Years ago, I interviewed former beloved Phillies coach Charlie Manual after the Phillies had won the World Series. The 2 of us sat at the Municipal building in Haddonfield and chatted about a million things, few of which were baseball. At the end of the interview, he said something I’ve never forgotten.          

I had asked a fluff question, “What do you like to do in your free time?” Since he lived in South Jersey, I figured he would tell me places he liked to go, and readers would enjoy that (me too). He did, mentioning the old-school barber shop where he spent weekend afternoons and a few restaurants. But then he looked me in the eye and said, “I even like talking to women who don’t know anything about sports.”

So ok, maybe I was on to something. (And…what a sweet compliment.)

I opened the article with a story Charlie had told me about the first time he met Tiger Woods, when the young golfer was just starting his career. They were at a country club and Tiger was off to the side practicing this one shot that went over trees and curved to get on the green. Charlie watched for a little over 30 mins, then he left for about 2 hours and when he came back, Tiger was still there, practicing the same shot.

“Some players make themselves masters of their game,” he told me.

Stories like these were exactly why I wanted to talk to Charlie. I saw him as a successful leader, so he had knowledge that everyone could use in their life, no matter their profession. I’ve come to realize that you don’t need to understand the technical aspects of baseball, or any sport, if you want to learn from the coach how he motivates players to perform at the highest level. Strikes, balls, pitches, whatever – that’s the work they do. This team did their work so well, they won it all. How does that happen? 

It’s the same question I had when I interviewed former Eagles Coach Doug Pederson after the Super Bowl win. Our talk was in front of about 300 people – business people – and we talked about selecting the right members of your team, motivation and risk-taking. We didn’t talk the specifics of football. (That’s actually something I wouldn’t even be able to talk about.) 

Doug talked about 4 tenets that he stressed to his players: Create energy. Eliminate distraction. Fear nothing. Attack everything. Those principals guide him in everything he does. I often refer to the last 2: fear nothing, attack everything. If we all did that – which I can’t say I always do – imagine how much we would accomplish.

I’ve interviewed soccer icon Carli Lloyd several times. I’ve found that no one can match Carli’s mental toughness, and it’s been beneficial hearing her stories that demonstrate how hard she works and how incredibly successful that hard work has made her. She once told a story about staying at a hotel in a foreign country where the US women’s soccer team was playing. The team had a day off from working out, only Carli didn’t want the break, so she repeatedly ran up and down the hotel’s stairwell. It’s why she’s unstoppable.    

So this month I’ll be sitting down with Nick Sirianni at the Collingswood Ballroom on June 12. We won’t be talking about play calling or game strategy, but we will discuss how you lead a group of people toward an ultimate goal. And then when you make it there but don’t succeed, what exactly do you say to the team? How do you cope with a significant – public – failure?

There’s a lot to learn from people who are great at what they do, even if you don’t fully understand (or love) their life’s work. I’m eager to hear how this championship coach has led his team. I hope you’ll join me.

Join us on June 12th to hear Nick Sirianni On Leadership

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Read more “Wide Awake” by Marianne Aleardi

June 2023
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