Born without legs, Jen Bricker was put up for adoption by the very biological parents that most of us count on to love and support us. Yet, beginning at the age of 7 Jen began jumping on the trampoline. By 1998 she was competing and by 1999 she was dominating against fully able-bodied people like her hero and Olympic athlete Dominique Moceanu.
Website – http://jenbricker.com/
Instagram – @jenbricker
Book – Everything Is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams
Show Introduction –
Today’s guest was born without legs. Thus, one would think Jen Bricker would be destined for a life of hardship. However, the hand of destiny brought her an amazing adoptive family, who gave her one simple rule, “Never say can’t” and helped her forge a life of triumph, not tragedy. As a child, Jen was obsessed with gymnastics, and her idol was Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu. Seemingly against all odds, Jen went on to compete against able-bodied athletes and became a State Champion in power tumbling and in 2009 and she became a featured performer for Britney Spears’ Circus World Tour. Ms. Jen Bricker, I’m honored to have you on today’s show, how are you!?
Jen, in preparation for interviewing you I tried to watch every interview I could possibly find about you, and every interview just relentlessly blew my mind. If we could, I would like to start with your childhood and the mindset of “Never say can’t” that your adoptive parents raised you with?
Jen Bricker, do you remember when you first became interested in gymnastics?
When I was 6 or 7 years old watching tv, I decided “That’s what I want to do”
My favorite gymnast was Dominique
Jen, my understanding is that during high school you actually became the tumbling champion of the state of Illinois. Jen, how were you able to compete at such a high level without having legs?
Before high school, I was competing.
When I was competing, I was absolutely the first person without legs to perform without legs.
I never considered myself as a victim. When it comes to not having legs, people assume that I had a miserable life.
The environment I was raised in, not having legs was not an issue. The sports I wanted to play, I could do them. Not having legs was never a barrier for me.
Being a victim is a choice. It may not be easy but it is a choice. We can achieve our day to day goals. Every day we have to wake up and choose to smile and not let your emotions control you. I used to let my emotions control me and that is something I had to get away from. The more we are consumed with ourselves the more we are taken away from our purpose of serving other people.
My purpose has come through many different ways. God used me in a lot of unique ways.
Jen Bricker, I heard during your interview with Real Sports HBO that your one and only idol was Dominique Mo-Shee-On-Oo (Moceanu). What drew you to her and made you so captivated by her?
What inspired you to first write your book Everything Is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams?
I always knew I would write a book but I thought it would be way later in my life.
At that point in my life, I felt like it was the time to write the book.
My manager set me up with an incredible publisher and here we are!
I was traveling while writing the book so most of the correspondence with my writer was in an airplane.
The most challenging aspect was that my brain would get so tired of thinking. I would send my writer deep details and she would ask for more and more details. It is just mentally taxing.
Jen, for the listeners out there that are not familiar with your story, I would love for you to share the story of how you first learned the Dominique may have been more than just your idol and gymnastics hero?
In the 1996 Olympics, the US Gymnastics team won Gold. It was a big moment for our country and Dominique was a part of that team.
I related to her because I wanted to do what she did and the fact she looks so much like me.
When I was 16 years old, I found out that Dominique was my biological sister.
I was very excited and really wanted to meet her. Then I found out I have two sisters. That begun my four-year journey.
In 2007 I was successful in reaching out and I was finally successful in 2008.
I had a great childhood. I didn’t have a reason for being bitter about being adopted. I knew I was meant to be raised with my family. My family made sure that I never held any grudges with my biological family.
Jen Bricker, most people struggle with consistency and bringing a great work ethic every day. When did you first gain the rise and grind work ethic?
Jen, because The Thrivetime Show is primarily a business show for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, I would love for you to share about your life as an entrepreneur and what you do today to support yourself as a businesswoman?
Throughout your career, you’ve obviously encountered countless setbacks. What do you say to yourself or what’s going on in your head when something really bad or negative is happening to you?
We all have low points. Mine was at different times. I would become obsessed with body image and getting thin. Recovering from that time was probably the hardest part of my life. I’m not usually affected by peer pressure but at this moment I was. Thankfully I did come out of that time and I am much stronger because of it.
Throughout your career, what mentors have made the biggest impact on your career?
What has been the biggest adversity that you faced throughout your life and career and how did you get through it?
Jen, you and I share the same faith so I would love for you to a moment to share the life advice or encouragement that would share with someone who you were sitting down with one on one who has struggled to find their path in life and their purpose?
What is one thing you want to tell everyone?
Everyone has talents and a purpose. Everyone has an equal talent. You are special and you do have to power to change someone’s life. You just have to believe and no one is going to do that for you.
Jen Bricker, you come across as a very well-read person, what are 1 or 2 books that you would recommend that all of our listeners should read?
Crazy Love – Francis Chan
What do the first few hours of your day look like?
Pray and Read
Jen Bricker, I would love for you to share with the listeners out there about your vision for the next 12 months of your life and what projects you are currently working on?
Traveling the world
Website – http://jenbricker.com/
How does someone become a state champion? Power Tumbler for the state of Illinois without lakes? I said, without legs, freight kind of need. Those most people say to to tumble. Today’s guest has defied countless odds with a grace and a sense of divine appointment that I have never seen before. Born without legs. Jen bricker was put up for adoption by the very biological parents that most of us count on to love and support us. Yet God had a different plan for her, but kidding, at the age of seven, Gen began jumping on the trampoline with her adoptive parents that taught her just one rule. You can’t say I can’t. You can’t say I can’t. I can’t say the word. Can’t wait. Nineteen 98. Jen was competing, but by 1999 she was dominating and not just dominating in a physically disabled division, but dominating, against fully able bodied people like her hero and US Olympic athlete.
Dominique Moceanu. If you asked me who was your childhood idol, did you have several? Was there only one? My one and only idol was dominic Marciano. Ambitious and gracious. She didn’t break her, knew that she could do anything that she set her mind to, but she didn’t know that Dominic Marciano was her biological system. Thrive nation. If you’ve been searching for some New Year’s inspiration, today’s show is your ultimate destination is I interviewed the legless best selling off gymnast, an aerialist Gin, bricker. Some shows don’t need a celebrity and a writer to introduce the show. This show to math. Eight kids, Koch, created by two different women. Thirteen multimillion dollar businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the thrive time show. Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Thrive nation. On today’s show, we have a very special guest, Ms Jen bricker. How are you? I’m doing good. Jim. Your entire story is so odds defying in mind blowing, but I want to start off by asking you, when did it first occur to you that you wanted to become a gymnast? Man, early,
as I can remember, I kinda joke that I just came out a gymnast. I came out an athlete, you know, um, because I, I started beginner classes in first grade. So, I mean, I think the earliest memory I have was probably six or seven years old just seeing it on tv and I was like, yeah, I want to do that.
So six or seven years old. You’re watching TV. And was there a particular, a gymnast that you, you saw or was the team or was it a particular event or do you remember that at all of kind of what first got you interested in gymnastics?
Yeah. Um, so I think the interest was always there, like it just seems like I remember always being drawn to it and I loved watching it on tv and then after seeing it on TV and loving it, one of my favorite hymnal was dominique.
So you remember that video, I mean, was probably what, eight years old at this point. Seven years old. And you’re like, I love dominic.
Yep. Yep. About seven or eight.
Um, and then I know you’re aware of this, but a lot of our listeners are not, um, you went on to compete at a very high level in the state of Illinois. Did you not win some championships in high school?
I did actually before high school, I competed in power tumbling for four years and I won a state championship in my division and then I went also to junior Olympics, which is the next step above or I guess the ultimate step and got fourth place in my division all around, which was a pretty big deal for junior Olympics. Yeah.
Are you the only person to have competed at this level who does not have legs?
As far as I know, definitely when I was competing, yes, I was the first and the only to ever do that again, especially against able bodied athletes were, I mean, I guess even any other form of that, but uh, but definitely in the mainstream Aau and Usta divisions and um, I believe I still am, but uh, certainly when I was competing I was the first and the only. Yeah,
either get. If I ask any questions on today’s show that are offensive, I’ll, I’ll just pick up on the subtle cue when you hang up. So I just have some intense questions. I know someone wants to ask you. Okay. So here we go. Um, so many people have all of their limbs, arms, legs were blessed everyday with the gift of life. And so many people could become a victim and not a victim. You don’t. We can become a victim. We can say, I just ran out of time. I have carpal tunnel, I have a headache. I’m just not motivated. What made you not decide? What made you decide not to become a victim and to become a victor instead? What? What made you decide to do that? Because so many people given your circumstances, would just mail it in and become a victim.
No, I don’t. It wasn’t like I ever made some bold choice to overcome it. It was always, I mean, you know, it’s funny, I find myself having to explain this so much to people. Just the fact that I actually was always, I loved myself. Like I, I mean, aside from everybody growing up has insecurities about this or that and we all have low moments of course, and I had all of those, but when it comes to not having legs, I mean, it just wasn’t what people want to make it out to be. Right. Like you might be, oh my gosh, like what did you have such a terrible childhood? Oh, were you bullied? Oh, did you hate yourself? No, I didn’t. None of those things, you know, I mean, and, and that would be environment. It definitely started out with the environment that I was raised in.
So my parents, I mean it just wasn’t a thing. There was no thing of like, oh, this is our adopted daughter with no legs. No, this was our daughter. I mean like it just was not an issue. So I wasn’t an issue for me and everything. I wanted to do the sports, all of that, basketball, softball, volleyball, power, tumbling, all that stuff. I could do it. So it wasn’t some barriers and roadblocks, you know? And my parents said that God, you know, we all heard, you know, God doesn’t make mistakes. Things happen for a reason, but they said that, and then they backed up their words with their actions. They believed what they said, and that was powerful.
I would love for you to encourage somebody out there who previous to right now, so imagine that what you say has the potential. I know you believe that to really inspire somebody and interchange their life. So there’s somebody out there listening who maybe has some kind of disability, right? And they don’t have the mentality that you have for the previous two right now. You know, or maybe they didn’t, maybe they’re dyslexic, maybe they are overwhelmed, maybe they, whatever that is, right? They struggle with social situations. Could you help somebody? Could you kind of encourage the listeners out there that have been previously allowing themselves to be viewed as a victim and can encourage them to, uh, or you know, kind of help steer them into a victim mentality.
Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m really big on choices. I’m sure we’ve all heard someone asked, do you think happiness is a choice? And I certainly do. I did every day over and over and over again. Okay. So everyday choices can make and so being a victim is a choice. It didn’t happen to you. It’s your choice. So we can stop the victim card, we can stop the blaming everybody else card and you just have to take consequences for your actions. So it’s not, it’s not easy. It’s not some, you know, rainbow road, but it’s a choice and I think the more that we can, it’s like a muscle, right? So we can work that muscle and just day to day goals, you know, totally not overwhelming, just small chipping away every day. Are you going to wake up and choose to put a smile on your face and choose to not let your emotions, you know, basically control you.
And I was the biggest. I was so guilty of that before with and not in the victim mentality, but in other ways of just letting my emotions control me and that is such a lie. Try it out and see how it works for you and then tell me it will not end well, so putting emotions in their proper place and realizing that you have value, that you’re here for a purpose and the morning were consumed with ourselves and feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re taking away from the purpose that we have here on earth, which is for others, so really it’s, it’s very selfish to play that card and I think when we can start seeing it that way, it kind of snaps you out of it, which you up a little bit like, oh, and it’s empowering. Like, oh, that purpose I have like people rely on me. Yeah, totally. Everybody does. I believe that.
What is your purpose?
Well, I think for my purposes it’s come in many different ways through being an acrobat, through being an aerialist speaker. I’m a writer, my book, and so I think God used me in a lot of really unorthodox or very unique way than in definitely not having legs was one of the. I mean, I guess you could kind of say the core, the central part of all of it because it kind of makes everything else I just mentioned amped up about 50 levels, you know, so, uh, that was kind of a little point, you know, and it’s given me this very unique platform and, and I, you know, it’s a gift for me. So. And also it’s very liberating and a relief to know that it’s not all about me, that it’s real bad about me at all. It’s about what I’ve been given through gifts, talents, abilities, whatever, passions that through those very things, then I can touch and change others lives. And every single person has that ability.
I don’t expect you to do copious amounts of research on me, but I grew up without money. We didn’t have a lot of cash growing up. I stuttered as a kid, so I got mocked all the time on school buses. I couldn’t talk, you know, so kids love to pick on kids sometimes and you know, had that and had dealt with sexual abuse from a kid, a kid during school. And this is a lot of stuff that I’ve had to work through and that was so empowering for me to discover I can play the victim card, I can do that. I could tell people, look, I stuttered. That’s why I got made fun of. That’s why I’m on antisocial, you know, I don’t trust people today because of. And I could go on and on and on and sort of put myself into a little corner where I don’t talk to people.
I don’t do anything. I could justify, you know, being unsuccessful. And My, my partner and I, we built a 13 multimillion dollar companies together over the years. And in every time we go into an industry, people were like, what do you know about haircuts? And then we do it, you know, or what do you guys know about optometry? And then we do it, you know, it’s, I, I really, I really admire what you’ve done because the physical limitation, you know, what would have stopped so many people and it hasn’t stopped you. And I want to ask you, a lot of our listeners are business owners, so they’re not really super familiar with gymnastics and I know, I know a lot of people know your name, but they’re not really familiar with the, the full circle of how you discovered the relationship you had with your hero. Can you explain to the listeners out there, uh, the, your, your hero, Dominique, and when you discovered there was more to that relationship than, than just her being your, you’re the hero that you watched on tv?
Yeah. So in the 1996 Olympics, that was a, actually the last time the Olympics were in the u, s in Atlanta. And that was the year that the US women’s gymnastics team won gold in a nose. It will tag the magnificent seven and you know, it was just really a big, a big moment for our country, for gymnastics certainly. And Dominic was, Yana was part of that team and, and I always liked her and I actually, you know, I think I was drawn to her the most because we look so much alike and being adopted and having like super dark hair and dark skin and dark guide your whole life growing up in the middle of nowhere, nobody looks like
I love. I love her. She’s so beautiful. She is beautiful.
I just thought, oh my gosh, we look so much alike. And I knew that my biological family was from Romania, from the adoption papers and so I also knew dominique was remaining and even though she was on the USC so fast forward to almost 16 years old then I found out. So I’m making a long story short, but it found out that Dominique was actually my biological sister, which is crazy.
Right. How long did it take you to get over that? And when you discovered that, I mean, where you going? I mean, did you, was it, you remember it? You remember Darth, darth vader when he told Luke, he says, Luke, I am your father. And he’s like, no, no, I mean, did you, did you have that darth vader moment? Was it exciting? Did you, what, what did you do with the emotions? I just want to hear about how’d you handle that?
Yeah, it was crazy. I mean obviously, right? So I was excited. I was like shocked. I mean all the emotions outside and I, but, but ultimately it’s. But at the end of that I was excited and really wanted to, um, meet, meet my sister in. And then I found out I had two sisters actually. So I’m wanting to meet my sisters and let them know that I existed. So that started a four year journey and have several failed attempts. And then by the end of 2007 I was successful in my attempts in reaching out. And we all three met for the very first time in May of 2008.
I’m meeting the sisters for the first time. That had to be surreal. That had to be awesome. That had to be so many things. And the thing that has blown me away about you the most is the grace with which you have handled being put up for adoption and you’ve actually, I believe, set up, I watched a bunch of interviews so maybe I’m paraphrasing and if I’m, if I’m saying something incorrectly, please correct me. But it seemed as though you are actually thankful that you were raised the way that you were raised and not at all bitter about it. Can you talk about that?
Yeah, I mean it’s kind of one of the things I had a great childhood and so I don’t understand why I should be bitter or mad about being put up for adoption. You know, it just doesn’t make any sense. And also it’s not going to change anything. And I know that it was supposed to work out that way. You know, I, I know that I was meant to be raised with my family 100 percent meant to be. And you know, I didn’t. My parents made sure that I didn’t hold any grudges toward my biological parents because they just said, well, you know, you didn’t walk in their shoes. You don’t really know what was going on at that time, you know, the from a different country, a different mindset and ultimately we pray for you. You were into prayer and this is where you were supposed to be. I mean, and again, it was pretty matter of fact, but you could tell that they believed it may just be just what it was. And so I believed it, but then as I got older, I just really saw that to be true.
Your work ethic is, is legendary and, and you, you focused your, your work ethic onto a new task a few years back to write your book. Everything is possible. Finding the faith and courage to follow your dreams. Um, what, what, what first inspired you to write this book? What did the, what did, what did the process of actually writing the book look like?
You know, I always knew I read a book, but I thought it was going to be way later in my life. And so, um, I just knew, I knew in my heart that before the book was a book, uh, that it was time to start focusing the book. I just knew, I just felt. And so a manager got me a literary agent and then we interviewed riders that wanted to work with me and then we had an incredible publishing company and then first the book, right? And so, um, it was a really awesome process. And then at first it was overwhelming, you know, a little intimidating like, whoa, they just bought this to make the book and now what do I do? I have anything to say, which is such a stupid thing to say, of course, as so much to say, but, you know, it was just a bit of an overwhelming task and I was traveling as usual, like a maniac all over the world. So most of it was done my correspondence with my writer in airplanes and airports because that’s where I was. So it’s just crazy. Um, and now we are in 10 languages all around the world. And the book was also a New York Times best seller. So
who is your, who is your agent that helped you?
My literary agent was a, his name is frank and he lives in New York, works for a folio lit.
The reason I asked is we have so many bestselling authors that listened to our show when we were writing the book. What was the most challenging aspect of, of writing the book?
Well said. First it was intimidating. So mentally there was that and then it was. I just remember not believing how tired your brain could actually be from thinking, you know, my writer, I would write her these deep in depth. So I thought memories of the story, you know, and all these details. And then she would email me back with even more questions of what I told her. Okay, so what did it smell like? What were you thinking? What did the room look like? And I’m like, oh my gosh, my brain hurts. Yeah, I would say that was, it was just mentally taxing
the listeners out there wanting to know about point. What are you doing now? How do you derive an income now? What do you, what do you do? Do you speaking or writing books, do you do all of the above? Are you performing? The listeners are just very curious to know more about you
traveling the world and doing aerial performing as well and book signings of course typically at at all of those events, so sometimes companies will hire me as a keynote and then I’ll do a book signing and slash or also they could have me do an aerial performance and a keynote and do book signing, which that’s my favorite because I get to combine everything that I love and then I really am passionate about Brianna’s and in one place which I. to me that’s the slam dunk home run. I get to literally put my money where my mouth is too.
So for the listeners out there that would like to book you for an event or for a performance, for a speech or all the above, what’s the best way for them to reach out to your team and maybe inquire about booking you?
Yeah, a Dez, just jen bricker.com. And you go to the contact info and email goes right to my manager. So it’s pretty simple again, bricker.com.
Now throughout your career you’ve obviously encountered many setbacks, but what is one where you look back and you say that was the low point or do you even have a low point? Did you have a low point?
Oh yeah. I mean of course we all have low point. I would say it was different times. I mean one not really connected to my career, but just the low point of, of kind of becoming obsessed with body image and being thin and then getting too thin because I can all that hard work ethic into the wrong direction and then having to recover. Coming out of that, that was probably the lowest point in my life as an adult was once I moved to La, already been in the entertainment industry for several years and you know, I’ve never been a person affected by peer pressure or not. I’m the last person that I would ever think would be affected by media and magazines and all that. And yet I was, you know, and I was just obsessed with being skinnier and skinnier and skinnier. And then I got skinnier and Skinnier, and then that recovery time of just coming out of it and hearing emotionally and allowing my body to reside in a place that was still very sick, was not as sin. And that just, that was so hard to come out. And, and thankfully I did eventually. And am definitely much stronger now because of it.
I have two final questions for us. I know our listeners are dying to know the answer to your, uh, you’re obviously a, you are a very outspoken Christian. Um, and I know the Bible’s a big book for you that you believe in. You read consistently. I know that matters to you. So I would say in addition to the Bible, what is one book that has really made a big impact on your life? Or maybe a couple of books?
First Book that comes to my mind which actually mentioned in my book is crazy love by Francis Chan and that I read that book in 2010 when I lived in Florida right before I moved. And it really woke me up and really changed my life. And the first time I’d heard the term of being a lukewarm Christian and he really just, I love that he doesn’t sugar coat stuff and it kind of woke me up as to what really living as a believer looks like, not just talking about it. And we went through, actually there were videos attached. Each chapter in my small group, in my old church. We went through that and I just, yeah, I mean I was like, what, 22, 23. And it really I think, shifted my relationship with God. You a much different place.
You are very intentional purpose, a person, a very purposeful person. And in every time we interview people, whether it be, you know, the big John Maxwell names or the know we were going to interviewing the founder of Priceline, now he’s just big super successful people. And whether it’s nfl athletes, everybody seems to have the most successful people seem to be the most purposeful with how they plan out their day. How do you spend the first four hours of every day?
Uh, the first four hours I wake up, have green tea and usually half a grapefruit. I pray and I read the word, that’s the first two hours and then I would say the next two hours would be, um, my skincare regime taking care of it and then going to the gym and working out.
Okay. So you have, but you have a schedule typed out or planned out. I mean, it’s not random for you.
Well, it’s, it can be. It changes daily because, well, number one, I traveled all the time to different countries, different time zones, different states, whatever. So there’s definitely a level of flexibility that I have and um, and even daily sometimes I work at a different time because I don’t have a normal nine to five job, but the consistency is what is important. So as long as to me, I’m huge, huge on consistency in every aspect of your life. And so, um, even if I only do 30 or 40 minutes of a workout, as long as I’m doing it five days a week, that’s, that’s really all that matters. And I’m sleeping right and I’m drinking a lot of water, you know, and it’s, it’s a whole lifestyle and the choice again, choice.
I, I love your purposefulness. I love your intentionality. You got the final take. Hear a word of encouragement to the audience, a message you want to share. We have, you know, close to 500,000 listeners each and every month to this show. What is the one thing, if you could just get the billboard, say anything to the audience? You have the mic and my friend.
Yeah, sure. I would just like you reminder or tell everybody that you know, everybody has gifts, talents, and purposes that are specific to who you are and they are of equal value. No one gifts or talents are more important than anybody else’s, and every single person, whether you think you were special or not, you are special. You do bring something to the table and you had the power to touch and change someone’s life. It’s not just for certain select few people who are deemed motivational or inspirational. Every single person has that within them, but you have to believe and no one’s going to do that for you. So that’s a choice that you have to make for yourself, but no, you are valuable and you matter as much as anybody else’s.
Jen bricker, my daughters are going to absolutely love this show and they are going to listen to it until their little heads explode. Thank you so much. On behalf of the Clark family and all of our gymnastics flipping cheerleading daughters, we appreciate Angelina lay a scarlet. They are big fans of yours. Thank you so much for giving us your time.
Oh, thank you so much. I had a good time.
Thrive nation. I would encourage you to get a sheet of paper right now while you’re still marinating on what you just heard it make a list of all the excuses that you’ve been making for yourself during the past 12 months. Make a list of them. Maybe you have a hard time reading. Maybe you’re not an early person. Maybe you struggle with fear. Maybe you struggle with doubt. Maybe you write down whatever that excuses and then I want you to set that piece of paper on fire and know that you do have the desire and the passion that is required to become super successful. Dot bricker can do it and I know that you can too. And now without further ado, cool.
If you enjoyed today’s show, share it with a friend on spotify, itunes, Iheartradio, or just send them a link to the thrive time. Show or subscribe and leave us a review on itunes and insidious, a screenshot of the review that you left to in[email protected], and we’d be happy to give you free tickets to our next in person. Thrive time show workshop. The only cost that you will pay it all is $37 and that includes the workbook and food served during both days were serving food from an leds. It’s a coal fired pizzeria and Los Cabos, a wonderful Mexican restaurant, right? They’re located on the Jinx riverwalk near our 20,000 square foot thrive time show world headquarters, and I’ll see you tomorrow.