JJ Birden

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JJ Birden

Motivational Speaker & Former NFL Wide Receiver


JJ Birden is an engaging communicator and a leading expert at helping individuals seize their opportunities in life.

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, JJ went to the University of Oregon where he was a two sport star in Football and Track and Field. A 5'10", 157-pound wide receiver, JJ was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the 1988 NFL Draft and played nine seasons (Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, and Atlanta Falcons). He played two years with Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Montana. He certainly was not the biggest, strongest, or fastest guy on the field, but he knew how to seize his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and maximize his success through dedication and hard work. In his presentations, JJ shares lessons from his experience as a small man in a big man's game. JJ's time in the NFL helped shape the message that he now delivers to audiences around the world. After seeing the successes and failures of others at the highest level, he developed a set of principles that others could follow to achieve greatness, no matter how they defined it or what they're pursuing.

JJ's winning philosophy also helped him succeed in an arena with equally staggering odds: the business world. He's been an entrepreneur and a business partner, as well as the guy at the bottom of the organizational totem pole who had to work his way up. And when you hear him say that the only difference between sports and the business world is the physicality of the game. The same mindset he had in the NFL helped him achieve success in the business world and this same mindset can help you perform at the highest levels in your personal and professional life. You can believe he's speaking from experience. Whether it's a promotion at work, a big sale, or a new business idea, JJ teaches his audience how to maximize and seize the opportunities in their lives to achieve more, do more, and be more.

After years of professional speaking engagements, JJ knows how to deliver his message in a way that will resonate with anyone in the audience, regardless of their background or job title. He has spoken in front of all types of audiences, from K-12, college students to adults in the athletic and business world. Each presentation is tailored to the audience in attendance, which means your group will walk away with tools, strategies, and principles that will help them excel in their roles and achieve greatness at work, at school, in sports, and most importantly, in life. It doesn't matter who's in the audience if someone has the desire to be the best and achieve what's most important for their future, JJ's message will empower them to win. He reminds his audience that it's never too late to be great—it just requires saying yes to opportunities and putting in the work to improve each day.

JJ is now a best-selling author with the release of his first book, When Opportunity Knocks 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage. He also takes pleasure in being married to his college sweetheart of 28 years, Raina and a father to their 8 children (3 biological and 5 nieces/nephews) while residing in the Phoenix Area.


Seizing Your Opportunities

Success is not going to be given to you, you have to go get it!

Seize Your Opportunities presentation focuses on the individual and what one must do for success as part of a larger group. As a former NFL wide receiver, JJ knows what it takes to reach the highest level of performance and have the capacity to maintain it. Many of the success principles he learned as a professional athlete has helped him make the transition into the business world. Success is not going to be given to you. You have to achieve success. And once you have it, you can't stay at that same level. You have to continue to work to fight mediocrity and complacency.

What the audience learns:

  • Finding your Why and how your Why will be tested daily
  • How discipline is the master key to success
  • Achieving your breakthrough through adversity
  • Developing championship focus
  • Avoiding complacency because even though you're winning, complacency can cause you to lose
  • The Joe Montana Effect - what JJ learned from one of the greatest athletes of all time

There Better Be an "I" in Team

Before you can lead others, you must have the ability to lead yourself.

There is a very popular saying that's been around a long time: "There is no "I" in team." The message is clear: team success is not about the individual, it's about the whole. But for the whole team to be successful, as a leader, success rests on your ability to lead yourself and to be very clear about what you expect from your team - AND what they can expect from you. This is where the keynote There Better Be An "I" In Team begins as JJ shares lessons learned from the toughest team on earth. "To lead a team, it's imperative you can lead yourself first. The team's success is dependent on your success!"

  • Can you define your own personal leadership style, and can you communicate that to your team?
  • Can you clearly state your expectations as a leader?
  • Can you create a championship environment?
  • Can you identify the star players on your team and can you help them achieve even greater success?
  • Can you create an environment in which members of your team eagerly do whatever it takes to win?

Every Day Is Game Day

To get the future you want, you must bring your best EVERY day.

Every Day Is Game Day is the perfect presentation for high school and college students and student-athletes. In this presentation, JJ helps our millennials understand the importance of giving their best every day in life. Developing the right habits will contribute to success in academics and athletics. Those same "game day" habits will carry forward to create a more successful life after their school days.

In this presentation, JJ shares eight strategy tips including:

  • Mastering your thoughts is the beginning of your success
  • Avoiding the entitlement trap
  • Benefits of creating the right "positive" social media trail
  • How you to react to F.A.S.C.O. (Failures, Adversity, Setbacks, Challenges, and Obstacles) can lead to either a breakthrough or a breakdown
  • Why having a mentor is the ultimate shortcut to anything you want in life
  • Even though you may be winning now, complacency can cause you to lose


“JJ Birden was the keynote speaker at our client appreciation event; his presentation was outstanding. His message was well received by our very diverse group, which included clients and their guests from a wide age spectrum. His presentation was both energetic and entertaining. The feedback we received from our clients on his presentation was extremely positive. I would highly recommend JJ as a keynote speaker and presenter.”
- Michael A. Murphy, CFP & Private Wealth Advisor, TruCourse Wealth Advisors - Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.

"JJ delivered a fast-paced, stimulating, informative and yes, motivational message to my group of community bank executives in Phoenix this past fall. The participants and their spouses were totally engaged as each one was focused on the front of the room until JJ wrapped up his session.
Birden provided amazing energy, excellence, fun and most impressionable of all was how he incorporated his football experiences and related the game’s strategy to business expansion and personal development. This is a tough group when it comes to motivational speakers, but they walked away smiling with ideas and tools that they could bring back to their communities and their banks.
I highly recommend JJ for your next event and I look forward to engaging him for another time in the future."

- Lisa Livingstone, Program Executive and Meeting Planner, Western States Director Education Foundation

"JJ took the time to understand our industry and personalities of the group and speak directly to our group. His energy kicked off our conference perfectly. He was the talk of the conference!"

"I worked with JJ to coordinate speaking on Leadership and High Performance at the IIA Phoenix Chapter meeting. He worked to prepare for our specific audience and brought an energy and focus to the room that was captivating for the duration of his message. JJ commands a great stage presence that allowed the attendees to learn and relate to his message. The sale and signing of his book, When Opportunity Knocks, 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage!, after was a great opportunity for folks to interact with him and gave everyone a take away to read and be inspired."

"JJ was very easy to work with, and completely understood our ultimate objective. He connected so well with our audience he had a line for over an hour of people waiting to purchase his book, and thank him. What I appreciated the most was that he was so gracious with each attendee that came to the table to speak him."