There are two kinds of motivational speakers in this world: those who list the job title on their LinkedIn profiles, and those who motivate others by often quiet example. Count Jarrod Shaw in the latter category.
Jarrod Shaw can't relate an origin story for his own internal drive, he merely remembers when it clicked. In eighth grade, Jarrod took honors as an MVP and something inside him said quite strongly, "Success feels good." It would not be for another few years that Jarrod would put together the key ingredient to success -- hard work -- meaning pushing yourself even when nobody else is watching.
Jarrod didn't grow up with a ton of resources, but that formula for success drove him to do sprints in the alley, to build his strength and speed, and to eventually walk-on at Purdue University and turn himself into a scholarship athlete.
For those not familiar with what "walk-on" means in the Big 10 country football, it's not Rudy Ruettiger. It's tons of guys who were All-County or even All-State high school football players showing off their skills to make a major college football program. Shaw was not deterred. He showed the coaches he was prepared to outwork anybody on and off the field. He made the team as one of only four walk-ons turned scholarship players.
Jarrod loves to compete on teams; to motivate and inspire one another to greatness.
In his first year at Purdue, the final year of famed Purdue coach, Joe Tiller, Jarrod learned his greatest performance lesson while running an ungodly number of track laps, after a full field workout, with no water: you can do more than you think. Literally. It's the mind that holds the body back from peak performance. What runners call "the wall". Or what Jarrod called, Coach Joe yelling this in his ear.
Jarrod took that lesson not only into his workouts and performance training but into completing Purdue undergrad and moving onto his M.B.A. degree.
Jarrod knew his future wasn't NFL football; the dream so many of his teammates harbored, and perhaps later, left them disappointed. He took from football the valuable lessons of training, hard work, and sportsmanship and moved them into his professional career, now as a Senior Financial Analyst working for Conagra Brands in Chicago.
The one constant Jarrod can't live without remains his football training. That's squats and bench press and leg press and everything he pushed so hard to make his mark in the game. He admits nothing will ever replace the thrill of running out with guys you trained hard with all summer through the tunnel and onto the field on college game day, but that doesn't mean he's easing up on the prep. In fact, Jarrod claims he's in better shape now that in his college playing days.
Can anything ever best running out onto the field behind a locomotive engine? Probably not. (photo credit: theblacksheeponline.com)
Jarrod never saw himself competing formally again, until a guy he met at physical therapy mentioned he might find a great fit in The D10. Jarrod already was highly active in Big Brothers and Big Sisters volunteering with youth, but the specific mission of The D10 and pediatric cancer research hit home with him. As with so many others in and around The D10 community, cancer had taken the life of his good friend. And he had other family members equally stricken before. This was personal.
"I always think about how I've lost friends and family to cancer. These are people who would be doing what I'm doing now if they were here. But they're not. So I run for those that can't run. And I jump for those that can't jump. That's always on my mind when I'm training."
Jarrod jumped on board immediately. As with all the football guys, he had to start adding track training to his "football workouts" to prepare for the race events in The D10. What he will say now about his 800M times are, "Not bad but definitely going to get better." Jarrod doesn't mean that with a prayer, he means that because he's added training on the track twice a week alongside real runners now. Hard work, not wishful thinking. Jarrod doesn't do wishful thinking.
The former Purdue fullback finds a more powerful motivation in his performance on behalf of kids suffering from cancer than he did for organized team sports. Like so many former college athletes now in The D10, Jarrod sees the elevated purpose of the mission, something more intense than school pride and personal achievement. On D10 Game Day, he utilizes this amazing charitable cause to push through his mind telling him to stop. If you've seen an athlete pull a 1:22.6 on the 500M Row like Jarrod did in 2018, you realize how much of these upper echelon scores are pure mental rigor.
Click to watch a clip of Jarrod Shaw's 2018 500M Row
Jarrod could compete individually but he prefers the camaraderie and collective effort encouragement of The D10 team. Jarrod will tell you that "he's all about friends". Even if you're not sure exactly what that means, you know he's the kind of guy you'd be lucky to have as a friend.
Jarrod notes that The D10 differs from college ball insomuch as in The D10 your opponents are high-fiving you and encouraging your best scores as opposed to when guys from Iowa and Ohio State were trying to break his legs and crush him into the ground with animal anger. Slight difference in on-field dynamics. A big difference in post-game icing.
Jarrod joined The D10 Chicago Board for the 2019 season. He's excited to be a part of the re-invigoration of the Chicago and Midwest market, knowing that there are tons of purpose-driven and athletically motivated professionals in the region who would embrace The D10 mission, they simply need to be told about it face to face.
With Jarrod's boundless energy and goodwill supporting this growth, Chicago is soon to earn its rightful place among the premier D10 events in the nation. Jarrod knows "success feels good". That's not a slogan, or a motivational speaker cliché it's the green light for hard work, sweat, and playing through the obstacles. Watch this man closely for inspiration. He won't shout it out from atop a stage, so just watch.
If you seek your own inspiration, you can donate directly to Jarrod Shaw's fundraise for pediatric cancer research through his competitor profile page. Every dollar donated goes directly to MSK Kids, the leading children's cancer research organization in the country.