Hey, where'd you go?

Isiah "Juice" Williams - former University of Illinois QB

February 09, 2021 Collin Kushner / Isiah "Juice" Williams Season 1 Episode 6
Hey, where'd you go?
Isiah "Juice" Williams - former University of Illinois QB
Show Notes Transcript

After a stellar career at the University of Illinois, Isiah "Juice" Williams' childhood dream of playing in the NFL never materialized. In this episode, the former University of Illinois star talks about growing up in inner-city Chicago, starting for the Fighting Illini as a true freshman, never getting a chance to play in the NFL, how he transitioned to the world of finance, and so much more. Today, Isiah "Juice" Williams is a financial advisor in the Washington D.C. area. 

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

You have to be a piece in it, and that's a process to get to that. Like you really have to be at peace. I understand that you have a different purpose. It's not that, you know, you are just unfortunate or, you know, you did something in the past that hindered your dream. I don't believe it's that. I think we have to really recognize, understand what your impact in the world is going to be. And I think not getting to the NFL, enhance my impact and allow my impact to really, really realize itself.

Collin Kushner:

What's up, everybody. Welcome to another edition of the "Hey, where'd you go?" podcast. I'm your host, Collin Kushner. And I'm super stoked about this w eek's guest. We have former university of Illinois starting quarterback, Isiah juice, Williams. And now he's a financial advisor at Northwestern mutual. How's the family. Have you guys been holding up out in DC?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

We want as good. Everyone is good. Everyone say everyone is healthy. Um, you know, a more recent activity here being in DC. You know, I'm fortunate enough that I'm actually not in DC proper. I'm just outside of DC, maybe 15 minutes. So I'm away from, you know , a lot of demands that we see on TV right now. So, so we're good on that front. Um, you know, everyone is healthy, so haven't been exposed to any COVID , uh, have had, you know , any , uh, having contracted it. So knock on wood, you know, we want to keep that going

Collin Kushner:

Well, I appreciate you taking the time juice. And of course I'm really happy that you and the family are doing well and staying safe during this unprecedented time that we're all living in. Um, dude, I want to start from the, from the very beginning of Isaiah juice Williams, you're born in Chicago, Illinois at 13 pounds, eight ounces. Uh , you're a fairly big baby. Is that where the juice name comes from?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

So juicy baby. That's exactly where I got my name from. So DC baby. So , uh , my grandma actually gave her that day . That was probably was I had juice before I had UC before I had Isaiah. So baby. And then I finally got my name, but that juicy name that followed me for a long time, obviously in the city kid, male , you can't walk around with a nickname juicy, like you can imagine the type of frustration and the comments that you'll get, you know, as a young, as a young fella named juicy. So after a few fist fights , uh, we took the wire off, it just made the juice. So, so I've been juice ever since

Collin Kushner:

I dig it, I have to be honest with you as a kid, I've talked to my parents about this when we were watching the alumni games and we were trying to figure out where the name juice for the nickname came from. And I thought it was because maybe you liked Caprice on or something.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

No , not quite. Yeah. I've heard all type of, you know , theories around that. You gotta , you gotta juicy arm , you know, you use a favor orange juice to drink a lot of orange juice that it , nah , I literally got that name at birth.

Collin Kushner:

Such a great story. It's a nice ice too . Especially now you're in the, you're in the financial world. I mean, I'm sure that's always a nice, it's such a, a serious topic, but it's gotta be nice if people ask you , uh, the meaning behind that name.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I love to tell a story, especially like in my line of work. So, you know , every now and then I do, I do some , uh , you know, I have some client relations or client building , uh , sort of strategies using my LinkedIn and people ask me about it. Right. And I embrace it. So , uh, it , to your point, it a great ice breaker , you know, you kind of bring yourself on the same playing field as, as your client. So I tell the story , uh , we get some labs , we get some jokes about it. So that really, you know, just kind of puts us on an even playing field , um, and at least to a great relationship. So, so that's pretty cool.

Collin Kushner:

I do have to tell you, I am kind of glad that you dropped the juicy moniker. I don't know how that would have been, you know, ESPN on Saturday mornings going up, going up against Jim Trussell's, Ohio state in that state juicy touchdown. It could, it could have been unique though.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. It would have been worse. It definitely wasn't worse. So yeah . So I'm glad that all worked out for sure.

Collin Kushner:

I want to start from your childhood years in Chicago, Illinois, what was your childhood like and what did your parents do for work?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah, so growing up in the city of Chicago, so, you know, some of the horror stories that we still hear about today , um, to me, I think that were even worse back then, unfortunately, well, I guess fortunately, but unfortunately it just wasn't as recorded and as publicized as it is today through social media. So we just don't hear about it . You didn't hear about it as much at the time, but it was just as bad as some of the horror stories we hear now. So inner city kid , um, Anita, my mom , um, she was , uh , it's still is, she's still an employee at the university of Chicago hospital. So she'd been in the , uh, the hospitality business for, I'd say at least the last 25 years or so the last, almost 30 years now. Um, just really , uh , you know, being a force when that front being a frontline employees, really helping out and doing her, you know , um , you know, customer community service and , uh , you know, just really being on the forefront, especially with this out of the current pandemic is going on. Um , my dad Stanley , uh, more of the, you know, unconventional worker was more the , uh, opportunities , um, you know, out in the community. So , um, in a he , and he struggled with trying to figure things out, but , uh, I would say he was always around as much as he could be. Um, um , in terms of being the enforcer in the family , uh, keeping us from doing, you know, understanding right from wrong and keeping us from doing things that, you know, would, you know, potentially land is in jail or even that. So he was great in that, in that front , um, has, you know, I had a few in and out opportunities in terms of career. Um, but mainly just kind of, like I said, it's one of those , um , opportunist , uh, in, in, in the cities of Chicago, you know, be here so here to happen. So often , uh, well , young man and young , uh, uh, young adults to kind of get, you know , uh, you know, B, B, B statistics or the other streets a bit . So , um , but like I said, he was always around just really had that input , that , that iron fist is really a given it's still in there, the discipline and family,

Collin Kushner:

What attracted you to football? I grew up

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

And mostly , uh, you know, inner city, Chicago, kids, basketball, you hear some, you know, some of the greatest talent that's, you know, just touch the NBA has been from Chicago. So quite naturally I thought that would be my pathway now . And I'd like to think I was pretty good at basketball. Um, at some point though, you know, you, you, football is such an aggressive sport, right? And , and it allows you , uh, as a kid, especially growing up in inner city, Chicago, you have these different frustrations around what's going on in community, obviously poverty struck in , uh , you might be frustrated in school in terms of like , uh , classroom performance and things like that. So anytime you could have some level contact, I feel like what is a punching bag? Um , what is football? It's a nice release. All right. At that time, I was absolutely using football as release . So initially it started as that's another activity for me to do in the off season of basketball. So during the fall and the winter months, you know, I go and play football , um , stay in shape and get ready for basketball. But at some point I really started to enjoy the physical contact. And then I realized I started, you know , I realized I could throw a football, you know , somewhat far. So I started to develop that, started to mold that , holding on that sound a bit , and then , um , that transformed to be virtual . But I started looking forward to football season more than basketball and about high school as a sophomore, I say, that's when it really started to take off

Collin Kushner:

The quarterback position once, once you knew, and once people saw that you could bond that ball downfield , was that, did that seal the deal for you or did you, because you're not a small dude, man, you , you, and from my perspective, you could have played anywhere on the football field, if you wanted

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Just about everywhere, except , you know, off as a defensive line. But I guess it's defense man. You know, I've been a smaller defensive man, but yeah. And, and I think that was the point for growing up, especially with football in Chicago. Um, you know, it's not, as, you know, it's not as popular as basketball, everyone, you know, you can find some of the most amazing talent in the sport . Uh , in Chicago, we turned the basketball football. You really just kind of go out , go out there and just play rec. It's not a whole lot of organization you can't get in where you fit in. So you just learn to play different positions. At that point, you play a little running back, you play a little club , a little quarterback, play wide receiver. Um , you do everything about block, right? So , uh, and I kind of pride myself on being able to do a little bit of everything. So when it came down to, when I first joined my first sort of pop Warner league, they asked me what position you want to play. I have had absolutely no clue. So my older brother was shot , uh, who is eight years older. He played quarterback in high school, so was halfway decent at it too . Right. So I remember him playing and going to his games. And I was that kid with the , you know, I was the , the , the six year old seven year old kid following his big brother around everywhere, going to high school, practicing , going to basketball games, just wanting to be around my big brother. So I saw him play quarterback enough. I was like, Oh, I'm a quarterback. So without even really thinking about it too much, it's like, I'm a quarterback. So that's what started it wasn't Anything around, I can throw a football naturally, or I just got the smarts to actually play the position, my big brother play quarterback. So I wanted to play quarterback and , um , started to develop those skills.

Collin Kushner:

Did you and Rashad ever have some friendly competitions, even though he's eight years older than you?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Nah. Cause around that time , uh, as I really got good at it , um, you know, he was kind of outside of that window that he was at the point where it looked , I'm gonna just be a fan of my little brother versus try to challenge him. That probably wouldn't be in the same, but I feel the other way around if I was the older brother, I would definitely be challenging him for sure. So, but he just kind of fell back and let me have it.

Collin Kushner:

I understand too, especially when you know that the younger brother is more talented as well. It's probably better just to not have the competition. And just because with the hypothetical game, you could always continue to talk smack and say you're better, but it's once you go head to head and he sees that you're light years ahead, that's game over dude,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Game over. Yeah. He realized that talent and it's over where it says no more debate at that point. Like we, you know, we did that dance. So, and I think, and that , you know what, that might've been his strategy. Cause now he, he definitely, well, he could have the ammo to go back and say, Oh , I was actually better than you, but we wouldn't know. Cause I don't know outside those windows now.

Collin Kushner:

Yeah . It makes sense. Right. And that's, I feel like that's, that's it . I think my brother does the same thing with me. I have an older brother as well, and I think that's how he plays it. Cause he knows like, you know, if Colin does beat me in the 40 yard dash, then he's going to just pull that over . And I would a hundred percent hold that over his head. Cause that's what it is .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

You should, as you should, especially if you want to bring it up and be competitive, I'm gonna hold it against you.

Collin Kushner:

That's amazing. That's really cool though, that your brother played quarterback in that, that he did kind of influence you in that regard. You played high school football at vocational. What was the high school experience like? Especially like you just said, Chicago is such a basketball city. Um, what was the high school football scene like in the area,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

High school football, Chicago , uh, comparing to some other areas, not the greatest, right? In terms of just the overall competition, you can look at the state of Florida or if he wants to look at certain cities. So, right. So obviously Miami or, you know , Dallas football, even LA you know, some really, really good football competition, but all the talent and the competition here and uh, where in Chicago was all on the basketball court. So as you get cold outside and you know, those winters and even Springs are not so friendly in Chicago, everyone wants to go inside and play basketball. So most of the talent pool was on the hardwood. And , um, that kind of depleted, you know, some of the , uh, the competition , um, inside the football, but it was in a couple of conferences in Chicago. Football was probably a bit more superior than others. So for example , um, as a high school called Morgan park Morgan park high school, and that's where a lot of our nationally ranked kids who happened to play in Chicago, they go to either Morgan park, high school or Semia high school where Derek Rose went to high school. Right. They had, or they had a really, really good football team there as well. So, and that was a part of those conferences. So what field was preseason , I know during the regular season, I had the chance every now and then didn't go against some of that top talent and then really bang it out there. Generally speaking was not that competitive, but athleticism is bar none. Right? You see the , some of the, you know, the agility is there, the jumping ability to size is there just the organization around the sport that wasn't quite there in Chicago football, but it's still a good time to develop me enough to be prepared for champagne.

Collin Kushner:

You bring up going to champagne. Obviously you had the opportunity to play at the university of Illinois, stay close to home, but Isaiah, you had other opportunities like North Carolina, Penn state, Tennessee. And I hate saying this team name, Ohio state , um , you know, wanting you to come, come to their universities, why'd you pick university of Illinois.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

First of all , it was an honor to have that type of selection pool coming out of high school. So, you know, I had no anticipation or even thoughts of college , um , at that age as a sophomore or junior in high school. Um, so for me to have that, you know, that type of recruiting , um , experience, it was pretty amazing. I think I finished up with a total of 75 scholarship offers from people in schools, 75, about 75,

Collin Kushner:

10 generations of Cushner as well .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

That's a lot of scholarship offers. I only pinpointed that because right across town, my college roommate , uh , one of my other difference , uh , Chris James Demetrius Jones, who happened to be the number two quarterback in the country that year behind Tim Teebo. Um , and I was number three. So we always this little friendly competition around that. And then we had another buddy Ramon Johnson, who was like the top five linemen in the country. So we was just kind of tallying up who we had, it's kind of comparing numbers. So that's why I know 75. Um, but that kind of , although that's a great, you know, achievement that has made things real confusing, right? You have 75 options to choose from. And as a , as a, you know, as a high school kid, you try your best to make the right decision, right. You try to make it , you try to try your best to make the best decision for you and your family. And that's a lot of things. I think there's a lot of sort of projective thoughts you try to have in terms of thinking about what supports you, what benefits you right now in terms of going out there and playing football, but also post football . What does that look like as a , as an alarm, hopefully at a university and what type of network that you have access to? So I say that to say that started to become a part of the thought process. Where can I go to have the greatest opportunity to play? Not necessarily play right away if I can play right away, that's , it's even greater, but at some point have a fair shot to play. All right. Just looking at, at it, from that perspective, that ruled out a lot of schools. All right. So, and there's really understand that being true to myself. I mean, I am an inner city, Chicago quarterback never had a quarterback coach the first time I really did any real hardcore quarterback drills is when I went out to the Nike camp up in Ann Arbor and then ultimately out to orange County to the lab was the first time I've seen it done drills . So I just knew if I put myself on a unit planning scale with some of these top elite quarterbacks, I'd probably be shooting myself in the foot. Um, so that ruled out a lot of schools cause I wanted to make sure I had a legit shot. So the Ohio state's , um, um, the USC offered a Texas offer. Like I started great to have, especially with the talent that was at those universities at the time , uh, I just knew realistic. I probably wouldn't have a shot, right. So I started to , uh , look at schools who needed a quarterback, looked at schools that kind of fit my, my playing style. And then that school pool got very, very narrow. So North Carolina that will no way. And then Ohio state was still up there. We kept in contact. Um, so those ended up being my final three , Illinois airs everyone out and Illinois, North Carolina were so close, so close. It really came down to proximity. And where can my mom watch me play North Carolina, maybe once a year, Illinois, every week, every week. So I buy you that I'm committed to Illinois. And , uh , I absolutely do not regret that decision.

Collin Kushner:

I have to say as like a 16, 17, 18 year old to go through that process, but to do it the way that you approached it is, is amazing because it , it, to me, it's gotta be hard to like, not get pulled in by like the Texas' and the USC is just by those brand names. But to actually understand like, Hey, these are my skillsets . I want to be close to home to have like your own checklist and to go through that checklist, to narrow it down. I don't find that to be very common.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It's not at all because you have these emotions to schools and it's just that, like, it's not in your best interest to go. You just have an emotional attachment. So I'll use for example, and not to say that this is not a good school for certain people, but this is how like Oregon, Oregon is known for having the best uniforms visually. They have barbershops in the locker room. The founder of Nike went there . Nike headquarters is right up the street. Oregon makes sense. And as a kid growing up, you have an emotional attachment to that. But if you started to think through, and it wasn't all on me having these thought processes, my older brother was shot my mom, other mentors, they were proud of this, this , uh , this, this process as well. They had me started to think differently, right ? That surface level things. And that'll be great, but that gets old after a month. What happens next? All right . Are you going to play, are you getting the proper education? Do you going to have all the resources that you need? When you have a bad day, you will have a bad day. It's going to be people around everybody care about you. So that became, you know, more the decision maker versus everything else and having those emotional attachments to schools.

Collin Kushner:

I love that. And especially as I'm sure, you know, kind of in the social media age, it's all about the glitz and the glamour , and I'm committing to play football at, let's just use this as an example, LSU, because of the, the allure , the death Valley brings. When if you pull back that facade and those layers, there are so many other that you have to factor in, like you said, education, am I going to play? Um, you know, can my family, will they be close by? I mean, there are so many different things to just get tossed out the window.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah, no question, no question. And I think it's, it's only right that , um, people who are a part of that process help you think through that because you can't really count on a 16, 17 year old kid to think that forwardly , uh, having that decision right now, it's , this feels great to be wanted . It , it feels great to have these, you know, these different universities banging on your door, saying how great you are and how special you are. So it feels good. Sometimes it misconstrued the thought process. So for the people who are part of that process is important for them to help have them, help them think through it, ask those questions during those visits. And , um, and I think the recruiting process gets really, really clear if you can think through that.

Collin Kushner:

And obviously you made the decision to go to champagne, university of Illinois and some big 10 football. And dude, you started right away. You got there , uh , as a true freshman, you started right away under Ron, Ron Zook . And you teamed up with some fantastic players, were sharp. Men and hall really has been the first day you stepped foot on campus and you stepped foot in the stadium on a Saturday morning or afternoon, I should say. What was that feeling like?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

That feeling of you having, you know, when you go away for a three-day football, Campbell, basketball camp, or will you go camping for three days, that feeling you get is that you really feel like you feel like a visitor. It's like, you know, I'm just here. My bag is over there. You know , I got two pairs of clothes to brush . I've really felt like that. I was just a camper for a couple of days while I was, you know, eventually I would go back home. My mom will come pick me up. So after the , like, you know, the first couple hours and they was saying their goodbyes, it was like, this is really happening. I'm like, I'm grown now. Right? So, so that was an instant shock to the body. Um, getting on campus. There's no one there in the summer quite yet. So it was before summer school really takes off. So you're around football, you're around football . And so that's the very first time I'm around football, a hundred percent. And in a lavigator big tent , weight room, a massive football field compared to Chicago, other great athletes from all around the country. You got coaches have quarterback coaches , it's a hundred percent football. It was the first time I already had it. So I let that consume me , um , enough that I didn't have time to really get home , uh, get homesick. So, and it happened eventually I've missed, you know, having mom, Hey Dennis, in the kitchen. I miss that. So , uh, so that was more of a shell shock. Now when Saturday rolled around that first game day , um, that was a , um , that was kind of like a dream. It was a dream. It's like a dream come true. So as a kid, you watch big 10 footballs and kids, you watch, you know, some of the largest , um, you know, attended largely attended games throughout the country. You want to fill that and you know, just like, you know, every kid in the backyard they had, they had that countdown three, two, one, and they make that shot that goes in, you play with that in your head. So was the realization for me, I was running out the tunnel , uh , as a true freshman knowing I would play , uh, that was a special, special feeling. The very first contact collar . We do the coin toss, we win and we win the coin toss. We can see the ball, the very first cake we had, like all big 10 , uh , running back. His name was ed Halsy. He, we , he , you know , you catch it the kick , maybe like the three yard line. He burst through the hole somewhere around like the 30 yard line. He, his head on bang sounds like a car today . The guy who hits him ends , it ends up , uh, he , the sprain of his neck or damaging a nerve in his neck was down on the field for 30 minutes, get carted off, find out next year, he ended up having his arm amputated from that. So that was my very first play as a collegiate football player. So mind you that excitement and thrill that I had way up here that came way down as a two person I'm I'm not going out there. So , um, that was , uh , that, that first weekend, that was a Rocky , uh, at first game was a Rocky, emotional roller coaster , but outside, I kind of figured it out and , um , it all worked out for the best

Collin Kushner:

Exactly the start that you're imagining, you know, when you're a little kid and you're imagining running onto a big 10 football field on a Saturday , um, you're imagining like you're down by three or you're down by six, I should say. And, you know, juice, Williams drops back bombs, back game, winning touchdown to Rashard Mendenhall. Everyone's going crazy to carry off the field. There's a giant party after.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah . That's what , that's exactly what you imagined. That's exactly what you imagined, but didn't quite go that way. Didn't quite go that way. So , um , it was all good. Worked out though. Worked out.

Collin Kushner:

That's so crazy. That's so cool. You're able to start as an 18 year old, because like you said before, most of the time you go, you get on campus, usually sit behind to have the opportunity to play right away. What did that mean to you?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I met the lot. Um, it was a special, special opportunity. I was one of the reasons why I also decided to go to Illinois, although it wasn't required. I started thinking about it . It would be pretty cool to have access to play as a true freshman. Right. I never sat on a bench. I've never had a , haven't had the wait , wait for the graduating senior in high school to, to play, to play Barstow . I started on varsity day one , uh, even at pop Warner, I was always the starting quarterback. So to go to college, knowing that I have opportunity to play very, very soon, that was more of an appeal. So very lucky, very special to have opportunity , um , to , to play as a true freshmen . The coasters did all they could to get them prepared. They , they did their best. Mike Locksley was off as a coordinator and quarterback coach , obviously. Um, they did all they could to prepare me buzzing, but wasn't quite yet ready. I don't think. Um, but you know, that that's a , you know, a separate sort of discussion in terms of, should I, what I should've done That first season, but , um, yeah, it was a , it was a great opportunity. Uh , it meant a lot , uh, it's a tall order for ATO kid , right. Or anything about the sport. You're the you're next in line as a coach, right? You're you're the coach on the field, right? When the , the, the offense coordinator diff the defense coordinator aren't around, they rely on the quarterback and using the middle linebacker to run that side of the ball and to task a young 18 year old kid who don't even know where, you know, his Tuesday classes is on campus to lead a bunch of men right there , uh , out there on the football field. That's tough. That's tough emotionally. Uh, that's tough physically. That's tough psychologically. So it was definitely some bumps in the road , uh, that first year as a freshman,

Collin Kushner:

How did you handle that? Having those extraneous pressures from, again, essentially being another coach on the football field, and everyone's looking at the quarterback. I feel like whether you're a football fan or not all eyes are on you,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It's hard. Um, you know, I can't necessarily say that. I think , uh, I can necessarily say I handled it properly from an emotional standpoint, because I was always that kid that was always , um, you know, exceeding expectation . So even as an early, you know, newcomer to the sport, you know, I chased around my older brother, who's eight years old and he made me play with his peers. So I'm learning, playing football. I'm six years old playing against 14 year old kids, right? Oh , I'm playing basketball with 70 year olds and I'm 10 years old. That prepared me. So when I did get around my peers, I was always above them because I've been preparing myself this entire time. Now that rural is kind of reversed. I go to college and I'm looking at 22 , 23 year old guys were full beards, like written casing me, and that's tough and I want it to be successful just like I've done my entire career so bad. I put the added pressure on myself. Um, I wasn't okay with the learning color, a learning curve. I wasn't okay with, you know, just being mediocre mediocre and I press, press, press. And that wasn't good. So I found myself , um , trying to appeal to, you know, appeal to the fans to , Hey, did you like that performance? So I go out there and play and have an okay game. I'm checking blogs, I'm reading news , uh, news clippings. I'm taking for ESPN to see what their reactions are. And that's a lot of added pressure from the emotional standpoint. So I applied that and it was totally unnecessary, but halfway, halfway to the halfway, through the season, all up 11 price closest to the end of the season, I started to snap out of it. Uh , my older brother, you know, he started to get around a bit more closer , started pulling me off , said , Hey, you can't worry about that. You have to go out there and play, or remember why you decided to play football. You love it. You enjoy it. Go out there, have fun. Cause right now you don't have fun . You're just getting hit. You're just getting banged around in the field and we're losing this first year for nothing. Right. So go out there, have fun, enjoy it . And then that's when things started to shift a bit,

Collin Kushner:

In some ways you kind of think that kind of up and down years of true freshmen shaped the rest of your career and built that confidence to the point where you were like, Hey, I don't need to read these blogs. I don't care what the fans are saying. I just need to go out there and have fun

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Indeed . And it's a process. I think every quarterback, every successful quarterback has to go through. Sometimes that process happens in high school. When you see that with Trevor Lawrence, when he gets to college and he's right from the gate, he is like smoking, right . He's coming out with a fast start, but sometimes you have situations like myself or some late bloomers who just say, you know what, let's just have fun. Let's enjoy this. And that's when things started to take off. So , um, I definitely think that experience helped me out later in my college career to allow them to say good or bad, right. Remain. Even in terms of like how your emotion, how you feel, you have a great game, feel good about it, but that great game doesn't dictate the next one. If you have a bad game, same thing take next week. You just keep getting better than keep working at your craft. And then you'll, you'll see a difference in your performance. So that helped. Um, now it's always the debate of, you know, should you have red shirted that year versus when I then started , uh , a lot can be said about that. I mean, obviously you reassure you get extra, you know, extra year of learning. Um, you don't essentially wait waste , you know, a season just going out there and just running around for, you know, to get like a chicken with its head cut off. But also don't think I gained the experience that I've gotten , uh , as a true freshman. I don't think we go to the Rose bowl that following season, if I don't play as a true freshmen , but you know, that was a , that's my beliefs.

Collin Kushner:

Yeah. I liked the fact that you played as a true freshman because you can prepare, you can read, you can do film study, you can listen to older guys, you can do all that. And that will benefit you. But the most beneficial thing you can do is get on the field and get it, get in the game, get some game action. Even if that means running around like a chicken with your head cut off, cut off. So be it. Um, that's, that's just how I see it. But again, in the moment it sucks. You're getting thrown to the ground. You know, fans are calling for you and you're yeah , yeah. That can't be an exciting field .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. It's not, it's not fun at all. It's not fun. But like you said, I personally think at least my experience I learned from experience. So if I don't go out there and I had that fumble against Iowa, right. Um, I'm not prepared when I'm facing that situation. And next year when we play Wisconsin or, you know, I see us, I see us struggling that, you know, my in 2006, when we , we played Ohio state, we have them right there on the ropes , very similar to when we beat them , we right down the roads with down seven, every, you know, we're driving and we're marching down the field. Without that experience, I don't have the type of fourth quarter I have at Ohio state, the following year. Right. So , um, you know, that's, I , I think it goes a little, either way. Many people will have different opinions on it. Um, but in my experience, I think those things, those moments prepared me for the success that I had to follow.

Collin Kushner:

A lot of people fail to understand that those moments of struggle will help you in the future. What that looks like. Nobody knows until you get to that next moment in time. Um, the thing that sucks about being in the spotlight too, is that like you let's just say you have an incompleted pass out , eyeballs are on you. Like when I mess up, like at work or something, and like, I , I misspelled something on an email. I don't have thousands of people, you know, booing me or something. Imagine us going to these people, going into their everyday jobs. Let's say they're in marketing and you and I just pop up and start booing them. Every time they make a mistake because mistakes are inevitable and it's a part of life and growth .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

And that's where examples like that really had me allowed me to sort of snap out of it. So I put all this indirect pressure on myself and I'm trying to appeal to everybody, thousands and thousands of people on a national scale. It's , it's no waste . You have a great game still. It's going to be someone that's , he could've did better. So it was like, it's unrealistic for me to appease all these people. And it's not fair. You didn't want to do this, and it's not , you want to do this. You want to apply this type of pressure in a normal working environment. Like you said, with the email example you just gave, so just don't do it on the football field . Wasn't supposed to be fun. You're lining up against other division one athletes who are, who have a job as well. So I mean, to tell me you supposed to be successful all the time. It gets another division when asked . I don't think it works that way. Right? So these, they start to , uh, become real and that's when they know what let's have fun. Let's go out there and do what we do.

Collin Kushner:

What do you remember about November 10th, 2007 Columbus, Ohio.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I remember everything about that day. I remember what I ate. I remember the walk from the hotel elevator to the bus. I mean everything about that day. Um, that was a special time and I didn't really realize what I was doing. And I still kind of trip about the effect that it has even today , um, from, from that , uh, from that game , um, that, that the result of that they started probably the year before , uh, when we lost Ohio state , uh, you probably don't recall, but that game, and I laugh with James about the James Laurinaitis as the sound , his first year started. He had everything out to be, you know, everything to prove. And he was going out there to perform well for his team. Um, he caught me slipping at my true freshman year, right up the middle. And he hit me in my chin and I had a hairline fracture in my job's out for the game. So I remember that hit and that hit surprised me and shocked me because I didn't see the blitz coming. And I didn't see the blitz coming because obviously once you refresh, I don't know what I'm looking at on. I already study fam. So the following season, I remember that hit. So we had just beat Minnesota the week before Sunday night, I'm going to film from Washington and watch a film. And Ohio state was one of those teams where they did everything great. Usually a defense had two or three coverages that they played very well, but that's what you're going to get. Same companies are going to do really well. Ohio state, Ohio state did everything, but they did a well, so I couldn't figure them out exactly what I'm looking for. They didn't give any tips, but I figured out one thing, well, two things, two things that really, they were really consistent with third down and red zone. I figured those two things out and that's all I needed. So going into that game, I really blocked in on third down red zone, third out red zone. If you notice, we converted a lot of third and lawns, a lot of fourth downs, and we were very efficient and very efficient in the red zone . So that was my mind, my mindset, my thought process. I'm thinking about those notes in my head, walking on the field , um, you know, obviously I'm in a horse shoe for the first time. It's 110,000 people everywhere. Y'all probably didn't see it, but we had a little scuffle with the team before kickoff. It was, it was a lot of emotions, a lot of emotions around a game. Um, so once it started, I just kinda got in the zone. And then the rest is history,

Collin Kushner:

28, 21 victory over for people that don't remember this, the number one team in the country. Number one team, you guys took him down 28, 21

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Said enough . I recently saw like a YouTube video that , um, sort of , uh, kind of reflected . And we kept that season. I didn't even realize that from, I think we went up, we went through both , uh , right before the bowl season started. It was 21 , uh , 21 upsets that year from non ranked teams to rank top 25, top 25 schools was 21, 22 of upsets that year. So that was crazy enough. But , um , you know , it's kinda looking at that game. It was one of those days where everything had to work perfectly on our end. So I was first sort of self-inflicted mistake didn't happen until the fourth quarter. And we called those mistakes, the fumbles interception drop passes or penalties. Our first one didn't happen into the fourth quarter. So we had to play that type of game in order to beat, you know , uh, you know, a nationally ranked powerhouse like that.

Collin Kushner:

But knowing that puts you in the mindset, knowing that you literally, you can't afford to have them stay. You just can't even, even one, one could potentially be that detrimental, especially in such a, such a tight game. Um, obviously that same year, it was a fantastic year for, for you guys over at university of Illinois, then you go to the Rose bowl, which is, which is huge, right? That's, that's one of the biggest bowl games and all the college football and you guys play USC. What was that experience like for you?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It was another one of those dream come true moments where you have to kind of pinch herself to really understand that this is real and even reflecting and thinking back, it still feels like a dream. It still feels like there was a part of another episode. And I still had these to this day where I'm running out on out the tunnel and the lights and cameras are still flashing, even reflecting. Like this feels like it was just a dream. It was a blip then part of my career. So that was really, really cool. Um, I just put something up on Twitter, a couple, a couple of weeks back. I do it every year on January 1st. I used to post a picture from that day And the picture I decided to use this time, this past , uh , a couple of weeks ago, it was , uh, you know, they do the , uh , the introductory , the starting line of introduction. That'll show like your profile picture on the jumbotron and like your hometown. So I put up a picture of that. You can see like the mountain backdrop , um, from that position , I thought that was left out . It's so cool to have been a part of that. So, great , great experience. The granddaddy of the granddaddy of them all , um, probably would have had a bit of a better , uh, outcome from the game itself. But you know, the fact that we made it there after 25 years of not going there as a university, that was pretty awesome.

Collin Kushner:

And you had the pleasure of playing with guys like Rashard Mendenhall really as Ben and I mean, what was it like playing with those guys throughout your tenure at Atlanta ?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It was great, man. Um, they really let me know how good I wasn't . So it, it even just from a visual standpoint, you walk in the first time meet Rashard he's in the weight room. He can see how this dude is built. He comes there and Rashad is, you know, five, 10, five, 11, 225 pounds, 1% body fat for three 40 benching 500 pounds squatting 700 pounds. So I have a long way to go, right? If I'm comparing myself to that, right reasons is no, no, no, no Slack off from that, like as a true freshman reasons walks in the door at 16 to 25, it's a true freshmen , strong one strongly guys on the team. So they elevate me and my performance, even other guys, Vontay Davis, Corey legit, Jeff Allen, all these other guys. It was pretty cool to line up with besides them, because I really got a chance to see firsthand what that talent can do and how special they were in their own regard.

Collin Kushner:

And by the way, I'm still upset that you guys beat my Wolverines the year after you beat Ohio state. That that hurts. I won't hold that against you and the rest of the team, but may I , I may or may not have thrown some expletives at the TV on that record .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. So Michigan that was especially game two . And that if I could pinpoint my best performance in college, that would be it, it was the best not to kill my soul. Right. It's not. And I hate to say , uh , but it was my best, all around performance. Um, broke the big house record in terms of total yards, that game , um, I was re I was really in , is I've never felt like that before any of the game . I was really locked in and they really felt like I didn't do anything wrong, really feel I can do anything wrong. So that was a special day and historical game for me growing up, especially in the Midwest, you th the brick around the big house around that grass that is legendary. And I remember seeing that and walking around and then touching it. And it was just a really, really special time. And to be able to go out there, how to performance like that , um, and beat, you know, beat , beat Michigan, you know, in that backyard on ABC be the player, the national player of the week. Um, that was pretty cool. It was pretty special, fast forward that six years later. And I didn't have no clue. My wife was at the , my now wife was at that game and she was also at the Rose bowl, completely random. We hadn't met, I didn't meet her at the 20 , so 2013, she was at both of those games, which is really crazy to me .

Collin Kushner:

Now, my mind is blown because I'm thinking like, well, you think about like, what are the, what are the chances in ? And you said that your in-laws aren't their front end Arbor. Right? Correct. Correct. So I'm sure, I'm sure they love it. That you , uh, that you had such a fantastic game against the Wolverines.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah, they were . Yeah. They , uh , yeah, they kind of still look at me a little funny, but it's , it's an , uh , it's , it's a weird, it's a weird connection within that. And , um , you know, from Ann Arbor, they have , uh , they have an affiliation with Illinois. My wife's older brother and my brother-in-law PJ. Uh, he actually lives in LA. He went to Illinois to , he was on the fly in Atlanta. So that was her connection going to that Rose bowl game. Cause he's an alum he's right there. LA he went to the game and then I believe she may have just been back home visiting, but like , Hey Illinois, remember that? Remember they played in the Rose bowl, they played Michigan. So let's go. And both, you know, both chances, both times she was at the game so that , you know , I find that really, really, really , uh , unique.

Collin Kushner:

Isn't that crazy how life works. I mean, it's, it's the stories like that. It's I live for stories like that. I love it. Because you think about out of everything that you could have been doing on those particular days and it's, it's just crazy. It's crazy. It's serendipitous.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah , absolutely. We were just talking about that the other day too, was just like, what would life be different if I didn't play in that Rose bowl? Or if I didn't play in Michigan, or if you didn't go to the Rose bowl and you didn't go to that game at Michigan, like, would we have met with him and whatever it has been, Hey, I remember you from this game and I see you playing flag football in Chicago. You mind if I joined the team would have been like what that would have happened. Right. So we kind of laugh at joking . You know, we kind of talked about that the other day, which is a super unique,

Collin Kushner:

I like those hypotheticals because at the end of the day, we'll never know. But you really think like if that one little thing shifts out of place, does that just throw everything else on the life continuum out of whack? We'll we'll never know we could, we get discussed this on another episode for hours, but it is, it is interesting to think about.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah , yeah, for sure. For sure. But yeah , especial time, big house, you definitely got my best performance in college. Um, complete game, complete game, even on, and this is, I know I was locked in that even the plays that didn't go out way , whereas I should have been sad or a blitz came or they had the perfect defense against the playbook call it . I got out of it, change the play, or watch crammed around, throw the ball out of bounds and come back. What makes somebody miss? I was really locked in, in a big, in a horse , uh , in , in a big house that day. So , uh, yeah , you definitely, you definitely got my best performance that night.

Collin Kushner:

Your wife Debu is in the stands. And on top of that, you knew that you would be talking to some random guy named Colin Cushner in 2021.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. So crazy enough, man. Uh , it's weird how that all worked out.

Collin Kushner:

I have to ask you, so I read an article in coach Zook. This is how he best characterized you a winner competitor. Um , and that you'd be successful in whatever you decided to do , uh , in life. When you hear those comments, what, how do you wrap your mind around those?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

That means a lot, man. Uh , that's the first time I heard that , uh, you know, heard that, those comments. I know he used to say, you know, as a coach, you will stay here . You'll be good at whatever it is you do. You'll do. But to hear, you know, for someone that you respect to say those words, that means a lot. And for them to be able to look at you, you know, as a 18 year old kid, 17 year old kid, when we actually met and to have that sort of, you know, forward thinking , um, to see how I'm wired inside, to see how I leverage and look at how I was brought up raised and sort of calculate all that into one sort of futuristic projection. And to say that that means a lot. So , uh, Kozak is one of my favorite people, you know, I still stay in touch with him to this day every now. And they checked said , um, so he actually was up here , uh , uh, at university of Maryland for a year. Um, so he was, you know, it was kind of like in the backyard here in the, in the DC area. So one of my favorite people now non for him to say that I really believe that , uh , that , that means a lot to me.

Collin Kushner:

Those relationships are so important to have, I mean, the statistics and the wins , those are all great. But to have relationships like that, where , where someone can say that you'll be successful in whatever you do. I mean that those aren't lighthearted comments, you know, those in order to say something like that, you really have to feel it , feel it.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. And he doesn't say things like that. You don't take that lightly. Right? He , he , he is really big and he's really cautious of what he puts out there because, you know, he can't get it back and he says it. So, so for him to make that type of comment at , uh , that's pretty special

Collin Kushner:

When you reflect back on your legacy at the university of Illinois, I know you had a ton of success, but we talked about being a true freshman and, and the struggles like anyone would have as an 18 year old, you know, in , in one of the biggest environments in , in , in the big 10 in college football, when you look back at your legacy positive, like how do you see it when you have to , when you get a chance to reflect back?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. So I think it's positive. Um, even from , um, an athletic standpoint, the way I played my style of play, I think I was a few years before my time , um, in terms of being a mobile , um, running, throwing quarterback, it's kind of a hybrid of both. I was a little bit before that , uh , we had a few, you know , one off situations with my big young , um , absolutely the epitome of mobile quarterbacks, but it w was just really unique To have that. Now we see a pop up all the time, right? We see Lamar Jackson and we see Patrick Moore homes . We see , uh , Russell Wilson , like these special talented guys just go out there and that's, that becomes the norm. So to me, I think I was a part of, along with the Pat whites destroy Smiths or the world we were on the, the cutting edge, or really introducing that style of play at that position , um, and helped to become sort of a household product right after that. You start to see those guys pop up in the college ranks , uh, all over the place. Now we see that in the NFL. And , uh , and I like to think I was a part of that , uh, that movement. So from a planning standpoint, I think the legacy and the stats and the credential, all that speaks for itself. Furthermore, you talk about legacy, you know, on this side of athletics, the experiences that , um , that I had in college, the network that I was able to build all the way up to what I'm doing now, I'm still making an impact, not only the turf anymore, but making an impact, working with individuals and their families, helping them think through different strategies to make sure that they're , you know , uh , individuals and their kids had opportunity to go to college, to go to a major university through financial support of themselves. Uh , so they can have the big 10 experience. I can have the sec experience. So all those things sort of lining up , uh , creating the pathway and the journey that I have today. I think that all still, I'm still writing in history of writing their legacy as we speak.

Collin Kushner:

And I'm totally with you on that. It's really cool that you're taking how you can take those experiences and channel it in a completely different arena in the financial world, financial environment, like you said, helping, you know, helping families set themselves up for the future. In some ways it's more powerful than football itself.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

No, no question, no question. I think , um, you know, from, from what I do now , um, to help people think through what's next to help people think through what's best for them. Um, and to be told is totally unbiased. I think that there is some of , um, you know, some of them have Lars of amazing asset. Anyone can have to have someone to help them think through and challenge them when needed much like a coach , um, to help them put them in a spot that they're better. They're better off , um, by taking the recommendation and then taking on to some of the information that they receive from a financial advisor. So pretty impactful, not only do I reach the person that I'm talking to them, reaching everyone around his bloodline, everyone's associated from, from parents to children, two grandchildren, two best friends to their , you know , uh, professional networks. I get, I get a chance to make changes that might have an impact on that. So that is pretty awesome. And puts me back in the quarterback seat

Collin Kushner:

When, when you're, let's just say 10 years old, did you ever think that your impact would be as a financial advisor or D or did you, or was that something that nowadays you look back, you're like, wow, what the heck?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I would think I would be impactful five years ago, let alone at age 10. Right? So , uh, life is weird that way you just don't know what to expect. You know, you can have your mind and ideas wrapped around this thing, and it don't work out that way all the time. It don't work out that way all the time. So, you know, I think , uh, being able to, and again, use a football term, be able to call audibles through our life throughout football, throughout the game itself. Um, audibles are very real and they're very important to be able to adapt to what's in front of you. This opportunity came up over dinner and we were just casually talking about new year's resolutions and boom, I have opportunity that pops up. So , um, you know, it's just crazy how, you know, the type of journey that life would take you on. And, you know, I'm super excited for where I've , where I've come to this point. And I'm super excited where I'm headed .

Collin Kushner:

It's very poetic in a sense, like you said, you can, you're calling you , you have to call audibles. Um, you have to kind of direct people as you were on a football field. Hey, you know, it really is. I need you to go over there. You know, sometimes need to change things up at the last second. It's, it's scary in the best way possible how applicable the football lessons are to the financial world as a financial advisor .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I think poetic is the best word , uh , the best way to describe it, as you said , um, it's, it's, it's crazy how all that stuff on the football field translate over to what we do today, having an a , have a plan , right? The first thing that I talked through with a lot of , uh, you know, with my clients or with prospective clients is let's figure out what's your game plan? What are we going to ultimately to accomplish? What's the end goal? When football, we want to win, right. Well, how did we win in the portfolio? What steps do we need to take? Right? What's off fence. What's defense. What's the special teams of financial plan . It's the , I use the same terminology because it makes sense. And it's easy to remember, but it's the same sort of, it's the same thought process. What's going to be a part of the offense. We started talking about different investment opportunities and things is about to make your , uh, your network grow. It's offense, defense what's in place. If something goes wrong, we talk about their insurance policies and your savings and things like that and special teams, right? So , um, those concepts really apply. And it really helped me out to this day. Obviously the leadership qualities , uh, being driven , uh , being motivated, being hard, work , all those things are the intangibles that you can't teach. And they make me get up every day and come in and work on my craft. Um, but still being able to call those audibles because even with the polished game plan, something happens, right? The star player gets hurt. He gets hurt. He gets an injury. You know, someone gets knocked out the game. Unfortunately , you know, we see COVID happen , right? We see disability happen . We see investments crumble. We have to call audibles as much as , uh, as much as , um , you know, the market or life sorta tells us and trains us to do. We gotta be able to roll with those punches.

Collin Kushner:

I love the way you're explaining it. And I feel that if athletes look at it exactly how you're looking at it, it won't look like such a daunting task because when you dedicate your life and your blood, sweat, and tears to football, you're, it's so linear and you're so focused in. And I think it's, I don't want to call it an easy transition, but the way that you describe it, it, it makes so much sense.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. In some , and again, it tastes experience for you to have that. I think , um, early on, and I don't, you hear all these stories about, besides the athletes, athletes was going broke . You hear this all the time. What else do you hear ? You can , what else can you really expect from, you know, a teenager who had this childhood dream, I'm going to make it big up on a , by my mom, that house I'm going to drive that car. I'm going to get that jury. I'm going to have this lap , his lifestyle. What else do you expect when they actually touched , like, you know , actually get a piece of it. They're going to make that dream come true. Right? So without them knowing there's no way to have any sort of, you know, rails , um, that's going to keep me in check. So that's why I think it's important for individuals like myself to come in and help them be organized, to have a game plan and, and break this down, to break this down in a way that they totally understand it and can receive it. I can talk finance to a person that's not very familiar with it. And I can talk way over your head. I can talk, we can get into the down . We can use it to mask that we can talk about options. We talk about everything, really dive into the weeds of it . It does you no good if it's doing that, but if I can articulate what I'm doing, what we're doing in a way that makes sense. Now we all on the same page right now. It makes it easier to start to think , all right , I shouldn't probably be doing it because it has an effect just like I would do on the football field or whatever it might be. So I try to do, and I try to articulate in my practice now in a way that they fully comprehend,

Collin Kushner:

How important is financial literacy? Not just for athletes, but for your everyday people like myself,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Everybody needs a plan. Everybody needs a plan. Colin . Um, what do you make? $3,000 a year. What do you make? $30,000 a year. What do you make? $30 million a year. You need a plan. I equate someone who doesn't have a plan. It's just like when you have a gym membership as an individual, you get a gym membership. You go to the LA fitness, you go to goals , whatever the gym is. If you go in there by yourself without a plan, you'll get some work done. You might go on the treadmill for a little bit. You get a cup of curls. You do a bench. You take a picture for Instagram to get out of there.

Collin Kushner:

I love the in line, right?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It's it's true. Like you go through that, you go through that process and he gets some work. They get a life for sweat. You get out of there. That all changes. When you hire a personal trainer, because a higher , a hired personal trainer has a plan. All right, Isaiah, I call it . This is what we're doing. And then we got legs. I'd be going to do five minutes warm up on the treadmill. We going to do leg extension . We're going to do this. We'll do this . It's going to be done in 40 minutes. You're going to come out of that drenched with sweat. And you got a proper workout, same thing, highest network , the most, the ultra high net worth individuals, all the way down to the folks who are just getting started. Everyone needs to plan .

Collin Kushner:

Do you hammer what you just said to me into somebody's head? Whether , because you're right. It doesn't matter if the AB $3,000 at $30,000 or $30 million, everyone needs a plan. I just think that to connect those dots for that person, that's the challenge to get them to know that it's viable

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

When I'm meeting with, or talking with someone for the first time, make it a point to listen. I make it a point to listen, to understand their story. I want to understand, you know , what's important to you, how you're thinking, how do you perceive finance ? How do you see how you perceive money? Um, and I really want to be able to think through and put myself in your shoes, because again, yes, I can sit on a wealth of knowledge on this side, but if I can't really meet you where you are and understand your story, I have no clue of how to even start, right? I have no clue with trying to break this sort of, this idea of you want to shop, shop, shop. You want to spend Smith Smith, right? If you come from a financially responsible household, I don't need to talk to you in that way. Right. We can talk about some other things, more of an organization, and what's next for you because you get it. All right. So the first thing I'm doing, I am listening. And I'm trying to understand your story. I'm trying to understand , um , how you're wired. And then from that, that lets me know everything that I need to know how to sort of proceed and move forward. So, first and foremost, we listen from there. We start to introduce new ideas and the pace that they can really absorb. If someone is not doing anything and you show them a plan where they will start doing everything, not as hazardous at 10, it's probably not going to happen. It's too open . One of them it's too much, right? But if you slowly to me, if you slowly start to massage away and choose and start to check off boxes and chameleon in a way that makes sense, whatever, your capacity, your handle, you start to make those changes. And over time you look up, it might take a year. It might take five years. Sometimes it might take 10 years. Alright , but that transition happens. And then boom, right. You're right on track. Right? So , um, but everything starts with me listening and understanding, you know, the person I'm sitting in front of the first,

Collin Kushner:

You keyed in on something that's so important. The art of listening, the art of listening is so important. I think a lot of people forget about that. Listen, first and foremost, and then go from there. Whether you're in broadcasting, a financial advisor , a football player, a coach, a janitor doesn't matter. Well , listen,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Listen and react. None different than calling her autumn , come up to the light . Listen. And you , you observe what's happening in front of you. How do you respond to it? So

Collin Kushner:

Have you ever found yourself where you're , because I can tell you're very passionate about what you do as a financial advisor. Have you ever found yourself with a client and then you just get so locked in that you're , it's almost like you're playing football game. You're spitting out all these terms and you finally wake up out of the fog and you're like, Oh wow. I don't think they understood anything that I just said,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I've done it a couple of times. I've done a couple of times. And I , and I try to, you know, I, I didn't intentionally build in pauses as I'm talking to somebody because of that, because you , again, you can go, go, go, go, go. And as a client, you just like, like what? So I build them pause . It's a slow down. Does that make sense? You understand that? Do you get it? Any questions that brings me, that snaps me out of it. I missed you a bit. Then let me reiterate that in a way that's, that's , um , uh, easier to comprehend.

Collin Kushner:

I liked that. I liked that a lot. And D do you help, like, you don't deal exclusively with athletes. You do pretty much anybody. Right. But if, or is there a specialty?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. So , um, so I pretty much work with professionals and a range of different , uh, different career paths. So from, for obviously pro athletes, that makes sense. I'm passionate about it . It was one of the reasons why I got into it. I think documentary broke down , uh , ESPN had just came out that hit a nerve because it was a couple of people that I have personal relationships on that show. So in my thought process, you know, what better way to make a change than to do it yourself and go out there and become a financial advisor to take advantage of the opportunity. So I have a portion of what I do to gear towards professional athletes, but, you know, it ranges from contractors to media, personalities, to attorneys, to doctors, to , um, hospitalities, to nurses. It sort of ranges , uh, uh, do the, the , the scope of type of people that I work with. Um, and because I've been in the industry for five years now, and I've had thousands of conversations with people , uh, I'd like to think I'm pretty well worse , pretty well versed in that , uh, you know, sort of the organization and a process for different career fields . So , um, super helpful. Uh , and again, I like to translate everything, go to football. I saw, I've seen a lot of defenses. I seen a lot of defenses in my day, college . I pretty much, I pretty much figured out how to beat them all pretty much figured out. Now it's just a matter of just executing it.

Collin Kushner:

I like that a lot. I love it. I just love how it's all relatable to football. I mean, I think that is the, as a guy who only understands football on a rudimentary level, you throw the ball, you catch the ball, you know, I don't, I don't get the past protections and all that, but it's just such a unique, it's such a unique way. Again, I hope athletes high school, college pro now, or even former athletes hear this conversation because if they don't know that it's that translatable, then you're obviously going to think, Oh my God, what am I going to do?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It is it very, very translate a translatable , uh, Collin . And again, I , I try to put it in a way that they can easily comprehend it. And it's stuff that they can take advantage of what slight adjustments that they can do that makes their way of life totally different in a good way, right? You run into route this way. You've been trained. You've been doing the same technique over and over again. But if you make one small tweak that makes that route, that much more efficient, you are that you're open that much more. And then everything else starts to become a result of that. You catch him, catch the ball, you making plays, whatever it might be. And sometimes those tweaks need to be made and then take a whole lot. What I'm realizing. It does not take a whole lot to make those changes

Collin Kushner:

When you're having these meetings. You're not giving them a big giant, you know, kind of yelling rail rod, you know, speech dying in your hand against the wall. And then you're not saying, huh , right.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah, yeah. Not that's , I'm not there. I'm not quite that. Uh , and I don't think, I , I don't think I've ever been a rah type . I've never been like the Ray Lewis in the locker room with these super deep passionate , uh , um , speeches. I usually give a little something. Then the rest is, watch me work, Washington perform so, and , uh , and I think it's a place for that. So , uh, and they get the same thing. I'm not the over the top charts and graphs and using my hands, but, you know, do with the non-verbals , it's not me. Right. But you know , I do bring in a quarterback across the, the even sorta playing emotional stats and , uh , let's work. Let's, let's, let's, let's figure this out. Let's go out there and win .

Collin Kushner:

You don't have one of those giant, you know , those pointers it's like, imagine this pen and you like , pull it out. You're not that guy. And you're going, like, you see this chart over here. 35% of this is liquid assets

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Right now . I'm not that guy. If somebody needs it , um, I can refer you to somebody else who can do it, but that's not me. Sorry to disappoint anybody out there that , that wouldn't be me .

Collin Kushner:

You got to tell me about this dinner. So you said the whole financial advising conversation just happened just casually , uh , over a meal.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

This was December, 2015 , um, myself and my wife , uh , and I was with her, her family. So all my in-laws and her side , um, we were at dinner, they were here in the DC area and , um, you know, conversation just came up. Hey, what does everyone thinking? Or what does everyone excited about for 2016? Um, some people say , Hey, I want to get, you know, get, get the body back and get back into the gym. I want to work on this. I want to read these amount of books. I want to travel here. And mine was, I really want to understand invested . I hear that all the time it's popping up on TV, see the commercials. I know it's important. I just don't know how to do it. I don't know where to start and across the table, my sister-in-law who happened to be one of the executives at bank of America. She told me about a program at Merrill Lynch. It says they have a great, you know , um, you know, a financial advisory program you can get into, I can get your interview there. If that's something you want to do. And I said, yeah, absolutely. And she said the word program. So in my brain, I'm thinking it's a online program that I can go in and take a class, learn it, and I can start to do it myself. Great. I didn't realize that program was an interview to become a financial advisor. So in that process, it was like, okay, I guess, sure. I'll try it. And the more I learned about it, what we do, how we help people , uh , the process that we go through , um, the longevity in terms of, you know , how long someone can be doing this, it became more and more attractive. And once I started to clients on my own, you know, I kind of pledged myself to this career. I'd be doing this for the next 50 years. So , um, when I 50, the next 47 years, cause I'll be 80 and 47 years. Sorry . So I'll be doing it since I'm 80 years old , uh , because it's not physically demanding it all using, you know, your biggest muscle, which is your brain that can go a long time. So really loved the impact. Really loved the , uh, the note, the low mileage I get to put on my legs now. Um, and for me, I'm still in the NFL. I'm still there with clients and different relationships in NFL. I just don't have to practice in play anymore. So

Collin Kushner:

Pretty cool. And you don't have to have guys like James Laura Knight is coming at you and fracturing your jaw .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Not at all, not at all those days are behind me. I'll get my fix out there, flag football, man . Um, but the days of me lacing it up with him at pats , that was like that. Is there

Collin Kushner:

Any disappointment, Isaiah, that the NFL dream never came to fruition

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Or people who want to know or, you know, who was ever curious about, you know, what's , uh , what's one of the toughest things you've ever had to do. Um, I say go through those two years of not playing football. That was really, really tough because, you know , we , we talk about, you know, we just, you know , sort of describe, you know , those pro athletes who have these mega dreams and things. They want to get accomplished their entire life and actually achieve it. Mine wasn't reversed . You had these dreams when they subconsciously want to get done, and then it doesn't have it . Right. That was really hard. That was probably the two darknesses I ever had in my life. Trying to figure out why, why not me? Why, what did I do wrong? Why, you know why this arrived, that, you know, and you ask yourself those questions when you read it. And I really beat myself up about it. Um , so it was really, really difficult. And that's just one part of it. I had to figure out what was next, because I had two kids at the time. What do I want to do? What can I do? What am I qualified to do? So figuring that stuff out was very, very difficult. But again, you put the pressure on yourself to try to become an instant millionaire. Then it's impossible, right? It's a lot of pressures , a lot of pressure. So you dial it back and go with what makes you happy, have fun. You're not having fun right now. Isaiah have fun again. And I started to try different things. Having fun, enjoying myself, got back out there as far as to try this job, this marketing thing went back to champagne for a little bit , um, started to play flag football. I'm beating my, you know, my, my now wife, all these things started to happen. And then the path is fuzzy . It gets clear. I , it gets cleaner. And you know, now I look back on it that needed to happen in order for me to be here. I think I saved a bunch of lives, not going to the NFL. And I don't mean that in a joking way. My mind uncovered that she had breast cancer in 2012 prior to my mom had not been to the doctor maybe for years. And then absolutely while I was in champagne, because everyone was so excited to go to see juice play. Everyone was so excited going out with tailgate and we're going to have gone have a big party out the words. You just have fun with the family. And I didn't get to the NFL. That was her first chance to really settle down and stop moving, not travel. Let me just go. I haven't been to the doctor. I got some downtime, like going to the games we to be let's go to the doctor. And she uncovered that she had breast cancer and she caught it really, really early because of it and to say the life. So , uh, having that process and that thing, those things happen obviously lead to, you know, her, her life man say , and me, me and my wife to be ahead of that.

Collin Kushner:

It's crazy though, because it's so hard to see when you're in those dark moments, it's impossible. It's like seeing red, you don't see anything else. Um, but just how you've wonderfully stated how, you know, with your mom and meeting your wife and you, it puts you on your path and you, and you didn't know it, but you don't know until, until you get out of that dark place.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. It's weird. It's life, it's life. Right. Um, you know, we just like with anything else, you have a plan. You have these ideas , um , just like in a game , you have, you live , you have a script and often that suddenly you have the first 15 plays are written down, write down the first 15 plays. You might get through three of those players before you go off script, right ? Sometimes you get to play 12 deep ball script, right? The same thing with life. So it all works out. You want to move and you change. You make these different adjustments to you . Ultimately you figure it out. You ultimately win that game. So the same thing. So that happened , certain things need to happen in the background that didn't look like wins to you at the time, or you lost certain battles at the time, but ultimately let you, you know, you win , you know, the ultimate goals in life

Collin Kushner:

I have to ask. And I don't even know if you have an answer for this, why didn't an NFL team, take a chance on it .

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

So I think it was a couple of things coming out. I think , um, some teams, some teams looked at the overall body of work and created different averages and sort of generalized performance. Um , you take that, that, that first true freshman year and you combine them with the other three years, that it was so bad as a true freshman, that drags down the entire performance for the last three. All right . So if you just looking at overall completion percentages and things like that, yes, you can very easily make an assessment said , Hey, Jim struggles with accuracy, right? You just can't win the big games . Because if you look at the whole body of work on the sheet of paper, we will make these assessments.

Collin Kushner:

That's a flaw. That's such a flawed way of looking. And I'm not just saying this, you know, but that's such a flawed way to look at it. What about character and all the other? There's so many other variables taking a bunch of numbers and throwing it on. And she , she had a paper it's part of the equation. But to me, that's like 4%.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I couldn't agree more. I think there's definitely a place for that. Um, and you see, you know, the process, you know , these early rounders or the project around is , uh, that's the actual process that they will go through. They'll get the same sheet of paper, but they take a deeper dive for those individuals . That's a little bit more time and energy into that, which is totally fine. I get it. I understand you can't evaluate every quarterback thoroughly like that. But me in particular, I believe that was part of a process. I didn't have any sort of pre-travel pre-draft meetings. I didn't go to the combine and then go to a senior game. And I'm not sure what the deal was around that, because if I just, again, I just look at my body of work and then maybe I'm a little biased, but I think I checked some of those boxes enough to at least get to those things. So, which also leads me to think that I don't , I don't believe I had the proper representation around me in terms of agents and, you know , marketing and things like that, which is another reason why I'm really passionate about working with these athletes. Now it's a lot of things outside of finances that I helped them out with in terms of coaching and mentor and you know, some of the things that they need to look out for. But I didn't, I don't believe I had the proper representation in that field either to overcome some of these thoughts and ideas about accuracy or any questions that any other team would have. So , um , you know, it was a perfect storm for me not to be able to have that opportunity.

Collin Kushner:

I was just thinking , it all goes back to what coach Zook said in that article that I read winter competitor, and he can be successful in whatever he does. What more do you want from a guy? I mean, and again , and again, I mean, we could, this is a, you know, another conversation we're on, unfortunately, like we'll never know, but though , like everything I just said to me, that's what you want. I don't really care. Like what the stats said. I want a guy who wins a guy who competes, who's going to leave everything out on the field every single day.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

And again, I'm glad he was able to see that , um , during that time, because that's how I play. Right? You want to get everything out of me. All right. You don't want to get every single thing from me trying to figure out, you know, what hit the open receiver, even to how I run, you know, I wasn't the fastest on the field. No, I was, I had some quickness, but in terms of the straight line speed, I didn't have that. So I'm going to run through you because I'm just a competitor. I'm just fierce. That's what I'm just wired to do the same thing, you know, appeals to me and, you know , on a professional scene now, now I'm starting to run into people, but you know , any sort of objections that , you know, any sort of obstacles that get in front of me, I have to figure it out. Like I just have to like , um , my brain just operates that way. Um, my wife is more analytical. She's a , she's an attorney. And um , now she's a professor, she's a professor at Georgetown law. So she thinks very, very strategically. I want to see things like not , and then I can assume the outcome. Well, you put anything in front of you strategic, but not just go get it. Right. So we can flicked on that a little bit. Uh , which is always funny. But yeah, it's , it's , I'm , I'm, I'm , I'm , I'm excited and I'm happy that he was able to see that and tell us that's that's really who I am. It's funny. You're , you're

Collin Kushner:

Calling, you're the one where your wife has a plan and then you're calling the audibles.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

I have to let's let's let's let's have a plan. Yes. Let's have a plan. I , but sometimes second segment of secondary long, right? Or for finances , we got to change the plan of this audible checkout . Omaha.

Collin Kushner:

I love that so much student. That's incredible, but I have to say, and you said it so well, it's like you're in the NFL now , uh , being a financial advisor and don't get me wrong. I know that that dream of actually suiting up in an NFL game never happened, but in some ways what you're doing now and impacting thousands of people is it's a thousand times it holds a lot more weight. I don't know. It's easier for me to say since I was never in that position,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It is. And I think , uh , you know, once you, once you have to be at peace and that's a process to get to that, like you really have to be at peace. I understand that you have a different purpose. It's not that, you know, you are just unfortunate or, you know, you did something in the past that hindered your dream. I don't believe it's that. I think we have to really recognize, understand what your impact in the world is going to be. And I think not getting to the NFL , um, enhance my impact and allow my impact to really, really realize itself if I go to the NFL, you know, 10 years ago , um , it's all me, it's all about me. It's all about my talents , all about me being the best person that I can be. Right . Very, very narrow now it's how can I help other people along with myself? How can I help other people do amazing, great things. Um, as well as being able to take care of my family , um, and do the things that we want to do and have the life that we want to have. I mean, it's even people that, you know, just talks about. Yeah. But what about the , you know, the financial hit you take , but not going to the NFL. That's easy to say upfront, but if that was just a mission and you say, you know, the average NFL player made this amount in the world that I'm in on the industry. I'm I can very easily blow past that, but looking at the grand scheme of it, right? So by no means it's not, it's never been about that to your points . It was more having to drought , the childhood dream that I thought that was my dream strip, but overcoming that and being at peace with that, everything else, everything else has makes sense.

Collin Kushner:

You miss actually getting out there, do you kind of , do you ever have vivid dreams of those Saturday afternoons and champagne?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah . I would say this. I get those once a week and that's not even a joke somehow. Some way football creeps into my dream every week. I maybe can count once or twice. Well , actually , um, I actually was able to go out there and perform every other dream. It's walking out the tunnel and right before the first snap, my, my daughter's daddy wake me up. I'm ready. I'm lacing them up. I'm at the coin toss At the super bowl. Somebody I wake up it's Hey, somehow some way a new collegiate rule comes down. You are granted a fifth year eligibility, which means you can go back to Santa Fe and the help that happens on put my cleats on. I wake up. So , um , not too many times , I actually go out there and perform in the dream, but like that happens once a week , once a week. So that's pretty exciting. So cool .

Collin Kushner:

I love that. I think it's funny though. Like you're about to get on the field and your daughter's like, would your daughter wakes you up to be like, Hey, like I got a game to play.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Exactly. I tried to close my eyes, go to sleep really fast. It's too late. It's over.

Collin Kushner:

Listen. I hope that I hope the ones where you're actually going out and performing. Please tell me that the opposing team is not Michigan, because again,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It's never been mentioned. I would say that it's never, it's never been Michigan. It's never been Michigan . So you're good . You're off the hook there.

Collin Kushner:

Isaiah. One of the last things I want to ask you, and again, I appreciate you taking the time to take a deep dive into your, your early years in your career as a football player. And even more importantly, what you're doing now as a financial advisor. If you had to go back in time and talk to young Isaiah, I'll let you pick the age and you could give him any piece of advice. What would it be?

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Oh man. Um, I mean , we got another 40 minutes for that. Um, I'd say , um, if I had to pick a particular time, I go back to, I go back to high school as a , and, and really just have a conversation around myself as , uh , understand why your plan is game. I understand why, you know, what's happening to you or what's about to happen to you understand what you're about to walk into. Um, I have a conversation and really even thinking even bigger, right? I know I was talking , we talked about the recruiting process and started thinking about recruiting a little differently. Um, but I really would have a conversation with her and say , Hey, things are not going to work exactly how you want them to work, work them to work , wants them to work all the time, but there's a mission. There's a plan around everything. I , something that's brewing that you probably can't see, but you just roll with it, right? You're gonna have ugly days. You're gonna have great days, but you know, you keep fighting, you keep and continue to push through it. I talked to him about picking up the next person, even at that time. I think I was so locked in on my career path and what's next for me? What university I want to go to. There's a couple other guys that I grew up with play with could have had a very, very similar opportunity. I had a little leverage at the top that leverage could have that leverage was knowledge to leverage, could have been like, Hey, you know, Kozak , you know, I know you want me, but maybe he can be a walk on whatever it might be. I , I think I have been a more helpful , um , more impactful in terms of the type of people and how many other people I could have helped out along the way. So , uh , if I can go back and have that conversation , uh, with younger, younger than me, I would definitely pick on high school and uh, you know , pull them to the side.

Collin Kushner:

Don't you wish you could just write like a little tiny little note, like stick it under a mattress. It can go and go back in time. You can address it as dear juicy, you know, for , for community. Um, you know, it would be cool if we could do that, but it's just amazing though, like how the , the struggles that we go through in life, how it sucks in the moment. I mean, we've all had those dark periods, but once you get out of it and things start falling into place, everything starts to make sense.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

It does. And , um, you know that my spiritual side of me, it , again, it's hard to see that to your point where you're in that storm or you're in that frustration. And it's hard to really think like that, but now you have to be in a place and it takes a certain, you know, certain belief in a certain training to be able to do this. Now, when I'm in that sort of, you know , dark spot party , you start to get excited because something big is about to happen every time. Like, you know, this didn't work out or that career didn't work out or the NFL didn't work out or you didn't win that game or whatever that ex-girlfriend breaks up with you at the time . Oh my God, what is you get so low, but every single time on the opposite, end of the day, it came out beautiful. So now, as I kind of think through it, whenever I'm in those storms, I try to pinch myself or , or, or, or bring it back to, Hey, something great is about to happen. So now I get a little bit excited.

Collin Kushner:

I like that. I think I'm going to start pulling, pulling from that as well. You know, because you're , you're right. Usually when something seismic that impacts you in a negative way happens, usually in the other side of that, it's something great that it could be something small. It could be something big, but you're totally right. And I think all of us could, could you ,

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. Yeah. Something to learn. I mean, even in the darkest places like, you know, unfortunately people are losing family and loved ones left and right. You live, you live long enough, you'll lose somebody that's important to you. Um, you know, my stance on that, even now as it happens, as it's starting to happen and it will write something great is going to come out of it. I , if I look at it, but look at it that way. So that's what allows me to muscle through those dark clouds and , um , you know, keep pushing forward .

Collin Kushner:

I love it, man. I can tell you firsthand. And some of the darkest moments of my life, you know, with parents being sick and stuff like that, when they passed, I was in like this dark, dark place. And I was like, what am I going to do? And you know, now when I think about it, you know, it's, they lay this wonderful foundation for you. And once those clouds part of the way in the sun shine again, you know, of course you miss them every single day, but the lessons and everything they poured into you lives on. And I think that's, that was the big takeaway.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

Yeah. It's very special, man . You think like that continued being like that life is great. You can really enjoy it.

Collin Kushner:

I try my best. You're catching me on a good day. Isaiah juice. William's 13 pounds, eight ounces as a baby. A little bit bigger than that. Now I appreciate taking the time, man. It's been a blast catching up with you. And again, I loved watching you back in college, man. You're one of my favorite players to watch. So it's been a pleasure to have this opportunity.

Isiah "Juice" Williams:

These are always fun to be able to go back and reflect and , and tell these stories and , um , you know, it's good. It's good to kind of look back and see the pathway that you had up until this point. And it seems like I've been through so much, and it seems like it's been such a long road having I'm only 33, I'm only 33, a long runway ahead. So, so it's pretty cool for me to be able to take a peek back. And I had to stop in time , uh , amongst all the things that I'm doing to , to take the feedback and , um, and it was kind of see the path that I've had . So thank you for allowing me to be here.

Collin Kushner:

You got it . Isiah Juice Williams , a financial advisor at Northwestern mutual in Washington, DC. Appreciate it, my friend for more amazing stories of former athletes, check out Hayward's you go on Apple podcasts, Spotify in a video version on YouTube, plus don't forget to check it out on social media. That's at Collin Cushner on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.