In part one of his interview, former New York Knick great Earl Monroe joins Pat to discuss his life, career and new book, EARL THE PEARL.
In part two of his interview, NBA great Earl “The Pearl” Monroe continues his conversation with Pat about his thoughts on the NBA, the New York Knicks and beyond.
In part one of his interview, former head of the training team at Disney’s corporate headquarter, Doug Lipp, takes us on an entertaining and insightful journey behind the scenes to discover both the secret of Disney’s success and how it and other organizations have overcome spectacular challenges.
In part two of his interview, Disney customer service and global competitiveness expert, Doug Lipp, discusses what it takes to create world-class employees who are famous for their friendliness, knowledge, passion, and superior customer service.
In part one of his interview with famed athletic trainer, Tim Grover, Pat Williams asks Tim what it’s like to train the world’s best basketball players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
In part two of his interview with famed athletic trainer, Tim Grover, Pat Williams asks what it takes to go from good to great to unstoppable and other secrets from Tim’s new book, RELENTLESS.
I saw the movie 42 this weekend and must say it is TERRIFIC. An absolutely must-see film. Myadvice is to follow it up by reading my book, “How to Be Like Jackie Robinson.” It’s a perfect companion to the movie. I interviewed about 1,100 people who played with or against Jackie Robinson, many now deceased. Rachel, Sharon and David Robinson were extremely cooperative and helpful with my project. Enjoy the movie and the book!
In part one of his interview with baseball historian and sports journalist, Ron Kaplan, Pat Williams discusses the Ron’s new book, 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die.
And, in part two of the interview, Pat Williams wraps up his discussion of Ron’s new book, 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die.
Leadership is about the future, so all true leadership begins with vision.
Men and women of vision are people who have trained themselves to look over the horizon, to see what doesn’t yet exist, to see things others can’t see. Visionary leaders see earlier than others, farther than others, and more than others. Then they assemble teams of followers who catch that vision and hammer those dreams into reality. A leader starts with a vision and then works backward from that vision, figuring out each step it will take to turn that vision into a reality.
Vision has always been a prime ingredient of leadership excellence, and it always will be. General Colin Powell put it this way: “I don’t know that leadership in the twenty-first century will be essentially different from the leadership shown by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and their colleagues two hundred years ago. Leadership will always require people who have a vision of where they wish to take ‘the led.’ Leadership will always require people who are able to organize the effort of others to accomplish the objectives that flow from the vision.”
Vision produces three vital effects in the life of a leader:
First, vision keeps you focused. It wards off distractions. It keeps you from wandering down rabbit trails. Your vision of the future keeps you on the main highway to your goals. Leadership guru John Maxwell puts it this way: “Vision leads the leader. It paints the target. It sparks and fuels the fire within, and draws [the leader] forward.”
Sometimes, the future is clouded by today’s turbulent events. But even when we cannot see very far ahead, our vision keeps us focused on the way we should go. Novelist E. L. Doctorow puts it this way: “It’s like driving a car at night. You never see farther than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
Tom Landry, the late, great Dallas Cowboys coach was known for using the “vision of the headlights” approach to the game of football. He always had a vision for winning that kept him focused on the path to victory. When his team was playing in the first quarter, he wasn’t thinking about the fourth quarter. He kept his focus on what he wanted to accomplish in the next few plays. He once said: “I don’t see the game the way the fans do. I’m one play ahead all the time. While the team is running one play, I’m looking ahead, planning the next one. I suppose that’s why I don’t react to a play the way the fans do.”7
Leaders of excellence are leaders of vision. Their vision keeps them focused on what they must do to succeed.
Second, vision keeps you fueled. It gives you energy, passion, and enthusiasm for the challenges you face. Energy, passion, and enthusiasm are the most contagious of all human qualities. If you want to measure the temperature of an organization, just stick a thermometer in the mouth of the leader. If he’s on fire, the organization will be on fire. If he’s a cold fish, the organization is a dead duck.
When Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple, The New York Times wrote, “Steven P. Jobs, one of the most successful chief executives in corporate history, once said he never thought of himself as a manager, but as a leader.” USA Today compared Jobs’ impact on our culture to that of Henry Ford and Walt Disney. Jay Samit, CEO of the digital advertising company SocialVibe, said that Jobs was one of the few executives who possessed “the vision to look farther down the road than the competition while micro-managing the present.” And Peter Sealey, former chief marketing officer of Columbia Pictures, said, “You’d have to go back to the 1940s and Walt Disney to find a CEO who’s had as big an impact on culture as Jobs. Maybe it’s a stretch to compare him with [Leonardo] Da Vinci, but he was just that good.”
Steve Jobs himself once described the passion-charged vision that drove him and his colleagues from the earliest days of Apple Computer:
Apple was this incredible journey. I mean, we did some amazing things there. The thing that bound us together at Apple was the ability to make things that were going to change the world. That was very important. We were all pretty young. The average age in the company was mid to late twenties. Hardly anybody had families at the beginning, and we all worked like maniacs, and the greatest joy was that we felt we were fashioning collective works of art much like twentieth-century physics. Something important that would last.
Building amazing things. Taking an incredible, joy-filled journey. Changing the world. That’s the stuff of passion, and the power of that passion is why vision keeps a leader fueled.
Third, vision helps you finish. Leadership isn’t easy. The road is hard, and there are deserts to cross, valleys to traverse, and mountains to climb or tunnel through. Your vision keeps you going through the tough times.
Every great leader, from Washington to Lincoln to Churchill to Disney to Jobs, has experienced discouraging failures and setbacks. Every one of these leaders would certainly have quit somewhere along the line if not for a vision. Because these leaders could see what others could not see, they refused to let any opponent or obstacle stand in their way. Their vision kept them focused and fueled—and their vision kept them moving toward their destination. As Steve Jobs once said, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
In part 1 of his interview with Auburn AD, Jay Jacobs, Pat Williams talks about the “Auburn Creed,” sports life in the SEC, conference realignment and the career of an athletic director.
In part 2 of his interview with Pat Williams, Auburn AD, Jay Jacobs, talks about the great student-athletes that have played at Auburn, athletic departments to be admired, and keys to leadership, teamwork and peak performance.
Bobby Jones was an outstanding player for the Philadelphia 76ers during my tenure there as general manager. He was not only a great defender and an ambidextrous shooter, but also a strong Christian leader and a man of great integrity and influence. He was intense on the court, yet humble and self-effacing off the court.
One of the first things Bobby did when he joined the Sixers was to come to me with a plan to hold a chapel service before Sunday afternoon games. I thought it was a terrific idea, and we began holding team chapels almost immediately. Only three players showed up at our first chapel—Bobby and Julius Erving from the Sixers and a Milwaukee player, Kent Benson. But from that small and inauspicious start, the concept of team chapels quickly spread throughout the NBA, and into the NFL and Major League Baseball, as well.
That’s just one example of the character of Bobby Jones. Here’s another:
One night, we were playing in San Antonio. Bobby raced toward the sideline after a loose ball that went out of bounds. The referee’s view was blocked, so he said, “Bobby! Did you touch that ball?”
“No, sir,” Bobby said, “I didn’t.”
The ref said, “Sixers’ ball.”
A week or so later, we were playing a home game at the Spectrum Arena in Philadelphia. The referee was assigned to the game. Once again, the ball headed out of bounds and Bobby reached for it. Just as before, the ref’s view was blocked.
“Bobby,” the ref called out, “did you touch that ball?”
“Yes, sir, I did.”
So the ball went to the other team.
The Sixers coach, Billy Cunningham, stomped his foot and said, “Bobby! Let the referees call the game!”
Bobby replied, “I can’t compromise my integrity over one call.”
Here was a young man who cared intensely about winning—but he cared even more about his integrity and influence. There are few players who could be trusted to make an honest call on themselves—but the refs knew that they could always get the truth from Bobby Jones. His influence was rooted in his uncompromising character.
Character is the key to influence.
When Chuck Daly was head coach of the Orlando Magic, he told me about a lesson he learned when he was an assistant to Vic Bubas, head basketball coach at Duke University in the 1960s: “Vic taught me to bite my tongue. He said, ‘You have to know when to talk to players and when to keep your peace.’ Vic taught me to always ask myself: ‘Will this player benefit from what I say? Or will he just become less coachable?’ Sometimes I would literally jam my knuckles in my mouth or look someplace else—anything to keep from saying what I was thinking.”
I was general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers when Harold Katz took over as our new owner. Harold was always eager to improve attendance at our games. One time, I came to him with an idea for a new promotion—God and Country Night. It was a flag-waving celebration of patriotism, and the event drew a sell-out crowd. The following day, Mr. Katz called me into his office, shook my hand, and said, “Brilliant promotion, Pat! I’m as proud of you as if you were my own son!”
Those words of empowerment really fired me up! I was walking six inches off the ground as I left his office. I went back to my desk and began cooking up more ideas. Two weeks later, I tried another promotion—and it fell flatter than a steamrolled tortilla. Not only did that promotion not draw the fans to the arena, I think it actually frightened fans away.
The next morning, Harold Katz called me into his office—and this time he was livid. “What kind of lame-brained idea was that, Williams? That’s got to be the worst ‘promotion’ in the history of professional sports! I’m taking this out of your paycheck!”
Well, he couldn’t actually take it out of my paycheck—but he really wanted to. I really thought my job was in jeopardy—and from then on, I hesitated to take any creative risks. Whenever I brainstormed ideas, I felt Mr. Katz breathing down my neck—and I decided to play it safe.
If you want to impact people and empower them to take creative risks and dare to attempt great things, then build them up, don’t tear them down. If they fail, pick them up and help them believe in themselves again. I’ve always tried to remember that lesson whenever people have disappointed me.
We are under scrutiny at all times, whether we know it or not. All around us, people are watching us, observing how we deal with adversity and opposition, how we respond to temptation, how we make wise decisions, and how we handle unfair criticism. We need to make sure that, when people watch our example, we never let them down or lead them astray.
I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February, 2011. When I started my chemo treatments in the spring of 2011, I’d come into the chemo room, sit down in my chair, and quietly receive the treatment without any conversation, without any real expression on my face. I didn’t talk to any of the other patients in the room. It was all rather impersonal - and, frankly, quite depressing.
One day, a nurse took me aside and said to me, “Mr. Williams, all these people in the other chemo chairs know who you are and what you’re going through. They’re all going through the same thing. So from now on when you come in here, would you do these people a big favor? Would you please go around to each of the other patients, put a smile on your face, give them a good word? If you would do that before you begin your treatment, I think it would make a big difference in the mood in that room—and it might even aid in everyone’s healing process.”
I took that nurse’s advice, and for the rest of the time that I went to my oncologist’s office for chemotherapy, all the way through the summer of 2011, I made a point of greeting my fellow patients. I high-five them and kibitz with them, and we mutually encourage each other. I’ve found that in the process of trying to be a positive influence in that chemo room, I get a lot positive influence in return. Good influence is good medicine.
I’m so glad I took that nurse’s advice. Now, wherever I go, wherever I speak and even through the pages of this blog, I’m doing the same thing I did in that chemo room. I’m trying to be continuously aware that people are watching my example, they’re observing how I deal with adversity, and they are looking to me for encouragement and hope. I don’t ever want to let them down. I don’t want to let you down.
Influence is the ability to change hearts and minds through the way we live our lives. Therefore, character is influence. If you lack character, you are incapable of genuine influence.
I urge you to teach the impact of character to your children, your students, your subordinates, and to everyone within your sphere of influence. Tape up quotations about character and influence around your home, by the bathroom mirror, or the family computer. Post character quotations around the locker room and the gym, around the classroom, around the church, around the office, or around the barracks.
Surround the people you care about with reminders that our influence flows from our character.