Q&A WITH “THE JET”
A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON HIGH PERFORMANCE
1. WHEN DID YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST OVER-THE-TOP PERFORMANCE?
In December, 1962 when I was in the sixth grade, I was featured in the Omaha World-Herald diving over the top of a human pyramid performing with my tumbling team at a Parent-Teacher Association Convention in Omaha, Nebraska. Those early childhood experiences created my awareness that with the appropriate coaching, I could change my circumstances from feeling undeserving to achievement of worthy praise.
The first in my family to complete high school and enter college, I had the great fortune to be coached and mentored by some of the finest minds in the football game such as Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers were “Back to Back National Champions in 1970-1971”, and in 1972 as a wide receiver, I became the University of Nebraska’s first Heisman Trophy winner, the first wide receiver to win the award and also only the fourth African American winner in history.
2. HOW DID YOU GET TO BE A HIGH PERFORMANCE SPECIALIST?
With little to no direction from my splintered and impoverished family, I received the attention I craved in the first grade. By the time I turned 9 and under the direction of my tumbling coach, George Barber, I quickly became the star of our traveling team. Those early childhood experiences created my awareness that with the appropriate guidance, I could change my circumstances from feeling undeserving to achievement worthy of praise. The first in my family to complete high school and enter college, I was fortunate enough to be mentored and coached by the University of Nebraska Master-Coach, Bob Devaney. We wopn back-toback national championships (’70 & ’71) as a wide receiver, wing back, running back, kick-off returner, and punt returner. I was named 2-time All-Big 8, All-American, and in 1972 was named Nebraska’s first Heisman trophy winner. In 2000 I was voted Most Valuable Player in the history of the Big 8 Conference and the Huskers “Player of the Century.” (Read more of the backstory in my biographical sketch.)
3. WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH WITH ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE NOT SPORTS RELATED?
Yes, my primary message is that we do not achieve anything alone.
In my own personal journey, I have learned that almost everything I needed to learn about the rules of engagement, achievement and teamwork, I could extract from the game of football. I have positioned my presentation topics all slightly different to meet the demographics of my audiences. For instance, if yours is a corporate group of sales and marketing representatives, I focus on their needs because I have had the identical needs in my 30+ years in business. I temper those with lessons I learned on the football field as they relate to mindset, competition, productive activities, achievement and teamwork. For youth groups who are struggling with identity, peer pressure, self-doubt and emotional ups and downs that come with being pre-teens and teenagers, I use the same footage on the football field to demonstrate how to achieve beyond their wildest imaginings. They get it – “Teamwork Makes Your Dreams Work”
4. WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM OTHER SPORTS-RELATED SPEAKERS?
Most speakers only shine the light on their greatest achievements. I take my audiences into some of the darker chapters from which I learned great lessons. Those are much a part of my story that impacts others as the honors and awards. Finally, those points of differentiation help young people, especially those disadvantages or afflicted to understand that it is possible for them to change their circumstances. For example, in my introduction I make reference to being born with asthma and tuberculosis. My Mother was just 14 years old when I was born. No one in the history of my family had ever finished high school, and my Grandfather (whom was the male figure in my life growing up) could not read or write. In 1970, I was named college footballs Bad Boy. It was about 2 million to 1 odds that I would go on to win the Heisman Trophy, be the San Diego Chargers first round draft choice, and become the first Million Dollar player in the Canadian football league.
5. WHAT EXACTLY DO YOUR PRESENTATIONS COVER AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?
I offer a series of vignettes and real life experiences that give valuable lessons in making wise decisions, responses to life’s turning points and the idea of how to stay in the “game.” For detailed information go to my website under “Keynotes,” to find presentation descriptions on each topic, as well as take-aways (what you can expect) for each one.
6. DO YOU CUSTOMIZE YOUR PRESENTATIONS AND IF SO, TO WHAT LEVEL?
I address your specific needs in the pre-program questionnaire that is issued at the time of the booking. Clients have every opportunity to inform me of their specific challenges so that those will be addressed in my presentation. Ideally, the client selects the presentation among those that I offer and I make minor changes to meet the needs of the client. In the event that the client has a specific need that is not among my offerings, please call me to discuss.
In addition, if I am working with a group for multiple day strategic development plans, my partners from Performance Solutions Worldwide offer powerful training programs that are turn-key, such as “Strategies for Success.”
7. HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE FOR ONE HOUR, HALF-DAY AND FULL-DAY PROGRAMS?
Please call my office or email me and I will be happy to provide you with the fee structure for keynote presentations, breakout or concurrent sessions, and multiple day appearances. If you have budget restraints which don’t allow you to match my fees, you may submit a proposal for a fee that is more affordable for you. Reasonable offers will be reviewed and I will respond within 48 hours.
8. WILL YOU FILL MORE THAN ONE SLOT, WHICH WILL SAVE US MONEY ON HIRING ANOTHER SPEAKER AND PAYING ADDITIONAL TRAVEL COSTS?
Yes, I offer discounted rates for multiple bookings at the same event, as well as multiple bookings for different events as long as they are booked at the same time. My fee schedule is a one page document that is available upon request.
9. WHAT ARE YOUR PAYMENT TERMS?
Half of the speaking fee is required as a deposit to confirm a booking which is due two weeks after the program agreement is issued. The balance of the speaking fee is due two weeks prior to the appearance date.
10. WHAT ABOUT TRAVEL EXPENSES?
Travel expenses are in addition to the speaking fee. Expenses include round trip coach airfare from Omaha, Nebraska (or the previous day’s host city), ground transportation, lodging, tips and meals. Hotels reservations should be made by the client for late arrival and charges are to be billed directly to the organization’s master account. Expenses will be invoiced to the client as soon as the receipts are available. Payment is due upon receipt.
11. WHAT IF THERE IS A NEED TO CANCEL A PROGRAM THAT IS ALREADY CONTRACTED?
There is a cancellation clause within the contract. The time and circumstances of the cancellation determine the outcome. If we are able to reschedule at a date in the future, we make every effort to do so without additional fees.
12. MAY I ARRANGE TO PREVIEW A PRESENTATION AT A NEARBY FUNCTION TO GET A CLEAR PICTURE OF YOUR DELIVERY, MANNER, LANGUAGE AND POISE? OR DO YOU HAVE VIDEO FOOTAGE OF YOU SPEAKING?
There is footage of me speaking on my website. There are also comments from past clients available on my website. Otherwise, you may audit presentations as long as I am able to secure permission from the hiring entity. Most of my appearances are not open to the public.
13. HOW THOROUGH IS YOUR RESEARCH TO UNDERSTAND THE CLIENT’S NEEDS IN ORDER TO PREPARE FOR YOUR PRESENTATION?
In my detailed presentation topic descriptions on my website, every prospective client has the information about what a presentation covers and what the audience take-aways are. Those are detailed in bulleted items in every description. The pre-program questionnaire is later completed and returned to me at which point I schedule a pre-conference call in the weeks prior to my presentation. This gives me an opportunity to reality-test the written response that I have received to make sure that I accomplish the goal of the meeting planned.
14. WILL YOU BE INTERVIEWING EMPLOYEES OR MEMBERS OF THE ORGANIZATION PRIOR TO YOUR PERFORMANCE?
Pre-event interviews depend entirely on the nature of the work for which I am hired. If the client finds that this is necessary in order to have pertinent information, of course, I am available to do this. Also, if there are individuals that the client would like to have me recognize from the stage, I am happy to do so.
15. YOU USE HANDOUTS IN YOUR PRESENTATION AND IF SO, DO WE NEED TO MAKE SUFFICIENT COPIES FROM THE MASTERS OR WILL YOU BE PROVIDING THE NUMBER OF COPIES WE NEED?
Depending on the length and circumstances of each presentation, I determine if a handout is necessary. If, however, the client prefers a handout, I will accommodate that preference. In that case, I will provide the client with one master copy from which duplicates are made and distributed to the audience prior to my presentation. Please encourage audience members to duplicate on recycled paper.
16. WILL YOU PLACE OUR LOGO AND THE NAME OF OUR ORGANIZATION IN THE HANDOUT?
If that is your preference for handouts, I will do so. I work within your guidelines.
17. DO YOU INVOLVE THE AUDIENCE DURING YOUR PRESENTATION?
Yes, I try to keep the audience engaged all along the way. The degree depends on the topic for which I am hired, and of course the length of the presentation. A keynote is usually less than an hour and does not include time for audience interaction other than questions and answers at the end of the presentation. There is more flexibility with a workshop. Presentations that are half to full day formats allow for more involvement from audiences. If there is enough time I allow for others to share their experiences.
18. WE LIKE FOR OUR SPEAKERS TO ARRIVE EARLY AND STAY LATER FOLLOWING HIS/HER PRESENTATION. DO YOU ALLOW TIME FOR THAT?
Whenever time allows and depending on the time and location of my appearance, I arrive the evening before and leave the same day. This may vary if my presentation is late in the day making airline connections difficult. If there are special events that organizations would like for me to attend the evening before or following the event, arrangements depend on my commitment the days before and after the presentations.
19. DO YOU OFFER BOOKS, CDS, TRAINING OR OTHER PRODUCTS FOLLOWING YOUR PRESENTATION?
I do have extended learning materials available for audiences. Depending on the desires of the organization, I can either pre-sell items to the organization in advance of my appearance or make them available following my presentations. My aim is to follow the wishes of the organization.
20. DO YOU OFFER AUDIENCE OPPORTUNITIES TO TAKE PHOTOS WITH YOU AND YOUR HEISMAN TROPHY?
Yes, photo sessions with both singles and groups may be added as an upgrade to the program.
SEE WHAT THEY SAY
BRIAN L. WOLFF
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE
“Wow! Congratulations on such a successful event. A packed ballroom and so many of our companies represented. I thought that Johnny Rodgers was such an inspirational speaker on the Heisman experience. The room really got so motivated by hearing him equate his experience with leadership, mentoring and team work. The crowd was so interactive through-out the event that i didn’t want to leave. Congrats on a great event!”
VICE PRESIDENT, SIOUXLAND HUSKERS
“Johnny Rodgers was the spotlight of our event! He did a great job and people were definitely excited to meet him! The level of excitement generated by his presence could be felt by everyone. His speech was inspirational to those young and old. I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t walk away from this event without feeling the “Husker Power” generated by Johnny’s presence! This year we were able to raise enough funds to add an additional scholarship. Thank you Johnny “The Jet” for making this year’s event the biggest ever!”
PRESIDENT/OWNER, 1 STAFF TRAINING & CONSULTING, OMAHA EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBER
“At our annual lead Getters Luncheon, Johnny inspired, motivated and entertained the crowd with a wonderful talk about “How Teamwork Can Make Your Dreams Work.” He spoke about how his teamwork experience while a member of the Nebraska football program helped achieve his dreams of winning a national football championship and being selected as the Heisman winner in 1972 despite many odds. Johnny spoke from his heart about his life with great passion and honesty. Johnny is a dynamic speaker and very interactive with the audience. The crowd was amazed by his talk and everyone was on their feet at the end of the speech. The event was a huge success!”
DUKE ENERGY, CAROLINAS MINORITY SUPPLIER DEVELOPMENT
“Our event, The 2012 Business Opportunity Conference, was taken to a higher level by Johnny’s participation. Johnny provided motivation, encouragement as well as entertainment for corporations and diverse businesses alike. He shared his experience with an energy and clarity that everyone appreciated and applauded! Heisman voters made a great choice in ’72. Thank you, Johnny Rodgers.”
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