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Russell Wilson gives a thumbs up to the crowd at Zillow Group in Seattle on Friday afternoon. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Long before he was an NFL quarterback, Russell Wilson was a real estate scout.

Growing up in Richmond, Va., he would drive around with his mom and dad in their purple minivan, looking for open houses as a weekend activity, even if they weren’t able to afford them. When they found an open house, young Russell would run in and give his thumbs up or thumbs down depending on whether or not he considered it worth their time to check out.

Those experiences left an impression on him, and to this day, he counts real estate as one of his biggest passions, after God, family and sports.

“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,” the Seattle Seahawks star told Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff during an appearance at the real estate media company’s headquarters last week, the day after the Seahawks’ first home preseason game.

Wilson told the Zillow crowd in Seattle, “You have no idea how much I’m on your app, constantly.”

Rascoff assured employees of Zillow Group’s Trulia in San Francisco that Wilson loves them, as well.

Russell Wilson records a video with Zillow Group employees and CEO Spencer Rascoff, with co-founder Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink in the front row. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Their shared interest in real estate was one of the highlights of Wilson’s appearance on the live recording of Rascoff’s Office Hours podcast Friday afternoon in front of a crowd of enthusiastic Zillow employees. Some were just as excited to get a glimpse of pop star Ciara, who is also Wilson’s wife, when she made a brief cameo on the stairway prior to the session.

The always-upbeat Wilson dished out leadership lessons from the gridiron, explaining that he tries to react to a big win or a brutal loss in the same way, by looking ahead to what’s next. The idea is to get neither too high nor too low, but instead to maintain a consistent and neutral mindset, he said.

Wilson said he observes a similar phenomenon during his regular visits to Seattle Children’s Hospital. The kids and families who maintain a neutral outlook seem to be the ones who end up doing the best, based on his anecdotal experience.

The quarterback also talked about the inspiration for his startup TraceMe, a social network where fans can connect with sports stars and other celebrities. He explained that he was surprised by the tens of millions of views on videos and other posts involving him and Ciara, and wanted a better way to connect with fans and build a business around the concept.

But Wilson’s most memorable line of the discussion also prompted Rascoff’s quickest response.

“The greater you’re great, the more they’re gonna hate,” Wilson said.

“Taylor Swift said that, right?” Rascoff responded.

The conversation will be available on an upcoming episode of Rascoff’s Office Hours podcast.

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