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Former NFL player JJ Birden discusses how auto dealers can continue to beat the odds

Inspiration is the name of the game when it comes to motivating employees to give their best effort even during difficult circumstances. Today on CBT News, anchor Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by JJ Birden, former NFL player, speaker, and best-selling author of the book “When Opportunity Knocks: 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage.” Birden spent nine years in the National Football League, playing for teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns.

Birden begins the conversation by sharing his story. From humble beginnings, Birden was a small athlete that played football and ran track and field. After not receiving any Division I football scholarship offers, Birden went to the University of Oregon on a track scholarship.

In his second year, Birden begged the coach to let him try out for the Oregon Ducks football team. Birden was granted the opportunity to try out for the team, and he successfully earned a walk-on position. Birden went on to become a starter for the Ducks, and was drafted by Cleveland Browns in the eighth round of the 1988 NFL Draft. As a 5’10”, 157 lb wide receiver, the odds were stacked against Birden for finding any success in the league. However, through hard work and determination, Birden was able to haul in 244 receptions, 3441 yards, and 17 touchdowns throughout his career.

Birden then shares his strategies for overcoming adversity. He encourages people to attack situations with a positive mindset. When faced with difficult days or unfortunate circumstances, Birden presents the questions, “What can I learn from it? How can I get better? How can I take advantage of the opportunity.”

Dealers often have to deal with negative attitudes that plague the rest of the team. Birden says that business leaders have to sit down with those individuals to understand exactly what motivates them. Everyone is unique in how they can be coached or mentored. For this reason, dealers should avoid having a standardized method of eliminating bad attitudes. Dealers who show a willingness to listen and accommodate those difficult personalities often experience dramatic changes that can lead to better productivity and stronger employee chemistry.

Birden concludes the conversation by sharing insight from his book “When Opportunity Knocks: 8 Surefire Ways to Take Advantage.” As small as he was, Birden beat the odds to find success in the NFL. He encourages people to find success by having a willingness to do the work. He says when people find success, they shouldn’t let them become complacent. Success should just be another motivating factor that pushes leaders to break through new barriers.

Anna Delvillar
Anna Delvillar
Anna is the editorial and programming coordinator at CBT News. She graduated with a B.A. in English Composition from Georgia State University. She is an enthusiastic and skilled media professional with high-caliber communication skills, and has five years of experience performing multimedia writing, editing, and publishing for automotive, tech, and small business media.

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