Coaching Across The Playing Field Transcript


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What lessons and best practices can be taken from sports coaching and applied to coaching business professionals?

Guests include executive and professional coaches, sports coaches, and professionals who have been coached by both.


* Fred Abbott, Owner, Abbott Law Firm

* Dr. Pam Brill, President, The Zone, Inc.

* Alan Fine, President and Founder, InsideOut Development

* Mary Wise, Head Coach, University of Florida Volleyball Team


According to the September 5th 2005 issue of Financial Management, “just as sports coaches push athletes to achieve their optimum performance and motivate them whenever the going gets tough, business coaches can help company owners overcome the problems they face in running their firms and encourage them to stay focused and realize their ambitions.”

The International Coach Federation estimates conservatively that there may be as many as 30,000 coaches working worldwide, generating revenues of about $1.5 billion.

Whether it’s on the playing field or in the halls of Corporate America, coaches bring valuable insight, perspective, and development for players on the field and in the board room.

What are the similarities and differences between athletic coaching and business coaching?

And what are some best practices and lessons that can be applied in both arenas?

Our panel of guests address these questions and more.

Published in: Business, Health & Medicine
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Coaching Across The Playing Field Transcript

  1. 1. Insight on Coaching Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: Insight Educational Consulting Ubiqus Reporting (IEC)
  2. 2. Time Speaker Transcript 00:20 Tom Floyd Hello everyone and welcome to Insight on Coaching. Insight on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors and size of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd, I’m the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting and your host for today’s show. This week our topic is, Coaching Across the Playing Field. We’ll talk about the history of coaching, from sports to business. We’ll discuss the similarities and differences in coaching athletes versus business professionals, and we’ll talk about the impact of both business and athletic coaches on individual and team performance. With me to explore this topic today are four guests, and let me give you a quick overview of who we have with us today. Our first guest, Fred Abbott, is a University of Florida Football Hall of Famer who went on to play in the NFL for teams including the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings. During Abbott’s football career, he had the opportunity to play under some of the greatest coaches of all time such as Don Shula and Bud Grant. After over a decade of achieving success as an athlete, Abbott decided to attend law school in the hopes of achieving equal success as an attorney. Abbott has since gone on to become a renowned civil trial attorney in Jacksonville, Florida where he owns Abbott Law Firm, a highly successful personal injury practice. Welcome to the show, Fred. 01:32 Fred Abbott Thank you, Tom. 2 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 2 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  3. 3. Time Speaker Transcript 01:34 Tom Floyd Our second guest, Dr. Pam Brill, is a licensed psychologist, organizational development and motivational expert, and is president of In The Zone, Inc. Pam recently authored, The Winner's Way: A Proven Method For Achieving Your Personal Best in Any Situation which documents her systematic method for getting “in the zone” to prevail over any challenge life can toss and to enjoy the journey. Her client roster as consultant, coach, and speaker includes Fortune 500 companies including State Street Corporation and Ernst & Young, Capitol Hill leaders and national committees, large international not-for-profit agencies, as well as elite athletes and sports teams including Dartmouth College Athletics and Aspen- Snowmass Ski School. Welcome to the show, Pam. Our next guest, Alan Fine, is the president and founder of InsideOut Development, and has consulted with some of the world’s top athletes, executives, and most demanding organizations, including IBM, Sun Microsystems, Ford, NASA, Proctor & Gamble, and the U.S. Navy. Alan began his career as a tennis player and was later certified as a professional tennis coach by the British Lawn Tennis Association. Since 1980 he has coached professionals in both sport and business communities, and he has also authored two books: Play to Win Golf, and InsideOut Golf. . Welcome to the show, Alan. 02:53 Alan Fine Thank you. 02:54 Tom Floyd And our fourth guest, Mary Wise, is the head coach of the University of Florida volleyball team, leading her team to 17 consecutive SEC Championships—which is one every year since her first season at University of Florida. She is the first coach in NCAA history to win 100 straight games and has the highest winning percentage in the history of NCAA Division I athletic coaches with at least ten seasons of coaching. She was recently voted by USA Volleyball as the “All Time Great Coach,” has won the SEC “Coach of the Year” award ten times and is the only female in NCAA history to coach in the national championship match. Welcome to the show, Mary. 03:32 Mary Wise Thank you, Tom. 3 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 3 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  4. 4. Time Speaker Transcript 03:34 Tom Floyd As we always do, I’d like to start us off by sharing some data that our research team pulled together just to set the stage. According to an article titled “Replace the Goalposts” which appeared in the September 2005 issue of Financial Management: Coaching has been around for a long time in sport, of course, but it entered the corporate lexicon 12 years ago when Brad Sugars, an Australian accountant and entrepreneur, developed the concept and launched Action International, which is now one of the world's biggest business coaching organizations. Just as sports coaches push athletes to achieve their optimum performance and motivate them whenever the going gets tough, business coaches can help company owners to overcome the problems they face in running their firms and encourage them to stay focused and realize their ambitions. According to the International Coaching Federation: As a discipline, coaching has come a long way in the past 20 years. From a standing start in the 1980s, the number of people describing themselves as coaches has risen sharply. The International Coaching Federation estimates conservatively that there may be as many as 30,000 coaches working worldwide, generating revenues of about $1.5 billion. The U.S. accounts for half this market. Crucially, the coach is also there to get the subject to commit to specific actions. This is not therapy: coaching is about raising people's performance – it is based on action and results, just as it is in the athletic realm. Well Fred, I’d like to start with you. You’ve certainly led an interesting career, to say the least, from professional football player and star to attorney. Can you tell us a little bit about your story and how you grew from one field to another? 4 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 4 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  5. 5. Time Speaker Transcript 05:22 Fred Abbott Sure. You know professional football is the Olympics for football players so I was fortunate to make it to that last level. But I think everybody early on in football realizes that your career could end on any one play, so you have to--if you’re going to be prudent anyway you have to be thinking about what the next chapter is going to be. And as I was playing in the NFL I would come back to Gainesville to the University of Florida and take some graduate courses. And I got interested in law and I just was looking for something that would be as exciting and stimulating and interesting as playing football. A friend of mine actually that I lifted weights with, a guy by the name of Bill DeCarlos, was a trial attorney and he invited me to come watch a trial and I was infatuated with the process. It actually ended up being better than playing football because you get to play all the positions when you’re the lead trial lawyer. I stood up when I should have sat down and tore all four ligaments and both cartilages and applied to law school from the hospital. 06:32 Tom Floyd Ouch on tearing ligaments and cartilage. I think I just squirmed a little bit in my seat. So there is actually more in terms of what drew you to the field of law? It was really the opportunity to play different positions, so to speak, and kind of test your skills further there? 06:50 Fred Abbott Well, yes, but one of things that attracted me and brought me into football was the correlation between your effort and how you could train as an athlete and how you could succeed and I was looking for something to do in life that had that same strong correlation. When you’re a trial attorney, my area is bodily injury and wrongful death, you only get paid if you win. As Coach Wise can document, when you go that level in college the competition is intense. So there was a lot of similarities and a lot of things that cross over between being a competitive college and professional athlete and being a trial lawyer. So it was just a natural transition and it has been wonderful for me. I mean just phenomenal. 5 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 5 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  6. 6. Time Speaker Transcript 07:44 Tom Floyd I have another question along these lines later in the show as well, but I heard you mention coaching to win as well. Would you say for yourself that winning has played both a role in the area of athletics as well as in your corporate life now as an attorney? 08:02 Fred Abbott Absolutely. But as you progress up the competitive spectrum, particularly in football, it gets more intense physically and emotionally and your training regime and everything else plays a major factor in the level of success that you enjoy. And that correlation just transfers over 100% in being a trial attorney, particularly when you’re on a contingency fee. As I’m sure some of these professional coaches can tell us, and will, there’s a lot of planning and organization and strategy that goes into it. You can't just focus on winning or decide that you want to win and it’s going to happen. It’s what transpires in the interim. As you mentioned in the introduction, I played under two great NFL coaches, Don Shula and Bud Grant, and I had the good fortune of being there when they were competing for the Super Bowls. But the same thing transfers over once you get out of athletics. You’ve got to have a routine. You’ve got to have a plan. You’ve got to have a system. And the benefit of having been in it athletically made it a natural transfer. But I’ve had lawyer coaches. I had an experience in my career where I was coached by another lawyer who was in Colorado but was sort of shaping and mentoring me to sharpen my lawyer skills. 09:30 Tom Floyd What were some of the similarities that you saw there between some of the coaching that you received as a lawyer versus the coaching that you received as an athlete? 6 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 6 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  7. 7. Time Speaker Transcript 09:40 Fred Abbott Well first and foremost, you’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to be willing to follow that plan. You’ve got to discipline yourself and probably more than anything else that carried over for me was the ability to discipline and train yourself as an athlete not only within the system but individually. And I know Coach Wise, I’ve had the good fortune of seeing her teams play, I mean they’re not only well coached but you can see that they’re well trained and that they have developed themselves. It’s the same type of thing as a lawyer. You’ve got to have a plan. You have got to discipline yourself. You have got to set deadlines. You’ve got to keep track of what’s happening. And then you’ve got to be able to analyze. And I know Coach Wise, although I’ve never been in a volleyball session, but I would imagine they do the same exact thing, that they have game tapes and they go back and analyze. You have the same benefit as a trial attorney. You probably learn more from losing than you do winning, but you go back and analyze what you did in the past and what worked and how you can get better and how you can go to the next level and also what the competition is doing. 10:51 Tom Floyd Well, Mary, this is almost the perfect segue way to some of the questions I have for you as well. You’ve been a remarkably successful athletics coach to say the least. Just a big picture question first, really the same question that I asked Fred as well, can you just tell us a little bit about your story, your successes and what really inspired you to become an athletics coach? 7 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 7 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  8. 8. Time Speaker Transcript 11:16 Mary Wise Sure. I think the overriding thing will be that I was at the right place at the right time. I had just when universities were offering scholarships to women athletes, it was the same year that when I graduated from high school there were going to be four in our family in college at the same time. I grew up just outside Chicago so it was going to be the University of Illinois in state was my one option until I had the opportunity to go to Purdue University on scholarship and that changed my life. I played four years at Purdue and played for a coach there. I think early on I knew that coaching would be the route I’d like to go and that was certainly confirmed through the experience I had at Purdue. Then at the ripe old of age of 21, now understand this was just a few years ago. Okay, more than a few. At 21 I was hired as the head woman’s volleyball coach at Iowa State University. Fortunately I turned 22 the day before our first practice, so that at least chronologically I was older than the seniors on the team. 12:32 Tom Floyd Wow. 12:33 Mary Wise You couldn’t do that now. Again, this was in the early to mid 80s. You want to talk about a learning experience; as a head coach, your first coaching job four years in what was the Big 8 back then. And then from there I went kind of backwards in that I went to the University of Kentucky to work on my masters and at that time, again, right place at the right time, worked for one of the best coaches in the country, Kathy DeBoer who was at the University of Kentucky. It was in 1991 when the phone call came, the University of Florida job had opened. As the story goes, and this is true, I said yes before I had even asked what the salary was. And then understand that’s probably not the way you go about doing it, but that’s how badly I wanted that job. We’ve been here ever since and it’s been a great ride. 8 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 8 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  9. 9. Time Speaker Transcript 13:28 Tom Floyd Can you tell us a little bit about what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned from a coaching perspective in terms of coaching during times of great success? 13:40 Mary Wise As Fred alluded to, I do believe this, the fundamental lesson is that you do learn more from a loss than you do from a win. My job as a coach is to get the players to be comfortable being uncomfortable and putting them out of their comfort zone on a daily basis as we’re training. With the motivation, with the practice planning, everything’s designed with having them learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. That is the only way we can win. So how can we put the players in a position to get better in practice so that by the time they get to a match they know how to make those adjustments? Volleyball is a sport. Sometimes I joke, it’d be great if I could push a pause button between contacts, kind of like you can do in football where you can call plays. I could push a pause button, but the game doesn’t work that way. So you have to train them, the players, to make these decisions in a game that’s not black and white, it’s gray. The other thing is you work with them as a coach to learn that the only way they get better is by failing and every day in practice put them in a position to fail. That’s how they improve. And that’s why I go back to the you learn more from a loss than you do from a win. Now, having said that as a coach, we’d much rather be winning. We enjoy winning more. 15:12 Tom Floyd Of course. 15:13 Mary Wise But in the training you have to put them in a position to fail and then schedule that way as well, at least at the college game. 9 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 9 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  10. 10. Time Speaker Transcript 15:21 Tom Floyd It’s funny that you mention in the game of volleyball that it’s not black and white that it’s gray. I mean that’s very much, at least from my own perspective and belief, that’s what the game of life is about as well. Life isn’t black and white, you know, it’s gray. And I immediately saw the correlation there from just listening to you that in times of life too you can tend to learn a lot more from your failures than from your personal wins in many instances too. 15:47 Mary Wise Sure. I think athletes because of the way the athletic world works, they are obviously more risk takers. But I think they learn that it’s okay to fail. I do believe for women that’s even more important because, you know, and those people are talking about I won't say it in 50 years; but that because little girls don’t grow up as often playing games with winners and losers the way little boys do that women tend not to be as comfortable in failing. In sports every time you go out there, every time you go to the service line or the free throw line or at the starting block, you’re always in a position where you’re going to fail just as often as you’re going to succeed. It’s going to happen, at least if you’re going against the best competition. I do believe that for women that’s something that they’re not as comfortable and thus women have a tendency to stay in their comfort zone and not take risks, whether that be a better job or moving the family for a better job, that type of thing. 17:01 Tom Floyd I am nodding to hear you saying that as well. It’s interesting, we’ve one several shows on gender and some of the different hurdles and challenges that women and men face in the workplace and things like that as well. And literally exactly what you just said about not feeling comfortable failing or being afraid to fail for women has come up on other shows as well, so I’m nodding as you’re saying a lot of that. That’s really interesting to hear it from both perspectives. 17:27 Mary Wise From a sports perspective. 10 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 10 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  11. 11. Time Speaker Transcript 17:29 Tom Floyd Yes, exactly. Well, Pam, I’d like to turn to you next. As we start to make the crossover from athletics coaching to business coaching, you’re someone who’s not only a coach yourself but you work with business professionals and athletic teams and organizations. Can you talk to us a little bit about the brain science, so to speak, of coaching in sports and business? 11 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 11 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  12. 12. Time Speaker Transcript 17:57 Dr. Pamela Brill Absolutely. Thank you for directing it that way. My background is a little bit different. I came to the coaching field from the court system. I usually tell people that I started my career working street corners and court rooms not at night but as a social worker with abused kids and juvenile offenders. I had to learn some of the concepts that Mary and Fred are talking about; decision- making under pressure. I was literally under fire with the switchblades being thrashed around at my face at one point and guns a couple of times and learning how to teach myself to go to that place that I went to when I went on my long six-mile runs each day, that place of engagement that athletes go to when they’re doing their best, that we call in sports being in the zone. So I came to this work of taking psychology, also known as behavioral science and then brain science from the couch, so to speak, to the courtroom to the courts of sport and then corner offices. I think a lot of what we’re talking about is very similar, that as a coach--I think Tom you said that the coaching provision talked about getting the subject to commit. First of all I work with people and I don’t think you can get people to do anything. My role is to engage people to build meaning for doing things that are not initially appealing. Moving out of our comfort zone means that we could fail. We could fail publicly. I mean that’s why public speaking is the number one fear over dying. And when Mary talks about creating those situations where an athlete learns to function outside of that comfort zone when the natural instinct is for our brain and body to exude this flood of natural chemistry that puts us into fight or flight. But we don’t do our best there. That’s where we play not to lose, where parts of our brain shut down. It would be like saying “I’m going to go into this meeting and I’m going to leave a part of my brain outside of the door.” And so what I, as a coach, do is very similar to what Fred did when he ran out on the field and when he goes into a courtroom and what Mary does as a coach and with her athletes, it’s to engage my clients who are very successful in business and in sports to engage them, to teach them that under pressure we get stupid. 12 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 12 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  13. 13. Time Speaker Transcript 20:26 Dr. Pamela Brill I mean stress, pressure, change makes us stupid. Here’s what happens naturally and here are some strategies you can use to identify when you’re starting to lose that grip and to get back into that state where you can play to win, where you can think clearly and when you can do your best. And with the system I developed--I’ve been teaching this since I guess--I love Mary’s illusion that she was about 20, but I’ve been teaching this for almost 20 years so maybe it wasn’t called coaching then. I’ve been teaching my system of learning how to adjust your heartbeat, your physiology, your physical tensions, learning how to focus your attention where you want it to be and learning how to go into a challenge with a mental attitude of I can do this, shifting your language from if we win to when we win, shifting your attitude from playing not lose to playing to win and really building meaning for some of the, you know, even unsavory parts of training to be an athlete. I’m not a competitive athlete but when I do get in to competitions like road races I love to win. But I still practice as an athlete. I just ran 10 miles this morning. So I try to take myself to that place of pushing myself beyond the comfort zone and learning from losses as well as from wins. 21:50 Tom Floyd Well I was on the treadmill today and only did about 2 miles and I’m feeling incredibly guilty hearing that you ran 10 today. 21:57 Dr. Pamela Brill And I would coach you to feel incredibly proud. That is terrific. 22:03 Tom Floyd I have to practically coach myself in the morning to get out of bed to make it to the gym. ut it’s like one of those things that I’ve learned if I don’t do it in the morning you know it’s the only time it’s going to get done. And yeah, two miles is better than nothing. It’s just amazing how good I always feel afterwards too. 13 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 13 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  14. 14. Time Speaker Transcript 22:18 Dr. Pamela Brill Let me just throw this one piece in then. I believe that coaching is about teaching people to coach themselves and others to get into that state of commitment for life and living on purpose. I have run or worked out every day for about 30 years, through 4 pregnancies and oh by the way, Mary, I have 4 kids in college. But every day people go, “oh it must be easy for you.” And I look at them and I say “staying under the covers is easy.” I build meaning. I think about my mother who has Alzheimer’s so I get up to build my brain cells. My dad passed away recently from heart illness. I think about getting up to build my heart. So building meaning, whether it’s for 2 miles or 10 is just a wonderful way to live on purpose. 23:01 Tom Floyd Absolutely. Well, Alan, I’d like to turn to you next. Can you speak to us about your coaching experience in both realms and also about the faith, fire and focus approach that you use in your work? 14 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 14 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  15. 15. Time Speaker Transcript 23:22 Alan Fine To me the approach, human beings are the same whether they’re on a sports field or on a field of business. So there’s certain things that they do that affect performance that are the same in both fields. That’s where this faith, fire and focus conceptual model emerged over the years in my coaching practice where I would see the same issues show up underneath seemingly very different performance issues, whether it was a professional golfer or whether it was a CEO. And their faith with what they believed about themselves made a huge difference. Fire was their level of motivation or as Pam was saying, the meaning they have to fire them up. And their focus was what they paid attention to and to the degree that they controlled their focus it would generate the kind of beliefs they had about themselves. What they paid attention is how they developed their beliefs. And then once they had those beliefs that would direct what they pay attention to and it would become a kind of self-reinforcing, loop both of which would affect their fire. The solution seemed to be always to move what they pay attention to. Give them something to pay attention to they thought they could do that built meaning for them and that’s when you’d start to see changes in performance. And it’s quite radical for me in that I’d been brought up as a tennis coach and our focus was very much on technical issues and what I’d call a knowledge component. I see the same kind of emphasis in a lot of corporate education. And when we paid more attention to the faith, fire and focus and less to the knowledge we began to see some interesting changes. 25:29 Tom Floyd Well let me come back to some of the things that you brought up in terms of motivation and beliefs and how those apply both in the athletic world and the corporate world. I’m starting to hear the music for our first commercial break so let’s go ahead and go on pause. Stay tuned everyone, more from Insight on Coaching when we return. 15 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 15 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  16. 16. Time Speaker Transcript 28:17 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching, I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Coaching Across the Playing Field. With me are Fred Abbot, University of Florida football Hall of Famer and Founder of Abbott Law Firm; Dr. Pam Brill, Founder and President of In The Zone, Incorporated and author of The Winner’s Way: A Proven Method for Achieving your Personal Best in any Situation; Alan Fine, President and Founder of InsideOut Development and author of Play to Win Golf and InsideOut Golf; and Mary Wise, Head Coach, University of Florida volleyball and the first coach in NCAA history to win 100 straight games. Well in this segment of the show I’d like to talk more about the impact that both athletic and business coaches have on overall individual or team performance. Here are a few more discussion points to set the stage. When Phil Mickelson tees off in the first round of the British Open golf tournament, he will do so happy in the knowledge that he has had the best possible help in preparing for the competition. At his side since April has been coach Butch Harmon, who previously spent several years working with the world's number one golfer Tiger Woods. Mickelson has been striving to achieve that extra 5 per cent of performance that could make the difference between success and failure. 29:29 Tom Floyd Now some people get to the top in business and feel they have no further need of advice or personal development of any kind. But, as elite performers such as Woods and Mickelson demonstrate, everyone has room for improvement. Coaches, whether in the context of work or sport, have something to contribute. I’d like to begin with the notion of some people perhaps believing that they have no further need of advice or personal development once they reach a certain point. And Fred, I’d like to turn to you first. In sports, maybe more so in professional sports than in college sports, coaches can deal with some very strong personalities to say the least. It could be something like multiple players who feel they’re the best. What are some things that you do to help them work together and kind of mold them as a team to make the overall team more successful or you know kind of better seated? How do you handle situations like that? 16 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 16 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  17. 17. Time Speaker Transcript 30:26 Fred Abbott I think as an athlete you realize early on that you’re only as good as your last performance. As you move up the competitive spectrum from college into professional athletics it just keeps getting reiterated or reemphasized. To succeed on that level, I think the people who believe they really can't get any better are going to be blindsided and replaced. And you’ve almost been in the competitive spectrum and I think it was Pam may have mentioned this earlier about getting conditioned into a certain mindset and whether it’s happening overtly or indirectly or subconsciously I think to compete for any length of time on that level you’ve learned that lesson whether you know it consciously or subconsciously and you’ve got to keep reinventing yourself. The other factor from an athletic standpoint, obviously the longer you’re competing, the more physically draining it is. So you’ve got to figure out other ways to sharpen your performance, particularly if you’re there for a long period of time. As an athlete there’s no quicker formula for failure than to believe you can't get better. 31:44 Tom Floyd Mary, anything that you would add? 31:47 Mary Wise I think about when--the more we win, we call it the bigger the target on our back. And so I think in athletics, staying at the top is harder than getting there. In volleyball only six players, like basketball and different from football, one player can completely change a team’s success. So one great recruit can get you to the top but staying there. And so there’s no way you can, once you’re a top 10 team in the country, that’s not the time to step back. As a matter of fact that’s the hardest because you’re getting, each night, everyone’s best shot. So how do we counter that? It’s with preparation. That our players are so prepared come the match, they’ve watched video, they’ve seen it on video many times. We’ve imitated it in practice. They’ve practiced against it. So by the time they get into the match there’s no anxiety. They’ve seen it all and now they just put into motion what they’ve rehearsed all week. 17 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 17 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  18. 18. Time Speaker Transcript 32:57 Alan Fine And Tom when— 32:59 Tom Floyd I’m sorry. 32:59 Alan Fine I’m sorry. 33:02 Tom Floyd Go ahead. 33:05 Alan Fine One of the things that strikes me as a difference between sport and the corporate arena is in sport the feedback, the results of what you do are so immediate and so public and so graphic there’s nowhere to hide. In some sports and golf I think is one of them, you’re only paid according to how much better you are than your direct competitors and you’re measured at least every two days in golf. But in the corporate world it’s much easier to hide and convince yourself that you don’t need help because it’s so complex. The feedback frequently is not nearly as immediate. 33:52 Tom Floyd I’d like to come back from a business setting perspective, from a corporate perspective, you know if we had to label it as maybe the prima donna syndrome that some people can get. It happens in athletics. It certainly happens in the workplace. I’ve seen it myself. Pam, a question for you along these lines, when you see issues similar to this in Corporate America what are some ways that coaches would handle these strong personalities in the workplace, helping both the individual himself or herself as well as improving overall team morale? Any correlation that can be drawn between how that’s handled in athletics versus how it’s handled in Corporate America? 18 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 18 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  19. 19. Time Speaker Transcript 34.42 Dr. Pamela Brill That’s a great question, Tom. A couple of things that relate in terms of what other people just said is that when we do become more successful in business as well as in sports or politics or whatever arena in which we compete, we do get a target on our back that gets bigger and bigger, as Mary said, and we are more easily blindsided because we develop that curse of the overdog, which may be seen as a prima donna or may be labeled either one, but we begin to think that we are invincible. And I think that’s one thing--I’m from Boston, I admit it, Red Sox, Patriots and it’s one thing I really, I watch games from this mental angle and I watch how Tom Brady even when he was throwing that pigskin sphere against Pittsburg and he wasn’t, it looked like he wasn’t really doing so well, he still exuded that attitude of I believe I can do this. And it didn’t look much different when he was the underdog versus when he’s the overdog and performing at his top. So I think the best mental attitude that I’ve observed and that I work with my clients on in sports and in business is that of being present and moving beyond judging yourself and judging others to simply come to the field to do your best in every play. When there are people who act as, I guess I’ll use that word prima donnas as though they are the star of the team and we saw that in that movie Jerry Maguire, the show me the money attitude. Once he figured it out and moved beyond it’s all about me to understand that there’s no me really without this team then the team accepted him and enabled him to be his best. 36:34 Dr. Pamela Brill So in sports, and I believe in business too, people pick up on that. They understand when a leader is in it just for that leader and they will under perform. They’ll do the bare bones to get it done. It’s when a leader can move beyond that self-serving interest, that self lense and really do that which is right and coach others to get the best out of them and hire people who are smarter than she or he is then that leader’s moved beyond prima donna it’s all about me and you really see things soar. And I’ll add one other thing. I’ve had the honor to work with both Tom Peters and Marshall Goldsmith, both gurus in business and the world of business coaching, and they go on rants about how you’re only as successful as you are at the moment and to believe that there’s no room for improvement is like writing your death warrant. Tom suggested as a country we better get with it because we’ve got a target on our back with other countries gunning for us. 19 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 19 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  20. 20. Time Speaker Transcript 37:41 Tom Floyd Yep and I’m literally smiling and nodding. Marshall has said some of those same points when he’s been on the show before too. I could not agree more and lots of nodding on that on this side there. Well for our listeners out there, one question that I realized that I didn’t ask that I wanted to make sure to ask that I’m sure a lot of people are thinking, especially given the topic of this particular show, and I’ll post this question to the four of you as a group. What are the primary differences that all of you have seen between an athletic coach and a professional business coach and then the same converse of that question as well? What do you see as the similarities as well? And that question’s for everybody. 38:28 Dr. Pamela Brill Well I’d love to jump in because I’ve had the honor an opportunity to coach coaches, to coach people who are in Mary’s role and coaching teams. I think that they’re very similar. I think it’s really about people as Alan said earlier. Everybody’s drawn similarities. It’s about engaging people to learn how to believe in each other and in themselves, to learn language that has that upbeat approach rather than could, should, would have, should have, you know what can we do to look for opportunities to look for the spaces. When you ski trees, you ski spaces. W hen you throw the ball you look for the places. There are very many similarities, far more similarities than there are differences. 39:22 Alan Fine Tom, this is Alan, I would go along with that. To me there’s more difference between the athlete and the corporate athlete than there is between the athletic coach and the corporate coach. I see athletic, sporting athletes as being much more rigorous about dealing with feedback. They seek it much more often and they expect it much more whereas corporate athletes I think are much more prone to avoid it to not want to and not have to deal with it. But as coaches— 20 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 20 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  21. 21. Time Speaker Transcript 40:03 Tom Floyd That’s almost like on the athlete side at least in sports it’s, you know, you kind of expect that you’ve going to get feedback more and you’re finding that people are more open to that. But on the corporate side not as much. 40:15 Alan Fine Absolutely. 40:17 Tom Floyd Okay. 40:17 Alan Fine In fact in the corporate world I see— 40:19 Tom Floyd I hate to interrupt I’m starting to hear the music for our next commercial break. Let’s go ahead and go on pause again. Stay tuned everyone. More from Insight on Coaching when we return. 21 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 21 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  22. 22. Time Speaker Transcript 43:04 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching, I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Coaching Across the Playing Field. With me are Fred Abbott, Dr. Pam Brill, Alan Fine and Mary Wise. In this segment I’d like to focus more on what coaches bring to the table in both athletics and in business. Here’s some more data to set the stage. According to ICF board member Michelle Payne: The best time for a business to come to coaching is if they're feeling overwhelmed, if they're not profitable and they're really looking to make a change happen and not sure how to do it. A coach's greatest asset is the objectivity that he or she brings to the client. Coaches provide a big- picture approach to business owners who are too immersed in the daily slog of meetings, personnel management, sales numbers and marketing strategies to be objective. In coaching, the coach is not the expert in the client's business, but is the expert in the partnering and asking thought-provoking questions. In the May-June 2006 issue of the Ivey Business Journal, author Christine Turner writes: “Imagine reading a report about an Olympic training program that omits the athletes' experiences. As implausible as it seems, that omission, or failing, compromises much of the commentary on executive coaching. What the coach has to say can be valuable, but the commentary can't be all that meaningful unless comments by the players –in this case executives - are included. The factors that play a significant role in creating a successful coaching initiative are: a willing executive, a skilled coach and realistic expectations. Well Mary, I’d like to start with you. In your opinion, what’s the greatest asset that an athletics coach brings to his or her team? 22 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 22 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  23. 23. Time Speaker Transcript 44:47 Mary Wise I really think it’s building confidence. I just believe that that is our job in putting athletes in a position to succeed. And again, my experience has been with coaching women, but I have found that a group of women and that’s as a team sport volleyball when they--a confident well connected group of women, they can just do about anything. As a coach as we’re trying to improve them and get better and I talked earlier about getting them out of their comfort zone. At the same time I’m balancing that with confidence. So that’s the fine line is I’m failing them if I don’t make them better, push them out of their comfort zone, but I’m never going to get them better if they go about it having lost total confidence. 45:41 Tom Floyd Fred, anything that you would add? 23 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 23 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  24. 24. Time Speaker Transcript 45:44 Fred Abbott No. I think she hit the nail on the head. But that applies moving from athletics into business and that is one of the benefits I think of having been an athlete is you’ve experienced those successes and failures. You learn that it’s okay to fail and you also learn that you can't get better unless you take risk. And that’s where I believe the professional coach really comes in. T he objectivity I think it was, I guess that was you that read that Tom, to me that’s the benefit that I’ve seen professionally. I learned sort of by trial and error but then at a point in time I decided to take a step back and get some objective feedback from a coach and that helped me tremendously, accelerated my career and I was willing to--I would get away from my own subjectivity and hear it from somebody else. The real thing that was the bell ringer for me as a trial attorney when I was seeking coaching is the thought provoking questions. I mean you, as a trial attorney, may almost become over focused and that creates a myopia in another area, something you’re not seeing clearly but from somebody who’s not directly involved in exactly what you’re doing who can assess objectively what’s happening and then tap into your competitiveness or your desire to get better and ask that thought provoking question. You know as an athlete, particularly as a football player, but in most other athletic venues you can look at the film and it’s a criticism. I mean you can see what’s happening. But when you get into business you don’t normally have a videotape. But if you have access to a third person such as Pam or Alan they can give you that objectivity and it’s a tremendous benefit. 47:35 Tom Floyd And the perfect segue way, Alan and Pam, you know, kind of switching that same question to the corporate setting or the business setting. Are things like objectivity in building confidence the greatest assets from your perspectives that a business or life coach brings to an individual or an organization? 47:56 Alan Fine To me they are important but there’s one more thing that I think is critical, again, both for an athletic coach or a corporate coach and that’s creating a safe environment for the performer to explore their own thinking or their own experience. Because if they’re not safe, if their defenses are up, then the coach can bring all the objectivity they like but the performer will be in denial about and will rationalize it. I think, to me, the breakthroughs happen when they feel safe enough to really step outside their own thinking and their own beliefs and take a good hard look at it. 24 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 24 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  25. 25. Time Speaker Transcript 48:40 Tom Floyd Pam, anything you would add? 48:43 Dr. Pamela Brill That was a great feeder ball for me. Thank you. I would say all of the above. I myself as a coach have been described as having a tough love approach. I build the confidence, just as Mary does, not by saying oh you’re doing such a good job, you know, I do use recognition and I encourage my clients to recognize their own successes and those of others and to keep pushing themselves in arenas where they’re not sure how they’re going to do and that’s how you build the confidence. I believe a piece of coaching is to provide what Fred describes as the game tape. I do use game tapes with my athletes and with my coaches I will sometimes video the sport coaches on the sidelines so they can see what they truly look like and the impact on the players and on the level of play. I think a coach in business provides that, you know, a different angle and in my approach that I’ve learned from Marshall Goldsmith of interviewing people who see you in action and getting real words not just a 360 that may or may not measure what’s relevant but getting words that describe this is how people perceive you. I also believe that, Fred said, you know, you can't get better unless you take risks, but I think that includes seeking and using a coach in business. And people who are smart and successful I don’t agree that statement that a business should be unprofitable that’s the best time. I think the best time to get a coach in any aspect of your life is anytime. And that when you’re feeling already successful that that’s still a good time to work with someone in an environment where you feel safe, where you’ll learn to push yourself and where you’ll then celebrate that feeling of victory of doing something that you never even pictured you could do. 25 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 25 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  26. 26. Time Speaker Transcript 50:43 Tom Floyd Well one last question for everyone before we end the show. Definitely a big question but one that I wanted to make sure to come back to and that’s how does coaching during successful times change during or change from, I should say, unsuccessful times? So for example, what are some lessons for our listeners out there that can be applied from the athletic world in situations where a team is consistently doing well, you know, high ranked, experiencing lots of wins, getting tons or press and things like that to the business world? For example when you look at companies like Google right now, they’re just blowing the competition away and are hugely successful right now. Does coaching change during successful times from unsuccessful times and what are some lessons around that that we can bring to the business world from the athletic world? And the question’s for everyone. 51:43 Fred Abbott This is Fred. I would tell you this, looking back as an athlete and looking back as a trial attorney I think it does change, more so in athletics. I think when you’re on the top you’re fine-tuning. When you’re on the bottom you’re making more drastic or radical changes to the process of what’s happening and you almost have to because of the natural competition, it’s almost a Darwinian natural selection phenomena. And in business I would think that by--Alan touched on this, creating a safe environment that when you are successful you’re much more willing to go within and to look at yourself and you’re not as vulnerable. But the irony of that is you probably need it more when you’re floundering. But I would love to hear what the others have to say. 52:35 Alan Fine This is Alan. To me the process of coaching stays the same. It’s what you have to coach on that can change quite dramatically when an individual or a team is floundering because they carry a lot more--they carry change beliefs, they carry a lot more of what I would call interference; stories about what they can and can't do. I think what the skills and processes that coaches use would tend to be very similar. 26 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 26 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript
  27. 27. Time Speaker Transcript 53:04 Tom Floyd Mary, anything that you could add? 53:05 Mary Wise I love the term Alan just used in terms of interference because I think what happens in the athletic field when losses occur is finger pointing. And I think if you have a system that is in place and as the coach and as the players you believe in it then you’re not finger pointing after the loss but there are objective reasons why the team lost and you have the confidence that hey we can turn this around by A, B and C and that it’s not some nebulous reasons that you’re better. And that’s what we try and do as coaches, give them exact feedback, here’s how we can get better. 53:43 Tom Floyd So avoiding the finger pointing and focusing more on the feedback and ways to improve instead? 53:47 Mary Wise Absolutely. 53:48 Tom Floyd Got it. Well a huge thank you to the four of you for joining us today. And for our listeners, as always, a huge thank you for joining us as well. For more information about our show you can, of course, look us up on the Voice America Business Channel. You can visit our website at and don’t forget, you can also download the podcast version of the show in Apple iTunes. Just open up iTunes, go to the iTunes store and enter Insight on Coaching in the search field. Thanks everyone, we’ll see you next week. 27 | Confidential May 18, 2008 Page 27 Coaching Across the Playing Field Transcript