Blocking & Tackling

Dan_Weedin_022It was a satisfying Saturday in watching my alma mater, the University of Washington Huskies defeat our cross-state rivals the Washington State Cougars and retain the Apple Cup for the 6th consecutive year. With apologies to my WSU pals (well, not really), I feel obligated to create a point from the victory…so here it is.

After the game WSU coach Mike Leach summed up why he felt Washington prevailed. He succinctly stated that the Huskies, “blocked better than us, and tackled better than us.” He was right, and he also offers a reminder to our business and lives.

Blocking and tackling are the fundamentals of offensive and defensive football, respectively. The lack of execution in one of these might cause a team to lose; in both it’s nearly always fatal. The same is true in business. Regardless of your position or industry, you have fundamentals that mirror blocking and tackling in football. These skills extend from decision-making at the executive level; to influencing skills at the managerial level; to process skills at the implementation level. Complacency often sets in with the best of us; we block and tackle every day and often forget how important staying sharp and focused on these critical skills are. What are the “blocking and tackling” fundamentals in your business and career? How well are you and your employees performing daily? If you’re not “winning” as much as you’d like, check your fundamentals.

Final thought. Blocking and tackling carries into our personal lives as well. If you want to improve your relationships then hone your communicators by listening and civility. If you want to improve your health, then blocking and tackling morphs into eating habits and exercise. If you want to reduce drama and conflict, focus on positive thinking, empathy, and talking.

Blocking and tackling wins football games. They also help you win in business and life.

On three. Ready…break!

Quote of the Day:

“The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.”

~ Lewis Grizzard (20th century American writer)

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

The Enemy Within Your Walls

He is ready to fight for success

This past week, Wake Forest University had to deal with a very unsettling matter. It was revealed that a former assistant football coach turned team radio analyst for the Demon Deacons football program was found to have passed on game plan information from his team (provided to him as part of his job in preparing for games) to opposing teams prior to games.

Let’s make it clear. This guy (for ease of the example) was an assistant coach for the Wake Forest football team. When a coaching change was made, he was not retained as the new head coach brought his own team of assistants with him. This guy was a Wake Forest supporter through and through, seemingly accepted his fate, and then immediately was brought on to the team as the color commentator for the games. Unbeknownst to many, this is akin to be a member of the team. He has access to practices, gets private information on game plans, and is trusted with this material.

After a game against Louisville, it was discovered that game plans had been distributed to Louisville prior to the game. Further investigation found it wasn’t an isolated incident. Long story, short, This guy was implicated and fired. We still don’t know the reasons for this betrayal, but let’s just guess.

Here’s This guy that was terminated. He was allowed to stay in the program because he was deemed “loyal.” Turns out he harbors a grudge and gets on the inside to sell team secrets to opponents. Who knows how long this would have continued if This guy hadn’t been caught.

I know this isn’t national security stuff, but let’s not minimize that these are organizations that employ people. These people keep their positions based on wins and losses. Families are impacted; students are impacted; and the university is impacted. I’ve worked with many small and mid-size businesses that have had similar issues. In fact one small painting business – about 15 employees – had their bookkeeper (acting with CFO functions) steal $25,000 over a 3 year period and used that money to fund her wedding! My client said, “I would have never imagined she would do this.” No kidding! If he had, she wouldn’t have been working there. Problem was, she had done this to a previous employer and my client had not checked references prior. (Yes. She listed the company she stole from. You can’t make this up.)

My question to you is this – could this happen to you?!

The answer is YES. It can and may be to some of you reading this now. While you can’t prevent this in totality, you can greatly minimize the risk to it. Here are three things to consider:

  1. If you terminate someone – or they leave on their own accord, like retirement – the escort them out the door nicely. Do not let them leave with anything that is yours. Cancel their log-in information.
  2. Take care of your client list and proprietary information. That means check their phones for addresses and other important information. If you don’t know how this works, call me and we can discuss.
  3. Be aware of anything that can harm you, including social media.

Bottom line – terminated and disgruntled employees can cause great harm to your company. It happens all the time, yet we rarely hear of it when it happens to small businesses. Protect yourself with a resilience plan that includes this very important issue.

You just may then be able to assure that your “game plan” is safe and secure from This Guy in your own house.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Controlling Your Own Path

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40There I was yesterday morning in my favorite chair. Sitting on the edge, leaning forward, elbows digging into just above the kneecaps. It was about 9:30 in the morning and I was glued to ESPN waiting to hear what college football teams made the final four and the national playoffs. My team (and alma mater), the University of Washington, appeared to be perched precariously in that final spot. Although logic told me they would be in, humans don’t always make logical decisions. When the final spot was revealed and the Huskies were announced as the final team, both my daughter Kelli and I erupted with a cheer.

During the broadcast, ESPN sent crews to the three campuses of the schools that were still in contention for that final spot. The thing that occurred to me after the announcement (becasue I was very focused on the outcome before) was that all these teams “paths” were in someone else’s hands. They all had strong resumes to fight their cases. They all knew no matter what, they’d be playing in a major bowl game. But only one would have a puncher’s shot at the national championship that year. So it is in college football.

Unlike college football, you control your own path. You don’t control your own “fate,” becasue by definition fate is per-determined. I prefer the term path. While others might have influence, throw up roadblocks, or offer guidance; you ultimately determine your path based on your decisions, your boldness, and your self-confidence. Bad things happen outside of your control (e.g. the financial apocalypse of 2007-09). People offer both encouragement and discouragement. Your best efforts will fall short. However, those that are the most successful in their businesses, careers, and lives have a remarkable resolve to keep seeking opportunities. Instead of hanging their heads, they find solutions. Ironically, that’s what all the best college football programs do to.

So as you sit back to enjoy the upcoming holiday season, start thinking about what you can do today to forge your own path. How can you be just a little better today? There’s no committee determining your path. The only one…is you.

Quote of the Week:

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”

~ Voltaire

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Whom Do You Listen To?

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40This past weekend’s Michigan State vs. Michigan game had one of the wildest conclusions in recent years in college football. With Michigan winning and simply needing to execute a punt with 10 seconds left to win the game. the punter dropped the snap and instead of falling on it, tried to pick it up. The ball landed in the waiting arms of a Michigan State player who raced into the end zone as time expired for the unlikely Michigan State win.

In the aftermath, fans around the country sitting on their couches (and commenting on Twitter) exclaimed, “All he has to do is fall on the ball and the game is over!” Easy for us to say. My guess is the majority of the “experts” (including those in the media) have never punted a ball in a college football game, nor been in a situation like the Michigan punter trying to make a play in a split second. In all transparency, I voiced my displeasure on a dropped pass by a Washington Husky player in the end zone later that evening in our game. My last live action football came in junior high.

Just like athletes in all sports are susceptible to “coaching advice” from journalists and fans on social media and sports talk radio, business professionals are just as vulnerable to getting “suggestions” from others on how to be better at what they do. I often think of highly trained and educated nurses in hospitals that are constantly barraged by their “customers” on how to do their job!

Getting coaching advice, mentoring, and sometimes well-intentioned tips from those that are not experts in your field is not in your best interest. Listen to those you choose to help you; those who have been where you want to be; those that have experience and knowledge you want. We fans are quick to say what should have happened after the fact, but rarely have the perspicacity or skill to have done it ourselves. Don’t allow those that want to provide unsolicited advise to derail your business and career. Be careful of whom you listen to.

© 2015 Toro Consulting Inc. All Rights Reserved

This week’s quote –

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Next Weedin Unleashed today at 12:00 pm Pacific. Free broadcast. Link to join

Distracted…

Being an ardent University of Washington fan and grad, I’ve become distracted with the whole Jim Mora deal, hoping he comes back home to coach. Just spent a few minutes with my daughter on the phone talking about it. I told her how distracted I was. She agreed and said, “What would we do without social media?” My response…

“A hell of a lot more work!”

Business lesson – get disciplined and stay focused. I am taking one last peek and shutting it all down. I have an article to finish!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Crisis at the Top

On Monday we learned that my Alma Mater’s head football coach was taking a new gig. Steve Sarkisian announced his move from the University of Washington to USC just days after a huge win over arch rival Washington State in the Apple Cup. Although the possibility of this move had been swirling around the periphery for the last few months, it seemed that he wasn’t the first choice. Turns out after a couple of folks ahead of him declined, he jumped to go back home. Now the Huskies have their eyes on other had coaches and so the dominoes fall.

Let’s face it, college football coaches are hired guns. So are CEO’s. As I write this post, their is news in my neck of the woods that Microsoft is putting the full-court press on Ford’s CEO, Alan Mullaly (former CEO of some little company called Boeing). Unlike their small business brethren, CEOs are generally not the founders of the business. They are brought in to accelerate growth; fix problems and raise the stock price. College football coaches are supposed to do the same thing. Because of that, movement is rampant in both businesses. This isn’t loyalty. It’s business.

But what is always left behind in these moves are the colleges and the kids; the businesses and the employees. Athletic departments and board of directors better have a plan in place if and when their hired gun leaps to new pastures. If not, they are in the cross hairs of a crisis. This goes all the way from communications to operations to reputation.

Part of identification of risk should involve the losing of the top boss. And, that should not only go for CEOs, but for the sudden loss of a business owner. How well is your business prepared for the loss of leadership due to a variety of reasons? What plans do you have in place to prevent and avoid this crisis?

If you don’t have one, now might be a good time to put one into place. You never know when your number is called…

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

Back in the New York Groove 1

I’m staying at the historic New York Athletic Club on my trip into the Big Apple. Part if its history involves college football.

The New York Athletic Club is where the annual event honoring the best college football player that year is held. The Heisman Trophy is awarded and all of college football royalty is in attendance. I saw a sign promoting an event later this month at the club with past Heisman recipients to raise money for the Ronald McDonald charities. That would be fun to go to!

The club is directly across the street from Central Park. It’s a little drizzly today to take a jaunt and tomorrow is supposed to be better, so I will wait until then. Just came back from a delicious lunch with a friend near Times Square and now time to relax a little.

One of the joys of business traveling is experiencing the soul of a city. That means taking in the sights, eating the food, and mixing with people. This morning, I shared stories over coffee with other travelers on their way to South Africa from Calgary to judge an international dance contest and then go on safari. Ironically, we were in a Starbucks in the rain! Ironic for me because that is normal in Seattle!

Bottom line – enjoy where you are and be bold in discovering and trying. You never know if and when you will cross that path again.

I think I will see if I can find the ghost of Jay Berwanger skulking about the premises…

Copyright 2013 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

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Anatomy of a Crisis – Paterno and Penn State

It only takes one mistake…

Joe Paterno

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is stepping down at the end of the season and leaving Happy Valley in disgrace. Not for anything that happened on the football field; not for wins and losses; and not even for NCAA violations. His 61 years at the same institution (46 as head coach) ends abruptly because he made poor decisions and turned a blind eye to issues involving his subordinates.

Read ESPN story

Paterno was aware of allegations against his defensive coordinator and friend Jerry Sandusky, who is now being accused of molesting many young boys from 1994-2010. Paterno turned in the information and left it in the hands of his boss. Big mistake. His boss is now being charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. The school’s board of trustees are scampering around trying to quell the uproar. The crisis has now escalated beyond the sports world.

So you may ask, what did Coach Paterno do wrong? He has not been charged with any legal improprieties. Why has he become the central figure of this giant mess? Why will he ultimately be included in civil lawsuits that will continue to haunt his days?

Joe Paterno is Penn State. His brand and reputation over 46 years as the head man at the helm of a successful football program makes him the face of the university. Good, bad, or indifferent; that is the reality.

As CEO of the football program, he bears the ultimate responsibility for what happens on and off the field. Issues dealing with wins and losses may just cost you your job. Issues as detestable as what happened with Sandusky will cost you your job, tarnish your reputation, and potentially hurt the university in a myriad of ways.

Paterno is guilty of doing the minimum. He handed off the issue to his Athletic Director. His next mistake was the killer. He did nothing. He blindly put his trust in his boss to deal with it and then went back to coaching and recruiting. He allowed Sandusky to stay around the program and the campus. In fact, in 1998, the police investigated Sandusky for this type of behavior. At that point, the guy should be gone. Should be allowed nowhere near the campus.  Paterno had that control. Instead, Paterno stuck his head in the sand and left it to others to clean up. Here is the problem…when you are the face of the institution and the CEO, you’d better make sure things get resolved.

Paterno told the board of trustees to not spend another minute thinking about him. Really? Paterno wants to go out on his terms and finish the season. I say no. He forfeited that opportunity. The trustees are now the ones in crisis management. What does their communication plan say? What do they need to do to salvage any semblance of reputation for their academic university that has always been viewed as “clean?” In my estimation, you don’t allow one of the central figures in a cover up to have a coronation. Heck, last night, the 84-year old Paterno made the decision that it was okay to encourage a pep rally outside of his home with 3,000 students by leading a “We are Penn State” cheer and a hearty “Beat Nebraska!” Yeah, like that is important. Disturbing. The board of trustees need to show courage in decision-making and dismiss him. If you were in their seats, what would you do?

Hindsight is 20/20. I get that. However, that is why it is so important for executives and business owners to think about this in advance. By virtue of having employees, these things are liable to happen. They are vulnerabilities that you face. How do you respond to employees, the media, your customers, your supply chain, your family? If you don’t have a plan in place now, then you risk your business and your reputation.

If the mighty Joe Paterno, who built an empire in over 60 years, can fall in 5 days, how quickly can you and your organization fall?

© 2011 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved