The PlayBook
Going off topic with Nick Sirianni
By Marianne Aleardi

When Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni walked into the Collingswood Ballroom to begin his meet and greet last month, we both were surprised to see an empty room. “I’m so sorry,” I said to him. “It seems no one has shown up to meet you.”          

We laughed, because in less than 3 seconds, the line stretched around the corner, with hundreds of fans waiting to shake his hand and take a picture. They were all there for a special event SJ Mag hosted – a sit-down interview where the coach & I would discuss leadership.

Going into the evening, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the popular head coach. When I did a similar event with Doug Pederson after the Super Bowl win, Doug had written a book, so I had some idea of his philosophies and demeanor. But with Nick, a lot of what I knew about him was from watching him at games on TV. All I could tell from those moments was that this coach gets very passionate on the sidelines – and not necessarily in a good way. (I did mention that to him during our interview, saying it made me think of him as a typical Philly sports fan, which he took as a compliment.)

But as it turns out, Nick Sirianni is likable, smart and interesting. And yes, he is extremely competitive in everything he does, which is probably exactly how you want to describe the coach of your favorite team. He seemed genuinely happy to meet fans and hear their stories and words of praise or encouragement. But he was also eager to talk about the night’s topic: leadership.

When the interview began, it was easy to see the audience was appreciating his thoughtful insights, and I was surprised when I realized I was taking in everything he was saying. I usually always enjoy my interviews, but in this one, I was making mental notes to remember different points he made. Everything he said could be transferred to business – to life really. He talked about not looking up at the giant hill you have to climb but instead focusing on the first few steps. He used the word “love” a lot when describing the team and how he hopes they interact, which is surprising coming from a high-level athlete. (Doug Pederson talked about love too, which is interesting that both Eagles coaches believe players should express love for each other.) 

He stressed how important it is to make sure everyone understands their job description, which in the simplest terms could transfer to making sure your kids understand their homework assignment. When expectations are crystal clear, he says, you can praise them for their efforts or hold them accountable for missing the mark. 

And of course we covered the Super Bowl, including why he cried during the National Anthem. He said he used to listen to the National Anthem driving to work, and he would think about how great it would be to make it to the Super Bowl and hear it live. Can you imagine the impact when that moment arrived?

When he talked about returning to the Super Bowl next February, it was clear everyone in the audience hopes that will happen. But all of his key ideas point to how they could get there once again, because it’s what got them there this year. For the rest of us, who all have our own “Super Bowl” we’re trying to win, adopting these philosophies and strategies just might help. 

I would never call myself a sports fan, but I do watch Eagles games during the season. I don’t pay attention to the play calling or even the score. (I drive Joe crazy.) But I watch the leaders. I listen to them at the press conference after the game. So while I’m not a sports fan, I have discovered I am definitely an Eagles fan.

To see videos from our leadership event with Nick Sirianni, follow us on social.

Read more “Wide Awake” by Marianne Aleardi

July 2023
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