How Volleyball Pro Ryan Kwiatkowski Optimizes His Mind & Body For Peak Performance

Get started — don’t wait. Decision making is an interesting topic if you break it down. Most of us take too much time weighing different decisions and trying to lay out the right plan. If you have something you love and want to do, go for it.

As a part of my interview series about “ How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Kwiatkowski.

Ryan was raised in Naperville, Illinois, where he graduated from Neuqua Valley High School. He then continued his studies at George Mason University, and graduated from the School of Management in 2010 while playing for the Division One Men’s Volleyball Team. In 2008, the team was ranked as the number eleventh team in the country on the AVCA Division I-II Poll During his time at GMU, he was also awarded the 2010 Aimee Willard Commemorative Award, which is presented to the Mason student-athlete who best exemplifies the standards of quality set by Willard: intensity, consistency of purpose, achievement and teamwork.

After graduating, Ryan had the opportunity to continue his volleyball career and played professionally in Belgium from 2010 to 2011. His team competed against the other tops teams in Belgium and finished the season at the top of the league. Since returning to the states in 2011, and after helping a few startups grow for a number of years, Ryan realized that he ultimately wanted to be back in Chicago and help the family business continue to grow.

Ryan brings several years of sales experience and plenty of enthusiasm and passion to RSI since joining the team in 2015. Ryan is one of the owners and Wealth Advisors at RSI and currently holds the Series 7 and Series 66 Securities registrations through LPL Financial.

He enjoys time with family, friends, watching the Chicago sports teams play, being active and traveling. His wife Caroline and daughter Charlotte keep him busy outside of the office.

Thank you for joining us Ryan! What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

asy answer: Michael Jordan. Growing up in the 90’s in Chicago, there was not better example to look up to. His competitive drive is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Hopefully fans have been able to watch ESPN’s The Last Dance recently, as it really depicts his will to win.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There are several people who helped my get to where I am today. The clear first level is my parents. They were the ones who allowed me to play sports, traveled around the country following me play, and spent a lot of money for me to be able to do that since I was about five years old.

The others would include my coaches along the way. Those would be my high school, club, USAV coaches, and then my coach at GMU, Fred Chao. These are the people that I spent a lot of time with over the years. Hours in the gyms, hours traveling together — these are the people that helped shaped me into who I am today.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

Get started — don’t wait. Decision making is an interesting topic if you break it down. Most of us take too much time weighing different decisions and trying to lay out the right plan. If you have something you love and want to do, get after it.

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?

Most importantly, stay healthy. I still feel that the best way to stay energized and stay focused throughout the day is getting to the gym first thing in the morning. That allows me to stay sharp and then don’t panic during stressful time periods during the day.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

Simple: Put away the devices. Unless I know I need something on my cell phone during the workday, or am taking a quick break, these devices are not in sight. No Apple watch or iPhone out on my desk — it’s too easy to get pulled into a million different things that are happening there.

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?

Get the to gym and move and sweat — its one of the best things you can do. The other priority I’ve taken, is to make sure that my body gets proper nutrition. I spend a good chunk of time in the morning prepping and making sure I’m ready for the day. That includes freshly sliced fruit, protein shakes, eggs, veggies, lean meats. Otherwise, it’s easy to pick up a phone and order via UberEats and you typically don’t have a lot of great choices that are really healthy.

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