Jon McGraw is no stranger to hard work and pushing toward goals. The former Kansas City Chiefs safety played football since he was a kid, and then at Kansas State University before moving on to the National Football League for a 10-year career.
McGraw, who lives in Johnson County, said he struggled with performance anxiety and other negative emotions through most of his playing years, “but I pushed through it.”
“I had taken the joy out of what I was doing,” McGraw said. “Toward the end of my career, I stumbled on some principles, detaching myself from the results, and I began playing at a higher level.”
Today, McGraw and partner Russ Rausch are in business together with Vision Pursue.
“We train people in the psychology of performance … how to manage their thoughts and emotions to work for them, not against them,” McGraw said. McGraw operates out of his suburban Kansas home, meeting with clients locally or traveling when necessary. Rausch is based in Chicago and has a background in the hedge fund and trading industry.
“Technology allows us to do everything,” said McGraw, addressing the physical distance between the partners.
Q: How did the idea for this business come about?
After retiring from the NFL in 2011, McGraw poured himself into studying sports psychology and neuroscience, thinking there might be potential to help others enhance their performance in the workplace and beyond. At a charity event, McGraw connected with Rausch, a fellow K-State alum and businessman. It was a game-changing conversation for both men.
“Within 2 minutes we were pretty far down this road … and we saw there was a big need out there,” McGraw said. “We spent a few months developing our relationship. We’re both very passionate about this.”
They decided to team up and developed their the two-part program.
Q: How does the program work?
“We offer a training program catered to the client,” McGraw said. The sessions focus on transcending automatic thought and emotion and putting the client’s focus on the process rather than the result.
“If you let future goals diminish the present moment, you’re not as effective — life is always somewhere else, doing something else with someone else” he said. “We teach people how to learn from their emotions so they’re in better control in response to situations.”
The client learns to change counterproductive thought patterns into constructive beliefs and thought practices.
The second part of the program provides access to online tools “that allows users to replace their focus on uncontrollable external factors with a controllable and empowering internal focus that is beyond goal setting and positive thinking,” he said.
Vision Pursue sets its fees for each client, charging a consulting fee for the initial training and then a license fee for the use of its software.
McGraw has parlayed his football leadership skills into the new business. During his NFL years McGraw served as a team captain as well as team representative for the NFL Players Association. McGraw also completed the NFL-sponsored business management and entrepreneurship programs at the Harvard and Wharton business schools.
Q: Who else is involved in the business?
McGraw and Rausch have another partner, Matt Andriusis, who handles software issues and development. In addition, there are three other members of the Vision Pursue team who work as advisers and sometimes directly with clients: Melinda Wolford, an assistant professor in the psychology department at Youngstown State University; Andre Coleman, a former NFL player and now a wide receivers coach at K-State; and Ian Connole, director of sport psychology for the K-State Athletic Department.
“We have a board of advisers who include the three owners and five others,” McGraw said. “Any time we need expert feedback we contact them.”
Most of Vision Pursue’s clients have come through personal networking and referrals. The partners have focused on obtaining clients from high-stress industries and collegiate and professional athletics. Clients have included athletic teams, corporations, collegiate and professional athletes, and youth organizations.
“We’ve trained whole football teams as well as one on one,” McGraw said.
McGraw started full time with Vision Pursue just in January, but he has been pleased with the company’s direction.
“We want to control the pace of our growth and be able to manage it effectively,” McGraw said.
IN A NUTSHELL
COMPANY: Vision Pursue
OWNERS: Jon McGraw, Russ Rausch, Matt Andriusis
WEB SITE: www.visionpursue.com