From Athlete to Entrepreneur

Interview by: Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

“Be willing to lead from the back of the room- I learned from a seasoned business guy, he told me to always be willing to walk to the back of the room and let someone else take credit or lead the project just your presence alone can influence the outcome and you will empower others and inspire others to be great.”

Asa part of our series about the work ethic lessons we can learn from professional athletes, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ruben Lindo.

Ruben Lindo is the CEO of Phoenix Nutraceutical, Inc. and BlakMar Farms, LLC. A former professional athlete and veteran entrepreneur, Lindo has been involved in launching several successful startup businesses in the tech industry and is a key player in the hemp and legal cannabis space. Most importantly, Lindo is strong proponent for social equity and creating opportunities for success for those adversely effected by systemic racism.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up? I

Imoved from NYC to upstate rural New York. Small town Saugerties NY. We were pretty poor growing up. My mother was a single black woman that moved to a small country town in upstate NY. My sister and I lived with our mom and our brother stayed in NYC with our father. There were many challenges being one of 4 black families in the whole town at that time. I loved the outdoors, riding my bike, fishing playing sports. Baseball was my first love, but I fell in love with football. I also was an All-State Track and Field Athlete. I held and still hold many of the athletic records set in high school. I always considered myself the underdog.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete?

I never really thought about playing professional sports, I was ultimately inspired by my older brother. In my Sophomore year in college my brother is the one that really got me thinking about playing professional ball

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

I would say that there were several people however my brother Jerry was the most influential in who I am today. He just always told me that I was going to be a success in anything that I do if I remained focused and dedicated to being the best version of me.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I was in camp in 1997 and was reporting to the practice field with my cleats untied. There was one rule when you come out you come prepared to play. I was cut shortly after. The lesson I learned was that don’t have to ever get ready, I stay ready.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

I always use visualization, meditation, repetition. I often visualize the outcome that I am hoping to achieve it’s become a huge part of how I build my successful moments. I also meditate however I don’t need to get into a quiet space I can just zone out and focus on my breathing slowing everyting down in my mind until I feel this overwhelming sense of calmness

Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful business person?

My transition from athlete to business started early in my career. I was always aware that I was going to have to work and have a career after football. I subscribed to every business magazine from Forbes to Business Week and everything in between. I started looking at businesses that made sense for me. I owned a few restaurants, software business and an energy drink business.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now?

I currently own a Hemp/Cannabis company, but we are so much more than a tincture and gummy bear business. We are a research company that has really great products. We have health and beauty and Wellness Performance we have a pet care line of CBD products too. However our technology is what we are really banking to set us apart from others in the industry. We are launching our mobile application that will allow patients to tract the quality of their products and the efficacy of the products they use. There is a Tele-Health component to it as well as a robust user community that will allow you engage, connect, earn and learn. Industry leading technology solutions that will help the overall industry

Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about what you mean?

Yes, I believe in my situation learning how to read a playbook and execute plays is no different than taking a business plan and executing the strategy or play in the business world. I also think that having gone through defeats and understanding how to use them to get better allows me to take a calculated approach to business. I only bet on myself in situations that I can control.

Ok. Here is the main question of our interview. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes share a common “hustle culture”. Can you share your “5 Work Ethic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Athletes”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Out work your competition- use your passion project to motivate you. When I started my company Phoenix Nutraceutical Inc. I worked harder than others and stayed in the lab developing great products and formulating ideas
  2. Listen to your gut- never ignore your gut when something doesn’t seem right don’t be afraid to walk away from any deal or project if it doesn’t seem 100% right 90% wont do. There was a deal that would have allowed me to make lots of money but something didn’t seem right and as it turns out it was a sophisticated scam most of the business owners all ended up in lots of trouble.
  3. Get your rest- Getting rest is as vital in business as it is in sports a clear mind makes great decisions and you can also react to outside influences. There are days I have to force myself to get the proper rest even if that mean leaving my phone and laptops in the car and just sitting in a quiet room or zoning out by the river.
  4. Keep your stress levels low- High stress is the fastest way to an early demise. I learned this from a good friend of mine who had a massive heart attack at a young age and it was because his stress levels were through the roof.
  5. Be willing to lead from the back of the room- I learned from a seasoned business guy, he told me to always be willing to walk to the back of the room and let someone else take credit or lead the project just your presence alone can influence the outcome and you will empower others and inspire others to be great.

What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

I always tell other young athletes and businesspeople to “Respect the Process because the Process will always be bigger than the finished product”

You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are launching our non-profit organization called C.E.O (Community Education and Outreach). We work with local organizations to feed the community in need. We created an educational platform that helps people realize their dreams of entrepreneurship we teach them how to start and run businesses utilizing transferrable skills and finally our outreach program is there to help empower the disenfranchised communities with offering services for those who are released from prison/jail with connecting to the services vital for survival.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want to stop world hunger and give everyone access to solid nutrition, clean water and access to healthcare.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

Men are like rivers, they take the path of least resistance therefore we have crooked rivers and crooked men. There was a time in my life that I had to constantly remind myself why I needed to remain focused and sometimes the rough road was the best road resistance builds character.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Jay Z. I think that Jay Z had to go through similar things that athletes have gone through in his career. But his business acumen is unmatched. I would love to pick his brain and talk about the motivation to continue to do good.

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