Vibe Sesh with Alyssa Julya Smith. Alyssa, anchors her show at the network Cheddar and she talked with Get Your Vibes about her career path, career advice, goal setting and what a health life looks like for her!
Often times society, the media or our professions, only highlight one of our many layers as people. Whether it’s what we do for work, what we said, or our public image, we can sometimes experience just a small fragment of a dynamic and multilayered person. But, as the digital and social media era has evolved, so have our opportunities to share our passions outside of our professions. You may know Amobi Okugo, as the veteran professional soccer player (keep in mind he is still only 26), but as you begin to peel back the layers, Amobi, who is the founder of a Frugal Athlete, reveals he is a multifaceted, forward thinking, entrepreneurial, student, and a business savvy, investor. A soccer player first, Okugo, attributes his drive to his first generation Nigerian-American upbringing and his long term aspirations to help keep him focused on his goals both on and off the field.
Take a seat and settle in for this month’s Vibe Sesh with Amobi Okugo.
Q: What was it like growing up Amobi Okugo?
A: I would say growing up it was a unique experience. As a first generation Nigerian-American, it definitely wasn't the standard American upbringing. I wouldn't change it for the world but growing up it was a lot different from most of my friends. I'm the oldest of four siblings and I would say me and my brother closest to me definitely had it harder than my two youngest siblings.
How connected are you to your Nigerian roots?
I feel that I'm very connected to my Nigerian roots. We grew up being raised the Nigerian way. Eating Nigerian food, going to Nigerian events, sticking to Nigerian customs. I think if you ask any 1st-2nd generation Nigerian American they will have had very similar upbringings. I would like to be more connected by going back to the motherland more consistently and becoming fluent in my native tongue. Although I can understand the language completely , my cousins back home still kill me when I try to speak Igbo or pidgin English.
What are some of your earliest soccer memories?
The earliest soccer memories I have was going to the park with my dad and playing soccer until I would get tired and cry. I remember my family members gathering around for the 94 world cup and rooting for Nigeria. Then again in the 96 olympics, I think my parents still have the VHS tapes of those games.
What was it about the sport of soccer that you were drawn to?
Soccer was always going to be the sport I played, just growing up Nigerian, it's the number one sport. A couple of my uncles played at a high level so it was decided if I was going to go into sports, soccer was the first choice. Luckily, I ended up loving it from day one. For me, the constant movement and flow of soccer is the best thing about it. No standing around and you are always thinking.
You were drafted after your freshman year at UCLA. Was the decision to go pro after one year of college difficult for you?
It was very weird to be honest, I had the opportunity to go pro right before I went to UCLA and decided to go to UCLA. Our team had a great season and fortunately a lot of guys from our team had the opportunity to pursue a professional career. After the season, everything happened very fast but I knew I wanted to go pro even though I loved my time at UCLA no matter how short it was, I didn't have any difficulty making the decision.
You are now with your 4th team the Portland Timbers, you started your career with the Philadelphia Union and had stints with Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City. At 26, you have amassed over 150 appearances in all competitions professionally, including representing the United States in the 2012 Olympics. What have you learned from being a professional athlete?
The one thing I learned from being a professional athlete is that all you can do is all you can do and all you can do is enough. As an athlete some things may not go your way but, if you give it your all, and continue to perfect your craft more often than not good things will happen. You may not be able to control how someone views you or how a call may go but you can control the hard work you put into your job. If you do that, your chance will come. It may not be at the moment you ask for it but it will eventually come, your job then is to be ready for when it eventually does come.
Where did the idea of a Frugal Athlete come from?
Frugal Athlete really stemmed from my interest for business and finance. It didn't really register until I saw the ESPN 30 for 30 Broke, documentary that highlighted different athletes that lost their money. It led me to try and find athletes that were smarter with their money but I kept coming across people that lost it all or guys like Lebron James and Kobe Bryant who would never have to worry about their post career. Frugal Athlete, really came about because I wanted to highlight different athletes that were prudent financially and promote those guys.
Where do you see the biggest gap in financial literacy, especially as it relates to professional athletes?
For me, I think the biggest gap is in the information. I feel that it's very hard for professional athletes to understand exactly how their money works. On top of that, when you are making substantial amounts of money at that age you don't have the discipline to sit down and actually take the time to learn how to properly manage your money.
Where and how did you develop your financial habits?
Growing up my parents taught me good financial habits. I've always been a pretty business savvy guy. For me, I think I developed most by just reading different sports business, financial books.
How important is it for you to plan for your future outside of soccer?
I think it's very important personally for me to plan my future outside of soccer. If you think about it, your professional career at best is about 15 years. If you start playing at 20, you are done by 35. You still have another 30 years before you are considered a senior citizen. You have your family to think about. The worst thing a player can do is not think about their transition, because once you are done playing no one really cares about you as a retired player. As a professional you are very fortunate to be in the position you are in so you want to have fun and make the best of it but at the same time it's important to map out your plan.
What is some financial advice that you can offer anyone, not just athletes?
Be disciplined in your budget. I think that can apply to anyone, if you stick to a planned budget you can achieve a lot in your quest to a stable financial situation and build stability within your financial playbook. I think sticking to your budget is the jumpstart to building everything else. If you can't even stick to a simple budget than it's going to be hard for more complex things like investing and stuff like that.
How do you see the financial landscape evolving for professional athletes
It's really evolving. You see a lot of professional athletes showing enthusiasm in venture capital , investing, and having more say in how the make their money work for them. It's really cool to see how professional athletes are growing in this financial sector.
You are currently in school pursuing a degree in Organizational Leader, with a minor in Business Administration and have the goal of going to graduate school too. How important is it to you to complete your college education?
It's very important. My parents came to the states for me and my siblings to have a better upbringing than they had. Education is very important for our family because it's something no one can take away from you. It was a battle convincing my mom to let me go pro when the opportunity came, but I promised I would finish my degree so it's cool to finally finish for not only myself but for the sacrifices my parents made.
Between soccer, a Frugal Athlete and school, how do you find your center and balance?
I try to keep to a schedule. Obviously soccer comes first and I put all my time into soccer when it calls for it but when I have downtime I make a conscious effort to not be lazy and plan out my schedule to commit to school and Frugal athlete. Time management is key
What are Vibes to you?
Vibes to me are positive experiences whether that means like "oh he's good vibes or the vibe was cool" I just think of vibes as positive experiences like no negative energy no stress no drama
How do you Get Your Vibes?
I get my vibes from family, friends, and soccer. I think your vibes come from within by having a positive mindset but for me personally I know I'm always going to have good vibes when I'm around those three things.
Where can we connect with you?
There are a lot of ways to describe Jeramie Hopson. Passionate and authentic, are two words that come to mind when talking about the Music Marketing Specialist at Beats By Dre. Hardworking, is another one, you don't get to work for such a notable brand without discipline and diligence. But the quality that stands out the most about Hopson, is how positive his energy is. Undoubtably, his positivity is an energetic force that is genuinely felt by all, and it is no mistake. Hopson's self awareness has created a life of fulfillment both personally and professionally.
Read more in this month's #VibeSesh, with Jeramie Hopson...
Q: Tells us about your role at Beats By Dre?
A: I’m a Music Marketing Specialist. My role ranges from helping manage and track budgets, product placement in Music Videos, updating the team on music trends, staying up to date on both emerging and established artist, product seeding, talent management, and lastly, but most importantly providing a platform for artist to bring their vision to life through various creative and experiential properties.
What has your path to Beats been like?
This could honestly be a very long answer. But in short, it has been an enlightening journey filled with plenty of GodWinks. GodWinks are the signs that happen in life that let you know you’re on the right path. It’s God’s way of winking at you to let you know he has your back. I really pay attention (sometimes too much) to the signs. What I mean by that is my dad use to be a professional drummer, so I grew up in a music household. I played basketball at the collegiate level. I spent 4 years in the U.S. Air Force working in Montana on ICBM’s. Received a degree in Business Marketing at Westminster College in Utah. Worked for a small agency in Venice, CA called Zambezi learning and marketing for culturally relevant sports and lifestyle brands. Then, in 2014 I was blessed with an opportunity to come to Beats by Dr. Dre right after the Apple acquisition. At each of these stops I’ve picked up skills that are helping me thrive in my current position.
I believe one of the most important lessons you'll learn is to just be yourself, and by doing that you’ll attract the people you need to attract. When you attract the right people they’ll help guide you to the right path. It’s also a blessing to have amazing bosses and mentors in your life who’ll give you the tools to prepare you for where you’re meant to be.
A lot of what you do is help bring artists’ creative vision to life, through content, events and marketing. What’s the key to staying true to the artist, maintaining integrity and marketing their vision?
Great question. Maintaining integrity is the easiest part for me. I pride myself in being extremely open and transparent with artist. At times I worry that I’m too honest. But what I want to do is continue to operate with integrity because it makes the working relationship better. Every idea has a truth or an insight and I always try to find out what that is. Artist are very creative human beings that create based on experiences or truths, and I just listen to what those are, do my research, and the dots start connecting themselves. If they don’t already have an idea of what they want to do, the ideas come to me or the team naturally because of how in tune we are to insights and truths.
That’s when the joy really comes, once we’re able to help deliver on their vision and see both the artist, industry and fans feel it and enjoy it.
You recently had the opportunity to work with Big Boi on his album launch, how was that experience for you both personally and professionally?
I want to eventually write a book about this one and not to gloat but to share what I learned from it and to help people who have hopes, dreams and aspirations to do things with people they’ve always looked up to or admired. This is actually the second time I’ve been able to do something like this in my career the first was working with and for Kobe. That’s for another time.
OutKast is my favorite group of all time. They were the first artist I saw in concert, they were the first artist I knew every word to. I’ve purchased every album both as a group and solo. Watched Idlewild several times. I can write a short essay about this, but I’ll save your readers. We all have an artist we feel this way about and many who feel the same about OutKast. But what was cool about this was seeing how when you’re passionate about something how much it can drive you to do unbelievable things that you don’t even know you can do. This was a breakthrough moment for me in my career. I had a lot of self doubts, insecurities, etc. but while I was working on this project I was plowing through walls going through a million different emotions. I’m sure people thought I was straight crazy I was so determined to work with Big Boi and help him promote his album. I got to experience where he started his career, where he continues to create his music, I got to be around his family. To be honest it didn’t even hit me until it was done. It hit me when the content went into the world. I was never living in the moment because I was so concerned with making sure every detail was right. But what I do know is that God gave me that opportunity and I had some really amazing people helping me bring that to life from the label, to Big’s management, to my team at Beats, everyone did their part and it was a dream come true. I’m truly thankful and grateful for everything that project taught me. I’ll save the rest for a book or a podcast haha.
You are a husband and a dad, your little ones keep you busy, how do you sustain work/life balance and being present with your family?
This is a great question and something I’m still very much learning how to do. I work in an industry (music) where a lot of my peers are either single and/or don’t have kids. I came into the industry with both so I put a ton of pressure and unnecessary stress on myself in the beginning thinking about that. I doubted myself and felt like I wouldn’t really be able to make it because of those responsibilities. But what I’ve realized is that the most important responsibility you will have in life is being there for your family, and by balancing that correctly and taking care of family first, it gives you the energy needed to do great things in any aspect of your life. So now, sustaining it and being present with them really helps keep me grounded and gives me an outlet to escape the constant demands and madness that come with work.
Another blessing and something I don’t take for granted is having co-workers who believe in my future and are understanding of how important it is to balance work/family definitely helps. But it also means I have to work smarter and be efficient and focused with my time. I wear this bracelet that has the word “balance” on it as well to give myself a daily reminder, because life is really all about balance.
Lastly, a lot of prayer and meditation. =)
How would you describe the impact that music can have on people?
I’ve always said the only thing that can change the world and make it a better place is music. I say that because the right music can evoke the most amazing feeling and it can really bring people together if used correctly. It can lift you up when you’re down, pump you up for a workout, remind you of a past experience, and if you put a slow jam on when you’re in a dark place, it can make you cry - I could go on.
Think about all the things that can have an impact on your life outside of music…now add music to those things and think about how much it enhances those moments.
I also think about it like this, when you go to a festival or a concert to see an artist think about how many different types of people come to a show? Now think about all the different ways that artist and his music has impacted peoples lives? The beautiful thing about that is how it brings people together for both the same and different reasons.
I’ll end with this, think about a life with no music? A movie or show with no music?
What are some beliefs or truths that you live by, whether it be personal or professional?
I always use the term “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”. Anyone that knows me knows I’m really about that and preach it. There have been times I’ve gotten away from that and when that happens there’s usually a harsh lesson that follows. You can’t do anything by yourself, it usually almost always takes a team of people. My other new mantra is “Be a Light”. I feel like being a light is important, there’s such a positive connotation to what it means to be a light. There’s nothing negative about light, it only attracts and exudes positive energy.
What are Vibes to you?
Vibes to me is the energy that radiates off of you. Positive energy you can feel. People who are positive and exude love carry extraordinary Vibes. There are bad Vibes too, but no one wants to talk about bad Vibes.
How do you Get Your Vibes?
The first thing I do to get my Vibes is put on music. Sometimes I just meditate. Go to the beach, there’s something about the water, and the sun and the energy that radiates off of people at the beach. I ride my bike and put music on while I ride down the strand. Crystals. Go to the movies, I really love movies, really good TV shows with great storylines and cinematography. I just started burning Sage. There’s also this thing I do when I have the time… if you go outside on a roof or patio or any space where it’s quiet when the sun first comes up, or right as the sun is setting - just sit quietly, there’s this Vibe you get. I call it the Golden Hours (right after sunrise, right before sunset). Basically when the sky has this awesome color to it and there’s not a lot going on, it’s quiet and calm it’s such a dope Vibe. Praying or listening/watching a sermon or motivational speech are also instant Vibe starters.
Where can we connect with you?
Website: Work in progress
Jonathan Fields, is the creative visionary behind King Of Fresh, a lifestyle brand that shares it’s message through clothing, specifically tee shirts. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, this brand is as vibrant and thriving as the city it calls home. I first met Jonathan, during the 2016 NHL All Star Game and a few things were apparent; Fields, genuine spirit and his desire to succeed while helping those around him is not only what sets him apart as a person but his clothing brand too.
Enjoy this Vibe Sesh with Jonathan Fields, from King of Fresh…
Q: Tell us about King Of Fresh and how you got your start?
A: King of Fresh is a lifestyle brand I started about six years ago centered on the idea of perseverance. I started the brand because there weren’t any clothes I wanted to wear that fully represented the message I wanted to portray. I wanted to create a brand with substance.
What was the inspiration behind the line?
The inspiration behind the line was “Thousands of heartbreaks, yet I remain fresh.” That concept means no matter what you go through you never wear it on your face, you keep it pushing and remain positive.
What’s your creative process like?
My creative process consists of me building around a certain idea or theme. Whether it is the music, art, movies or other brands that creatively speak to what I’m trying to do at the time. There’s nothing new under the sun so my creative process is about taking bits and pieces of things that inspire me and telling my story.
In your line of work the market can be over saturated, how do you keep it fresh and unique?
I keep my brand fresh and unique by doing me and telling my personal stories. No ones life is identical to mine, so if I'm telling my personal stories it will always be unique and fresh.
We are in the midst of intense political and cultural times, how much of what’s going on in our society impacts your work?
A lot. I try to create pieces that have value and meaning so what’s going on in our society impacts my work for sure. Especially when what’s going on can affect you emotionally, it can be expressed through my creative process.
Do you have a mentor and if so how important do you think mentorships are to success?
Yes, I have several mentors. A lot of my mentors are some of my closest friends. All my mentors help me out in their respective areas, rather it be business, personal relationships or spiritual growth.
What motivates you each day?
My goals and the idea of inspiring people from my community. Also my mom - She worked so hard when I was growing up so it’s only right that I have that same work ethic plus more.
Every creator faces moments of indecision or perhaps self-doubt, how do you work through that?
By sticking to my roots and trying to stay grounded. At moments like this I try my best to remember why I’m doing what I’m doing and that helps me stay on the right path.
What are some rituals or habits that you do daily or weekly to help you maintain your focus?
Read my bible, pray and mediate throughout the day. I also plan out my days and weeks ahead of time so that I can have a checklist and make sure I’m getting things done.
What are Vibes to you?
Vibes are a creative energy or feels.
How do you Get Your Vibes?
Music is probably one of the biggest ways I get my vibes. Music can put you into a certain mood or feel. Eating good helps me get my vibes, as well as dressing fresh. When I put my clothes on, depending on the particular outfit, it sets the vibe for my day.
Where can we connect with King Of Fresh?
Connect with King of Fresh on Twitter and Instagram @kingoffresh. Or for a more personal feel you can hit me up on Twitter @JFields_ I always interact with everyone who tweets me.
To catch a King of Fresh Vibe, visit the website https://kingoffresh.com/
We are really excited at Get Your Vibes to be sharing a new blog that we will be posting monthly called #VibeSesh. We all know what a vibe session is, when you're hanging with your friends, the energy is good, you feel uplifted, motived and inspired. When you see, hear or read about people who are taking the road less traveled, following their passion and succeeding, it's good for your soul! Your hustle will get a jolt of good vibes to say the least.
Vibe Sesh, is a Q&A, with a rising boss who is making their own lane, has good vibes and grit. We want to know what inspires them, how they have grown and where they see their passions taking them. We have interviews with Jonathan Fields from King of Fresh, celebrity stylist, Brianna Agosto, acupuncturist to top athletes Cammy Polson and much more!
Keep a look out over the next few weeks for our first edition of Vibe Sesh! Thanks for all the support and we love helping you Get Your Vibes!