After the GameMar 22, 2018

Nat Borchers on Real Estate, Broadcasting and Moving On

Nat Borchers retired from MLS on February 2, 2017 after 14 years in the league. We talked to him about his move into real estate, his interest in broadcasting and his adjustment to life after the game.

Q: What originally attracted you to the real estate industry?

Nat Borchers: When I was a young player, in my first couple years in the league, I was thinking ‘Gosh, I love what I do but I’m not making a whole lot of money. How am I going to have enough money when I’m done playing soccer to survive?’ And so I started getting really interested in investments and in the stock market, the bond market and commodities. I’ve got a background in accounting and finance so that area was really intriguing to me. Then I came across a book about real estate called, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” and that book really changed my life. I read it, and it gave me the blueprint to building wealth and having an actual income once I was finished playing soccer.

Q: Other than real estate, what other possible paths did you consider?

Borchers: I wouldn't say real estate is the end all be all for me. I’m interested in a lot of different things. For example, when I was playing, I was interested in coaching and so I would take opportunities to coach kids and worked to get my coaching licenses. Towards the later stages in my career I realized coaching wasn’t really something that I was passionate about. Then, basically right before I retired, there was broadcasting and the opportunity to cover a game in a different type of a way. I really enjoyed doing that. I actually have plenty of interests other than real estate.

Q: What made you want to start your own company as opposed to joining an existing one?

Borchers: I’ve always been very independent. I’ve never liked being told what to do, and I think part of what got me into running my own real estate company was not wanting to work for somebody else. So, I set my company up and I’ve been running it now for over a decade.  I started with basically nothing, but it’s seen a lot of growth since.

I think you have to have a certain mentality to be an entrepreneur. You have to have a ton of courage. I think the courage side comes with being a professional athlete because you have to go out and prove yourself week in and week out and that’s kind of the same in business. You have to go and prove yourself in a different way, and I think that was a big part of what made me decide to run my own business.

Q: How important was the network you had built in getting you started?

Borchers: Networking was really important. Being around other people who had done this before and asking them questions was key to getting where I am today. Before I retired I called former Major League Soccer players who had gone into real estate and asked them questions. I tried to figure out what they did right, what did they do wrong and what would they do differently. It was a real educational experience, and I got a great sense of belonging from those conversations. It was encouraging to see that people had done it before, they had transitioned from professional soccer to another business. Talking to those guys gave me a lot of confidence in doing what I’m doing now.

Q: In addition to former players, what other resources did you find valuable?

Borchers: The cool thing about being a professional athlete, which a lot of the guys don’t realize, is that people want to meet you and they want to be a part of your life. It makes it much easier to meet successful people and learn from them, and that’s one of the things I’ve always tried to do, learn from those people who have been successful in real estate or broadcasting or whatever industry I’m interested in. I’d just reach out to them and have a conversation because that’s when you really start to learn. That’s when you start building relationships. One of my favorite quotes of all time is by a guy name Brian Tracy and he says that ‘the more people who know you in a positive way, the more success you are going to achieve.’ I’ve always felt that that’s true across all industries. The more people you can get in front of, the more you can build relationships in a positive way, the more success you’ll find.  

Q: What would you say has been the biggest struggle so far?

Borchers: I think that when you're out on your own it can be a bit lonely. You don’t have that team to commiserate with, to share those stories with, and to really function as your family. You don't have that safety net of 20 other guys in the locker room that are going through the same experiences that you're going through. It’s just you. So, you have to really have other people who you can rely on to help you. Mentors, family members, friends, colleagues in your industry to help you get through those difficult times. There are some dark moments when you transition, and if you don't have those relationships in place, you can really struggle. I think you see that with a lot of guys, and I definitely have experienced those moments in myself as well.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

Borchers: I split my time between my family, my business, and my broadcasting. A typical day for me is I wake up, I have breakfast with my family, I go work out and then I spend the morning cranking through emails and phone calls with my real estate company. Then, in the afternoon I’m prepping for a broadcast game. I’m putting together formations, I’m putting together quotes or maybe I’m going to a training session and watching a game. In the evening I’ve got dinner with my family, and then maybe I’m watching another game in the or doing some real estate work.  So, it’s busy! No doubt about that, but I find the work to be challenging and satisfying in a totally different way than it was as a professional athlete.

Q: What has been the most rewarding thing about your career after playing professional soccer?

Borchers: What I love about what I do in real estate is I take these properties, either buildings or houses and I invest money into them. I make them look better, and I make them safer. So from a community standpoint, if you're in this neighborhood where I’m buying, you’re seeing a house that wasn't being treated well, that is ugly, that needed a ton of landscaping work or paint work and I’m coming in and doing all of that, making the neighborhood better. I’m also creating wealth for myself. I’m helping the community as well as building wealth for my family. Those two really things are very satisfying.

Q: What is the least glamorous part of your career now?

Borchers: The most tedious part about what I do is accounting and paying bills. It is having to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed in real estate contracts. Those things can make or break your business and they take an extra 15 minutes here, they take an extra 5 minutes there, they take an hour here, but all that time adds up and it really will make your business better or it will make your business worse depending on how much time you’re allocating to those things.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is playing in the league now who is interested in real estate or in broadcasting?

Borchers: I think education is very important in building confidence so get educated in the industry you are interested in. Educated doesn't necessarily mean hitting the books, it means going out there and talking to people who have done it or are doing it. Then, once you've done that you can go in and start doing some of those things those people are doing. For instance, in real estate, I didn’t know how to buy a house until I bought a house. I had to go out and actually do that thing and go through the process and figure out how it all worked.

Don't wait until you’re in your mid-thirties to try to figure things out. Try to figure them out now.

As a professional player you’re in a bubble, you're sometimes only seeing your teammates, coaches and the people at the club. So, you have to find other opportunities to get out and mingle with people and meet new people.

And finally, finding a mentor is really important. I know when I was about to retire, I had all these amazing conversations with these former MLS players and they were all so willing and eager to spend time with me and help me figure out the trajectory of my life. I’m exactly the same way in wanting to help those guys. So don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from anyone who’s done it before  

Q: Any other advice to give?

Borchers: On a final note, a message that’s really helped me was don't wait until you’re in your mid-thirties to try to figure things out. Try to figure them out now. Try to figure out what is going to wake you up early in the morning and keep you up at night, whatever your passion. You don't want to have to try and figure that out when it’s too late. Try and figure that out as soon as you can. Don’t just go home and play video games after training, that’s the worst thing you could possibly do. That would be my message.

You can follow Nat Borchers on Twitter at @NatBorchers or on Instagram at @NatBorchers. You can also learn more about his real estate work at NBD Real Estate.