Author: Martin Rooney

10 Ways To Improve Your Team Culture

Culture isn’t a “sometimes” thing – it’s an all-the-time thing.

And one place that understands that is the University of Notre Dame.  Whether you are a fan of Notre Dame or not is not important.  This email is to share with you a blueprint for your own family and business culture that I created after visiting the Fighting Irish this week.

Last weekend, I drove the 660 miles to South Bend to drop off my oldest back at school after her first fall break.  The difference about this trip was instead of just one daughter, all the Rooney girls made the trek to Indiana.

Since this was the first time my three other daughters were visiting Notre Dame, I was interested to see how they would respond to the experience.  I was worried after all they had heard about the school, maybe “ND” wouldn’t live up to the “hype.”

But knowing about the culture there, I should have known better.

After the 11-hour drive, we parked in front of the Compton Family Ice Arena, got tickets to the game, and within 10 minutes of leaving the car, we were cheering on the Notre Dame team with the thousands in attendance.  As the band played the Notre Dame Victory March after each goal (and Notre Dame won 6-0!) I could already see the traditions of the school were having an effect on my daughters.  At the end of the game when we all swayed arm-in-arm singing the Alma Mater, my kids were already asking for hockey jerseys and when we could come back for another game.

Culture isn’t something you see – it’s something you feel.

On Saturday, we woke up and toured the campus.  The grounds were buzzing with excitement even though the USC – Notre Dame night football game was still over 10 hours away.  We knelt at the Grotto, explored the Sacred Heart Basilica, took photos in front of the Golden Dome and Hesburgh Library, and then visited the one place to make their cultural immersion complete: the Hammes Bookstore.

To fully feel part of any culture, you have to look the part too.  

As a big college football (and Notre Dame) fan, you might have thought I was nervous about the game.  Since the USC – Notre Dame rivalry is one of the oldest in the sport and has led to upsets over the years, I had reason to be uptight.  But that feeling was nothing compared to the apprehension I experienced when I let my wife and daughters loose in the bookstore.  As an expert group of shoppers that closely resembled a black-ops military mission, they all bolted in different directions, and retuned with arm loads of gear they deemed absolutely necessary to properly represent the Fighting Irish.  To maintain the integrity and morale of the trip, you can be sure I didn’t dare press my luck by saying, “no.”  As the leader of the culture in your home, you must learn to choose your battles wisely.

To wear a uniform means you don a certain jersey.  A uniform culture means everyone acts a certain way.

During the football game, my daughter asked why the player’s didn’t have their last names on their backs.  I answered that when you wear a jersey at Notre Dame, you don’t play for the name on the back of the jersey, you play for the team; for the history and tradition of the program.  If you are going to represent the traditions of a culture the right way, you have to follow the rules and expectations that culture demands.  When that type of uniform behavior happens, the culture is easy to see – and defend.  Not everyone will always uphold the values, but that is when culture works at its best.  That’s when the person or persons not living up to the expectations is reminded “that’s not how we do it here.”  When that type of regulating occurs, you know you have a special culture.

A culture must stand for something or fall for anything.

Over my career, I have been lucky to visit, consult with and coach at many universities.  At each place there was a different “feel,” uniform and traditions that defined the culture of that school.  Now having visited Notre Dame numerous times (and my daughter living there for over two months), I can say there are obvious things they stand for to maintain the culture “Under the Dome.”  Even during the football game, the crowd was reminded the university is not just about sports, but also about academics, faith and service.

If there is one kind of service your culture should not be into, it is lip service.

Values shouldn’t just be things on your lips – they should also be in your heart. If you do want  to work on your culture, you can’t just talk about it – you have to be about it.  To help you get your culture right, I created the following ten steps for you.  Whether it is for the culture of your business, team or family, here’s a blueprint to help design the culture you want instead of ending up with the culture you get.


10-Step Blueprint For Building and Maintaining Culture 


1.  Define It Clearly

You won’t get the culture you hope or wish for, you’ll get the one you define. The first step in building your culture is to develop clarity about the culture you want.  As the leader, you must precisely clarify the values for which your company stands and identify the behaviors which will and won’t be tolerated.

2.  Teach It Intentionally

If your culture is ever going to be “caught” by your people, it must first be properly “taught” to your people. In particular, you should make sure processes are always in place to on-board and indoctrinate new people while always having regular ongoing forms of cultural continuing education present.

3.  Train It Purposefully

Some values are easier to talk about than they are to do. There’s a big difference between understanding something and doing it.  Once the expectations of your culture are set and taught, they must then be practiced.  Over time, rituals and traditions will develop.

4.  Drive It Publicly

Your mission and vision shouldn’t be kept a secret from your people. The best cultural leaders lead from the front.  As the leader you must constantly communicate your culture to the team.

5.  Live It Daily

Culture isn’t built in a day, but it can be lived on the “daily.” Culture is not created by talking about it, it is created by living it.  If you preach what to practice, you must also practice what you preach.

6.  Check It Periodically

Like a doctor, the leader must regularly examine the culture. Like any living thing, your culture is also going to require systematic check-ups.  These are required to place your finger on the pulse of the health of your culture.

7.  Uphold It Continuously 

Your culture is like a garden, and like any garden, your culture will require constant nurturing.  Like a gardener, you need to constantly fertilize and stimulate your culture never forgetting that a great culture can take years to build and only minutes to destroy.

8.  Change It Occasionally

Like a detective, the leader should be on the lookout for changes because while change of your culture is mandatory, positive change is optional.  As times and technology change, you must always be prepared adapt.

9.  Share It Inclusively

Culture doesn’t begin in the workplace.  Culture starts in your home.  Keeping your home and work life separate is a big mistake.  Include the people you love with the work you love.

10.  Enjoy It Thoroughly

If you follow the recipe for a great culture, you can’t leave out the “fun.”  The ultimate goal for your culture is to produce an environment and having fun doing it.


The highest level of culture is when you feel part of something bigger – something that feels like “Family.”

On Sunday went to mass in the Basilica and then went to breakfast with the whole family.

That meal included a huge Dutch pancake and I knew it would be the last one for all of us together until Thanksgiving. As my family were all laughing and carrying on the way we do it in the Rooney culture,  I sat back for a second and watched them all.  That moment was my greatest gift from the trip to Indiana because it helped me realize once again that family is everything.


Throwing you a big High Ten!

Martin Rooney

P.S.  Want more lessons how to build a great team culture?   Then it’s time to finally read High Ten.

Would you like to be better able to coach for culture?  I promise you will benefit from the easy-to-read and entertaining stories within High Ten.  Thousands of coaches around the world have gotten the lessons within these two books.  Don’t miss out!

Get High Ten Here


20 Coaching Lessons from 20 years at the UFC

Hindsight really is 20/20.  Especially after 20 years.

This past weekend in Las Vegas, I cornered UFC fighter Jim Miller for his record-breaking 38th fight in the Octagon.  As I sat down in my office thinking what to write about the experience, I noticed something interesting about a trophy on my desk.

The fact that it was a UFC Fight of the Night trophy wasn’t what made it interesting – instead it was the date engraved on the trophy – September 28th, 2001.

That day in Connecticut, Ricardo Almeida became the first UFC fighter I ever cornered to receive Fight of the Night honors.  He got the award and honored me as his coach by giving me the trophy.

On this past Saturday night, Jim Miller also won the award (the 13th time he has done it over his career!) almost 20 years to the day later.  Instead of a trophy, however, Jim won an additional $50,000!

Days can drag, but decades fly by.

The date on the trophy was what really surprised me. It’s hard to believe over two decades have flown by since I’ve been coaching mixed martial arts fighters.  As I reflected on all the fights I’ve cornered in-between those two Fights of the Night, I realized a lot of things about the sport of MMA have changed.  Thinking about those last twenty years, I also recognized I’ve been lucky to have learned many of my most important coaching lessons. Those cage-side lessons have made me a better parent, person and coach.

To be asked to corner someone is one of the greatest honors, but accepting the role makes you responsible for one of the scariest jobs – to physically and mentally prepare a fighter and then stand cage-side while he or she goes to battle.

You have probably heard in order to be successful in life, you need to focus on what you can control and forget about what you can’t.   Although that sounds easy in theory, that may be the most difficult job for a cornerman and coach to practice.  After spending months guiding a fighter for an event that will take a maximum of 15 minutes, when the cage-door closes, you realize those 15 minutes are the ones you cannot control. That slamming of the door on Saturday night again reminded me how scary it feels to be out of control.

It’s not always if you win or lose, but how you play the “game.”

During my years as a coach in MMA, I have cornered over 100 fights both big and small.  Regardless of the size or name of the event, they were all equally important to those fighters in the cage.

Few sports I have been involved with have produced the “highs of highs and lows of lows” like I have experienced in mixed martial arts. I have leapt in exhilaration from a victory and wept during a 16-hour plane flight home after a defeat.  I’ve openly carried the same fighter around the ring on my shoulders after a win, and held his hands while his face was stitched closed backstage after a loss. I’ve felt fearless and have been scared to death.  I’ve stayed in incredible hotels and cities around the world, but missed holidays at home with the family.  In the process of trying to help dismantle our enemies, I have built lifelong friends through finding my meaning in someone else’s.

But through all the ups and downs, there were always coaching lessons to be learned.

Over those 20 years, I was also able to achieve my black belt in judo.  That belt is also something that sits on my desk as a constant reminder.  To me, the belt represents the fact that a black belt is not someone who hasn’t made mistakes – it’s the person who has made most of them – and just doesn’t make them any more.  That belt sits on my desk to remind me that many of the coaching lessons I have to share came from my mistakes and losses.

The following are 20 coaching lessons I’ve learned over the last 20 years attempting to be a black belt coach.  Many of these lessons came not from big wins and fights-of-the-night, but from the biggest challenges and catastrophies.  Only now looking back, can I see their true value.

It’s my hope that you can begin to apply these ideas to your coaching so you don’t have to learn them the “hard way” like I did.  Then when you’ve reached your black belt level of coaching, it will be time to pass on your lessons too.


20 Coaching Lessons from 20 years of UFC 


1.  Accept responsibility.  You are there to fix the problems, not the blame.

2.  Criticize wisely. Focus on the process of the fight, not the personality of the fighter.

3.  Give praise.  Recognize the power of recognition makes what gets rewarded gets repeated.

4.  Have faith.  Believing in them more than they believe in themselves shortens the distance between now and then.

5.  Dream big.  Set expectations high by seeing them as they can’t yet see themselves.

6.  Pursue improvement.  Don’t seek ways to make them tired, seek methods to make them better.

7.  Make it about them.  Direct your enthusiasm in the their direction if you want to properly direct them.

8.  Give.  Never stop asking yourself, “What can I contribute here?”

9.  Serve.  Don’t forget the four most powerful words of a coach: “How can I help?”

10.  Leave no stones unturned.  See if there really is any traffic on the extra mile.

11.  Keep things simple.  Never let the basics get boring or the fundamentals get less fun.

12.  Grow.  Invest in others, but never forget to also invest in yourself.

13.  Assess.  Be critical of your victories and let your losses be your biggest teachers how to win.

14.  Stay positive. Exude confidence, even when you don’t have it.

15.  Constantly ask, “Why?”  Experiment with new things to make your past ideas pass the test, so your competition doesn’t pass you by.

16.  Cheer them on.  You are their advocate, not their adversary. Act like their greatest fan.

17.  Be a serial optimist.  You have to first see the possibility before you form the plan.

18.  Get interested in them. Know your person’s dreams and what most inspires them.

19.  Seek efficiency.  Remember your job is to figure out how to make their life easier, not harder.

20.  Stay curious.  Keep learning with the understanding there will always be more wonderful teachings that exist.


Now that you’ve read the list, I hope you recognize these lessons aren’t just for fighters.  They are for anyone who is helping someone else fight the “battle called life.”  So whether you’re a coach, parent, boss, team leader or family member, I challenge you to give the items on this list a shot and see if your life doesn’t improve as you improve the lives of others.

A coach’s most sought after trophy is someone else’s.

As I sat staring at the UFC trophy on my desk, I realized it isn’t what I got.  The trophy is a symbol of what I have given.

That trophy validated what I was doing as a coach when everyone else didn’t believe in me or the sport. Yes, instead of the $50,000 you get now, it’s just a piece of glass.  But to me, that trophy is priceless and a reminder of perhaps the biggest lesson:  coaching is not something I’ve done to all my athletes over the years.  It’s something I’ve done with them.

Throwing you a High Ten,


P.S. Want more coaching lessons?   Then it’s time to finally read Coach to Coach and High Ten.

Would you like to be a better coach?  I promise you will benefit from the easy-to-read and entertaining stories within Coach to Coach and High Ten.  Thousands of coaches around the world have gotten the lessons within these two books.  Don’t miss out!

Get Coach to Coach Here

Get High Ten Here


3 Stories To Make Others Stronger

There was once a smart, but selfish rat. 

The rat always wanted to fly, but being born without the natural ability to fly, no matter how hard he worked, he never reached his goal. Due to his passion for flying, the rat befriended two eagles and came up with an idea. The rat taught the eagles how to fly next to each other while holding a branch between their talons. and the rat would hold the branch with his teeth and be able to fly with them. The day came and as the eagles took off with the branch, all the creatures of the forest saw the rat flying. As the rat was living his dream, another bird flew near them and said, “Wow, what you are all doing is amazing.”

But unfortunately, the rat could not contain his pride.  Instead of appreciating everyone’s contribution and enjoying the trip, he opened his mouth and fell as he said, “It was all my ideaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

The moral of the story:

Sometimes taking all the credit can make you seem like a rat.


If you liked that one, here’s another story about a young coach who learned the power of going from selfish to selfless:

There was once a coach in his mid-thirties.  He was struggling because his identity was caught between athlete and coach. Since he was still strong and fast, he often challenged himself to either lift more or jump higher than the athletes he was training. He grappled with his fighters and ran against the sprinters. His athlete side still pushed for competition while his coaching side asked for cooperation.

Although the coach was cornering fighters at the UFC and cheering his players from the sidelines of NFL and college games, there was one athlete from another sport who helped him to begin to move from selfish to selfless.

In college, the coach had been a javelin thrower. Although he had won some conference titles, he never felt he reached his potential. When he started training the track athlete to pursue his javelin dream, instead of comparison or envy, the coach began coaching the athlete with compassion and empathy. Rather than looking for something for himself, the coach sought only one thing for the athlete:

To help him surpass the coach in everything he did.

This new coaching mindset inspired him to pour everything into the athlete instead of holding something back. And on the biggest day of the athlete’s life, the coach finally learned the dream of a coach should be to help someone else have a dream come true.

Why that story is easy to remember is because I was that selfish coach. The athlete who helped me move further down my coaching path is named Bobby Smith.

When people ask me about some of my “favorite sports moments,” none of them involve me throwing the javelin. But one at the top of my list is when Bobby won the U.S. Olympic Trials with a massive personal best that few believed was possible.  Bobby has told me that day was one of the best of his life, but it also a day I will never forget.  Until he reads this, he may think I was only helping him out. But here’s another coaching lesson he taught me that every coach needs to know:

Not everyone can make first place, but the coach can make everyone first.


I have heard that if you want to know about the effectiveness of your coaching, you should check back with your athletes in 10 to 20 years. Bobby and I have stayed in touch, and I’m proud to see the person he has become. Bobby has continued to succeed as a sports performance business owner, coach and parent too.

Athletes are often required to be selfish and coaches are expected to be selfless. But what about the athlete who finds him or herself as a new coach? Is there just some switch you flip and move immediately from self-serving to self-sacrificing? Is it easy to quickly go from being egocentric to altruistic or from competitive to compassionate?

I wish I could say the journey from athlete to coach is both easy and fast. But it isn’t. Coaches often coach the sport or event in which they were once athletes. This familiarity allows a coach to pass on their past knowledge and passion, but they can also still carry their past failures or pride too. In order to make the transition from athlete to coach, you must check your ego and remind yourself it’s about others, not just about you. That trip takes time, but I’m hoping this email helps speed up your transition from serving yourself to serving others.

As a coach, if you don’t make the right changes on the inside, you won’t take the right actions on the outside.  Simply put, you have to think like a selfless coach before you will act like one.  In order to help, here are five tips and questions to ask yourself to speed up the journey.


5 Ways To Move From Selfish Athlete to Selfless Coach


1.  Take off your own spikes and put yourself in their shoes.

It’s not easy to understand what people are feeling. I’ve heard coaching would be easy if it wasn’t for all the people. Empathy is feeling it with them. The better you focus on them, the better chance to help them succeed.

Question to ask yourself:  “How are they feeling right now?”


2.  Look for your meaning inside of their meaning.

Success on any journey is reaching the destination. Find out the meaning behind where they want to go and make it your meaning to get them there.  Ask them about their dreams – don’t assume they are the same as yours.

Question to ask yourself:  “How can I mesh my dream with their dream?”


3.  Worry less about your legitimacy and more about your legacy.

Your legitimacy is what the things you’ve done mean to you. Your legacy is what those things eventually mean to everyone else. Worry less about how good you were and more about how good you could make someone else.

Question to ask yourself:  “How do I want to be remembered as a coach?”


4.  Forget about what you did and remember it’s about what you get them to do.

People aren’t known as great coaches because they were great at a sport.  They earn that title by making teams and individuals greater.  Turn the “M” upside down and make your “me” a “we.”

Question to ask yourself:  “How can I use what I know to make them better?”


5.  Be the coach you wish you had to take them further than you found them.

Too many coaches coach the way they were coached – they punish athletes just because they were punished.  Be a better coach by seeking a new contribution, not an old retribution.

Question to ask yourself:  “How can I be the coach they need?”


When you begin to live the answers to the five questions above, moving toward selfless doesn’t mean coaching becomes rewardless.  On the contrary, when coaching becomes something you do “with” someone versus “to” someone, experiencing success together can be even more rewarding than succeeding by yourself. The coach then learns the coaching paradox – to give really is to receive. Speaking of giving, here is one more story:

There once was a boy and his father walking on a mountain trail. They came across a large stone on the ground.

The boy asked his father, “Dad, do you think I’m strong enough to move that stone?” 

His father replied, “Sure, but only if you use all your strength.”

The boy tried his best to lift or roll the stone, but it didn’t budge.

Disappointed, he said, “You were wrong, dad. I’m not strong enough.”

“Are you sure? Try again,” replied his father.

The boy tried again, but the stone did not move.

The boy said, “Dad, I just can’t do it.”

Finally his father said, “Son, I said it would move only if you used all your strength.”

The boy answered, “But you saw. I did.”

“No you didn’t,” replied his father as he delivered the lesson. “You didn’t use all your strength because you didn’t ask for my help.”

The boy smiled, asked his father to help and they moved the stone together.




If you’ve enjoyed these coaching lessons and would like to learn over 50 more stories I discovered on my coaching journey, you need to read Coach to Coach and the sequel High Ten.

Both books are more than just a series of tips about being a better coach or a leader. They are easy-to-read and remember parables I compiled to make your coaching and cultures stronger.

With over 500 5-star reviews and tens of thousands of copies out there helping coaches, parents and business owners around the world, your copy is waiting for you.

The lesson from the final story is a coach lends his or her strength to help someone else getting the job done.

I hope you use the strength I share in the books to help more people.

Throwing you a big High Ten,


5 Lessons I Wasn’t Prepared To Learn

The combination of joy and pain I felt this week taught me a lesson:

Your human experience would not be complete without sorrow and suffering or levity and love.  Along your journey, if you are lucky, you’ll experience the richness of all those emotions in the same moment.

When I faced my moment in South Bend, Indiana, although I’ve been preparing for the last 18 years, I wasn’t ready.

Entering into Welcome Week at the University of Notre Dame, I was unprepared.  After all, I’d never “dropped off” a child at college before.  My lack of preparation, however, had less to do with what my wife and I forgot and more about what we didn’t know.

Of all the “first-year” things that were recommended, from clothes to coffee cups or towels to toiletries, we quickly learned from my daughter’s room, drawers and closets quickly filling that we brought more than we needed.  In fact, the only thing we forgot was a mattress topper which we snagged while joining other parents during their last-minute trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond.  

Although preparing and packing our car before we left for Indiana was time consuming; it was also easy.  After all, parents were given a detailed list of everything to bring.  Beyond those material items was where my inventory came up short.  As the days ticked by, I recognized my emotional bags weren’t fully packed.  While the weekend continued, I realized there was another list I was missing.  This list didn’t concern what you needed when you “showed up” –  the list was about what you needed after you left.

Everything during 2021 Welcome Week exceeded my expectations.  The campus was more beautiful than I remembered.  The tours kept you moving, but still allowed enough time to explore some landmarks on your own.  My daughter’s room was bigger than we were fearfully led to believe.  The band-led pep rally in Notre Dame Stadium left me with goosebumps, and the medallion every student was left with for the first time in school history was unexpected.  But perhaps what most surpassed my outlook was the quality and compassion of the unified message of the presenters.

“If you want to belong, you have to learn the myth.  You have to wrap your heart and mind in it.  You have to believe that the merest rocks of the place tell a story…Behind the myths is a cast of hundreds working in loyalty for the Notre Dame of their dreams…”  Rev. Robert Griffin, C.S.C.

Over three days, we heard from the university president, heads of departments, dorm rectors, resident assistants, deans, provosts, athletic directors and coaches.  Being a professional speaker, I was impressed by the way each one of these people entertained and educated the crowd.  As the lessons within each speech kept adding up, I realized these messages all contributed to a greater whole.  The wisdom within those speeches composed the final list I was missing.  

The parents were tricked by Notre Dame.

I thought only our children were there to learn, but the parents were the first to receive some lessons.  Here are the five most powerful lessons I learned from Welcome Week about how to be a better parent: 


5 Lessons for Parents of the Class of 2025


1.  Value The Right “GPA”

Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John Jenkins instructed that we should not demand our child chase a Grade Point Average.  Instead, he reminded me to inspire and support my child to develop a Greater Passion Awareness.  I needed Father Jenkins’ reminder that what you will do in your life will be more important than chasing a grade.  So much of the last four years was spent helping my daughter build a resumé and prep for standardized tests that I often forgot to listen for her true “calling.”  The speakers throughout the week reminded me a calling is more important than a job, and a calling is not what you are learning.  It is developing a love for what you are learning.  Since your education impacts your contribution after college, that impact will surely be greater if it’s spent pursuing your life’s passion.

As George Howard, Professor of Psychology at Notre Dame once said, “The ultimate goal of a liberal education is not to get a better job.  Rather, it is to become a better person, to better know thyself.”


2.  Expand Your Definition of “Family”

As I felt the warmth and authenticity of the people around campus, I learned your family is more than the people under your roof.  Love will extend further than your four walls when there is also faith, hope and trust.  A big part of your role as a parent is to make sure you place your children in environments led by people you trust.  That trust is more strongly built when others take responsibility.  Every speech reminded me that everyone at the university was ready to accept responsibility for the well-being of my child.  Meeting the women who would be in charge of her residence hall and having a nice dinner with our daughter’s roommate and her parents only made me feel more confident about leaving her with new family “under the dome.”


3.  Allow Them To Struggle

I have to confess.  Calling me a helicopter parent probably wouldn’t be far from the mark.  Maybe this is a common style for parents today because everywhere I looked during the weekend, I saw parents doing what I was doing – circling their children, who obviously seemed ready to be rid of them.  My explanation for my behavior always began with good intentions – I wanted to make things easier; I wanted to remove my daughter’s struggle.  As I was reminded during the presentations, my daughter’s struggles will be necessary for her growth.  I have to let her take them on herself, and know some “bad” things may happen for her to ever to embody what founder Father Edward Sorin once dreamed for Notre Dame in 1842, “to be one of the most powerful means for good.” 


4.  Know When And How To Let Go

Another profound lesson of the weekend came from Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick during his presentation to the student-athletes and their families.  As a parent of college kids himself, he said he had two important pieces of advice.  When the parents leaned in to accept the message, he simply exclaimed, “Leave!”  Then he followed with his second bit of wisdom, “And have a plan for how you’re going to leave!”  Although these tips got a laugh from the crowd, as my time in South Bend dwindled, I understood their value.  Jack knew we would all have to soon let go, and that release will go more smoothly if you had a plan how to do it.  


5.  Accept Your Ultimate Role 

During the weekend, we got the luxury of hearing from the Director of Campus Ministry, Rev. Peter McCormick twice.  He delivered an inspiring talk about personal growth to all the incoming athletes, but it was something very subtle he mentioned during his homily at the final mass that created an immediate and lasting paradigm shift in my parenting.  He mentioned that when he was younger and told his mother he would be leaving, she responded, “Well Pete, I didn’t raise you to live in our basement forever.”  I had an epiphany and realized my ultimate role as a parent was to prepare my daughter to take on the world without me.  Father Pete’s advice to imagine her as “being sent” versus “leaving” helped make accepting my role less difficult.


Even though all those words of wisdom, the excitement of readying my daughter’s room and buying too much Fighting Irish gear at the bookstore helped mask what lay ahead, nothing could prevent the inevitable.  The moment we dreaded was upon us – it was time to say goodbye.

The days leading up to this moment were some of the most emotional of my life.  Of the ranges of emotions a father can experience, I felt them all. There was anticipation, excitement, and pride mixed with fear, worry and doubt.  I repeatedly alternated between happiness and sadness which put me in contrasting states of calmness and stress.  At times I felt useful and needed and then others completely awkward and out of place.  

As we walked arm in arm toward the Golden Dome where we had planned to say goodbye, no matter how I tried my best to cram in my last bits of fatherly advice, I still had that feeling I was forgetting something.

At a time where you should be savoring your last moments together, I was disappointed in my ability to stay present because I was jumping back and forth from the past to the future.  As we walked from the final mass in the football stadium and made our way to the quad, I spent time reflecting on her first steps and wondering where her feet would someday take her.   I couldn’t help myself remembering all her “firsts” and then jumping ahead to her “nexts.”

Perhaps the most difficult feeling to experience was confusion.  Sending your child away is a parental paradox – you want to hold on so tight, but you also know you have to release your grip.

Maybe that’s why a great thing to plan into your goodbye is a hug.


A hug is a chance to hold a person extra tight to show them how much you love them, and then reaffirming that love by letting them go.

People warned me about this moment for years.  I wish I could say the week prepared me to be nothing but brave – but I was scared too.  I did my best to hold it together and appear strong, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you demonstrating the strength of your love for someone might be by crying just a little.

But after that moment of tears, I could only smile. As you can see in the photo above, because I’ve always been so proud of this kid, the final emotion I left her and Notre Dame with was pure joy.

I am hopeful that you file away some of the lessons and this message inspires you to hold someone close to you a little tighter today. 

Yours in Strength,


I Wish I Knew These 20 Years Ago…

Some of “life’s tests” are interesting.

Unlike the tests you took in school, life often gives you the lesson after you take the exam.

The older I get, the more I realize how poorly I was prepared for many of life’s most important tests.


Although I went to high school, college and graduate school, my education about the “real world” was certainly lacking.  When I look back on the 20 years of traditional “education” that led to my four diplomas, a lot of certificates and fancy titles, you might be surprised to learn:

I didn’t get taught about money.
I received no education about parenting.
I never had a class on coaching.
I wasn’t instructed how to publicly speak.
I had no courses how to develop good relationships.


But probably the area I was least prepared for was marriage.


Aside from watching my own parents and the TV show Married With Children, I quickly realized the first time I looked down at the wedding ring on my finger that I was short on education how to be a good spouse.  I wish I could tell you I lucked out anyway and the last 20 years of marriage have been nothing but smooth sailing – but I can’t.

The reality is there’ve been disagreements, arguments and all-out fights.  I’ve said the wrong things (and seem to still have a pretty good knack for it) and often missed saying the right thing at the right time.  Those things have placed me on the couch, in the doghouse and close to the outhouse.

I’ve been stressed and there have been tears.  I have felt depressed and unsure I could be the best provider and leader for my wife and kids.  Speaking of kids, I’ve felt the mounting pressure each of our four kids added to our relationship.  With their endless appointments, practices, events, and school, it became increasingly hard to find time “just for us.”

Trying to balance work and family has also been a never-ending challenge.  While doing my best to help others around the world, sometimes I missed helping the ones in my own home.  I missed daddy daughter dances, proms and holidays too.


I often got the “tough love” life-lesson after the exam.  And when it comes to marriage, I recommend that is not the best way to do it.

I wrote you last week that I turned 50 on Wednesday.  In contrast to what I just wrote above, I want you to know those 50 years also have been filled with some amazing days too.


Perhaps the most impactful day of them all was my 30th birthday.

On the day before, I was single and still in my twenties.  But on August 4th, 2001, I stepped onto a boat that cruised around Manhattan Island and saw sights like the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty.  That trip would not only mark the last time I would ever see the Twin Towers, but it was also the last time I would be a bachelor.  After I stepped off the boat back in New Jersey, I was a 30 year-old newlywed.

At least I started our marriage doing one thing really well – I got married on my birthday so I would never forget my anniversary.   But after our 20th anniversary last week, I look back realizing most of the other things I’ve learned to do well have been a combination of either luck or mistakes.  Reflecting on those 20 years, it’s no surprise there have been challenges – I was undereducated and underprepared.

I’m going to offer some tips I think can help you whether you are married or not.  I’m no marriage counselor, but I do have 20 years of experience.  Although the following list is offered to help as a reminder of ways to make your relationships stronger, if you feel you might need counseling, don’t be afraid to admit and take advantage of it.

Before I share the list, I want to give you what could be my biggest piece of advice.  Looking back on my two decades of marriage, this advice would have prevented a lot of arguments and distress.  Although it may sound simple and common sense, as you will probably learn through the rest of this email, common sense when it comes to relationships isn’t always so commonly practiced.


Here is my biggest marital advice:  GET ON THE SAME PAGE FOR THE “BIG FIVE.”


What I mean by this advice is I’ve discovered there were five areas that led to most of our challenges.  If we would have discussed these five areas and gotten on the same page about them, it would have saved a lot of heartache.  Here are those five areas to make sure you are both understood and hopefully aligned.  If you and your spouse are in agreement about the following five areas, you will be light-years ahead of most couples starting out:

How you view money and spending.
The involvement of your in-laws.
How you will regard faith and religion.
The definition of intimacy.
How you will raise your kids.


Until I was married, I only had “to do” lists.  But after my wedding, I added “Honey do” lists as well.  Those were lists given to me by my wife to insure I didn’t get into trouble.  The “Honey don’t” lists were given to me by myself after I unfortunately did.

So, to honor those two lists and my 20 years of marriage, I’m going to share my Top 20 “Honey Do’s” and “Honey Don’ts.”  If you are married or in a serious relationship, most of these will hopefully be great reminders of what you are doing well or to help you get back on track.  If you are single or just want to have stronger relationships, file these away and consider yourself lucky to be getting the answers before you take the exam.


20 Honey Do’s


Find ways to show your appreciation.

Wear your ring all the time.

Find time for the occasional date night or trip together.

Think before you say something irrational or mean.

Consider yourselves on the same “team.”

Celebrate your successes as a couple.

Find little ways to make your partner feel loved.

Find common ground with some things you like to do together.

Admit your mistakes.

Say hello and goodbye every day.

Know your similarities and embrace your differences.

Share everything – from the money to the chores to the diaper changes.

Keep secrets with them, not from them.

Choose your words wisely and your tone even more.

Look for the best, not the worst in each other.

Spend time together with some great sets of friends.

Really treat them like your best friend.

Have fun and laugh at yourselves sometimes. 

Respect each other when you agree to disagree.

Know happy marriages won’t be happy all the time.


20 Honey Don’ts


Don’t play the blame game.

Don’t be so stubborn – it’s ok to say, “It’s my fault.”

Don’t always need to be “right.”

Don’t forget the magic words – “thank you,” “please,” “bless you,” and “I’m sorry.”

Don’t hold a grudge. 

Don’t keep score.

Don’t argue in front of your kids (It stresses them out).

Don’t make everything all about your kids. 

Don’t try to make your spouse into someone they aren’t.

Don’t be your spouse’s worst critic.

Don’t miss an opportunity to say something nice.

Don’t constantly dig up challenges from the past.

Don’t take everything so serious.

Don’t stop saying, “I love you,” or communicating when there is a problem.

Don’t assume what they are thinking – ask them!

Don’t badmouth your spouse to other people especially your kids.

Don’t hold things in – resentment is not a good strategy.

Don’t discount or invalidate your spouse’s opinion.

Don’t forget why you got married in the first place.

Don’t forget happy marriages won’t be happy all the time.


My goal for these lists was to help you save yourself learning some things the “hard way” over the next 20 years.  That’s also the goal of all my online coaching courses.  If the lists above got you thinking, I have a lot more to share about how to improve your personal and professional relationships.

Whether you want to improve your coaching, speaking or training knowledge, there is a course for you – and in honor of my 50th birthday and 20th anniversary, I have created an irresistible deal for you!

50% Off All My Online Courses!


That’s right!  Half off on any or all of my courses!

Depending on what you order, you could save up to $746 dollars!  If you were ever thinking about taking the Coaching Greatness, Presenting Greatness or Training For Warriors Certifications, now is the time.  There has never been a discount this big on any of those products.

Click here for your special discount code and explanations of all the programs.

This offer is only good for the rest of August, so don’t miss out.

Take advantage of the offer today and you will have another opportunity to get the lessons now before you take the test.

Yours In Strength,


50 Success Lessons From My 50 Years

I can’t believe I’m writing this:

Today I’ve officially been alive for half a century!

That’s right – 50 trips around the sun.  I know, I know.  I can’t believe it either, but it’s true. Some people might not be excited to say,  “I’m 50 years old,” but I feel really good about it.


After all, I’ve jammed a lot into the last 18,250 days.


Over my 438,000 hours, I’ve been a lot of things: a son, an infant, a child, an adolescent, a student, an athlete, an adult, a physical therapist, a bobsledder, a black belt, a record holder, a coach, a business owner, an investor, a speaker, a writer, a podcaster, a husband, an uncle and a dad.


Now I can add one more thing to the list: quinquagenarian.


Along my semicentennial trip, I’ve logged almost two million air miles and my feet have touched-down in a lot of places.  My adventures have led me to 47 US states and 37 countries.

On the journey, I’ve used my five decades to push my body on the track, in the weight room, on the field, across the ice, over the mat, and in the water.  Perhaps one great 50 feat is still being the same weight as when I was 18.

In addition to my body, I’m even more proud of the way I have used the semicentury to test my mind.  During the educational portion of my life, I’ve accumulated 3 degrees, read over 2000 books and written 12 of my own.  I also have had the privilege to have taught tens of thousands of people in my courses around the world.

While I share these “accomplishments,” know that the half-century road has been far from smooth.  I cannot forget all my achievements would not have been possible without all the mistakes I’ve made.  The setbacks. The tragedies.  The catastrophes.

In addition to all the good stuff on my resume, I’ve been some less desirable things too.  I’ve been over-confident while being under-prepared. I’ve been impulsive and abrasive.  I’ve been selfish.  I’ve been absent of compassion.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve been filled with doubt.  I’ve been broken-hearted.  I’ve been alone.

But I’m thankful looking back on all my challenges and weaknesses because the adage is true: with age comes wisdom.  I am grateful for what my mistakes have forced me to become.

To examine my last fifty years, I spent time over the last few weeks reflecting on the wisest things I’ve discovered – the important things I’ve learned “the hard way.” During this process I asked myself couple of questions:


“What would be 50 pieces of success advice I wish I knew sooner?”  


“What could be some of the best success ideas I could share to make your trip easier?”  


Those questions led to the following list for you.  While it isn’t all-inclusive or in any particular order, I think there are some great ideas to help you.  At worst the list will be inspiring to read.  At best certain items will push you to take action on a current issue holding you back.  Either way, they represent a very important success idea: your life will not be measured someday by what you got – it will be measured by what you gave back.  

So here’s my gift to you on my birthday:


50 Success Lessons From A Quinquagenarian


1.   Don’t believe everything you think.

2.   You are a success when you stop wishing to be SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE or SOMETHING else.

3.   Since you can’t focus on two things at one time, make the most important thing the most important thing.

4.  Be present. Make sure you don’t let your yesterday’s and tomorrow’s ruin your today’s.

5.  Where you are in life is exactly where you are supposed to be as a result of either the things you have or have not done.  Do the right things.

6.  Before you list all the reasons why something won’t work, start by thinking up ideas how it will.

7.  You can’t control events, but you can control your thoughts and actions in response to them.

8.  Successful people get most excited when things get most difficult.  Learn to get energized by difficulty.

9.  Get going. Your actions will change your attitude faster than the reverse.

10.  Being honest with yourself is one of the hardest things to do. To blame one’s circumstances on outside forces is much easier than holding oneself responsible.

11.  No matter how good you get, don’t try to drown the people who taught you how to swim.

12.  Even though there are times you may feel like giving in, that doesn’t mean you have to act like giving up.  To succeed, often you have to act differently than you feel.

13.  Visualize what you want. You will never BE IT if you never SEE IT.

14.  The greatest mistake is to make the same mistake over and over again and never learn from it.

15.  If you don’t have a dream, you can never have a dream come true.

16.  If you want something, don’t let it be the start that stops you.

17.  If someone is going to give you a “no,” at least don’t let it be you.

18.  Since only you can create your thoughts, create thoughts from the mindset you cannot fail.

19.  Welcome your challenges always remembering no great story ever happened without a great problem.

20.  Get your reps.  With enough repetition, the currently uncomfortable will become the comfortable.

21.  Addressing “small issues” before they become “big problems” can change and or save your life.

22.  You must recognize delayed gratification is not about willpower.  It’s a learned skill.

23.  Your past is not a forecast because your past does not predict your future.

24.  No matter how heart broken and how tough life is, there will always be a NEXT.

25.  A person with a great attitude makes the best of it when they get the worst of it.

26.  It’s not how big your opportunity is, it’s how big you are to your opportunity.

27.  You don’t lack most of the abilities you need to succeed: you block them.

28.  Ask life for what you want.  If you don’t, the answer is always “no.”  Don’t ask, don’t get.

29.  When there is a lack of communication, negativity, apathy or anger will often fill that gap.

30.  Success isn’t knowing what to do – it comes from doing what you know.

31.  A crisis will often clarify your priorities.  Identify them because your priorities will clarify your destiny.

32.  Success comes less from wishing and more from working.

33.  The best way to find your meaning is in someone else’s.

34.  It is always ok to say, “I don’t know.”

35.  Get good at making a contribution and giving someone either a compliment or the credit.

36.  Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

37.  Don’t be so busy putting out everyone else’s fires that you are unable to start any of your own.

38.  Don’t only look at what it costs if you take an opportunity, but also at what it costs you if you don’t.

39.  It is not where you live, it’s how you live that counts.  Success can come from anywhere.

40.  One of biggest mistakes is to spend your life doing something you don’t love.  Find and chase your passion.

41.  Your comfort zone might feel like a nice place, but wellness doesn’t grow there.

42.  To be more successful, improve your ability to make people feel better about themselves.

43.  The most powerful way to become stronger is to lift someone else up.

44.  One of the best gifts you can give a person is to let them know you BELIEVE in them.

45.  Listening is one of the most important success skills you can develop.

46.  Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing.  You’re pulled up or down by the influential people around you.

47.  Trust and work well with others.  Many hands really do make work light.

48.  Every piece of food you put in or word that comes out of your mouth, every breath you take or thought you make, your actions all add up.  In the end, there are no little things.

49.  Life is cumulative. Your life will be composed of a number of events. Some will go to plan. Some won’t. You will learn is not one event, but the sum of all your events that count.

50.  Whatever you do or don’t do will add up to who you eventually become. It’s up to you whether your life will or won’t stay the same.  DOn’t waIT!

I hope you enjoyed the list and found some personal favorites you can immediately use to s take the next step toward a current problem.

If you’ve enjoyed my list of success wisdom, I’ve packed more ways to become successful into my two books Coach to Coach and High Ten.  If you haven’t read the books, there are dozens more powerful lessons how to be a better person and build a stronger team waiting for you.

Finish the summer strong with some reading.

Now in kindle and audio versions too!

Thanks again for reading my work, and I look forward to continuing to share for the next 50 years!

Throwing you a High Ten,


1 Question That Could Determine Your Future

I’m going to ask you a powerful question.

And I bet you’ve been asked this question before.

No pressure, but if you’re crystal-clear about your answer, you’ll have more success.

And if you aren’t sure about your answer, you’ll have more challenges ahead.

So what’s this magic question that can influence the trajectory of your life?


“What’s your type?”


If you immediately started to answer the question, chances are good you started to describe the attributes of your perfect match.

You know – hair or eye color, height, interests or background.


But that wasn’t the “type” I was asking about.


Although being clear on what you like or dislike about a person could have a lot to do with the future success of your relationships, there is another “type” that could have an even greater impact on the success of your life.

This “type” doesn’t concern attributes someone else; it’s about an important attribute about yourself.

The unfortunate part is most people have invested less time into understanding this “type” than whether or not they prefer someone who enjoys long walks on the beach.

What I was really asking about was,


“What’s your LEARNING type?”


As education is moving more online, knowing your learning type may be one of the most important things to understand about yourself.   By understanding your learning type, you can give yourself a better opportunity to both absorb and retain information.  And that absorption and retention can directly improve your life.

Just like the color of someone’s hair or their style of clothes, you may have some idea what types of learning you like and which ones you don’t.  Even if you aren’t completely sure of your preferred or predominant learning style, just like meeting someone you are attracted to, you know it when you “feel” it.

The purpose of this email is to help you gain some clarity on your type of learning style.  To keep things simple, I’m going to explain the learning types in three categories: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic.  Although there are some research models that suggest anywhere from four to eight different styles, the three types I will share can start your process of understanding how you best process information.


Have you ever struggled with a concept or idea that everyone else in the classroom or workplace seemed to easily understand?

Did you ever have trouble retaining information needed to succeed on a quiz or test?


If you have, know those challenges don’t often have to do with a lack of intelligence or ability.  These challenges often happen because the information was presented in a teaching style that didn’t match your learning type.   And unfortunately, if your teachers or instructors never learn how to present information in the way you best process, it’s like smashing a square peg into a round hole.


In fashion and in life, the concept of “one size fits all” is rarely true.


Although everyone is unique in how they learn and process information, most types can be simplified into three categories.  Most people either need to see it (visual), hear it (auditory) or do it (kinesthetic) to learn something.  To be clear, there is no best type and each style is not “all or none” – most people use a mixture of these styles to learn.  By recognizing whether you are predominantly a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, and which other ways you learn best, you’re able to incorporate the teaching and studying style that better matches your learning type.  Once you understand the unique ways you best consume information, not only will this potentially make your learning quicker and more efficient, but it can make learning much less frustrating too.


“So…What’s Your Type?”


Do you find yourself always taking notes to learn?  Do you remember everything you hear when you listen to an interesting lecture?  Do you like working through a problem with a “hands on” approach?  Better understanding your learning type will help you direct your studies moving forward.  To help you identify your learning type, the following will be a description of the three main learning types as well as ways how you can best use that style to study and learn.



Visual learners are regarded as the most common learning type. Visual learners prefer to digest their information visually whether through reading or watching.  Seeing demonstrations and objects like graphs, charts and diagrams are helpful.  Visual learners often have difficulty with spoken directions, don’t respond well to someone just telling them information, and can be distracted by sounds.  In particular, many visual learners consume information best when reading or writing.  Visual learners also prefer to write information down and perform well on written assignments and exams.

If you think this may be your predominant type, here are 7 tips how you can maximize your learning and retention:

1.  Write things down like keywords, ideas and instructions.

2.  Underline main points.

3.  Look at people and professors when they talk.

4.  Make note cards and review all your notes and underlined points.

5.  Visualize verbal instructions or things that are read to you.

6.  Practice visualizing concepts in your head and draw pictures of concepts to help you remember.

7.  Study by yourself.



Auditory learners are the next most common type, and these learners benefit from hearing and listening to process information.  Auditory learners focus easily on sounds and have good memory of what they have heard through spoken or recorded lectures.  Auditory learners learn best when information is presented to them through strategies that involve talking.  People who prefer this style benefit from repeating back lessons, reading out loud, having recordings of the lectures, and taking part in group discussions.

If you think this may be your predominant type, here are 7 tips how you can maximize your learning and retention:

1.  Sit at the front of the classroom to hear well.

2.  Record or tape lectures and lessons in order to play them back and listen.

3.  Read all of your assignments out loud.

4.  Ask questions when you have them.

5.  Engage in group discussions about new material.

6.  Recite the things you want to remember.

7.  Study in a group setting.



Kinesthetic learners are the rarest type and process and retain information best with a “doing” or “hands-on approach.  Also known as tactile learners, they best gain new knowledge through manipulating, touching, building, moving, or drawing rather than lectures and reading. The best way to present new information to a kinesthetic learner is through personal experience, practice, examples, or a simulation.

If you think this may be your predominant type, here are 7 tips how you can maximize your learning and retention:

1.  Take frequent breaks by getting up and stretching or walking.

2.  Try chewing gum, walking around, or rocking in a chair while reading or studying.

3.  Listening to music can also be helpful.

4.  Keep something malleable in your hand while studying.

5.  When memorizing, pace or walk around while reciting to yourself, and also try writing the information on a desk with your finger.

6.  To reinforce new material learned, try teaching it to others.

7.  Study in a group and incorporate activities to act out the material.


“What’s your book type?”


Now that you have a better understanding of your particular learning type, you should have an explanation behind why you choose your favorite ways to consume information.

Do you like to have an actual book in your hands?

Do you prefer to read an electronic version?

Do you favor listening to your book in an audio version?

Once you know the answer to those questions, all that’s left to do is to decide what you want to learn about!

Would like to learn how to build a winning culture with your business, family or team?  Would you enjoy from learning from powerful inspirational stories that will help you to remember the information?  Then regardless of your learning type, there’s a version of High Ten for you!

In great news, High Ten is now available in hardcover, Kindle and audio!

I hope you check it out and make High Ten part of your summer reading.  But regardless of what you choose to read – Fiction or Nonfiction, Biography or Business, Thriller or Romance – now you know the “type” of book doesn’t matter if you don’t know your learning “type” first.

If someone asked you, “What’s your learning type?”

Do you now have more clarity?

Good. Now get learning!

Throwing you a big High Ten,


2 Powerful Ways To Change Your Brain ?

Whether you like it or not, your brain is going to be rewired by a powerful combination.

But don’t worry, you won’t be alone.  

In addition to your brain, the brains of tens of millions of people around the whole world will also be affected by the same phenomenon. If that didn’t sound hard enough to believe, these changes are going to start in three days!

What is this event that will change brains all over the world?

You may have heard of it referred to as “16 days of glory,” but you probably know this event as the Olympics.

If you are a fan of the Olympics, you also know they aren’t new.  Although they were re-started in 1896 and have captured the attention of the world since, the original Olympics were held over 1500 years earlier in Ancient Greece.

The Tokyo Olympics that will start on July 23, however, are special for a few reasons.  Even though this 32nd Olympiad is still being called the 2020 Olympics, these are the first Olympics that have been postponed and rescheduled.  So, instead of the traditional four years, the world will have waited five for the upcoming event in Tokyo.


Do you have any favorite Olympic events?

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will feature 339 events in 33 different sports, encompassing a total of 50 disciplines. There will be 33 competition venues in Tokyo for the athletes from 206 different National Olympic Committees to compete.  Along with the classic events like gymnastics, swimming and track and field, the 2020 Olympics will also be unique because of the introduction of new events like 3×3 basketball, freestyle BMX as well as events like karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding making their Olympic debuts.


Do you have any favorite Olympic moments?

When the Olympics start this Friday, you will see the world’s best competing in hundreds of events.  Those competitions will be made up of thousands of moments.  Like every Olympics before this one, a few of those moments will be so powerful, they will become the stuff of legend – and those legends will difficult to forget. 

Don’t believe me?  Well, before I share some of the research behind the brain altering power of the Olympics, try my little “memory” test.  Read and list how many things can you vividly remember about any of those past 10 Olympic moments.  In addition to the actual events, see if you can also remember where you were and who you were with when you watched those legendary moments unfold.


The Olympic Memory Test


Michael Phelps wins 8 gold medals in 2008.
Usain Bolt winning the 100 and 200 in 2008, 2012 or 2016.
Kerri Strug’s heroic vault in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Derek Redmond finishing the 400 meter with the help of his father in 1992.
Michael Johnson winning the 200 and 400 in world records in 1996.
Muhammad Ali lighting the torch at the opening ceremonies in 1996.
Shawn White lands the first Double McTwist in 2010.
The Jamaican bobsled team makes their debut in Calgary in 1988.
Dan Jansen finally takes speed skating gold in 1994.  
The “Miracle on Ice” between Russia and the US hockey teams in 1980.


If you witnessed any of those events, I’m sure you remember minute details about them.  Did you remember Michael Johnson’s interesting running style or Usain Bolt’s victory pose?  How about where Kerri Strug was injured or what happened to the Jamaican bobsled team on their run down the ice?  Do you remember the faces on Derek Redmond or Dan Jansen during their big moments?  

The chances are good that you had detailed recall about some of those events.  That demonstrates your brain’s amazing ability to remember small details from decades ago. How are you able to recall these Olympic events in such great detail while so many other things from your past go forgotten?

Your inability to forget some of the things you will witness won’t be because of a fancy advertising slogan or marketing ploy.  You won’t forget because the Olympics use two of the greatest tools to help you remember.  


Tool #1 GAMES

You may call it the “Olympics,” but surely you’ve also heard this spectacle called the Olympic GAMES.  Actually, you may just refer to them as “The GAMES.”

If you’ve ever played sports, you know GAMES can help you tap into your brain’s ability to form powerful memories.  Research has shown that GAMES get you to use your brain differently.  When those GAMES have a strong emotional component, the potential to lay down memories is even stronger.  Strong emotions are a signal to your brain that whatever you are experiencing is important.  As a result of this selectivity, your brain pays much more attention and stores the information that is charged with emotion into deeper parts of your brain.  And memories aren’t just better formed from the emotions involved with playing GAMES, they can also be created by watching them too!

After you watch the Tokyo GAMES, you will remember some of the emotionally charged moments.  You will remember what you saw and where you were when you saw it.  Somehow you will access your brain’s ability to remember details and years from now you will be able to quickly recall the “legend” of what you witnessed.

And that legend has a lot to do with the second ingredient.



In addition to hopefully watching some record-breaking performances, you will also learn the origin STORIES of the athletes who are competing and watch the creation of new STORIES as the GAMES unfold.

Just like GAMES, our brains are specially wired to learn from STORIES too. Neuroscience is studying STORIES and has found STORIES can affect your physical and mental makeup. STORIES have been found to connect both sides of the brain and can trigger the release of specific neurotransmitters that can create changes in the brain. Organizational psychologists have found that learning that occurs from a well-told STORY is remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts and figures. There is also research that suggest facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered when they are introduced as part of a STORY.

Simply put, GAMES and STORIES make you use your brain differently.  Both can ignite the brain’s ability to remember.  And when you combine them, your brain’s retention becomes more powerful.


Why you won’t forget what’s in High Ten

If there is one thing I hope you remember this week, it’s to order my new book High Ten.  Although it was supposed to come out in 2022, the publishers “fast tracked” the book to have it coincide with the Olympics.

When I started writing High Ten, I began with the mindset that I not only wanted the book to be entertaining, but I also wanted you to be able to remember the information.  Because statistics show that 87% of what people read can be forgotten, I knew I had to develop a style of writing that would help you better absorb the information.  Since I knew your brain has a great ability to remember STORIES, I spent months creating the different storylines in High Ten.  I painstakingly placed the extra 30 STORIES within the story at the exact emotional moments I wanted you to remember the most! 

Unlike the prequel Coach to Coach, High Ten isn’t just an emotionally-charged sports story, it’s a business story too.  And that’s where I ran into trouble. I realized creating an entire fictitious business was not only going to be a ton of work, but I was afraid it wasn’t going to be memorable.  I kept running into writer’s block and then I had a breakthrough!  Why make up a company?  Instead of writing about something that wasn’t real, I decided to write STORIES about an actual business – a business that educated through GAMES!


Enter 1Huddle

1Huddle is a company using leading brain science and cognitive research about how learning works. Knowing people often forget 70% of what they learn within just three days when using traditional learning platforms, 1Huddle devised innovative software programs using GAMES to teach information. Since 1Huddle is the company featured in High Ten, we came up with a great idea together:

Why not create a game to improve what you remember about High Ten?

After months of development at 1Huddle, I am proud to announce my free High Ten “Culture Challenge.”

To play, download the 1Huddle app and enter the code: highten.

As you play, you can unlock bonus content and hidden chapters.  There will be leaderboards and special prizes for the winners. Just like the Olympians in Tokyo, this is your chance to see where you stand on the podium.

The four GAMES are a revolutionary complement to the book and I look forward to hearing what you think!

Yours in strength,


101 Ways To Raise A Champion

This blog may start off as “controversial,” but I promise it ends with “practical” ideas that will make you a better coach, leader or parent.

When I was on the US Bobsled team, I had a Russian coach. When I asked him about the philosophy for raising children in the “Soviet Sports Machine,” he shared this statement:


“You give us 18 years and we will give you a champion.”


Because I was in my mid 20s then, I filed that idea away.  When I became a parent, I didn’t just remember it, I took it to heart – I took that statement as a challenge.  With my first daughter, I wanted to put both the idea and my parenting skills to the test.

How We Raised Our Little Champion

My oldest daughter Sofia, has had a unique life.  Because she was an infant right at the time social media was in its infancy, many people who have followed me have also watched her grow up. As an example of her upbringing, here’s the classic parenting video we shot when she was only 8 years old.  Although it’s meant to be entertaining, there’s a powerful parenting message about culture:

Here’s an entertaining look into my parenting “style.” CLICK THIS LINK

Like the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show, people have watched her progress to from learning to walk to being the track athlete she is today.  Now that she’s 18 and moving on to the next big stage of her life, I’ve been receiving the same question over and over:


Do you have any advice to raise my child?


I can’t say I’ve been the perfect parent.  In fact, I’ve been far from it. But over the last 18 years of parenting my four daughters, I’ve definitely learned a lot.  In fact, they’ve probably taught me as much as I’ve taught them.  And of all my teachers, Sofia may have been my greatest instructor.

Over the last few months in particular, I’ve posted a lot about Sofia.  From the results of her senior track season and her theater performances to her acceptance to the University of Notre Dame, you may have read about some of the interesting things she’s done recently.  Because she and I spent so much time training together during the pandemic, it gave us a greater opportunity to connect.  Now that she’s leaving for college in a few weeks, I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect too. 

Let’s Get Back to the Statement

Before you overthink it, I didn’t use the statement as a parental license to over-push or just focus on athletics with my children.  Instead, I took that statement as a challenge in every aspect of their lives.  A challenge to see if a parent could set a goal, help properly plan and direct a child’s upbringing and help them to be a champion of their dreams.

Between Sofia competing at the US National Championships last week and her champion dream college coming true, coupled with us still having a great relationship, I believe I have something of value to share from what I have learned over the last 18 years.

So back to the question, Do you have any advice to raise my child?

I want to be up front.  I’m not telling you how to parent.   The meat of the advice I will be delivering in the list below is not instructing you what to do.  It is just telling you what I did.  Take the ideas you like and apply them.  If you feel some don’t apply to you, discard them. I believe the advice is practical, not controversial. The list is common sense and probably was not taught to many coaches in the Eastern Bloc.

When we came home from the hospital with Sofia 18 years ago, we had a car seat, we had diapers and we had baby onesies.  What we didn’t have was a manual – a guide about what we were supposed to do for the next 18 years to raise a champion.


This is the list I wish I had when I brought her home that day. 

I spent the last month compiling this list for you.  As an idea would come to me, I would add it on.  As you might agree, even though many of the ideas seem short, they are also profound.  When I reviewed the completed list, I realized it wasn’t just for parents. Most of the list also applies to coaches, teachers, managers and leaders too.  So if you don’t have kids, this is still a powerful list how to “raise up” the people around you.


The Parenting 101



1.  Give them goals.

2.  Give them a vision.

3.  Give them dreams.

4.  Give them support.

5.  Give them hugs.

6.  Give them discipline.

7.  Give them responsibility. 

8.  Give them values.

9.  Give them space. 

10.  Give them guidance.

11.  Give them opportunities to be creative.

12.  Give them affection.

13.  Give them your attention.

14.  Give them consistency.  

15.  Give them hope.

16.  Give them love.

17.  Give them faith.



18.  Teach them about nutrition.

19.  Teach them about finance.

20.  Teach them about exercise.

21.  Teach them about sleep.

22.  Teach them about relationships. 

23.  Teach them about personal hygiene.

24.  Teach them to defend themselves. 

25.  Teach them to get excited when things get difficult.

26.  Teach them their family history. 

27.  Teach them manners.

28.  Teach them compassion.

29.  Teach them to respect others. 

30.  Teach them to appreciate others.

31.  Teach them about service. 

32.  Teach them patience.



33.  Know their teachers.

34.  Know their coaches.

35.  Know their friends. 

36.  Know their medical history.

37.  Know their schedule.

38.  Know their dreams.

39.  Know their talents.

40.  Know their strengths.

41.  Know their weaknesses. 

42.  Know their favorite things.



43.  Say “Good morning and goodnight”

44.  Say “I am proud of you.”

45.  Say “It’s my fault.”

46.  Say “You can do it.”

47.  Say “I believe in you.”

48.  Say, “Thank you.”

49.  Say “I love you.”



50.  Ask  “How are you feeling?”

51.  Ask “What’s wrong?

52.  Ask “Are you ok?”

53.  Ask “Does that make sense?”

54.  Ask “Can you tell me more about that?”



55.  Don’t let communication stop.

56.  Don’t argue in front of them.

57.  Don’t stress them out.

58.  Don’t make things too serious.

59.  Don’t expect them to be perfect. 

60.  Don’t set the bar too low.

61.  Don’t lie to them.

62.  Don’t spoil them.

63.  Don’t compare them to others.

64.  Don’t ignore things that seem like problems.

65.  Don’t make their issues seem insignificant.

66.  Don’t embarrass them. 

67.  Don’t discourage them.

68.  Don’t let them worry alone.

69.  Don’t use food to comfort or congratulate.



70.  Let them make decisions.

71.  Let them make mistakes. 

72.  Let them talk during the conversation.

73.  Let them do their own homework.

74.  Let them offer their opinion.

75.  Let them experience new people, places or things.

76.  Let them know they are never alone.

77.  Let them be them.



78.  Recognize their emotions.

79.  Recognize their problems.

80.  Recognize their passions.

81.  Recognize their achievements. 

82.  Recognize their individuality.



83.  Make your praise appropriate.

84.  Make family traditions.

85.  Make great memories.

86.  Make an impact.

87.  Make them think in the long-term.



88.  Lead by example.  

89.  Take care of yourself too.

90.  Do the things you ask them to do.

91.  Read with them.

92.  Learn from them.

93.  Monitor their use of technology.

94.  Love your spouse.

95.  Value hard work over results.

96. Keep everything in perspective.

97.  Have fun.

98.  Listen.

99.  Forgive your past parenting mistakes.

100.  Never give up on them.

101.  Never be afraid to ask for help.


On this list of 101 things, I’d love to hear which ones are your favorites.  And if you have any more to add to the list, please write me and let me know them too.  With three daughters left under 18, I still have more to learn. 

The 101 points on the list are the base for the culture of my family.   And that culture has an effect on their beliefs and behaviors.  Whether you are a parent, manager, business owner or teammate, your culture is the foundation on which your people either will or won’t become successful.

If you haven’t either envisioned or designed the culture of your business, team or family, it’s a perfect time to start.  And reading my new book, High Ten: An Inspiring Story About Building Great Team Culture will give you the roadmap how to do it.  The book has released and is hitting homes now.  Order today and depending on where you live, you could be reading it tomorrow!


If nothing else, I don’t hope you just like the list, but that you begin putting some of the items you were missing into action.  After all, someone you lead is counting on you.

Throwing you a High Ten!


5 Questions To Discover Your “Greatness”

If you’ve ever worked on a big project, you’ve probably realized that waiting to be ready or hoping for inspiration is just wishful thinking.

After all, “Anticipation and Inspiration Have An Expiration!

There comes a time when you just have to get started – and if you’re a writer, that’s the moment when you have to stop “wishing” and just sit down and start writing.

I’m excited to announce that after almost two years of work, my new book High Ten: An Inspiring Story About Building Great Team Culture officially released today!  The thousands of people who preordered will be getting their copy over the next few days and I’m so excited.  Although I’m proud of how the book looks and of the content inside, I’m more proud of the lesson the book taught me about the “3 P’s” you will learn about below.


It took time to learn this lesson because I was seduced by a fantasy.

I was under the delusion I could write a book in a weekend.  Where did I get this crazy notion I could hammer out a book that fast?  That idea came from some legendary writing stories:


Sylvester Stallone witnessed a boxing match and wrote Rocky in three days.
Irish novelist John Boyne wrote The Boy In The Striped Pajamas in two and a half days.
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein at a horror writer’s retreat over a weekend.


If they could do it, so could I, right?  So like them, I thought I would sit around, wait for some “inspiration,” and then my own magical weekend would appear.  But this fantasy cost me nothing but time.  Instead of starting, this false belief had me procrastinating.  I just kept “getting ready to get ready” for a few days that had to feel “just right.”  To kill time until the perfect Saturday and Sunday presented themselves, I spent almost a year doing storyboards, content development, interviews and character studies.  I kept reviewing my notes and even had them organized into the 27 chapters that now make up High Ten.

Looking back, I realize now I was ready to start writing the book much earlier than when I actually started.  For some reason I just kept wasting time waiting to put pen to paper – expecting the “perfect time” to happen.  Unfortunately, I found myself searching for the days “Someday,” and “Tomorrow,” which don’t exist on the calendar no matter how hard you look.


Then I finally did something “magical” that transformed my fantasy into reality.

I sat myself down, I opened my computer and told myself to write the first sentence.  And when that sentence was completed, I told myself to write another.  I would love to tell you an amazing story how I wrote High Ten in a couple days of caffeine-fueled inspiration, but if I told you that, I’d be lying.


Writing High Ten taught me your greatest work of art takes more than a couple days.

After that first weekend of writing, I didn’t even have the first chapter done!  I immediately recognized that writing High Ten was going to be more a marathon than a sprint.  But that didn’t mean I was any less inspired to write.  Why?  Because I woke up every day inspired to write – because I had reached the most important place to do your greatest work.  


On my writing journey, I finally reached “The Intersection.”

When I was writing High Ten, my purpose intersected with my passion and with something the world needs.  Unfortunately, so many people never reach this intersection.  And that’s a shame because, reaching that intersection is under your control.  But you may often miss it because you either never clarify or commit to get started on what you are passionate about.


My advice:  Don’t get good at something that doesn’t inspire you!

Do you know anyone who does this?  I’m sure – people who have careers they don’t love or keep working to improve on skills they’re not excited about.  The pandemic was an opportunity to reflect on what really inspired me.  I already knew I loved fitness, sport and exercise, but I discovered something deeper.  My passion is building winning teams and culture.  Those are what I’m good at, and between my Training For Warriors organization and the teams with which I work, that’s where I’m inspired to be my best.

And because I also love telling stories and realized the world needed a little culture “kick in the pants,” I decided to write an inspirational story about team building and culture!  So High Ten isn’t just a book about how to build a great team culture, it also represents the intersection of my passion, purpose and what people need.


Now what about you?  Have you found your intersection?

Writing High Ten gave me the roadmap to create my best work.  But now that I have explained it, you should have a guide to your “intersection” too.  To make it easier, think of this intersection as your 3 P’s:  Passion, Purpose and People. 

Answer the following questions and it will help you get closer to that intersection. When that happens, you’ll have the opportunity to produce your greatest work.  Just remember that work isn’t going to happen in a weekend – and actually, the answers to the questions may take more than that too!


5 Questions To Intersect With Greatness


1.  What is your Passion?

I’ve heard, “years wrinkle your skin, but a lack of passion wrinkles your soul.”  To help you discover your passion, ask yourself what you are most interested in.  Make a list of the things that keeps you up late and gets you up early.  Is there something you would love to spend your life doing even if you weren’t paid for it?  A combination of those answers will help your passion emerge.


2.  What is your life’s Purpose?

One way to make sure you are living your life and not someone else’s is to identify your purpose.  In order to make sure you are living “on purpose,” ask yourself about the activities in which you feel you behave with the most authenticity.  Is there anything that you have felt “called” or “born” to do?  Are there activities where you feel most “in the zone?” Those answers will help you figure out what you should really be doing.


3.  What is something you do that People need?

My dad always advised me to, “find a need and fill a need.” A great way to express your passion and purpose is in the service of others.  And the more people you can serve, the more greatness you can exhibit.  Now that you have a clearer idea of your passion and purpose, ask yourself how they can best be used to help solve a common problem people are experiencing.


4.  What is your intersection of the first three P’s?

What you create at your intersection is all up to you.  In my case, I chose to write a book to Inspire and Educate (my purpose) about Team Building (my passion) to help build stronger Coaches and Cultures (what people need).  But you can choose anything you want.  You could volunteer in an area you are passionate about.  You could intern in a career which interests you.  You could take a class or pick up an instrument or language.  The possibilities are endless, but the good news is your greatest work will come from both your head and your heart.


5.  What is one small step you could take into that intersection right now?

If you’ve done the deep work and answered the first four questions, now the only thing stopping you is you.  And if you are going to let anything stop you, don’t let it be the start!  Just like I did, make a commitment to action and take the first step.  I promise if you do, the greatness that will be produced by your authentic self won’t be far behind.



If these questions have helped you realize you want to improve the people around you, a great place to start would be reading High Ten.  Since today is the LAST DAY for my SPECIAL BONUS OFFER worth over $500, don’t miss out on this opportunity!

The Bonus Offer is a culture-building exercise I call Get One, Give Two.  How it works is when you buy three copies of High Ten (one for you and two for either staff, family or team members) I will send you 2 Bonus Coaching and Culture PDFs, 2 Bonus Deleted Chapters from the book and also a Bonus 80-minute video on Culture that cost over $500 to attend the event.

So, you get a great book for yourself and start working on your culture right away by giving a nice gift to two other people!

Just email me your receipt today and I will send those bonuses right back to you.

And if you’d just like to get the book for yourself, you can get it online right now wherever books are sold.

Throwing you a big High Ten,