You probably wouldn’t guess it (I didn’t), but Matt Tant, the founder and CEO of Relode, played in the NFL. He wouldn’t tell you that (I had to dig it out of him), but it’s true. From age fourteen to twenty-one, he trained with one goal in mind: to become an NFL football player. In order to make it there, he trained hard every day of his life.
I asked, “Were you disappointed when that didn’t happen?”
“I actually realized my goal,” he said. “I got to suit up for the San Diego Chargers. I was with them from the 2005 draft through summer training, minicamps, and preseason. I left during the preseason.”
He was lying on the field one day thinking about business plans, not about the next play.
Suddenly, football wasn’t what he wanted to do anymore.
He had memorized the entire playbook, trained maniacally, and even caught two passes at Lambeau field against the Green Bay Packers one night in the freezing rain—on ESPN. But on that cold night during preseason, he realized his passion for football was gone.
“I just knew that the game had left my heart that night,” he said. He walked away from the Chargers to begin his search for new purpose and ended up becoming a staffing agency recruiter.
Soon after that, he moved down to Jacksonville, Florida at the age of twenty-one and stepped into the business world. With a passion for business but no professional experience, he started recruiting, the industry in which he stayed for the next decade.
I asked him, “If you learned one thing from your journey to the NFL, what was it?”
He said, “Seeing the finish line before you actually get there is the most important thing that drives completing a goal. There’s years and years of pain and pulled muscles and hard work—with peaks and valleys—but the vision, the smell, the sound, the taste of the finish line is what gets you up early; it’s what helps see you through the valleys; it’s what drives you.”
At one point in his life, the finish line was literal—the line at the end of the 40-yard dash. Now he’s running after his deepest passion—leading a team that offers the modern way to find and organize job candidates.