Christian Ponder’s main goal for most of his life was to strike fear into the heart of defenses with his passing abilities, and he accomplished that at Florida State and at the NFL level.
The 2011 first-round draft pick has been away from football since the 2016 season.
Instead of trying to develop a game plan to get his team into the end zone, he’s trying to find a way to get professional athletes into boardrooms.
Ponder and Jason LaRose, former Equinox Media CEO and Under Armour’s North America president, founded The Post, a private membership solely for former collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes to help network and give them leadership guidance to take on a whole new playing field.
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The task is a bit bigger than scheming up an offensive playbook to go against a defense. He’s trying to turn the narrative around professional athletes and break the mindset that athletes are empty suits.
“An outsize number of Fortune 500 CEOs were college athletes, and it’s really because of the intangibles and some of the characteristics that sports develops — those soft skills — that translate really well into business,” Ponder told Fox Business in a recent interview. “Society still has this view of like the dumb jock mentality, and the athlete’s value kind of peaks during sports, and it’s all downhill from there.
“It’s our job at The Post to truly combat that narrative, especially for athletes who are missing out, instill the confidence in the them that, ‘Hey, go be an athlete in business, go be an athlete in relationships, in everything you do outside of sports. Continue to lean into what it means to be an athlete because what it took to be successful in sports, it’s the same characteristics and the same requirements with anything else in mind.’”
Ponder said he didn’t have a specific instance he was called a “dumb jock” but has experienced odd moments with those from the corporate world.
The former Seminoles standout has an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in finance and achieved both before he ended his collegiate playing career.
“I think it’s usually the tone,” he told Fox Business. “The tone of which people have a conversation with you and assume that you know very little or then they’re surprised like, ‘Oh, it’s so crazy that you know so much about the stock market’ or whatever.
“On paper, I assumed like I had all my stuff together … and I think you’re kinda fighting an uphill battle against that narrative that people don’t see you as someone who is potentially fit for a business role quickly or early on. And, again, the facts show otherwise.”
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It’s for that reason among many Ponder wanted to build something for athletes who have characteristics that helped them succeed on the field and now will help them succeed in business.
“I figured I couldn’t be the only athlete that feels that way, and if it doesn’t exist, let’s go build it,” he said. “We’re trying to create this opportunity to build the infrastructure for a community of people who have a really strong, defined identity as an athlete and want to carry those same characteristics as an athlete into business and what they’re pursuing today.”
The Post works with all industries and business backgrounds and has a handful of coaching partners to help its network succeed.
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