Award-Winning Leadership Speaker, Executive Coach & New York Times Best-Selling Author

Have Don Yaeger speak to your team!

John Wooden’s UCLA player shares Coach’s lessons and legacy.

Episode 23: John Wooden’s UCLA player, Swen Nater, shares Coach’s Lessons and Legacy

Episode 23

I had the unbelievable good fortune to have legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, as a mentor. We ended up in a relationship that allowed me every other month for 12 years to fly to California to spend a day learning from Coach. One day, Coach said, “Don, I want to tell you the story of one of the greatest players to ever play for me.”

Coach Wooden knows I am a basketball junkie, so he says “great player” and I am thinking Bill Walton, Marcus Johnson, or Kareem Abdul Jabbar. But Coach leans in and says, “I’m going to tell you the story of Swen Nater.”

When I tell this story on stage to corporate audiences, few people raise their hand to claim they’ve heard of Swen Nater. In this episode, we will dive into his incredible story and learn a valuable lesson: We will never outperform our inner circle. Swen believes that great leaders are great teachers. He reflects on the teaching principle of John Wooden — You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned — and demonstrates how to apply them to our business.

You will learn:

  • 15:00  How Swen’s relationship with Coach John Wooden developed after he left UCLA.
  • 20:00  The “shoes and socks lesson” given to all UCLA players under Coach Wooden.
  • 21:30  How to solve the biggest complaint amongst employees in the workplace.
  • 25:00  How the pursuit of individual glory can hurt a team.
  • 30:00  Why you should use recognition as a motivator within your team.
  • 34:30  How to get serious about continuous improvement.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Journey to Greatness on sale!

  View All Episodes

Love this episode?

We would be so grateful if you left us a rating and review!

Leave a review

  Download Episode Mobile Wallpapers

Episode Mobile Wallpapers

Listen on Apple Podcasts!

Listen on Spotify!

Listen on Stitcher!

Listen on Google Podcasts!


Savannah Gallagher

Web Design/Development

Jon Rousseau


Francisco Nunez
Brett Rutherford


Predictive ROI

Special thanks to Andrew Wikse and the Florida State University Internship Program
for consistently supporting our research team.

Connect with Don Yaeger  

Where would you like to start the conversation?



413 N. Meridian St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301

 (850) 412-0300

Follow Don Yaeger


Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)

About Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger

Don Yaeger is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, leadership expert and executive coach.

 Read Full Bio here

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop


    Don Yaeger

    Don Yaeger is ready to speak with you

    Connect With Don
    Anjie Cheatham – Director of Marketing and Events

    Anjie Cheatham
    Director of Live & Virtual Events

    Connect with Don's team directly by calling (850) 412-0300 (8:30AM – 6:00PM EST)

     Send Email