Marques Ogden felt he did everything right after he retired from the NFL. The former offensive lineman lived on a budget, retired with plenty in the bank and started a multi-million dollar business after his playing days were finished.
Then things came to a screeching halt. In 2012, the construction company he started while still in the league ran into financial problems, in part he claims because of a partner company that wouldn’t pay. He tried to keep the company alive out of his pocket, but he lost $2 million in just a few weeks, eventually filing for personal bankruptcy.
Now, Ogden is using that experience to help people of all walks of life as an executive coach and keynote speaker. Following his bankruptcy, he was working as a janitor for $8 an hour when he realized he needed to make a change.
“If your past is your best days, you’re not doing anything in your present or future,” he said. “I started speaking to help athletes not end up the way I did because so many go through that, but eventually I saw many different people have those same issues – not just athletes.”
In his presentations, Ogden draws on his business education from college, success as a professional athlete, building – and losing – an eight-figure business in his late 20s and from a leadership certificate he secured from Penn State University.
Ogden secured his first paid speaking gig in April 2015 and has been building on that ever since. He now speaks 40 to 50 times a year to companies large and small, including J.P. Morgan, Siemens and Home Depot. As he built his speaking platform, he released a memoir called “Sleepless Nights,” which he said has only furthered his accreditation. He’ll have a second book, “The Success Cycle,” out in January 2020.
“‘Sleepless Nights’ was me telling people exactly what happened to me, not to feel sorry for me, but to learn from me. That was my big opening forum and it’s helped catapult me innate a better direction and onto bigger stages,” Ogden said. “‘The Success Cycle’ will detail the three main things you need to be a success.”
One of those success points is ambition, and Ogden has set his own heights far beyond where he’s been in the past,
“I’m going to continue to speak and coach and pour as much information into people as I can,” Ogden said. “I want to build up my platform through business ownership and equity stakes and help myself create.”
As he builds his personal brand and coaching network, Ogden said he uses three main forms of marketing. First is word-of-mouth referrals and in-person networking. He also is involved heavily in email newsletters. And now social media marketing, especially LinkedIn.
“It’s great because businesses are always on there trying to leverage an opportunity to create value,” he said.
On top of his corporate clients, Ogden said he still works extensively with athletes, including retired NFL players as well as current basketball, football and hockey players. He’s also intent on reaching young players. He didn’t speak at any camps this year, but the previous two years he spoke to rookies on the Buffalo Bills, one of his former teams.
As the director of player engagement for the Buffalo Bills, Marlon Kerner is always looking for speakers to relate to the team’s players. He said Ogden has a unique perspective because he did everything right, yet things still went wrong.
“He speaks about doing things right, taking care of your brand and being smart about what you post on social media, making sure you understand the things you’re getting into with money,” Kerner said. “He talks about starting a construction company and having no idea about what it entailed and how that hurt him.
“Beyond that, he’s a mentor. He’s not just giving great stories, but someone they can talk to outside football. Once he makes that bond, he’ll give it his all,” Kerner said.