- Don’s time mentoring under legendary UCLA coach John Wooden (for those unfamiliar… he won a record 7 NCAA Basketball Championships… IN A ROW… still a record today). So many business and life lessons from Don’s time spent with Coach Wooden.
- Unheard stories from Don’s one-on-one time with Michael Jordan (literally in this case), Walter Payton, and Mike Krzyzewski. I love how Don applies the lessons learned from these greats to your business and better leading your team.
- Don shares all of his writing secrets… How he promotes his books, his writing process, how he leverages his network. A ton of incredible tips for advisors out there who have both written a book or have dreamed about becoming an author.
- One last thing… don’t miss Don’s generous offer to share an actual outline he’s used to write one of his best selling books to get you would-be authors started. It’s available above!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
This episode is brought to you by BombBomb.com. Yeah, you heard me right, that’s the name of a really cool service I’m guessing you’ve never heard of… Let me ask you this, how many unread emails do you have sitting in your inbox right now? Well, it’s the same for your prospects that get bombarded with emails every day… Enter BombBomb.com, imagine combining YouTube with your favorite email delivery system like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, or InfusionSoft, well you’ve pretty much got BombBomb.
I tap the app on my iPhone or log into their website (I’m actually recording this right now on their service) and after shooting a quick video, selecting the list of clients or prospects I’d like to send it to, and pushing send – my video is in their inbox with a couple of minutes with my video to click right at the top.
YES, it’s that easy to actually get your message out there and communicated, nobody wants to read your emails! And by the way, it gives you all the analytics on the back end, who’s opened it, who’s watched the video and everything else you’d want to know.
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Scroll below for links and show notes… Enjoy!
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Don Yaeger
- Sports Illustrated
- Great Teams: 16 Things High Performing Organizations Do Differently by Don Yaeger
- A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring by Don Yaeger and John Wooden
- Greatness: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions by Don Yaeger
- The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
- Connect with Don Yaeger: Website | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
- Coolest sports experience you’ve had in your life? [2:05]
- What was it like being in John Wooden’s presence? [7:30]
- What led you to go and see Wooden every other month for 12 years?[11:40]
- Story behind John Wooden’s last book written while he was alive [16:55]
- Path from Sports Illustrated to now [18:10]
- Advice for those who want to become an author [20:00]
- New book explanation [24:30]
- Sense of purpose and Mike Krzyewski, head basketball coach at Duke University [27:00]
- Lessons to help individuals guide and grow a team [36:00]
- Team building exercises for financial advisors [40:00]
- Common mistake for first time author [43:45]
- Inspiration from Walter Peyton [47:30]
- Promoting books [51:00]
- Rapid fire questions [1:01:10]
PEOPLE MENTIONEDRead More
[00:02:36] Brad: If you happen to be a sports fan this show is going to be a lot of fun for you. I have the privilege of chatting with nine time New York Times bestselling author, Don Yaeger. Not only is Don co-authored books with the likes of Walter Payton, John Wooden and Warrick Dunn. He’s spent over a decade as an associate editor at Sports Illustrated and have the opportunity to rub elbows with legends from every sport imaginable. After re-listening to the show to grab some highlights for you guys this definitely ranks as one of my favorite conversations I’ve ever done on this show as I was literally scribbling notes that I’ve missed during the live record. Here are few of the highlights Don and I cover. Right out of the gates Don shares an incredible story about his time with legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden. For those of you unfamiliar, Coach Wooden won a record seven NCAA basketball championships in a row. Still a record today and unheard of 10 over a 12 year span. I won’t spoil it but so many business and life lessons from Don’s times spent with Coach Wooden. We get into stories from Don’s times with Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Mike Krzyzewski to name just a few and what I love is that these aren’t just old war stories from Don’s time at SI. He talks about lessons learned from these greats and how you can apply them to your business and use them to better lead your team.
Finally I’d be doing all of you a disservice if I didn’t take some time to ask a nine time New York Times bestseller about writing. Don shares all of his secrets here, how he promotes his books, his writing process, how he leverages his network just a ton of incredible tips for you advisors out there who have both written a book or have dream about becoming an author. One last thing during our conversation, Don made a generous offer to share an actual outline he’s used to write one of his bestselling books to get you would-be authors started. As a thank you to all you Blueprint listeners, we’ve made it super easy to download at bradleyjohnson.com/outline. You can get the outline along with show notes that include links to all the resources, books and everything else we covered there. As always thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with Don Yaeger.
[00:04:56] Brad: Welcome everyone to The Elite Advisor Blueprint podcast. I have a special guest, Don Yaeger, eight-time bestselling… is it still eight Don? New York Times bestseller or if you added any since the last time we talked.
[00:05:09] Don Yaeger: It’s nine but who’s counting?
[00:05:11] Brad: It’s nine now? So I’ve got to update my bio information. So congratulations. What was the most recent one you added?
[00:05:18] Don: It’s about Thomas Jefferson and his battle with the Muslim pirates of North Africa.
[00:05:23] Brad: Wow.
[00:05:24] Don: I have ventured into a couple of history books that have done very well.
[00:05:29] Brad: So you have such a diverse background it’s awesome to talk about. So you’re a nine time New York Times bestselling author, you’re an executive coach, you helped businesses with your team culture, you are also the longtime associate editor of Sports Illustrated as well.
[00:05:46] Don: Pretty crazy
[00:05:48] Brad: How long was Sports Illustrated running for?
[00:05:52] Don: 12 years. It was 12 years and I ended up… it was one of those things where you’re on the road all the time so you ultimately… when they offered an early retirement package a few years ago, I jumped on it for the opportunity to spend more time at home.
[00:06:08] Brad: Because you’ve got some little ones at home as well, don’t you?
[00:06:11] Don: I do, I have a seven year old and a six year old. Hard to believe.
[00:06:15] Brad: I feel you there. Six almost five and six months old so we decided to hit the reset button and start over.
[00:06:22] Don: Man… dude I pray for you.
[00:06:25] Brad: Thank you. So I know we’ve got about an hour here today so with all of your amazing content, everything I’ve had the pleasure of hearing you speak a couple times. I just want to get straight to it here so for all the listeners you are in for a treat today, Don is the man. So the first thing that we have to hit right of the bat is with obviously 12 years at Sports Illustrated, you’ve had the opportunity to write books with Walter Payton, John Wooden, Warrick Dunn, those are just off the top of my head. I know there’s a lot more than that. What is the coolest sports experience you’ve ever had in your life?
[00:07:07] Don: Well I have to say a few years ago, Michael Jordan does an old man basketball camp where he brings a hundred old guys who love the game, who love to play to Las Vegas and you play against each other for several days. It’s a bunch of guys who don’t belong in a court together anymore, still throwing elbows at each other but on the third day of that event, he actually pulls 20 of us out off the court and this is just the day the 20 of you get to go one on one with the greatest player of all time which is pretty impressive right? You can actually call yourself that and have nobody argue with you. Pretty awesome. I happen to be one of the 20 guys and Jordan’s assistant steps in and says, “the rules are really simple, the deal is that today you’re going to play a game to one. The first guy to score wins, between you and Michael, and by the way Michael’s going to start with the ball.”
So the odds of you who scored are really low but she doesn’t say that she doesn’t have to. Jordan steps in and says “While you’re thinking about what you’re going to do when you get your chance on the court and realize that I’ve been doing this for nine years and in nine years five guys never scored on me and today there won’t be a sixth” so it’s totally in your head right? Well, the guy two in front me, he went out to guard Jordan he actually went out and threw his elbow in Jordan’s chest and Jordan decided to make sure he understood what that meant he ball swiped him, knocked his arm away and the guy actually is falling on his backside, Jordan takes two dribbles, dunks it ferociously, pulls the ball out of the net and he chucks it on to our buddy right? As he’s laying there on the floor, Jordan throws the ball at him and he’s just, “now you know what it’s like to be spanked like a bad child” total trash talker.
[00:08:52] So I came up two guys later and I back off, I decided to give Jordan space and he looks at me and says, “are you really going to give me the shot?” and I looked back at him and I said, “I don’t think you have it in you” and Jordan wasn’t used to people talking trash back at him. He shakes his head goes up takes the shot and misses. So I get the rebound and then I take it back outside the 3-point line which I had to do and Jordan was stepping up and as he does so I said, “Michael, aren’t you going to return the favor?” encouraging him to be a bad defender. He looks at me and said, “I know you don’t have that shot in you” and as Jordan steps up I actually stepped back in 26 feet at the shot that I’ll talk about for the rest of my life and Jordan is actually… when I do this as a part of a speech there’s a picture of Jordan right afterward when I’m all goofy trying to get a high five from him and you can read his lips, he’s using a few bombs on me at that moment and immediately starts asking me for a rematch to which I said, “dude you had your shot.”
Anyway that story was just really great lesson because it gave me an opportunity to engage Jordan over the discussion about how a great one’s handle failure and losses really, in anything even if it’s a charity event, in a silly moment like that, the great one’s take those moments personally in ways that allow them to separate themselves from other people and so it’s a story I love to tell but more importantly it’s a lesson that I love to remember which is, that if you want to be great, you have to take those moments seriously and you have to realize that every opportunity we have to compete is an opportunity for us to measure ourselves not necessarily against other people but measure ourselves.
[00:10:44] Brad: And you were officially the sixth man on Jordan’s camp. You got a plaque or something for that.
[00:10:52] Don: Well, I still play in his golf tournament and some other things and Jordan will walk up after I’m talking to some guys. He knows that I… I mean that’s the first thing I want to tell them right? And Jordan always walks up and he says, “You still telling that BS story?” and I always remind him, “Michael, I will tell the story until the day I die.”
[00:11:12] Brad: I would to. I’m sure it’s made handed to friends, it would be all over the place.
[00:11:17] Don: There is… they actually… my son when he was… this happened a few years ago and my wife had a bib made for my son that said, “my daddy scored on Jordan” so if that’s all people remember at me and I’m okay with that.
[00:11:31] Brad: That’s awesome. Cool, thanks for sharing that. So let’s just stick down this path, we’re going to get to a book you’re just getting ready to release that talks about a lot of this lessons. So as I was reading and as I have gotten to know you a little bit over the years from having you speak and work with our company in different ways. One thing that’s always fascinated me is your closeness… your exposure to John Wooden who obviously from a coaching aspect… I don’t know that there’s a greater coach that ever lived and then it’s kind of after the fact, all of these businesses are like, “oh wait, the way he coached you can actually… it can help you run a more successful business and team and how you can incorporate a lot of these lessons” so what was that like being in John Wooden’s presence? If you can start there.
[00:12:27] Don: Sure. I will tell you I mean Coach Wooden for as great as he was. Think about it, the guy won 10 national championship, he was the… as you said in his space, in his sport best greatest of all time like no one’s close and yet he had this unbelievable humility about him. Every time I would be with him, we would go out to eat at the same restaurant every morning and the same restaurant every evening. I remember when they were asking him “Coach Wooden “how many days a week do you eat here for breakfast?” and he said, “Conservatively, seven.”
He was this creature of habit, but everyday while we were there the waitress would be the same waitress that was in the day before and the next day after that and everyday John would find something to complement her about. You know, “your hair is looking really good today. I don’t know what’s making you smile like that but you look like you’re beaming of something.” He find something everyday to say to her and it was just an amazing… in that little restaurant you could argue the greatest man in that restaurant, nobody else would have a funeral like him and yet he found a way to be… to compliment and be in relation with everybody that was around him it was just…
[00:13:55] I was telling the story today at lunch actually that I was with him for 12 years. Every other month for 12 years, I flew to California for a day with him and remember he was 98 and I’m thinking, “Gosh how many more of this visits do I get?” And every time I started going, I started asking myself, it’s a bad thing to ask but I started wondering, “Is today the last time I’ll see him?” And said he always… you want to leave properly and so he’s 98 and I’m leaving him… he lived until he’s 99 and a half so it’s obviously wasn’t my last visit but as I was getting up I said, “Coach, every time I leave you I feel like I’m a better man when I arrived.” You know you say that to most of us and we’re like, “aww shucks! Thank you, that means a lot. I appreciate that. John Wooden looked at me and he said, “You should make that your standard.”
What a heavy burden because now I’m stuck with that, I have to make sure that every time people leave me, they’re leaving better when they arrive and it’s a really… but that’s just who he was, he just… that was his commitment to other people and that was the way he drew other people to start seeing relationships with each other. It was one of those game changing conversations wherein a course of a half a sentence John Wooden put a challenge out there for me that I hopefully I get to live the next 50 years trying to commit myself to him.
[00:15:24] Brad: That’s intense.
[00:15:26] Don: Pretty amazing.
[00:15:27] Brad: You just reminded me I did a previous podcast with Scott McKain a similar story like that about Zig Ziglar. He wrote him a six page handwritten note when he lost his wife and talked to him for a year or two and just that type of standard… the truly… The Great Ones, it’s the title of one of your books, The Great Ones that’s just how they carry themselves.
[00:15:54] Don: I had an opportunity with Zig a number of years ago to be speaking in Dallas and he’d ask me to be on his TV show and I’m there but I’m speaking the day before in Dallas and I looked at it there in the audience is Zig Ziglar with a notepad and a pen and paper; he’s like making notes while I’m talking and I’m thinking, “there’s one of the great speakers of all time, one of the great motivators of all time taking notes while I’m talking” All these people provide great lessons for us if we’re willing to absorb them and take them properly.
[00:16:33] Brad: So I’m curious as you were telling the Wooden story, what lead to you going to see him every other month for 12 years? Was it some mentorship that you asked for? How did that come about?
[00:16:46] Don: Sure, it’s actually got an interesting back story. So I was writing at Sports Illustrated at the time and I heard a story that twenty six year old Shaquille O’Neal, was the hip hop center of Los Angeles Lakers who is making all those horrific movies like Kazaam, that he was going out on a regular basis to spend an afternoon learning from John Wooden and I thought, “what could these two…” John Wooden was 88 at the time and Shaq is 26 and I’m thinking, they’re from such different places, they have such different… other than basketball, what could they talk about?
So I asked permission through Shaq’s college coach to go sit through one of those conversations. It was powerful, it was amazing, they didn’t talk about basketball at all. Coach Wooden was talking to him about being a better father, about how to be a better teammate, how to lead. It was this awesome conversation and Shaq called it his mentorship conversation and so I get up and I knew John Wooden a little, I didn’t know him very well but I got up and I look at Coach Wooden and said, “this was incredible and I’m just wondering how does somebody become mentored by somebody like you? What a cool thing” John Wooden looked at me and he said, “You ask.” and I said, “How many people ask?” and he said, “Not as many as you might think.” which was this really powerful lesson in it’s own right. To find a great mentor you have to ask and the truth is most people don’t ask because we’re sure the other guy’s too busy, he’s got too much going on, whatever it is we walk ourselves out of the conversation before it happens.
[00:18:30] So a month later I finish the story, I called Coach Wooden and as I’m talking to him I said, “You know Coach I really felt this, I was standing there, I was suppose to ask” and he said, “Don, I wonder what took you so long?” and so we scheduled a date and I came out, it was this powerful day and at the end of the day I asked if I could come back and he picked another day and we started and when every other month for 12 years I went to California to spend a day with John Wooden and it was game changing… life changing and one of those things that I will… as I said I’m a better man because I was there.
[00:19:10] Brad: Testament to your… the other thing I was thinking when you were sharing that Don is not only did you ask but you stuck with it. I mean every other month for 12 years? That’s a serious commitment.
[00:19:24] Don: Well, but the other thing was really cool about was Coach Wooden had a really… he didn’t have many people but he had this relationship with that he was very rigid in the way it had to happen. My job, I had to come with questions. I had to come with a lesson plan and when I was done asking questions the day was over. So what does that do for me? That makes me prepare like crazy for that time with John Wooden because I want every hour I can… I want every minute I can get. So I would take a subject every month, every time I would come, I would bring a subject that I wanted to learn from him about… I remember one time for example, I wanted to know… You have 13 players in a college basketball team and it often goes that 11th, 12th, 13th guy they’re never going to see the court, they’re never going to play and yet you have to keep them inspired, you have to keep them engaged, because otherwise they could become a Cancer and if they become a Cancer, it flows up the chain and they can ruin the entire locker room.
So I wanted to know how did Coach Wooden inspire the 13th player on his roster every year. And the way I did it, was I went through his last 15 years of coaching and I identified the 13th player of the roster base on playing time is like going back over old… I spent hours and hours trying to understand who those people were and Coach Wooden’s memory were so precise I could say… I could name a player and he could remember what he did with that player and how he inspired that player but the goal was I wanted to ask as many questions as possible and I had to come with a game plan and again the rules were pretty simple. The second I’ve been asking questions he wasn’t there just to chat, I mean he enjoyed the conversations but he had other things he could do.
[00:21:13] When I was done learning it was time to move on and so, it forced me to be very well prepared which I loved that was a really great lesson for me as well as a mentee to be respectful at this time, I wanted to drive the most I could from every minute there.
[00:21:30] Brad: So the time period here would have been you were at Sports Illustrated.
[00:21:35] Don: Was at Sports Illustrated when it started, yes.
[00:21:36] Brad: Had you written your first book by then?
[00:21:39] Don: Yes, I had written several actually.
[00:21:41] Brad: Written several, okay I wasn’t sure if you were doing that while you were at Sports Illustrated or if that was as you transferred…
[00:21:45] Don: No, I still did it while at Sports Illustrated but one of the things that was really cool was that I never want to ask him to do a book because I didn’t think… I didn’t want to pollute the relationship, I wanted it to be purely I’m here to learn and I didn’t want him to think it was a set up so I could make money. But only after almost 10 years of doing this he said, “by the way, how come you’ve never ask me by doing a book?” He approached the subject and so we wrote a book together on the power of entry and it’s called ‘The Game Plan for Life’ and it came out on his 99th birthday, it was the last book he wrote while he was alive, it was awesome.
[00:22:28] Brad: What an honor. Wow. Man I feel like we should just stop right now. I don’t know that it can get any better man, that’s an awesome story.
[00:22:38] Don: He’s just amazing.
[00:22:40] Brad: Wow. So let’s keep going here. As you transition out of Sports Illustrated, did you do that for the purpose of becoming a book writer? Was it more towards the speaking path? Was it combining the two? Walk us down the path. It went from Sports Illustrated to where you are now.
[00:23:05] Don: Sure. So I’ve written 25 books which is crazy, 25 and I’ve written three or four, five other before I went to Sports Illustrated and even while I was at SI, I was writing one almost every year. So when I transitioned out, they offered to buy up and it was just the perfect time for me to leave. They saw the future of the advertising model that was crippling magazines today and it was a good time to get out ahead of that crippling situation. But secondly, I wanted to speak, I love sharing stories but most writers don’t like doing it verbally and I grew to really appreciate and enjoy it. I’m the son of a preacher so I grew to enjoy the opportunity to stand up in front of an audience, tell the exact same story I might have written but when I’m telling it to you I get to watch you, I get to see how it impacts you as I’m looking in your eyes. It was a different dynamic for me and it made storytelling even more exciting and so I hired speaking coaches and I decided I was going to take that retirement opportunity to build a speaking business and last year I did 80 of them all around the world I get the chance to travel, speak and share stories and lessons that I learned from great winners and great teams.
[00:24:35] Brad: So from a book writing perspective of the 20 books, obviously this podcast is for financial advisors right? Many of the advisors that our clients and that we help from a businessman mentoring-coaching aspect either are authors or want-to-be authors and some of them wants to be authors again. So what advice would you give someone, let’s say it’s their very first book, what advice would you give them? Couple tips, three tips to help them become an author.
[00:25:12] Don: So two things I would offer real quick. One is that people want to read or listen to stories right? They don’t want to listen to advice, they don’t want to be preached at, they want to listen to stories. So, be a storyteller. If you want to make a point about the importance of making certain decisions, tell stories of people who made that decision or maybe stories about people who didn’t. And whatever it is you do, build your message around storytelling. I argue all the time I was a senior fellow at West Point earlier this spring working with cadets and while I was there I was explaining to them in my discussions on leadership with them, with the greatest leaders of all time are the greatest storytellers. Those who can actually make you feel like you’re part of the tale are those who can bring people along to do things that would naturally do. So be a storyteller.
The second thing I want to tell them is to be organized and I learned many years ago that the most important thing I could do… the most important aspect of my book writing window right when I was starting a book and then before it’s finished is that first month when I build the outline and I build an outline that is so thick sometimes you might argue the outline could be the book right? In the outline I take myself through every chapter of the book before I ever write a word. I want to say chapter one we’re going to tell this story, it’s going to lead to this discussion point, it’s going to flow to this story and in fact my outlines are so precise. I actually write the first paragraph and the last paragraph of every chapter in the outline and the reason I do it is because then I know how they’re going to flow one to the next, right?
Because I know how last chapter ended, I know how the next chapter should start. I’m also not a big believer in a bunch of independent thoughts. I think people read a book for flow. There has to be a narrative that pulls it together. The outline keeps me organized. It allows me to pay attention to where I’m going with each one. In fact, I’ll make an offer here. If any of your listeners want to send me an e-mail like give my e-mail address it’s email@example.com, I’ll gladly send them one of my outlines and they can see on how that’s constructed in a way that allows me to stay strong and organized throughout what could be a really arduous and very lonely process.
[00:28:17] Brad: Awesome. Thanks for making that offer. That’s bonus stuff guys, that was not discussed beforehand so…
[00:28:25] Don: No, I actually sent a couple of outlines to a couple of folks recently who I think are… who want to build book projects in your advisor community and so I’ll be glad to share.
[00:28:40] Brad: Appreciate it. So one of the things we’re doing this podcast, you have a new book that’s coming out. So I wanted to show you this. So this was one of the times you came out to speak out at one of our events. It might have been the first time. You autographed… my wife was a volleyball coach, two-time state champion volleyball coach and I had you write her a little note in here. I wanted to show you it’s been read buddy. This is not one of those books that just sits on a pile and gather dusts so she read this and she… you were actually taking some of the concepts I would’ve assumed out of this, your most latest book that will be released July 19, “Great Teams: 16 Things High-Performing Organizations Do Differently”.
[00:29:31] Don: So actually it;s really fascinating what happened… the backstory is, while writing, that book lead me to do the speech that I’ve done for AE a number of times. Individual high-performance, what can we do to get the very best from ourselves? So five years ago, a senior executive at Microsoft, that guy who hires me 20 times a year to speak for his team and his customers. He actually grabbed me and he said, “You know what? I love this discussion, high performance, individual performance. Awesome. But I want to know why come some teams do it year in and year out? Why are the Saint Louis Cardinals always relevant? Why are the San Antonio Spurs always in the hunt? Why can Duke Basketball be there… Or Michigan State basketball? Why do some teams do it and other teams can’t?”
So I took the dare and I started building it in to schedule everywhere I travel. Visits with high-performing coaches, coaches and owners and leaders of organizations teams mostly that were in the World of Sports, that were consistently relevant right? They didn’t have to win every year but Bill Self or Bill Snyder in Kansas to use two in your backyard there. Who were the people that always figure out how to pull together a group of people to do something that others can’t do? And then I sat down at the end of all of these interviews and I tried to calculate what answers came up most often and that’s what those 16 are.
It’s a whole different discussion because instead of that high performing individuals, this is about high performing teams. Why do some teams do it and others can’t? They know what a team is no more than two people coming together to do something, work right? I mean it doesn’t require… you don’t have to have a thousand in your organization to say you’re building a team. A team can be you and a partner, how do you do something special? And I studied them all and it’s been really a fascinating learning experience.
[00:31:40] Brad: So tell us one of your favorite stories out of the book, I’d love to hear it.
[00:31:44] Don: So the number one answer that comes up is the great teams and by the way… I also interviewed about a dozen business leaders, Gary Keller the CEO of Southwest Airlines, G.J. Hart the CEO of California Pizza Kitchens, Tony Hsieh from Zappos. It’s Cody Foster from Advisors Excel, a dozen business leaders who were my models and in that side of the program including Cody. But the number one answer that comes up when you ask these folks how do you build an organization that wins consistently right? Great talent, good luck can help you win once but to win over and over again? To be there, you have to have a sense of purpose, you have to understand your why. Who are we in service of? Why does what we do matter? What happens if we fail? What happens to that customer and their downstream customer if we fail? And so the example I use in the book and often in the keynotes speech I give on the subject is around Mike Krzyzewski who became… if you remember 1992 we had the dream team right? Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson they dominated the world but in near 10 years later USA basketball finished sixth in the world so we went from dream team to six in the world in just a decade. It wasn’t that they didn’t have talent, they still had amazing talent, they just… they didn’t have the same sense of purpose.
[00:33:35] The Dream Team came together to prove to the world that if you let us send our very best, nobody can beat us and that was their… and so they didn’t take their foot off the throttle. They beat Nigeria by a hundred points… it doesn’t matter… they want to win by 102. But 10 years later, we’d lost our sense of purpose, we no longer… it wasn’t that big of a deal. They handed the reigns of USA basketball to Mike Krzyzewski, they head Coach at Duke. And part of the reason they do so is that Mike Krzyzewski played as college basketball and began his coaching career at West Point so he knew what it meant for USA and to have those letters on his chest. And so he said, “By the way, one of the first things we have to do…” Krzyzewski did what any great leader does when you’re in a moment of transition. He went on a listening tour, he went around to sit down with all the affected parties, the players have been there…
He wanted to know what happened and what he learned was that you could take most organizations and you could put most of your team into one of two buckets, he argues. The first bucket are your patriots, those are the people who believe in what you’re doing, they value what you’re doing and they want to be part of it. The second bucket are your mercenaries, those are the people who are working for you until somebody offers them a dollar more and he said, “Our problem was we had too many mercenaries in our basketball program, we needed more patriots. I need to infect my team with the sense of greater purpose.”
So we started bringing in wounded warriors to speak to the players. They turned one of their practice games into a recruiting ceremony where at half time, a hundred young men and women came out of the stands to sign the paper works to join the United States Military and our players stood behind them to sign as their witnesses.
[00:35:25] Our players are now connected to that person who’s going off to protect our country… it’s just different… you suddenly feel differently about the organization you are a part of when you realize that you are part of something big. And the greatest moment that he had almost everybody involved in USA basketball, right before they took team to the Lebanon Olympics in 2012, Coach Krzyzewski took our players to Arlington National Cemetery and while he has got hem there General Martin Dempsey, the chairman joins the staff, walks the players through Arlington and he explains to them what the history of Arlington and he explains to them who’s buried there. Then he walks them over to Section 60, the Section 60 are the freshest graves in Arlington. It’s the place where the young men and women who most recently given their lives for our country are buried.
While they’re standing there, Mike Krzyzewski notices about a hundred feet away there’s a young man and he’s dressed in civilian clothes and he’s got a crew cut so Coach Krzyzewski assumes he’s a member of the military. He’s got a backpack over his shoulders and every once in a awhile he would slipped to a graveside, he pulled out a picture out of his backpack and he’d lay at the headstone so Coach K walks over to him, “Excuse me sir, I’m Mike Krzyzewski, I’m the head men’s basketball Coach of our Olympic team and I’m wondering if you would share with me what you are doing here today?” And the young man says, ” Yes, Coach K. I know who you are”. He said, “This was my team and we had a mission and it didn’t go as planned” and he said, “I’m here today, these are pictures of me and them in better days”. Coach K asked the young man if he would come over and talk to our players and he did. He started talking about being part of a team, bigger than you, where being part of an organization, being part of something that’s doing something special. It talked throughout… talked about survivor’s guilt. He hated the idea that mission had happened and he wasn’t there that day and he became overwhelmed by emotion and he actually turn around and walked away.
After a few seconds, Mike Krzyzewski leans in and said, “guys, that’s why we came here today. We came here because I want you to feel the three letters on your chest.” Kevin Durant told me after that, he said, “You know, I’ve never put my jersey on the same way ever since then. I’ve never worn the USA jersey the same way I did after that moment” because the players felt who they were in service of, they felt who they were partnered with and the great teams can feel it and it flows throughout your entire organization if you’ve got those moments like that, feel it moments and so I look at great teams ad I look at the once that had been really successful, the great ones have that connection to their purpose and that connection doesn’t just exist in the corner office it flows throughout the organization.
They make these moments felt by everyone throughout the team in a way that allows the team to believe we’re part of something big. One of the reasons I use ideas and examples is that the way you all do your ice bucket challenge and all the other things you do where you’re wearing t-shirts to do things in the community, that doesn’t truly benefit the advisors in your community, but what it does is that it rallies the team you have in service of those advisors. So remember that with the part of a team doing something big and those teams who do that, those teams win year after year and that’s been my greatest lesson from doing the study and from all that I’ve been able to learn of the courses last five years.
[00:39:32] Brad: Wow that’s incredible stuff.
[00:39:38] Don: By the way if you have a chance, I keep trying to get Cody to let me come in and tell that story to your team so use that…
[00:39:46] Brad: Well, now it’s on a podcast so I’ll hold them down and make them listen to the podcast. That’s such an amazing story and I think that when you look at the financial advisory space, for a lot of our clients, that’s one of the biggest struggles. I’m going to paint a broad stroke here but most successful financial advisors, type A personalities, hard drivers, they’re really good at making sure they do what they need to do to be successful right? What’s a struggle, is once they’ve gotten to a level of success they become sometimes a victim of their own success where it’s just I can’t do everything anymore like I used to when I was a one man show or maybe an assistant so maybe if you can pick another lesson out of the great teams on… maybe lessons that can help people grow, delegate, give away some of the power
that they have as an individual to become more as a team. Anything from the book to talk to that?
[00:40:57] Dan: Absolutely. One of the things that really matters, especially as you go grow as it gets harder to protect your culture right? When it’s you and an assistant, you can have a culture, the culture is you’re going to be of service, we’re always going to… we’ll take every call no matter what it is. No one will ever feel like they’re not touched, you can do all of that and suddenly now you got a staff of 10 whatever it is and your… and some of them might be mercenaries right? They maybe only working for you until somebody offers them a dollar more. How do you keep them aligned with your culture, one of the first things you do is you boldly declare here’s what we stand for, here’s what we… this is our culture and our culture is what we stand for, what we value and what we won’t accept.
You have to make both sides of that equation clear. I tell the story, I remember years ago as a reporter in Texas showing up for an interview at Enron at the headquarters of Enron and I’ll never forget walking into the offices of Enron and there was the receptionist and right behind her were “Our Values” and number one of the values are on the wall behind the receptionist at Enron was integrity. That wasn’t their value right? The truth was they were living a wholly different value system, but they told the world one thing, they lived differently. The truth is your values are what you live and if you say, “here’s what we value in our organization as we grow to ten, and here by the way, we want to catch people doing things right and we want to celebrate them for doing things that align with our values”
The more you do of that as a leader the more your team… they want to be rewarded, they want to be recognized, they want to feel like what they’re doing is… everybody wants to be part of something. I’ve never met anyone that truly did not want to be part of a winning team or a great organization. So if they want to… we just have to explain what that looks like and then we have to reward them when somebody does those things, we need.. by that it could be as easy as praise, it could be as great as a note of appreciation, it could be a parking space. How you want to do it but recognize people who are doing the things you say you value, celebrate daily victories as what Jim Calhoun, the head coach of Yukon used to say to me, he said, “If you want to be successful here in any… as your organization grows a little bit is celebrated daily victories where somebody on your team is doing something you say you value and as you celebrate them, they want to do more of it” and other people say, “oh my gosh, I want to do some of that so that I could be celebrated” and you start to make the culture that it embeds itself more deeply, it becomes habit and that’s what we want, when culture becomes habit.
So that’s something I would tell anybody who’s starting to find some success is as you hire people look for fit not resume, some of the most important people in this organization probably had lousy resumes but they will fit your culture and that’s really… that’s number one most important. And the second, celebrate them when they do things right so that they would want to do more of that to get celebrated more often.
[00:44:22] Brad: Good advice. So with team building… Going through seeing a number of different teams, I’m sure you all had all kinds of different experiences, heard all kinds of different stories, I think one of the things as well that… when I look at Advisors Excel, I started we were 12 employees today, I think last count we were 430 so, much… I know Cody likes to take a lot of the credit but we all know how this company was truly built right Don?
[00:44:56] Don: I totally get it.
[00:44:59] Brad: One of the things we do, you spoke to it a little bit we do different charitable events, one thing is we’ve gotten larger, it’s really cool because they’re random people that were paired up with right? So we’re doing a really awesome cause for the community but the same time there might be 10 other people there from Advisors Excel that I’ve never met before so it becomes this team bonding experience too, going back to the common good, this is what Advisors Excel’s about. As you study these different teams, these different leaders, coaches, are there any cool sort of any team building exercises that you came across that other teams are using, that financial advisors might be able to use, to bring and pull everybody together as the team grows and gets larger?
[00:45:46] Dan: Well, I think you named one of the most important ones, which is to do a team building exercise that’s not cheesy, not about going out and climbing a ladder together whatever it is but it’s about service. If you can create opportunities for service, that’s really valuable. The other thing is, when you think about team building, to me a lot of that comes in camaraderie and what is the root of camaraderie is knowing each other. The truth is I spoke to a company, I was in a small office in the company recently where they wanted me to talk to them about teams and so I looked at two of the people who’d been there and I asked them, “how long have you been here?” “21 years,” “How long have you been here?” “13 years.” “So the two of you worked together for 13 years?” “Yes”. “Can you tell me the names of his children?” “No, we’ve never…”
One of the things when you mention the opportunity and that service thing, you get to know each other in ways you create common experiences, you create stories that we can laugh about when we see each other in the hall. That’s what drives camaraderie and it is about knowing each other so finding ways to actually introduce your team… We do a little thing in my office, I have 18 employees, it’s not that big a deal but in my little 18 employees we do a deal every month where we gather for our lunch that’s is a celebration of someone’s anniversary. I pick out two of the employees and they have to give… The question of the day is, “I bet you didn’t know” and they have to share something about themselves where there’s probably a strong opportunity no one else in the office knows, but you had something to find out a guy, the toughest guy in the room who you think is really… this guy is maybe occasionally
difficult to deal with loves to sing karaoke.
It’s just crazy, you learn things because I bet you didn’t know is intended to be that… tell me something that would totally blow everybody in the room away. How do you build those things? You have to be thoughtful in your opportunity to try and create them, for those of you that you have in your sphere.
[00:48:05] Brad: Great. So I’ve got a list of questions here and I can already tell you there’s no chance I’m getting to half of them, but this is awesome stuff, so thank you Don, this has been fun so far.
[00:48:18] Don: This has been fun so far so you’re anticipating it’s going to go downhill from here?
[00:48:22] Brad: No, I don’t think it will but it’s completely up to you. So earlier you shared some tips for people writing their first book. Let’s go to the flip side of that coin, what’s a mistake or common mistake you see from first time authors or guys that may be have messed something up along the way when they’re writing a book?
[00:48:47] Don: I think… again this is very personal so I’ going to… I know other people would argue with this I’m just going to tell you this as my experience and I think I’ve done okay in that space but I see too many people say, “You know? I’m going to blackout from 12 to 2 everyday I’m going to write that’s going to be my window time, I’m going to force myself” I think that’s just crap frankly. I think that part of the reason why I do the whole outline is that some days I’m going to wake up and I’m going, “You know what? I really want to tell the story of Brad and that bear” and there’s probably not a story about Brad and a bear, there might be but whatever it is, I may wake up that day and say, “That’s what I want to write about today.” that may be in chapter 11 but if I’ve outlined my book well enough, I know I can write that chapter and it doesn’t hurt me. Many people think they have to write in sequential order right? I gotta start here then I go there then I gotta… then I gotta do it for two hours everyday and I appreciate all that discipline, I think it’s awesome.
But I honestly think that if you’ve done it first piece which is the good outline you avoid the mistake of… ever experience writer’s block? I’m there, I’m staring at a screen and I don’t know what to write. I had never suffered writer’s block. I’ve written 25 books and I probably a quarter million words over the course of my just book writing career and I’ve never suffered writer’s block because I don’t put the kind of pressure on myself to say I have to write from 10 to 2 and I don’t think I have to write it in sequential order. I could pick my project up anywhere I want because I feel comfortable with the outline.
[00:50:32] Brad: So I heard the advice, write the least amount you feel like writing each day. Do you follow that school of thought where, “hey if I write a sentence today, I’m good. If I don’t feel like it” or do you have a set where, “I need to knock this out chunks at a time”?
[00:50:51] Don: I think you should write when you’re passionate about it. And often I’ll tell you now that I have two small kids, my writing occurs at midnight and sometimes I look up and it’s 6 a.m. My little boy is wondering out of his room and I realize I’ve written all night but I didn’t look up at the clock, I don’t pay attention to those things, I’m just in the moment. I’m writing when I’m passionate and that’s an interesting phrase I’ve never thought of it that way, I write whenever I feel like writing and I don’t stay and write any longer past that.
[00:51:27] Brad: Do you find that your creative time of day is late night or early morning?
[00:51:32] Don: I’m a late night… I’m not an early morning guy.
[00:51:34] Brad: Night owl guy?
[00:51:35] Don: I’m a night owl guy, exactly.
[00:51:39] Brad: Okay so let’s keep going here. So you have some incredible people that you’ve written their life lessons and when I say incredible they’re incredible people because I’ve heard you tell stories about them but they’re also incredibly successful to the outside world. I’m going to throw a few names that you already mentioned some stories on John Wooden so maybe I’ll skip over him for now. Someone like a Walter Payton or someone like a Warrick Dunn. Let’s tailor to just… it can be life in general but it can also apply to business for a financial advisor. What are some lessons or some things you took away from those great people when you’re rubbing elbows with them that you think people can benefit from here today on the call.
[00:52:28] Don: Well, you know I’ve shared the story with Walter Payton, I mean again the biggest piece for him, he was hyper-focus as a person on doing something every day for someone who couldn’t return his favor but that was his big deal. But he wanted to make sure it was real, like he wanted to do something… he wasn’t signing autograph it was write a letter or it was make a phone call or it was drop by a charity or a hospital. He did something every day. That was his place every day was to find somebody or something he could do that couldn’t give him anything back. It wasn’t for a sponsor, it wasn’t for the team, it was something that he did every day for someone who couldn’t give him anything in return. Go ahead.
[00:53:17] Brad: Do you have any examples just a quick story on here’s one way he did
[00:53:23] Don: Sure. So in the year that they won the Super Bowl in 1985 Bears, right? They were 30 for 30 was just down recently. A team, it was the greatest Chicago Bears team of all time. For all the talent they had they had a young woman who was the front desk clerk at the training complex and she was having a rough time at home and Walter knew it because every day on his way into work he stopped at her desk to talk about her three children and she would tell them stories but part of what she told him was the children were acting up in school because there were so much friction at home between she and her husband. It was causing them to carry some of that to school.
So Walter Payton for five different occasions during the Super Bowl year, the greatest year Chicago Bears has ever had, he got up every morning, he got up at the end of practice when everybody else left the stadium of the practice facility, Walter walk back and tap that woman on the shoulder and told her go spend the afternoon with her children and he sat down and answered phone calls.
I joke all the time. Imagine calling in and complaining about your season tickets on that, if Walter Payton answered the phone. But the end result is, that woman could do anything for him right? She was a receptionist, you could argue that there was no benefit to Walter that but he knew in each one of those days he did something for her that she couldn’t repay him for. He sent her home to spend the afternoon with her kids and that’s the stuff of legend… that’s the stuff that most of us… that’s the thoughtfulness and an engagement that most of us don’t ever go there.
[00:55:09] Brad: That’s a great example. Yeah you wouldn’t want to complain about your tickets that day.
[00:55:16] Don: Exactly.
[00:55:18] Brad: So I’m bouncing back and forth here a little bit but… So something that I was thinking through when you look a lot of our advisors that have written books… it’s hard enough to write a book but I think many of them would argue, “I wrote the book, now what do I do with it?” And a guy that has had nine New York Times bestsellers obviously knows a little bit about how you promote a book. So going down that line, I now have the finished product in my hands or I know a lot of the starts before the finished product shows up in our hands. What are some big takeaways, some keys that financial advisors out there could do to promote their book with obviously the end result being, “Hey I would love to acquire some clients maybe from the credibility that comes from the book, maybe from being introduced to me through the book” what are your thoughts there?
[00:56:15] Don: So couple things I would tell you is that every book that I’ve written six months out or whatever it is, I sit down with the public relations team that’s going to work with me on the promotion of the book and the first thing I do is the first question I always ask is “Give me three or four nuggets in this book that will surprise people or that will make them go, ‘wow, I had no idea, that’s a really great idea’ or ‘I wish I thought of that.’” And the truth is, I’ve read some of the financial advisor books that are out there. I’ve read some written by AE advisors and by large a lot of the advisors are very close to the same, but each one of your advisors has that little backstory or it’s some kind of piece of advice or something that you offer that’s different from other people. So reduce your entire book, it’s kind of awkward because I’m telling you now you’ve written fifty thousand words reduce it to three nuggets which you have to because if you’re trying to get any attention, a reporter needs to know, here are the two or three nuggets that they’ll find interesting and unique about the story you’re presenting. Financial advisors with a book, there are a lot of them these days, we all know that. But the great ones are the ones that can actually get attention or those that can synthesize that two or three or four things that they really think somebody can take from their book in short nuggets then you reach out… two things…
[00:57:55] Number 1, you can reach out through your public relations team or whatever it is, introduce yourself to as many local medias as you can and secondly stay hyper-aware of current events, what’s happening, if Brexit, Britain’s exit from the EU is a big story in the news over the next two weeks. How can one of those three nuggets that you got in your book relate to what’s happening in the world today? If the Dow drops five hundred points today, how can something you got in your book serve as instructive for a person who’s freaked out over that kind of a loss? You have to do the work or the front in which was the reduction of your story to three to four really sell that nuggets.
Secondly, look for opportunities to look for local stories. Some guy is going out of business and he’s got a hundred employees to let go… That could be a really great place for you to go to local media and say, “by the way, those hundred employees are going to be stretched in a tight market place to think through how…” the last thing they should do is cash in their 401k and many people think it’s the first place they should go if you’re… think of a way that a local story can relate to what you do and the advice you give and then give freely. Give this advice and pretty soon people will go, “wow, I think I want that guy on my side.” And so those are the two things that I’d say; reduce to a few nuggets and be… work with your public relations team or whatever it is to think through how can we make what I have here… how can I create a local
angle for what we’ve got.
[01:00:00] Brad: Okay, so what are your channels to take that advice or just great advice and take it even a step further, we’re obviously on a podcast here today and we’re talking about your upcoming book. So podcast that might make a lot sense, right?
[01:00:14] Don: Absolutely.
[01:00:15] Brad: But what other media sources or where have you found success with different, let’s call them funnels. You know, if a podcast was a funnel, if TV was a funnel, if radio was a funnel, if your website, your internet presence was a funnel. Where have you seen some of the best success with your books?
[01:00:32] Don: Well, I’ve got this new book coming out and one of the things we’ve done is I reached out to… and gosh think about this, you could do this to when your advisors could. I reached out to a hundred coaches and again we’re talking about something slightly different but not totally. Mike Krzyzewski reads the manuscript to my book and sends me a quote. So what’s going to happen on the day the book comes out? Well, this is going to go for 60 days, actually for me, starting 30 days before the book comes out, we’re going to post from Mike Krzyzewski on my social media. We’re going to send a note to Coach K saying, “Coach, thanks so much for your kind words about my book” and he will retweet that, he’ll share that quote so that other people now are, saying going, “Wow.” So what if your advisor would identify… let’s say there 25 stories they tell in their book of people who they have the permission to share their stories about and what if some of those people would be willing when the book is ready to come out, they hear them with social media they said, “By the way Brad, thanks so much, I really loved telling your story, thanks for letting me share that with other people. The book’s coming out in a couple weeks, would you mind sharing it with your friends?”
Now Brad sends a note on his Facebook and you may have… you probably have five or six friends, other people probably have more.
[01:01:58] Brad: My wife has a lot though.
[01:02:00] Don: Okay good. So let’s ask your wife to do this. You ask other people who have… you’re looking for downstream influence right? You’ve now shared something so you want people to congratulate you on this really cool book and the lessons that are learned in it and and then somebody will go, “I wonder what the book is about”. Click, there’s an embedded link in the social media post, click and they can be… they can have the opportunity to order of the book or get a free copy or whatever you want to do.
[01:02:30] Brad: Well, so, and to take that step further, something we were talking about before we went live here. You’re offering a digital download of the first chapter right? So if you… that link then takes them to your website where they can get their free digital download or a reduced price for the book, different price.
[01:02:47] Don: And by the way, in order to get the digital download, I’ll admit this to those who are listening and I hope they will. When they come to that page which is teams.donyaeger.com, and I’ll send it to you, you can put it in the text that comes with this podcast. But in order to get that download, they have to enter their e-mail address for it to be e-mailed to them. That’s awesome for me because now I have the opportunity to reach back to them and say, “By the way, I hoped you enjoyed the first chapter and if you did, I hope you’ll buy the entire book and here’s a link to buy it at a discount to anywhere there are major retailers in America.”
So it’s again, how do you create value for the people? And how do you create opportunities for more people to hear about your project? The book is a great way for friends and other people to say, “Congratulations to my buddy Brad who just wrote a dynamic book about how to save… how to make sure your retirement years are the best years of your life” Click here and boom people start clicking, “you get a free chapter by clicking here, you just got to enter your e-mail address”. Once they enter their e-mail address, they’re prospect baby and it’s awesome.
[01:04:02] Brad: All right. So I’m going to throw this idea at you, if you haven’t heard it I’m going to feel pretty good because with this many books that you’ve promoted, this is a fun one. So pre-release, Mike Krzyzewski would be a good one right? So Mike is a quote of his… Well his actual stories featured in the book, correct?
[01:04:19] Don: Then he gave me a quote from the back of the book that says, “Don Yaeger does it again”, whatever it is.
[01:04:23] Brad: So here’s what I’ve had, one of my advisors did this, he shared this with me, if I could remember who it was I would have give him credit on the call here today.
[01:04:31] Don: But you just steal it nonetheless, that’s good.
[01:04:33] Brad: Yes but then I’m going to share and he’s getting ideas from me, so we’ll call it even. So what he did was, I think he got a box of maybe 50 books pre-order and he went ahead and personalized them to 10 of his top clients or so and he sent them your book right here… So he sent them the real book, their own book I should say, with a little inscription, “Hey, loved serving you as a client. This is pre-released, you can’t even get this out yet, but you’re one of my favorite clients, so I wanted to gift this book to you and then by the way, I included an additional copy, so you can gift one to a friend.” And so you feel special because, “Hey this thing’s not yet even available, this is my special little batch of pre-orders, you can’t even get it today.”
But going back to the referral concept, an additional book to share with a friend… going back to the social influence that you can give because now, I can gift the book that they can’t even get anywhere else in the world so that was a cool idea that he shared and have a lot of success with. So maybe you can use that one and tweak down a little bit.
[01:05:44] Don: I love writing books, I love telling the stories but I love the marketing aspect of it too because it’s the opportunity to say to people, “You know what? I think I’ve got something special here and I’d really love you to be part of me being illustrated with other people.” It’s pretty cool.
[01:06:00] Brad: Alright. So we have eight minutes left.
[01:06:04] Don: Eight minutes.
[01:06:05] Brad: So I’m going to do this fun little thing, it’s called rapid fire questions and I’m just going to throw them at you if you’re good to go Don. For eight minutes.
[01:06:15] Don: Let’s do it. Eight minutes is tough.
[01:06:15] Brad: Alright. I know… this is like the fourth quarter right now so I hope…
[01:06:21] Don: I played for the fourth quarter baby.
[01:06:22] Brad: Alright. So this will be a really fun one for you because you have been exposed to so many awesome people. So when you hear the word “successful”, who’s the first person that comes to mind and why?
[01:06:36] Don: John Wooden and because he thought differently about success than most of us. Most of us see success as a scoreboard, John Wooden saw success as doing your very best every day. He argued that you and only you know if you did it and you can argue, I did my best when you really know you had more in you. So I believe that John Wooden… when I think of success, I think of Coach because he thought of it differently and I love his definition of success.
[01:07:08] Brad: It’s hard to top that guy’s success so if it’s… if I have any other definition, I’m switching it to John Wooden’s.
[01:07:16] Don: I would to.
[01:07:18] Brad: Alright next one. Once again, this is going to be a fun one. So, as an author what’s your favorite book you’ve ever read and why? Or secondarily, I’ll give you a little time to think here, is there a book that you’ve gifted the most over the years and what is it and why?
[01:07:40] Don: So my favorite book is… this is going to probably come as a surprise to all of us, those who know me as a sports guy was Nicholas Sparks “The Notebook”. It was the book that Nicholas Sparks wrote about a woman suffering Alzheimer’s and the husband that loved her and my mother died of Alzheimer’s and it was the disease that robbed her of everything that she had and so that… it just in that book and my introduction to Nicholas at a book signing together, the two of us did a book signing together lead me to just become a big fan and as I read the book, cried my eyes out over and over again. That book became one that I’ve read many time because it’s makes me think of powerful things about what we do for those who don’t have it all together because of some disease and how we can be better in that space. So that probably would shock anybody who’s looking for some big football book but it’s Nicholas Sparks and it’s The Notebook.
[01:08:45] Brad: Well my wife just fell in love with you.
[01:08:51] Don: I guess, by the way your wife doesn’t listen to this.
[01:08:54] Brad: So I actually have read that book so fun little side note here. One Valentine’s Day, my wife and I made a wager and so I had to read a Nicholas Sparks book which was The Notebook. She had to watch all three Star Wars in the trilogy so I don’t know who won the bet but it was fun. Alright, if you could look back, go back in a time machine, tap yourself on the shoulder and give your twenty-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
[01:09:37] Don: To probably be a better student. I was a lousy student, I was one of those people that did… I argued that the only reason I wasn’t in school was to get a job and I was going to get a job by focusing on my craft so I didn’t think that I had to focus on my schoolwork and now I’m a parent, and I’m like, I’m sitting here out with my kids, never ask me for my grade cards hoping my son and daughter never say, “Daddy, how did you do at school?” so I would probably focus more on my learning. I didn’t do much book learning and I do a lot of life learning through that window and I wished I had probably shift that a little bit and my thirty-year-old self I would probably… I got fired from a job at a newspaper because I was just a little too cocky for the leaders who’d let me in and I realize that one thing I’ve hoped that I developed over time is a little more appreciation of humility. I didn’t have that in the early stages of my career and so the thing I would offer myself is keep things in perspective and that you’re good doesn’t mean you’re great and that you’re good doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to learn and I probably didn’t appreciate all that I had to learn that time window of my life.
[01:11:03] Brad: You shared a great example, Zig Ziglar sitting out in the audience scribbling notes and that you’re never too old to keep learning.
[01:11:10] Don: Right. Crazy.
[01:11:12] Brad: Alright so we’re going to wrap with this one and by the way, before we wrap
this, this has been an awesome conversation. I know I made a comment like halfway through, I hope this keeps one well, you delivered on all fronts, Don. Thank you. With your success that you’ve had, multiple time New York Times bestselling author, what is the one piece of advice that you can share with those listening and watching today that’s lead to that success?
[01:11:42] Don: I am extremely vigilant about my inner circle, like I’m really careful about who I spend my time with. That’s probably the one piece of advice that I give to my kids or give to anybody that I talk to it’s just… look at the circle you have around you because you’ll never outperform them. You’ll never be better than the circle you have so be really careful about the circle you have around you. That advice came to me through John Wooden 15 years ago, I use it every day, I think about who’s in my circle, I think about how am I taking care of my circle, I think about how the relationships I have been blessed with need to be nurtured and I think about how I don’t want to give my time to people that aren’t going where I’m going, people that aren’t in my circle and so I would say that’s would probably the biggest piece of advice I could give somebody.
[01:12:35] Brad: Well, I have to share this now, I don’t think you’ll mind me sharing but just… Before we got on the call you shared actually our very first phone call talking about this podcast how you take an amazing trip that you put together and that’s your circle that you want to invest back into. So you’re walking the walk and I love that you shared that but not only did you share it but you’re acting upon it and delivering really cool experiences for that circle that you’re investing in to. So if you want to share any on that trip or how that came about to wrap the call here, that would be cool.
[01:13:17] Don: Every year I take a group of guys, it’s just 20 to 25 guys who had been influential in my life at some stage that helped me. They’ve helped me keep perspective or they’ve helped me in some ways understand who I could be or encourage me was… I pick 20 to 25 guys who’ve been influential in my life, high school teammates to college teammates to college friends to business associates. I take them away for three days and we go to some place just for me to get time alone with these guys. One of the things I think where we are weak as men, is interacting often. So I take them away for three days. This year we went to West Point and I took them up there to experience what it’s like to live the life of a cadet at West Point. The chairman of the department of leadership took us through for the day, spent time in a classroom with us in and so these are men that supported me. We arrange it, my wife helps me do it and we take them away for the weekend where it’s just an opportunity for me to grow with them and for them to get to know each other, many of these men don’t know each other except for… and so I hope… they’re life is better because they’re there that weekend…
[01:14:34] Brad: Alright buddy. Well, I just want to end the conversation here today and I want to say thank you so much. I’m honored and blessed to have you on the call here with me, it’s been awesome. I’ve scribbled a bunch of notes I’m going to go back and re-watch and take a lot more away then just what I wrote down here today so thank you.
[01:14:52] Don: Alright Brad. I appreciate you buddy, I appreciate your friendship and thanks for all you do.
[01:14:56] Alright Don. Take care.
The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Advisors Excel. Don Yeager is not affiliated with or sponsored by Advisors Excel.
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