Early on a cold and wet Monday morning, John Cena took a break out his busy schedule to speak at SXSW, taking on the role of a multi-faceted motivational speaker rather than just a simple WWE superstar.
Hosted by Katie Nolan of Fox Sports, the talk lasted an hour, and touched on everything from Cena’s career with the WWE to his personal tools for success, such as giving back through charitable acts and the importance of taking on as much as possible.
Cena recalled how he packed up everything, moving from the New England area to Venice, California after his college graduation.
“I took a flight, landed with two army duffel bags and $500,” Cena said. “It wasn’t even a quest to become a WWE superstar, it was to prove my dad wrong.”
After finding success working at Gold’s Gym in Venice and receiving an opportunity to debut with WWE, Cena struggled to establish his on-screen character but took it as a learning opportunity if he ever had another chance.
“What a lot of young people don’t understand is that you have to be humble,” Cena said. “Be humble enough to know when you miss… know what it’s your fault.”
The days of Gold’s Gym far behind, Cena has since become the biggest name of his generation in the industry. However, instead of staying focused on one niche Cena has used his fame to explore everything he loves in entertainment, including talk shows, hosting and advertisement.
For Cena, nothing else he dabbles in compare to his participation with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Cena has completed over 500 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses. When he initially joined the WWE, Cena didn’t know of the organization or its mission, but after completing his first wish, he says he can’t get enough of it.
“I have so many thing I want to do in life,” Cena said. “But for kids in that situation to say that the one thing they really want to do is hang out with John Cena – that has weight to it.”
Ending his talk with advice on everything from social activism to regrets in his career and what gets under his skin, Cena left the audience not only surprised with his varied accomplishments, but motivated to make the most of every day.