JJ Birden

Add to wishlist Request More Information Book An Experience

Like a fabled long-shot story and underdog tale, JJ Birden was The Small Man in the Big Man's Game of Football. 


After earning a scholarship to the University of Oregon for track and field (plus being the #1 high school wide receiver in Oregon), JJ also earned a walk-on spot with the football team his sophomore year. His trials were only just beginning though, and he was faced with many naysayers, followed by a cycle of injuries, and unimpressive stats.


JJ's hard work, grit, speed, and resiliency eventually earned him an invite to the NFL Combine, where he dominated. His performance earned him an NFL draft pick, and he was on his way, or so he thought. Another series of injuries and failed physicals culminated in one of the darkest moments in JJ's early career; JJ was rejected by 4 NFL teams in 5 days. 


He could have walked away from the game and given up hope in what seemed like insurmountable odds, but JJ didn't even flinch. Instead, he did what he's always done when faced with adversity—he found a way to win.


Despite a height of only 5'10 and weighing in at 157 lbs (versus his peers' typical 6'2 and 245 lbs), JJ would go on to play 9 seasons in the NFL, crushing the average player's career of less than two years. He is now an engaging and passionate keynote speaker and a leading authority on helping individuals seize their opportunities in life. As a best-selling author, entrepreneur, speaker, husband, and father he now shares lessons from his life that help audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and professions realize the most important thing about success—it is never given, but always earned. 


JJ's book, When Opportunity Knocks, 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage!, can be found here.


Speaking Topics:


Seize Your Opportunities

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


Businesses have always aimed to get more out of their people, but it is becoming increasingly hard to provide resources, instruction, and encouragement that actually motivate employees to show up and give their best. To truly succeed in today’s extremely competitive business world, organizations need employees who are genuinely motivated to give their best, improve each day, and do whatever it takes to win. Unfortunately, not everyone has this capacity; JJ Birden does, and he can help anyone develop it, too. 


Seize Your Opportunities focuses on the individual and what one must do for success as part of a larger group—no matter the odds, and no matter how much hard work it requires. 


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 have helped him thrive in the business world as an entrepreneur and professional speaker. In this presentation, JJ shares his winning principles and strategies and teaches audiences how to maximize and seize the opportunities in their lives.


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. JJ will show you how. 


Key Takeaways from Seize Your Opportunity:

  • Finding, defining, and defending your Why

  • How discipline and self-motivation lead to success

  • Achieving your breakthrough through adversity

  • Developing championship focus and resolve

  • How complacency can destroy momentum

  • Avoiding complacency by continuous self-improvement

  • The Joe Montana Effect - what JJ learned playing with one of the greatest athletes of all time


In Spite Of…

The key to success is seeing obstacles as opportunities.


Low productivity is a recurring issue for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Keeping employees motivated to give their best is a challenge even for the best leaders; however, it’s not always up to leaders to inspire their teams, and even if it was, it’s not always possible. Unbeknownst to supervisors, managers, directors, and other leaders, employees may be dealing with their own deficiencies which can prevent them from raising the bar themselves. They may feel they don’t have the skills, talent, or abilities to succeed, or they may be experiencing the lingering self-doubt that comes with failure. It’s called the “underdog mentality, and it’s held many back from reaching their true potential.  


The difference between the victims and the victors in life, between the underdogs and alpha dogs, is not a lack of adversity but rather how they approach adversity. No one knows this better than JJ Birden.


In this inspiring keynote presentation, JJ shares the winning principles and strategies that helped him achieve success in spite of unbelievable adversity, heartbreaking failure, and herculean obstacles. Audiences learn that no matter what they are dealing with, if they want to win badly enough, they too can succeed in spite of everything (and everyone) against them. 


Key Takeaways from In Spite Of…:

  • Overcoming Failures, Adversity, Setbacks, Challenges, and Obstacles (F.A.S.C.O.)

  • Witness the growth formula from failure to success (The Triple A’s)

  • How to raise the bar of your performance to the highest level

  • Determination and self-discipline in the face of failure

  • Doing whatever it takes to turn a “no” into a “yes”

  • How to approach each day and every opportunity like an NFL Pro


Every Day is Game Day

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


The economy is changing fast. The jobs of the future mostly don’t exist yet, which means the people who are most likely to thrive are the ones who are prepared to improvise, adapt, overcome, and continually grow. Unfortunately, the youth of today may not have the resiliency skills to get the futures they want -- but they can develop what it takes to get there. The key is developing a set of core life skills to manage school, work, and outside interests while being responsible, dependable, and accountable adults. Those are the skills that helped JJ Birden overcome astronomical odds to reach the NFL, and they are the same skills that can help the youth of today become the leaders and high-achievers of tomorrow. 


In this captivating and empowering keynote presentation for students and athletes, JJ helps his audience understand the importance of giving their best every day so that when the going gets tough and all eyes are on them, they will have the capacity to succeed and breakthrough to bigger and better things. In Every Day is Game Day, JJ shares actionable tips and strategies that help young people approach every day like an NFL Pro.


Key Takeaways from Every Day is Game Day:

  • Mastering your thoughts and overcoming the underdog mindset

  • Avoiding the entitlement trap

  • Benefits of creating the right “positive” social media trail

  • How you to react to Failures, Adversity, Setbacks, Challenges, and Obstacles (F.A.S.C.O.) 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


Winning as an Underdog

Being an underdog gives you a STEALTH opportunity to win!


In today's fiercely competitive landscape, organizations often find themselves at a perceived disadvantage when pitted against industry giants with larger market shares, extensive budgets, and formidable resources. However, this perceived weakness can be transformed into a strategic advantage with the right guidance. Rather than limiting their growth potential, these organizations can harness their unique strengths to foster alignment, momentum, and ultimately, sustainable growth.

Drawing inspiration from his own journey as an underdog, JJ Birden, a former NFL player and successful business professional, shares invaluable insights in his compelling keynote, "Winning as an Underdog". Despite facing odds stacked against him—where the average NFL player towered over him by 43%—JJ mastered the "underdog mentality," leveraging his perceived shortcomings to fuel his success both on and off the field. Through over a decade of experience in the medical and fitness equipment industries, JJ continued to embody this mentality, defying expectations and achieving remarkable success.

In his captivating keynote, Winning as an Underdog, JJ empowers attendees to embrace their underdog status and capitalize on every opportunity. With a blend of undeniable truths, actionable strategies, and inspiring anecdotes, JJ guides participants through a collaborative experience, showcasing how underdogs can not only thrive but also revolutionize established business norms. Join JJ Birden as he reveals how underdogs are the true catalysts for innovation and change in the business world.


Key Takeaways from Winning as an Underdog:

  • Recognizing the strategic benefits of embracing underdog status.

  • Knowing how to cultivate a mindset that thrives on challenges and adversity.

  • Implementing JJ's proven framework for narrowing the underdog disadvantage.

  • Maintaining unwavering determination and resilience on the journey from underdog to industry leader.

JJ Birden's Experiences

Virtual In-Person
Virtual In-Person

Payment Terms


“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.

"I've been to 25 to 30 National Sales Meetings in my career, I've heard lots of motivational speakers and JJ Birden was by far the best National Sales Meeting speaker that I've ever seen."

Director of Global Government Sales, Hershey

"In these times of uncertainty, many associates are feeling a sense of chaos and stress with the unknown. Your messaging around what they can personally do everyday was uplifting and will be referenced internally for years to come, and the connection you had our associates was outstanding. Thank you for being a part of the Virtual Summer Speaker Series; you were all and more than we had hoped for to encourage, inspire and motivate the team deeply affected by COVID-19 in the hospital labs."

Senior Director, Talent Management - Sysmex America, Inc.

"Earlier this month our office had the pleasure of hosting JJ Birden for a lunch presentation. His message was impactful, direct, and relative to all of our employees. He weaves stories from his athletic life and blends it with his business acumen to deliver a presentation that is consumable and enjoyable to a wide audience of people. In addition, he and his wife are kind and responsive individuals. So if you have a group of employees, students, athletes (really his message can work for any group) I would highly recommend JJ to speak at your next event."

Douglas Adams, Vice President at Morgan Stanley