Updated: Mar 16, 2020
I recently had the opportunity to exclusively interview J.J. Birden and ask him ten random facts about himself as well as what advice he would give those wanting to become an NFL football player. I also had the opportunity to find out about his latest Keynote that he is currently preparing for. Check out my interview with JJ below:
Loryn: What is the best piece of advice you've received?
J.J.: My uncle, Mr. Uncle Sonny, was the first person who said I'd play in the NFL. In my junior year in high school, after watching one of my games, he said: "One day, you will be playing in the NFL." I thought he was crazy! He believed in me so much; he had me promise to give him my first NFL touchdown. Years later, when I scored my first NFL touchdown, he was at the game. I asked him how did he know I would make it? He responded, “Nephew, I knew you had the ability, but you didn’t believe in yourself, so I had to pour belief into you until you got your own.” I realized later in life; sometimes, you have to borrow the belief of someone’s belief in you until you get your own.
Loryn: What is the biggest risk you've ever taken?
J.J. : It was a financial investment. After the NFL, I invested in an internet search engine company call Zipee.com. The guy who started the search engine company created a unique way of searching for information on the internet. Unfortunately, he was not qualified to run the company, so I lost all of my investment.
Loryn: What has been your favorite place to travel and why?
J.J.: I would say Greece! My wife Raina and I went to Greece about eight years ago, and we loved it. It was just like what you see in the photos. We experienced some amazing sunset views and the people were very friendly.
Loryn: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
J.J.: That what I do is easy, and everyone wants to work with me because I played in the NFL. That is so far from the truth. Yes, people are impressed that I played in the NFL; after that, it means nothing. I have to do the work like everyone else and work hard to acquire clients and customers. For instance, when I launched my speaking career, I started making calls to offer my services. I got 22 no’s right away. The no’s did not worry me. I dealt with no in the NFL. It only made me hungrier and more motivated to work harder.
Loryn: What a great book you've read or listened to recently?
J.J.: The book I just finished reading is Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I highly recommend it. It’s great for anyone.
Loryn: What are you currently working on?
J.J. I am currently working on a Keynote called "In Spite Of…" It will be an empowering keynote to help audiences develop the habit of conquering the “setback” moments in their lives and seeing them for what they truly are: opportunities for growth. Generally, that is the kind of content I share because I have felt like an underdog most of my life. I am sure there are many who have felt like an underdog at some point in their lives. Everyone has had to deal with F.A.S.C.O. (failures, adversities, setbacks, challenges, obstacles). However, those are just speed bumps and not the Great Wall of China. With the right mindset, motivation, game plan, and work ethic, we can win if we want it bad enough.
Loryn: What is one thing you can't live without?
J.J.:Besides the obvious, my beautiful wife and children. We have almost been married thirty years; Let’s go with my Isagenix nutritional shakes. I have at least two a day because I’m always on the go and they help keep my weight down.
Loryn: What is a lesson you've learned being a football player?
J.J. : There are so many lessons, but one thing I learned is the ability to perform under pressure. It doesn’t matter how talented you are or how successful you were in college. If you cannot perform at a high level of consistency while under pressure, you will not make it in the NFL.
Loryn: What's something not many people know about you?
J.J :My legal name is LaJourdain. It is a French name my Dad found at the library in a French book. He changed the spelling a little. I was not fond of the name when I was young and always dreaded the first day of school when the teacher would butcher it calling roll call for the first time. However, I grew to love it later because it is a unique name.
Loryn: What advice would you give those who want to go into the NFL?
J.J.: First, if you’re in high school, work hard, and listen to your coach. Be the best team player you can be and be willing to put in the extra work. Spend time mastering the skills at your position and make film study a regular part of your routine. When you get to College, do the same thing. If you get your shot, you must stand out. You do not need to have the best stats in College to get your opportunity. I had one touchdown my four years at the University of Oregon. If you have the ability, the NFL scouts will find you. Oh, and be sure you have a plan “B”. College athletes have a 1.6% chance to play in the NFL, and the average NFL career is less than two years long
What question piqued your interest most? Let me know in the comment section!
Be sure to stay updated with JJ Birden by checking out his website: https://www.jjbirden.com/. Plus, you can connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under the name jjbirden.