Monday, April 30, 2012


This past weekend, at A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium in Dallas, we were fortunate enough to hear from two legends in the game of basketball -- Jody Conradt and Marsha Sharp.  Over the next few days I will share some of my notes from both, starting today with Coach Conradt.

"Teaching and winning go hand in hand."

"The longer I coached the more I realized it was less about winning and more about relationships."

"Leadership is about helping other people love what they need to do."

"It is important for the head coach to give assistant coaches responsibilities on the court."

"Culture is the core values in which something is build."

"You must realize that incoming players are the product of previous cultures."

"The hardest part of recruiting is learning the intangibles, like their personality traits."

"It's more difficult to teach culture than to recruit them."

Player qualities that Coach Conradt looked for:

1. Focus/Intensity
Commit to goals
Need natural enthusiasm

"The must enjoyable teams are those that competed in practice.  Today, too many kids don't want to show up their teammates.  It is important to create an environment where competition is fun."

In talking of her 1986 National Championship, Coach Conradt said, "I never think of the title without thinking of the failures we had to overcome to get there."

2. Role Acceptance
Develop role ownership

The best thing to say about a player: "When she's on the floor, the others on the floor play better."

"Diversity makes our sport special and that includes skills."

Two things Coach Conradt avoiding saying:
#1 "My team" -- it is our team
#2 Calling her players "kids" -- because it gives them an out -- kids aren't supposed to make good decisions

"We send subtle messages in everything we say or do

Two things kill teams
#1 Selfishness
#2 Ego

3. Communication
Sounds simple but very difficult to teach
More about listening, sensing, feeling

No team can be successful without leaders.

"Basketball teams provide a laboratory to teach life-long lessons."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


The following comes from "Leadership Gold" by John Maxwell and speaks to many characteristics that are important in leadership, but points out that many standing alone does not a good leader make.  And, according to Maxwell, the most successful of leaders all share one trait -- PASSION! Here is what Maxwell has to say:

Passion is an incredible asset for any person, but especially for leaders. It keeps us going when others quit. It becomes contagious and influences others to follow us. It pushed us through the toughest of times and gives us energy we did not know we possessed. It fuels us in ways that the following assets can’t:

1. Talent…is never enough to enable us to reach our potential. There are many people in the world with great natural talent who never achieve personal or professional success. I feel so strongly about this that I wrote an entire book about it called Talent Is Never Enough. To be a successful leader—to be a successful person—you need more than just talent.

2. Opportunity…will never get us to the top by itself. Opportunities may open the door, but the success journey is often long and difficult. Without the passion that sustains when times get tough, people don’t make the most of their opportunities and they never reach their potential. As my friend Howard Hendricks says, “Don’t put live eggs under dead chickens.” That’s what opportunities are to people without passion.

3. Knowledge…can be a great asset, but it won’t make us “all we can be.” Being smart doesn’t make someone a leader. Neither does possessing credentials or college degrees. Some of America’s worst presidents are reputed to have been the smartest. Some of the greatest, such as Abraham Lincoln, had very little formal education. Formal education doesn’t make you a leader. I possess three college degrees including a doctorate, but I believe they have contributed very little to my success as a leader.

4. A great team…can fall short. It’s true that leaders cannot be successful without a good team. But having a good team does not guarantee success. A team with no heart and fuzzy leadership won’t succeed. Besides, if a team starts out strong but has a weak, passionless leader, the team will eventually become weak and passionless. As the Law of Magnetism says in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “We attract who we are, not who we want.”

5. What does a leader need to succeed? Passion. Passion is a real difference maker. It separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. When I think back on my career, I recognize that passion has enabled me to do the following:

Believe things I would not have believed

Feel things I would not have felt

Attempt things I would not have attempted

Accomplish things I would not have accomplished

Meet people I would not have net

Motivate people I would not have motivated

Lead people I would not have led

6. Passion has made an incredible difference in my life. As former GE CEO Jack Welch says, “The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders…people who not only have enormous amounts of energy, but who can energize those whom they lead.” In all my years of observing people, I have yet to meet an individual who reached his potential but didn’t possess passion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


For all of those that faithfully follow our blog, the most sincere apologies for being away for so long from our last post.  As many of you know, last week I accepted a position on the coaching staff at Texas A&M.  In many ways it was an exciting decision.  The Aggies have become one of the elite women's basketball programs in the nation under the direction of Gary Blair who has long been a friend of mine dating back to his tenure at Arkansas.  Over the years, and in great part because of A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium, I have become an admirer of Kelly Bond, our associate head coach at A&M.

But I must also tell you that it wasn't a "slam dunk" decision either.  My year at UCF was incredibly enjoyable -- again because of the ability to work for people I admirer and who have also been long-time friends.  Joi Williams is one of those special people in the business that not only is a great coach but genuinely cares about her student-athletes and the game itself.  She was a tremendous mentor for me this past season.  And of course, being together for a year with Greg Brown was both educational as well as entertaining.  Greg is an incredible talent in the business.  I also become close with the young ladies that were the UCF uniform and will closely follow them the remainder of their careers.

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement an activity.  Flying back and forth from Orlando to College Station -- attending season ending banquets for both teams -- putting one house up for sell and looking for a new home in a new community.  And to top that off, hitting the road immediately to begin recruiting this past weekend.

I spent the entire weekend in Norfolk, Virginia at Boo Williams, one of the great traditions in high school basketball for both boys and girls.  There were three things that struck me during the weekend with the first being the constant improvement of female basketball players.  They are getting stronger and quicker and more skilled (though I am sure you can say the same about the boys).  It's exciting to see our game grow in this manner.

The second thing I noticed was the many dedicated people that are working with these players.  AAU coaches aren't raking in big salaries...they are giving up weekends and much more time to help develop these players...and there are those that go above and beyond -- helping their young ladies not only grow as players but as people.

And finally I noticed is the quality of people that are coaching on the college level.  Sure, you will pick up the paper and occasionally read about a collegiate coach breaking rules or making poor life-decisions.  That type of behavior will always grab the headlines.  But for every one story of controversy there are thousands of coaches out there working, dedicated to mentoring their players on and off the court.  There are also coaches that care greatly about each other -- even though in a gym on a Saturday night they will work hard to defeat each other. 

Coaching creates a special bond within it's own community.  I'm excited to be an Aggie and proud to be in this profession.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


For all of us that coach, including our spouses, it is a profession of highs and lows -- a continual roller coaster ride.  For those that stay in it long-term, it is because of the love we have not just for the game, but more importantly for the young people we have the ability to impact. With it however, comes criticism, adversity and setbacks. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is ever easy in this job.

But then there are moments like yesterday.

When a coach realizes a dream because of countless years of hard work and paying his dues.  When a coach reaches that which he has sought and deserved because he pushed through the criticism, adversity and setbacks...because he has labored to master his craft...because he shows patience when necessary and class when many wouldn't.

For all of us in the LSU men's basketball family, yesterday evening created a watershed moment.  It will be an evening we will long remember because of our love for the LSU men's basketball program and especially because of our love for Johnny Jones.

I often speak of the honor I had working for Coach Dale Brown, but I also had the privilege of working along side Johnny.  From those many years forged a relationship that has altered who I am.  Johnny Jones is the closest thing I have to a brother. He introduced me to cigars and Sammy's Bar and Grill. He refined my love for jazz music and gave me lessons in Louisiana culture.  He taught me a lot about recruiting, teaching and how to treat people.  He certainly taught me the importance of long-term relationships and friendship.

Following Coach Brown's retirement, our career path's took a fork in the road, but we have always remained close and in contact and supported each other through the good times and bad times.  Nothing good or bad has ever happened for me that I didn't immediately get a phone call from Johnny along with sage words of advice, or thoughts of encouragement.  But what makes Johnny special is all the phones calls that come for no reason except to check on me and my family. 

Ironically, Johnny and I spoke via phone a half of dozen times in the past two weeks in part talking about the possibility of his return to LSU but also as I sought his advice for an important career decision I was about to make.  We all have (or should have) a couple of "go-to-guys" that we can count on that can be honest with us when we need advice -- Johnny is one of mine.

Johnny is a unique person that genuinely cares about everyone he comes to know.  It is that characteristic that makes him a marvelous recruiter as well as a quality teacher.  And it is that reason that all of us in the LSU men's basketball family were rejoicing last night.  It was an amazing evening talking to Tiger alums via text, facebook, and phone all night long -- celebrating a perfect union -- Johnny Jones and LSU Basketball!

One of my favorite things after he left LSU would be to meet Johnny at Sammy's Restaurant on his visits to Baton Rouge.  Having moved to Orlando last summer it's been about 7 months since we've had a chance to break bread.  Being scheduled to speak at A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium later this month in Dallas, the first thing I did was call Johnny and make sure we could get together for dinner.  In true Johnny Jones fashion the next thing out of his mouth was "you're staying at my house too."

The last conversation I had with Johnny right before he was offered the LSU job, we spoke about how if he was to land it, he wouldn't be in Dallas for our dinner.  He said, "I love ya Bobby, but I sure hope I'm not able to take you to dinner."  We both laughed.  And right now I'm sure glad we won't be meeting in Dallas.

Congratulations Johnny!  And congratulations LSU Men's Basketball!

Friday, April 13, 2012


The following was forwarded to me from my friend and mentor Dale Brown.  Excerpted by Phillip V Olsen, President of Know Your Strengths from the book "The Leadership Challenge" by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner.

Research conducted by the authors discovered five leadership practices that are shared by successful leaders. They include:

Challenging the Process
Those who lead others to greatness are challenge seekers. The challenge may be a product innovation or a reorganization that bucks the status quo. Often the leader’s role has more to do with recognizing the need for change and supporting and directing innovations than actually creating innovations. Great leaders take risks. They support experiments that may even result in failure because each failure brings the experimenter one step closer to success. Leaders learn from their mistakes (and the mistakes of others) as well as learning from their triumphs.

Inspiring a Shared Vision
Successful leaders have vision—a desire to change, create, and make things happen. They visualize the results of their vision before they realize how they will arrive at those results. Leaders must engage followers to help them turn their vision into a reality. Leaders get others to buy into their vision by enabling them to see the exciting possibilities and benefits of accomplishments. The leader’s own belief in and enthusiasm for the vision are the sparks that ignite inspiration in their followers.

Enabling Others to Act
Exemplary leaders enthusiastically enlist the support and assistance of all who must help make the project work. Leaders make it possible for their followers to do good work---they garner the resources, human and otherwise, that their team needs to be successful. They encourage collaboration, build teams and empower others. And, empowered people are much more likely to use their energies to produce extraordinary results.

Modeling the Way
Leaders must practice what they preach. They have to plan and lead by example if they want an enthusiastic following. Great leaders consistently demonstrate the characteristics, behaviors and values they believe are necessary to achieve the desired results.

Encouraging the Heart
The road to success can be long and difficult. It’s common for people to become exhausted, disheartened and frustrated as they encounter difficulties along the way. Leaders must encourage the heart of their followers to carry on despite adversity. One way of providing encouragement is by making a special point to celebrate successes along the way. And, successes can range from the completion of a significant project milestone to something as simple as receiving a compliment from a customer.

Here are a few practical suggestions for effective leadership:

1) Build your Team-Trust Your Subordinates
A leader cannot expect subordinates to maximize their efforts if they do not believe they are trusted and respected by their leader. Trust and respect among and between subordinates is also essential.

2) Develop a Vision
People want to follow someone who knows where they’re going.

3) Keep Your Cool
The best leaders show strong character, perseverance and tenacity under fire. “Circumstances don’t make the person, they merely reveal them.”

4) Encourage Risk-taking
Nothing can demoralize followers more quickly than believing that the slightest failure could ruin their career.

5) Be an Expert
Followers must be confident that their leader is knowledgeable.

6) Invite Constructive Dissent
Subordinates need to be encouraged and empowered to speak their mind on matters important to team success.

7) Simplify
When communicating with subordinates, leaders must present the big picture in a clear, understandable and honest manner.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I can't imagine any coach arguing with the fact that basketball players are bundles of habits.  Habits are such an incredibly important part of what they are and how they execute.  Of course habits can be good or bad.  Understanding the importance of habits I purchased the best-selling book "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg.  It was a fascinating read.  Here are just a few thoughts from the book regarding habits.

This first paragraph from the book breaks down habit and explains the three things needed for a habit.  This is important if you are interested in creating strong habits or replacing poor ones:

"The process within our brains is three-step loop.  first, there is a cue, a trigger that tell your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.  Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.  Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future."

I love Duhigg's two comments below -- it speaks that habits can be changed:

"Habits aren't destiny...habits can be ignored, changed, or replaced."

The follow thoughts are very profound.  You can't erase bad habits.  You can however, replace them.  It explains why I can change my diet, eating properly for three to four months, losing pounds left and right and then suddenly revert back to prior eating habits. 

"Habits never really disappear.  They're encoded into the structures of our brain, and that's a huge advantage of us, because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation.  The problem is that you brain can't tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it's always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards."

The above statement also speaks to the importance of working with players and teams on their strengths.  Too often, we spend too much time trying to improve a weakness to the point that the strength is not as strong as it once was.  They are all habits, good and bad -- we must continue to recognize the cues of the good habits, continue the routine necessary, and especially make sure rewards continue.

As Duhigg points out "...habits are surprisingly delicate."

"We might not remember the experiences that create our habits, but once they are lodged within our brains they influence how we act."

It is also important to recognize a habit when it becomes a habit.  As Duhigg tells us that "habits emerge without our permission."

How good is this book?  These few thoughts come from the first chapter alone!


Many in the coaching profession are well aware now of Villa 7 and the impact it has made in the men's basketball coaching profession.  For those that aren't, Villa 7 is held at the Nike Campus in Beaverton, Ore., and on VCU's campus in Richmond, Virginia.  Villa 7 is a partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Sport Leadership, VCU Athletics and Nike to bring together university athletic directors and the country’s elite assistant basketball coaches in an effort to prepare the next generation of college basketball leaders.

The founder of Villa 7, Dr. Richard Sander will be one of the keynote presenters at this year's "A Steps Up Assistant Coaching Symposium" in Dallas,   These are the type of speakers that make the symposium a must for all coaches looking to grow. When explaining the Assistant Coaching Symposium, I always refer to it as a "game changer" because of the type of information you gain during the weekend.  And just like a basketball team, it is special because of the people that are special.  Dr. Sander is a game changer and took some time to talk to me about Villa 7.

It is my understanding that you were involved in the ground floor of developing Villa 7. Could you talk about what the initial vision was for this project?

DR. SANDER: Yes, I developed both the concept and implemented the entire Villa 7 concept-----I was Athletic Director at VCU since 1986 and in the around 2002 I had Just hired jeff Capel as the youngest D1 coach and thought he would be with us for a long time----however he had success immediately and BCS schools pursued him---I realized I did not have a great handle on who were the best and brightest BCS assistants and I realized other mid-majors were in same situation so i developed a program where those assistants and AD's would have an opportunity to interact long before a coaching vacancy occurred.

What were some of challenges in creating the program and how did you overcome those challenges?

DR. SANDER: The biggest challenge was to get AD's to participate because the coaches saw this as a great opportunity to advance their careers as we held seminars on what AD's looked for in hiring and what expectations were and then both new head coaches and long-time coaches were very willing to share their thoughts----I had many AD friends who helped me spread the word----Tom O'Connor at George Mason, Wood Selig at Western Kentucky, Dave Mullins ETSU, Mike Capaccio at UNCW etc.

What would say are a few of benchmark moments for Villa 7?

DR. SANDER: The benchmark was seeing assistant coaches get head coaching jobs and stating that my program was very helpful----additionally I hired Anthony Grant at vcu after meeting him through Villa 7----if you look at some of the folks who participated Buzz Williams (Marquette), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Cliff Warren (Jacksonville), John Groce (Illinois), and about 40 more,----also working with George Raveling at Nike as a corporate partner.

As you look back now to what Villa 7 has evolved into, what are you most proud of?

DR. SANDER: Clearly that I have helped many of the today's head coaches have a smoother transition and understand the issues facing head coaches----clearly the program has benefitted many individuals and helped elevate the profession of basketball coaching.

Looking forward, what do you foresee for the future of Villa 7 and its role in athletics?

DR. SANDER: I think that Villa 7 is so well thought of that it will meet my initial objective of being the most significant coaching preparation and personal development tool for prospective head college coaches.

Monday, April 9, 2012


The following comes from the book, "The Difference Maker" by John Maxwell:

1. Your attitude makes a difference in your approach to life. Two men looked through prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars. The happiest people in life don’t necessarily have the best of everything. They just try to make the best of everything. A person’s attitude has a profound influence on his approach to life. Ask a coach before a big game whether his attitude and that of his players will make a difference in the outcome of the game. Ask a surgeon if the patient’s attitude matters when she’s trying to save that life in an emergency room. Ask a teacher if students’ attitudes have an impact before they take a test. One of the things I’ve learned is that life often gives you whatever you expect from it.

2. Your attitude makes a difference in your relationships with people. Southwest’s workers are empowered to evaluate situations and make decisions. And their focus is on people skills and the golden rule. To be successful, a person needs to be able to work well with others. That’s why Theodore Roosevelt said, “The most important single ingredient in the formula for success is knowing how to get along with people.”

• The Lens Principle: Who we are determines how we see others. Our perception of others depends more on our attitude than it does their characteristics.

• The Pain Principle: Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by them. Our negative experiences and emotional baggage color our perception of others’ actions.

• The Elevator Principle: We can lift people up or take them down in our relationships. People possess a mind-set of either lifting or limiting others.

• The Learning Principle: Each person we meet has the potential to teach us something. Some people possess a teachable attitude, and they assume that they can learn something from everyone they meet. Others look down on many people and assume that they have nothing to offer.

While it’s trust that some people just seem to have a naturally winning way with others, even someone with limited natural people skills can learn to win with others if he decides to have a positive attitude toward people.

3. Your attitude makes a difference in how you face challenges. It’s said that when U.S. Marine Chesty Puller found himself surrounded by eight enemy divisions during the Korean War, his response was, “All right, they are on our left. They are on our right. They’re in front of us. They’re behind us—they can’t get away from us this time!” I once heard a lecturer say that no society has ever developed tough men during times of peace.

You can see this pattern in the lives of great men and women:

Demosthenes, called the greatest orator of ancient Greece, possessed a speech impediment. Legend has it he overcame it by reciting verses with pebbles in his mouth and speaking over the roar of the waves at the seashore.

Martin Luther, father of the Reformation, made use of the time he was confined in the castle of Wartburg to translate the New Testament into German.

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his greatest symphonic masterpieces after he had become deaf.

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress while in prison. Daniel Defoe also wrote while in prison, producing Robinson Crusoe.

Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be the best of the United States’ presidents, yet he probably would not have stood out as a great leader has he not led the country through the Civil War. Often difficult circumstances seem to be instrumental in the creation of great leaders and thinkers. But that is the case only when their attitudes are right.

When a problem comes into contact with someone who has a positive attitude, the result is often something wonderful. Out of the turmoil that problems cause can emerge great statesmen, scientists, authors, or business-people. Every challenge has an opportunity. And every opportunity has a challenge. A person’s attitude determines how she handles those.

4. Your attitude is the difference maker. Many medical personnel say they have seen a positive correlation between people’s attitudes and their ability to recover from illnesses such as cancer. Poet John Milton wrote,

The Mind is its own place, and it itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.
Your attitude has a profound influence on how you see
the world—and thus on the way you live out your life.
Attitude is important. It is so important that it truly
is the difference maker. It isn’t everything, but it is one
thing that can make a difference in your life.


I recieved the below email newsletter from the late, great Jim Rohn this morning and it reminded me of my favorite cartoons which you can see above.  They are both reminders that the biggest enemies we have, the greatest obstacles we must overcome, the stiffest challenges we will face don't come from without --- but from within.  One of my favortie mantra's is the "Mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1."  Here is what Jim Rohn had to say about our inner fears:

We are not born with courage, but neither are we born with fear. Maybe some of our fears are brought on by your own experiences, by what someone has told you, by what you've read in the papers. Some fears are valid, like walking alone in a bad part of town at two o'clock in the morning. But once you learn to avoid that situation, you won't need to live in fear of it.

Fears, even the most basic ones, can totally destroy our ambitions. Fear can destroy fortunes. Fear can destroy relationships. Fear, if left unchecked, can destroy our lives. Fear is one of the many enemies lurking inside us.

Let me tell you about five of the other enemies we face from within. The first enemy that you've got to destroy before it destroys you is indifference. What a tragic disease this is. "Ho-hum, let it slide. I'll just drift along." Here's one problem with drifting: you can't drift your way to the top of the mountain.

The second enemy we face is indecision. Indecision is the thief of opportunity and enterprise. It will steal your chances for a better future. Take a sword to this enemy.
The third enemy inside is doubt. Sure, there's room for healthy skepticism. You can't believe everything. But you also can't let doubt take over. Many people doubt the past, doubt the future, doubt each other, doubt the government, doubt the possibilities and doubt the opportunities. Worst of all, they doubt themselves. I'm telling you, doubt will destroy your life and your chances of success. It will empty both your bank account and your heart. Doubt is an enemy. Go after it. Get rid of it.

The fourth enemy within is worry. We've all got to worry some. Just don't let it conquer you. Instead, let it alarm you. Worry can be useful. If you step off the curb in New York City and a taxi is coming, you've got to worry. But you can't let worry loose like a mad dog that drives you into a small corner. Here's what you've got to do with your worries: drive them into a small corner. Whatever is out to get you, you've got to get it. Whatever is pushing on you, you've got to push back.

The fifth interior enemy is over-caution. It is the timid approach to life. Timidity is not a virtue; it's an illness. If you let it go, it'll conquer you. Timid people don't get promoted. They don't advance and grow and become powerful in the marketplace. You've got to avoid over-caution.

Do battle with the enemy. Do battle with your fears. Build your courage to fight what's holding you back, what's keeping you from your goals and dreams. Be courageous in your life and in your pursuit of the things you want and the person you want to become.


I blogged last week about A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium and wanted to give a little more time today to the men's version which will be held in Dallas on May 4-6.  As I mentioned in my last blog, this is like no clinic you have ever attended!  It is going to give you all the things you need to improve as an assistant coach as well great insight to move up the ladder.  Take a look at the experts you will learn from:

Dave Dickerson - Ohio State University
Joe Dooley - University of Kansas
Mike Dunlap - St. John's University
Ray Giacoletti - Gonzaga University
Matthew Graves - Butler University
Bob Lanier - University of Texas
Tony Pujol -University of Alabama
Dwayne Stephens - Michigan State University
Jerome Tang - Baylor University
James Whitford - University of Arizona

As you look at the field of speakers you see National Champions, Final Fours, Conference Championships and much more.  These are the best of the best and they are going to share things that aren't shared at any other clinic.  Take a look at these topics:

1. Building a Program to National Prominence
2. Developing Game Changers
3. Elevating Your Coaching Profile
4. Owning Your Game Plan and Scouting Report
5. Secrets of Recruiting Success
6. What Head Coaches Need & Look for in Assistant Coaches
7. Athletic Directors Panel -- How They Evaluate Coaches
8. Plus a keynote message from a Coaching Legend

There will also be roundtable discussions for you to select specific coaches and topics that are pertinent to you.  Not only is it a great opportunity to learn specific information in regard to being a better assistant coach and moving up the ladder, but it is a great way to network.

I have often referred to A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium as a game changer -- it will make a strong and immediate impact in your career.

IMPORTANT: 7 days left for the Early Bird Special of $200....After April 16th $225.

Check here for more info:

Friday, April 6, 2012


People who are continually angry devour, at least, much of what is good about them.  An angry coach loses his capacity to think -- to rationally assess, understand, and solve whatever needs a solution.

One of the dangers of being angry is that once a coach starts on it, he is apt to get much more than he bargained for.  And so do the objects of his anger.

The coach should have a good reason for it -- and be in control of it.  Meaning, anger acted out as a tool -- to teach or get one's attention -- can be an effective coaching device.  It should be purposeful, calculated, and controlled.

One million brain cells are destroyed every day.  Coaches shouldn't waste what they have left -- and need.

We may ride anger for a short while, but it will ride us in the long run.

From "Coaching The Mental Game" by H. A. Dorfman


The following are just a few notes I took from a wonderful book by Stephen Covey titled "First Things First" -- one of the absolute best books on how to prioritize your life.

“It takes courage to realize that you are greater than your moods, greater than your thoughts, and that you can control your moods and thoughts.”

“Educating the heart is the critical complement to educating the mind.”

“The value of any week is not limited to what we do in it; it’s also in what we learn from it.”

“It takes humility to seek feedback, it takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it.”

“Success is always inside out.”

“The best way to develop courage is to set a goal and achieve it, make a promise and keep it.”
“Becoming principle-centered is just that: becoming. It’s not arriving; it’s a lifetime quest.”

“Life is learning – from our mistakes as well as our success. ‘The only real mistake in life,” said one, ‘is the mistake not learned from.’”

“Each decision we make is an important decision.”

“Our two greatest gifts are time and the freedom to choose. The key is not ‘spending’ time, but ‘investing’ it.”

“But long-term, the Law of the Farm governs in all areas of life. And there’s no way to fake the harvest.”
“Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies.”

“The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

“An individual’s life is part of a greater whole.”


Time for me to get on my soapbox and give a big shoutout to "A Step Up: Assistant Coaching Symposium."  I will be participating in my third one this year.  Each year I have had the privilege of speaking, but I promise you the thrill for me is listening to the other presenters and networking with the other assistant coaches.  This is a somewhat long blog post but every assistant coach needs to read it.  Just like "A Step Up: Assistant Coaching Symposium" it will be an investment into your future!

And before I go any further, this isn't just for women's basketball assistant coaches.  For the first time, there is a weekend just for men's assistant coaches with some of the top collegiate men's assistant coaches in the country. Check out the line up:  Of course the women are not be out done with their list either:

I love that Felicia & Johnny Allen, the creators of this incredible weekend, have labeled it a "symposium."  The biggest mistake you could make is to think that this is a run-of-the-mill coaching clinic -- nothing could be further from the truth.  Certainly there are basketball components such as skill development lectures but here are many other topics that have been presented in past years that you will not get anywhere else:

A Step Up has brought in some of the nation's best recruiters to discuss everything from organization, telephone and mail communication, in-home visit and official visit strategies.  As with every topic from every speaker, there are visual presentations and passouts for you to take home.  In fact, they give a notebook full of material that is worth the cost of information because it is information that you can't find anywhere else.  Presenters come from all levels of college basketball because they know that many schools have limitations on budgets and resources.

Crisis Management
This was actually my topic last year that I shared along with Notre Dame assistant coach Carol Owens.  Here are some bullet points from my notes:

Crisis Management (Part I)

Crisis Management (Part II)

This was my topic the first year.  In past years, Al Brown (Duke) and Greg Brown (UCF) have spoke on this topic giving insight on what to look for when breaking down video, how to organize your thoughts, and how to give the information to your team.

The Use of Social Media
Again, this was another topic of mine from last year where I tried to impart not just the proper way to utilize social media as a coach but how you can maximize the various means to benefit your program. 

Love the various way Felicia and Johnny work this in each year.  It can deal with ethics in recruiting, among ourselves as assistants or loyalty to our head coaches.  Here is a blog post by John Margaritas on loyalty and other traits for assistant coaches:

What Head Coaches Really Want
The symposium will also bring in head coaches to speak -- so they can tell you what they are looking for in assistant coaches.  Last year, former National Championship head coach Carolyn Peck did an incredible job of letting us know what she looked for as well as some great lessons she learned from some Hall of Fame mentors:

What Do AD's Look for in Head Coaches?
Want to learn straight from the mouth of the decision makers?  There are going to be a panel discussion each year at both symposiums with actual Athletic Directors as to what they are looking for when they hire a head coach as well as their expectations for their current coaches.

Expert Speakers -- Pertinent Topics
It wasn't that long ago that Karen Aston was one of the nation's top assistant coaches before head coaching stops at UNC-Charlotte and North Texas.  Last week she was named head coach at the University of Texas.  She did an incredible job of presenting at the first symposium and on a great subject matter: How To Position Yourself As A Valuable Part of Your Program.  Here is my blog post on her presentation:

Looking for the best in the industry? Felicia and John deliver every year.  Last year we were treated to an afternoon in Tim Grovers' facility in Chicago to watch him and his staff work out some athletes.  Afterwards, Tim addressed our group and answered questions.  My blog post on Tim Grover:

Each year "A Step Up" features a retired great who comes back and addresses the group.  This is certainly one of my favorite parts.  First, I think it incredibly important for young coaches to meet, listen and learn from the ones who paved the way.  One my idols, Jody Conradt is speaking this year.  Last year, Hall of Famer Theresa Grentz spoke -- here are my thoughts:

Round Table Discussions
Not only does "A Step Up" provide topics relative to being an assistant coach, but they allow you to get directly involved by setting up round table discussions where you get to pick coaches and topics to learn about by sitting in asking questions.  I have had the honor of heading some tables and end up learning from those who visit with me.  It is an incredible exchange of information.

Need A Job?
First of all, this is an incredible place to network and meet people -- the most important thing in getting a job.  Second, Felicia takes time out of session to introduce any coach that doesn't have a job and let them address the group to tell them a little about themselves.

I close with two more thoughts.  First, my biggest regret is they didn't have this symposium when I first started coaching -- it's that special!  You will leave after the weekend with the best feeling knowing you have learned actual things that will immediately make you a better assistant coach.  Second, I don't know of two people that care deeply about assistant coaches more that Felicia and Johnny!  Like I said earlier -- THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE INVESTMENT IN YOUR FUTURE -- I hope to see you there!!!

To register for the men's symposium: 
To register for the women's symposium:


In 2008, Pat Williams, the GM of the Orlando Magic and a tremendous motivational speaker put out a book, "The Ultimate Coaches' Clinic." It is a fascinating book because of the style Pat utilized. He surveyed over 1000 coaches and administrators for insights to what is important to successfully do their job. It is a great book to own and I highly recommend it. Here are some thoughts from Pat Summitt:

Communicating is not just about giving great speeches. It’s about allowing others to express themselves. Often a strong, dominant leader is the worst listener. He or she is too busy telling everyone else what to do and what to think. The more I have listened to our players, the better I have known them and understood them, and the easier it has been to know the right things to say to them. While you are listening to someone, don’t just take in the words. Study the speaker. Be aware of the speaker’s voice and mannerisms. Notice what his effect is on you. Become aware of your own voice and body language too.

Coaching, parenting, and working in an office are all alike in one respect. To be credible, you must be consistent. Any sign of inconsistency and you instantly lose credibility.

Your competitors make you better. Having worthy adversaries stimulates your work ethics, and bring out qualities you may not have known you had. So don’t resent them. You should love your competitors. And you should thank them.

People will perform so much better if they understand their specific role and what is expected of them. It’s like the potluck dinner: It doesn’t work if it’s disorganized and unclear. If people don’t know what they’re supposed to bring, you don’t get a good dinner. Some people bring too much, others bring nothing at all.


The following comes form "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield and I think is a great exercise to do with your team.  Student-athletes rarely realize that value of their associations.  Once with Coach Dale Brown at LSU, we took our team to Angola State Prison.  This was something that Coach Brown did about every four years.  He would always have a couple of the inmates speak to the team.  One year a young man spoke about hanging around a group of "friends" when a couple of them decided to rob a convenient store.  One had a gun and a patron got shot and killed.  This young man had no idea that was going to happen but now he was serving a great portion of his life behind bars simply because he didn't wisely choose his friends.

That may be an extreme case but is certainly valuable.  People that are constantly negative or don't believe in you "rob" you as well.  Here is what Canfield wrote about:

I’d like you to do a valuable exercise that my mentor W. Clement Stone did with me. Make a list of everyone you spend time with on a regular basis—your family members, coworkers, neighbors, friends, people in your civic organization, fellow members of your religious group, and so on.

when you’ve completed your list, go back and put a minus sign (-) next to those people who are negative and toxic, and a plus sign (+) next to those who are positive and nurturing. As you make a decision about each person, you might find that a pattern will begin to form. Perhaps your entire workspace is filled with toxic personalities. Or perhaps it’s your friends who naysay everything you do. Or maybe it’s your family members who constantly put you down and undermine your self-esteem and self-confidence.

I want you to do the same thing that Mr. Stone told me to do. Stop spending time with those people with a minus sign next to their name. If that is impossible (and remember, nothing is impossible; it is always a choice), then severely decrease the amount of time you spend with them. You have to free yourself from the negative influence of others.

Think about it. I’m sure you know people who only have to walk into the room to totally drain you of energy. I refer to these people as psychic vampires. They literally suck the life energy right out of you. Stop spending time with them.

Are there people in your life who are always complaining and blaming others for their circumstances? Are there people who are always judging others, spreading negative gossip, and talking about how bad it is? Stop spending time with them as well.

Are there people in your life who, simply by calling you on the telephone, can bring tension, stress, and disorder to your day? Are there dream0stealers who tell you that your dreams are impossible and try to dissuade you from believing in and pursuing your goals? Do you have friends who constantly attempt to bring you back down to their level? If so, then it is time for some new friends!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I don't think it's a secret to many that I great respect Coach Nick Saban and his coaching philosophy.  He is always preaching to his team about the importance of the "process."  I thought it was interesting in this article written by Mark Schlabach he walks the walk in terms of what motivates him as a coach:

"To me, as a coach, and I think that's why I like college coaching, it's not just about winning games," Saban said. "I'm not saying I don't want to win every game and win championships, but from a job standpoint it's a great profession because you have a great opportunity to affect young people and help them be successful. If you go out and talk to anybody that's an athlete, almost every one of them will tell you about some coach they had somewhere that had a huge impact on their lives. That's kind of why I do this."

The tail end of Saban's coaching career -- he said he'll coach as long as he still likes being around his players -- might be more about writing his legacy than padding his already impressive résumé.

"It's not about when am I going to be able to enjoy it, or are the expectations going to be greater next year?" Saban said. "I understand all of that, and I know all the love I get around here is conditional on one thing, and that's winning the game. I understand all of that. But if I didn't get positive self-gratification from helping kids and helping them graduate from school, being better people and being all they can be as football players, I wouldn't do this.

"It wouldn't be worth it to me. It wouldn't be worth the time, the sacrifice, and the family sacrifices I've had to make over the years with my own kids and wife. It's just not worth it. You can go make all the money in the world, but when you die, they bury it with you. There is no legacy to it. There won't be something they remember you for or talk about."

Read the entire article here:


On March 14, 1986, just less than a year before his death, Woody Hayes delivered the commencement address at Ohio State. These excerpts were published in "Woody Hayes: A Reflection by Paul Hornung."

Try to take that attitude toward life, that you're going to pay forward. So seldom can we pay back because those who helped most--your parents and other people--will be gone, but you'll find that you do want to pay. Emerson had something to say about that: "You can pay back only seldom." But he said, "You can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent." He said, "Beware of too much good accumulating in your palm or it will fast corrupt." That was Emerson's attitude, and no one put it better than he did.

I'd like to give you a little advice today. I'll try not to give you too much, just a little bit. One thing you cannot afford to do--that's to feel sorry for yourself. That's what leads to drugs, to alcohol, too those things that tear you apart. In football we always said that the other team couldn't beat us. We had to be sure that we didn't beat ourselves. And that's what people have to do, too--make sure they don't beat themselves.

So many times you have fond here at the University people who were smarter than you. I found them all the way through college and in football: bigger, faster, harder. They were smarter people than I. But you know what they couldn't do? They couldn't outwork me. I ran into opposing coaches who had much better backgrounds than I did and knew a lot more about football than I did. But they couldn't work as long as I did. They couldn't stick in there as long as I could. You can outwork anybody. Try it and you'll find out you can do it.

Hard work, tough decisions, teamwork, family values, and paying ahead will help to change this world and make it a better place, And I have no idea but that you have the attitude and the capacity and the ability here to go on and help make this a greater world.

Godspeed in the meantime to all of you. Thank you very much.


"Judge a person by their questions,
rather than their answers."
~ Voltaire

The willingness to ask questions coupled with the discipline to seek out answers separates leaders from followers. Influencers question assumptions, inquire about the environment around them, and probe into the future. They have an insatiable appetite to learn, and they convert their knowledge to action at light speed.

The Value of Questions
While leaders constantly investigate their surroundings, the most important questions they ask are the ones they pose to themselves. By routinely questioning their goals, motives, and purpose leaders renew their self-identity along with their sense of perspective. Consider the following benefits of examining yourself as a leader.

1) Quality Questions Create a Quality Life
You only get answers to the questions you ask. If you won't dare to wrestle with the tough dilemmas in life, then you'll live small.

2) Focused Questions Stimulates Creative Thinking
A well-considered question penetrates to the heart of the matter and triggers new ideas and insights.

3) Honest Questions Lead to Solid Convictions.
Inquisitiveness clarifies morals and beliefs. Values are shaped when you force yourself to be truthful in answering tough questions about where you stand on key issues.

4) Correct Questions Help Us Find Ourselves and Our Mission.
Tackling life's biggest questions brings direction and meaning to life's journey. Bob Buford captures this thought in his book, The Second Half.

What is your passion? What have you achieved? What have you done uncommonly well? How are you wired? Where do you belong? What are the ‘shoulds' that have trailed you during the first half? These and other questions like them will direct you toward the self your heart longs for; they will help you discover the task for which you were especially made. Throughout your years in leadership, if you know the right questions then you will ultimately gain the right answers.

Questions I Ask Myself as a Leader

1) Am I Investing in Myself?
This question probes your commitment to personal growth. An empty glass won't refresh anyone. Before you can influence others, you need to contain something worth offering to others.

Don't be content to stockpile knowledge. Once you've ascertained a new insight or developed a skill, pass on what you've discovered. A learner builds reservoir of learning, whereas a leader becomes a river of learning for others.

2) Am I Genuinely Interested In Others?
This question delves into motives. As J.P. Morgan cynically observed, "A man always has two reasons for doing anything - a good reason and the real reason." Since leaders are inclined to figure out situations before anyone else, they have capacity to take advantage of others. For this reason, it's essential to regularly question your motives. There's a fine line between manipulation and motivation. The former moves people for personal benefit, while the latter moves people for mutual gain.

3) Am I Doing What I Love and Loving What I Do?
This question determines passion. You will never find your passion doing work you despise. If you go to work only to fulfill processes and functions then you're in jeopardy of losing your humanity and turning into a machine. "Find your passion and follow it," is all the career advice you'll ever need. Passion gives you the edge by endowing you with more energy than others have.

4) Am I Taking Others to a Higher Level?
This question has to do with mission. Regardless of your industry, as a leader, you're in the people development business. Fulfilling your mission depends upon lifting the performance of those you lead. As Zig Ziglar says, "You can get everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." By adding value to those you lead, you're investing in men and women with the potential to multiply your influence exponentially.

5) Am I Taking Care of Today?
How you treat today speaks volumes about your likelihood of success. In fact, if I spent one day observing your priorities, behaviors, and interactions with people, then, with about 90% accuracy, I could let you know your leadership potential. Why would I be so certain in my judgment? Because I've learned that the secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.

The great artist, Pablo Picasso, once remarked, "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." I tend to agree, and I think Picasso's observation carries truth for leaders as well. Regardless of your technical skill or relational charm, you'll be inhibited as a leader until you learn the art of asking questions. Knowing how has merit, but influencers will always be the men and women who understand why.