I think my videos let people escape from reality. Some people are not as fortunate as I am, and they need an escape. That is why I like to make positive videos or ones that make people laugh just to get away for a second whether it’s 10 minutes or 40 minutes. In that time, I want that person to just forget all that negativity that they had or have going on now and that will resonate with them.
As a part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kris London.
Kris London is one of YouTube’s most recognizable faces in the sports and gaming community, not just because he’s hard to miss at 6 foot 10, but because his enthusiasm for sports and gaming has led him to over 3.5 million subscribers on his YouTube channels. A member of the group 2HYPE, Kris has built a community of the new generation of basketball fans who grew up watching content online. Kris bridges the gap between the kids playing at home — online and IRL — and the NBA superstars. Kris has frequently collaborated with top tier NBA athletes like James Harden, Paul George, and Lonzo Ball, and worked with brands such as Nike, DiGiorno, Gatorade, and Reese’s.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
First, I just want to say thank you for having me, I really appreciate this opportunity to share my story, share how I do things and how I grew up. I relocated a lot. I was always the new kid in school. I moved from Oklahoma, Kansas, back to Oklahoma then to Kansas again, then all the way to London, then from London to Houston.
I say I’m from Houston mostly because I lived there for the longest time. I grew up around there and loved playing basketball. I have played since I was three years old. My Dad played professionally overseas so he got me into it at a very early age. I’ve been playing ever since then.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.
My Dad played professionally overseas in England. He played D-1 basketball at Oral Roberts where I too played for a year and he’s really just inspired me to pursue my dream of going to the NBA and I too wanted to play D-1 basketball — it was always a dream of mine. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. My career path switched up due to my injuries, and I guess you can still say I’m a high-level professional athlete, just on a different spectrum.
It’s not necessarily a pro like an NBA player, but I feel like I’m a professional athlete online. It’s a different way of entertainment. I would say my Dad inspired me along those lines, just keeping that same discipline I applied when I was growing up, working out and applying those traits to my everyday life now. That is what keeps me going and motivated. He is an inspiration as well as the people around me along with other success stories. There are other great athletes who have had obstacles that they’ve had to overcome and serve as inspiration.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
Again, my Dad — really my parents. My Mom is a very hardworking woman. I look up to her in many ways, like my Dad. Going into this career path, I said I want to be a high level professional basketball player, so he showed me what I need to do as far as the discipline from what I need to do to get up in the morning, get my shots up, 100 shots a day, 200, 500, etc. When I was at the top top level, I had to get 500 shots everyday — at least.
There are just little things that others aren’t doing to give me that edge. I think that is what I applied to my career now, which is YouTube. The little things I am doing in my craft are the things that puts me over the edge. Is it me spending more time on editing, researching different techniques, upgrading my equipment, etc. There are little things I can take from when I trained for basketball to how I create content now.
I think one story that really sticks out to me and I’ll always remember that has also helped me today is planning. I told my Dad what I wanted to do with YouTube. He didn’t believe in my plan and said if you want me to believe in your plan — because I asked him for a couple thousand dollars to help me go to LA for an event that I always go to now called VidCon (a convention where all the top creators come link up) to network and start to gain knowledge from other top creators and take it in to understand the steps to get to the top which is where I wanted to be. My Dad didn’t think it was a good idea, he thought it was a waste of money, and so he told me I had to write out a business plan as if I was asking for a loan. I was as if I was going to the bank and said hey can I have $2,000, you have to write out a business plan of how you’re going to use that money, why you need it to expand your business and that is what he made me do. So, I had to write up a 15 page business plan just to show what it could do for me, my career, how it could help me and where I was going to use the money. I think that, even to this day, that shows how badly I wanted it and it prepped me. I look at that and apply it every day and now I’m here. I owe that success to my Dad because if he didn’t make me do that, I wouldn’t have thought in that kind of pattern.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you during your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I think the most interesting mistake that occurred to me is when I punched a wall out of frustration in my senior season in high school. I was getting fouled a lot. We were blowing out the team — it was a high school rival — and I was one of the best players on the team. They were out to get me and I was frustrated. I really wanted to fight somebody because I was getting fouled for no reason. The refs weren’t calling too much and I ended up punching the wall out of frustration and I broke my hand.
I missed the last half of my senior season. I lost most of my top D-1 offers. Ever since then it taught me to stay composed no matter what life throws at me. There’s going to be haters and trolls online. At the end of the day, that moment taught me, is it worth it? I just learned how to react to things that weren’t going my way. I think the world will turn around in your favor if you can stay composed and be above it, and I think that is what this experience taught me.
Be above the hate and the trolls. Stay true to yourself and keep working. The rest will follow in a good way. Because I went the other route in this situation, I missed out on opportunities, and while I fortunately still went to a D-1 school, it was a wakeup call that this could have gone south. It is just one of those mistakes I wish I could’ve gone back on, but I’m not going to regret it because it is a lesson learned at the end of the day. If that never happened, I never would have had a lesson to learn from. If you’re learning from your mistakes, you want to make mistakes — so I’m ok with it.
What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?
The one thing I always tell people who come to me asking for advice is — consistency. I think consistency is everything for what I do. If you aren’t consistent, people are going to forget about you. I think if it’s not just for what I do specifically, if you’re not consistent in sports, working out, there is going to be a guy that is consistent and he is going to end up being better than you. He may not be as talented as you, but because of the hard work he is putting in, that alone can go further than those not putting in the work. Stay true and consistent to your craft and that is honestly the best advice I can give. If I didn’t stay consistent and just trust the process, I would’ve stopped a lot sooner. I love what I do.
Find that thing you love to do. Don’t just get into something because it looks cool or makes you a lot of money. Money isn’t everything. I love what I do, the money is just a plus. I think that is the beauty of what I do and my life. I’ve been fortunate enough to find my passion and it doesn’t feel like a job for me.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I am trying to put together my own show. The show will consist of a “what if” story. What if I reached my potential in basketball? My career was cut short by my injuries and my passion for the game went away. What if I used my basketball talents and went a different route on YouTube with having my own show? What if I just took the time to produce my own YouTube show instead of basketball videos.
I love being a host and making videos with my friends, have my own game show — that would be dope! It’s like a pre-show. What would I want to do? When I get back in the flow of working out, I can try out for the G League. I am working on a project that will inspire people to 1) try and 2) never stop. Never stop because I’ve been through so many obstacles in my life that I’m sure most people would’ve stopped trying and caring. I want to try and reach my peak in every avenue that I can. I just have to try it out and if I fail, I fail, but at least I tried. I want to inspire the youth as well as inspire people to try out YouTube and take it seriously.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?
Some strategies for me would be the following. I started to get into meditation. I think meditating has really helped me with my stress and being comfortable in high stress situations because being a top influencer and going into certain scenarios like interviews or public speaking can be stressful. A lot of times I need to make sure my mind is at ease before I put myself into that situation because I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know what I’m going to be asked, I don’t know how fans are going to react and also if it is a live show which I’ve been doing a lot lately, I’ll do some breathing exercises right before or meditate the night before and just make sure I plan. Planning is everything. If you go into something and you’re not properly prepared, you’re just preparing to fail. Pre-planning, meditating and just breathing exercises are my top three strategies to prepare and optimize your mind for peak performance.
Do you use any special or breathing techniques to help optimize yourself?
I wouldn’t consider it special. It is just deep breaths. Slow breaths. I just take deep breaths and meditate. I use the Calm app and that has helped me the most.
Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?
I don’t have a special technique. It just comes down to me pre-planning. I just visualize what I’m going to do before I get into it and that way, I have a stronger focus. I’m not as distracted because I’m so focused on what I’m about to do. This is what I do for my videos. I have a clear focus of how I’m going to act, how I’m going to be and set out to be, how long it will take, etc. I’ll plan for it to be an hour and if it takes longer than an hour, I start to think, where did I mess up? It typically doesn’t happen because I’m very prepared, it is usually when I’m improvising that I may have distractions.
How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?
Stretching! Earlier in my career I never believed in stretching until I started seeing a chiropractor and that has changed me forever. I feel loose, I feel good. I’m not tight and that really allows my body to perform at its best.
These ideas are excellent, but for most of us in order for them to become integrated into our lives and really put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?
Habits are everything! I recently got into the habit of waking up earlier. Before — I don’t want to say that I was lazy, because I was still productive through this method — but now that I’m busier, I need more hours in the day, so I have to wake up earlier.
I used to up at 10 or 11 everyday, 12 if it was the weekend, but now I’ve built a habit as to where I’m waking up at 8, no later than that so I have all the time in the world to get done what I need to get done and early so I’m not working late at night. If I do have a twelve-hour day, it’s not going past midnight. It has helped me out a lot. I think good habits play a huge role in success. It has for me because there are so many things, I’m trying to do in one day, I have to have good habits in scheduling and planning. Every Sunday, I plan out my entire week from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. I think that has played a huge role in my success.
Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?
Like I said before, it was more about the idea of what I was going to do for the week. Every Sunday, I would schedule out my week from Monday to the next Sunday. Before it was more like what time am, I going to do something at and now I have a specific time every Sunday that I plan it out and that became a great habit of mine.
Also, to stop the bad habits you just must hold yourself accountable. People who don’t hold themselves accountable tend to have bad habits. Once you start to hold yourself accountable, like if you’re late on something, you stick to the time, that is where the good habits come from or turn ideas into a good habit for optimal performance. It’s just time management — it is a great habit to have. It can turn a lot of bad habits into good ones. I think self-accountability can stop bad habits.
Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.
I don’t have a crazy meditation practice. I honestly just use the Calm app and it has been great for me. I spend 15 minutes out of my day using that either when I wake up — sometimes I wake up stressed so I’ll use it in the morning — or before I go to sleep, every night. Or if I have a big shoot day, I will meditate before.
Many of us are limited by our self-talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?
I think the best way to change your thoughts is to surround yourself with positivity, go-getters, people who really are out to achieve something. The people I surround myself with have helped me change the channel of my thoughts. I don’t surround myself with negativity so I cannot have negative thoughts. If I do have negative thoughts, I don’t have a choice but to be positive because everyone around me is positive. If you act positively, it will start to change the channel too. You may not feel positive, but if you do positive acts like simply saying “hey, how’s it going,” or “hey, how are you doing,” or get someone a gift, believe it or not that goes a long way and you start to feel better. It is really about your surroundings and you need to keep telling yourself you’re good, you’re going to get through this, you’re going to do this. I think that is the best way to do it.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try my best! I think my videos let people escape from reality. Some people are not as fortunate as I am, and they need an escape. That is why I like to make positive videos or ones that make people laugh just to get away for a second whether it’s 10 minutes or 40 minutes. In that time, I want that person to just forget all that negativity that they had or have going on now and that will resonate with them.
I am putting good energy out into the world and that is for the viewers to take in however much they want. I think my success is bringing goodness to the world. I give back as much as I can where I drop merchandise or give back to charity and I do it in different ways. I am a person of action. There are days I don’t want to stream or post a video, but I know there is someone who is looking forward to viewing my content so that alone makes me push past whatever I have going on and perform to the best of my ability so they can enjoy the time they’re watching my videos to take the timeout. I get messages all the time that my videos help people escape and that alone goes a long way for me to keep going and keep creating.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite quote is “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” This resonates with me so much because I’m not the most talented person. I think where I’m at today came from hard work and dedication. I am somewhat talented, but I must work a lot harder than most people in this industry. I’ve been successful because I’m constantly being consistent, always working and the harder I work, the better I get. I think my hard work is what got me where I am today and will get me where I’m going tomorrow.
There is overnight success and then there is my kind of success, which is why I always pride myself on working hard in my craft because I’m not an overnight success. I’ve been doing this for six/seven years and the same goes with basketball. Honestly, basketball was the steppingstone for me. I’m more talented in basketball than I am in creating YouTube videos and I’m using my talents there to leverage what I’m doing on YouTube, but when I was an athlete I didn’t have to work as hard on the court as I do off the court and that shows. When I did put the work in, I was talented. I was talented enough that I didn’t have to practice as much to be as good as the next guy. In this field, I do have to put in the work, I do have to be consistent to keep up with the masses in the YouTube game.
Again, that is why that quote alone keeps me going, keeps me working because I don’t want to be left behind and you can be forgotten quickly.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
That’s a good question — there’s a lot of people! Right now, someone that I think I would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with is a guy like Rich Paul or Lebron James or even Mav Carter because what they have going on in the business world is amazing.
Between Clutch Sports and Uninterrupted, there are countless business ventures that they are involved in that I aspire to be like. I am doing that in my own way. Like Lebron — he has talents with a basketball — being a top, high professional athlete and still off the court is just amazing.
I think with Rich Paul and Mav Carter, they are more behind the scenes with everything and it would be interesting to see where their minds are at and share thoughts on certain things that could help me. I’m listening to podcasts or interviews from those guys trying to take in the information that they’re willing to share. I love taking in information. Like I said before, when I first started I knew I needed to be at those top conventions to learn from the top creators and I think that Mav Carter and Rich Paul are top agents and top production executives so it would be super dope to have a breakfast or lunch to pick their brains a little bit. I feel like I could also share some things with them. I think they could take in what I’m doing in the YouTube space for them and their business and I could take in what they’re doing in their business. Maybe we can do something together.
I really appreciate you having me. Thank you for your time!