Triumph Over Tragedy

I never met Don Meyer.

But as a high school basketball coach, I certainly knew who he was. Coach Meyer from Northern State University in South Dakota, was a legend among coaches. He ran impressive camps and clinics for kids and coaches during the summer. During over 40 winters, he eventually amassed more victories than even Bob Knight. He was well respected, admired, and loved by college basketball luminaries like Knight, Pat Summitt, Tom Izzo, and John Wooden.

In 2008, Coach Meyer was involved in a horrific car accident. During surgery to save his life, the surgeon discovered he had inoperable cancer. He eventually lost his leg below the knee. And, he was coaching at Northern State a few short months later. Coach Meyer’s story is told brilliantly by ESPN baseball journalist, Buster Olney. Olney covered Meyer when he was coaching at Lipscomb in Nashville where Olney was a young beat writer.

The name of the book is “How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Coach Don Meyer.” You don’t have to be a basketball fan like me to appreciate the depth of faith, family, and friends that Coach Meyer reflects. It’s well worth the read.

I once spoke to Coach Meyer somewhere in 2004 or 2005. I was signing up to attend his coaching clinic. Unfortunately, something derailed that and I never made it later. I regret that because I would have loved to meet and know Don Meyer.

In 2009, Coach Meyer was awarded the Jimmy V award at the ESPYs. Below is the footage from that night, including his speech. I recommend highly both the book and this video. You won’t be disappointed.

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points – Changing Directions

Ability to Change Direction and Speed.

Do you remember when video stores became all the rage in the early 1980s? People were purchasing VCRs and the new thing to do was to browse around these goliath stores filled with videos. As a business, this was a no-brainer. A decade or so later, videos started disappearing and being replaced by DVDs. The video stores like Blockbuster were still operating and in business because of the huge demand of people to watch movies. A decade or so later, the desire to watch movies may be intensified, but video stores are extinct due to on-demand and Internet giants like Amazon and Netflix. I was reminded about this as I drove by three former mega video stores that remain vacant.

In the beginning, the video stores were locally owned by small business owners. These small business owners got gobbled up by the mega stores who found a way to offer more choice at a cheaper price. Nobody thought these guys would ever perish, but they did. The same ease and cost of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and cable have made watching what you want, when you want, as often as you want, and at virtually no cost made the old brick and mortar behemoths as viable as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Think about business in general. 20 years ago, iPhones, iPads, and Google were unthinkable. The twenty years before that, Walkmans, desktop computers, and fax machines couldn’t be fathomed. What will be the hottest careers, most valuable technology, and way of life haven’t even been thought up yet. In your business, you need to be prepared to adjust, re-tool, re-purpose, and re-invent. Or die. And, let’s be honest. Twenty years is now too long. Five years will all about “new and improved.” Frankly, if you’re not able to readjust, make adjustments, and make quick decisions yearly, you may get lapped by your competition. The morale of the story is this – be ready and plan to change; be innovative and cutting edge; and survive.

This week’s quote – “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.” Unknown – text to my by my wife last week. She sends me a new motivational quote every day. I’m lucky!

Making Lemonade

My alma mater, the University of Washington Huskies, got left out of the Big Dance. Even though they won the Pac-12 regular season title, a couple of bad end-of-the-season losses, kept them out of the March Madness NCAA tournament. They ended up being a #1 seed in the national Invitational Tournament (NIT).

These are 20 year olds. They were discouraged and upset about not being selected to the NCAA tournament after winning their conference. The NIT, though prestigious in history, was of little consolation. It would have been very easy to walk out on the court in the first game with a bad attitude and leftover baggage. That would almost certainly lead to an even more embarrassing loss and a terrible off-season.

On Tuesday, the Huskies defeated their arch nemesis Oregon to advance to the NIT Final Four in Madison Square Garden in New York. They won three games to earn that distinction. Now they will play on national television in the Big Apple. No matter what happens, this has been a success. They turned lemons into lemonade.

Give credit to the coaches for excellent leadership. Give credit to the players for staying tough. And give credit to the fans for sticking behind them. It was a team effort.

How often in business do we turn lemons into lemonade? In my experience, not often enough. Bad things happen every day in the business world…

  • Accounts are lost
  • Sales don’t get made
  • People are fired
  • Companies are sued
  • Fires, floods, power outages, and tornado damage occur

You can come up with a bigger list. The bottom line is that bad things happen and how we respond will determine the success or failure of the company and maybe even you. Here are some ways to avoid the failure…

  • Have a short memory. Dwelling on the past never helps the present or the future. Gain a “closer” mentality. When Mariano Rivera blows a save (which rarely happens), it’s forgotten by the time he hits the locker room. The next time out is about getting the save. You need to be the same way.
  • Be positive. I see too many people with a “victim mentality.” It’s always someone else’s fault; it’s never going to get better; we can’t do this; the sky is falling. You know the people.If you can’t be positive about who you are, your team, and your business, it’s time to get out.
  • Take action. Determine your course and take it. Be bold. Be fearless. Others follow bold, decisive leaders.
  • Have fun. Some days you win and some days you lose. Have fun anyway. Life’s too short to dwell on the past failures.

Final note – my professional mentor Alan Weiss has always espoused, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.” Life is full of failures; generally many more failures than successes. It’s how we respond to failure to find the next success that matters.

Go make some lemonade…

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Saints to Sinners: Business Lessons Learned from the NFL

Today’s announcement of the penalties handed down by National Football League commissioner, Roger Goodell have dramatic consequences for the New Orleans Saints football

Sean Payton - New Orleans Saints

team and coaches. For those not familiar with the situation, The Saints were accused, and found guilty of, targeting opposing players (particularly quarterbacks) to injure them and get them removed from the game. The defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, developed a system (which he used when coaching with other teams) where his players would earn up to $1,500 for hard hits and getting other players injured. Basically, “Bounty-gate” as it’s being termed, was more about bad intentions than hard hits. When it comes to players safety, the NFL has taken a hard-line and made historic decisions.

The defensive coordinator Williams, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. It’s a minimum of a year with the chance to re-apply then. He has a new team and this impacts them substantially. The head coach, Sean Payton, who knew what was going on and failed to stop it, was suspended for a year without pay. That’s a cool $8,000,000 (that’s right – six zeros) never to be regained. He can’t appeal. He is an employee of the NFL without a union. One of the other assistants, Joe Vitt, was suspended for 6 games. The club has been fine $500,000, lost draft picks, and lost its reputation. This is unprecedented in the NFL, and maybe all of sports. It is punitive and a clear message to the rest of the teams that this behavior will end.

The reasons for the draconian nature of the penalties? The Saints were warned in 2009 by the NFL to stop bounties. The Saints said okay, but they didn’t stop. Basically, when you lie to an investigative unit, that leads to issues. In addition, the NFL smelled huge lawsuits coming at them and probably felt that they needed to make a big statement in order to show that they are doing all they can to end bounties. They did.

So what does this mean to business leaders? Read on…

1. Head Coach Sean Payton is stunned (Read article by Jay Glazer on NBC Sports). He has just lost $8M he can never get back. He is out of the league for a year. No contact. No decisions on players. Nothing. He didn’t instigate this bounty system. He allowed his defensive coordinator to do it and basically gave him full control. The similarities to Joe Paterno at Penn State are compelling. Payton (basically the CEO) ceded control to a maverick subordinate and stuck his head in the sand. He allowed bad behavior to persist in his organization even after being warned. For that, he ended up getting the deepest blow. He makes way more money than Williams. His reputation was bigger. He has lost big time.  Question – As a leader, do you cede control to subordinates who are highly successful and stop minding the store? Are you willing to “overlook” things because the person who is running it is very successful in other areas? Example – your top sales producer shows poor judgement frequently with clients and potentially can damage your reputation. You don’t do anything because they are your top producer. You risk your reputation and potentially increase your liability.

2. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis was also suspended for a year. This is your club’s top executive. Payton may have been the CEO, but this guy is all about your talent acquisition. Again, this is a case of not taking bold and courageous actions when you’re smart enough to know you should. It’s easy to say sitting here on the outside, but really tough sometimes when you are in the midst of the fire. Question – Do you take bold and courageous action when your gut tells you what you know is right?

3. Looking at the big picture. The NFL is all about winning today. Now, not necessarily later. Teams will fire coaches, executives, and players at a drop of a hat to win today. Heck, today Tim Tebow (last year’s golden boy and media sensation) was traded by the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets because Denver picked up Peyton Manning. Nobody is safe. The pressure to think only in the moment and eschew long-range consequences may be very prevalent in this environment. Question – Do economic challenges and issues keep you focused only on the now, rather than strategizing and preparing for long-term sustainability?

4. Reputation Damage Control – I’ve heard very little from the Saints today. Maybe they are still trying to get up off the floor. They have damage control to do. It starts with their fans and continues on with the NFL, public perception, and the media. This may haunt them for years as they go to different cities and receive the cat calls, the heckling, the poor press, etc. How does this affect their employees and families? It will have devastating ramifications for a whole lot of people. Question – Do you consider reputation damage when thinking about crisis management? Do you ever think about crisis management?

I have to think that thee will be more penalties levied against players. Lawsuits may pop up. It’s truly a tragic situation. Bad judgement and poor behavior is not relegated to the NFL. It happens daily in business. Although they are purely for entertainment value, television shows like Mad Men and The Office, and cartoons like Dilbert often skim that surface of reality and we recognize it. That’s why we watch, read, and laugh at them. But nobody is laughing in New Orleans or in the NFL offices today. I know it’s a baseball axiom, but there is no joy in Mudville today. Make sure that you learn from others mistakes and avoid a similar fate in your business.

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Worry and Concern: A Blog from Alan Weiss

This is a MUST READ for all of you – whether you’re a consultant, a business owner, an executive, or simply a human being. This was my 1% for the day!

My professional mentor and author of Million Dollar Consulting ®, Alan Weiss discusses the difference being worry and concern. This is a HUGE difference and one each one of us needs to recognize in order to stay positive and focused forward.

To read Alan’s blog, click here.

© 2012. Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved



Extra Points – Confidence


This is one of my favorite times of year. March Madness is filled with drama, excitement, and upsets. This year is no different. On Friday, #15 seeds Lehigh and Norfolk State broke everyone’s brackets by defeating #2 teams, Duke and Missouri respectively. Prior to Friday, this had only happened 4 times in history (in over 100 games played between those seeds). The last time was 10 years ago, and it had never happened on the same day. In reality, though, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is annually filled with David whooping up on Goliath stories. This phenomenon is not limited to college basketball. It does happen in business all the time for those who believe they can win.

Small retail stores battle “big boxes;” solo consultants battle large consulting firms; and Main Street USA battles Corporate America all the time. Small can always be as competitive, and often better, than big. Small can be more nimble, more innovative, and quicker to make decisions. The key attribute that all “smalls” must have is confidence. Many times, the “Smalls”” have an inferiority complex that they can’t compete against the Goliaths in their world. If they believe that, they are right. However, if they have the genuine confidence that they offer tremendous value, can do it better, and get the right slingshot, then they can defeat their larger opponent.

Lehigh and Norfolk State believed when nobody else outside their programs did. Do you believe in yourself?

This week’s quote – “Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person.” Dr. David Burns