Long before the Super Bowl championship and the four Pro Bowl selections and the Rookie of the Year award, there was clearly something special about Russell Wilson’s mindset. Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider noticed it eight years ago, when he watched Wilson lead his college team to a conference championship.
Later that evening, at a Marriott hotel bar in Indianapolis, Schneider approached Wilson’s brother, Harry. He told the elder Wilson that he liked the quarterback’s leadership skills, pointing out his ability to “tilt a room.”
“If Russell comes into a room and you were to tilt it, all the furniture would come his way,” Schneider explained. “The pull is inevitable.”
That pull has helped Wilson defy critics who said he wouldn’t succeed because of his height. His mental grit and ability to stay poised under pressure helped him win more games than any quarterback in NFL history through his first six seasons.
Now Wilson wants to pass along the same mindset principles he follows on the field to companies and classrooms across America.
The 29-year-old NFL star is the co-founder and chairman of Limitless Minds, a new startup he just launched with Trevor Moawad, his long-time mental coach and renowned sports psychologist. Wilson’s brother, Harry Wilson, and another business partner, DJ Eidson, are the other co-founders.
The startup sells training and consulting services to companies looking to help promote leadership skills and personal growth within their workforce. Limitless aims to bring competitive thinking to the corporate space; its mission is to “enrich culture and optimize performance.”
This is yet another startup from Wilson, who has become one of the NFL’s most active entrepreneurs. It’s separate from his other Seattle celebrity media startup, TraceMe, and adds to a founder resume that already includes West2East, his production company, and Good Man Brand, a high-end fashion retailer.
Wilson took his mental training to new levels after meeting Moawad just before the NFL Draft in 2012. He’s worked with the “mental conditioning expert” constantly ever since — as have several top pro and collegiate teams — and credits much of his success to a “limitless mind,” one that gives him an edge in competition.
Moawad’s philosophy centers around themes including visualization (psychologically experiencing a situation), understanding the power of your voice, focusing on one thought, and neutral thinking, or the idea that overly positive or negative thoughts aren’t beneficial to an optimal mindset. The exercises and lessons are featured as part of the “DangeRuss Minds” series on TraceMe.
Limitless aims to optimize mental performance much like Moawad has done with Wilson and other sports stars on the field, but instead applying those lessons to company leaders across the nation.
“You think of all the different things that we get to do in school, but 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 family loss, like me losing my dad, or even a getting a new job opportunity,” Wilson said during an appearance at Zillow’s headquarters last week in Seattle, recording an episode of Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff’s Office Hours podcast.
Wilson said he’s seen some of the most talented people in the world sometimes fail because of the discipline of their mind. He said it’s not necessarily their fault.
“It’s because from a society standpoint, we don’t get to teach that,” Wilson said last week. “We don’t implement that in our language. And so that’s what we’re doing with Limitless Minds.”
Limitless organized a Seattle-area CEO roundtable and met with Harvard Business School students to help craft its curriculum and business plan. It is now working with seven companies, creating custom “experiences” based on initial assessments to gauge the highest-priority needs. The package includes live sessions, a keynote from Moawad, podcasts, videos, and more.
Harry Wilson, who played college football at the University of Richmond, said many companies teach appropriate technical skills, but don’t do the same for mental training that can prove to be just as beneficial for tech employees as it is for NFL players. Existing corporate programs that help teach mental strength often don’t have a long-lasting impact, he added.
“We don’t want to be known as just another keynote group,” Harry Wilson told GeekWire. “We want to be a part of the fabric of an organization.”
Limitless is initially targeting tech and biotech companies, many of which are investing heavily to improve their cultures as a way to increase production and attract talent.
Seattle-based fundraising platform Snap! Raise is an early user of Limitless. Cole Morgan, the company’s CEO who was named an EY Entrepreneur of the Year in June, said that Moawad is already the most-quoted person in the history of SnapRaise.
“They’ve done a great job of communicating what Russell goes through on a daily basis and how he thinks about it,” said Morgan, also a former college quarterback. “Ultimately, the goal is to win, and that’s the same thing in business. No matter what happens to us on the field or in the office, we are still all trying to fight for the same thing, which is to beat whoever it is that we’re competing with.”
Limitless wants to eventually get into schools, helping send the same messages to students.
“Adversity is coming — it might be short or long-term and in different forms or fashion, but it’s coming,” Harry Wilson said. “But if our kids have the ability to handle that and are taught about it just like they learn history, science, and math, we believe they’ll be better off for it.”
This is Wilson’s latest startup endeavor. He’s also the co-founder of TraceMe, the Seattle-based media startup Wilson founded last year that raised $9 million from investors like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group.
TraceMe spun out of Seattle startup studio Pioneer Square Labs late last year. It initially featured exclusive content with Wilson — for example, instructional videos with Wilson’s personal trainer; a weekly podcast with Wilson; and more. The app has since added celebrities like Ciara and NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara to the platform, with more to come. The 24-person company now sells apparel and also opened a new office in Los Angeles with vice presidents of content and business development.
Wilson is also the co-founder of West2East and Good Man Brand. He also keeps busy with his charity, the Why Not You Foundation. And Wilson is an investor in a handful of other startups, including Vicis, the Seattle-based football helmet startup.
“He is interested in a lot of different things,” said Harry Wilson, his older brother. “He has fantastic forward-thinking ideas that in many cases you’re surprised nobody has thought of before.”