Author Archive

How To Handle Young Talent In Your Business: A Lesson From The NFL

The other day I was listening to sports radio and the hosts were arguing about what to do with New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.  Do you throw him in the fire, giving him the starting job from game one of his rookie year?  Do you give the job to an experienced older player and let Darnold sit back and learn?  Each one of them made valid points and could claim history on their side.  They didn’t know it, but each side was arguing for one of the most important tenants in a Journey to Greatness.

One camp says that if you have a rookie quarterback who’s got the skill to be Great someday, teams should let him suffer a few bumps and bruises on the job.  Just let him learn on the fly.  There's no better place to learn than being in the fire.  Right?  Then there's a whole camp of folks who say it’s best if young talent learns from the sidelines for a little bit, so they can patiently observe and ask questions.

Four Ways To Be Great And Celebrate: Lessons From Chicago Cub David Bote

The other night I saw something incredible. The Chicago Cubs were playing the Washington Nationals and it was the bottom of the 9th, two outs, three men on, with the go-ahead run at bat. The Nationals were up 3-0, and I was about to turn off the game because the Cubs put in David Bote, a 25-year-old rookie who was only playing his 34th professional baseball game, as a pinch hitter.

To my amazement, on a 2-2 count, Bote connected with the ball, sending it sailing towards the center field wall. He knew it was a home run. Unfortunately, in his excitement, Bote committed an unforgivable sin.

He flipped the bat. If you’re not a baseball fan, that means that he didn’t just drop the bat after hitting the ball, he did so with a little pizazz.

Bote broke one of those silly, unwritten rules that seem to plague baseball. To baseball purists, it is disrespectful to flip the bat out of your hand when you hit a home run. Watching the replay and listening to his side of the story, I don’t think Bote meant to be disrespectful. He was just so excited. As he ran around the bases, his arms outstretched in victory, I’m sure it never occurred to him that in less than 12 hours he would be apologizing for his celebration.

A rookie hitting a grand slam to win the game in the 9th inning, with two outs, deserves more than the quiet, staid celebration expected by the purists of the game. It’s a moment kids fantasize about when they’re pretending to be pro ball players in their backyard. It deserves a big celebration because celebrations matter to the morale and culture of a team.

The best teams celebrate their victories.

This Lesson From Sean Newcomb’s Social Media Meltdown Could Save Your Career

Sean Newcomb was just one out away on Sunday from becoming only the 15th Atlanta Braves pitcher to throw a no-hitter. Then a two-out single in the ninth by Chris Taylor of the Dodgers broke up his bid. After the game, he fielded the standard questions you would expect after almost reaching such an achievement. But 30 minutes later, Newcomb emerged from the locker room to answer a wholly different set of questions.

This time about his social media history.

Back in 2011 and 2012, Newcomb tweeted a racial epithet and several other of his tweets included gay slurs. The 25-year-old pitcher was just a senior in high school at the time, but he had to answer for his actions all the same. "I just wanted to apologize for any insensitive material," Newcomb told the press. "It was a long time ago, six or seven years ago, saying some stupid stuff with friends. I know I've grown a lot since then. I didn't mean anything by it. It was just something stupid I did a long time ago, and I didn't mean anything by it, for sure."

When Newcomb says, “I didn’t mean anything by it,” that is disingenuous at best. Of course, he meant something, he posted it. Did he really not consider that using that kind of language was wrong in some way? No, what he really meant was that, at the time, he thought that his language and actions on social media didn’t matter. At 18 years old, he didn’t envision a world where his lack of sense would be put on display and rob him of a pretty special moment of professional glory.

Eventually, as Newcomb learned under the bright lights, our actions on social media catch up with us.

Ghosts of Social Past is not just a problem for Newcomb, it’s haunting people across sports, politics, and entertainment. Just in the last month, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader and Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner had to apologize recently for their offensive “teenage tweets.” Inappropriate tweets brought down former Congressman Anthony Wiener. Even big Hollywood directors aren’t immune. James Gunn, director of the $1.6 Billion (and counting) Guardians of the Galaxy franchise was removed from the third installment because of some exceedingly questionable and inappropriate tweets commenting on pedophilia and rape.

Being Worth Following Is More Important Than Talent: My Conversation With Roger Staubach

Maybe the best parts of life as a journalist are those moments when you get to go eye-to-eye with one of your heroes and your “job” is to engage them in conversation.  And if you get to do that “job” at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio the “work” gets even sweeter.

A couple of weeks ago, leadership legend John Maxwell invited me to join him on stage in Canton to interview football legend, Roger Staubach.  We talked about how he went from a kid in Cincinnati, Ohio to a Heisman-trophy winning, two-time Super Bowl winning, Hall-of-Fame quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys.  I loved the entire conversation, but he told one story that really grabbed my attention.

Coming into his senior year of high school, Staubach’s coach wanted him to step up and take the job as the team’s quarterback.  He actually told his coach, "I don't want to be quarterback and you've already got a great quarterback," naming off a kid who was bigger, stronger than him.  The coach looked at him and said, "Yeah, he may be bigger, stronger, he may have been a quarterback before.  But the other boys will follow you."

Roger Staubach will forever be enshrined in Canton, and yet he didn't see himself as quarterback.  He didn’t see a gift that had little to do with arm strength or accuracy.  He told me, "If I didn't listen to that coach, if I had just said, 'No, coach, the other guy is the guy,' first off, I'm not sitting on the stage with you.  My bust is not in the Hall of Fame.  It was because of what the coach saw in me – that people will follow me – that all this has happened."

Brooks Koepka: Managing Insults And Slights All The Way Up The Leaderboard

If you’ve ever been slighted or snubbed, then you and PGA golfer Brooks Koepka have something in common. You might remember that I was just writing about Koepka after he won the U.S. Open in June, completing a particularly grueling course without complaint. He didn’t whine, complain, or vent his frustrations – as many of his opponents were doing. He simply competed and won.

You might think that after winning his second U.S. Open in a row, Koepka would get some respect. You’d be wrong. Leading up to last week’s PGA Championship, Koepka was generally ignored until he posted a blistering 63 in the second round. Then the media took note, but just barely. Even on the last day of play, the story wasn’t that Koepka was on the verge of winning three out of his last four majors, it was Tiger Woods coming from behind and almost winning. The headlines mostly blared, “Tiger almost wins” rather than, “Koepka Wins Again.”

The Great thing about Brooks Koepka is that he never let those headlines ruin his play.

If the insults, the snubs, the slights on his talent and skill from the media’s casual disregard of this Great competitor mattered to Koepka, he never let it show. He played the next hole. When the crowd roared during his backswing because Tiger Woods just sank a putt, Koepka kept his head down and followed through for a beauty of a shot down the fairway. The world might've been watching the tournament because everybody was hoping Tiger would do it, but Brooks wasn't worried about the world.

He was focused on the next shot.

Some of the Winning Teams Don Yaeger works with

Hewlett Packard