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Don’t Forget Your Ladder

Today is a big day for me! While most of my work, as you know, centers on sports and business, all of my work revolves around leadership. Today, I get a chance to see my 27th book get published, and my third with Brian Kilmeade. We have studied U.S. history for great lessons in leadership, bravery, and moments that changed the world. I hope that you will enjoy this blog...and even go out and grab a copy of our new book!


With cannons firing and rifles cracking, the British army surged forward towards the huge earthworks the Americans had erected to block the invaders’ path to New Orleans.

On this cold, foggy January morning in 1815, the last battle of the War of 1812 was being waged across a narrow strip of land that would decide the fate of the city and potentially even the whole of the Louisiana territory.

For the past few weeks, General Andrew Jackson and a ragtag army of volunteers, militia, locals, Native Americans, fishermen, slaves, and pirates had fought to hold the city at all costs, but they were bruised and battered. The redcoats seemed poised at last to succeed. Their only obstacle left was to scale a small moat and massive bulwark that the Americans had constructed out of the Louisiana muck across the stretch of dry land of Chalmette Plantation between the Mississippi River on one side and a swamp on the other.

The night the before, the British had made their final plans. General Packenham asked Lt Col Mullins to confirm the location of the essential supplies: ladders, fascines, and bales of sugarcane tied together to fill the moat. Mullins, in turn, had reached out to an engineer officer, who assured him that everything was secured in the advance redoubt—the temporary shelter the British had erected en route to the American line, in anticipation of the battle to come. Satisfied with the engineer’s answer, Mullins had assured the general all was as it should be and the attack launched as planned the following morning.

Five Tips To Win Your Fourth Quarter: Business Strategies From The Best In Sports

It is the beginning of October. The postseason has begun in baseball. College and pro football seasons are in full swing and basketball is in its preseason.

And for many of the rest of us who work in the “real world” we have just started the fourth quarter of our fiscal year. All of us – from the Los Angeles Dodgers to Oracle want to FINISH strong.

So what can the Great teams in sports teach us about winning in the fourth quarter? Lots, actually! The best teams win in critical situations.

Records Are Made To Be Broken: Lessons From UCONN Women’s Basketball

The world of sports abounds with magical records that no-one-believed-would-ever-be-broken. Consider New York Yankee Lou Gehrig’s grueling mark of 2,130 consecutive baseball games played, which stood tall for 56 years: Cal Ripken, Jr. smashed it by playing in 2,632. Or Hank Aaron’s 1976 career home run record of 755. Insurmountable! Until Barry Bonds passed it in 2007. Leonidas of Rhodes’ 2,168-year-old mark of twelve individual Olympic titles? Unbeatable! Until Michael Phelps churned right by to capture his 13th individual gold medal last year in Rio.

One such unsurpassable mark was John Wooden’s UCLA men’s college basketball team's 88-game winning streak, set between 1971 and 1974. None of us imagined that any other team—especially in the topsy-turvy sport of basketball—could ever win 89. Yet along came the UCONN women’s basketball team, and pushed right past UCLA to win 90 straight games and set a new record in December of 2010.

What I remember most clearly about those post-record-shattering December days, was the collective uproar about the validity and integrity of the Huskies’ phenomenal achievement. Pundits and pedants alike cried foul: You can’t compare the women’s game to the men’s, they claimed. The competition UCONN faced was not stiff enough, they argued setting the consecutive-wins record was a much easier feat for head coach Geno Auriemma than it was for the inimitable Wooden, they insisted.

Continuity At The Top: The Single Greatest Predictor For Team Success

History was made in the NBA and I can only hope this unique occurrence could have a carryover effect for years to come.

Over the years I’ve spent studying team dynamics, I’ve learned that the single greatest predictors of sustained excellence is continuity at the top. If you are a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, or UConn Women’s basketball team you know that the consistent leadership at the helm of your favorite team has much to do with why you’re annually relevant.

While quickly flipping through several games last night (and I feel so sorry for the Celtics and Gordon Hayward whose injury will impact that team all year), I reflected on an unbelievable history-making statistic. And it is that this year marks the first time ever that every head coach that started last season in the NBA will be sitting on the same bench again this year. Further, last year was the first time since the 1963-64 season in which there were no in-season changes.

We Need Coaches, Not Pimps: Investigation Exposes NCAA Basketball Corruption — Again

The “sports” news over the last few days has had little to do, actually, with games. Opinions, discord, protest…and now a national scandal involving college basketball coaches and the FBI.

The acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued indictments this week to a collection of men that represent the underbelly of the college game (college basketball coaches, Adidas shoe executives, and agents). It was also made clear that this investigation is not closed. For three years they’ve been looking at cash that flows from corporate entities like shoe companies to “amateur basketball players” through a series of adults whose job should truly have been to look out for the best interest of these young players.

Four Ways To Make Your Team Meetings Matter

In business, as in sports, there is nothing more frustrating than a poorly executed meeting. Whether you are stuck in an office conference room listening to a droning, directionless boss or huddled up on the field with a queasy, indecisive quarterback, your confidence, productivity and competitive edge are bound to plummet.

That’s why every great leader—be they coach, captain, division head or CEO—knows that in order to spur high performance, meetings (and huddles) must be focused, disciplined and inspirational.

This principle of Great Teams was most poignantly reinforced for me four years ago at Madison Square Garden, as I watched Villanova face off against Louisville in the 2013 Big East Tournament quarterfinals. Every time Villanova called a time out the players moved their chairs out towards the middle of the floor so that—as the starters sat down—the rest of the team could encircle them, arm-in-arm, forming a protective cocoon. Everyone was present. Everyone was dialed in.

Some of the Winning Teams Don Yaeger works with


DELL
Chevron
Microsoft
Hewlett Packard
BROCADE