Jack Clark - Grateful for Everything, Entitled to Nothing – [Invest Like the Best, EP. 215]Invest Like the Best
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- 2 Mar 2021
My guest today is Jack Clark, head coach of the University of California Varsity Rugby team. Jack has one of the highest winning percentages not only at the collegiate level but in sports history, winning an incredible 90% of games since his start as a coach in 1984. That includes a 98 game winning streak from 1990 to 1996 and a 115 game winning streak from 2004 to 2009. In our conversation, we dive into how Jack builds high-performing teams, the shared vocabulary he creates across his organization, and his work with companies applying what he's learned on the field to operating businesses. Please enjoy this conversation with Jack Clark. For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here. ----- This episode is brought to you by Tegus. Tegus has built the most extensive primary information platform available for investors. With Tegus, you can learn everything you’d want to know about a company in an on-demand digital platform. Investors share their expert calls, allowing others to instantly access more than 10,000 calls on Affirm, Teladoc, Roblox, or almost any company of interest. All you have to do is log in. Visit tegus.co/patrick to learn more. ------ This episode is brought to you by MIT Investment Management Company. MITIMCO is the endowment office of MIT. New and small investment funds listen up. MITIMCO is looking to find investors starting funds today. MITIMCO is partnership-driven, long-term focused, and has an extensive history of backing investors early in their careers. These partners are key in delivering the outstanding investment returns required to support MIT's pursuit of world-class education, cutting-edge research, and groundbreaking innovation. MITIMCO is focused on finding and partnering with the best investors across the globe, no matter the market environment. No firm is too small, too young, or too non-institutional. If you or someone you know is currently in the process of starting a fund or recently launched, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or discover more on their website at mitimco.org/partner. ------ Invest Like the Best is a property of Colossus Inc. For more episodes of Invest Like the Best, visit joincolossus.com/episodes. Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @patrick_oshag | @JoinColossus Show Notes [00:03:44] - [First question] - Overview of his playing and coaching career [00:06:02] - The importance of creating a set of values for a team [00:07:53] - Why selflessness is such an important trait he looks for in teams [00:09:20] - Examples of selflessness in the teams [00:10:06] - The Winner Within: A Life Plan for Team Players [00:10:24] - Lessons on gratitude and entitlement [00:11:34] - Being a meritocracy on the team [00:12:55] - Rewarding merit as a coach [00:14:18] - Improving a team today, the power of the basics and fundamentals [00:15:29] - Defining toughness for players and teams [00:17:29] - Mark Bingham, the epitome of toughness [00:18:33] - Why he created and how he uses a glossary [00:22:09] - Creating a high rate of conversion in recruiting [00:25:01] - What qualities did the teams that beat him share [00:27:22] - Take on pride and something he is exceedingly proud of [00:29:17] - Translating the concepts from the court into the business world [00:32:20] - Where companies have room to improve [00:33:16] - Changing a company culture [00:34:21] - Coaches he has learned from [00:36:00] - The power of non-cognitive grit [00:38:45] - Advice for companies creating a value set [00:40:40] - Kindest thing anyone has done for him
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Oh. Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Patrick O'Shaughnessy, and this is Invest Like the Best. This show is an open ended exploration of markets, ideas, methods, stories and of strategies that will help you better invest both your time and your money. You can learn more and stay up to date. An investor field guide, dotcom. Patrick O'Shaughnessy is the CEO of O'Shannassy Asset Management, all opinions expressed by Patrick and podcast guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of O'Shannassy asset management.
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My guest today is Jack Clark, the head coach of the University of California varsity rugby team. Jack is one of the highest winning percentages, not only at the collegiate level, but in sports history, winning an incredible 90 percent of games since he started as a coach in 1994. That includes a 98 game winning streak from 1990 to 1996 and one hundred and fifteen game winning streak from 2004 to 2009. In our conversation, we drive into how Jack builds high performing teams, the shared vocabulary he creates across his organization and his work with companies applying what he's learned on the field to operating businesses.
Please enjoy this conversation with Jack Clark.
So, Jack, I've been so excited to do this with you since first becoming aware of some of your ideas on building teams a few months ago, sort of consider you the John Wooden or pick your famous coach of the rugby world having sort of an unparalleled career in terms of winning championships. I know that people always look at outcomes and wins as the thing that's held out. But we're going to talk all day today about the process, about building teams, about cultivating individuals on those teams and how that could be applied in all areas, not just sports, but in business and in any leadership position or team that you might find yourself, I think, to orient the audience.
It would help just to hear a thumbnail sketch of both your playing career, which was illustrious that also then your very long coaching career.
So I grew up in Huntington Beach, California, played for sports. I was probably a better football player than anything, and accepted a football scholarship to University of California, Berkeley, and enjoyed my time playing football. But when football season was over, somebody come tapping on the shoulder and say, hey, it's rugby season. Now, we've been playing rugby at Cal since 1882. So there was this great migration of football players heading to the rugby paddock as soon as the season was over.
And I did it and I love the sport. It seemed to be a combination of all the things I loved. Basketball, football, played the sport passionately for a while, had a cup of coffee with the Philadelphia Eagles and got straight into the national team and had an injury pretty early in my career, which prohibited me from a longer career, went into coaching pretty early. I don't know if I even knew what I was doing at the time.
I shudder to think about my earlier coaching instructions, but we had some success right away and I fell in love with it. At first I did it as a bit of a side hustle from a business career where I was a banker and then I just went full time, I guess in nineteen ninety I started coaching in nineteen eighty two as an assistant, became the head coach in eighty four and then just went full time in the sport. It was giving me more satisfaction than making money.
It was a great fit for me. I guess that's what I'm trying to say. And I've been coaching this whole time now and spent some time coaching the national team and spent some time coaching the Honorine team and but always coached my county.
One of the things that is so interesting about your philosophy of teams is building what I'll call like a value set that the team, the players you live by. I want to go through the specific value set. I'm sure that not all the sets are the same. We'll talk about how our strategies for creating one that fits the organization as well as your specifically. But before we even go into the five pillars of yours, I just love to know how you alighted on this concept of wanting to have pretty rigid standard recurrent values and how they were developed in the first place from the coaching level down over time.
It's a pretty interesting laboratory to be coaching every day a group of young people and they teach you a lot. You kind of stumble on the stuff together, if you will. And as a coach, you become the custodians of that. I mean, they all leave after four years. I'm left to continue to kick the can up the road so all of those lessons start to accumulate. It occurred to me at one point that it's cynical. I suppose what I saw from a lot of my colleagues was slogans on the gym wall, if you will, what they said they believed in by way of mission and values.
It was pretty wooden. It wasn't used every day. It just was catchy. It didn't take much research to see the exact same thing in the corporate sector where it looked good in a deck and it looks good in the annual report. But if you polled ten employees over and said, what are the values, this company, they would stumble all over, they wouldn't really know. I guess I just start thinking, well, what you believe in, what you're willing to fight for by way of your values, they ought to be used on a daily basis as a system.
You ought to process all of your human transactions and your organizational transactions. Business transactions should be processed through your values so that you're making value based decisions as best you can.
You've worked with a lot of very famous corporate clients thinking through this concept. I'd love to go through some of yours because I think there's so much richness and depth to each of them. And of course, I think the place you have to start is with selflessness. Why is this the value that you mentioned first? Again, it's one of these words that if you just say it, everyone's like, yeah, sure, be selfless. So breathe some life into that principle for us in terms of what it means specifically to you and how you use it on a daily basis.
We say team first self. We say that is a declaration that that's how we're going to make decisions. And you can imagine if you were a part of a team or organization that was committed to making decisions for the team first and the individual second. If you found that out, it's your first opportunity. When you thought you had a grievance of your own, you wanted attention to something you believed then. You can see where that would be troublesome. I want to say it up front, I want to say this is how we make decisions and people self select whether this is the right organization for I mean, the first lens that's going to come down is what's best for the team.
And that doesn't mean that we're called to the individual. I mean, we love each other. If somebody stumbles, we're going to pick them up. If somebody got something going on in their life, we're going to do their work for him. We're going to put our arms around him. We care deeply about each other. But from an organizational standpoint, we're going to make decisions by what's best for the team. And and by and large, people gravitate to that.
It's good to be part of something bigger than yourself.
What are some ways that that often manifests across the various teams that you've coached? What are some episodes that would be a good example of someone acting with a team first rather than themselves first selection playing time.
Those kind of things come up, if you believe that. Only can look at that situation through your own lens of why am I not playing? Why did I not get selected to play? Why am I not getting right playing time? Why do I not have that territory? Why do I not have that client? How come I'm not getting funded my budget the way I want? I mean, and if you can look at it over the hole that wait a minute, we're trying to build a team here and that decision went against you, but you can embrace it.
Basketball coach Pat Riley now a game, I guess, or he has a book, the winner within. It's another coaching book. There's a chapter called The Disease of Me. Riley lays out the disease of me as if it was a real disease. And he talks about the symptoms that you have. It was a laugh out loud moment. You get to symptom six, whatever it is, and it's constant feelings of appreciation.
A great excuse to ask about what you've learned about gratitude and entitlement.
I developed a mindset is what I've labeled it. I see it as this archway in my mind that you walk through to get to what you really believe that we say, grateful for everything, entitled to nothing. I've been saying that long enough now where I walk into offices and I see it up on the wall and a lot of times it gets attributed to me, which I really appreciate. But it's all over the Silicon Valley. It's in some places in New York.
And I love the idea that people appreciate it. But I think what it says is there isn't enough gratitude for people to understand that how many people have helped them get where they are. And then, of course, they're just far too much entitlement. Certainly in athletics, there's too much entitlement. And it seems tragic that when you really do believe in the mantra that I'm grateful for everything, that I'm entitled to nothing. One of the things that happens, you just get more resilient.
You don't think you're owed something you get busy trying to achieve. And it's just a better way to go through life. I love it.
I think it's just as a system setting an incredibly powerful thing. It also relates to another one of your principles. I kind of jump out of order here, but the idea of merit you mentioned earlier what is putting the team first mean and things like playing time and basically demoting your own interests in favor of the team's interests. Everyone wants to be a meritocracy. So what have you learned about what it means to actually be a meritocracy on a team?
When you really study the best teams? It jumps out to me that the currency that's exchanged between the team members is performance in the moment. It's not what you did last year. It's what you're doing right now. It's not your potential. Potential is a pretty good thing to have. I mean, it wouldn't be good if somebody said you had no potential. You just can't dine out on very long. Some point you've actually got to do something. And I think seniority is a good thing to have.
It's good to have experience, but that experience has to be monetized as performance. Now, just this concept that this meritocracies is a beautiful thing. It's not who you know, it's not what color your skin is. It's not what religion you are. It's not any of the boxes we try to put people that it's what are you getting done right now? Don't get drunk at the Christmas party. Do anything stupid. You're good to go another year.
Well, that's the exact opposite of high performance teams. How they work is getting done right now. Performance in the moment. That is the meritocracies.
What are some of the tactical ways that that's deployed through coaching? What are some things that you do that might be difficult to do that like a new coach might not naturally do to reward merit and emphasize merit?
You measure everything. You publish what you measure internally. You celebrate success, you acknowledge performance. We sometimes think that it's OK to get off the mountain at some point and wander around or plateau for a while because we've been doing pretty well. And one of the true things about sports and I think about business, you're getting better. You're getting worse. There really isn't anything in between. And no one ever tells us that. But that is the truth.
I mean, you mentioned John Wooden, that beginning in one of his pyramid to success was this notion of performance over results, results, track performance. It's not the other way around. So. Put all of your energy into your performance and the results will take care of themselves, and of course, you say that in a public setting with business people and somebody's going to clear their throat and say, coach, that's great. But here at X, Y, Z, we got to win.
Telling a coach that. I mean, we went half our games. We get fired, right? I mean, coaches get fired, warning one else. So I get the idea we have to win. I completely appreciate it. But it's not a value. It's even a poor goal. At the end of the day, just put all your focus into your performance. And there's different ways we have to measure. We have to create that internal competition.
Constant performance improvement, which you've already kind of alluded to, is another one of your values. What I love is how you breathe life into these things and make them daily systems, not just an idea. The measurement is one piece of that. Maybe we can zoom in on rugby, most specifically, what is the state of the art today and how has that changed through time for that constant improvement on a team? And then we can talk kind of higher level about how it could apply outside of rugby.
But in rugby specifically, what does that mean today?
Basics, fundamentals, no matter how talented you are. I mean, they say Beethoven played scales and he was brilliant. Right. What would make a rugby player think that they wouldn't have to go out and perform very routine fundamentals over and over again so that they hone them and they can do them under pressure? You can't make it up. You can't talk to yourself and you can win a game you shouldn't have won. But when you really know that your skills are tighter now than they've ever been, your fitness is better than it's ever been.
Your knowledge of the game is better than it's ever been. It's a powerful concept to think about getting better and to improving. If we're not going to get better, what are we doing? And that's one of the things we want to measure.
We've talked a lot about the first three values, those being selflessness, merit, constant performance improvement. Toughness is one that sounds maybe like it is especially specific to sport. But I just find it to be a general principle that is important. You mentioned the word resilience earlier. What is toughness mean to you? How much of that is physical versus mental? What is the definition of toughness that you convey to your players?
There is a bit of overwhelming force in rugby, certainly in most contact sports, where technique and I suppose physical prowess and a certain degree of physical toughness wins the day. I mean, it's a zero sum. One person wins, one person loses. In those moments, you see businesses that are like that. They're dominant in the marketplace. They want to keep their position. But the kind of toughness that I regard as a value, as mental toughness get knocked down nine times, get up ten, just keep answering the bell.
Just keep getting up. I'm a big believer in having an organisational glossary. I was looking for a definition for mental toughness, Patrick, for years. Then one day I stumbled across a book I was reading about a cricketer. I know very little about cricket, but this happened to be one of the best cricketers in the world. And at one point he laid out this phrase, the ability to focus on the next most important thing. And if you really think about you don't have to access mental toughness when things are going well.
And this seemed like the exact key thing to have the discipline to go, what is the next most important thing? Something bad just happened. What's the next most important thing to put all of my energy and all my focus in and to be able to do that? You are indeed mentally tough because we want to live in that moment that just happened. That wasn't good. What's it going to mean today? And did I just lose the game and having this discipline to go to the next most important thing and stay in that moment, stay where your feet are, how some people say it.
But I find it to be a really, really strong attribute.
Is there a person that stands out in memory, could be someone you coached or someone you know or someone you don't know that embodies the mental toughness that you ascribe to I?
A young man named Mark Bingham, United Flight 93, stormed the cockpit, probably saved our capital that day. We did it with a few other players. I mean, you can imagine that the plane has been hijacked. You don't have any other information of what was happening that day. But the word because cell phones are working starts to seep in that these planes are crashing into buildings and you got to do something. How about having the clear mindset that you're not going to be paralyzed in that seat, that you're going to get up and do something, you're going to use your head, get some other people, organize with you, you're going to go try to wrestle some degree of control out of that situation.
I see it all the time. I see people having that ability to go to the next most important thing, go live in that moment.
The story chokes me out for sure. Hard to leave that story and move on. The idea of glossary is fascinating to me, and I just love the system of values. We have one life to go. Leadership will come back to in a minute. But this idea of a glossaries FastLane. To me, when did you first create the glossary? How long is it how is it used? Creating a shared language and agreeing on definitions sounds incredibly valuable and almost like I stumbled on it in a cynical way.
I started hearing people use buzzwords over and over again. It would have been rude, but what do you mean when you say that? I think you're just using that phrase mental toughness. I started again experimenting in the laboratory with my own team, asking them, what's the definition of something you can imagine your 10 people in? And you've got ten really good definitions, but they're different. And in some ways they're defining it not just slightly different, but entirely different within a lot of organizations, a lot of teams.
We just go ahead and we keep using that language knowing that, I mean, one way you're hearing and another, there's never going to be any alignment in the organizational alignment without that shared language, without that nomenclature, where when we say something we all know, at least in this shop, what we mean by that. I guess you mentioned leadership. That's probably one of the best ones. I mean, you go in the bookstore and there's 40 metres of books on leadership and they're all probably correct and they're all talking about it differently.
And I started thinking that my view on leadership is so dramatically different than most peoples. I think there's a conventional wisdom around leadership that it's the minority leading the majority. That doesn't sound that powerful. That sounds like the team I want to play against these kind of unpack it sometimes over a period of time. You study and you think about it and you talk to others about it. And it seems to me that it was very rank based leadership was the person with the best business card became the leader.
The head coach is the leader person in the corner office is the leader, the star players, the leader. The seniors are leaders. And none of that resonated with me. I mean, it all seemed wrong. The hard part was to make a hold on his chain of command important. And to me, it's critically important. I believe that once we decide approach to something that we have to get busy, execute, thinking you've got a better idea of the time.
We know nine different directions because everybody thinks they're a leader and they've got a better idea. That's just mutiny. That's not being a leader. Patrick, is this idea of leaving authority intact, chain of command intact and asking those people just don't hijack leadership, just be the boss, just have all the authority, don't take leadership with you, leave leadership in the middle so everybody can access it. The definition for the glossary comes out of that. The ability to make those around you better and more productive.
It doesn't have to do with you're the star player. It doesn't have to do with you're the head coach. It doesn't have to do. You've been here longer than everyone else. You're a senior. You know how it works. It is this notion that we all have a responsibility to contribute back to the middle and to make those around us better and more productive. Now, that's the team you don't want to play against that team that has a lot of authorship into who we are.
And we all feel this responsibility to each other. And sometimes it's just the best leaders have this huge toolbox where they can pull out the right tool for the right situation. And some other leaders have less tools in their toolbox because they've had less time on the job. But nevertheless, it doesn't change our responsibilities. We have an obligation to make those around us better and more productive.
What did you learn across your career about successful recruiting, like the actual process? Let's say we've identified somebody that you think you want for reasons X, Y and Z, and then there's a conversion. You convert some, you don't convert others. What goes into that conversion ratio? What do you think are the reasons you win when you win and maybe lose when you lose?
Well, I think if you're really being honest with people, you can sometimes gamble. What's Berkely like? Berkeley's a little gritty people all over the world. You can draw a parallel to us and cross the bay at Stanford. It's a beautiful place. You can walk for a week and you can't find a gum wrapper on the ground. Harmony, Berkeley, both of you blocks long way. You don't have to do anything wrong. I think if you're really honest and you lay it all out, I mean, people.
Oh, jeez, classes are difficult here. No one's going to hold your hand. Merit scholars feel like they're drinking out of a fire hose. At some point every semester you get out of your power zone and you're humping for the first day of your life because you've only got names. Please give me a B minus. And when you lay all that out, because it's true, some people are going to look for an easier path. We have conditions that we operate under.
It might be your value sets. It might be your policies, but you can't violate any of those. It be unconditional. So the financier Warren Buffett, every time he says, I won't work with anybody I don't like, trust or admire, there's some conditions for. Yeah, I wish there was a more scientific way to assess this, but I want to know who's got that noncarbonated grit. You've got a good. Forty tied good hands here are good students, but who's going to really grind, who almost needs that almost gets a smile on their face when it really, really gets difficult.
Who can go into that dark closet and just grind when it's hard? In my sport, it probably means a love. A love of the game. Probably took me a while to make that as a marker in talent identification and recruiting. If you love the game, it's going to get you through. A lot of people play sports because they love the attention. They're good at it. They love the crowd. They love to see themself on TV, in their name, on the back of their jersey.
Other people, they love it. I mean, you give them a day off and they're back out on the field, like, what are you doing? You've got a day off for a reason to get off the field. But it's their happy place. I guess if I could know who's got the non cognitive grit, who loves it, who has the ability to care about the things that are important to him, the people they're doing them with and the entity they're doing it for him with.
I think that would be the three legs of the stool for me.
Reminds me of the I can't refuse Federer or Djokovic. That, when asked said about some other player, said, well, I knew I was going to win. Like, you could just tell they don't like hitting the ball. I like to hit the ball. And so I'm always going to have that fire in my belly because I just love it. That can separate you at the highest levels. Speaking of highest level. So if you look at your career record, basically 90 percent win rate, which I'm sure is the highest in the sport's history, most national championships, the collegiate and national level, when you did lose, so there was 10 percent that you didn't win.
What do you think was most shared in common of those other teams that bested you when they did understand that you don't know the systems that created those teams, like, you know, your own system. But from the outside looking in what tended to be shared in common of those high performing teams that did manage to beat your teams, don't ever forget the talent matters.
It took me a while, to be honest. I think I started building teams right away and almost had this elite view of give me any group and I'll make a team out of it. And that's not really true. I mean, the fact is you might be able to get that group higher than they should go, but you're going to need some ballers. You're going to need some talent. I think when we've been beat, we've been beat by a better team that played better on the day, give their coaches credit, but really give their athletes credit.
They have a lot of talent. You have to work with the individual. You can't as a head coach, just think about the team and the strategy of the team and what's going to be our technical approach to play to our strengths. And all of these assets that are out there can be improved. And we forget that sometimes what we should really be doing is in addition to building the team, we should be helping every one of those individuals get from where they are to where they really want to be as individuals.
Now, at this stage, I'm really interested in what people can do, what are the things that they can do anywhere, any time? What are their strengths and how do we build a blueprint for their success as an individual based on what they can do on their strengths? And that doesn't mean that we're not trying to slide a few liabilities into the straight column. It doesn't mean that you're trying to ignore what people don't do. Well, we have to continue to improve, but we can improve on our strengths as well.
Constant improvement can also be your strengths and just taking them to the next level. So I spend a lot more time talking about strengths in the last half of my career than I did the first half of my career in modeling out on approach to the game for every individual and then try to build a team spend now maybe half my time on individual and half my time on the team where I was probably 80, 20 for the first half of my career.
You mentioned Mark Bingham earlier, and I'm sure that's one of the answers to this next question. What do you think about pride? What's an episode that stands out in memory? I'm sure there are many where you are especially proud of one of your teams. What do they do to generate that pride?
And what's your take on pride, generally speaking, that it's possible to be proud of something and be prideful about it, even if it's really, really hard. I coached a young guy one time and didn't play in all the big games and I know he wanted to. And, you know, when I had my kind of exit meeting with him and he's getting graduate and leave, I was dreading it. Patrick and he said to me at one point, he said, Coach, this has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my heart felt.
And this kid clears his throat and says that I wouldn't trade for anything. And I went off. I think we're proud of what we earn, what's hard, what's difficult. I don't think pride is a shiny object. I don't think it's the easy stuff. I think it's the hard stuff. When I've been most proud of my team, we want a championship and against the team we weren't supposed to beat, they had a lot more talent. Imagine the final whistle.
There's a bit of jumping around, there's a bit of celebrating. And but when you get close to the players, I can see their faces. If you guys were crying and they weren't crying because they won. To cry, they didn't have any defenses left to be cool. It's that moment where they've given full measure, they've given everything they have to give and to actually see that up close and to know that they did it for their university, but they really did it for each other.
When you see team come together like that, we could have lost that game. And I think I would have been equally as proud of those faces. We happened to have won the game. But it's moments like that where you go, wow, I mean, it's amazing what people can do together, how proud I was of them and how proud they were of each other. Incredible.
I'd love to transition the topic a bit. It's great hearing about the team setting. Fact is, me and most others never got the chance to play a sport at that level. As you mentioned, the physical talent got to have it or you don't. A lot of us haven't had this experience of such intensity around work and outcomes on a team, but we all work. We're all in some form of business or some form of non-profit, whatever is that we do in our families, etc.
. What are the most interesting ways that what we've talked about, you see translatable into the world beyond sports? So when you're working with companies or whoever else, what are the aspects of this way of thinking about teams that are most portable?
Well, we get it wrong in sports. This is making a case for what we do is how I think about your question. And I think sometimes in sport we think, well, we work hard, we compete, walk by the library at eleven thirty at night, see all those kids in that library. You think you're working harder than them? I guess what I'm saying is working hard, being competitive, having busy days. That's not proprietary to sport.
I mean, anyone who cares and is on their own little mission is doing that. The interesting thing that's proprietary to sport and I know we're maybe trying to transition away from team, but it's the concept of team. I work on a world renowned research institution quite often regarded as the finest public school in the world. And I'm telling your team isn't taught anywhere on our campus. Nowhere is the ROTC have a team thing. Yeah, I mean, might you work with another student on the project and there's some kind of collaboration?
Sure. That's a long way away from team as I know it. And is it happened in intercollegiate athletics sometimes. But this notion of team, as they say, our athletes all have ten years and ten thousand hours. I mean, they're an expert in team now. I hope they know that. I hope they all know how valuable that is. If I took a step back, I'd say teams important to me because we're not one bright person away from solving anything, pick up all that difficult stuff, disease and environment, all the things that are going to be difficult to solve.
And it's going to be groups of people with shared values to get their nose pointed in the same direction. They're going to get it done together. I believe team is critically important, and yet it's not taught anywhere. And of course, to your question in business, what's the first thing that happens is you go public as an individual, you graduate, you get to grad school, and now, OK, I'm ready. I'm an individual. They're going to be on a team straight away.
And you have no idea how to operate on that team. The real proprietary advantage, but I know my players carry with them is this deep and fundamental. Understand a team. They know what a good teammate is. They know what a bad teammate is. They know why their team was good and maybe why their team didn't succeed. They have a really acute understanding of team. They take that into their families. They take that in their communities and they take that into their workplace.
What have you seen when you've gone into work with the list of companies is we don't need to go through it, but it's impressive. Certainly high performing companies, as measured traditionally by whatever earnings or sales or profit margins or however you want to do it. What have you found most interesting, shared in common across some of these impressive companies in terms of ways that they can still yet improve more?
They're almost doing so well, despite not having gone far enough on a certain attribute. What do you see as areas that companies can be shaped up more?
In culture, it's difficult to scale it. Most companies started pretty small. You knew everybody that got on board and everyone knew it. What we believed in. And over time, you don't even know who gets hired and on board. And it's just hard to scale culture. There's a need there's a need to do an audit the same way you would do a financial audit, to do an audit on your culture, to really ask yourself the really hard questions when you're working with businesses and this idea of culture becomes so important.
Have you seen it change? Have you seen a company where it's big? There's lots of divisions, there's problems. If you have seen a change towards better culture, what has that looked like?
It's always been people with the authority want to do it. It never happens because somebody in the middle of the organization has an idea that, wow, I've seen some things that we could fit. Organizationally, that would really help our bottom line and it help our retention of our people. Therefore, they push it up, it almost never happens. It has to be the people with the most authority in the company believing it's the right thing to do. It'll be good for the company.
It'll be good for their products, their clients, and it'll be good for their employees until they believe that it typically doesn't happen. But it can happen pretty quickly if we spend as much time on what we really believe and what we're willing to fight for. And as we spend on financial forecasts, our financial forecasts would be a lot better. I love that.
What do you think about other coaches and what you've learned from them, especially if it's different from how you've done things? You've mentioned a few coaches already and some of their ideas, Pat Riley and Wooden, etc.. Are there other coaches that you've observed in your sport or others that you've learned a lot from?
Yes, I'm involved in coach development and coach education. I love to work with other coaches and that exchange is very powerful. When I was a younger coach, I would shadow coaches. I would sometimes ask them if I could come in and just be a fly on the wall for a couple of days. Then I realized it was easy for them to say no. So I just start showing up and knocking on doors. I'd come a long way. It was a little hard to turn me away.
I suppose I learned a lot. I heard Bocian Becker, the great football coach of Michigan, tell a story, and he was talking to a group of reporters and he was saying he was explaining to them about recruiting. I'll remind your listeners that football teams play each other typically one autumn, Saturday a year. And Beau's comments to reporters were, if you really wanted a player and you didn't get them, it's not that big a deal. They'll only beat you once a year.
And. All right, that's pretty good. And then he says, on the other hand, if you get the wrong player on your team, they'll beat you every day. I can remember I wrote it on my arm because I hated paper and I haven't forgot it. To this day, you can get by with just about anybody, but if you get the wrong person on your team, they're going to beat you every day. Coaches are typically very generous with what they think and what they believe and why it's a good team.
Are there other aspects of what I'll call organizational behavior, broadly speaking, not just teams or companies, but just generally that you are especially fascinated by personally that we haven't talked about?
I mentioned it briefly, but this idea of non cognitive grit, I see your grade point average. You're right. That's a good SAT score. But who can grind? Who here needs to grind? You're happiest when it's hard and difficult. I wish we could bottle that. We do OK. We never work another day. I think there's bonafide social scientists that are on to it. I'll be looking forward to hearing about it. I'm interested in joy and love and caring and all that stuff.
I mean, I can't go all that pretty late. I can remember doing a deep dive with the Marine Corps and the drill sergeant who literally was up the six of these recruits night and day after they get through their crucible and they're called a Marine for the first time. And we'd be over in a tent having the warrior breakfast and they would talk about this guy who had driven them harder than they ever wanted to begin with. And they use words like love.
It's very interesting to me that concept that the people that care about us and they want what's best for us and they're going to demand the best from us. Those are the people are going to be closest to us. Pat Summitt, the lead basketball coach at Tennessee, uses the same that people won't care what you have to say until they know you care about it. It's kind of an interesting thought to me that once people know you care, they're going to listen to you more.
But what I found in working with coaches one on one is that the real secret sauce that a lot of coaches have is a very authentically care. There's no make believe in it. They very authentically care about their student athletes. And once that transaction happens, they use the fact of that person knowing how much they care about them to continue to raise the bar. I imagine there's a lot of managers and coaches that care about their people that run successful.
It's a great close relationship, but there's no real success in. What I find is interesting is when that caring is leveraged to where now, because, you know, I care about you, I get to coach you hard to be your best. And I'm going to continue to raise the bar and there's no animosity in it because this person cares about me. It's a little bit of that.
Drill Sergeant, I love the combination of caring and demanding or caring, like allowing you to demand more of somebody. It's counterintuitive, but cool thing. Well, this has been so much fun. I've learned a ton. I think everyone listening will recognize something they can do better and certainly want to participate in some of these. Values or define their own. I have two closing questions for you. The first is back to where we started, which is again around this creation of a value set.
I think the most important takeaway for me is values can't be something on a wall. It's got to be an operating system, not some empty declaration. With that in mind, what else do you think is important for companies to consider? If I was a new company creating a value set for the first time, what advice would you give that you've seen work?
I think just to double down on this concept, to make sure they're complementary, make sure what you believe in is never contradictory. And I think sometimes that happens. Well, if you really believe in that, how do you believe this? It's about describing it. It's about saying this is what we mean by this value and this is what we don't need to make sure everyone understands what it is that you're saying to take that extra step and then defence post it.
That's a football coaching term. I have to admit, I've never really built a fence. But apparently you take a long walk a few feet, dig another whole another hole. And I guess fence post in your values would mean that you have to keep talking, but you don't do it one time. You don't go on a retreat and say, here's our values or I want to show everybody and go to our website and know you've got to keep talking about it.
You've got to measure yourself against your own values. When people are examples of your values in a very positive way, we have to celebrate that success. We've got to make note of people gravitate toward the love is right. And so it's important that it becomes a daily weekly usage as opposed to we're going to create them. And they're very thoughtful and they really do represent what we believe. And then we just leave them alone until the next monthly meeting or the next quarterly meeting or maybe the next annual meeting that can't be put to use them every day.
I love that.
I love fence posting. Reminds me of my friend Brent who says people will start hearing what you're saying when you get sick of saying it. This is repetition matters. Consistency matters. This has been so much fun. I have a traditional closing question. I ask everyone the same question at the end of my discussions. The question is, what is the kindest thing that anyone's ever done for you?
I have a lot of gratitude in my heart for a lot of people. The kindest thing anyone has ever done for me, I think allowing me to coach, allowing me the trust and the space and the vulnerability for me to coach them. It's a gift to kind of wake up every day and slap my hands together. Doesn't work because I'm a good coach. It works because there are people that allow me access to them that allow me into their hearts and in their minds.
And that's probably the thing I'm most grateful for and probably the kindest thing anyone's ever done to me. I mean, any time someone calls me coach and allows me to coach them, get them from where they are to where they want to be, and there's some dragging and pushing and pulling and all that, typically, I'm really grateful for that. Fantastic.
I absolutely love it. So enjoyed our conversation. Jack, thanks so much for your time. It's a pleasure to meet you.
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