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Former Sevens Athlete and champion for the high-performance sports sector


DJ Forbes is born and raised in West Auckland, half Kiwi and half Samoan and happily married to his wife Lisa with their two kids, Titus (13) and Sarai (10).

DJ has played sport most of his life and was fortunate to have a career chasing a ball around for a living. He captained the All Blacks Sevens team for almost a decade between 2006 – 2017, playing in 89 tournaments (512 games) scoring 153 tries, winning Commonwealth Gold in Delhi 2010, World Cup Gold in Russia 2013, Commonwealth Silver in Glasgow 2014 and then finishing 5th at the Rio Olympics 2016.

DJ was named International Sevens Player of the Year in 2008 as well as NZ Samoan Sportsperson and New Zealand Sevens player of the Year in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2017. He also played provincial rugby for King Country 2003, Auckland 2007 and Counties Manukau 2008 - 2012.

Upon retiring, DJ started his own satellite coaching academy, teaching Sevens overseas and then was appointed the Athlete Engagement Manager for the New Zealand Olympic Committee 2019 - 2023.

In 2023, DJ was appointed the GM for a newly created organisation called the Athlete Leaders Network, which was established to help strengthen Athlete Voice and uplift its mana across the high-performance sport sector.

During the back end of his career, he also managed to complete his Bachelor of Applied Management and then went on to complete his Master of Professional Practice which was focused on the Athlete - Coach relationship.

As a speaker, DJ’s topics include success, leadership, purpose, mindset and culture. In his engaging sessions, DJ shares the key frameworks he has researched and used throughout his career to help audiences thrive!

Talking Points

Success - What does it look like?

Success can be seen in many forms and attributed to many things. Through sport and playing for the All Blacks Seven team, DJ slowly developed his own attributes that helped him stay on top of his game but also gave him a framework to keep him aligned and to use as a check list to ensure he was doing what needed to be done to achieve his goals.

Through different engagement, DJ discovered that using acronyms make messages more memorable and if you have a good analogy people can relate easier and make it feel more real and achievable.

The acronym he uses is PADS and the analogy is a boxer and the focus PADS boxers have to hit daily as per their training in order to be ready for the big fight (goal ahead).
DJ’s focus PADS for success are = Passion, Attitude, Discipline and Sacrifice.

In this session, DJ will walk the audience through these attributes and what it looks like in his world, then, how the audience can use this to help with their goals ahead.

Leadership/Culture - BRAVE

Based on the All Blacks Sevens environment that DJ was in for so long, he found strategies to link all the different aspects of Culture/Leadership into a framework that fits his needs. The BRAVE framework speaks about: Behaviour, Relatable, Adaptability, Values, Environment.

In these interactive sessions, DJ will engage different groups to go through each word and discuss what that looks like for them. He will use examples of time spent with the All Blacks Seven team, NZ Olympic Committee and pinnacle events during a pandemic to show real examples of what being BRAVE looked like for him to help the audience establish areas they can develop, identify and get better in.

This session is aimed at using BRAVE for when it comes to Culture/Leadership, what to look for when you're leading or what to look for from your leaders.

Let's be CLEAR - Athlete to Coach, Employee to Employer

This session is based on research DJ completed when studying, but also because of a disappointing campaign at the Olympics where he saw a gap in the Coach to Athlete relationship. This spurred him on post-Olympics to dive a little deeper into what makes a good coach and what attributes athletes are looking for in coaches.

DJ uses that research and lived understanding to relate the Coach-Athlete to employer and employee relationships. DJ will link his talk to findings in his research and share examples (qualitative and quantitative) to gain a better understanding of how to connect across any organisation and understand what people are expecting.

The acronym CLEAR is a coaching/leaders framework that he created through his own research and over time has kept evolving to suit the current world we live in. Communication, Leadership behaviours, AQ - Adaptability, EQ - Emotional Intelligence and Relatable are the key elements DJ will talk about to help people understand gaps and areas to improve on.
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