From Athlete To Entrepreneur: NFL Pro Marques Ogden of Ogden Ventures On The 5 Work Ethic Lessons We Can Learn From Athletes


The Importance of Value: In New York City, at a big speaking job, I learned the importance of the law of value. Your true worth in business is derived from how much more you give in value than you take in payment! Once I learned that law, business got so, so much better.

As a part of our series about the work ethic lessons we can learn from professional athletes, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marques Ogden.

Marques Ogden is the founder and CEO of Ogden Ventures LLC. In 2003, he was drafted into the NFL as an offensive lineman, and after 5 years of playing in league, he decided to retire and pursue a career in construction and contracting. At the age 27, Marques founded a construction company called Kayden Premier Enterprises. The company had fast growth, but eventually went bankrupt, losing almost 2 million dollars on one project in a matter of 90 days.

During his darkest hours, he pulled himself together, got a part-time job as a custodian and with hard work and determination is now an inspirational keynote speaker, executive coach, best-selling author, podcast co-host (The Lev & Marques Show) and marketing leader, helping to build the success of others.

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Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Washington DC in a single-parent home raised by my father, Shirrel Phillip Ogden, and my older brother Jonathan Phillip Ogden. My dad was one of the first African American bank managers. He was a role model and provided a great childhood for my brother and me. We were raised to value education over sports, respect women and ourselves and always work hard for what we want.

Unfortunately, by the time I got to high school, my father had kidney failure and developed many health issues, so our family struggled to survive. My brother ended up getting drafted to the NFL, and that changed everything. After graduating high school, I attended Howard University and later went on to join my brother in the NFL.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high-level professional athlete?

My brother Jonathan was my inspiration to pursue a career in the NFL. He was the first draft pick for the Ravens in 1996 and played for the team until 2008. Jonathan was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and a nine-time All-Pro, winning the Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens in 2001. In 2013, he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was the first inductee to spend his entire playing career as a Raven. His success in the NFL inspired me to work hard and ultimately be an NFL player myself.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My father, without a doubt, was the person who encouraged me to be who I am today! During my junior year of high school, I almost quit football because I was mad that I wasn’t starting on offense. I remember my dad saying, “Marques, if you quit football today, you will regret it years later, but I’ll support you and love you whatever you do.” I decided to continue to play football, and it was the best decision I ever made…

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I remember getting my “clocked cleaned” my freshman year playing on the defensive line (DL) by a really good offensive line (OL). That taught me right then and there that being big was not enough. I had to get some skill to go with my size or I would never reach my maximum potential.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations?

Here are three mantras I live by:

  1. I am always moving and thinking with good energy and positivity
  2. I control my mental focus
  3. I believe I can and do deserve to succeed

These strategies help me get in the best mindset to perform at peak levels in high-stress situations.

Can you tell us the story of your transition from a professional athlete to a successful businessperson?

I learned to focus on what I was good at and my strengths, which has allowed me to get myself on track to be the successful individual I am today! My spoiled milk moment was when I was a janitor when someone’s trash and rotten meat got on my body, skin and clothes…that was the moment that made me take full accountability to get myself on track to where I am today as a businessperson!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting new projects you are working on now?

I am grateful to be working on many different and exciting new projects. My company Ogden Ventures, LLC is working on doing some online courses around mindset with one of our big partners. Additionally, I’m continuing to tap into new markets for my speaking engagements and booking really interesting guests as the co-host of The Lev & Marques Show.

Do you think your experience as a professional athlete gave you skills that make you a better entrepreneur? Can you give a story or example about what you mean?

Yes, absolutely. As a keynote speaker, I didn’t get a paid speaking job for the first 2.5 years. My ability to never give up as an athlete really helped me get through that very challenging time early in my speaking career.

Ok. Here is the main question of our interview. Entrepreneurs and professional athletes share a common “hustle culture”. Can you share your “5 Work Ethic Lessons That Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Athletes”? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. The Importance of Focus:

In my life, every time I was always focused on the task at hand, that is how I was able to succeed! That’s how I got my first paid speaking job in April 2016 with Miller-Motte College in Wilmington, NC.

2. The Importance of Accountability:

The minute I was accountable to myself, after my spoiled milk moment as a custodian, was the minute I got myself in the right mindset to be successful in my life as an entrepreneur.

3. The Importance of Responsibility:

I made a promise to my wife after I was fired from two jobs in the same week that I would take one day to mope, and then I would be responsible and get my life back on track in June 2013. Without being responsible to her and my family, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

4. The Importance of Value:

In New York City, at a big speaking job, I learned the importance of the law of value. Your true worth in business is derived from how much more you give in value than you take in payment! Once I learned that law, business got so, so much better.

5. The Importance of Authenticity:

At a big job in San Diego, I learned that the best gift we have to offer others is ourselves! And now I live by that law, and it’s helped our brand in every way you could imagine.

What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?

The two most important pieces of advice I would give are to be an active listener and never stop learning! The minute you stop learning, you start regressing. It’s essential to learn how to listen to understand vs. listening to respond. When you master active listening, it will help you become a better leader and achieve better success.

You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have worked hard to inspire others to take accountability in their lives and help others succeed where I failed. I’ve done that by sharing my story on stage as a speaker and giving them actionable advice to move their life forward.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Be kind to others. Being kind costs you nothing; being mean could cost you everything. You can always be your authentic self when you’re positive and kind, bringing out the best in people, which could inspire them to start their own movement.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“In times of extreme darkness, focus on the light!” — Aristotle

I love this quote because it inspires people to never give up!!! During times of darkness, I never gave up on myself and focused on the light, which is how I am where I am today.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

I would love to sit down with Robert Smith from Morehouse. He is such an inspiration, and he has done so much to help other people. His kindness is so inspiring and uplifting!!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!



Edward Sylvan, CEO of Sycamore Entertainment Group
Authority Magazine

Specializing in acquiring, producing and distributing films about equality, diversity and other thought provoking subjects