“How I Thrive As An Athlete Turned Entrepreneur”, With Ming Zhao & Loren Howard

The biggest game-changer for me was that I focused on becoming a principled and well-rounded person. It’s easy to let the sport define who you are, but once it is taken away you can lose your identity. Learn and identify the things that are most important to you and make you who you are. Build […]

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The biggest game-changer for me was that I focused on becoming a principled and well-rounded person. It’s easy to let the sport define who you are, but once it is taken away you can lose your identity. Learn and identify the things that are most important to you and make you who you are. Build your skill set so you have something to fall back onto. When it comes to finances, as a professional athlete, you have to realize that there is a short lifeline for that income. If you are making real money, you need to meet with the right people to help you make it last and live within your means, or you will blow through it.

As a part of our series about how successful “athlete turned entrepreneurs” thrive both professionally and personally, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Loren Howard. Loren is the founder and President of Prime Plus Mortgages, Arizona Hard Money Loans. Loren is a successful entrepreneur who has launched companies in several verticals, who boasts a decorated football career and is the coveted world record holder for indoor rowing in the 500M, 100M and max distance in 1:00. Aside from his many personal and professional accomplishments, Loren currently serves as the President of the Valley Guardians, a 501c-3 charity that offers mentorship, leadership and educational opportunities to underprivileged children in Phoenix, Arizona.

Thank you so much for doing this with us, Loren! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Iwas born in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was the middle child of 3 brothers! It wasn’t easy growing up, and when I was in 1st grade my parents split up. My dad had a lot of issues, and ultimately, they just couldn’t make it work After their split we lived in Utah for a little while longer until my mom decided to take a chance and move to Iowa, my youngest brother and I left with my mom and we lived there for about 2 years.

In Iowa, my mother was studying meditation, and I found my first love of sports, skateboarding! There was a bit of prejudice where we grew up towards those studying mediation and it got hard sometimes, but for me, skateboarding was my way of life. One thing that always stuck out was that I had a killer focus for sports. I would be skateboarding all day long, every day. After that, We moved to Sealtte for about 6 months for a new start, my mom couldn’t really make enough for us to live out there, it was tough living out there for about 6 months. We turned around and moved to Arizona for my mom to get a job. In Arizona, I found my second love of sports, basketball.

I would be out there for hours running drills and playing with the older kids, who would kick my ass but helped me get stronger, better and faster. We never had a lot of money growing up but for me, I was hardwired with this focus and tenacity to do the impossible.

In high school, the football coach came to me, and told me that was future was out on the grass. I played one game and I was hooked and focused all my time and energy into it. I was driven to become the biggest, fastest and strongest player I could be. Because of my drive and focus, I was given lots of opportunities to play in college, and I choose Northwestern University since for me it offered the best opportunity to play Big 10 Football, and get a college education.

Playing in college was amazing, and I was great at it! My Freshman year I was a Freshman All American Defensive End and Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the year. Sophomore year I was All Conference Defensive End, and Junior year Preseason Mel Kiper ranked me the second defensive end to go in the draft. The third pick went first in the draft (Mario Williams) and the guy ahead of me went 10th that year in draft. Unfortunately, I got injured, and never really recovered properly, and never could really complete at the same level.

I transferred to ASU in hopes I could recover and start playing again later, but it just didn’t work out that way! After college, I went into business for myself and kick-started my professional journey.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high-level professional athlete?

I think that it was something I was born with. The grandfather I was named after was an NFL player, so athletics was in my bloodline. I think what made me a great player, my hard work and drive were hardwired in my brain where it was never a doubt to go as hard as I could. Even after football ended I had this intense focus that made me go out and master new skills in a consuming and high-performance way.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I was laser-focused on pushing my limits, so when the season would end I would be in the gym the next day and training just as hard. I think my biggest mistake during my sports career was that I would never focus on the recovery the way that I should have. I couldn’t just sit still and wait for the next step and would always make it happen. So when I was injured I was still hitting the training extremely hard and would just push through the pain so to speak. I had a superman mentality that I could power throughout the recovery and just kept pushing the limit, and ultimately it blew up in my face.

Did you ever get a serious sports injury? Do you feel comfortable sharing that story? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that incident?

My first real injury happened in my Sophomore year, in practice 3 days before a bowl game!

Someone stepped on my ankle during practice, and it popped out of place. I still played on it, and after the bowl game was told to go and have it looked at. I found out that I had dislocated my ankle, and tore the ankle sheath. I was born with shallow ankle grooves and needed to have the ankle grooves deepened, as well as requiring that I have the ligament reconstruction. I had the surgery, recovered and got back to playing!

Then my Junior year I was in practice right before our first game, was breaking down on the QB, and my ankle rolled over and the same injury happened in my other foot. I had all the same surgeries and repairs done, but this time I didn’t take the 6 month recovery time! After 6 weeks I signed a waiver to get back in the field. After my surgery my Junior year I was still going after it. I was squatting in my cast, going hard in the gym, and measuring how well I was doing but how much pain I had when I put pressure on it. During that time, I think I overexerted myself which caused me to get Tendinitis in my knee.

During my Senior year, I wanted to get back into prime condition, so I got a lot of surgeries and focused on repairing my knee as much as I could so I could play again. I went and got a 6-year eligibility extension to get better and come back, but on the physical side, I just couldn’t compete again. After exhausting all my options for recovery and realizing that playing came to an end, I transitioned into the business phase of my life.

As someone with a background in ‘wellness’, I’m interested in stories about interesting wellness experiences. Do you have a story about the weirdest or most humorous wellness experience, treatment, practice, or practitioner that you’ve ever partaken in? If you do, we’d love to hear it.

When I lived in Iowa, my mother was studying transcendental meditation, and meditation wasn’t something I really was interested in in my mid-twenties. For athletes, wellness I just a part of your passion for the sport, and optimizing your body in the best ways you can. Even now I take my wellness pretty serious, with a strong emphasis on recovery. From nutrition, training, recovery, mediation, I do it all to keep my mind, body, and spirit in tune. I’m really focused on the mediation as I find it helps set my intention and tone for the day.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful business person?

After football ended I fell into a pretty dark place. Strangely enough, it was going to a Tony Robbins seminar that really helped me kick-start my new life. I was always someone that was constantly reading and learning more in areas of my life I wanted to improve.Tony Robbins really motivated me to take that to the next level.

I read the book ‘The7 habits of successful people’ and focused on becoming the most principled person I could be. With this, I started giving myself a morning routine for my mind and body right.

With that I started my first business, I consider it my ‘MBA’ in business since I learned so much about business in the process. The first company a sexual enhancement product never went anywhere, but my biggest takeaway from it was the relationships I built and the new skills I learned.

Business was so different to me, I didn’t really know money, and had never been around it before. One skill that was crucial for my success was that I was great at building relationships. I was focused on building the network, skillset and finding a new mentor to help me take things to the next level. Nothing in business was an overnight success, and it required the same drive, and determination and focus that football did. During the launch of our first company, I meet someone from India named Ajay, who would launch my next company, Altweb media, which would take both of our careers to the next level.

Shortly after the end of the first company, we launched Altweb media, which would sell website and graphic design packages to companies. I set up a desk in the kitchen of my one-bedroom apartment and hammered it out day in and day out. It was making just enough to pay all the bills when another mentor of mine showed me the ropes on how to be a lead broker.

I made my first million in the lead generation business, and meet and networked with more amazing people. I meet my right-hand man Garnet who lives overseas in India and has worked with for over 8 years. I took him in and mentored and coached him to the next level.

When it was time to phase out the lead generation business, someone brought me an opportunity to get into the medical industry. We were focused on building that until lending caught my eye.

Now my primary business is Prime Plus Mortgages- Hard Money Loans. I own some rentals myself, and looking more into the industry, I saw there was an opening for fast hard money loans for real estate investors. Now we have our eyes set to becoming one of the top lenders in the state of Arizona.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now?

Right now we are focused on some intense growth for our hard money lending company Prime Plus Mortgages. We are ready to move the company to the next level and have a solid team in place to make that transition. Prime Plus Mortgages makes real estate investing easy by offering the fastest hard money loans. We do this by offering asset-based loans for real estate investors, which means no credit checks, and that we can approve and fund in a matter of days not weeks.

I also recently was voted as the President of the Valley Guardians, which is a 501c-3 organization that benefits underprivileged youth in Phoenix, Arizona. We work with organizations to help children get access to educational, mentoring, and leadership opportunities to help them grow. We also offer financial support to families of sick children, we recently supported a single mother whose son was recovering from serious back surgeries.

I always have my eyes on the horizon, so you never know what new opportunities lie around the corner.

Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or an example of that?

At the end of the day, my intense focus, work ethic, and drive took me to where I am today. Any athlete knows that you have to want it more than anything else to make it happen. At the same time, you have to devote that drive in the right channels and grow your skill set and network. Charisma and a student mindset will take you farther than you can imagine. You have to take the grind and apply it to your learning and experience as much as you can. Business is an experience, and experience is the best teacher. I was an athlete that was always going as hard as I could and didn’t see my limits as a means to stop but to grow.If you don’t take the action you are going to grow at a slow pace.

Most athletes have not been able to transfer their success from the sports arena to the business arena. But you have. Can you share with our readers three main strategies you have used to help you succeed?

The biggest game-changer for me was that I focused on becoming a principled and well-rounded person. It’s easy to let the sport define who you are, but once it is taken away you can lose your identity. Learn and identify the things that are most important to you and make you who you are. Build your skill set so you have something to fall back onto.

When it comes to finances, as a professional athlete, you have to realize that there is a short lifeline for that income. If you are making real money, you need to meet with the right people to help you make it last and live within your means, or you will blow through it.

Another tip I would get to athletes would be to have a good judge of character. A lot of people will come offering advice, but you need to know and be able to judge if they can help you grow in that area. If they don’t know athletics take their advice with a grain of salt and stay close to people who have your best intentions in mind. ‘Judge a tree by its fruit’ Surround yourself with mentors in different skills and learn from them.

In my work, I focus on how one can thrive in three areas, body, mind, and heart. I’d like to flesh this out with you. You are a very busy leader with a demanding schedule. Can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

I have a pretty strict morning routine. It all starts with a mediation that I combine with the hyperbolic chamber that I use to focus myself for the day. My daily meditation includes my creed that I go over. This helps me focus my mind and set the right tone for the day. I then use my at-home gym, and go hard with my trainer, and spend time throughout the day focusing on different recovery exercises. I spend a lot of time on my nutrition, and physical wellness, such as getting hydration IVS and just living my healthy lifestyle. I find that if my body is in the best shape I am more focused and present at the moment.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

After football ended, I lost touch with who I was. When I focused on becoming more of a principal based person, the book habits of successful people, suggested writing a personal statement. It’s something I go over every day that helps me focus on who I want to be and how I can stay centered and focus throughout the day. When I am in my chambers I focus and meditate over this statement. I found that it helps me separate the truth in all situations. Using this creed has helped focus on my personal, and spiritual growth.

Another routine of mine is reading. I make a point to read or listen to a new book every week. There is so much information and new thoughts and perspectives, and the only way to continue to grow is to continue to learn. I even started a book club of sorts with my team members so we’re all learning and expanding our skillset, I found that when I am learning I am the most motivated and perform the best.

Finally, can you share with us two routines that use to help your heart, your emotional or spiritual life to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

I have my creed that I repeat to myself every day. I use this to keep myself grounded and connected to the things in our lives that matter the most. My creed goes like this. “Truth is love. Love is all that is real. We experience peace and joy as we become closer to truth and the proper perceptions of oneness that we were all created in. The path to becoming closer to truth is followed by listening to spirit, and not identifying with the ego and its misperceptions of individuality and separation. Listening to spirit is a discipline and requires practice. Love connects us all, it is what we are made of.” I meditate on this daily and it makes me feel spiritually and emotionally connected with everything around me.

I found that another simpler routine is that I deleted my email and all social media off of my phone. I found that it is just a distraction and pulls me out of the moment. For myself, Just being present in what is the most important. I focus on being calmer, and discraction is a practice in my willpower. I know what my unique ability is building new connections with people, but the artificial urgency created by social media, and notifications distractions from the human experience. While urgency is a good trait to have, it should not come at the expense of your personal life and personal connections.

You’re a high achieving business leader, and you also have family and loved ones that may require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the executive at the door, and be the most loving family member at home?

I found that it isn’t so much the amount of time spent, but the quality of the time we spend with people that helps build connections. My wife and I both work on our businesses and have a 3-month-old baby! We make a point that in the evenings we aren’t distracted by social media,and we have a great foundation and communication because of it. If you give yourself fully to a moment and focus on the person and their wants and needs in the moments you can, your relationship will only grow because of it. It still takes work but we have built this foundation so it isn’t easily shaken.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

Currently, I am the President of 501c-3 charity, called the Valley Guardians. We are a network of entrepreneurial guardians guiding youth through education, mentorship, and resources to arm them with an opportunity to achieve their full potential for success. We do this by making sure 100% of our funds go to the people that need it most, the children of our community. We offer children the tools to succeed through leadership opportunities, tutoring, financial aid, and the chance to enjoy their childhood. Learn More about the Valley Guardians here.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“If The Wind Doesn’t Serve, Take The Oars.”

I really use this mantra in most aspects of my life, but a great example of this is when I broke the world records in indoor rowing!

I always use the rower as a cool down for my workout, and one day out of curiosity, I wanted to see how fast I could go. I saw that I was only about 10 seconds off from the current world record, which had been set over 20 years ago! So I reached out to the record holder at the time and asked him how he did it. So later I meet with my trainer and we set a game plan to break the world record. I broke 3 other sprint records in the process and now I’m the number one for indoor rowing.

So the current world records I hold are:

100m — 12.6 seconds

1 min — 430m

500m — 1:10.5

I have always been someone to take life by the horns, and this quote follows that drive and tenacity that I have always had.

What are the best ways our readers can follow you on social media?



Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success in your great work!

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