Warren’s confidence as a leader looks and feels natural, like he was meant to guide large groups through adversity and into success. But he really learned and nurtured that trait when he was alone, the first example coming from Warren at 11 years old, when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. Through about a year either in traction or a full body cast, he spent hours by himself, focusing on what he could turn his life into if he fully recovered.
But as a young boy, he couldn’t necessarily grasp what traits that experience created inside him. It took another 16 years – after a Business Administration degree from Grand Canyon University, an MBA from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School – for Warren to understand his potential.
“I think it clicked when I started my sports agency because on paper, all the signs pointed to not doing it. I was 27 years old, didn’t have a lot of financial resources, didn’t even have a line of credit, started a sports agency with no clients, no office space, no mentor. To be able to do that and then end up representing Chris Zorich and Will Shields, who’s in the Hall of Fame, and Lake Dawson, the list goes on, to start from scratch, I’m like, ‘you know what, I can do this.'”
The next point of growth for Warren was joining the St. Louis Rams in 1997 as the vice president of player programs/football legal counsel. After the Rams finished 5-11 and 4-12, respectively, in Warren’s first two seasons with the club, he remembers having about nine months left on his contract and living in St. Louis away from his family – two young children and his wife, Greta.
An undoubtedly stressful experience turned into a blissful one in 1999 when the Rams posted a 13-3 record en route to winning the Super Bowl.
“Those are things I recognize, when you get a group of people that pull together, that believe, that are willing to go beyond their comfort zone, you can do some amazing stuff,” Warren said. “That Rams deal was really what told me that this can work.”
Every single one of Warren’s successes throughout his career has been fueled by his desire to “leave a situation demonstrably better than it was when you got there,” a sentiment his father continuously preached to him and his family and one he is committed to applying to his tenure with the Bears.
While Warren wanted his new position for the challenge of pushing himself and his peers past their expected limits and to foster a productive, trusting environment with a historic organization, the one factor he needed to see in order to accept the role was family values.
“If you have family values, you always have a chance and that’s so important to us,” Warren said. “It’s hard to win in this league. I mean, life’s hard enough and to be able to do the things they want to do and we want to do together, build a championship organization on the field and off the field, in the community with our fans, win Super Bowls and build a stadium, you have to have strong family values. So that was important. Without that I never would have come here.”