Yoseph Financial Storehouse
Entrepreneurship is in Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila’s DNA. As a student at Los Angeles’ Crenshaw High School, he planned to earn his degree in business so that he could successfully take over his father’s plumbing business.
Fast-forward a quarter century. As anticipated, Gbaja-Biamila earned his business degree and he became an entrepreneur – though not in the way he envisioned as a high school student.
Today, he is the founder and president of his own company, Yoseph Financial Storehouse which he established in 2018. But for Aztec football and NFL fans, the name Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila will forever resonate as a nearly unstoppable defensive end, known to strike fear into opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen. He has been enshrined in both the Aztec Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2013.
At first glance, the leap from a career in professional football to that of a personal finance expert might seem unusual, especially given the stories of high-profile athletes who found themselves in serious financial trouble once their playing careers reached their conclusion. However, Gbaja-Biamila, became interested in the field of financial planning through a turn of events that transpired after riots devastated parts of Los Angeles in 1992.
“After the riots, Melinda McMullen* decided to take a sabbatical from work and she came to Crenshaw High to help us start a business called Food from the Hood,” recalled Gbaja-Biamila. “While she was there, she talked to us about the importance of investing and financial planning and it sounded interesting.”
Founded in 1993, Food from the Hood was a student-run non-profit organization which began by transforming an empty plot of land on school property into a large garden where produce was grown and sold at local farmers’ markets. To raise additional revenue, the company later launched a line of salad dressings which were sold in retail outlets in the western United States. The profits from the produce and dressings were used to fund college scholarships for students working within the organization.
Gbaja-Biamila was involved with Food from the Hood since its founding and it was through his participation with the organization that he got his first glimpse into the world of marketing and money management. “I worked on the bookkeeping and the financial statements,” he said. “But I was really good as a salesman for the salad dressings. When we would give out samples, I’d say ‘It’s so good, you could put it on your cereal!’ Customers really liked that.”
Food from the Hood first gained the public’s attention when their story was featured in the Los Angeles Times in October of 1993. They gained more publicity in 1995 when Gbaja-Biamila and another student appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine’s May 29 edition. “That kind of exposure was really good for me,” said Gbaja-Biamila. “It really helped me to be polished in front of people which was a really unusual for a kid from the ‘hood.”
That “polish” would come in handy for Gbaja-Biamila. Scouts and coaches from Division I football programs began taking notice of his abilities on the field. “I was contacted by San Jose State, Colorado State and San Diego State. I chose SDSU because I liked the coaches and they had obviously done their research on me,” he said. “I was also really focused on becoming a student-athlete. The head coach, Ted Tollner and Ken Delgado, who was the defensive line coach at the time, wanted all the players to get their degrees and I liked that. Remember, I wanted to take over my dad’s plumbing business and I knew SDSU had a good undergraduate business degree program.”
As an Aztec, Gbaja-Biamila became a star with lasting impact. He still holds the SDSU team record for most career sacks (34) and tackles for loss (58.5) and is third overall in tackles among defensive linemen (221).
Off the field, Gbaja-Biamila was working toward his degree in management. “Originally, I was majoring in marketing,” he recalled. “But I knew that if I wanted to own a business, I needed to learn how to manage people, so I switched my major to management.”
Immediately before earning his SDSU management degree in May 2000, Gbaja-Biamila was taken in the 5th round of the NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers where he played his entire career. Before leaving the NFL in 2008, he was named to the 2003 Pro Bowl and broke NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White’s team record for sacks.**
It was during this time that Gbaja-Biamila also decided to make a career of his interest in personal finance. In 2014, he went to work as a wealth advisor for a Green Bay-based financial management company and he returned to school to earn a master’s certificate in financial planning. After earning his certificate in 2016 he became a registered CFP.After retiring from the NFL, Gbaja-Biamila took some time off to spend with his wife and eight children. During this break he successfully purchased his dream home. A goal he was able to accomplish, he says, by living well under his means during his NFL career, investing wisely, and working with a trusted financial expert to help him manage his assets.
When he decided to establish his own business, Gbaja-Biamila chose to become a fee-only CFP because he wanted his income to be strictly performance-based. “Commission-based CFPs get paid regardless of how well their clients’ investments perform,” he pointed out. “The income of a fee-only CFP is based on the performance of their clients’ portfolios, so they really care that you make money because that’s when they make their money.”
Gbaja-Biamila followed through on his high school goal of becoming an entrepreneur, but his skills and determination, along with his passion for football and wealth management evolved far beyond anything he imagined as a teenager. As he continues to build his new business, he gave this bit of advice to people who are trying to add to their own nest egg: “The financial world is like the four seasons – there is constant change and, sometimes, things are green and other times, things are cold and stormy. But if you don’t panic and you have a plan in place, you can weather the storm.”
* Prior to her sabbatical, McMullen was an executive with public relations and marketing communications giant, Edelman. After helping to establish Food from the Hood, she became a corporate executive with IMB and JPMorgan Chase.
** Clay Matthews currently holds the team record for sacks with Gbaja-Biamila in second place.