Today, we catch up with 1994 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Football Defensive Player of the Year Kory Minor of Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.). Minor played linebacker for Notre Dame and the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and is now a motivational speaker and personal development coach in West Covina, Calif.
For more than 30 years, USA TODAY has recognized the nation's top high school athletes. We are digging into the archives and checking in with ALL-USA honorees from the past three decades.
Kory Minor was a hard-hitting linebacker at Notre Dame and for four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, but says he's really making an impact these days as a motivational speaker.
Minor just came out with a self-published book, Make A Touchdown Of Your Life: 24 Keys to Crossing The Goal Line Of Success, and is the founder of Kory Minor Industries, a personal development and training company that fosters the concept of winning in business.
"I take a lot of my stuff from sports," says Minor, 36. "My message is about winning every day. How do you go out and sell, when you've been out in the field and have 10 no's that day? People who are successful at sales and elsewhere can take the first no and the 12th no and they're still pushing with the same attention. I want people to understand about winning every day."
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Minor was an ALL-USA linebacker at Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) and started as a freshman outside linebacker at Notre Dame. By his senior year with the Irish, he was the team captain and an honorable mention All-American. He was drafted in the seventh round in 1999 by the San Francisco 49ers, but played his entire career with the Panthers. In 2002, he was cut by the Panthers after turning down a trade to the Cleveland Browns.
He worked for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance in North Carolina for a few years, then as a sales representative at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Los Angeles, but wanted to work for himself, so he looked into franchises.
"I had so many friends who weren't prepared for life after the NFL," Minor says. "When the fans stop cheering, what are you going to do? For me, I planned for this. After I left the NFL, I knew I wanted to own something. I like food, so why not a franchise? After researching everything from 7-11s to Subways, Domino's was the best fit."
In 2007, he got his first Domino's store. Within two years, Minor owned five and even appeared in a commercial for the company. But when the economy slowed a few years ago, Minor wasn't having as much fun or making as much money and last year, went from being a business owner with 85 employees to an entrepreneur with one employee, himself, though he recently hired an assistant.
"When Domino's didn't work out the way I wanted to be, I thought that maybe this is a sign from above," Minor says. "I also believe God gave me the NFL for those four years, because I had no idea what to do next."
Like the NFL, there is a lot of competition in motivational speaking. While he may not be as polished a speaker as his mentors, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Willie Jolley, Brendon Burchard, James Malinchak and Jack Canfield, there are few former NFL players who are motivational speakers and fewer still who have business experience.
"I try to do what Lou Holtz said, 'Share a message that can change a life," Minor says. "How can I penetrate your heart and your mind and leave you with a solution to a problem?"
Minor says speaking in front of large groups isn't difficult for him. As early as high school, he was asked to speak in public and that trend only grew as he went to college and the NFL. A chance reading of an article in Success magazine about Burchard made him realize that he could make a living out of motivational speaking and personal development coaching.
"You can share your message to the world and make a substantial living doing it," Minor says. "I can talk about leadership, teamwork and business. I've done all that, why not share a message? Once I decided to do this, I thought, let's go full speed. Basically, the business has grown by word of mouth."
One fringe benefit to his new job is he has more flexibility, giving him more time with his wife Lisa and his three children: Ilyana, 8; Noah, 6; and Julian, 3.
"I don't work on Fridays and some days, I'm done by 2 p.m.," Minor says. "My kids don't care or get it that I was an NFL player. They don't understand when people ask me for autographs. What they do want to know is when are we going out for dinner and ice cream?"