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NFL Player-Turned Motivational Speaker Roy Hall, Jr. Teaches ‘Mental Toughness’

“No matter how you prepare or how hard you work, there are just certain things in life that you can’t control,” former NFL player Roy Hall, Jr. told Disrupt Magazine in a recent Zoom interview. Hall, a former wide-receiver for the Detroit Lions (2010), New Orleans Saints (2010), and Indianapolis Colts (2007-2009), started his professional football career hoping to have a long, successful run in the NFL.

However, Hall’s rookie season ended on September 23, 2007, after a violent head-to-head collision during a routine kickoff, with Cedric Killings of the Houston Texans. “I ended up with a third-degree shoulder separation, and Cedric unfortunately suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck,” Hall told Disrupt. 

Killings went on to retire, while Hall had a challenging journey ahead of him, beginning in 2008 after having a knee scope which came with complications that kept Hall out for twelve (12) games. 

“The most stressful time in the NFL was always the beginning of the season, starting with training camp,” Hall explained. “Each year, you’d go into training camp in your best shape, but the competition was fierce. At the end of the day, it’s a numbers game. You could have had the best camp on the team, and still get cut. Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. We used to joke and say that NFL stands for ‘Not For Long.’”

In 2009, Hall underwent microfracture surgery, forcing him to miss the entire season. The following year, Hall was released by the team after tearing muscles in his hip. 

“Fighting for your job every day for 12 months is very stressful! Hall emphasized. “Having productivity in previous years can buy you some time, but when it comes to business, it’s always ‘what have you done for me lately?’ There is always someone new looking to take your job, and always general managers looking for someone who can do your job better than you and cheaper. It’s never personal; it’s just business.”

However, Hall made it clear that he was extremely thankful for the opportunities that the Colts, Saints, and Lions provided him. “I’m thankful for the opportunities [they] gave me, because after year one, most careers would have been over because of the injuries.”

Training Today’s Workforce to Face and Respond to Daily Challenges

Indeed, today’s socio-political climate has inspired Hall to become a light in a time of darkness throughout our country. “This country needs love,” Hall said. “It also needs tough-love. Tough conversations have to be had.

The former NFL player-turned motivational speaker now speaks and trains professionals to be better people. “I have various large companies hire me to speak to their employees and executive teams about diversity and inclusion, while also providing perspective. I’m more inspired than ever,” he added. 

“The consistent pattern of what they need is motivation, perspective, and purpose. Many of the companies that bring me in to speak are looking to give their team a spark, and a source of long-standing inspiration. In business, the right spark for an individual could be worth millions to the company and multiplies exponentially if the entire team forms a new sense of urgency and cohesion. Executives are realizing it’s worth it to budget people like myself to help take their teams rise to the challenge and advance to the next level. 

Actively disengaged employees in the U.S. cost companies $483 to $605 billion per year in lost productivity. I always ask, “how much are your employees contributing to that $605 billion?” That’s an enormous number and you have to have people consistently working with team members to level out stress and encourage stronger engagement.”

Disruption: What’s Happening to You & What’s Happening Through You

When we asked Hall to define ‘disruption’ as he sees it when teaching mental toughness, he told us that it all comes down to (1) what’s happening to you and (2) what’s happening through you.

“Negative disruptions are challenges that are unexpected, uncontrollable, or uncomfortable happening to you or around you, that directly affect your productivity,” he explained.

“I call them wildfires. Obstacles that spread, attack, and take over everything around you. These disruptions could be extremely private and personal like declining health or illness and divorce. It could also include low self-esteem, high irritability, anger, jealousy, envy, fear, resentment, and impatience. Stress is a major wildfire; an undeniably aggressive disruptor. 

The antithesis, or the flip side, the side I help professionals live on, is what happens through you. You can be a positive disruptor for you and those around you. 

YOU can disrupt FEAR. YOU can disrupt low self-esteem. You can stand up and keep going. 

I motivate and inspire professionals to go on the offense.  Have the courage to look yourself in the mirror, do a scouting report on yourself, and focus on turning those weaknesses into wins.”

Arrive Earlier!

A very practical stress disruptor, according to Hall, is something simple that you can do TODAY to help decrease stress at work. 

“Arrive earlier! Get to the office at least 45-minutes ahead of time. This will give you more time to focus without distractions and build positive momentum to start the day; if you’re a coffee drinker, listen to a quick podcast to help get your mind right,” he added. 

Hall has his own podcast called Roy Hall Jr. Podcast, if you need somewhere to start.

“Start arriving when the Top-Executives arrive if that’s where you see yourself some day. Not only do I give simplified solutions, but I also give you the motivation to do it. Storytelling, principles, and practical actions are steps that can help you get results immediately. People may not want to arrive 45-minutes early, but my former Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning used to arrive two hours earlier than everyone else. I’m not telling stories and giving strategies that don’t work. Simple adjustments generate significant advancements.”

Whether it’s through public speaking, writing, or his podcasts, Hall incorporates videos, slides, images, music, work packets, critical thinking and perspective learning exercises, along with motivational conversations to help individuals become disciplined.

“Even with all of those support tools, just saying the words YOU CAN in the right tone may give someone the inspiration to double or triple their sales number. There is so much value in motivating employees and professionals. We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars for the company. Provide people with whatever they need to get the most out of them. Sometimes that is consistently having people like me come in and provide a lasting spark.”

Impacting Your Employees

As Hall continues to work with corporate teams, he emphasized using the “right motivation tactics.”

“The right motivation tactics can make a significant impact on teams of employees. Motivation can last a lifetime if you connect with someone and your message resonates.”

So, how does the former NFL player make that connection?

“My goal is to make that connection, plant that seed through meaningful messages and give people a foundation to build on. The feedback that I receive is almost always ‘thankfulness’ and ‘appreciation’ for the information, delivery, and passion. Practical solutions, mixed with passion and real life personal examples are a recipe for success for those in the room. I leave my heart on that stage just as I would on the field.”

Translating Lessons Is Not an Overnight Process

As positive and passionate as Hall is when educating, it’s certainly not an overnight process, which he points out. Just like on the field, there are always challenges when executing plays, or lessons that need to be taught to other players (or client’s in this case) end. 

“In forty minutes, we start a productive conversation and lay a great foundation to motivate people to heighten productivity and success. But there’s so much more work to be done. I think it’s important to understand the needs of your team and continue to provide them support along the journey.”

And if you’re looking for an overnight change, think again. There’s work to be done on your part as well, which Hall can only help you prepare for. 

“The long-term challenge is determining how to keep that moment and that motivation top of mind. 

For example, by extending private weekly sessions to clients to keep them on the right trajectory. When people are trying to lose weight, they don’t go to a personal trainer one time. They go until they reach a point where they can stay disciplined and execute without constant oversight.”

Hall says that he traditionally likes to implement a 5-week follow-up plan with clients to help keep them focused on building that foundation. Normally, I like to establish a 5 week follow up plan with clients to keep the individuals that really want to build on that foundation.”

It’s Okay to Be Frustrated

Throughout the process, it’s okay to get frustrated; so long as you know how to address it.

“When you have people that are on the same team, in the same room, receiving the same information, rapid success is often expected,” Hall shared. “The foundation of my presentations and speeches revolve around having an accelerated sense of urgency. On average, you inhale and exhale 23,000 times each day. 

You have to make each breath count. On average 150,000 people pass away each day. You are here for a reason. 

You are here to leave a positive mark in the world. I believe you can change your life overnight. 

Your mindset matters. Believing matters. 

Your will is so much stronger than what’s in your way. 

Your mentality has to be built, but it starts with a choice. You can make that choice overnight.

The goal is to offer the audience a choice. Are you getting the results that you want in every area of your life? Not just professionally. You are not a successful professional if your mental health is weakening and your family is broken. Your personal and professional lives are uniquely and indefinitely intertwined. So yes, you can go into the office the next day with a new found sense of confidence, momentum, belief, and will to win no matter what.”

Training Today’s Athletes and Students How to Respond to Challenges

Hall certainly leverages his platform, applying everything he learned on the field, and fueling it through The Driven Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that he and former Ohio State teammate, Antonio Smith launched in 2018. 

The Foundation works with students, teaching them early in life how to recognize, address, and navigate through challenges such as combating poverty and promoting independence. 

“My father and Antonio’s mom both struggled with substance abuse, while Antonio had never met his father,” Hall revealed to Disrupt Magazine. “Growing up in a home without a consistent father figure, and watching my mother barely make ends meet, was very challenging, because I was too young to do anything to help.”

Hall told Disrupt that 2020 into 2021, has been the most fulfilling year yet for the Driven Foundation, serving more families during the COVID-19 pandemic than in previous years. 

 “Over the last 12 years we distributed over 1.25 million pounds of free food to over 9,000 Ohio families,” he said. “We’ve created our own leadership and character building curriculum for students in 5th through 12th grade, while also working with over 30 middle and high schools throughout Ohio.” 

From an empty refrigerator, poles of past due notices, and creatively asking relatives to borrow money, Hall described the thought of what he had to do to survive, as “painful and at times, shameful.” 

“We had to do what we had to do,” he continued. “Being picked on and made fun in elementary school because I didn’t have the latest Jordan’s or trendy clothes that fully fit, was hurtful. But it engineered my mental toughness. The NFL taught me how to leverage my platform for something greater than myself. I’m the middle man, the connector. I introduce privilege to poverty. I get people to serve with us that have more to give than most. What you have can either be taken away, or given away. It’s much better to give than to have something taken from you. Purpose is service.”

Andrew Rossow is the Legal Editor and Strategy Operations Advisor at Disrupt Magazine. He is a practicing attorney and the CEO and President of AR Media Consulting. He serves as a co-founder of The Guardian Project, alongside TV actor, Mark Pellegrino (13 Reasons Why, Supernatural, Lost, Dexter). Rossow has appeared regularly on CHEDDAR TV, ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC affiliate networks throughout the U.S. He has been recognized by Entrepreneur and Fast Company for his journalistic integrity in helping build out and grow media outlets, formerly Grit Daily News.

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