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Former NFL Player Olaniyi Sobomehin on Mental Toughness

By August 17, 2016 August 6th, 2020 No Comments


This week Commander Mark Divine talks to Olaniyi Sobomehin about how to foster mental toughness. Olaniyi is a former NFL player, and has just left firefighting to focus on his business and his podcast, “I’m not you.” What are the mental and emotional strategies that he’s used to foster mental discipline in his sons, his athletes and himself? How will you be able to apply them to your own life?

“…you can be as strong as you wanna be, but when you’re under pressure, and you are so nervous that your heart’s beating and your legs are weak and you can’t physically get yourself to do something. And I saw this… we used to call these guys ‘workout warriors’ when guys were super big-time in the gym, but when it comes time to play, they don’t got it.” –Olaniyi Sobomehin

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Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks, Mark Divine coming at you with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Hooyah! Here we are again this week with an incredible guest. I’m super-stoked to meet him and talk to him and before I introduce you to Olaniyi, let me remind you to go to iTunes and please rate this podcast. If you like it. If you don’t like, then don’t listen to it and don’t rate it. But if you do like it, go rate it so other people can find it. How else are they going to find it? Lot of people out there who game the system and pay people to rate their podcast and stuff. I’m just asking you to do it. And there’s five stars, and so if you start on the right and just click on the right, then that’ll be enough. ‘Cause that’ll light up all five, you see where I’m going with that?



All right, so Olaniyi you gotta correct me if I get your name wrong, but Olaniyi Sobahin?

Olaniyi Sobomehin: Showbomaheen. That wasn’t too bad.

Mark: Showbomaheen. Okay. That’s good. I didn’t do too bad. Olaniyi Sobomehin.

Okay, Olaniyi is dialing in from Vancouver, and Olaniyi is a former NFL football player, played with the New Orleans Saints. He’s a firefighter. He just informed me that he actually just retired. Thank you for your service. He’s a father of four, and he’s a motivational speaker and podcaster. And he’s got a show called “I’m not you,” which is cool and can’t wait to talk about that.

And I’m sure, Olaniyi, there’s a ton of other things about you that we’re gonna want to get into, but I just first want to thank you for taking the time today. Thank you also for serving as a firefighter. I know that’s not easy, and you put yourself in harm’s way. And thank you for being a parent. Like a real parent, you know what I mean? And taking that seriously. You know what I mean?

I want to talk about all of this. I want to talk about football, I want to talk about transitioning to private life and your podcasting and stuff like that. And then service, parenting. We’ll see where this goes. You in? You excited?

Olaniyi: Absolutely. I’m really excited. Thanks for having me on the show, man, I appreciate it.

Early Years and Football


Mark: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. So you grew up in Portland, hunh?

Olaniyi: Yup.

Mark: That’s a pretty cool city. Tell us about your early life. What were some of your influences? What shaped you to be the man you are today? You know stuff like that.

Olaniyi: Absolutely, man. My dad actually came to America from Nigeria when he was 18 years old. So he was one out of 10 kids that he was born to and he was the first to come to the United States. And so… my dad… very disciplined, very much valued education. Valued being together. So I was the third out of four boys, so we were all boys growing up. And we were a soccer family, you know. But at about sixth grade, it was funny, I started gaining a little weight. You know, you go through a little chunky phase. And I just hated running, I couldn’t stand running, so soccer practice was horrible. And then I was bigger so I would like… I would basically be running kids over in soccer games. And getting a bunch of red flags.

So I decided to play football when I was in 7th grade and I just fell in love. It was crazy. ‘Cause we didn’t have a TV growing up, so I didn’t… It wasn’t like I knew Jerry Rice and all these other players. But I just… I was just drawn to football. I’m sure a big part of it was the physicality, but it was something about the sport. And so I just fell in love, man. And I played all throughout high school and then walked on to Oregon State.

And so walking on at Oregon State is… a walk on is kind of like an unpaid intern, you know what I mean? So it’s kind of low on the totem pole. And so I sort of worked my way up that totem pole but never quite earned myself a scholarship. And so I decided to reach out to the coaches at Portland State and ask them if I could have a scholarship. And they gave me a scholarship, and so I went to Portland State which is my home city. So it was cool. I had my first son while I was in college.

Mark: No kidding.

Olaniyi: Yeah, I was I think a sophomore, man. Had my first kid. And then went to Portland State. Things still didn’t quite work out for me as much when I was there, but then my last year I had a breakout season. And I became All- American there. And then ultimately went to play with the New Orleans Saints for a couple years, and that was awesome, man.

Mark: What was your position? What did you play?

Olaniyi: I was a full-back. Kind of like a full-back/running back. I could play both, and so when I was at Portland State, I was the single back. So I got a lot of passes and ran a lot and things. In the Saints, one of the things that drew them to me was that I could catch and I could run and I could also block. So I was smaller for a full-back, but bigger for a running back.

Mark: Were you recruited by the Saints, or did you free agent? How does that work? I don’t know much about…

Olaniyi: I didn’t get drafted so I was a rookie free agent, which is kind of similar to being a walk-on actually. It’s like you’re on the team for a little bit, but it’s not expected that you’re going to make the team. And so again, it was something that the way it worked out… and that’s where the whole “I’m not you” mentality comes from. You know I just always felt like I never identified with like the majority of people. Most people told me when I was trying to get to the NFL, “Why don’t you just take care of your kid. Not try to waste any money training and all of that.” Same thing when I was at Oregon State. Like man, it’s cool being a walk-on, we get to travel and do all this cool stuff. But I always had the mindset that I’m not you, meaning that I will do what other people won’t do to get what I want. And I don’t like to give up on what I want.

Mark: That’s awesome. One of the sayings we use in SEALFIT all the time is “Do today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t.” I think it’s actually the smoke-jumpers creed. You just basically summed that right up.

Olaniyi: Exactly.



Mark: So were there any…obviously your father was a big influence on your life. Did you have any other mentors? Where did you get this kind of like driving spirit to be different from…?

Olaniyi: I think it definitely came from my dad. We just had my dad’s 75th birthday, and the dude is like… he’s got so much energy it’s incredible. He works out every day for two hours. And so it’s funny how… me and my brothers we, when you’re younger you don’t appreciate it as much, but then when you get older you realize all the seeds that were planted. And they come to fruition. So here I am, I’m looking at all my brothers and all of the positive fruits from when my dad instilled… so he is big time.

Also my big brother, Tunde, he was a guy… I was the third out of four boys, so I sort of went through this middle child stage where I was rebelling and things like that. And I wasn’t really living up to the standards that our family had. I’m sure a lot of people can relate if you come from a big family. And he just was the guy who always saw the best in me. You know what I mean? I was in 7th grade, 8th grade, struggling in school and things like that, getting in trouble.

And he was just always so encouraging, man, I remember he played basketball at Stanford, and I remember he sent me this poster of basketball with all the players on Stanford’s team and they all signed it. And it has this message that “I believe in you little bro. You got the juice.” I hung that up in my room. I get chills even thinking about what that meant to me. Especially at that time in my life where I really could have went a lot of different ways, you know what I mean? And honestly, I tell my brother all the time and he downplays it. I’m like, “Yo, you’re the man.” I don’t know what would have happened without him, but… And all my brothers because all of them had such a high standard for themselves that it was almost really difficult not to live up to that. And being uncomfortable when you’re little, like having to live up to a standard–it can seem like a bad thing when you’re little but I salute my brothers, my dad and my mom as well, just for setting the standard so high.

Mark: That’s incredible. You know a lot of siblings can be competitive and that can have a negative effect. I mean, what you just told me sent chills down my spine. Just to have someone who you knew had your back at that level and was never going to give up on you. Course your parents weren’t ever either, but your older brother and then you probably passed that down to your younger brothers too. Just in the way you treated them, and the attitude of support and just… Just think about how different that is. To get that poster… to think about it first, and then get the entire team sign it, right? Knowing full well that this was all just to support this guy’s younger brother. I mean that is uncommon.

Olaniyi: It is, man. And he’s a rare dude, my brother. All my brothers are awesome. He actually brought me out one summer as well, my junior season, and I worked out with the team, the basketball team, on the Stanford campus. I stayed with my brother, and it was like he just invested in me, and that is a huge reason why I do what I do today. As well as like that’s the attitude that my dad instilled in us. My dad gave his whole life to at-risk youth here in the Portland area. So all of my friends came from my dad’s program and his summer schools and his after school programs. We always had someone living with us. At one point there was a homeless man who my dad literally allowed to live in our basement.

Mark: No kidding.

Olaniyi: And that man actually ended up dying in our basement as well. He had some sort of disease or something, but it just sort of speaks to the culture that my father set up in the house. Our home was literally open to everyone. And that’s a sort of a mindset that unconsciously sort of rubbed off on us. So now me and all of my brothers, we’re serving in some sort of way. Everything that we do is about giving back and investing and planting seeds. So that they can sprout. I have my brothers and my dad to thank for that definitely.

Olaniyi and the NFL


Mark: That is awesome. What a great story. Okay, so when… let’s talk about your NFL experience. Not a lot of people get to experience. It’s like, people are fascinated by my SEAL background because it’s just… it’s rare. Not many people have the privilege of doing that. NFL is similar. What were the highs and lows of the experience you had with the Saints?

Olaniyi: Oh man, it’s funny cause there was a lot. If it was a graph, man, it would be all like that (makes wavy motion with his hand). I mean, I remember when I first got the call I was at my apartment, and the draft was going on.

It was about the sixth round and the Saints called me up and were telling that they wanted to pick me up. And I remember getting that call and then they called again basically asking me if I wanted to accept. And I was like, “Yeah. Do I got a choice? Hell, yeah.” You know what I mean? And I hang up the phone and I’m telling my family like, “Yo, I’m going to New Orleans.” And I’d never been to New Orleans. They weren’t even a team that I thought was even on the radar. And then going to that rookie camp, you know, seeing my jersey and my helmet there. Taking the pictures and sending them back to my brothers and stuff. When I started my first game against the San Francisco 49ers that first season, and running out the tunnel.

Each week they alternate, offense or defense runs out the tunnel. And so my first start I was like… I remember it was like Wednesday or Thursday, and my friend my Lynell he was like, “Man, I wonder who’s going to run out of the tunnel this week. Is it the offense or the defense?” And the funny thing about it is I’d visualized so many times running out the tunnel. Like I literally imagined it so many times, all the way from when I was back in college and things like that. And then I found out it was the offense running out the tunnel, man, and sure enough they called number 33, Sobomehin. I damn near sprint out there, you know what I mean? They hadn’t even got done saying my name and I’m clear halfway across the field. So, catching my first pass in that game as well.

And then the lows, man. So it was funny my first game starting against the San Francisco 49ers, having a pretty good game, and then we get a call on the goal line. And I knew the ball was going to come to me ’cause we practiced this play all week. And so it’s 4th and 1 and we decided to go for it. We’re up by a couple of touchdowns, but it’s still somewhat of a risky play. That’s Sean Payton, that’s what he does. And Drew Brees is at quarterback, and I do a little under, I come, I catch the ball.

In college, this would have been an easy touchdown. I coulda just fell in the end zone. But in the NFL, everyone’s so much more quick and their instincts are so much more sharp. So I literally turn around and the Safety just blasts me, just cracks… literally a picture perfect hit from a defensive standpoint. And I fumble, hyper-extend my knee and my shoulder dislocates as well, all on the same play. It was like… and I fell on the goal-line. So the play got challenged, and I was literally on the sidelines, just like, “Please, please, let it be a touchdown.” But it ended up not being a touchdown, and I ultimately had to get surgery a couple weeks later on that shoulder and cut that season short. So that was definitely a low if you will.

And then, of course being released the next season, and having to watch them win the Superbowl without me. That was tough, man. I just remember being with my friends and watching that and literally feeling like I wanted to cry, you know what I mean? Like I was happy, and then I was also like, mad… I was literally mad and then there was some jealousy as well. I saw this one guy too, and I’m just like, “Man, he got a ring?” I was watching him like, he was hurt the whole season. He didn’t even play a game. So anyway, man, so having that cut short, but it was an awesome experience. Getting to play with the guys I was able to play with. Being a part of that team at that time. Being able to fulfill a dream like that. And that was something that a lot of people would tell me, they’re like… I used to get annoyed, like, people would say, “At least you made it.” And I’m thinking, “Nah, I wanted to like… I had dreams of being an all pro and doing this.” But now I am at the point where I can be proud.

‘Cause it’s not something I think about a lot honestly, and every now and then I’m reminded because my sons will like brag to their friends about their dad played NFL. And I remember, “Yeah, I did play in the NFL.” That was pretty cool, you know what I mean?

And it’s like I can feel good about that, ’cause that is a dream that I had that I made real. So that’s essentially what I help young athletes and high performers do now as well.

Mental Toughness


Mark: You obviously are interested and clearly… interested in mental toughness and focusing techniques and clearly you had a lot of your own, that allowed you to get to where you got, and succeed the way you did. Can you share some of them with us? Like, what were your rituals? What was your internal dialogue like when you were in the big game? When you played for the Saints? How did you get there and how did you use your mind to succeed?

Olaniyi: When I was younger, and this is funny ’cause what I do now is these are the systems and things that I teach now, but while I was an athlete, even all growing up, it wasn’t conscious. It wasn’t like I was conscious of what I was doing. But now that I’m able to look back, I’m able to say, “Okay, this is what I was doing that helped me succeed. This is what didn’t.”

So one thing that I definitely… I was an aggressive learner. Like I learned really, really quick. And I like learning, so that’s something that I believe should be a part of every athlete’s mindset is having the humility to learn and soak up the game. I remember when I was young I would gravitate toward the coaches who I knew, knew a lot. And I would just ask them questions all the time. After practice, I’d be doing different drills. I’d be making shit up. I’d be like doing little cutting drills, and I had no idea what I was doing. But I would always be learning. And I enjoyed learning, and that was a big part of it.

And then I’ll go back to the “I’m not you” mindset as well. This internal dialogue that I had was that I refused to associate with losing or failure. I just didn’t even see it that way at all. It was like, “I’m going to get what it is that I want.” Like it was a sort of natural aggression that I had, and optimism that could seem unrealistic a lot. Looking back I understand, I’m like, “Damn, I can’t believe I thought I was going to be able to do that.” You know what I mean? But I did.

Mark: But if you can’t think it, it’ll never happen, right?

Olaniyi: Exactly. It is like, what would you rather think? I always say that. What’s the option? Would you rather believe that it won’t work out? And so the mindset that I have is like, “What is it that I want? And what would I have to believe in order to get what I want?” And that changes from time to time. Sometimes you might have to be more conservative. Sometimes you may have to take risks.

But another thing that I was, I had a certain level of awareness where I was always willing to hear feedback. And now whenever I get that feeling that I don’t want to hear it, that’s a really, really scary feeling for me. Because that means that I think I’ve got it figured out and that I’ve stopped learning.

So those are some of the mindsets that I would take with me, in those particular times. And not really running from situations that were hard as well. That was another thing, man. It was like… I just honestly believe that the only way for me to get better was to be in those type of situations. And doing things that were tough actually gave me pride. So it was like when I was doing something that was really hard, I felt good about myself. I know other guys aren’t doing this, so I feel better about it.

Emotional Strength


Mark: Yeah, yeah. That’s cool. Now, I know that you’re physically tough. And, you know, this is one of the things… everyone thinks SEALs, you know we’re all obviously big tough physical guys. But my experience is that emotional strength is equally as important, and often times more important. And is that something that you feel like you developed through your family? Or being involved in sports? I guess I should back up and say, what do you think about this idea of emotional strength, and how do you work with that?

Olaniyi: It’s everything because if you don’t have that then all of the physical, tangible skills that you have are virtually useless. I know you know this, like you can be as strong as you wanna be, but when you’re under pressure, and you are so nervous that your heart’s beating and your legs are weak and you can’t physically get yourself to do something. And I saw this… we used to call these guys “workout warriors” when guys were super big-time in the gym, but when it comes time to play, they don’t got it. So it’s all about emotional strength, emotional fitness, emotional juice. And being able to push yourself emotionally and being aware of even how you feel on a day-to-day. You know, another question I like to ask is like… most people say, “what do I need to do?” and I say, “What would I need to feel?” in order to do what I know I need to do with the most of my intention and strength and power and effectiveness. And so, just being aware of those emotions. I believe that 100%.

Mark: That is awesome. Yeah, how do I need to feel to be able to do what I need to do? What a great mantra, almost. You know what I mean? Or what great just question to ask yourself.

And a lot of people don’t know how to access those feelings of power. Do you have any secret to that? Like, how do you access your emotional power when you need to?

Olaniyi: That’s a great question. And this is the analogy I use. It’s just like working out, right? If you wanna be strong then you have to… If you wanna build strength, first of all, you have to be consistent. So you have to deliberately practice. You don’t just magically get strong. You have to go and actually do it. So actually setting aside time to condition yourself mentally and emotionally is absolutely critical.

So then it’s like, “What do I need to do when I’m doing that?” Decide how you want to feel, that’s first and foremost, right? Make a goal, have the vision. So I wanna feel more motivated, I wanna feel more inspired, I wanna feel more energetic, whatever that is, and then, there’s a few things…

One of the easiest things that you can do, that I like to do is put myself around people who model that. Because they naturally rub off. That’s an obvious thing that most people understand but they don’t really do. We all know we have mentors, but how many people actually have mentors? That they hang around, that they watch and that they see. But I always like to… Tony Robbins talks about that triad, right, those three things that contribute to any emotion. And it’s your body, how you use your body, what you focus on, and the words that you use.

So I have a ritual, if you will, called “prime time” where I literally practice feeling the way that I wanna feel. And I do it in an exaggerated way. So in the same way you go into the gym and put on more weight so you can get stronger, you need to put on… you need to stretch yourself emotionally so with your body… or do what you would do… felt the way you wanted to feel, right? Focus on the things you want to focus on. Say out loud and in your head the things that you would say if you were feeling that way. So for everyone it’s different. I have certain things that I say to myself when I’m feeling motivated when I’m feeling inspired. I have a certain internal dialogue when I’m calm and poised. And so being able to identify what those emotions are that you want to feel. And then simply practice them. Consciously practice them. This is something I do with my kids, I will take them to the store and say, “You have to go introduce yourself to one person before we leave here.” And go practice feeling that way, and they’re all nervous.

But we can intellectualize about it all we want. We can philosophize and talk about… and I can teach you guys, but at the end of the day, you’re going to have to feel those feelings.

So just like it’s uncomfortable when you go to the gym and you put on more weight, it’s going to be uncomfortable when you start to stretch yourself emotionally. If you have the same baseline. My goal is always to raise an athlete’s emotional baseline, to where he can have more range. You can go here, you can go there. You shouldn’t be all of the time pumped up and juiced. You should be able to be calm and poised in certain situations. You should be able to be introspective and sort of be able to look at the game with a bird’s eye view, etcetera. Just identifying what those emotions are and deliberately practicing those consistently. Putting yourself around other people in that way as well.

Tony Robbins


Mark: Man, I love that. I think that’s fantastic. And I completely agree with you. And you’re right to invoke Tony because Tony Robbins is probably the master when it comes to state management and being really able to access those feeling states and tie it to a thought. And also how to get your body involved. If you move your body… you stand up straight. I was invited to one of his events as a guest by a SEALFIT athlete who did his fire walks, and it was cool. At first, I was like, “Ah, no. Do I really want to go to six days of Tony Robbins?” With all great respect, I was like, “Oh my God, I’ll probably shoot myself after the third day.” But I loved it. Six days and by the end of it I was like dancing. People were laughing, “You’re an idiot, Mark,” but I’m like, “No, it was fun.” He really got you juiced up.

Whether that was sustainable or not over the long term that’s a whole different thing. ‘Cause you gotta practice it. You gotta practice it every day. And so emotional strength is hard. The reason I kinda want to stay on this a little bit is because most guys, as you’re aware, don’t know how to do this. And so, you know, you’ve been teaching people how to do that, that’s really important work, ’cause I think, personally, it’s a big gap in our society, and frankly in the global society, is connecting to our emotional strength. And not just so that we can be more powerful, and kick-ass and take names in sport or combat or something. But also so we can be more intuitive and connect to other people. And so we can realize we’re deeply connected. You can come from Nigeria and be super-successful in the United States because ultimately inside we’re all the same. You know what I mean? At some level. It’s what we do with what’s inside that counts, right? And that’s ultimately mostly felt. A felt experience. Super-cool. So decide how you wanna feel, dialogue or say internally how you wanna feel, begin to move and practice that.

Practice everything


Olaniyi: Mmm-hmm. Practice it.

Mark: That’s essentially your formula? Practice it.

Olaniyi: Mmm-hmm. And be very deliberate about those thoughts that you’re thinking. So when you talk about focus… when you feel fear for example, all you’re doing is just imagining all the things that you don’t want to happen, right? And so, if you want to start feeling a different feeling in the midst of a crisis or under pressure, you’ve gotta discipline yourself to think about what it is that you want. Think about what it is that you’re going to do. Think about… move towards where it is that you want to go as opposed to what you don’t want to do. And that, right there is real easy to say. It’s real easy to read a book and just say that. But at the end of the day when you’re under the pressure, it’s really hard to do that. And so that is why you have to put yourself through the fire. And this is what I call it. It’s called “Through the Fire” training. You’ve gotta like… you have to deliberately seek out situations that make you uncomfortable. And I’m talking about every day, this is a way of life for me. In the gym… if you are in the gym doing the same old tired workout routine, you’re losing man, that’s a time that you could actually push yourself and develop so much confidence. I can’t tell you what it does for my confidence knowing that every single time I get into the gym, I’m deliberately doing something that’s going to be harder, more challenging than the time before.

And I win. Most of the time, I win. I’d say about 80% of the time I’m walking out of the gym having gotten better in some sort of area. My reps going up, or whether I put more weight on. Whatever it is.

Mark: Do a 1000 pushups.

Olaniyi: (laughing) Exactly. I was telling Mark when I first heard about you I did the thousand pushup challenge. And I think I got a call in between them as well, but I did it. I still did it in I think it was what did you say, an hour that you had to do it under?

Mark: An hour’s the goal.

Olaniyi: When I first heard it, it was one of those things where I was like, “That’s cool. But I’m not gonna do that.” And I did it man. And the confidence that you get. You have proven to yourself that you can overcome this challenge, right? And however little that may be, but it adds up. And then when life throws challenges at you, first of all they don’t seem as bad. It’s like, “All right, this is cool.” While most people are running around like a chicken with their head cut off, you’re like, “Yeah, this is cool, this is manageable. I got this.” Because I’ve seen myself do it before. And it’s more than just in your mind…. it’s important to visualize and I’m big-time on that. But you have to bridge that between purposely putting yourself in action on a daily basis. And finding anyway you can do it. Exploiting any mundane, everyday task and saying like, “How can I use this to push myself emotionally and mentally?”

Juggling and finding focus


Mark: Awesome. I’m with you 100%. Now you run your podcast now, is this your full-time thing? The “I’m not you” podcast? And parenting, of course. You got 4 kids.

Olaniyi: I got 5, actually. I was a firefighter for 2 and a half almost 3 years. I recently just retired. Two months to go. It was like one of those things where, I really enjoyed firefighting and it was an awesome experience while I was there, but it was like I had this thing that I really, really felt I’d been called to do. And I felt like I’d really been called to help people develop that supreme confidence in themselves so they can dominate under pressure. And it’s like I’ve been… You’re doing two things or three things, ’cause I got my family as well, and there’s a max in terms of how much you can grow or move forward in each of those things, because you’re too spread out. And so I had to just decide what I was going to do, and that meant that I was going to have to say no to firefighting and say yes to the business that I’m doing. And podcasting is one aspect of it. But ultimately I work with athletes, I work with high performers, in a systematic way helping them develop that confidence and be able to start performing like they know they really can and start getting the results that they want in life.

Mark: Got that. So is that like one-on-one coaching? Or how do you do that?

Olaniyi: So I have one-on-one coaching. I have group programs as well. I have two digital products that I’ve released, also, and then, of course, I have my podcast as well. I’m gonna get more into speaking eventually, but right now I’m just focusing on honing in on my systems and things like that, and really getting some great results with the clients I have right now. And adding a lot of value through my podcast also. And it’s been awesome, man, I’m having a blast.

Daily Rituals


Mark: It sounds like it. Now what is your daily regimen like to stay fit, healthy, and on top of your game?

Olaniyi: I wake up at 5 in the morning, and it’s almost like a necessity. I have 5 kids, so… it’s summertime so they’re getting up a little later now, but I live with a sense of urgency, because I just have to. Every single minute of every day is very, very important. I don’t have a lot of time to waste. My wife deserves my time, and my kids and my business as well, so I get up at 5. Take a cold shower in the morning. Brush my teeth.

I like to read my vision, this is something I just recently started which I have this ID card I like to call it. And it basically has my whole life on one page in terms of what I value, my mission, my beliefs, etcetera.

And then I meditate. I use this app called Headspace which I’m absolutely in love with. I started using that about a year and a half ago, and it’s just awesome. And then I do what i call “blueprinting,” which is… I pretty much map out my day, but it’s also a mental conditioning exercise. It’s a series of questions that I ask myself each morning and that I write down, that position my mind the way I need it to be. ‘Cause we all know, like every time you wake up you’re not feeling fired up, at least I’m not. Not every day. And there’s some days where my mind is here, but the blueprint sort of anchors me into the state that I need to be in on a daily basis. And like I said, it’s the same questions that I ask every day, and now it’s like, even if I don’t have my blueprint, which I always do, but I just start thinking of those questions. I start reviewing my purpose.

I say, “Why are the things… what are the results that I’m going after today? What are the top three actions that I need to complete in order to get those results? Why do I deserve all of the success that I’m going after?” And things like that. So that’s something I do morning and night as well. And that’s sort of my morning routine. And I also, every day, I train in some sort of way. Working out. I like to lift weights 4 to 5 times a week. I like to lift heavy. It’s something I was… I notice some guys after they’re done with sports they run from lifting heavy and it’s just something I gotta do, man. It just…

Mark: It feels good.

Olaniyi: Yeah. It feels good. I like knowing that I can lift heavy things and that I can run from people if I need… I can run from a dog if I have to. I mean, I like to know that I’m in great shape, so that’s something I value a lot as well.

Mark: Mark Rippetoe said that strength training makes you more useful and harder to kill.

Olaniyi: (laughing) Exactly. I like that.

Diet and Nutrition


Mark: Okay, cool. So what about diet and nutrition? You have time for that obviously.

Olaniyi: Oh yeah. Absolutely, man. I actually recently just since I came back from the Tony Robbins event back in November. So I went to “Unleash the Power Within.” And before that, I was considering getting rid of meat, but it was after that when I made the conscious decision to do that. I still eat eggs and things like that, and some cheese here and there. But I’ve given up on the meat. Eating a lot of tofu. My kids don’t like it, so I’m still trying to figure out how to make that better for them. But…

Mark: On that point, ’cause I’m moving that same direction you know, and I’ve just recently blogged about moving toward a whole food diet. I haven’t 100% given up meat but I’m down to like once or twice a week. And of course one of the challenges for people who train hard is getting enough protein and macronutrients to sustain your weight and not feel like you want to eat your arm off. So how do you get enough protein and…?

Olaniyi: So eat a lot of tofu, but I honestly don’t eat as much protein as I used to. You know when you’re an athlete, you’re always eating protein powder. I don’t supplement at all with any protein powders or anything like that. And I haven’t had any problem gaining weight. That’s actually not ever been my problem…

Mark: You think protein… that whole thing is just a 21st-century myth and maybe what it is is we need more fat. We need fat and carbs and a little bit of protein.

Olaniyi: I know for sure that we need more carbs than we’ve been told that we need. But in terms of protein, it’s one of those things where we like to know… I feel like human beings like to know the right thing to do. We want to know that if we do this, we’ll get this. But the reality is it’s different for everyone. So I’m not even comfortable telling someone that they’ve gotta be vegan and they can’t eat meat. It’s like ultimately you have to find your stable system that is going to be in place for you. And I feel like you have to put a lot of energy and effort into finding that, not just waiting for somebody to give you some meal plan, and say, “Here’s what you gotta do.”

Mark: I agree. I totally agree. Personalized nutrition is the way of the future. Still a ways off, but if you have your intuition dialed in and you’ve spent enough time training your body and mind then you’ll find it.

Olaniyi: Exactly.

Mark: Awesome. Awesome. Well, we’ve gotta wrap this up now, so people can find you…? Do you have a website or how do the people find you?

Olaniyi: Absolutely. You go to and I actually created a gift for your audience, if you go You can find me on Twitter, Instagram all at Niyi Sobo. And reach out to me.

Mark: Awesome. Let’s do that. So Olaniyi, I want to invite you to Kokoro camp someday as my guest. That’s our 50 hour crucible. I think that you would love it. You’d have to train for it, you know, up your endurance game for a little while, but… so put that in the back of your mind.

Olaniyi: When’s the next one?

Mark: (laughing) Well we have one this weekend, funny you should ask. I wouldn’t recommend it though. And then we have one in September.

Olaniyi: Okay.

Mark: Let’s see. September, September 23rd, 24th, 25th coming up. And then we’ll run them three times next year. These are amazing, amazing events. It’s like I say, 50 hours of non-stop training.

Olaniyi: That’s crazy.

Mark: Modeled after the Navy… and it’s just amazing. We have some really cool people, lots of NFLers have come through. Lots of elite athletes, Crossfitter, Navy SEAL candidates, and then just a lot of guys and gals who just want to test and challenge themselves. So on one end of the spectrum is the cold shower in the morning, on the other end of the spectrum is Kokoro camp. Hardest training in the world.

And then I’d love to send you a copy of one of my books. So I’ll reach out to Allison to send that to you. And I know you love to read, so maybe you’ll find some time to read “Unbeatable Mind” or “The Way of the SEAL.”

Olaniyi: Absolutely. I have “Unbeatable Mind,” and I’ve read that one. And I have your other, I have your other… the workout one, the bigger one. “Eight Weeks to SEALFIT.” But the other one I don’t have, so that’d be awesome.

Mark: Okay, I’ll send you “The Way of the SEAL,” which is kinda like my leadership book.

Olaniyi: That’d be awesome. I appreciate that.

Mark: Awesome. Well, keep up the great work. Hopefully, we’ll meet in person some day, and let me know how I can help you in any way, and if there’s anything we can do to promote your efforts beyond the podcast. Let Allison know or me directly if you want to do the Kokoro camp. Knowing who you are now, after this podcast, that you would find a lot of value… Be like the next stage in your own personal journey.

Olaniyi: It would, man. I’ve definitely never done anything like that, so that would be “going through the fire,” as I call it. Definitely.

Mark: Definitely would be.

All right, Olaniyi. Super-cool to meet you. Thank you so much for your time. Hooyah! And you have a great day and stay focused. For

For everyone else out there go check Olaniyi out at, and… I meant and I’m kind of intrigued. What’s the gift? He’s very cryptic, he hasn’t told us.

All right everyone. Train hard, stay focused and have fun. And Hooyah! We’ll talk to you next time.

Coach Divine Out.