Aaron Golub - Football Player

Ep 8: Legally Blind & Division 1 Football Player? The Unlikely Story of Aaron Golub Defying All Odds to Accomplish His Dreams

Aaron Golub is an extraordinary athlete with an extraordinary story. At Tulane University, Aaron became the first legally blind athlete to play football in a Division 1 game in the NCAA. He went on to become the team captain in his senior year and eventually became a free agent in the NFL. He never let his limited vision get in the way of accomplishing his goals and has paved the way for others with disabilities to pursue their dreams.

Today, Aaron is a motivational speaker delivering inspiring speeches on breakthrough performance and overcoming obstacles to accomplish goals. What’s his formula for success? Planning, passion, and perseverance. He is a firm believer that if you plan for success in your life, it will happen!

Listen to how Aaron Golub shares his remarkable story. Listen to the full episode here:

Click to Read Transcript

 Pamela Bardhi: Hello, everyone, and welcome to our next episode of Underdog. Today, we have Aaron Golub. He is going to share his amazing story. I’m so excited to have him. I came across him via Instagram. So, here we are today. Aaron, thank you so much for being here. Greatly appreciate your time.

Aaron Golub: Yeah, no, thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to come on. And I’m looking forward too.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes, we can get it rocking and rolling. So basically, I just want to hear all about your story. I’m fascinated by it. So, tell me tell me your story in a nutshell, or however you want to explain it. Go for it.

Aaron’s Story in a nutshell

Aaron Golub: Yeah, so I was born legally blind. And for me, what that means is I have zero vision in my right eye at all. And very limited my left. So, for my left eye –  if you imagine taking your thumb and your pointer finger and putting them together, you’ll make a circle. Then, decrease the size of that circle to maybe half the size of a dime. That’s about my field of vision. But then in that field of vision, most people have 2020 vision.  Mine’s about 2200. So what that means is what a normal person sees is 200 feet away, I’ll see it about 20 feet away. I was born with that and grew up. And I’ve played tons of different sports but never really great at them.

In about seventh grade, I thought I want to play football. I was playing but I was never really good at it. I wanted to find a way that I could be a starter and also play in college. And I, after a few years found long snapping, which became my progression. Practice every single day. I would get to school every day at five in the morning. I practice, lift weights every single day after school, and just get better. I do it on a consistent and everyday basis. And eventually, I was able to earn an offer from two lanes. In my sophomore season became the first legally blind division one athletes playing a game.

 Pamela Bardhi: That’s incredible! So what I find amazing about this is –  most people would look at any disability or anything in their life and pretty much just cancel themselves out. That happens with people with dyslexia. People who haven’t done that sort of used it to their advantage, like, “Oh, that’s not gonna stop me.”

So from day one, what was your mentality like? I always love to know what’s what’s in them? What’s going through that mind? What keeps you going? What keep you playing even when you’re fighting against all odds?

That’s what underdog is all about, right? You’re against all odds, and you just keep going. So I always love to see the different perspectives on that.


The Perspective and Mentality

Aaron Golub: I think it’s just the internal drive to be the best I can possibly be. And to push myself harder than anyone can imagine. I always pride myself no matter what it is; Whether it’s football, whether it’s work now, whether it’s speaking, whether it’s whatever. It is being the hardest working person in any single room I walk into. I strongly believe I can walk into a room and have some of them most famous, wealthiest, whatever it may be people in that room. I might not be as hard of workers as they are… But give me a week, and I’ll work every single one of them. That’s just who I am. And I don’t care what it is. I’ll figure it out and push myself beyond belief.

 Pamela Bardhi: So what inspired you to get that mentality? Who was your mentor way back? There’s got to be some sort of trace to this amazing mind of yours.

The NFL Inspiration and Journey 

 Aaron Golub: I think there’s a couple people. And first off, my parents definitely did a good job. When I was very little, I would struggle with the electric tape, for example. Maybe like tying my shoes. As the little kid being legally blind, that might have been flying difficult for me. But instead of just helping me and doing it for me, they would rather see me struggle and challenge myself, even it took me an hour to do it. They didn’t care. Because that way I learned, I can grow and adapt to each situation. That really helps growing up.

When I really got into wanting to play in college, my parents were very supportive. They were never going to push me but my dad snaps with me every single morning at 5am. And he got up and did that. I’m very thankful that he was willing to do that. But he would never come to me the night before and say, “Hey, do you want to go to school and practice.” But if I were not him, he would come with me. So, we went to school together most mornings, practice.

One of my teammates, who currently plays college football, his father and his whole family has played in the NFL. His mother was an Olympic swimmer. His father’s name is Steve Burton, very prominent sportscaster in the Boston area. He became a mentor to me and true friend of mine. He would really push me. My dad was there to help and do everything. But I think, Steve really pushed me in the sense of a fight about snap. He told me to go do push ups. He really pushed me to put in extra work and beat out.

 Pamela Bardhi: That’s amazing. So I guess, it stemmed from your parents when you were little. Then you had sort of this mentor, Steve, that’s going to help guide you along.

Aaron Golub: Oh, absolutely.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s incredible. And then you got to NFL free agent too, as well.

Aaron Golub: At the end of my senior season, I basically decided I didn’t want to be finished playing football. So, I made a decision I was gonna do my pro day – which is essentially a tryout in front of a bunch of NFL teams. During part of that spring semester at college, I flew out to San Diego and I trained with a legendary NFL kicker, John Carney. He played the NFL for 23 years, and probably the best kicker of all time. I trained with him for a little bit and got ready for our pro day.

Went back to school, I did my pro day, I was talking to a bunch of teams or a few teams, and it was going really well. And so, I was a free agent in the sense. I was talking to them.

They were looking at me. But I never ended up getting signed officially to be on a roster of a team, unfortunately. But, you know, that’s how it is.

I took that and it was fine. And I continued to try a little bit, but then ended up just going into the business world.


The Pivot to Business World

Pamela Bardhi: That’sincredible. Now I find that, it seems like nothing knocks you down, which I think is really remarkable.

So how is it? So, you learn this beautiful skill of adapting from a young young age. Your parents wouldn’t help you tie your shoe. They’d rather just walk you in, and see you challenge yourself and keep going. I feel like that has a lot to do with it.

I feel like you can be put in any situation and sort of just morph anywhere that you want to. It’s like almost like a transformer which is really incredible. Because that’s what entrepreneurs do. That’s what business people do and successful people. You just know how to pivot naturally which I think is remarkable. It’s almost like you just stepped into it. Your mentality just like kept you going throughout the process.

Aaron Golub: I think I think the main point is –  whatever you want to do, you can achieve it if you really work hard.

I feel like a lot of people think that they work hard, but they’re not actually working hard. They don’t understand what hard work is. Hard work isn’t working from nine to five every day and putting in putting your timing. Well, I’ll take that back. That could be hard work, depending on what it is, you don’t know.

But for me, during quarantine, a lot of people are taking this time to relax, to spend a lot of time during the day watching TV, up to 5am. Every day, I go to bed at probably 11 at night every single day. And I time blocked my day out from 5am to 11. I’m doing things all day every day. Because I want to achieve as much success as I can over this time to propel me as far forward as I can and everything that I’m doing.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s incredible. So what would be like your success formula?

It sounds like time blocking sort of? Sounds like one of them. So run me through your mentality when it comes to that stuff. What’s your formula to have hard work and success? Obviously, what you’ve achieved is pretty phenomenal. And you have a mind state that and a mantra, that’s pretty incredible. So how do you sort of own up to that? What do you create for yourself to make sure you get there to your standards and to your definition of hardware? How do you get there?


The Formula to Success

Aaron Golub: There three areas that I can dive a little deeper. The three areas that I really think of about that are planning, passion and perseverance.

I say that if you want to achieve a goal, you have to set a plan. You have to create a plan. Because if you don’t create a plan, you don’t write it down. If you don’t stick to it, nothing’s going to happen.

People wonder why they don’t create success in their life. People wonder why they haven’t gotten enough promotion. They haven’t gotten the house of their dreams. Well, did you create a plan and actionable steps of how to get there? Nine out of 10 times, I know, they just didn’t do that. And that’s that’s a big issue. If you create a plan and stick to it, you can achieve your goals.

Next is passion. I strongly believe that if you’re truly passionate about something, you can achieve anything you want.

I found this out in my life before different things. I only take on things that I’m truly passionate. And that’s why I’ve been able to do really well in the things that I do. I mean, for example, in school, in high school, in college, I got some A’s, but I was mostly a B student. And that’s fine. That’s not bad grades. But in school, I was just not that into and I didn’t I didn’t try as hard as I could have tried. I think, if I really enjoyed it, I tried would have gotten straight A’s. Because I put all that effort into football. And all that effort into what I’m doing now, because I love what I’m doing and I’m passionate about what I’m doing.

Next one is perseverance and pushing pastany obstacle that’s in your way .Pushing yourself harder than you can imagine and past anyone else. It’s not not good enough to be the hardest working person on your team or in your office. But if you really want to achieve success, you got to outwork every day.


Pamela Bardhi: What are some challenges that you’ve been through throughout your journey? I know for sure everyone faces them right and everyone has their different moments of rock bottom and different challenges. So, what have been some of your challenges throughout your journey? 


Challenges and Adversaries

Aaron Golub: I think my biggest thing was getting people to believe in me first. For example, with football, no one thought I was gonna play in college. I wasn’t even starting in high school for the first two years. I was working hard, but I wasn’t paying off. It was only really until I really pushed myself –  not harder than everyone in my team, not harder than everyone in my state, but harder than every single person in the country to achieve that goal, that I started seeing the results.

People thought I was not saying I was going to play division one football, but then once I got an offer, everyone was like, “Oh, my God, like he actually get it.”

So, I think getting past that Roadblock, and everything that I’m doing. Even now speaking, I have some very ambitious goals of who I want to become. I want to be a top world renowned keynote speaker. I’m putting the steps into place to get there. But, that’s not going to happen overnight. And that’s going to take years to get to that point. I’m starting to climb up that ladder of levels of speaking. It’s gonna take a long time to be the the next Tony Robbins or something like that. It takes forever. So putting the steps now, put in the work now. And I’ll be thankful in 5, 10 years.


Pamela Bardhi: When everyone was doubting you back in high school, how did you get past that? Because that’s a tough thing. I remember even when I started in business, I was in my senior year of college. I was talking to everyone about my business, and it was getting into my first restaurant. I had two restaurants, by the time I was 21. I just remember there was people that were doubting me in the restaurants.

When I stepped into real estate after my restaurant world, people were doubting me then. I think it hurts the worst when it’s the people closest to you.

So, how did you get past that and get past that point, when you were feeling that doubt? Was it people that were close to you? Or was it just kind of like external factors and sort of how did you get past that point?


Getting Past the Humps

Aaron Golub: I think this is the biggest thing that definitely took time for me. But what I’ve learned over the years is, I respect the opinion of everyone in the world. But don’t value anyone’s opinion except your own.

I respect everyone’s opinion. Everyone’s opinion has worked. But, I do not value anyone else’s opinion besides myself.

Because I don’t honestly care what anyone thinks about me or what I’m doing. It takes a long time to get to them. That’s a really hard mentality to achieve, especially when you’re younger. Because when you’re growing up, it’s really hard to think that and I probably didn’t think that way for a lot of high school. I probably just said, you know, “I’m going to prove people wrong.” But I still listen to other people…

But now my mindset is, I respect everyone’s opinion of me. But you know, I never get too high or too low on something. Someone might say, “why are you doing all this? It’s stupid. It’s never going to get you anywhere.”

Great, whatever.

Someone might say, “oh, you’re, you’re amazing. Your story is so inspirational.” I’ll say, awesome, Thanks, I appreciate it.

But, you know, I never get too low.

I respect their opinion, everyone’s opinion. But I don’t value it. The only opinion that matters is myself.


Pamela Bardhi: Right! You got that love for yourself that you don’t really care what anyone else thinks. I think this is super important.

I’ve sort of experienced that on my own, too. Throughout the years, it’s like you’re worrying about everyone else’s. It was for me at least speaking, it was like, I got to do it for this. I got to do it for that. Over the years, it just became, the whole lesson of self love.

It seems like that’s where you’re at now. Bacause you’re like, “Hey, I proved people wrong. I did it.” What I imagined up here is what actually actually manifested.

Did you have any affirmations or anything that sort of kept you going throughout the process? I’m just interested to know how do you keep your your mind state? It’s a pretty powerful one. 


What kept Aaron going?

Aaron Golub: Just so like everyone listening, I am not perfect. I struggle with things every single day of the week. It is very hard to do in business or in life when you have a time period where you’re not hitting your goals. And to just keep going.

You have to realise that you need to get into a state of mind that the end is certain.

Once you realise that, whatever the goals you put in place, and you create a plan to achieve, they are going to happen as long as you execute on that plan. And then you’ll be much happier and more relaxed.

I have a lot of goals that I want to achieve in the future. But I’ve been able to come to the understanding that all of my goals are certain they will happen in the future. As long as I put in the work and follow the steps that I’ve created for myself right now.


Three 30-days Sprint (90 Days Map)

Aaron Golub: So for example, I do a 90 day math of what I want to do, what I want to accomplish in the next 90 days. And I break that up into a 30 day sprint. Three 30-day sprint.

What are my goals at the end of this 90 days? I listed those out and I figured out. Okay, awesome, those are my goals. How am I going to get there? And I said, Okay, let’s break that down into after 30 days. Where would I like to be? Then from there, I time-blocked my days out.

I create non negotiables that I have to do every day. Doesn’t need to be a ton of stuff. But I probably have seven non negotiable things that I have to do every day. My world catches on fire one day, I’m going to do those seven things, and nothing else. And it’s just not like they even have to take a ton of us. But you can expand on them and do more, as long as you hit the bare minimum, those non negotiables.

And so from there, over this next 90 days, I’m probably going to get more accomplished, and most people will do in a year, just because of how I’m handling my time.

Pamela Bardhi: There’s two things that you mentioned today that I really like and that I’m probably going to try myself.

I love the the plan, passion and perseverance. I think is awesome. Because it’s critical. How are you ever going to get anywhere if you don’t plan for it? And then you got to have a passion for it. Otherwise, you’re going to hate it. And then perseverance is to keep going even when you don’t see those goals. But you know that there’s an endgame.

Now this 90 day map plan. Do you do it’s almost like a vision board type thing? Or how do you sort of lay that out? Where is it written down somewhere physically? Or do you put it in your phone? How does that work for the time?


Aaron Golub: Yeah, I mean, I think I think with everything you do for the plan, you have to write it down. And if you don’t write it down, you’re not gonna stick to it. So I created, you know, a Google doc or a Word doc on my computer. And I just wrote out, you know, what are my 90 day goals? I wrote those down in a list. And I said, awesome, where do I want to be in 30 days from now. And then, in 30 days from now, I’m going to look at this next, the second 30 day chunk and say, Okay, my 90 day goals, this is 60 days away, where do I want to be in 30 days to be that much closer? And so I’m going to do that again. But from that 30 days, I said, awesome, you know, what do I need to do every week to get to that awesome. And then every Sunday, I like man, I map out most of my Sunday nights, what I do is I sit down and say, here are all the meetings I have this week, here’s everything, you know, every call every you know, thing I need to get done. And then I don’t map out, you know, I need to send emails from 10 to 11am. On Wednesday, on Sunday, I plan out the major parts of my week. But then every night before I plan out, you know, all the exact time. So like Tonight, I’ll plan out you know, maybe tomorrow morning, I don’t know my schedule is maybe from 815 to nine I’m doing, you know, sending out emails, maybe from nine to 930. I’m thinking of new pieces of content, I don’t know. But I fill in the gaps of my meetings and things like that with with the non negotiable tasks that I need to do.


Pamela Bardhi  

So those non negotiable tasks, those are things that absolutely have to do with your 90 day plan. And those are like little goals that you that you set for yourself to accomplish those 90 that 90 day goal, right?


Aaron Golub  

Yeah, exactly. And they’re easy things to do. For example, one of my you know, not not non negotiables right now is to send 20 LinkedIn record requests today, send 10 LinkedIn messages to people I’m already connected to today. Comments on five people post today and post one piece of content a day. It’s not hard, you just have to do it.


Pamela Bardhi  

I find your mind very fascinating. And I love it. He was so cool. You know, because when you say to yourself, you know, in 30 days, if you say you’re gonna send 10 messages a day, so in a week’s time, that’ll be I mean, business days, I’m assuming you’re doing Yeah.


Aaron Golub  

Yeah. I mean, I do some stuff on the weekends, but it’s not. Yeah, it’s not as much it’s tailored around other settings. You know, if I have time here, but yeah, I my non negotiables are mostly Monday through Friday,


Pamela Bardhi  

Monday through Friday. Yeah. Because basically, if you’re thinking, so that’s 50 messages a week. 50 times four is 200. And if you tell if you were to ever tell me, Pam, you bet you’re going to send out, you know, 600 LinkedIn messages over the next three months, I’d be like, what? Like, no, no, no. how’s that gonna happen? You know, it’s like cool that you break it down with little little steps, because you want to know those little steps are going to get you big results.


Aaron Golub  

95% of people don’t respond to me. And I don’t care if they don’t respond. I mean, I did it first. But once I got past the point of, you know, what I do, I think I provide a lot of value. And if people don’t want to hear me or work with me, then it’s their wallets. It’s not my loss. So it was hard to get past that kind of hump at first. But once I was able to, you know, there’s a lot easier to send out messages and not care when people don’t respond.


Pamela Bardhi 

That’s pretty awesome though. Cuz I remember when I first started out as an entrepreneur, like my big thing is being in real estate, right, like commercial real estate and then development. It’s like, you got to put yourself out there, and especially in commercial where it’s like, I’m pretty much like the minority, you know, and like going out there, and like talking to so many people and like, you know, getting that whole rejection phase as an entrepreneur, everybody understands the rejection phase, you know, and it’s like, how do you move past that? It’s an uncomfortable, weird, blocked to be it, you know, so in your first sort of rejection in that realm, you know, what was your thought process throughout that? How did you get past that point?


Aaron Golub  

I think I just came with the concept that I mentioned before of the fact that, you know, now I don’t, I don’t value others opinions, and I respect them. You know, I think that mindset really allowed me to not care if people respond or not, because at first, I think I valued the fact that if someone didn’t respond, I took it hard. And I said, Wow, that sucks. Like they don’t, they’re not interested in what I’m doing or whatever. And now, it’s just like, Alright, well, their losses, whatever. No, that’s all for them.


Pamela Bardhi 

That’s awesome. No, it’s like, I can still relate to the rejection phase. In the beginning, it happens to me so many times, and then, you know, I’d be shy to, like, reach out to people. And you know, I had someone say to me, oh, Pam, you know, you do realise that you’re providing value for people that is exponential, you know, you’re dealing with somebody’s biggest asset or anything like that. And when I realised that I bring value to the table for somebody, and it’s more than just business, it’s the relationship. That’s sort of what shifted my mind about that whole rejection phase. And so I really, I totally hear you on that. Totally. Yeah. You know, I, I think it’s amazing. So when are you going to write a book? I’m waiting for it.


Aaron Golub  

Eventually, I am. Actually, it’s funny that we’re doing this now. I like I said, I was on a zoom call room, we got off and I have another one, probably another hour, but I’m starting my own podcast, I’ll probably come out in a week or week and a half whenever my video guy edits all the stuff from this that I send to him. But uh, yeah, so that’s, that’s what I’m starting right now. And then, you know, I will write a book and eventually, but it’s not not happening at the moment.


Pamela Bardhi  

Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. I’m so happy to hear that super. Congrats on the on the podcast. I mean, with it for everybody listening, you can let them know what the name is, and where to follow it for sure.


Aaron Golub 

So that is not 100% decided on the name, it’s going to be a last minute decision. But for everyone listening, if you you know, go to my Instagram, it’s at @aaronjgolub and you’ll be able to see everything with it there. And as soon as the name is chosen, and over the next week, it’ll be on my on my profile and everything. So you’ll be able to find it. But uh, yeah, there’s there’s a few names left, and we’re we’re deciding between them.


Pamela Bardhi  

Super cool. Now I’m going to ask you, what would your younger self I mean, your older self edit? What would your older self tell your younger self as a piece of advice?


Aaron Golub 

Honestly, the biggest thing is, I hate to say it again, but don’t value others opinions. And I think if I had learned that, at a younger age, my life would have been a lot easier. I think that’s so true. So many people get so many people get stuck in their head, because they value other people’s opinions, and then stop them from doing the things that they want to do. As soon as you can get over that roadblock. You can understand that people have this idea in their heads that people are judging them and thinking of them. But they’re really not like people are concerned with themselves. They’re not concerned with what you’re doing. So they might think about you, if they see a post of you on Instagram for two seconds. I can promise you an hour later, a day later, a week later, you are not what’s on the top of the mountain. So stop caring what other people


Pamela Bardhi 

Amen to that. Amen to that I’ve had a professor in college though, once told me he’s like, Damn, you know, and he would tell the whole class. He’s my creative process, teacher, Professor Warren, darling and stuff. And I don’t know why everyone’s so concerned about what everyone else thinks, like people are so tied up in their own insecurities. They don’t even care about what you’re doing. So why not just go out there and just do it, you know? And that was like the best piece of advice that I’ve ever gotten like it. That is what made me like fearless, because I’m like, everyone’s got their, you know, got their ish going on, you know? And it’s like, who, you know, just go out there and do it. Why are you free to other people think so a mentor, said 100% 100%. And I want to thank you so much for coming on today. And letting us know what you’re up to now. And sort of let’s give them a sneak peek of what’s coming next in in your world. I know you’re stepping into the field of speaking and all that good stuff, too.


Aaron Golub  

Yeah, so my website is aarongolub.com. And my Instagram, like I said is @aaronjgolub. And, you know, I’m coming over my new podcast here and I’m speaking a lot of events I know. Now, there’s not really live events right now but I’m doing them over zoom. So if you have an interest in having me speak at your event, or to your team or company or whatever it may be, feel free to either find me out you can email me through my website or or DM me on Instagram and I’d be happy to chat. Otherwise, I am looking forward When live events can happen again because those are definitely more fun than zoom events. But no room events are what there are for for the immediate future.


Pamela Bardhi 

Thank you so, so much. I appreciate it, Aaron, of course, love having you on the show. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the one and only Aaron Golub!

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The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

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