The Jason Babin podcast interview is now live! Jason shares his story of growing up being a multi-sport athlete, going on to play Division 1 football, making the decision to take his sport to the next level, meeting his future wife at 19 years old, becoming a 1st round draft pick, playing for a 1-16 team, amassing a 14 NFL career including many trips to the Pro Bowl, life raising 3 boys, coaching, and starting and running a real estate business.
This episode has it all so be sure to check it out and comment on any parts that resonate with you. Enjoy!
Intro: Welcome to the “Grit.org Podcast with Colby Harris and Brian Harbin. In these episodes, they speak to top achievers in athletics and business to understand the habits and mindset they apply in order to build more grit.
“I will. I will. I'm going”.
Colby Harris: Welcome back to the Grit. org podcast. My name is Colby Harris. Alongside me as always is Brian Harbin and we are here with today's guest, Jason Babin. Jason, thank you so much for being here.
Jason Babin: Hey, I really appreciate you guys having me on today.
Colby Harris: Jason was raised in Entorp Township, Michigan. During his high school career, he lettered in football wrestling and track. Jason then continues his football career at Western Michigan University before being drafted to the NFL in two thousand four. After retiring in two thousand sixteen, Jason decided to dedicate his full focus towards his real estate career and his family Jason's now able to handle any and all real estate needs. He now resides in Pontevedra Beach with his wife and three sons and we're just thrilled to have him here today to discuss sports, business, relationships, and more. So, without further ado, Jason, he takes back to beginning and really share some more about your upbringing and maybe some of the advantages or disadvantages you had in your home in Michigan.
Jason Babin: Well, the advantage is I would say the it was very blue collar, okay? So, it wasn't like and I always get on the Pontevedra kids here that I coach and I said, oh, it's okay. Well, you didn't win. We wouldn't go to the inning club and get a smoothie. And I do that in in Jess but I grew up where it was, hey, if you if you didn't get it like you weren't getting a light little ribbon or a prize or anything.
Colby Harris: No participation.
Jason Babin: No. it just wasn't the air I grew up in or kind of a community setting I grew up in.
Brian Harbin: Yeah, and so tell us about kind of your introduction to sports. How you got into sports what was your first love in sports. So, take us back to.
Jason Babin: I mean, I think as a young boy, I think I definitely need to be in sports as most young men do. A lot of energy and that need to get out, so they can focus on other things as well. But I played everything, baseball, I did wrestle, football as a kid and I just like playing any sport really. I enjoyed being on the practices with all the different guys and on the team and hanging out. That part as a kid just was pretty cool.
Colby Harris: Yeah, so you were excuse me a multi-sport athlete did a little bit everything like you just said, but you're actually the state champion wrestler your senior year high school as well. So, can you tell us more about football itself and kind of what attract you to football even being high skilled at all these other sports.
Jason Babin: Well, I definitely enjoyed playing all the sports. I think as I got older into the high school levels and start talking to college coaches. Weighing my options. Hey do you want to wrestle in college? Do you want to play football in college? Do you want to do both of these in college? And then looking a little further on and I really wasn't sure truthfully because I really wanted to be a Navy CEO. it was kind of my first plan and I did sign up for the Navy and they turned me down because of my medical records. I had asthma really bad and allergies and some other ailments with my feet. So, I kind of took a little bit of time off between high school and college trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And truthfully coach Knowles and Coach Darnell Western kept calling me to come up for a visit, because I had wasn't sure and they kept calling me calling me. And I was like you know what? So, then I went and went there and they showed me a really good time. I had a nice time at that visit and it really, I guess the football experience versus the wrestling experience was night and day from I guess not so much how they treated you, but more like just the overall experience like the glitz, the glamour, the people, the possess.
So, I was like, I think I could do this this seems this seems like it's me. So, it was definitely my decision was based on maybe all the wrong things but maybe the right things at the same time.
Colby Harris: Yeah, did you feel that football too the camaraderie being a team sport I'd surf a little bit too so I understand independent sports there's definitely elements to it that are different than team sport. I mean the responsibilities on your shoulders all your success is really up to you. Was that something that you enjoyed about wrestling as well or did football and the teamwork and the camaraderie kind of draw you in as well?
Jason Babin: I enjoyed the wrestling, because it was just me. If I won, if I lost, it was all me and I like that aspect of it. But football just had the different thing. I mean you got to hit people, every play and there there's just something almost just really basic when it comes down to like a male in that role you just did to go out and just be dominant play after play. And it's encouraged and you get rewarded for it.
Brian Harbin: Well, and this is around same time too in addition to football and wrestling. You also got into were introduced to real estate. So, tell us about kind of that part.
Jason Babin: So, real estate was always, I guess I was something I like but didn't know I liked. So, my dad was electrical contractor by trade, but then also got into some smaller developments, doing some spec homes things like that. so, as a young man I always, you're with your dad. He's your guy best friend, he look up to him you want to be able to want everything he's doing. And I just thought it was so cool. We could just build a house from scratch. How do we do it? I'm in. And I remember being young and like my boys is like my youngest son's age really. Like around 9 when I kind of really started being allowed to kind of participate. And I loved it. And he had me learn everything from concrete to framing to roofing to HVHC to electrical to plumbing. All different facets of it. I was on Bobcats at Heavy Machinery by the time I was 10. And it was just it was cool. I mean that's what I wanted to do. Like when I got done with high school like I'm working with my dad. it was like screw college. Like this is cool. I really enjoy it.
So, I guess that the seed was planted a young age and I didn't know it. And then obviously with going to college and the college years you kind of focus on other things of those 4 years. They're extremely fun, but you really focus on not really so too much extracurricular activity like real estate. At least I didn't anyways. But then when once I got out of college and was in the NFL that I had some extra money and the off season that's when I really like realized how much I liked it. That's when I started buying properties. Single properties, renovating them, developing them, renting them, and then start building some. It was just, I'm sure I guess people around me, like my mom and dad probably knew it was going to happen before it happened but I guess I didn't.
Colby Harris: Yeah, we can definitely tell you have a passion for in the process itself really of, starting from the ground up, putting some together in that fulfillment at the end of a job whether you get rid of it or you just get to see the finished product and kind of what that's like for you. So, taking a quick step back. Tell us a little bit more about your time at Western Michigan. I know you just discussed it briefly. You went on a great visit there. Had a lot of fun, really drawn you in. But what would you say if you had any advice for other people navigating that process as to where they should go college to be an athlete? What would you say about your experience that you would want someone else to know that's looking at that path?
Jason Babin: Well, let me break those down kind of in order. First one, I always worked hard, always trained hard but I like to have fun too especially as a young man. Like there was just especially I'm a small town where there wasn't a lot going on and then you get to Western Michigan. I'm like, oh my goodness. Look at all the parties, all the girls, all the extracurricular activity, all this is so much and it definitely enjoyed myself. But there was a moment it was after my sophomore year when coach Darnell, head coach at Western Michigan pull up his office and he said, hey Jason, the off season. He goes, hey, you have what it takes to play at the next level. Like you have the things. It's up to you choose from here on out the rest of your time at Western to and there was much more into this conversation. Like I said I was always worked hard and scared and missed workouts and I always trained, but I left there thinking like, man, I should start training like Olympic athlete. Maybe I shouldn't go out partying this weekend, maybe I should get to bed get to rest, I should stretch, I should hydrate. Like all the things that I could be doing extra to improve my game and I left that meeting right down the elevator because we're in the office on the third floor thinking like, okay, I'm doing it, I'm all in.
From this moment on I'm all in. I'm going to figure out ways, I can get better and I'm going to skip out on spring breaks. I'm going to do all the things, the little things that are going to help me succeed. So, that was like I guess a turning point, right, in my career and really in my life to say I'm all in on something. and really mean it and understand what that meant. But making your decision and I think in hindsight and it's kind of unique because I have a junior and a freshman and the third all boys that play football, right, and the older boys are they're really getting into it. I've been forced to kind of relearn how the recruiting process works now. Because it's not just making copies of VHS tapes and sending them out. So, I've been kind of immersed with that and plus I have some other athletes that I coach and been coaching for 4 or 5 years, 6 years that I want to see them get to the right school as well.
But for me, I tell these young men that trying to find a place that is going to fit your personality, your growth needs you what you need to develop. This place might be cool, might be shiny, might be fun. I said, but if this this this doesn't fit who you are and pulls the best out of you, that's our goal. Let's get you into a system into a coaching staff new environment into a culture that is going to help you become the best you can be. Because I always tell people all the time is listen, I'm an adequate youth coach, right. But that's not why I'm doing what I do. I'm not a really a coach. As the coaches get paid and those kids get paid and their scholarship professional. So, I'm just here to make these young men the best young men as possible. We're learning life lessons through football and their sports whatever sport is coaching US wrestling or lacrosse. And to me, that's the most important part, right. Getting the kids in the right situation and helping them become the best young men that they can become.
Brian Harbin: And turning point it definitely was for you at that point in Northern Michigan I mean just some of your stats you had 38 sacks, 299-tackles eight forced fumbles. As a senior, you started all 12 games at the last left defensive end position. First team all American honors from NFL Draft Report. Voted defensive player of the year in your conference, team MVP. So, kind of looking back over those four years. What would you say were some of the things that you learned about yourself? Favorite memory, favorite story or any kind of defining moments other than the one you mentioned where you went all in.
Jason Babin: I think there was, well there's definitely plenty of great moments. When we get together, we laugh about the whether it was a good play or bad play because I played some offenses as well. And truthfully, I never wear a mouthpiece right, even in the NFL and mouthpiece. But then I think it was maybe my junior year or senior year because I played it like tight end or full back on the heavy packages and I got a little pop pass and maybe it was against Purdue. I can't remember and I did a mouthpiece in. I guess I've never been hit before. Like a full-on hit and I remember getting hit and getting rattled going…, I got to wear a mouthpiece when I play offense. And to me that was one of those moments where we just remember it. You remember just like your first time you get hit like I'm always the person doing the hitting. And all of a sudden, I think it was Purdue get hit and it's like boom I'm like oh crap, I didn't I didn't like that. I definitely don't like that.
Colby Harris: So, how did that change for you, I know mainly you played defensive end some linebacker. But when I was looking through your stats while you're at Western Michigan you started catching some passes as well. You had maybe four to five receptions this season. How did you end up starting to play some on the offensive end and was that something you kind of enjoyed for a while or were you just pretty sold on playing defense as you made your way to the next level?
Jason Babin: Honestly, it was just what the team needed they needed to needed a big body over there.
Colby Harris: Yeah.
Jason Babin: And I said, no problem and even like I played special teams even as first round draft pick as a senior year or starter. Like I enjoyed playing special teams. I mean that was a big part of the game. So, just never want to come up the field kind of thing. Like I always stay on the whole time I feel like they would let me.
Colby Harris: It's still like a little kid just want to get every rep. That's awesome. Yes, so another question I want to ask obviously you actually met your wife while you're at Western Michigan as well. You guys have now been together about 20 years. You've three boys together. Can you tell us more just about what value that's added for you as you were coming out of college, went into the NFL, now entrepreneur and a coach and raising your boys? What is that relationship meant for you?
Jason Babin: Well, let me back up. I think if she was telling a story an isolated story of how we met might be different, but we'll leave that for another time. But I think for me, I think looking back it's kind of funny we're talking about this because the kids were looking for some old photos and they were like, wow, you guys were young when you got married and my wife's like, crap, we were young. I was just looking at my oldest son like you're not getting married when you're 19. So, my wife was one year out of high school and I was got together we're still in college. And it was I guess it's one of those things where you just kind of know. I remember talking to my dad about it. We're sitting I'm sitting in his truck and we're actually heading to go fishing one weekend and I said, ‘Dad, I said how do you know.’ He goes, ‘Well, If you have any doubts, the answer is probably no.’ And I remember that kind of just hit me kind of heavy like all weekend like, ‘huh, I'm like do I have any doubts.’
And truth be told, I was a little bit of a wild child from very beginning all the way through college. So, having someone like my wife that's an absolute saint to keep me on the straight and narrow and to be that mom for the boys. Like having that mom that when kids all come over the house that makes cookies for everyone, that everyone loves like that mom like and she wanted to be that mom. So, like having that person and that was that my wife was is so unbelievably awesome especially have three boys. And the fact that she kind of deals with I'd say her four boys, from the laundry to the amount of food that's consumed, just the way we are especially now that there's the 2 ones are pretty much pretty much little men. It's bitter the only way that we could've probably got to where we're at. You know what I mean? As far as longevity of my career, the quality of my kids, their manners, behaviors, like it really is symbiotic. It goes one wouldn't work without the other.
Brian Harbin: Well, I can definitely echo what you're saying there. I've got three boys as well. My wife, she's the same type personality. So, I can definitely relate to how, they make all things possible, for us for sure. So, so around this time as well in addition to playing college football, Western Michigan, in a serious Relationship with your future wife. This is also when you're also getting into commercial development. So, tell us about how you're able to manage that and what you were doing with commercial development.
Jason Babin: So, I've always had this I don't know. I guess I wouldn't call it an ability or a gift but just this kind of way my brain works. When I walk into a space or see a space, something I just envision things there differently or change it or what should be there, what shouldn't be there, how it should look. I've always just had that enjoyment of doing that whether it's even if it's for me or for not for me. Like I mean I help friends at all-time be like, hey, lot of my wife's girlfriends are always be like, hey, I want to redo my bathroom. And I don't redo bathrooms but I redo bathrooms just because they'll ask me like, hey, can you just give just come on just to help me, did you redo the bathroom? And then I'll be at picking up tile or pick up paint or send text them over like a drawing I made of the space. And that's just because they're close friends of mine or my wife's. but for whatever reason I've always just enjoyed that concept, like okay, what would be perfect here, alright here we go.
Even now when I look at something or go look at a property, like yeah, I took my wife with me recently look at this property. We walked in and I just start writing stuff like I usually like it's a renovation house to flip right and need a lot of work. We walked around through it and all of a sudden, I just start drawing. Like I'll what I'll do is I'll pick a wall right this wall is probably going to stay, it looks decent, it's dry and I'll just start hear all the changes what we're gonna do, this is what we're doing in this house. Here's the blueprints and it'll just start pouring out at me. So, it's I don't know, it's one of those things where I was can't say I learned it I know or someone taught me to do it. I just trial and error and like doing it.
Colby Harris: Came naturally, it was a good way to occupy your time during the off season too. So, diving into upcoming draft night, right. So, you're heading into 2004 Draft you finished your four years at Western Michigan. You're eventually drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round with the 27th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. Can you paint the Picture for us as to just where your head was at and what those sensations like to finally hear your name called on the dream stage?
Jason Babin: A lot of people are like, oh this is the moment I've always wanted, but I can't really say that. It was obviously what I was working for and what the goal was, but it wasn't like, oh, this is it., like you see those moments like, mama, we made it. It wasn't like that. It was more of okay. That was the box checked in this plan. Alright, next box. Like, alright, what do we got to work on next? What's the next step? What's the plan from here on out? But that night for me was pretty cool. Yeah, everyone knew I was going me the first-round draft pick, so it was lot not as stressful I'm sure that people have. We're like, I don't know I'm getting drafted because we had some conversations prior to the draft. But I chose to do it in my hometown. I guess around all the people that I grew up and I grew up in a small town where listen, if you were doing something wrong, someone might put hands on you. and it was deservingly so. Growing up and seeing all these people that I've been around my life my entire life. See me from a little kid to now an adult about to get drafted. I wanted to that with them and we had had a good size party but not too big my hometown of 19:26 [Inaudible]
Colby Harris: And so, take us back there too as far as first contract, was it 5 years $6 million dollars as a 23-year-old? How do you feel like you manage that and handle that in terms of?
Jason Babin: Well, I had a Ford Ranger, I was only two years old. I had that rest of my rookie year. I mean we bought a house but in outside of that, it was pretty normal.
Colby Harris: Yeah.
Jason Babin: I lived a pretty normal life and still.
Colby Harris: You stayed home.
Jason Babin: It wasn't like, alright, I'm going out and buy jewelry or, I'm going to do all this crazy stuff. I mean, I just wasn't what I was into anyways. Especially the fact that I think my wife was pregnant too, my rookie year. Yeah, so we were starting our family and we both wanted to have, we both want to be young parents, for I guess for this part of our life now. Like we're coming towards the tail end to a certain degree and we're both still pretty young. So, that was yeah, it was all part of the plan, yeah.
Brian Harbin: And thinking as an entrepreneur now former athlete still coaching still doing all these things. I mean you're just wise beyond your years now that you've had that experience as so many other people seek out. Would you have any advice for anyone that is moving into that next step and they are signing these contracts of such substantial amounts? I mean you were smart enough to do the right things with your money and sit on and save your family. Is there any advice investment wise you would have for someone else that's in that position now that's getting drafted and coming into money that they'd never seen before?
Jason Babin: I think the best advice is to do the safest thing. Whatever that is just because there's I mean I made plenty of mistakes too. I'm not, that's enough of my soapbox I did it perfect. But the safest thing because as a young person whether it's a professional lady athlete. There’re so many things you just don't know. I mean that you don't know. And after you have real world experience and that just takes time. You can't fast forward that. So, just taking your time and put in the safest place so then when you are ready which everyone thinks they're ready, but they're not ready. Then the opportunity is still there and too, I always tell the young guys usually a lot of times have them over at the house before the season to focus the season. Don't worry about any of the stuff. Whether we got you in a rental house, you got a new house or mom doesn't need a Mercedes. Get her afford focus. It runs, it's brand new, it starts, it's fine. If she doesn't like that, then, you have bigger problems. So, keeping those, that stress of distraction away and just keeping it safe. So, when you're ready, it's there.
Colby Harris: Yeah, it's awesome. I think a big part of it too is just having that humility to want to learn and be willing to sacrifice in the short term for a long-term gain. And that really leads us right into your rookie season and starting your NFL career. I mean tell us a little bit more about that and kind of what you were feeling. I mean did you feel some weight on your shorts high expectations for yourself? How did you manage that and how did you roll right into your first season in the NFL?
Jason Babin: Well, I definitely felt the expectations of hey, because back then the 26th pick was expect to make an impact immediately. Nowadays we're like, well, he's a situational pass rusher well it was it's different because now the amount of money you're paid as well. But for me looking back, I wasn’t okay outside linebacker. I've never played it before they're like, well, he's he he's athletic he's fast he can change directions so let's put him outside linebacker. And it was a totally new concept for me. I was used to going one direction. Downhill, putting the pads on someone and that's it and now it was a huge learning curve for me. I think by the time I got it was a little too late truthfully. But looking back, it's kind of what I needed. Because you're talking about humility, I needed some humility. I had a little too much BDE swinging.
So, in the grand scheme of me becoming who I am as a father and a dad, I was not even including professional career. I think I needed that. I really did need that additional struggle just because it I had to come down to really understanding it wasn't about me. Because I think I definitely was a selfish person by nature and I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean because if you want to be successful, you have to be selfish but understanding the give and take in that.
Brian Harbin: And obviously give yourself some credit. I mean you had a fantastic rookie season playing all 16 games, 51 solo tackles 12 assisted tackles, 4 sacks. I know you mentioned you had a lot of personal growth that season, but anything else you felt like you learned about yourself or what it was like adapting to being a rookie on a clearly established team at that point?
Jason Babin: I think for me it was the biggest issue was now it's professional. Now its people are getting fired and you really feel that in the room. Because we're 116, I mean I think I averaged about 91 snaps, my rookie year. We didn't really come off the field and meetings went from 7:30, 7:15, 7:00, 6:45, 6:30 because they're trying to find ways to get better air quotes. So, we're just going to meet more. We're going to show up early. We're going to do more because the coaches knew like that was their second round. I was the second of the team I think or third year. So, they knew like, hey, this is if we don't win, we're getting rid of people. People are getting fired and to see that be a part of that as a rookie, I mean it wasn't fun. So, I remember driving in some days like, man, this year isn't like college. Because it was obviously when you're 116, people are worried about feeding their families they're getting fired.
Colby Harris: Yeah, it's crazy to think about I was just thinking about this morning before we came in it was the uncontrollable of being a professional athlete. I mean you get your agent, but at the end of the day a lot of it is out of your hands. I mean, it's a business just like you said. It's no longer just sports. It has become a business where they're going to move you if they see it fit and that's kind of over the next few years, you're performing at a super high level but from 2007, 2010, you end up playing for a few different teams and in 2010, you would trade to the Tennessee Titans where you recorded one of your best seasons of your career and end up being invited to your first Pro Bowl in 2011. At the midpoint of your career, what did it mean to you to reach the Pro Bowl and just be performing at such a high level at that point?
Jason Babin: Well, I mean my I guess from stat standpoint I played outside linebacker the first half of my career. And I was like, I said, I was okay it wasn't terrible and then I was in Seattle there was two years where I didn't play. So, there was a lot of frustration. The cool thing about Seattle was I got to be with my team at the time Patrick Kearney. And as you guys know he's a pro baller and I got to see how he really just his life. I was at a point in my career which is pretty low or I think most people were thinking that moment like, well, yeah maybe it's not a year maybe not and he's, yeah, he's done. I wasn't thinking that. I was just thinking like okay what can I do how can I do it better. And I've always been a big fan of emulating, right. Whether that's football related, business related whatever and so I'm like whoa shit. And Patrick and I had the same agent, so like well what is Patrick doing.
I mean and he lived his life like an Olympian. I mean he had a 7 o'clock every day period or 6 o'clock. It didn't matter if he had a date with his girlfriend with now a wife like that's just the way it was. He slept in a hyberbaric chamber; he had all these things. So, I'm like, well, I'm going to start working out with him. I'm going to start watching tape with him. Guess what I did? I bought a hyberbaric chamber I started a hyberbaric chamber. So, I found ways to just double down on my craft and at the same time, I was like listen, I know where I'm at. Like I know what I can do, whether or not I get the opportunity or not that's somehow that's how it goes life's not fair. So, I went to Tennessee I remember still sitting in the room with coach Wash. I'm like, listen, all I want is a fair shake. If I'm the best guy, play me if I'm not. I said, hey, listen I'm a grown man, I can take it. And I remember him he leaned out the door and said, Fisher get in here and he said coach Fisher came in this is when I was visiting there and he goes, hey, who decides who plays on D-line. He goes, you do coach, pick whoever you want, right. And did I, could have been to interpreted as – a little banter back and forth. Yeah, I could have been but can I've always had it in an extent about reading people.
And I'm like, huh, these guys aren't lying. This is how it really is here. I'm like, alright, I literally signed on the. line I'm like whatever, I just want one year contract go play football. I don't even care what you guys pay me. I just want to play football again. Because not playing for 2 years and then being outside linebacker and just wanting to play defensive end. I was like, listen, that's all I want to do I just want to play football. Let me put my hand on the ground and go play.
Brian Harbin: And now you're out of the league, reflecting back on your time in the NFL. What would you say would be some things that you learned about it that you really want to that you apply in your business today or that you really want to instill those same values in your boys?
Jason Babin: I think and it's just funny to say that because this is one of the things that we started during COVID right. Because my oldest became kind of got to that age where and I've been waiting for this. I could kind of turn the volume up a little bit. Like, hey, it's we're ready. You want to you want to take that step and this is what you want. That's awesome. If you don't that's fine too. But that's what he wanted. So, we got up every morning before school we went to the gym and trained Saturday mornings, we got up early we trained we ran sprints and it was that consistency that showing up every day. And my oldest son, he was a little bit late bloomer like me. You know what I mean? And now all of a sudden, it's like he's a junior and he's like, wow, everyone else just stopped. Like I'm still going and it's like, he's 7. Now it's like football, he gets it, it's like he saw the last two years of the work he put in and saw the results and he's like, holy shit dad. He's like, that it worked. We had that like moment, we're just sitting there, hanging out after his first football game when he went out there and he played extremely well.
I get to see it. He's just beaming from face, he just happy. Like this works. So, that's part of me telling say that is people that are willing to get up every morning show up every morning to keep showing up whether they're having success having failure, that's the most important thing. Especially entrepreneur, you're going to fail most of the time. You're going to be unsuccessful most of the time. Like that's just the nature of the game if you're an entrepreneur. But to have that resilience in your heart and have that passion that belief to keep showing up every morning early, keep showing up, staying late, doing all those things whether you're getting results right now or not, that's the key.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I love that too especially as your experience now with your son now. So, it just makes me think I mean you're clearly very wise now to be able to pass these things onto your son and talk about the discipline it takes to really be successful. I know you had a great relationship with your late father as well. Was there someone in particular if not your dad that did that for you at that age? Because I know you said you were a bit of a wild child. But was there someone that kind of showed you the ropes as to hey if you really want this this is what it's going to take?
Jason Babin: It was kind of a two-part things. My dad had started his company kind of, we were very middle class if not poor when he started his company. And that was kind of when I was kind of like I said becoming like 8, 9 to have some real recollection of it. When he started his company, he was, he'd get up at 5 in the morning 4:30 in the morning. And if I want to see him, I had to get up. I would hear him wake up and I'd get up, sit with him like coffee and seeing that. Then in the summertime be like, well, I want to go to work with you, I want to show up, I'll come sweep the job site. Because you want to be your dad. So, that example or that like following someone's example kind of thing was just something I saw him do. So, I'm going to do it. And did I know why I was doing it? No, didn't know why. The other caveat or the other I guess person is my cousin Kevin he was kind of my quasi-older brother, right. He was older than me and all I remember I was 6 and he was in in high school at the time or maybe just in high school. But went to the gym to go shoot around the winter time and I was tag around with him, right. And I shot a basketball for a little bit and then he goes, hey, why don't we take you to the wrestling room, right. I was a terrible basketball player apparently.
So, I got sent up the wrestling room. And then every everywhere he went though, I remember being on the sidelines in high school games. Being the sidelines at college games. Being the sidelines of being the dugout in baseball game in college. Just seeing him going to the gym with him, being like that little tag along. I want to do I want to do it, Kevin does. Kevin just got the player of the game and then I guess for me when it came full circle, we both got inducted to our high school hall of fame at the same time. And I remember them, they read all my accolades first right, then they read his accolades and took about three times as long. It was baseball, basketball, football. You know what I mean? All the records he set track, it was like, I was like holy shit. So, it was a cool moment for that. But between my dad and my cousin Kevin they were always my I guess my two rocks, right, who do I call? I mean there's times where something really cool happens and I find myself picking my phone to call my dad and tell him about it. Be like, oh you got to hear about this and I start dialing his number I'm like… He passed away few years ago but then I'm like, okay, and I can call my cousin Kevin. So, there's those are definitely my two people in my life.
Colby Harris: I think that's awesome too that there's people that seem to set a higher standard for you when you surround yourself with people like that. And you watch what they do those desires within you but they also kind of give you a blueprint on how to get there. so, circling back around to your NFL career, correct me if wrong. Finished out 12 years, right?
Jason Babin: 12 years.
Colby Harris: So, long career. I mean, what kind of made the decision for you to close that chapter and hang up the cleats? Was there a certain point where you just decided, okay, I think it's time I'm ready to do it and you exit the NFL? Or what did that situation kind of how that unfold for you as you decide to leave?
Jason Babin: Well, the last two years I really just wanted to get a Super Bowl ring. I mean I'll be truth truthful. I wanted to get on a team that was going to the playoffs and I wanted that moment so bad. I want to be a part of that moment more than anything, because I've always for whatever reasons I have been in team just not winning games whether it was the Texans at the time or Seattle at the time. Or whatever team I was on it seem like, man, like am I the reason why we're losing. It just seems like I guess a little bit of little of luck. So, my wife was understanding about that, but the boys were at the age where they couldn't switch schools anymore. So, I'm gone half a year, towards the end of my career and it's not easy being separated from your wife and kids half the season, missing out on stuff. I just at that point, I'm like could I play another year, maybe but I was just ready to not miss out on stuff anymore.
Brian Harbin: And at that point, did you just dive head first into real estate and tell us about you decided to.
Jason Babin: Yeah, I think it took about three months off kind of supposedly, but it was more like a month. I'm just not the kind of person that can I guess sit around and be idle and not be putting goals together and plans together and thoughts together and concepts. It just I guess just the way I'm wired.
Colby Harris: Yeah, tell us a bit about RedZone Realty. Everything you've done in there and kind of I know you have a number of other businesses you play a part. Anything you want to share, don't want to share but yeah, tell us a little bit more about RedZone and the various things you are.
Jason Babin: So, I think we're in year five of RedZone. I think we have 4 offices from Saint Augustine to Jacks Beach to San Marco. We also have a couple franchises well. We, just finished up all, it was quite the process the franchise, franchising model. We hired a company to go through that process and I had no idea how intense it would be to create this whole giant booklet and we've just finished it up, sold our first franchise. And then this winter we're going to start heading out to actually launch and start selling them to the general population, not general population but people that are we would like to see them sold to. We're kind of marketing towards people that have real estate teams, because if you can run a real estate team and you can generally run an office. So, we're excited to start launching the franchises.
Colby Harris: That's awesome. I know I've seen before you've talked about one to be nationwide. Is there anything you've noticed so far already about what's going to help you scale your real estate business or as you're seeking grow. What's going to be that catalyst to help you do that?
Jason Babin: So, it was one thing that was important when you started this and that was to create a kind of a unique culture. A different culture within the organization than most real estate companies. And what I did is I purposely mimic the locker room, right. I mimic the locker room and those locker rooms you have where you might not have the biggest guy, the strongest guy, the fastest guy, but you have a collection made up of people that are selfless, people that are learning base. People want to improve. People that can handle coaching, want coaching, and they want to improve. They want to grow. So, when we bring these agents that we interviewed obviously you're always recruiting agents, we have a certain standard, right. I kind of call it the Patriots standard right. Because everyone knows when you go to the Patriots there's one way to do things here. If you don't do, it doesn't matter who you are you're gone and we we've tried to hold that standard to no matter who, whether you're a first-time agent or a big-time producer on purpose, right. And that's what's kind of defined our culture and within I guess the real estate world people know like oh well Robertson's different. We have trainings. We have coaching’s, like if you were just starting out, we have real estate 101. We have a big training center, right. All Zoom technologies. You can do it online as well. If you want to high level training we do that on Thursdays, right.
Now if you want to start your own team and grow your own team then we have a special masterclass for that as well. So, we're all about training, developing, growing. Then at our head headquarters we have a whole video production, still photography, podcast studio for agents to use. Because as you guys know, content is king. So, we have this studio use it, however you want. We have photographers, anything imagine, right. It's there at the disposal just do it right and then we also have classes on how to do it how to leverage. So, creating that sports locker room mentality with the coach almost like an orb chart. We have specialty coaches within organization like If you need something with our online, with our inside sales department, you will see this person. You need some with development, see this person. You have a broker question, see this person. So, if you have different verticals within the organization, kind of a coaching staff.
Brian Harbin: Well, I was going to ask too. So, for your day to day, do you spend a lot of your time like managing a lot of the realtors or you, I'm still sure have a lot of your own portfolio of like buying homes, fix them up, renting them out. Tell us about kind of your day to day.
Jason Babin: So, my day to day is always very interesting. I live by the time blocking method. So, I lay my calendar out on Sundays and I kind of go by this is what I'm going to accomplish between these times. And then I try and stay as focused as I can with that, because I football practice in the morning, youth practice in the evening. So, usually I eat lunch in about 5 minutes. I have a pre-made lunch I eat. So, I try to maximize my day as much as possible. But for me, I have such an unbelievable team, right. If I didn't show up to RedZone things would probably be better than when I left, be new agents, things would be going really well. I have some projects that I'm working on now. They're rolling out some insulin brands with RedZone, because we have property management. But these are some home brands that will be rolling out. Companies are already up and rolling, but we'll be announcing, I guess the relationship to these companies shortly.
Colby Harris: It's really cool to hear that you've really created this umbrella kind of a trickle-down system of keeping things in house so to say with everything you do. So, where would you say is there a certain level that you believe that you've find that satisfaction in business or is it kind of once you get to somewhere it's almost like alright what's the next best thing I could do or how do you kind of dictate where you invest your time so to say?
Jason Babin: Well, I have an 80/20 rule, right. 80% of my time needs to be on cash producing activities and 20% of the time is beyond planning, scheduling, being creative which is hard because I'm lean towards more the creative side. So, the time blocking keeps me organized and what I need to accomplish for the businesses need me accomplished because I put myself in a rainmaker position. Say, we got to make sure people are coming to the door no matter what company it is. They have to be coming to the door. Keep the lights on. But to your earlier question about I guess what's next, I never know in the sense of like what I want to do next. I love challenges.
I'll give you an example even in my personal life. So, we change it up for spring break last year.
We went to Machu Picchu and we hiked the Incontrail, and the boys weren't excited about it but end up being a really good trip. So, we usually go skiing, I said we're going to change it up. And while we're on the trip, my youngest son, I mean he was like a Billy goat flying up the mountains. So, him and I on the Wanu Picchu which overlooks Machu Picchu. It's like a vertical climb this little like almost like cylinder thing that comes straight up out of the ground said what's the how fast what's the fastest time. So, like alright I was like Bronson, let's my young son named Bronson. He goes, let's go let's go for it. Fine, okay, he loved it I enjoyed it I like challenges like working out still. So, then he's like, ‘Well, what are the ones can we do dad?’ And I like, ‘I don't know, lets Google some stuff and I don't really know much about hiking or any of that stuff.’ So, we start Googling found and I've heard it before that the seven summits around the world. Ross was like I don't know like here let's done 7 summits. You want to do one of these? He's like, ‘Alright let's do it.’ He's like, ‘Well, what's the youngest kid to do it, right.’ So, then we start googling that and find that. I'm like, ‘Well, you want to be youngest kid to climb all seven summits. Let's see if we can do it.’ So, he's like, ‘Yeah, let's do it dad.’
So, we actually started last July and we did Kilimanjaro number four and then we're going to do Pop in New Guinea for Christmas break sometime. So, we're well I guess I'm not setting world record, I'm just going with my son in the hopes of setting the world record. So, we're on a unique journey like that.
Brian Harbin: That's amazing and I was going to ask you kind of to that point with what you've been through your experience. Obviously, you and your wife been together for a long time. What it kind of an overarching parenting philosophy what you really want to instill in your kids that you see that they're going to need to be successful later on?
Jason Babin: So, there's this one people ask me like, oh you want kids to play football. I said, I don't I don't know, they usually play football or no play football. I said, there's a few things my wife and I want our kids to be. I want to be smart. I want to be healthy and we want to be happy and I want to be successful, right. So, everyone says, oh money doesn't buy happiness. Well, money buys you security. Like things are a little bit easier when you have some money in life. Relationships are easier. You can go on vacations. You can buy a babysitter. There's so to a certain degree, yes, money is important. How much? That's arguable, but I think a lot of people forget the healthy part. A lot of people forget the happy part, right. Because you you're you can be successful without being happy. You can be successful without being healthy, and that's just not we live our life a certain way.
Like we don't buy soda at our house. My wife cooks dinner. We pack, we on Sundays usually cook a bunch of food, make everyone's lunches. Here's chicken and rice and broccoli. It's not because we're some crazy fitness family just because we don't want to kids eating processed food. So, there's certain things that are nonnegotiable for us.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I love that and even one of our previous guest Doctor Siman Sulemani. He came on discussed the fact that it's almost taboo to talk about the fact that it is unhealthy to be overweight. And then it's not that I'm fat shaming or anything like this. It's just from a health standpoint for your health reasons. That's why I'm want to point it out and want to discuss that and that's something I want to just go and we've only got a few more questions. Something I want to ask you about. I know you came from blue-collar family, small town. Very tightly knit. You were in a very cool culture going up. These days, I think some people, especially my generation, really lack a little bit of that grit and something that you clearly are trying to develop in your house as well. So, what would you say is something that young people could focus on or try to dedicate themselves to kind of bring back the culture that you grew up and something that's a little bit more disciplined, a little bit grittier and something that could really help us further our leadership in this country and beyond?
Jason Babin: Well, I and not just myself but I think the coaches I coach with and I've coached with them since, some of us moved up us move up down up. Because our kids are different ages and some people just that I coach with are just selfless and they like to give back in the community. But we have a very unique group of men, right, that understand like what kind of men are needed in society. And some of the issues that you just spoke of right now. So, it's something that's always been on the forefront of our brain that we talk about. Like, hey, these kids are generally soft right. And it's one thing that really kind of came to my attention right and I've never really thought about it before, oh it's the airsoft. But I think it's more complex than that and I think by not having people to stand up to small things that get picked away to make these young men soft and that missing that grit. It's kind of what's happened an overarching manner.
Like for example, like oh, well masculine is bad, being a gentleman's bad, open door for ladies bad, being the protector is bad. So, you are kind of chipping away at this this this culture of what it means to be a man. And honestly, if you ask me like men are kind of that that strong manly role, it's being stepped on and it's being looked in a negative way. I say, no. Like I coach like I said in my coach I teach these young men that this is what it's like to be a young man. You can be strong. You can also be compassionate. Doesn't mean you can't be, but certain way that that I think men should act and I think that's being eroded a lot by social media and a lot by society and these kinds of false stigmas. That's a big proponent of I guess why I will continue to coach even my kids are gone. Just because I see what's going on in real time. And part of the reason why I enjoy coaching these young men.
Brian Harbin: I'll have one more question, then you can take us home Colby. But kind of on that note as coaching I've got three boys obviously; I coach a lot as well but I'm curious to hear your take on how you feel like you're able to instill those principles with those kids. I mean granted you don't have as much time with kids that you coach as you do your own boys. So, with that amount of time that you do have how do you feel like you really impress upon them what you want them to learn not just the skills they need but like you said kind of that mentality?
Jason Babin: Well, I think it's the coaching standard you have. What's acceptable behavior? What's not acceptable behavior? Because like I said the window's small. So, they know like hey you may act this way at home. You may act this way at school but you do not act this way on the field with these coaches. But truthfully a lot of those kids are at my house. A lot of them are coming over. A lot of them are hanging out. You know what I mean? So, I'm fortunate enough to get more time with them. You know what I mean? And I guess it's one of those things where I didn't realize this is my 6th year coaching right? Because I've been retired. I didn't realize the impact I was having until somebody's kids got older and they sat down could have somewhat adult conversation with me. Like I took, we run the lake house and once the kids all came with right, there was probably 12 kids. And sitting there chatting with them be like, oh, I remember when you used to said this to me and Pop Warner coach, or we're at the house and you made us all plant, pull weeds or whatever it was. You know what I mean?
But little things that you do that maybe you don't realize even had an impact and that you maybe don't even remember but when you have that standard that's nonnegotiable, it does have an impact.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I think that's a huge takeaway for us even we run a summer sports camp and then we also coach together from basketball, soccer, flag football and that's one of the big things I try to do day one. Whether we're at camp or whether we're coaching whatever it is set that tone and let it be known that I don't care what you do wherever else you are. Obviously, we'd love to help impact that, but when you're here, we're going to set a standard. We're going to do it from the jump. So, it's been a ton of fun having you here Jason just hearing about your career, your upbringing, the various things you've done you left NFL, your philosophies on really how to build these men and build people in general. So, just one last question I have for you. What part of the Grit Creed resonates most with you and why? And I'm not sure if that was something that you got to a chance to look at online. Are you familiar with that?
Jason Babin: The Grit Creed?
Colby Harris: Yeah.
Jason Babin: I did not.
Colby Harris: Yeah, no worries. So, that was our 12 principles that we really built the company on. So, it starts it's I'm someday going to be what I'm now becoming. I don't find an excuse. I find a way. I'm not a problem spa or I'm a problem solver.
Jason Babin: It's kind of like a mission, vision, value, belief, huh?
Colby Harris: Absolutely.
Jason Babin: So, it's your guys' compass.
Colby Harris: Right. So, I don't know if there's anything from that that necessarily would resonate with you the most, but…
Brian Harbin: Maybe what we could ask though is like with Red Realty like what are some of the core values that you've kind of based your company.
Jason Babin: So, we actually have a mission, vision, value, belief, for our family. And one of the things that I've always, I guess is explained to the boys. I want to make it simple for them to understand at young age and what kind of came up that concept was, boys enjoy doing hard things that other peoples can't or will not do on a regular basis. So, that was kind of our dumb down as much as I could. So, they're young, so they understand it. I like to bring it up to them and, hey, it's 5 in the morning let's wake up. You told me what you wanted, I'm just here to help. If you don't want that anymore just let me know.
Colby Harris: Back off a little bit. Well, then I think a great question to something you can even take home to your boys say after we had this conversation, what does grit mean to you.
Jason Babin: That's definitely a great question, right. Because it means a lot to, I think different people, but I think from my standpoint, Grit is just getting the ability to keep showing up, right. Because like I said before, you're going to fail most of the time and that's in life, that's in business, that's in a lot of things you attempt to do that you've never done before, you're going to fail. And most people if they fail, they go, huh, I guess it wasn't meant to be. With successful people, they keep getting after it. They trying it and keep going even when it doesn't make sense. I don't know how many stories we've all heard, whether it's sports, business, relationships, all people that had grit all people that came out the other side and getting what they wanted.
Colby Harris: Yeah, that's amazing I think you just nailed that one on the head for sure. So, for a man who's done it still doing it been doing it.
Jason Babin: Work in progress.
Colby Harris: Right. If that's how you want to put it, I mean this is definitely been one of my favorite interviews we've gotten the chance to do so far. So, really appreciate you coming out today. thank you all of you at home. That's a wrap for a today here at The “Grit.org” Podcast. Please check out our other episodes. Leave us a comment. Tell us something you enjoyed about Jason's story. Share this with someone you think it would resonate with or impact. As always, we appreciate you tuning in for another episode of The “Grit.org” Podcast.