To be successful in anything, especially sports, you must believe in yourself. The doubt you have in yourself is your biggest enemy. You can’t listen to what other people are doing and saying — stay focused on yourself. If you’re putting in the time and effort to become a great player, the only person who can stop you is yourself.
New technologies have changed the way we engage in and watch sports. Sensors, Wearable Tech, Video Assistant Referees (VAR), and Instant Replay, are examples of new technologies that have changed the way we play and watch sports. In this interview series called, “The Future of Sports; New Emerging Technologies That Are Disrupting The World Of Sports,” we are talking to sports leaders, athletes, sports tech experts, and sports equipment companies who can talk about the new technologies that are reshaping the sports world.
As a part of this interview, we had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Farber.
Brian (although we call him Farber) has been “living” the life of a soccer player. Kicking the ball around since early childhood in Sandpoint Idaho, Brian was a high school standout and named Idaho’s High School Player of the Year before moving on to play college soccer at Oregon State University. Farber has played professional soccer for the last seventeen years with professional indoor and outdoor clubs. He has played in Minnesota, Houston, Portland, Carolina, and San Diego, and has been a member and captain of the US National Men’s arena team since 2008 — playing in three World Cups (and winning one!). Farber has nearly 500 total goals in his career, an MASL MVP award, and five Championships along the way.
Off the field, Farber also ran a successful San-Diego based specialty training facility for a decade and developed the global soccer line for SKLZ from 2014–2020. Today, his energy is focused on BlazePod because he believes it is the next “big thing” for player development across all sports, not just soccer/football. He could not be more excited to be a part of helping create and share the best training product in the world.
Farber also holds both a U.S. Soccer B license and an NSCAA coaching license. When he’s not kicking around the soccer ball (impossible!),he enjoys coaching, golfing, backpacking, and traveling with his wife Kristy, daughter Arie, and son Beckham.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I have been a professional indoor soccer player since 2005 and previously believed I was destined to become a coach because of how much I loved working with teams and helping others. Instead, I found my way to Puma, as the head merchandising manager for soccer accessories. I left Puma for SKLZ: a line of performance training products for athletes to use on the field and at home. At SKLZ I focused on soccer analog items and hard goods but found myself wanting to do more for the world of sports. That’s when I came to BlazePod as a Director of Business and Development. I love working at BlazePod because every day is exciting, there are no limitations, and the technology is amazing. We can help every athlete become better no matter the sport. I also have my US Soccer B license and NSCAA advanced license.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting moment of working at BlazePod so far was creating a custom BlazePod exercise for a household name in soccer with the goal of helping him with defensive footwork. Our team helped this athlete create a new exercise to improve on his biggest weakness — it was a really fun experience for our team. I watched videos of his performance and studied his strategies for a couple days before crafting the exercise, and he was super thankful for the results BlazePod brought him.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I think the quote that best fits me and my path is “good things don’t come easy” or “if it was easy everyone would do it.” To me this means that if you really want something then you need to work for it and overcome all obstacles along the way for your dream. Vince Lombardi coined the phrase “the price of success is hard work.” However, you want to spin this idea, it has brought me to my success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
That’s a hard one, I would say it was all my mom, but she would tell you it takes a village. Many people have helped me on the road to success: my grandma, my teammates and their families, and my coaches made me into the person I am today.
A great work ethic was installed in me at an early age in my small town in Idaho from the dedicated coaches who may not have known the game, but they knew how to motivate and inspire me.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I really enjoyed Shoe Dog which is the story of Nike founder Phil Knight. It covers how he overcame obstacles and pushed ahead to achieve his greatness. I feel we have some similarities in how we create. I worked to create great tools for athletes at SKLZ and now I’m taking it to the next level with BlazePod. I feel a real sense of pride and ownership for the revolutionary technology we are creating.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The first one is easy, it is passion. I have a great amount of passion for what we are doing, and people can feel that even on a Zoom call or over the phone.
Second one would probably be persistence or dedication as I never stop pushing forward. No matter the obstacle or challenge in my way, I always find a way to work it out.
The final one would be my ability to connect people. This has opened so many doors for me and the work BlazePod is doing because I can recognize the importance of deep connections with our clients and userbase.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I always try to help, no matter what the issue or need. It’s not for self-gain or building credit, if I can help open a door, make an introduction, or provide advice then I will do it. Sometimes this can get overwhelming, but I can’t help it, it’s who I am. BlazePod can offer so much in the form of individual development. We provide users with the tools to do the exercises that can lead to better physical and cognitive performance which assists in many areas of life.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the sports technologies that most excite you at the moment? Can you explain why you are passionate about it?
With so many ways to absorb and share media I get excited about the way we can teach the youth athletes and future stars. At my previous job I made analog items that could help athletes improve technique, but it could not provide feedback, it could not guide them or coach them the way we can at BlazePod. Right now, we are creating smart rebounders and using BlazePod to not only help with reaction time and neuro-activation but also skills, with game realistic exercises that track improvement.
How do you think this might change the world of sports?
The technology we are bringing to the sports market has always been too expensive and not consumer friendly. We are changing that with a world class training app and a product at a consumer price.
I went to Germany and fell in love with the futbolknaut but the price tag was 2.2 million dollars and in a way we are creating the same training habits and stimulus for the future soccer stars.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
I don’t see any drawback from this technology, only positives from helping people process information faster and make decisions based on what they see. We can help my 3-year-old son with coordination, movement and processing and he loves it, or we can help my wife’s 93 year old grandpa keep sharp and fight off cognitive decline by activating his brain in ways his normal day to day can’t.
This is a technology that enhances peoples own skill, were not replacing skill like artificial intelligence.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the sports industry today? Can you explain? What can be done to address or correct those concerns?
That’s another hard question, concerns for me about sports industry are probably different than they are for fans, businesses, or other stakeholders.
- Artificial Intelligence taking over sports as we know it.
- Technology slowing down the game and still getting things wrong, we have seen it with reviews in NFL, NBA, and the issues with VAR still having us fans shaking our heads.
- Most decisions these days are based on analytics, but analytics cannot tell you the whole story of an athlete. We have lost touch with the old school methods of understanding people and their drive. So many people defy the odds because of will to win, and outwork the competition, things that can’t be measured by technology. Solutions are to simply not lose the human touch and keep the passion of sports alive; that passion that lives in you as a kid when you first learn the game and why you started played in the first place.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I try to pass along the lessons I have learned to younger players, so they do not make the same mistakes I did. It took me years to believe in my own ability and I try to communicate to young athletes to trust in themselves and their skills on and off the field. Being great comes from experience, and the best thing you can do for yourself as a young athlete is to learn from the experiences of those that came before you.
- A big challenge for me was navigating moving my career forward when I was in the soccer world. While playing professional soccer, I had a full contract with an indoor team, and received an offer from an MLS team. I would’ve loved to join an MLS team to advance my career, but I couldn’t get my rights released by my indoor team. At the time I didn’t have anyone advocating what was right for me in my career. I was being held back because I didn’t have the right expertise on how to move my career forward. For young athletes, having an agent and a coach who push you forward is essential. Don’t hire your friends, don’t hire your network — find someone who is right for your career.
- When I began working with BlazePod, I was the only person on the U.S. team. It was a challenge trying to grow brand awareness and drive sales across the entire country. I am someone who is extremely driven, and I wanted to do everything in my power to make BlazePod succeed. BlazePod has the opportunity to grow across sports, fitness, healthcare, military and so many other industries, there is no limit to what BlazePod can do. It was important for me to learn how to prioritize my efforts and time to what would be most impactful for BlazePod. This was a huge challenge for me as BlazePod is an unbelievable product I believe can help almost anyone — but focusing in on our biggest targets helped our company to grow at a sustainable rate.
- There is so much opportunity in the world of soccer, even more so than when I was a player. There are new leagues, teams, and coaches to prove yourself to. There are more seats at the table now, and more opportunities to put yourself in front of the right people. You must be an advocate for yourself and know the value that you’re bringing to the table.
- To be successful in anything, especially sports, you must believe in yourself. The doubt you have in yourself is your biggest enemy. You can’t listen to what other people are doing and saying — stay focused on yourself. If you’re putting in the time and effort to become a great player, the only person who can stop you is yourself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We’ve all heard the phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” My grandma probably said that to me a million times growing up. I believe if we cut out just a little bit of the negativity that we are surrounded by and make a conscious effort to be uplifting, positive and supportive humans — the world be a better place.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I’m torn on this; I think my answer five years ago would have been my childhood idols: Michael Jordan or Zidane. Today, I would really enjoy a conversation with Joe Rogan or Dwayne Johnson because these two guys are using their platform to highlight the good in the world and educate people. I’ve watched their careers grow for years and have become a big fan of each of them. If you can arrange that lunch, I’ll pay.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!