#29 From professional soccer player to brand builder and beyond

#29 From professional soccer player to brand builder and beyond

#29 From professional soccer player to brand builder and beyond

Quincy Amarikwa

Quincy Amarikwa

Quincy Amarikwa, Founder of Black Players for Change, is a mental strength coach and entrepreneur who recently completed his 12th year of professional soccer (11 in MLS). Most recently signing and completing his 12th year with Las Vegas Lights FC. (USL)
Quincy was born the eldest and only son of four to father Charles Amarikwa from Owerri, Nigerian and mother Veronica Amarikwa from Superior, Montana. He learned his work ethic and self-reliance early on from his parents and has applied that not only to his soccer career but to every aspect of his life - Mental Strength League :point_right::skin-tone-4::no_mouth::point_left::skin-tone-4: #MSL I’m In Your Head
Quincy has always had a knack for starting businesses and turning what he loves into a profitable endeavor. His primary focus is teaching others how to build a winners mindset, using his platform as a professional soccer player to impact and educate a wider audience. Quincy has already begun that journey helping others with his published books, but most notably with his weekly live call-in video podcast, The #AskASoccerPro Show.
On the show, Quincy breaks down his patented AMARIKWA PROCESS and 3 S's Of Self Awareness, a philosophy and practice he has used to develop a G.O.A.T mentality and create the Mental Strength League. He shares tips on how to master your mentality and become the best version of yourself you choose to be.

What do you think of when I say soccer and digital marketing? Is it Nike or Adidas that come immediately to mind? What if I told you that a professional soccer player, who isn’t Ronaldo nor Messi, is taking the world on with the same enthusiasm and ingredients as the big brands, but with more heart and focus on the long game, successfully recruit a legion of followers? In this episode, Quincy Amarikwa talks about his journey through the sports world and what drives him to be relevant in today’s fluid digital world. It’s a recipe that every marketer needs to understand, including associated guardrails (or as I like to call them, digital policies).

native advertising, brand, branding, platform development, digital marketing, influencer marketing, user generated content, guardrails, digital policy
Episode number:
Date Published:
November 12, 2020

KRISTINA PODNAR, HOST: On July 12, 2019, I attended a D.C. United game where a player by the name of Quincy Amarikwa scored a goal. Subsequently, my son, who looks up to Quincy as a soccer player and a person, introduced me to Quincy’s Thursday evening Instagram hangouts, which are a combination of soccer banter, serious advice stemming from the Amarikwa methodology, which is patented as “I’m In Your Head”, and at times product promotion. It all goes down with Quincy and his loyal and growing legion of followers. Listening to Quincy and even posing some of my own soccer-development related questions impressed upon me the power of native advertising, directly connecting with audiences from an influencer perspective, and what it means to be building a platform and brand while still fostering integrity and staying true to key core principles. I couldn’t resist but to ask Quincy to join me for a conversation, where we touch upon everything from soccer, to branding, to building a legion of followers for years, if not decades to come. Have a listen!

KRISTINA: You've had 12 years of professional soccer playing experience, 11 of which are in the MLS, but there's this side that not everybody in the United States also associates with you right away, which is you're very talented sports persona, but you're also known for starting businesses, and turning what you love into profitable endeavors, and you do that with a lot of passion. That's why I'm saying you're very multifaceted, and I'm wondering how you see yourself. Is that the right way to look at you or what other facets of my forgetting about or not mentioning?

QUINCY AMARIKWA, GUEST: I would say that would be an accurate representation of me in the sense that I do not want to be pigeonholed into any category box or predetermined, limiting belief system or anything that could limit my future potential, who I could be if I choose to be or put the work in or learn to become. I don't want any label to prevent anything for myself or my kids, my kid's kid's kids. So you'd made a point. Like who do you do it for, right for me? I'm doing it for my children's children's children. And for me, I don't know what my kid's kid's kids kid will want to become one day. So if I see someone putting limitations on what I could or couldn't become right now in the moment for whatever reason, it could be my race, It could be my attitude, could be my arrogance. It could be my confidence; it could be anything, my lack of understanding in this current moment. My focus is to find ways to bridge that gap and find solutions that will allow that to not be true for those who come after me. Because I don’t want to limit the potential of anybody. That's something I don't want to do.

KRISTINA: I saw you play several times. Not a lot. I have to admit. I'm a soccer fan, but not necessarily a D.C. United fan, don't kill me for saying that, I was there when you scored the goal that we have on the video. So I'm very proud, you know that I was cheering you on for that. But what's interesting is I came to learn about you through my 13-year-old son and what  I've done is joined [your show] a few times on Thursday nights live when you're on, and the sense that I always get is very inspiring to me. I'm not sure if I'm actually in your target demographic audience, but the reason that I'm inspired is you are playing the long game, right? You are building what I'm calling a legion, certainly of players, but I think it goes beyond that, you're trying to build strong people, and I think it's fair to say that you're competing with global brands. If I put you on par with what you're trying to do or actually what you're accomplishing; you are getting some things done that even large brands that I work with struggle to get done. So it's a high-performing effort. What drives you to play that long game, right?

QUINCY: So my approach in the way in which I go about sharing information and doing the show is speaking to the future, in the sense of, most people like you express like oh this show isn't for my demographic, but it is, for your son. It's for you. It's for coaches. It's for parents. It is a mass-market, but I can't speak to everyone all at one time. But if I'm speaking to everyone at one time, I have to speak to everyone for much longer for everyone to take away from it what I'm hoping they take away from it. So, you are my audience just like your son is my audience, and every generation is my audience, but there has to be something in the show that speaks to every level, at every level of understanding, full understanding no understanding love for the game. No love for the game, think I'm an idiot, thinks I'm a genius. I have to speak to all at once, and everyone will only give you a fraction of a second of there time and attention. So, when you understand that as well to you have to do something that you know will at least get everyone's fraction of a second of their time of attention and then give them something of value even if they don't understand the value of it yet. So that they're unlikely to maybe re-engage as some time again in the future and take a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more and then eventually you've provided them enough value for them to maybe invest their time in you. At which point in time, I can then better articulate who I am, where I'm coming from, and share why I believe people get me wrong, why I understand why that's the case, and also break down the process of achieving something of massive impact. So tying back to what you described that a lot of individuals are there in the machine they feel like they're a cog in the machine or they're just a fraction of a piece of the machine, and they have all these ideas, and they have ways to improve the system, and they can do this, but the person at the top doesn't listen and to your point, person at the top doesn't listen because there's no incentive for them to listen. Which basically means there's no imminent or immediate danger? That's what we are essentially, right, like humans. So you understand, when you better understand, you know human psychology, your own ego, your own insecurities, your complacency. And then you bridge a gap of empathy between yourself, and the person at the top. You can then see how they're operating is no different than how you're operating. The difference is they have access to the resources, and you dont. And what you're wanting is access to the resources or the power or the influence or the ability to make those decisions, but most of the things that you don't have when you're at that part of the bigger machine is the experience to understand why certain things that are in place that you perceive or experience to be negative or actually for the greater good of yourself in the future. What's missing in my mind is leaders who are in those positions of influence and decision-making rules who understand that and understand how to accurately articulate that to the other members of their organization who are outside looking in? Yeah, no, I'd I really appreciate you know the work you did. Understand, you know getting a better understanding of me as well as like reaching out and being open to having this conversation because it's not I guess it's somewhat I'm expressing is it's not lost on me the amount of time and experience you've invested. Yeah in your life before even getting to this moment and being willing to invest some of that time of your life in me in conversation. I value greatly.

KRISTINA: Oh, well, thanks for saying that, but you know, I found it fascinating. Well, I mean, first of all, I was very curious to learn more about you as my 13 year old sees you, and I thought it was fascinating again, that I think what comes through I guess what's fascinating to me, right, if I forget for a second about my child or what he's doing, etcetera. and if I put my digital policy sherpa hat, on your platform and what you're doing is a bit reminiscent to me of like Nike and the sense that you're both very bold, but when I think about what you're doing, and I think about a brand like Nike there's a huge order of magnitude difference here in terms of resources, in terms of the saying that you each have in order to be bold and takes and make some of those bold decisions knowing that they'll have a bold impact. And, so I think it's fascinating that you are able to do than just from a pure sort of digital consultant perspective. I find it fascinating that you are so bold with your platform, and I think, or I would hope that that's also translating to the growth of your firm and two other benefits in both quantifiable and qualifiable always, right, but I'm curious also to learn more because people don't operate like Quincy Amwerikwa. They just don't, and so I'm curious, what allows you to be so bold and do even I mean do you have policies for yourself?  Like are there guardrails that you put in place that you say look not just for myself, but maybe the team that's helping you with your brand and helping you realize the platform that you envision, for yourself or "Perfect soccer" for sort of the bigger thing that's coming whatever that next bigger thing is, are there guard rails in place? Don't even need guardrails?

QUINCY:  I appreciate the question. So the guardrails are the Amarikwa process. That's the only guardrail, and the guardrail is really a process for self-awareness and understanding and realizing that you are fully capable of becoming everything that you hate at this moment and don't believe you don't stand for, and chances are, the deeper your hatred of an individual or group or party or the person across the organization across from you, the likely in my experience. It's much more likely that you are operating exactly the same way, and the reason why you don't like them and you're not in support of them, and you hate what they represent or stand for is because you're unable to see how you've it's just basically a mirror you're looking in a mirror, and you don't like what you .  So the that would be my frame of context for the setting—step one in terms of building this mentality. That put me on another… I had a lot of different other experiences as well, too, and it got me to the point at least we're now here I am now, and I have the guardrail of thinking of myself in the future now even what we were discussing this conversation where I think back to look, okay, Quincy, you have the experience of the professional sports career of your soccer career to date of 12 years and you remember all the public statements and things that you've made in conversations directly with coaches with your teammates and all of that. You've also seen how those things panned out and played out for you positively and negatively. What you didn't have was that mentor who understood how the system works. And could and how the system works, I mean specific to U.S. soccer like professional soccer. My father, an amazing mentor. My mother's been an amazing mentor, but I think just similar to how we talked about at the start of this conversation where you sit, I was happy to see that you're just willing to jump into, right? That's just how I approach it a say. Okay, you know what? I don't know we're going to talk about today. I don't know what her industry is. I don't know the background. I don't have an objective or agenda other than to just share the lessons and mistakes and the things that I've learned along this journey so far and I have faith in that process.

KRISTINA: I think that it's very meaningful, especially for where the world is today and how individuals connect, and it's a challenge I think to existing brands, but I hope that it's a positive challenge in the sense that you're inviting people to rethink what they are and how they're doing it and challenge the status quo because it's not necessary to operate in the old paradigms that not only don't necessarily achieve the type of outcomes that are good for business, but they're also not good for society necessarily and so as I'm kind of listening to you and you're describing exactly the kind of platform that I hear and see across touchpoints that are Quincy Amarikwa. I'm also wondering when you look at your legion of our followers, which is by the way growing tremendously, what is the time for…I'm going to say young soccer players, but I really mean young individuals, young individuals who are looking up to Quincy who is saying, what this just makes sense, this resonates. It just makes sense. When should they start building their platform, do they even need one? I mean, in the digital world that we're in today, do they need a platform?

QUINCY: Okay, so to answer that question, it really says what the goal of is the individual, and I think the biggest issue and problem is the assumption that has already been set. The context has already been set in the questions that we ask. Right. So we're assuming that platforms are valuable in their importance because we see that they're valuable, important today, but I don't know if that's going to be the case 10 years from now. And I think the biggest issue and problem from older generations when trying to connect and speak with younger generations is they did not grow up with the experience of things changing so quickly, so it's hard to get kids to buy in on anything because in their experience here today is gone tomorrow not a big deal, and the older generation is telling them like, oh you don't understand the value of the dollar you guys don't get it back in my day. You do this; you do that. You do all these other things, but they're also speaking to a generation who has no power. It doesn't have as much power as you do to influence or change the system. So we're sitting here just listening and waiting on the older generation to get it. While the order generation is talking to the younger generation about how they just don't get it. They don't get this; they don't get that. They don't get this there, right?

KRISTINA: Do you think it's possible for the older generation to get it or do we just wait until the older generation retires and you know eventually dies out. Is that the best way to change?

QUINCY: Yeah. The answer is yes; they can get it. The problem for them is they only choose to get it once they have no choice. There are not proactive, which means they're waiting on other people to do all the work for them and in the old system, that works and you got rewarded for it, in the new system, I believe that's been built and being built and people are moving into that does not work anymore. And we're creatures of habit. Right? So if you knowingly or unknowingly profited off of a system that was prejudice and discriminatory to a certain group of people for a long period of time and you might have seen that there was issues or problems with it, but it didn't directly affect you, and it didn't hurt you in any way so you didn't really do anything to change it or address it or work towards making it more equitable. That is your choice and that is okay, and you're able to do that. But the issue now is really saying like Okay, well, what happens when that group of individuals has understands the system fully understands it on a very deep level and now can do for themselves on their own.

KRISTINA: So I would say that from that policy perspective and not being a digital strategist, to me, that's what that means having a following, having a platform creating the conversation, inviting people into that platform where it's it is a conversation. It's not a one-way street. It's not a push of information. It's not giving people what you think they want or what you want your brand for them to want. It's having the conversation with them, giving them my framework, and then like you said, letting them define what they need to define for themselves within that context.

QUINCY: Yes, and no and I appreciate. I appreciate that response, you know the ad sharing  from that angle because it think it kind of tethers me to something right in what is really digital space. So it's like there's a there's infinite space in digital space. So then your say, okay well. How can we tether ourselves in this space? So there's some level of understanding and commonality in do we want to even do that? So if we're even assuming that that's what we want to do. The only way we can maintain some level of connectivity is through conversation and the frame of reference that you use that I liked in terms of you saying hey and D.C. you're watching people in protest just being mean to each other. Right? Like if you didn't know the context of the protest or anything you just saw these two groups shouting and yelling and there's you know, just saw over here. There's a protest and there's a stabbing right? No context. No, nothing no understanding of who did what on each side. Right who's wrong? You could just look in that moment say like well, that's not. That would be something that we would all tell our children. We wouldn't want to elicit in terms of behavior like that. Just right like that's not good if we're saying I understand good and bad is subjective. But let's just say let's say we need to have some frame of reference of what's good. And what's bad or what's an ideal we want to achieve I would express in that singular moment as a pixel of humanity. We're not happy with that moment in time. But we also know that that's just a moment in time and it's and it's really going like, okay. It's a moment in time where people may feel as though they have no control over their life no control of where they are and no control of their future. So all they have is anger. And the only thing that they can do to rationalize the world that they're in and what they're experiencing is to lash out to the person or organization across from them that they perceive to be the reason why they're in the position that they're in right now. And the word that you use which is important I think is the word appreciation. So the word appreciation to me means anything that grows in worth over time. I think what the system hasn't been investing in is an appreciation of the other side because up until this point in time. We may have failed to recognize or acknowledge is that We're All in This Together, even if we don't believe that we are, even if we don't want to be just like you might not want your parents to be your parents, but you had no choice over that or maybe you did and we just don't remember it. Right like that's a whole another can of worms. But the main thing is like you don't choose your parents your paint you you're here. You're now you don't use them. Right? So you're connected to them whether they're not there. They're you know, they were there in your life and help you or they want or they abandon you or they were there with you the entire time. They brought you into the world. So you're here. So we're connected and it's really saying like. When you lose any level of appreciation, you might have had a horrible experience with your parents or they might not have been there for you. But do you have an appreciation that they brought you into the world even appreciation for the life that you have the time that you have the things that you have as a result of them doing that whether it was their intention or not? You're here. And maybe your experience up to this point has been very horrible been- terrible. Not one that you'd want to wish on anybody or anything can't you see that as an opportunity to understand from a perspective that most people don't have and you can build a platform or a system or process that hopefully make sure other people don't have that same experience as you can speak to it from an angle and provide value that most people would never ever have access to I say all that to then also touch on the point that your base. He's saying in terms of like, you know, there's a business intact and you know, everyone's got to put food on the table and make money and I understand that and I guess the issue and problem that I face and I run into is most organizations and companies and brands and stuff don't value the perspective and angle that I present intake. They literally don't value it so I don't receive any compensation for doing so I'm actually adamantly people adamantly fight against any type of compensation for what it is that I'm doing because it is kind of like a is the opposite of the system as it as a stance, but I also believe that given enough time, brands, organizations, people will realize that assistant that they're fighting to keep up isn't sustainable and they'll have to eventually invest in the system that they're they're refusing to learn to participate in or to get on board with and that ties back to what we're kind of talking about in terms of like Zoom and Google and all of these things, you know, the older generation tends to just not want to know anything have anything to do with any of these apps any of these systems thinking these things difficult like a mass majority, speaking in generalities. He's but we're now finding ourselves in a world where everyone realizes that like for instance. My mom has had to learn how to use Google slides in Google Docs and all of these things that have been available and she could have been using for several years that would have made our job easier, but she wasn't willing at that time yet to invest to three weeks, four weeks of time to just dig in and learn how it all comes together. And now I'm seeing she's flying. He's loving it, but there was still that period of time where she was not happy with what was going on and she only got to that point because the whole world shut down, right? So I feel like we all as humans have that common ago. We all have the experience the common experience that we were lacking before this time to basically build that connection with every single human on the every single person's going through the pandemic the world shut down. So even if you hate the person across the street from you or the other organization or whatever. They have to deal with that's something you can have a conversation about the issues and problems that their fault. They're experiencing as a result of the pandemic and you can as well too. So that's common ground and we can build from there and my question then becomes why would we rebuild the system as it saw what the outcome is now? And for me, that's where I'm saying, like well. I'm of the mindset that I feel that there's a better way and I'm willing to do the work to figure out. Figure out how to make that happen. So I like that I guess that kind of summarize where I've just where I feel and see things are at and it's now it's a matter of just seeing like the jive talk about the MSL train has been has been going in 2020s about the vision and workshop. We're going to see just like earlier the conversation. We said like the older generation will eventually it's written it will happen. But I feel like they could get on board well before that time and we could all we could all enjoy this human experience together and not be so mean to each other like you're expressing and just now I really appreciate the questions in the conversations. This is very helpful, insightful.

KRISTINA: I think that what you have to say Quincy is going to resonate with so many different people and I say that because I've had the pleasure of hosting other folks on the podcast who have brought a very different perspective to business and large brand, small brands, businesses, nonprofits, associations. I can't say any league but other folks have actually heard them share ideas, and it's been very meaningful, impactful and helpful and engaging and creating new dialogues as people want to hear more about you learn more about what you have to say. Check out your brand your platform and maybe even come along for the ride. Where should they go?

QUINCY: So QuincyAmarikwa.com/about that would be the best place to see what's the most up-to-date information or what I have on one place. Right?

KRISTINA: I suggest that folks go out there because it's a fascinating journey to actually be able to watch, and I'm going to look forward to hearing and catching up with you again on a coming Thursday. In the meantime, a happy belated birthday. I hear that you celebrated yesterday. I don't know if you know this or not, you’re a little bit younger than the internet, but you do share the same date of birth.

QUINCY: Oh? I did not know that.

KRISTINA: There you go. Quincy, thanks for taking the time to hang out today and talk about your soccer career, how it helped you build your brand, what you are doing with the platform that you have created, and your power to achieve things on par with a large multinational.  For the rest of us, this is a great reminder that staying true to core principles and playing the long game can have tremendous value, not just in the here and now, but as we move a brand forward. Until next time, stay well and do good policy work.

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