CEO talks business and teamwork with Forbes : When The Game Stands Tall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By : Carmine Gallo 

In 12 seasons the De La Salle Spartans amassed one of the greatest winning streaks in sports history—151 consecutive games. The story of the streak under coach Bob Ladouceur is now a major motion picture based on the book, When The Game Stands Tall. But as I discovered in conversations with the book’s author as well as former players, the story behind the streak holds the secret for building and leading a winning team that will take your business to the next level.

“I spent a year with ‘Coach Lad’ and I never heard him use the word win,” author Neil Hayes told me. “I really don’t think you can win 151 games in a row if you’re trying to win.”

The story of Coach Lad and the Concord, California, De La Salle Spartans is one of the greatest leadership stories ever told because it gets to the heart of building a winning team in sports and in business. Here are three valuable team-building lessons based on the longest winning streak in sports history.

Wins are the result of a bigger mission. A great coach knows how to execute game winning plays, but inspiration is often about the intangibles beyond X’s and O’s. “De La Salle doesn’t win because of anything Bob Ladouceur does. They win because of who he is,” says Hayes.

Coach Lad stands for something bigger than winning games; he stands for commitment, accountability, and pushing the bounds of human achievement. “As a coach you can know who to block and what play to call, but it has no meaning unless the kids know who you are,” says Ladouceur. “Our kids aren’t fighting for wins. They’re fighting for a belief in what we stand for.”

Neil Hayes told me about the moment he realized that Coach Lad’s story had to be told. It happened during halftime of a game when his team played poorly. The coach walked into the locker room and his team “looked at their coach, begging for wisdom, his guidance.” Lad didn’t give them a traditional pep talk. Instead he said, “Why do I always have to be the problem solver? Group problem-solving is a skill you will use your whole life. Figure it out.” And with that the most successful high school football coach in history walked out, leaving the players to come up with their own solution. This example is very consistent with Coach Lad’s bigger mission to use football as a tool to teach life lessons.

“The game by itself doesn’t stand tall,” Lad told author Neil Hayes. “The violence isn’t what attracts me to it. It’s getting kids to play together and to get along with each other. The game should be a teaching tool. It doesn’t stand tall on its own.”

Former Spartan player Scott Hugo was the team’s co-captain in the 2004 season. Hugo studied at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship and is attending Harvard law school. “Coach Lad always viewed the sport of football as a training ground for life,” Hugo told me. “Victories were the byproduct of the program’s emphasis on the development of young men. Coach Lad’s secret, in my opinion, is that he built a coaching staff and a program that instills values like commitment, character, love, respect, and discipline into its players.”

Your actions had better back your words. Neil Hayes or players like Hugo would have labeled the coach as insincere had they not seen him back his words with small actions every day. “Coach Lad is a successful leader because he cares about the players and seeks to bring out the best in us. That is why he earns such lifelong loyalty and admiration,” says Hugo.

When Hayes first appeared on campus to write about the program, he noticed that very few trophies or visible reminders of the streak adorned the campus. Hayes had a brief meeting with Lad and his assistant, Terry Eidson, as the two were cleaning up the coach’s office at the end of a season. Hayes was shocked at the mementos they threw in a dumpster. “I remember seeing a deflated coach of the year football. They laughed, and tossed it in the dumpster without a moment’s hesitation. It struck me because those things weren’t important. The things that motivate a lot of other people in sports didn’t motivate them.”

During one team meeting Hayes heard Coach Lad tell the players, “I’m focused one hundred percent on you guys as a team. I want you to become what you’re capable of becoming. It has nothing to do with wins.” Every word, every action supported Coach Lad’s bigger mission to develop the players’ discipline, character, and dedication to the team’s success.

Hold each other accountable for the goals you set. Coach Lad used a stunningly effective motivational technique he called “commitment cards.” Each week Coach Lad gave every player a white index card to write down a practice goal, a game goal, and a conditioning goal. The players would stand up at the weekly meeting, announce the goal and, most important, to whom they were pledging their commitment. It was the other player’s job to stand up the next week and tell the team if the player had accomplished his goals. “It was so powerful, it was spine-tingling,” remembers Hayes.

Former Spartan Cam Colvin had lost both of his parents by his junior season. He went on to play for The University of Oregon and the 49ers before being sidelined with injuries. Today he’s a successful real estate developer who recalls the impact of commitment cards. “It was an amazing bonding opportunity. For example, I’d commit to you that I would catch 100 balls after practice, 5 game-day catches, 2 touchdowns, and no missed blocks. It was our way of setting goals for the week and to getting them done. It made us closer. We policed ourselves.”

According to Scott Hugo, who still speaks in the present tense, “The team always comes first, and part of being a Spartan is proving to your teammates and your coaches that you can be depended on. That’s why we fight so hard for one another, why we commit everything we have to our preparation, so we can be counted on.”

Movie producer David Zelon was not attracted to the movie rights because of the winning streak alone. He only committed once he learned what had happened after the streak ended. Coach Lad had suffered a heart attack and one of their star players—Terrance Kelly—was shot and killed near his Richmond home. The streak ended in the first game of the season. The story of how the players fought their way back as a team gave Zelon the dramatic narrative he was seeking, and the deeper message he intended to share.

“There was clearly something very special and miraculous going on with this guy Bob Ladouceur,” says Zelon. “It wasn’t so much his wins, which were remarkable of course, that got to me. It was the ability he had to get these kids to commit to each other so strongly, even when things looked like they were going south, that was so powerful.”

 

Brotherhood, Business and Football: How a fraternal experience can help your business.

football

Brotherhood, Business and Football: How a fraternal experience can help your business.

With the NFL opening Training Camps this past week, the big news across the league didn’t come from a player, coach or general manager but rather from Denver Bronco’s team owner, Pat Bowlen, who is stepping down from his position due to Alzheimer’s. While Mr. Bowlen is most known for his success as owner of the Bronco’s, having seen the team go to the Super Bowl 6 times in his 30 years of ownership, he has also achieved great results in the fields of Law, Mining, Oil and in Real Estate Development. To reach such heights in so many fields requires organizations with solid structure, clear goals and beliefs, all things a young man learns in joining a fraternity such as Mr. Bowlen did when he joined Pi Kappa Alpha when he attended Oklahoma University. This is the same fraternity that Cameron Colvin and myself were members of while we students at the University of Oregon.

It was natural for me to become a Pike; I was a 3rd generation legacy following my Grandfather and Uncle. For Cam however, it was something different entirely that moved him to pledge and join a fraternity. When he made the decision to join he said something profound to me, “Twenty years from now I don’t want to look back at my time in college and have only known guys on the football team.” A common expression is to compare fraternities to nothing more than a “Good Ole Boy’s Club,” in some way inferring that having a diverse array of friends is a negative thing for a young person. This misconception is easily remedied when one looks at it as any other organization. Within every group is a hierarchy that is established in order to achieve a set of goals under a specific ethos.
Recruitment is often said to be the “lifeblood” of any good fraternity and it is no different for a high-performance business. Great organizations are able to attract the best candidates and we find that Mr. Bowlen’s Bronco’s understand this as the last two years have seen them bring in some of the best players at their respective positions in the NFL. From QB Peyton Manning, Defensive End DeMarcus Ware to hard-hitting Safety TJ Ward, the Denver Bronco’s have been recruiting and signing some of the most elite players available in order to get back and win another Super Bowl. A skilled recruiter typically excels when they enter a Sales job as well, because they’ve learned how to listen to a persons respective wants and needs in addition to dealing with rejection. You won’t be able to recruit every person you want or close every sale and knowing how to handle that loss is vital to future growth and success.

A premier fraternity or organization is one that has its finances and events paid for and planned out. While the fraternity Treasurer is unlikely to handle anything more than tens of thousands of dollars during his span, it is the ideal experience for any future Accountant or finance-based career where you might find yourself responsible for the well-being of a billion dollar business some day. “Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance,” is a common phrase used by organizations and it drives home the importance of attention to detail. While Cam was busy starring on the football team during the Fall, the rest of the Pikes gathered outside Autzen Stadium at our tailgate

Rise Above Blog : Eric Goss

Joining forces with EWT MANAGEMENT

cache_4431702

EWT MANAGEMENT (Mining Gold, Oil, and Jet Fuel) is a Global Trade Consulting Group focused on helping REAL Buyers meet REAL Sellers. We has an extensive network spanned across many industries and companies all over the world.

Over the years, we earned a reputation for excellence in the field of these specialized consulting services. We conduct honest and transparent business. When working with us on a transaction, you will never have an un answered question, and we take pride in that.

Inking exclusive partnership with EWT Management. Both Companies, hit the ground running as a team effort in mid-2013 and are currently over-seeing the funding process for over $337,000,000 (in total valuation) of projects.

Rise Above approaches launch of major project

Nearing a two year development phase that could extend, the pieces to a major puzzle have all magically assembled. Staff meetings, Presentations and numerous revision have been the key to project development for Rise Above Enterprise.

A group of savvy vetrans and a few rookies have taken on a task that will surely be market changing and one of the the first on american soil. Joining forces with Cawley architects of Scottsdale AZ, the world will see a grand experience come to life very soon!

CEO joins elite panel at Nike World

Rising Above Adversity Like A Champion

When Cameron asked me to attend a private screening of “When the Game Stands Tall” at the Nike Headquarters during The Opening with him I was elated. That it was an opportunity to catch an early release of a football movie was reason enough to be excited; except this was a film about his time as a De La Salle Spartan and included the triumphs and tragedies of his foundational years and we’d also be joined by his esteemed coach Bob Ladouceur and the film’s Producer and Co-Writer, David Zelon. The setting for the evening was primed for football, even if we were inside the Tiger Woods building. Joining us that night were 162 of the nations best football recruits in addition to an A-list of football greats including recent NFL Hall of Fame inductee Aeneas Williams, Super Bowl champion Willie McGinest to Pro-Bowl Safety Jairus Byrd and former Oregon Duck Garren Strong. This was a crowd that lives and breathes football and when the final game was played and the film was over, the audience was joyous in their cheers but not just because they had won the state title but because for them, the game did stand tall.

Unfortunately in order for that final triumph to happen, everyone on the team, from the coaches to the players had to endure their own set of tragedies. The first begins with Coach Lad suffering a heart attack, which forces him to step-away from his role as coach until he is in better condition. His son Danny, who is preparing for his senior year of football, is distraught by his father’s absence and soon begins dropping passes in practice as he loses focus. The next is Cameron, whose mother Veronica is hospitalized and soon passes, leaving him without either of his parents. While the film depicts the loss of Cam’s mother as occurring during his senior year, (it had in truth occurred two years prior) the stoic portrayal of his response to the adversity is due to the lessons he learned from his mother and from Coach Lad. With so much unseen personal tragedy, some of the players in the film begin to question the selflessness of the Spartan program and think more about themselves with bad luck finding good people. Cam himself begins to have his own questions until T.K. and Coach Lad help him regain his fortitude. If only the next loss to face the program would be the one they would eventually have in Seattle against the Bellevue Wolverines the story and real life account would have been just as remarkable.

It is a testament to the character of Terrance “T.K.” Kelly that his death 10 years ago still reverberates not just throughout the Bay Area but now to the entire world on the big-screen. That T.K., Cam, Jackie Bates and Willie Glasper were all set to leave for fall practices at the University of Oregon in two days only seems to be an especially cruel fate to an already sad ending. Over 3,500 people would attend T.K.’s funeral and while the setting in the film is a small church, it is a testament to the character of the young men that Coach Ladouceur helped mold as part of the De La Salle program that at such a young age he had become such a large and influential person. Lessons about Accountability, Brotherhood and Commitment, things that were developed with previous teams would be learned the hard way, through losses on the field. After two bad losses to start the year and having to suffer the outside indignity of having lost The Streak, Coach Lad and Coach Terry Eidson show their mettle by showing their team some real adversity and what can be accomplished through hard work. With such an imposing opponent coming up next on the schedule in the Cal-Poly Jackrabbits and an attitude about personal versus team goals, work had been done but doubt remained.

As is often the case, the character of a person can often be shown by how they respond to adversity, but it is also true that this is not necessarily measured primarily by wins or losses. The Spartans were physically outclassed by their Jackrabbit opponents. They lacked the depth that they had and were stifled by the intense heat. In spite of that, Coach Lad was not about to let any player into the game unless they were physically fit, removing himself and placing the trainer in charge of substitutions. The rest of the story shows why a coach who never focused on winning was able to hold the longest winning-streak in the nation by more than double the next closest record, an absurd amount. We get to see Coach Lad’s efforts to build young men instead of just football players take hold and in spite of losing early, we see the team bond and grow and start winning football games again. Coach Lad is the real driver in the film and the lessons he imparts on his young players redound to later in their lives when they are faced with much greater adversity than a long conversion on third down or something like losing a football game.

As the young football players inside the Nike theater departed for the buses after the film’s Q & A session with Cam, Coach Lad and David Zelon about the film and about the Spartan program and its success, a few young players stayed by to ask Cam and Coach Lad about any wisdom they could take back to their teams for the upcoming football season. “This right here, that attitude,” said the famed coach, “the desire to make not just yourself but your teammates better. You can take that with you.” As we got into our own car for the evening and were discussing the film amongst ourselves, David Zelon asked rhetorically “Do you think they got it?” As the film’s Producer, he has to been keen to every detail and to receive input from where he can, but it was far too obvious that we already knew the answer to that. “Did you see the way they reacted at the end? They got it.” I replied. Always reserved, Coach Lad humbly remarked “I think so,” but a smile was evident on his face because the “it” that was posed was the underlying theme of the film, that of giving a perfect effort at all times in spite of the circumstances. By building a program that focused on internal development and giving a perfect effort, he made it easy for this film to be hit. What else would you expect from him though? He was never one to celebrate his own accomplishments so getting him to gush over the success of this film would be out of character.

Eric Goss