Don Yaeger is an award-winning Keynote Speaker, Business Leadership Coach, eleven-time New York Times best-selling author, and longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated. He is one of America’s most provocative thought leaders. From first-hand experiences, Don shares lessons on achieving greatness based on working with some of the greatest sports legends in the world. Listen in for some fascinating stories from many of your heroes on how they are intentional, curious, and hate to lose!
[3:55] With all the great stories that Don has experienced and written about, he shares a backstory from when he graduated university as a starting point for today’s discussion.
[5:15] Don shares the one question he asks everyone he interviews.
[6:35] His book, Greatness: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions, is a compilation of the top sixteen answers that came up frequently from his interview question.
[7:55] If you choose to lose and blame someone, then you will never achieve that next level.
[9:15] The mind of a champion is wired intentionally. They know the potential weakness of blaming someone else so they keep themselves from doing it.
[10:25] Don shares the one lesson that resonated with him that he learned from coach John Wooden.
[12:30] Don is very selective about his inner circle and explains his process on how he chooses them carefully.
[15:25] When your people know you care and want what’s best for them, their level of commitment will be off the charts.
[18:20] You can become invaluable without being the most valuable. Don shares a story about the year the Cubs won the world series to bring this point home.
[22:40] Don learned to be more attentive to the people he doesn’t see often within his organization.
[24:45] Getting to the matters of the heart doesn’t happen quickly; it’s about listening well, finding connection, and taking time to find out what drives the other person.
[25:50] Trust takes time. Don constantly builds upon the last conversation he has with a person to earn their trust.
[28:00] Coaches shared with Don that their relationship with their players changed when their conversations and questions were better structured.
[29:50] Don talks about why some teams are capable of being consistently high-performing while others are not.
[33:30] Don’s interview with Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta, was one that really stood out to him. He explains why.
[35:30] Jan really enjoyed his conversation and interview with Joel Peterson, the Chairman of JetBlue. He shared what his impact was to him and Jim.
[38:35] Everybody is gifted but it’s those who feel comfortable expressing their gifts and have the willingness to be vulnerable with others that makes the team successful.
[40:20] Don talks about the days he spent together with Walter Payton when he was writing his autobiography.
[41:45] Don asked Walter to pick one day in his future to give up everything else for. Don didn’t write his answer in his book.
[44:30] Intentionality is one of Don’s favorite words.
[46:20] A great question can be a gift to someone. Don tells an emotional story with Warrick Dunn as an example.
[51:15] Listener challenge: Great leaders are curious, ask great questions, listen intently, and they care.