Jim Tunney

Known as the "Dean of NFL Referees"; Inspiring and Motivating Author & Speaker

Fee Range?: $7,500 - $10,000
Traveling From: California

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Known as “The Dean of NFL Referees” Dr. Jim Tunney is an accomplished speaker having won The Cavett Award, the “Oscar” of professional speaking. It is presented annually to the professional speaker whose career has earned » Read Full Bio

Known as “The Dean of NFL Referees” Dr. Jim Tunney is an accomplished speaker having won The Cavett Award, the “Oscar” of professional speaking. It is presented annually to the professional speaker whose career has earned “outstanding credit, respect, honor and admiration in the National Speakers Association and the speaking profession.”

A past president of the National Speakers Association, he is a charter member of its most prestigious group — the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame — and holds every professional designation of the NSA.

He has worked with major corporations and associations all over the world to build teams, set effective goals, and increase productivity.

Regarded as the “Dean of NFL Referees”, Jim’s 31-year NFL career has earned him a nomination to the Pro Football (NFL) Hall of Fame.

Jim is also an author of such books as Impartial Judgment, Chicken Soup for the Sports Fan’s Soul, and It’s the Will Not the Skill. He has written numerous articles including his weekly newspaper column The Tunney Side of Sports, and shares thoughts on his blog.

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Media files by Jim Tunney

  • Jim Tunney: Media File 1

Speaker Programs (Click on each program to view the description)

Customer Care
Customer service isn't enough anymore. The times have changed. The customers have changed. The minimum goal now is customer care. The drive for quality started it. As customers' dollars shrank during the recession, customers started asking a lot more questions. They would stand there reading the fine print on warranties. They would come back at you with blunt questions about financing plans. They might buy, but they couldn't be sold, at least not as readily. Selling in this environment requires more than just knowing your product, and believing in it and your services enough to project yourself with confidence. Selling has become customer-centered, not product-centered. The minimum goal is, clearly, Exceed the Customer's Expectation Every Time. Twenty-seven percent of American companies already use some measure of customer satisfaction in their sales-incentive programs. Another twenty-three percent are weighing which measure to add. At some companies, as much as forty percent of the salespeople's commissions are determined by assessment of customer satisfaction. Some companies are becoming as blunt as the customers became: They ask their major customers to grade their account reps from "A" to "F" Reps expecting an "A" had better reach out with the goal of customer care. Clearly, no longer is the question simply: Did you make the sale? The more telling question is: Will we have this customer next time? Here's the key thing: Customers don't care how much you know about your product until they know how much you care about them.
Leadership is more about responsibility than ability. Honesty, creating a positive climate, and trusting people are the important character traits of a leader. All too often, unfortunately, people with those strengths lack the courage or initiative to "step up." Courage is a learned trait either from example (parent, teacher) or from experience. A leader must not be afraid to fail. The measure of a leader is not that he/she might fail, but how that person bounces back! Initiative is also a learned trait, either by example or role model or an intrinsic willingness to help others. As a kid, I wanted to be a coach. My role model was my father. And while he never pushed me to follow my goal, what he did by his actions showed me the positive and rewarding side of leadership. It has become a life-long project: first as a sports coach, next a school principal and district superintendent, as well as an NFL referee. In fact, one mentor created for me the title: "The man in-charge." Finally, leadership is not easy. Remind me to tell you the story about "the squirrel."
The Power of the WILL
When thinking about how to correct self-defeating patterns, it helps to ask yourself: "What would I think of the choices I have been making if a teenager I loved were making the same ones?" We don't allow our children to adopt habits that are damaging to themselves or others. All too often, though, we are more lenient with ourselves than we would be with our children. Perhaps this is because we have the mistaken idea that self-defeat is a victimless crime. One lesson we learn from football is that the more self-discipline you apply to yourself, the better you will be and the better off those around you (crew mates, teammates, etc.) will be. That interaction works in life as well.
T.E.A.M Building
My responsibilities over a 30+ year period as a teacher-coach-high school principal and District Superintendent created a fundamental belief that if a decision affects others in the process, it is wise to involve each of them in the process of the decision. Further, as a National Football League Referee for over a 30+ year tenure, my approach to making our crew (T.E.A.M.) the best it could be was by building chemistry among the crew. I was also privileged to be on the field to observe the T.E.A.M. building philosophies of legendary NFL Coaches Don Shula, John Madden, Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Chuck Noll, as well as many others.
To sustain top performance, we must develop and maintain balance in our lives; between work and play, between the fiscal and the physical, between duty to others and duty to ourselves. In today's fragmented and pressured pace, achieving wellness; the combined condition of your physical and mental health, is often an early casualty of too many options. It takes a smart, even artful, integration of lifestyle and workstyle to create a balanced life, one that is smoothly conducted with vigor, intelligence, and individuality.


  • Sports
  • Teamwork/Team Building
  • Wellness
  • Youth & Education Speakers


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