Your Professional Path Starts with Knowing Yourself

Your Professional Path Starts with Knowing Yourself
August 24, 2015 by Orr Fellowship


This month’s Business Leader Meeting included fellows hearing from Ryan Diem, most widely known as the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive right tackle from 2001-2011.

While I agree that living and working in Indy should automatically make you a Colt’s fan (and don’t tell us otherwise) — Diem’s working experience that hits closest to home involve his journeys of investing, succeeding, learning, and innovating. As someone who has invested in land, backed a shop that built modified high performance vehicles, is pursuing commercial real estate ventures, and is a seed investor and current board member of Indy based company CloudOne, Diem brought to reality the trials and triumphs that come along with knowing yourself and embracing opportunity.

Graduating from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Engineering Technology, playing in the NFL, and later moving on to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, Diem had some awesome lessons he wanted Orr Fellows and all young professionals to keep in mind when traveling along their own professional path.


Here are some favorites:

  • “Hard work will always beat talent that doesn’t work” – Coach Tony Dungy

You can be the most talented person out there…whether that means on the field, in the office, or otherwise. Simply relying on that talent isn’t enough, though. You have to work hard to match that talent. On the other side of the coin, you may not be the best at something, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be good at something. Giving extra effort to show you’re invested in an opportunity will take you miles.

  • “Don’t be intimidated, be prepared.”

Starting a new position or being in charge of a project at work for the first time has pros and cons. There is a wide open chance to prove yourself to your team and really pull your weight, but there is also a chance to fail. Don’t let that stop you.

  • “Don’t get greedy. Don’t swing for the fences every time — singles and doubles are great.”

You don’t always have to be the person who scores. Helping other people score is even better. Diem played football 25 years and never scored a touchdown. Actually, he recalls touching the ball maybe four times while in the NFL. Someone had to be there to open the holes for running backs, though. Not a single player on any team has ever won alone.  

  • “Be conscious of your emotions and don’t be afraid to pull away from an opportunity if it isn’t the right fit for you.”

Trust yourself and go with your gut. Try asking, “does this experience give me energy or take energy away from me?” If you’re miserable or suffering in other ways, that opportunity probably isn’t meant to be. Practicing self-awareness is good!

  • “Learn an industry before you jump in.”

Research research research. When you have questions or want to be a part of something new, do your homework before making a rash decision to get involved.

  • “Stay with the game plan and believe in the process.”

Success doesn’t happen overnight. There are lots of lessons to be learned and there will always be more. Remember that your journey is unique to you.


When Diem thought back to his days of high school football and flipping burgers at Wendy’s, he didn’t recall ever thinking he would be a professional athlete or eventually become an investor; he definitely didn’t think he would be investing in a cloud based technology company! Even after some very impressionable setbacks, Diem continued to move forward and take opportunities that came his way.

Goal exercise: Try writing down what you have experienced in your professional life up to this point and remember how far you have come and where you want to go.

By Amber Ferrari

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