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Adi Kunalic: From Refugee to NFL to CEO

Adi Kunalic, former NFL kicker and Co-founder of successful social media marketing company, Opendorse, and who played for the University of Nebraska and Carolina Panthers, addresses what he learned as a player and how that has translated to his career now as an entrepreneur. Practice and self-dedication are key to facing the challenges of football and a New York Boardroom. Read further for three key takeaways from this episode of the Pro Mindset® Podcast with veteran NFL agent and podcast host, Craig Domann.

“[Starting the day off right] keeps you very consistent and allows you to have a good habit in your life and really keeps you focused on accomplishing all the things that you want to do.”

Start the day off right. Kunalic explains how one thing he learned from being an athlete was a disciplined lifestyle, which he still follows today. Even now after his football career he is still an early riser, starting his day bright and early at 4:30 am, then hitting the gym for a workout, and then spending time on prayer before heading to work. For Kunalic, starting the day working on himself gives him a chance to escape from work emails and the future stressors of the day and to clear his mind before beginning his workday. This lifestyle building block which started for Kunalic as an athlete isn’t just for athletes. Making good, productive lifestyle choices is important for all successful people. His dedication to his mind and body in the morning allows him to be more grateful for life and its opportunities as things get thrown at him throughout the day and is an important aspect of the Pro Mindset.

“It does truly matter how you practice. What I mean by that is if you don't take the kicks serious because it's practice, there's no way you're going to take them serious when you're doing it in a game.”

Be the hardest worker in the room. For Kunalic, another part of building his Pro Mindset was the fourth building block, training. Starting from his time as a kicker, he found that practice helped to build habits and habits to build confidence. Taking practice seriously as an athlete at all levels is important because ultimately how you practice is how you’ll perform. Confidence in practice leads to confidence on-the-field, which is why it is important that all athletes take the time at practice to hone their craft. While lucky breaks help, it’s the hardest worker who breeds the most success in life and especially in sports: “[To make it in the NFL] You gotta get pretty damn lucky, right? So certain things have to happen a certain way. Someone gets hurt, all this stuff, but you don't even get that opportunity unless you are the hardest worker in the room.” In short, you must prepare yourself to perform when the opportunity does come.

“Nothing is owed to you. You have to earn everything yourself.”

Drop the entitlement. No matter what level you play at, sport teaches you an important life lesson: life isn’t fair. Between bad calls on-the-field from officials and coaches to untimely injuries, the best take-away from the field is that things don’t always work out in your favor. The things you may want in life and on-the-field are not a guarantee, and the only way to cope with that is to realize that you are not entitled to them. Kunalic has learned, like many athletes, that the best way to adapt to that is to work hard towards your goals but have the mindset that allows you to be resilient when you fall short. Recognize opportunities in your life and take them as they come because more are not guaranteed to come.

To hear more of this podcast interview about Adi Kunalic’s career and his mindset as Co-Founder of Opendorse click here.

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