After leaving the football field as the quarterback for the Bowie State Bulldogs, Jared Johnston faced some of the most challenging times in his life. Stepping away from his lifelong work to become a professional football player was weighing on him, and deciding his next career move would take just as much dedication and passion as he had given thus far.
Through his success as a licensed realtor in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area and his book, From Cleats to Loafers, he has emerged as a vessel for athletes to transition into business and become profitable professionals.
Recently, Mogul Millennial caught up with the QB turned realtor, author, and public speaker and he threw some golden life and professional tips our way—all spirals of course.
How did your upbringing impact your success? Who influenced/inspired you growing up?
Growing up, my family inspired and influenced me on a daily basis. My mother always made sacrifices to take care of my brother and I. My father’s work ethic had him working three jobs at once and he never complained, he just did what he had to do. So, I think those qualities influenced me to work extremely hard for what I want. I’ve always applied this work ethic to football but now it shows in the professional realm of my life. I didn’t want any helping hand offered to me to go to waste. My family is loving and big on caring for others, so it inspired me to treat others the right way. Life is a circle—treating people right can bring success back around.
How did being a quarterback at Bowie State teach you about preparation and professionalism?
Everyone on the football field must be prepared to carry out their assignment play by play. But being a quarterback, I had to know the assignment of every single one of my ten teammates who were on the field with me. Having that responsibility, it required me to study and prepare more than I hung out.
The same way I prepared for a game is how I prepare for any work or business-related event. I go over notes, I visualize having a successful meeting with a client; I avoid being out late knowing that I have a meeting in the morning as if I had a game the next day. My quarterback experience taught me the importance of promptness. I couldn’t show up to practice or meetings late—and I for sure can’t show up late to a client meeting.
Also, lack of preparation can lead to attending meetings with little knowledge about the property or the loan. Handling mistakes throughout a game has taught me how I should handle them in business. Sometimes in real estate my clients' offer on a home is rejected. It can be emotionally draining when it occurs repeatedly. Using my “next play mentality” as a quarterback, I have been able to lead them through some challenging times. In a professional sense, being a quarterback allows me to accept criticism as well because quarterbacks can get blamed when things go wrong on the field; yet they’re praised when things go right.
How did you get into real estate?
I always had been somewhat interested in real estate like many people, and I sort of stumbled into it. After playing football, I worked at a dog kennel. I was trying to figure out my next move and the owner suggested that I get into real estate and see how I like it. She gave me the step-by-step formula to get started and I just jumped in. I had left the kennel and started working another job; and I studied for the real estate exam until I finally decided to give it a shot.
The entire experience was a life lesson for me I didn’t realize until a couple years later. I never would have expected to work at a dog kennel after playing football yet it’s where the seed was planted to get into real estate. Now, I tell myself that I can’t let my current situation determine my future success at any point in life if I feel I am “behind.”
How did you leverage your fan base for support in real estate?
For starters, I think being a scholarship athlete says a lot about my intentions on everything I decide to do. Everything I do I take seriously and people know that. Being a quarterback means you are naturally thrown into a leadership role and it follows you in every aspect of life.
When I wrote From Cleats to Loafers, my peers supported it immediately because they knew if I put myself at the forefront of this conversation with my name on it that it is not for play. As I grow professionally, I continue to use the advantage of being a former quarterback—someone who is expected to display commitment, pride and perseverance.
Tell me about how From Cleats to Loafers came to be and your vision for it.
I didn’t plan to write From Cleats to Loafers during my playing days; it wasn’t even a thought. What prompted me to write the book was my experience when I stepped away from football for good; it messed with me in a negative way.
There were several things I struggled with mentally, emotionally, and socially. I had a loss of identity, was in and out of depression and felt like my dreams were unfulfilled. I began trying to find the same or similar happiness I found playing football. What I noticed is that I was not the only one who was dealing with these issues after leaving the game. Some former athletes ended up in jail or committed suicide while facing the root issue of not knowing how to properly transition. Nobody let me know the reality that athletes sometimes go through when striving to reach the NFL.
This gap that needed to be filled became my purpose. Society gives little attention to professional athletes with short-lived careers, and forgets about those who never reach that ultimate goal. From Cleats to Loafers speaks to both sides of the equation. I wanted to create a blueprint that speaks directly to our athletes, parents, coaches, and schools to shed light on this topic and teach others to successfully transition.
My vision is to one day have From Cleats to Loafers be a part of high school and college athletic programs; the NFL also as a teaching tool. I want it to get into the hands of as many people as possible to spread the message. I’m also working on turning it into visual content for those who learn better that way.
What advice would you give to those inspiring to get into real estate?
For anyone with ambition of getting into real estate, his/her specific goals are important. Knowing your career path is key to finding your niche in this field. Also, finding a mentor would be of great benefit. Don’t get caught up in the required tests to receive a license if you are looking to get into the sales side of real estate.
Most of the information you need to know can be learned in the field. A mentor who is eager to give back can gain you a lot of experience, even if the money is slow in the beginning. Real estate was a foreign language when I started and I’m still learning from each transaction. Perseverance is a pillar to grow in the real estate game. Taking notes of each deal will help you learn from every detail and avoid making the same mistakes.
Jared Johnston’s story is an inspiration and a testimony that we can reinvent ourselves. He has taken everything he learned from life and football and transformed it into real estate success and motivational storytelling. Now the future is very bright for the former Bowie State quarterback, and every day for him is first and goal.
To keep up with Jared, you can follow him on Instagram