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A path to perspective: J.R. Martinez is the perfect addition to the OPTIMA22 speaker lineup

What does talent optimization look like in 2022? 

It’s about resiliency, as always, as well aligning your people and business strategies. But it’s also about perspective. In a world that remains unnervingly unpredictable, talent optimized organizations are future-proofing themselves. To be agile is to be prepared. You need perspective as much as foresight. 

Not many people embody that perspective better than J.R. Martinez, the latest name added to the keynote lineup for OPTIMA22, the premiere talent optimization event. 

How J.R. Martinez inspires everyday heroes

You might know J.R. from All My Children, the ABC daytime drama on which he played Brot Monroe, an Army combat veteran navigating civilian life. The show stopped airing in 2011, but for J.R., the challenges of reintegration remained very real.

Martinez was deployed to Iraq in March 2003 and, a month into his tour, hit a roadside bomb while driving a Humvee in Kabala. His fellow soldiers were ejected from the vehicle upon detonation, but J.R. remained trapped inside. He suffered smoke inhalation and severe burns to more than one third of his body. But he survived, enduring 34 different surgeries and nearly three years in recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. And he wears the scars to this day. 

He went on to not only survive, but thrive. He’s an actor, a New York Times best-selling author, and the Season 13 champion of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. He’s also a public speaker whose story inspires millions of people around the world—service members and civilians alike. 

His message is simple, yet transcendent: Your path in life is dictated by your own ability to adapt and overcome. Adversity is inevitable, but that doesn’t make it insurmountable. 

Practicing gratitude this holiday season, and every season

J.R.’s best-selling book is titled Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit. It’s a memoir that captures his own story of tragedy-turned-inspiration for others. 

Spirit is a commonly resonant theme around the holidays, but survival and strength are equally palatable. Part of J.R.’s message is about finding your inner strength, and giving yourself credit for what you’ve survived. 

Maybe you haven’t been to war, or survived a horrific accident. But by now, we’re all witnesses of unprecedented, unending adversity. We can—and should—be proud of what we’re still doing. And we can be grateful for who we’re doing it with.

When J.R. takes the stage live at OPTIMA22, we’ll be well beyond the holiday season. But you can bet those messages will still ring loud and true. And for the businesses and people who run them, keeping J.R. Martinez’s story in their hearts will help keep the proper perspective in mind.

Talent optimization is a journey. Few people know how to appreciate a journey like J.R. The work never ends, and we’re all striving to overcome new obstacles, every day.

Don’t miss out on this incredible keynote speaker. OPTIMA22 runs April 12–14, 2022, at the Sheraton in Downtown Boston. Get your tickets now by heading to optimaconference.com.


Andy is a content writer and editor at PI. He's an unashamed map geek, hoops enthusiast, and Goldfish cracker aficionado.

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