do you keep that strategy and make sure that you’re doing something valuable with your time versus just eating a dinner courtesy of Adidas.
Amobi Okugo – Exactly. It’s funny that you say that. Because I know a lot of people that are just like, “Oh, yeah, there’s networking, went to all these events.” You have all these contacts and then, when it comes time to follow up, they can’t give you anything.
Adam Hooper – Right.
Amobi Okugo – I’m not saying you should go into networking to get something but they can’t… You can’t build off that because they don’t have the same interests.
Adam Hooper – It is a bit a skill, right? Because it is very easy to be distracted by the latest meet-up du jour and just going to the conference. We speak at a bunch of conferences, and there’s a lot of good information that you can get just by sitting in an audience and kind of absorbing that information. But, like you said, at the end of the day, if you don’t have something tangible that you can point to and kind of build on from there, you maybe left something on the table. That’s a really good takeaway from the intention of networking.
Tyler Stewart – When you’re approaching these networking events with the intention and the plan, how do you execute it in such a way that you’re providing value and you’re receiving value, as well?
Amobi Okugo – Yes, so me, personally, because I used to be kind of shy, so I’d prepare. I’d have a set of questions like I was like an interviewer. One thing I noticed is the big players, the big individuals that are doing well, they like to give back, or they like to share information. They’re not hiding it or, you know, “Oh, this is how I got there. I’m not going to tell you.” If you show a vested interest in how they got there. If you show you want to learn from them, they’re willing to share information or the motivation that you may need to get to where you want to go. I always try to do my home in terms of seeing where they got started, seeing if we have an similar interests. If I know they like soccer, then obviously, that’s a shoe-in for me. But if they like football, depending on where they’re from, I’ll assume that they like their hometown team and talk about that. Ask questions that I know are specific to their sector so I know I’m not just shooting the… I don’t want to curse… Shooting the load. That’s my approach.
Tyler Stewart – Got it. Really show that passion. Similar sports, if the coach see a player who’s, they’re just lit up, they’re fired up. Every day, they go in hard. The coach is also fired up to help them in the process and help them achieve their goals. You kind of see that in the business world, as well.
Amobi Okugo – Exactly, exactly. Because if a coach sees you working hard, they’re going to find a way to reward you ultimately. Even if you’re not a starter, they’re like, “Oh, yeah, he’s been putting in the work. Okay, let me just give him a chance this game while we rest some players.” And then, if you do well, he’ll keep you in.
Adam Hooper – And now, in terms of kind of getting to the actual execution of this, how does one go about building their financial plan or surrounding themselves with the education and knowledge. And that’s clearly what you’re doing with Frugal Athlete. But do most people just kind of go it alone? Are they working with financial planners? Is there a framework out there that you’re helping them create? How does that look like for our listeners or others out there that are interested in kind of the Frugal Athlete way of looking at investments and setting yourself up for future success?
Amobi Okugo – Right now, for us personally, we just want to build the content, build our credibility, in terms of showing you and giving you the resources to hopefully take that information to build for your own playbook. Because I just don’t feel comfortable telling people what to do with their financial playbook because I feel like I still have to grow in that aspect. But we do have, I do provide books that I would recommend, that I’ve read, or that have been recommended to me that can help you get on your way. Ultimately, we will give the audience a platform, or a guideline, or a booklet. “Alright, this is how you can be a Frugal Athlete. These are the steps you can take to be a Frugal Athlete.” Personally, just reading, and then asking questions. Especially, athletes, I feel like athletes are really afraid to ask questions because they don’t want to look like they don’t know. Asking questions can get you a long way. Having someone that can answer the questions in a simple form. Because there’s investment terms and strategies that not everyone knows. If they can put it in layman’s terms so you can pick up on that and ask even more questions, it’s only going to help you grow and understand where your money’s going and how your money’s working for you.
Tyler Stewart – Yeah, that’s the same thing we heard from Kelvin Beachum of the New York Jets. Six-foot-three, 320 pound guy said just don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know and ask questions.
Adam Hooper – It’s a hard thing to do, especially, when you’re on top of the game in your sport, right? I mean, you have this kind of air of invincibility. It’s humbling to admit what you don’t know what you don’t know.
Tyler Stewart – I’m curious. You mentioned books, but what are some of your favorite go-to books for investing and managing money?
Amobi Okugo – Okay, how much time we got? I’m just kidding. Think and Grow Rich. Richest Man in Babylon. Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Winning the Money Game by Adonal Foyle. Athlete CEO, another on by Adonal Foyle. Sorry, he’s a 13-year NBA veteran. Now he works as an entrepreneur, investor, played with the Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors. Actually, I should have put him instead of Magic Johnson on my all-star list.
Adam Hooper – 3A. We’ll put as 3A.
Amobi Okugo – We’ll do 3A, 3B… So his books. Jeremy Darlow, I just recently read his book, Athletes Are Brands, Too. I think it’s a must-read for every athlete at every level. More specifically, A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Another one. Those are my go-tos.
Adam Hooper – That’s a good start for reading. Alright, so if you… We’re kind of wrapping up here. But if you could give eight or nine year ago rookie, Amobi, a talking to this far into your career, what would you do different or what would you tell yourself back then to set it up a little differently. Or are you happy with how you’ve done everything?
Amobi Okugo – I would say start earlier. My first year, I didn’t really know what to do. I wish I knew what to do right off the bat. Because I remember, my first year, I sat down with my dad and my mom and we developed a plan. I remember I put my signing bonus and a large portion of my salary into a CD. And that’s just because I didn’t want to spend it, didn’t know what to do. But if I had a plan, I could’ve been allocating it into different things that, ultimately, grew more. Everything’s in hindsight, but I wish I would’ve known earlier how to go about different things.
Adam Hooper – I’m starting to really think that’s a pretty common thread amongst the investing world. The best time if you haven’t started, is to start now.
Amobi Okugo – Preach that. Even one year, the compound interest in just overtime… You can’t understate how important compound interest is.
Adam Hooper – Good, so what’s next up in Europe? You’re in Germany. You’re looking at a few squads over there. What’s on the horizon for you going forward, and also what are you plans with Frugal Athlete and where do you see that going?
Amobi Okugo – Yes. Hopefully, soon I’ll figure out my next situation on the soccer front. Whether it’s signing with MLS or in the second division in USO, or somewhere overseas. Figure that out, hopefully, sooner rather than later. On the business side of Frugal Athlete, we’ve got some cool things coming up so I’m excited to share. My brother, who is a co-founder, he has his documentary, hopefully, releasing within the next month. We’ve got a couple of video segments that we want to start incorporating because that’s the way social media’s going currently. Got to keep up with the changing landscape. Those are the main things happening right now. Looking into grad school, as well. Yeah, those are the three things that are happening right now.
Adam Hooper – Cool. And if listeners out there want to go check out Frugal Athlete, you want to give us the website and Twitter handle again?
Amobi Okugo – Yes, so frugalathlete.com. We’ve usually got content there every week. Check that out. Twitter, Instagram, @FrugalAthlete, one word. At the Facebook page, Frugal Athlete. And then, on LinkedIn, just my personal account where I just recycle Frugal Athlete posts.
Adam Hooper – Perfect.
Tyler Stewart – Great. And then, if listeners want to follow your soccer career, how can they stay in touch. Is that through Twitter. What’s the best way to stay on top of your career.
Amobi Okugo – Yes, my personal Twitter, Instagram, social media channels, @AmobiSays, ‘A-M-O-B-I-says’, all one word. If I’m not tweeting about Frugal Athlete, I’m tweeting about sports. That’s basically it. That’s basically it.
Adam Hooper – Perfect. Well, Amobi, we really appreciate your time today. Thanks for dialing in from Germany. Best of luck out that way and we’ll continue to stay in touch, I’m sure. Keep us posted wherever you’re at.
Amobi Okugo – I really appreciate you guys having me. I know we’ve tried in before but it’s good to finally connect with you guys on the podcast.
Adam Hooper – Alright, Amobi, we appreciate it. And, listeners out there, as always, if you have and questions or comments, feedback, please send us an email to email@example.com, and we’ll catch you in the next one.
Tyler Stewart – Hey, listeners, if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to enroll in a free six-week course on the fundamentals of commercial real estate investing. Head to realcrowduniversity.com to enroll for free today. In RealCrowd University, real estate experts will teach you the important fundamentals like the “Start with Risk” approach. How do you evaluate real estate sponsors? What to look for in the legal documents and much more. Head to realcrowduniversity.com to enroll for free today. Hope to see you there.
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