In this episode of the Aww Shift Podcast, our guest is Aaron Golub. He is a motivational speaker and became the first legally blind athlete to play football in a Division 1 game when he was at Tulane University. He was a captain in his senior year and went on to also become an NFL free agent. Aaron never let his limited vision get in the way of his success. Aaron’s grit, determination, and effort enabled him to earn a spot on the Tulane team, and the respect of his teammates, coaches, and fans. His planning, passion, and perseverance enabled him to be successful. Today, he will share with us how his work ethic made him overcome the challenges in his life and how he made the impossible, possible.
[3:57] Why should we listen to you?
I faced a lot of obstacles in my life and I find ways to persevere and overcome all of them. I don’t care about other people’s opinions, and it’s something that allowed me to achieve the goals that I’ve set forth for myself in the past, and hopefully will allow me to achieve the goals that I have in the future.
[5:02] Valuing your own Opinion
I care about opinions in the sense of respecting everyone’s opinions. I love constructive criticism. I respect everyone’s opinions but the only opinion that I truly value is my own.
[5:27] Your own opinion is the only thing that matters. That’s the only one that you really should value. You should respect everyone’s opinion, take advice from others, have constructive criticism, but at the end of the day, you only need to value your own.
[6:13] What’s different about you?
I think the biggest thing is that people don’t understand what it means to work hard or persevere or be the hardest working person in the room.
[6:40] I was the hardest working person on my team and I think that everyone around me at that time would agree.
[6:58] Hard work and Perseverance are doing things when no one else is around or when no one else has any idea what you’re doing. Doing things that you don’t want to do.
[7:52] Hard Work
I think it probably built up. I started playing football in seventh grade. In the beginning, I wasn’t good. I was terrible.
[8:30] It was the intensity and practicing long snapping every morning. I want to be a starter and play in college, I want to do all this. I had to develop a plan and outwork everyone if I want to be as good as them. I had a lot of obstacles and something just clicked and I wanted more for myself.
[9:21] Aaron’s Disability
I was born legally blind. It shifted little variances when I was younger. It’s pretty steady now, but not getting any better or worse. I have no vision in my right eye and very limited in my left
[10:04] I have a hereditary disease called Peters Anomaly, which is very rare. And I was fortunate when I was an infant, that through surgeries, they were able to save my left eye from going completely blind, and still gave me some vision. So I’m very fortunate about that, but it is something I was born with and less with my entire life.
[10:56] Did it scare you to play football because of your disability?
I wore a visor because my blindness was a concern. I wear a clear visor most of the time, and I was the only college football player allowed to wear a tinted visor. We had to get it specially approved because it’s like glare with the sun on my eye.
[11:37] Playing at Tulane University
I loved it. I’m from Boston, Massachusetts so it was a very different culture shift, but I enjoyed it. Everything about Louisiana, about New Orleans, about playing at that school was awesome whether it be the teammates, the camaraderie, the fans, or the culture of the city, It is such a great environment.
[12:19] Where do you live now?
I’m back in Boston now. I moved around a little after college. I left New Orleans and moved to DC to work but I didn’t enjoy what I was doing so I came back to Boston and was able to network my way back into a role that I love up here. I think that a skill I learned through football and through my years is the ability to network and create relationships.
[13:15] What do you speak about to your audiences?
I speak to whether it be sports teams, college, or pro things, sometimes it would be companies, events, or nonprofits. I’ve spoken to a wide range of people and it depends. I speak on topics whether it be perseverance, overcoming obstacles, the topic of things in life happening, the value of creating a plan, and following through.
[14:06] If someone wants me to talk about something and shifts my speech, I’m going to do it. I’m not going to lose the opportunity because I can’t talk about something. I’m going to sit down and rewrite a speech and make it work so I can work with them.
[14:41] What do you foresee for your life
The biggest thing for me is I want to impact people daily. I want to help others and create relationships. That’s my goal. And the biggest thing that I think that others can use from there is to create a routine and create things that you do every day. Things that help push the needle forward no matter how small it is and persevere through the challenges.
[15:44] I want to be one of the most well known and sought after speakers in the world. I’m not there yet. I’m nowhere near that but I think with my work ethic and my determination, I’ll get there in the future. I just need to keep following the process and look up to people and others that I’ve been connected to.
[16:19] Why did you choose Football?
I’ve always loved football. I played some other sports recreationally growing up, like basketball and baseball when I was a little kid, but that didn’t work out too well.
I took the approach of needing to prove myself. I needed to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches. And that’s what I did, and they saw that I worked hard on the field, in the classroom, in the weight room, and I was a true friend,
[18:10] I would go to bars with my teammates. I would have fun. I would go to parties. It wasn’t a strict thing. I built that relationship with my teammates, and because of that, we became very close and they were all supportive and happy to do whatever they could to help me succeed.
[19:05] Who are the people that supported you?
My parents were always very helpful and supportive. My dad was a big role in me playing football in college. He would never ask if I wanted to go snap, but if I asked if we can go to school in the morning and snap? He would always say yes, and he would always get up and go with me and catch my balls because he would never ask me to do it. If I wanted to put in the work in the effort, he would go with me and help me succeed.
[19:38] My sister has always been phenomenal and supportive and helping me with anything I needed.
[20:53] What promise did God make to the world when He created you?
I think that this person is going to be unique, going to be different. The promise that, if he puts in the hard work, the effort, is patient, does all the right things and follows his dreams, he can be successful and just as successful as anyone else. I think it’s not necessarily a promise, but it’s a challenge.
[21:41] I’m so blessed and thankful that I was born legally blind. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world because it’s allowed me to pave the way for others in sports, in business, in life, and meet incredible people, and go to incredible places. I’m thankful that that challenge was put in front of me at birth and I know that if I continue on this path, I’ll be extremely successful down the road.
[5:28-5:32] “The only opinion that matters for anyone in this world is their own.”
Learn more about Aaron Golub and his inspiring journey on his website at:
Follow Aaron on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/aaronjgolub/