Russell Wilson: Mindset Matters

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Russell Wilson: Mindset Matters

In this episode, Russell Wilson joins Spencer at Zillow Group's Seattle headquarters for a live recording in front of employees. Russell is the starting quarterback for the Seahawks, leading the team to its first Super Bowl win in 2014. He's also one of the NFL's most charitable athletes. Russell founded the Why Not You Foundation, which has raised millions to support Strong Against Cancer and other children's charities. When he's not on the field or engaged in philanthropy, Russell is also an entrepreneur; he founded TraceMe, a social media platform, and Limitless Minds, a leadership development company. In this episode, Russell and Spencer discuss Russell's approach to leadership on and off the field, how to overcome adversity, his latest business ventures – and even his proposal to Ciara.

Press Play to hear the full conversation or check out the transcript below. You can also subscribe to Office Hours on Apple Podcasts.

Spencer Rascoff: Let's give a warm round of applause to Wilson. Thanks, Russell.


All right, so we're really honored to have you here. First, I understand that you use our products from time to time, so let's get that out of the way. Tell everyone what you told me when I first met you at a game.

Russell Wilson:So the funny thing is, I had Spencer in the box two years ago. Had him in the box at a game, and afterwards we were talking, and the craziest thing is that I don't think you guys understand I am constantly looking at houses. So a little background story about my life growing up. There's two things that I love outside of sports and God and family and all that, is I love clothes, OK, I love fashion, and I really, really love houses. And let me rewind a little bit, take you back into my history as a child. So growing up, I didn't grow up with anything. I didn't have much at all. Grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and I was fortunate to go to a private school. I was one of the only black kids there. I got a full scholarship to go there, and I was able to go fortunately.

And sure enough, but growing up, we didn't have much so I used to always go see houses, you know. On a Saturday or Sunday in Richmond, Virginia, at the time, they'd have the open house sign and you could just walk in and no big deal. Nowadays you gotta make an appointment, you gotta do all this extra stuff. But anyways, so growing up, I never forget every Saturday and Sunday, we'd drive around, my mom and I and my dad, we'd drive around in a little purple minivan. We'd drive around, I'd hop out of the car to an open house, and I'd run into the house, and I'd give a thumbs up or a thumbs down, like don't come in or come in. And I was the person giving the approval of that. I don't know how.

Anyways, so as a young kid, I always dreamed of being able to do something like that and be successful and everything else. So that was kind of like my young age, 6-, 7-, 8-, 9-, 10-year-old self. And still that's never left me today. I'm fascinated by interiors, I'm fascinated by the exterior of houses, fascinated by where houses are, when they appreciate, when they depreciate, all that stuff. So I am constantly looking all over the world for houses. But anyway, I told him after the game, I said you have no idea how much I'm on your app constantly, and so it's a big thing for me.


Rascoff:All right, so obviously you're an extraordinary quarterback. That goes without saying, but what I wanna talk about is leadership because you're an incredible leader. So talk to us about how you get the most out of your team, how do you get the team to work well together, and in what ways do you lead to motivate people?

Wilson:Well, I think the interesting thing about leadership, and it doesn't matter what type of leader you are. At the end of the day, leaders have what? They have followers. Doesn't matter what type of leader you are. At the end of the day, I think great leaders know how to, in a way, sell what you want, what you wanna do. And I think that for me, I try to be authentic. Every day, it's about a purpose for me. It's about authenticity, the things I love, the people that I care about, it's the things that I wanna do, not that I have to do necessarily, and I try to inspire people through that. And so for me, in terms of a team, like the Seattle Seahawks team, for example, it's important to – first of all, you have to be the demonstration. You know, what you wanna see is what you have to present, you know, and I think that's a daily thing. It can never be anything different. And that's the thing I love about Coach Carroll, for example. He's so consistent. No matter what's going on, no matter how many great games we won, no matter how many tough games, he's always consistent. And I believe that any great leader, whether it's Martin Luther King, whether it's President Obama, whether it's yourself or anybody else, I think the reality is that consistency is crucial, and I think that any great quarterback is obsessively consistent, and I think that's the thing you have to have.

Rascoff:So are you a kind of – sort of motivate by yelling and screaming in the locker room at your peers, or it's more of a sort of one-on-one motivation style? How do you – when you're trying to get the offense to do what you want, how do you get the best out of them?

Wilson: Well, I think there's – you know, the reality is there's different types of leaders, right? There's people – I'll use football as a great example. There's Bill Belichick, right, he has a certain type of way, and there's Coach Carroll. Coach Carroll's chewing gum on the sideline and Coach Belichick's barely moving and he's not saying much, but they're both great coaches and they both are respected, but because they're consistent.

So for me, when times are really, really good, I don't wanna be different. And when times are really, really tough, I don't wanna be different in that moment. And I think – so for me, my personality is I'm definitely very optimistic, but I'm also very neutral, and it's a belief that I have is neutral thinking. My mental coach and I, Trevor Moawad, we constantly talk about the idea of neutral thinking, not being too high, not being too low. You think about some of the greatest athletes, greatest shooters in basketball, baseball, some of the greatest football players, they're always clear-minded. They're very, very focused on what needs to be done, and people can follow that because they know what they're gonna get when they step on the field or in the classroom or in the work field or whatever it may be. So I have – I've been blessed to be able to lead a group of men, a group of people, my family as well, a group of young kids, two kids that I get to lead every day, and that discipline and that consistency through that discipline is everything, and that's what I rely on, that's what I trust most.

Rascoff:So you actually started a consultancy, Limitless Minds, to help translate some of these learnings that you've found on the field into business. Tell us about it.

Wilson:Yeah, it's actually super exciting. We actually just started it, and it's growing pretty fast here. It's pretty exciting. My – Trevor Moawad, my mental coach, little background about Trevor Moawad, he was the director of sports and performance at IMG, which is where all the top athletes from Serena Williams to top NFL combine guys to the best soccer players in the world, they go there, they train and get ready. And then that's where I went to go train. I met Trevor when I was 21 years old and we've been best friends ever since and, you know, he's helped Drew Brees, Eli Manning to huge corporations. He's Nick Saban's right-hand guy at Alabama, Florida State, you know, he's worked with NBA teams for a long time. So he's pretty special.

So anyways, Trevor is a business partner of mine for Limitless Minds and then also my brother, Harry, who was actually – he was in pharmaceutical sales and one of the top managers in the country and doing really well there and, you know, as a salesperson, you have to deal with people all the time – doctors, people – just you have to know how to sell something, and the reality is he was an athlete too as well, played football and baseball. He could have made it in the NFL, got hurt his senior year in football, but he's super bright. He actually gave me a lot of advice growing up in my lifetime. And then also we have another business partner named DJ. And so us four created this company called Limitless Minds, and the thought process is this:

One, we wanna enhance the culture, and at the end of the day, we also wanna optimize human performance. And I think that when you do that, when you can do that and go into a location like this and, at the end of the day, it's not just about you; it's about every single person in this room, it's how they can believe, how can they make Zillow better, how can they go home and make their lives better, how can they lead their children better. 'Cause if you guys do that on a daily basis, then you're gonna make Zillow better. And so the same thing with the Seattle Seahawks. If I can do that same thing in my personal life too, the way that I treat people off the field and on the field and I bring my best self every day, I have that much better of a chance to be successful and that obsession with that.

And one of the things that I'm super, super passionate about – and we just started this three months ago. We're working with a few companies already and some people already and some teams and stuff. It's pretty exciting, but one of the things that I'm really obsessed with, I'm really excited about and what I wanna do with Limitless Minds is that – have you guys ever thought about growing up in school, for example, right?And I remember growing up in middle school and high school and everything else, and if somebody went to the guidance counselor, that person was considered weird, right? I mean, really, that's the truth, right? The kid goes to the guidance counselor, the kid's considered weird. Something's wrong with that one, right? And you know, you think about math, you think about science, you think about all the different things that we get to do in school, but the one thing we don't train is the mind. The one thing we don't train is the mind, how people think through adversity, how people get prepared for the next opportunity, how they overcome a loss, a family loss like me losing my dad or even getting a new job opportunity. How do you prepare for that? From the middle school to high school to collegiate level, how do you dive into that academically and do something different like never before? How do you do that for a great company like Zillow? How do you enhance the culture and optimize human performance?

And I think that in the day, our culture is so competitive. But the reason why, in my opinion, why I think some of the most talented people in the world that I've ever been around, why sometimes they fail,is one simple thing – is their mind. It's their mind. The discipline of their mind, the discipline of being able to do things right and knowing the difference of how to overcome, how to overcome obstacles, how to overcome an injury, how to overcome a loss in a family, whatever it may be. Most people can't do that. But why? It's not because it's that person's fault. It's because, from a society standpoint, we don't get to teach that. We don't implement that at a young age, and so that's what we're doing with Limitless Minds, and that's one of our passion projects, obviously going into big corporations, great football teams, baseball teams, teams across the world, some of the greatest athletes, again, the greatest competitors in the world, but also really the ultimate goal is really to go into our education system starting in Washington maybe, going to all over the country and starting a new thing.

Rascoff:One of the things great leaders do is overcome adversity and get their teams or organizations to get up off the mat and do their best work when times look tough. You've overcome your share of adversity, personal adversity, but also professional adversity. I wasn't gonna talk about the Super Bowl loss unless you wanna talk about it, but I wanna know how you get your team to do their best work after some problem, whether it's a loss or an injury or anything.

Wilson: Well, that's a great question. I think that most people don't understand it. Most people don't understand the thought process of, like, how do you do that? How do you come back again? Well, if it's through success or obviously failure, and I always believe this: It goes back to consistency thought. Your goals and your thoughts and your ideas of who you are and what you wanna become shouldn't be this constant evolution of change and up and down this and I experienced this so this is now what's gonna happen here. The more that you can, one, be very, very clear – and we're all at different stages and ages of our life, and things definitely will happen that change circumstances and goals and all that, but what I mean is the same feeling that I had when we won the Super Bowl and I got to hold up the Lombardi Trophy in New York – great feeling – the same feeling that I had holding that trophy and realizing, looking at the full moon, thinking about my dad and everything else and all the things I've been through and all the people that told me no, I didn't hang onto it very long because I was already thinking about, OK, what's next to do? I need to make sure that I'm prepared for the next moment God gives me.

Fast-forward to next year, we get to go – amazing season, go all the way down to the one-yard line and it doesn't work out. As I'm walking off the field and I go into the locker room and everything else, the same thought comes into my head of what's next to do. And so the emotions and the thoughts don't change because I know that one moment doesn't define who I am and what I'm gonna be. It's a continual growth process of a company, of a group of people, it's a continual growth process of a relationship, it's a continual growth process of a human spirit, and I really believe that, that we all get to face different moments to build us who we're gonna be and who we wanna become. And I think that if you can have clarity in these moments – there are a bunch of moments that happen in our life. People always say, “How do you get ready for the big game?" It's not a big game unless you make it a big game. To me, it's just another great moment. It's just gonna be another great moment, and I'm looking for the next great moment 'cause I know the next great moment's gonna build me up for the next great moment.

Rascoff:How do you deal with self-doubt, though, in situations like that? Let's say you're matched against another team, you think you might be outmatched and might actually lose but you don't want to convey that to the team to shake their confidence. I mean, how do you – is that something you think about, or you always have such optimism you never think that's even possible and you suppress it?

Wilson: I was gonna say. Lose, that's not an option. On a serious note, it's not an option.

Rascoff: All right, good answer.

Wilson: But you know, I think a lot of that honestly is through the confidence of how you prepare. The one thing I fear in life – I don't fear death. The one thing I fear in life is simply not being prepared. It's the only thing I fear in life, is not being prepared. And so for me, I do everything I can to prepare because I know that gives me confidence. And I'll go with – you know, like I said, it's just gonna be another moment, so when the moment comes, it takes you where it goes and you trust it and you feel it and you learn from it and say what did I do really well here and what can I get better at, you know, in whatever that may be.

And so answering your question a little bit more specifically, and I know not everyone thinks that and maybe even in this room that like, well, that's not realistic for us. Well, I think a lot of the realistic situations of things that you can control in this room is one simple thing – your language. Your language controls what you think because if you say, ah, I can't do this or I can't be this, you know, like, think about it. If I told you all to slump down right now and tell yourself, and say these words out loud or say 'em in your head, “I'm not very good. It can't be me. Why me? Man, that happened again? Dang, another mistake." That's your language versus you telling yourself [you're]gonna be great today. I'm here. Today is my day. Today is our day. We're gonna be great. I can't wait for what's gonna happen. Whatever comes, we're gonna be ready for it. There's a big difference between your language, and it's just a glimpse of a moment. When you're at the free-throw line, what you're telling yourself is a big deal, you know, and when you're going into a game, stepping onto a field, the language that you use in a crucial moment, you know, whether you're selling a house to a person or if you're trying to get somebody to create a new app or whatever it may be or if you're trying to _____ your kids at times, you know, if you're trying to tell yourself you're a good parent, not a good parent, the language that you use is going to be the thing that either makes or breaks you. And the great ones have great language.

Rascoff:There's tons of research on this, right, the power of positivity, the power pose, about it becoming self-fulfilling and your own confidence propelling you to better performance.

Wilson:Well, one of the things that Trevor and I always say, and we would say at Limitless Minds, for example, is very simple. You know, I definitely believe in positivity. I'm a firm believer in positivity. I'm one of the most positive people I think you'll meet. But it's not that I don't believe in positivity. What I do believe in is I do believe that positivity does work, but what I do know that really does work is negativity. Negativity is proven that it works. So what's interesting is when I go into Seattle Children's Hospital – and this is mostly my observation here – but when I go to Seattle Children's Hospital, the families and the kids and the young ones that overcome typically, and every circumstance is different, obviously, but most of the time the ones that heal up quicker are honestly the ones that are simply just not negative. You know, sometimes the teams that do the best are the ones where the players, the leaders are simply not negative in tight moments. When you're down 16-0 in an NFC championship game with 2:30 to go, what's your language gonna be?

Rascoff:For example.

Wilson:And so what I believe, though, is yes, I think that positivity does work, and I firmly believe that, but what I do know is that negativity definitely does work. And what I do believe is that the reality is that I think the more that you can be neutral, this idea of neutral thinking is really crucial. You know what, like so, going back to the NFC championship game down 16-0, not much time to go, the truth is I could go around and say, “Guys, we're gonna be just OK." Guys are looking at me, all right, bro. Or it could be like, “Listen, fellas, we've got 2:30 left. What are we gonna do with it? Listen, the reality is," and I always go back to the truth, “The reality is we only need two touchdowns. That's all we need." And go to the truth of it, and that's the neutral thinking versus this being overly positive, you know. But what I do believe is that negative thinking definitely does work.

Rascoff:What impact does what outsiders say have on your mindset? Do you block out the externalities and focus on preparation and what you can control?

Wilson:Well, I believe this. The greater you're great, the more they're gonna hate. And that's just the truth.

Rascoff:The greater you're great, the more they're gonna hate.

Wilson: The greater you're great, the more they're gonna hate.

Rascoff: Taylor Swift said that, right?

Wilson: No. She didn't say that. But she's probably gonna say it now. Give me that credit, Taylor. I think that the reality of, you know, the more success you have and the more growth you have, the more people are interested in trying to find a way to – I won't say mess it up, but more so find a way to figure out the flaws in it, you know, and I think that's just the reality of life and business and everything else. And so to me, I think how you block out negativity and the critics and everything else is that – I think there's actually a famous quote actually about this. I'm not sure, but the reality is that – and this is pretty much true – there hasn't really been any statues built of a critic. And I think that to me, how I block it out during the season, for example, is, one, I do a very simple thing. I try not to watch ESPN. I'm not gonna read the paper and I'm not gonna – unless another game's on and it's Monday Night Football or something like that, that's the only time I'm turning that TV on and watching the game to learn something.

But I'm not just gonna sit there eating lunch or eating breakfast watching ESPN because it's two things. It'll trick you, right? Either they'll tell you that you suck or they'll tell you that, oh, this guy is amazing and blah, blah, blah, and he's gonna be this and that. He's gonna be MVP and blah, blah, blah. And then, you know, and then you start believing it. You start believing it, and the one thing that I believe is that you don't need somebody else to convince you of who you are and what you're going to be. I don't need somebody to convince me. I know who I am because I tell myself who I am, I believe who I am, and I create who I'm going to be by the work ethic and the thoughts and the things that I do on an everyday basis. You know, every movement is purposeful and there's a thought process to it.

And you know, I also think that to be great, you have to have great people around you to make it great. This is not just on me. I have great people around me. This is not just on you. I mean, you have great people around. The reality is that you have to surround yourself around great people and people that are gonna challenge you, people that are gonna encourage you and not discourage you, but challenge you, people that are creative. I love being around creative minds. You know, I have a company, West to East. It's my creative agency, and we basically helped start TraceMe out of there.

Rascoff:Tell people about TraceMe.

Wilson:Yeah, so TraceMe's pretty exciting.

Rascoff: 'Cause you have a startup. You're a startup founder.

Wilson:Yeah, I am. Yeah. So it's pretty exciting. We have some pretty cool people involved, and, you know, we have Jeff Bezos involved; we have Mike Mahan, who's CEO of Dick Clark Productions; we have Joe Tsai, the co-founder of Alibaba; we have Kenny Dichter; we have a bunch of other people, some other people from Seattle area obviously. Some pretty cool stuff, but I'll kinda tell you the background story.

So Ciara and I – you know, I'm in Seychelles, and I don't get nervous, right. I'm about to ask Ciara to marry me, I'm kinda nervous. First of all, I'm carrying this ring around from LA to Paris, from Paris to Dubai, Dubai to Seychelles. I'm in Seychelles, I'm like I'm carrying this thing, I'm carrying this briefcase around everywhere I'm going. She's wondering, like, she's like what are you doing with that briefcase? It's like an old legal briefcase like Dad used to take to the courtroom.

Rascoff:Just the ring in there or –

Wilson: No, there's some other things in there, but I kinda hid the ring in the under front pocket and it was just – bad idea, but I did it. So anyways, so you know, we were in Seychelles and I ask her to marry me and everything else and she said yes, and we kinda – we posted the same video and, you know, I got like 10 million views. I'm like, dang, that's pretty cool. I got 10 million views. That's a lotta views. Meanwhile she gets 20. I'm like, you know, same video, we posted at the same time. We said three, two, one, ding, you know, like how does she get 20 and I get 10? So anyways, I guess people like me have less.

So anyways, so fast-forward, you know, we actually – it's during the presidential debate and I'm wearing – it's Halloween and I'm wearing a President Obama mask, she's wearing a Hillary Clinton mask. I'm not sure if you guys have seen this video ever, but we're dancing to – we're dancing – I'm doing my President Obama, God bless America, God bless America. I'm doing my whole voice thing and everything else, and one of our friends is just shooting it just for fun. We ended up posting it 'cause we thought it was funny and 10 million views, 20 million views or whatever again and it was like, whoa, this is a lot. And I started scratching my head then and fast-forward, she's seven months pregnant and we're at a house in LA. And so we're looking at the house and I'm in the basement and she's upstairs in the kitchen, and when you're married to a singer entertainer, she's always singing and entertaining. And so – and I'm like – she's jammin' upstairs, and so I go upstairs and she's in the kitchen. She's got a huge belly, she's dancing around the house, and she's dancing to “I'm Every Woman" by Whitney Houston. And she's jumping from couch to couch and ____ in the video and everything else. Anyway, we have our film person shooting it and everything else, maybe 20 minutes shooting, right? So anyways, she posted it on Facebook. Twenty-six million people view within less than 48 hours, less than two days. And I'm like, golly, like 26 million people and really no monetization, no way to connect? Like, it's just crazy. How do you measure these views?

So rewinding, backtracking a little bit, we got married in Liverpool, and you know, Vogue magazine was calling E! News, all these different magazine people and everything else wanted to shoot the first picture and all this kinda stuff, and we decided, you know, we're gonna post it ourselves. So we post it and it goes everywhere. It goes all over the world pretty much, and you know, the next morning, we got up probably around 6:30, flew to London, an hour flight. Go have brunch around 10, leave brunch around noon. Coming out, paparazzi people, and we're going through and we're walking down Oxford Street, and there's, you know, the big red buses in London. So we're walking down Oxford Street and there's cars and buses flying by, and next thing I know, I see these two kids wearing Seattle Seahawks jerseys, and they come running across the street and they're like, Russell, Russell, Russell and Ciara, you know. So they come over and, like, can I get a picture, can I get a selfie with you? So we get a selfie or whatever.

So I search – you know, I always bring this little notebook with me and I'm always kinda writing, and I started writing this idea as we're flying back from London to Seattle. I started writing this idea that I believe that 30 percent of celebrities and my followers really do care, you know, from Richmond, Virginia, where I'm from to NC State fans, Wisconsin to Seattle Seahawk fans to NFL fans. They wake up saying, OK, what's going on in that person's world, when they're traveling, when they're moving, football's going on or whatever. The next 30 percent, in my thought process, was that – was very simple. Was that, you know, those people care – I call 'em momentary followers. They follow you in the moment. Just a big moment, big game or they like that song and they wanna follow you in that moment. They don't really care, right? The last 40 percent of followers, in my opinion, are the people that either accidentally click you or they just wanna talk you-know-what about you. So probably '49ers fans, unfortunately. I'm sure there's some in here. Where are you?

But anyways, so on a serious note, though, so I believe that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, that's for the 100 percent, but TraceMe is really for the 30 percent. How do you give something? I think there's two things that people love. People love VIP experience, and the reality is they love money. But what they really love is they love winning. And so the thought process was very simple. There's 7.5 billion people in the world, and what I believe is that there's 7.5 billion people who are fans of something. So whether you're a fan of myself, whether you're a fan of Ciara, whether you're a fan of the Seattle Seahawks or if you're a fan of fashion, if you're a fan of cosmetics, if you're a fan of – whatever you're a fan of, that's what we want delivered to them. And if you're a fan of looking at houses, you know, how do you do something, how do you create something where fan engagement is actually – there's actually a scoreboard? And that's what we've been able to do, and being able to create has been an awesome process. It's been really, really cool.

And basically you think about fantasy football, what we've been creating is fantasy fan, and it's been a really cool experience. We have some really cool people sign up. We just signed up George Takei, and he just signed up with TraceMe. We have several other people that are gonna be pretty cool. Sounds like we may be signing one of the biggest cricket players in the world here, he's got tons of followers. So it's an exciting time.

Rascoff:Do CEOs qualify as celebrities?

Wilson: Yes. You qualify.

Rascoff:Is there another social media platform I get to manage now? So check out TraceMe to be a fan of Russell's and others.

Let's close with a discussion of Why Not You and your philanthropic efforts and civic engagement. I mean, I think you're perhaps as well-known for the things that you're doing off the field as what you're doing on the field – your involvement in Seattle Children's Hospital, your creation of Why Not You, so give a sense of the scope of your civic activities, and why is it so important to you?

Wilson: Well, I think that, you know, when much is given, much is required. And I've been blessed to be able to meet a lot of amazing kids, amazing people, because of the circumstances that God has given me and because of having big hands and being able to run around and throw a ball and win some football games. It gives me an opportunity to inspire people. And I think that – you know, it's funny, we went to China this year again, and when I went over there, it was cool because fans, you know, they kinda go crazy for you but the cool part is the athletes in particular, the young football players who wanna learn how to play football and everything else. It was funny because they're like, you know, we're a lot like you. And I'm like, what do you mean? And they're like, well you're not the biggest guy in the world. You know, they're – the culture, the people aren't as tall there, and so it was actually very interesting to see that, see how many great athletes they had there.

And I feel like the fortunate part for me is I think that people, for a glimpse of a moment, they – I think they can get a relatability because, in terms of young kids and young athletes, guys and girls, is that they're like, you know what, I'm not 6'8″, I'm not 6'10" so, you know, people look at me and go that's the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks? Like oh, like I didn't expect that. So you're not that – the one comment I always get is you're not that big in person. I'm like, OK, I'm faster. I'm faster than you. But you know, so I've been fortunate, and I think that, for example, at Seattle Children's Hospital, in particular, you know, my mom was an ER nurse, my dad was always in hospitals because of his diabetes, and unfortunately he passed away because of it. And so I felt like there was a responsibility and a duty for me to go to places that I know what it feels like emotionally to go. And for me, that's always been something that's been important to me to be able to give one little glimpse of hope if I can do that.

And we always say at our camps, for example, you know, we get to coach thousands and thousands of kids every summer, football and everything else across the country, across the world now, and one of the cool things is that every time – I think about Nike. We were just at Nike this summer doing our camp there, and I bring all those coaches, about 100-and-some coaches there, and sit in the circle, and as we're standing there right before camp starts, I always tell them every time, I say, “Listen, the goal is very simple today. If we can change one kid's life today, mission's accomplished. Just have that simple focus. If you can affect one person in your life today, one person that you know, one person you may not know, then the mission's accomplished. You've done something worthy that can actually challenge and change somebody's circumstance." And that's where I think true gratification and true growth comes from is affecting culture and affecting people.

'Cause you all have stories. I'm sure I have a very similar story to somebody in this room that you may not even know. And to be able to dive in and to learn that person's story, to be able to care enough to know that person's story, what else are we here for? I'm not just here just to make a lot of money, I'm not just here just to win a lot of football games. That's all great, that's all good and everything else, and I highly recommend trying to do – be successful, but at the end of the day, you know, when I lay my head down at night, I just wanna know that I inspired somebody. And when you focus on that, that's when I think everything else grows. You can focus on your family, your kids, people you affect in your inner circle, but then expand that inner circle, expand that circumference of atmosphere that you affect, the people that you inspire, the people you may not even know you can inspire, that circle gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And now you've actually done something, so now when it's time to be successful, when it's time to do something new or to create something or whatever it may be, now people, man, like I'm rooting for that guy, I'm rooting for that girl, you know, and people can remember you.

Rascoff: It's great to see a public figure so focused on thinking about the positive impact that you have on other people. Thank you. I think that's – I think we should leave it at that, Russell. Thank you for being here. Thank you so much. Have a great season.

Wilson:Thank you, guys. Let's go. Go Hawks. Pleasure.

The post Russell Wilson: Mindset Matters appeared first on Office Hours.

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  •, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading