Zach sits down with Joe Price, the co-founder and general manager of Grown Up Sports, to talk about GUS Leagues, and Joe shares a few physical wellness tips for professionals, particularly people of color.
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Zach: What’s up, y’all? It’s Zach, and you’re listening to Living Corporate. Now, look, Ade and I have had several guests on the Living Corporate platform. We’ve had, you know, celebrities, musicians, authors, CEOs, but we haven’t had my brother on the show. In fact, to be more specific, we haven’t had my brother-in-law on the show, okay? And today we actually have a special guest, Joseph Price. Joe, what’s up, man? How are you doing?
Joe: Hey. I’m doing well, Zach. Zachary. How are you?
Zach: I’m doing great, man. So look, today we’re talking about wellness, and I think it’s just a really great fit for you to be the guest to talk about wellness because of your background, your current passions, and just your level of expertise in physical and personal health. I mean, I’m not saying that you’re, like, a doctor, but I’m saying, like, you got–you know what I’m saying? You’ve got some credentials.
Joe: I am not a doctor, that is correct. [laughs] Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m happy to chat a little bit about what I do and my experience in the space.
Zach: Man, that sounds awesome. So look, without further ado, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Joe: So for the sake of the podcast professionally, I own and operate an organization called GUS Leagues, which stands for Grown Up Sports Leagues. We’re an adult sport and social club. We’re based in Houston, Texas. Adult sport and social club means we essentially facilitate sports leagues, tournaments, some corporate wellness and other fun activities around town. So a little bit of sport, a little bit of social, and that’s what I do by profession.
Zach: That’s awesome, man. So look, as you’ve already alluded to and as I said at the top, we’re talking about physical wellness for corporate professionals. Let’s talk a little bit about what physical wellness means to you. And I recognize that’s a very broad statement, so, you know, you can take that and kind of wax poetic however which way you want.
Joe: Yeah. So physical wellness obviously can be pretty broad. What drew me to the space specifically is that I’m into team sports. It’s what I’ve done for fun. I’ve fostered community throughout my childhood, adolescence, and adult life, and I think that type of engagement is still something that people should do as they get older, and it’s a good way to connect with other adults that sometimes can be a useful way to connect outside of just happy hours, drinking, getting dinner. You know, there’s a way that you can improve yourself and still connect with people as an adult, and that’s been a good way for me and something that I promote to our companies, to our friends, and how I personally connect with people. So that’s the part that speaks to me about what we do. I still think it’s very important–a good way for people to connect, period.
Zach: Man, nah, straight up, and you’re absolutely right that every time–well, let me not say every time, right? You don’t want to speak in absolutes, but more often times than not, especially in consulting, when you talk about kicking it with somebody or, like, doing something fun, it often revolves around getting a drink, getting something to eat, right? Especially in consulting. They talk about, like, the consulting 15, right? Like, you pick up weight just traveling and eating out all of the time, and so I think that you’re 100% right that finding other avenues to connect and build relationships as opposed to kind of, like, staring down a plate of food or staring in-between a bottle. So let’s talk a little bit more about Grown Up Sports, right? Like, what’s the story behind the company? Why the name? All of that. Just talk to us a little bit about it.
Joe: As I alluded, we do grown up sports, and I–we’ll just give you a little bit of background about how we even came to call ourselves that, ’cause I find the story interesting. We–me and my business partner, John, started this company about seven years ago. I know John because we both played intramurals at the University of Texas in Austin. That’s where we went to undergrad. He worked for RecSports, was a sports management major, and he actually interned for a company that was similar to ours that was based in Austin and helped them with their original expansion out to San Antonio, and so this is something that he was passionate about from when he was forming a passion about anything. So when he was, like, 21. That was his focus. We both moved to Houston. He came here for law school. I came just to start my professional career. My family is from Houston. And we were looking for a similar community to that that we had when we were an undergrad playing intramurals. Couldn’t find anything that we felt met that need in the space, and so–he had been wanting to do that for quite some time. We decided–so a little bit of background about me. I was working with an education technology start-up on the side, helping them with an expansion in Houston, so I had a little bit of entrepreneurial experience, and so when he was looking to start this he was looking for a partner, and he comes to me with the idea. We go through his business plan. I tell him it’s awesome. I don’t have time for it. Some situations arose that made it seem like the time was right, and so we decided that we would try to start this company, and then we decided we wanted to start it–we’re both basketball guys, and so this was during the time when the NBA was on a lockout–
Zach: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Joe: Yeah, and so what you’re seeing on ESPN at the time is a bunch of leagues, and we wanted to start with a basketball league. Leagues that are becoming popularized with these big names, and it’s, like, the Goodman League, the Drew League. You know, something that has a name that pops, something you want to [?], like, name our company. We really wanted to do, like, recreational leagues in Houston, and so we had a name, that was Houston Rec Leagues, and then as we started thinking a little bit more long-term it was like, “Oh, that sounds a little bit limiting.” So, you know, [had] a moment of clarity if you will [?], and it’s like, “What could we name our company that rolls off the tongue?” And it was like, “We need something that’s gonna pop and speak to people like the Drew League,” and so I was thinking of what we were planning to provide, grown up sports. GUS. GUS League. You know, “It’s gonna–it’s gonna roll off the tongue. People are gonna love it,” and, you know, it doesn’t really work like that, but that was kind of the motivation behind why we [?] named it that, and it also gave us the opportunity if we ever wanted to expand our horizons to other geographic areas that it’s not so limiting in scope as Houston Rec Leagues might have been.
Zach: I love it.
Joe: So that’s a little bit about the name, yeah. And even our motivation–so this was–for me, this is how I make–[?] my closest friends, you know, I know ’em through sports. How I met my business partner, I met him through essentially, you know, our company, but for college students and intramurals. So this was just a natural thing for us to do, and it’s nice that we’ve been able to find a way to make some money off something that we actually–we use the product ourselves, and we were looking for a need–the need was something that we were trying to solve for ourselves first and foremost.
Zach: Man, I love that. And, you know, it’s funny, you talk–and you talked about, like, it doesn’t really work that way, but GUS does roll off the tongue, and it’s interesting because as someone who lives in Houston, it feels like almost every other person, especially, like, before I joined the current firm that I’m at, like, everyone is either–they’ve either heard about it or they’re a part of it. If I’m with somebody and, like, I can tell that they play basketball–you know the type, right? Either it’s their walk or their build. I say, “Do you hoop?” And they’ll be like, “Oh, yeah. You know, I do some intramural stuff. It’s, like, an adult intramural.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. Have you heard of GUS?” They’re like, “Yeah, that’s what I meant.” I’m like, “Oh,” and I remember after, like, the fourth or fifth time I was like, “Dang, this mug is real.” Like, it’s just super funny, but, like, anybody I see somebody with, like, that sore walk, you know what I’m talking about? Like, with the–you know. The limp–
Joe: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, our knees are aging faster than the rest of us for sure.
Zach: It’s funny, but it’s not funny at all. But I’ll see it, and I’m like, “Oh, okay. He probably hoops,” and I just–I mean, there’s a strong percentage, man, and they’ll be like, “Oh, GUS.” It’s–like, it’s smooth, to your point. You talked about building up this business with John, and there was a point in time where you were building this up while you were actually in business school. Like, can we talk a little bit about what that was like?
Joe: So I went to the University of Michigan for business school, got my MBA.
Zach: [Go] Blue.
Joe: Go Blue. Ooh, I appreciate that. And the reason I–I wanted to go to business school for a while before I went and didn’t have necessarily a reason, a compelling reason. Like, I didn’t know that I necessarily wanted to expand the career that I was in, if I was doing it to grow within the ranks of my current company, but after we started GUS–me personally I have always had ambitions to start a company, manage a company, be–have some entrepreneurial avenue in my life, and after we started GUS [I] had a real thing to actually focus on while I was in grad school. And that was–it was really useful. I think a lot of times you can run into students that are pursuing higher-level degrees, and sometimes it’s a check on a box. For me it was a very personal journey. It’s about personal development. I knew that maybe the cost of tuition is really high for me to learn about doing something that’s more risky, and it–really the natural thing would be to take a more professional route, but I knew that I needed to get a little bit of the business chops if I ever wanted to grow this thing into something worth talking about, and so the business school aspect was really useful for me, being in an environment where I could actually focus on the business side of the company and not just the day-to-day operations, pull back from the day-to-day operations. I thought I was gonna be able to do both at the same time. That was proven very impossible as soon as I got on campus. But also to explore avenues with resources and advisors and mentors that were there to help me formulate my thoughts for what this could be and what I might want to focus on in the future. So the MBA process was wonderful for me, even just to think about more of the business side of starting a company–you know, you start a company. It’s cool, it’s fun, and then suddenly you get into, like, accounting problems, incentives with your employees and stuff like that, so this isn’t [?]–
Joe: Right. Y’all–oh, my gosh. Yeah.
Zach: Yeah. No, that’s incredible. Man, I figured I would ask. It was interesting ’cause we–you know, we had Nicaila on the show as well, and she talked about her time getting her MBA, and you’re absolutely right, right, that–well, let me back up, ’cause I have not gotten my MBA, okay? So let me not talk and try to false flex, but when I talk to people–when I talk to people who have gotten an MBA, a lot of them will come back and be like, “Man, you know, I was just kind of doing this to check a box,” or, you know, “I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just kind of going for it.” And there’s no shame in that, right? But I remember in talking to you about your journey, you know, you were very purposed in what you were doing, and I remember as I was thinking about getting back into school, that really helped shape me and shape my point of view in terms of “What am I actually doing this for?” Because it’s a lot of time, and for many it’s a lot of money, so there needs to be–in my opinion there should be some strategy you have, and so what was really cool to me was the fact that you had a strategy behind what you were doing. Okay, cool. Cool, cool, cool. So let’s get back to wellness. If you had three physical wellness tips for professionals, particularly people of color, what would they be?
Joe: Yeah. So I think just the baseline of staying active is really important. What we do is pretty structured, but on the note of people of color, we have done events with a color cancer foundation start-up by a brother based out of Austin who wanted to start something for people of color that are more susceptible to colon cancer because of physical inactivity. We’ve done events with them raising awareness, and the events that we did were not around the typical sports leagues that we do. They’re, like, fun in the sun-type days, a field day, a bunch of activities – some tug-of-war, a watermelon-eating game, playing some water balloons in the sand. Just things that you’re doing for fun with the purpose of reminding people that just being active can be fun and that it’s an important thing to do as a part of, like, your daily wellness. And a lot of times your physical wellness can just–it can be preventative of things that could be much worse if you aren’t–if you aren’t prioritizing your wellness, and so part of it is just staying active period. I read an article around when we started this company that was in GQ that was–I think the title of the article was, like, “Our Chairs Are Killing Us.” Yeah. We are dormant by profession, and our desks are actually harming us just by sitting all day, and, so, you know, the primary goal is literally just “Get up. Go do something. Take a walk,” you know? Maybe take a 15-minute break every 4 hours. That’s what a doctor would tell you. So that’s the baseline. I do think–obviously I’m biased, but there’s something to be said about continuing to play sports as an adult, team sports. I think some of that can be intimidating, but, you know, the majority of our customers or participants are corporate, and they’re corporate groups getting together. They’re doing low-stakes activities. They’re playing recreational volleyball with us. A lot of it is about team building, team wellness, just getting people to get to know each other, have a good time–get outside of the office and have a good time, but also they’re doing something active, and that’s–sometimes that can be a good alternative to getting a drink and eating. And so, you know, if you–if you need some accountability, sometimes it’s useful to do something like join a team with your office, and that can be–and it can be something low-stakes that’s not intimidating, and then the third would be, you know, if you’re not into committing to things like team sports, go do something on a one-day. Like, go to a run club if you want to go find some people that do something active but you don’t have to commit to anything week in and week out, and sometimes that can be the gateway for you to find out more about, like, people that do this type of thing, but also you can pop in, pop out, do it on your own, and, you know, it might even help you find some other people that can get you into the types of things that are active, ’cause sometimes you just don’t have the support system and it’s hard to get started. So, you know, those are just a couple avenues to just get the ball rolling, and they’re good ways to meet people. Personally–obviously my personal network is a little more active, but you also find that active people are interesting people. Like, they’re finding a way to continue to do something, to push themselves, and that’s–often times those are interesting people to be around and will make you a more interesting person as well.
Zach: I love that. No, you’re absolutely right, and man–the one point you made around just, like, getting up, that resonates with me a lot, ’cause man, I got these chairs, right, at my client site. I just be sitting down all day, Joe, so I find–
Joe: They’re so comfortable. They’re ergonomically, like, sound, you know? We have such good executive chairs now. They’re tempting to sit all day, and you just need–sometimes you need something to tell you.
Zach: But let me keep it a bean with you though. Like, even still, even them ergonomic chairs, you know, like, your behind start getting numb, so what I started–I started getting up, man. I had to start taking my walks downtown, ’cause, like, I can’t–I can’t do it, man. It’s too much. Like, I’m used to feeling all parts of my body. Like, I’m 29 years old. I should feel my body when I’m at work, you know what I’m saying? Like, come on. We gotta get up. So that’s real though. I appreciate that. Now, look, don’t let me shortchange you. Where can people learn more about GUS?
Joe: We–you know, GUS Leagues, if you go to GUS Leagues on any social media channel, @GUSleagues, you’ll find us. GUSleagues.com, our website, is pretty informative. You can find out all of the things we do and things you can engage with us. If you happen to be in Houston and you work for a company that’s looking to do a team-building activity, check us out. We do that type of thing as well. Yeah, you know, you can–if you type in GUS–if you type in basketball, if you type in adult sports in Houston, you’re probably gonna find us.
Zach: Oh, that’s a lowkey stunt, but I appreciate it.
Joe: That was–it was a light flex, but it’s typically accurate.
Zach: It was a light flex, but it’s accurate. That’s what make flexing dope, is when, like, you say something that’s just, like, it’s facts though. You’re right. So when you type in “basketball,” you type in “adult rec,” Grown Up Sports will pop up, y’all. And this is not even an ad, yo. It’s true.
Joe: No, this is not a paid–it’s not a paid spot. [inaudible].
Zach: This is not a paid spot, facts. But what we’re gonna do, Joe, we’ll make sure that we have all of the information down at the bottom. And listen, for those who don’t know, we talk a little bit about–a lot of bit, a lot about the future of work, right? And we talk about how teams and groups and organizations are gonna be changing, and listen, y’all, for those who don’t know, get in the know. We’ll make sure to put some articles in the show links as well, but wellness is gonna be a large portion of how organizations center and manage their teams. It’s gonna be a larger point of or part of employee incentives. So the more that you can really learn and understand and get plugged into spaces like this the better. So I’m talking to y’all employees and I’m talking to y’all corporate big wigs, y’all who be making decisions, because I know y’all be listening to this too. Shout-out to the people who be making decisions. What’s up? Okay, before we go, Joe, any parting words or shout-outs?
Joe: No, just shout-out to you. This is–love the podcast, love what you’re doing. I think it’s important work, and more power to you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. Thanks for the shout-out too. I’m amongst really good company on this show, and you’re an excellent interviewer, so I appreciate the attention to detail.
Zach: Aw. Man, so, you know, I don’t have my soundboard, but man, if I did, like, I would play, like, the theme song from “My Brother and Me.” Remember that show? “My Brother and Me” on Nickelodeon? [I’d like to add it, but I’m unsure if that’s legal]
Joe: Oh, my gosh. Yes. So good.
Zach: Yeah, yeah, but it’s okay. All right. Well, that does it for us, y’all. Thank you for joining us on the Living Corporate podcast. Make sure to check us out on Instagram @LivingCorporate, Twitter @LivingCorp_Pod, and subscribe to our newsletter through living-corporate.com, please say the dash, okay? Now, look, it’s also livingcorporate.co, livingcorporate.org, livingcorporate.net. We got, like, all the Living Corporates, Joe, except for livingcorporate.com, ’cause Australia got the domain, bro, and they not letting it up. I don’t know what’s up.
Zach: I know, right? If you have a question you’d like for us to answer and read on the show, make sure you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can just hit us up on DMs. Our DMs are wide open. Just slide up in there, ask us a question. We’ll make sure to answer your question, and we’ll call the title–the episode of the show “Listener Letters.” We’ve done ’em a couple of times. We’ll continue to do it. Just send us the questions. Now, look, this has been Zach, and you’ve been listening to Joseph Price, founder–well, co-founder, ’cause no disrespect to Favor. John Favor, what’s up? We see you. And CEO of Grown Up Sports, based in Houston, Texas. ‘Til next time–
Joe: [makes horn-like noises]
Zach: Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, snap. Hold on. Wait, wait, wait. Before we go, I do need to get some–no, no, no. Joe, that’s a good point. Sound Man, give me my air horns right HERE. [he does] Okay, and now we’re gone. Peace.