Every week in Los Angeles I walk a mile or so from my apartment to the putting green at Rancho Park Golf Course and work on the rhythm of my stroke for about twenty minutes then walk across the street to the Main Course restaurant for a taste of Eastern Europe! Each week I try a different dish just for fun. Last week I tried the Ukrainian stuffed cabbage, this week the Hungarian Beef Goulash and the week before the Romanian stuffed pepper. I love the diversity of LA, especially the food! A few weeks ago, Veronica and I tried Moroccan food. Persian is next!
Brent Frei, the co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a project and software management company, looks for people who are “mentally athletic and agile.” He prefers attitude and aptitude over experience. I like his perspective, a lot!
Yesterday, I met with Greg Mathews, a former St. Louis Cardinale pitcher, who is now the pitching coach at both Glendale College and Compton College. He is helping young boys become better athletes and better pitchers, in particular, through a combination of strength and conditioning and technical expertise. We talked about Sports Psychology and the importance of the mental game, especially as kids are developing. Good mental and emotional habits lead to better performance, period. For instance, if we learn to harness the power of our minds to focus more and more on what we want and to let go of the myriad of drama and distractions then we will dramatically improve our game in life, business, and sports! I proved this last year with a minor league player who hit .208 and .212 his first two years in professional baseball without mental game coaching and with the assistance of Dr. Brett he hit .272 and is now well on his way to the next level!
The new leader of the M.B.A players union, Michele Roberts, is impressive to say the least. In an organization dominated by men, she beat out 300 hundred others to earn the honor and job of replacing a man who mismanaged funds and failed to deliver in recent years. With an economically impoverished background and an experience as one of the few African American woman to earn a private school scholarship to the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, she worked as a public defender at San Quentin after graduating law school in 1980. Later, she became a successful criminal defense attorney before joining a large prestigious corporate law firm.
Adam Bryant interviews Kate Cole, the president of Cinnabon, in this week’s Corner Office! Her perspective is worth knowing. For instance, when business is going well she tends to ask more questions to be certain of the why and to be prepared for the downside. She likes to encourage feedback and communication and even disagreement though in respectful ways. Ms. Cole also encourages coach-ability, curiosity, and commitment to others. I like her perspective because she seems to genuinely care about others, is intelligent and very interpersonally oriented values I teach and value myself.
Last month I attended a sectional qualifier for the United States Open golf championship at Old Oaks Country Club in a Purchase, New York. Four golfers qualified out of a field of 77. I followed Lee Janzen of two time U.S Open winner fame and Cameron Wilson of Stamford University and the winner of the 2014,NCAA individual golf championship. The experience was especially fascinating because Cameron is 21 and Lee Janzen is 49. Both played well but not well enough though Cameron got in as an alternate beating Lee by a few shots finishing fifth. One at the twilight of his career, the other at the beginning, I was struck by the contrast and yet similarity of all athletes. No matter what age, true competitors want to win. Next month I am giving a presentation on the mental game to hockey players in Los Angeles. No matter who you are, athlete or entrepreneur, the same principles apply; you must deserve it, desire it, and know how to create it. This means present moment time, mental toughness, and physical ability. I teach the mental game because this is my thing. I love working with athletes and entrepreneurs because their commitment to excellence, in general, is much greater than the population at large. This means that the desire piece of the equation is gigantic, a real turn-on. The deserve piece means overcoming whatever fears and insecurities are in the way. Even the best of us have them and sometimes the best have more of them – Tiger Woods, Elliot Spitzer and Lawrence Taylor come to mind. Working through fear, insecurity, and self-sabotage can be a major challenge and yet it’s the biggest no-brainer ever. So whoever you are try to be honest with yourself, acknowledge your limitations, and find someone to guide you on the mental game in life, business and sports!
Gina Centrello has a great attitude! It’s obvious from her interview with Adam Bryant, the New York Times Corner Office guy. Ms. Centrello stresses over and over the value of hard work, curiosity, and teamwork. She believes that the success of the organization hinges on the harmonious interaction of its key members and strives to create an atmosphere that fosters teamwork!
I recently began working with a high school baseball pitcher with a big dream: he wants to work in the front office of a Major League Baseball team one day! I asked him if wanted to be a GM and he replied that was like asking him if he wanted to be the president of the United States one day! I smiled.
I was in a nine hole golf match last week in Westport, Connecticut not LaQuinta, California where I took this picture last month. On the ninth hole with the individual and team matches all squared I was casually talking with my playing partner, a retired finance guy, and really enjoying the moment especially the camaraderie of playing with a really nice guy. I asked him to range find the distance to the stick after driving the ball down the middle. He told me it was 138 yards to the back left pin placement. Choosing a pitching wedge, I recall going into pure focus mode, completely empty of all thought. I took an effortless swing and hit the ball directly into the setting sun having that flush feeling of striking it solidly. A moment later, my opponent yelled from across the fairway that the ball was “In The Hole!” I held my hands up, did a little salsa waggle and high-fived my playing partner having effectively ended both matches. Afterwards, we decided to play up 16 to play the last three holes before dark. On 17 my partner said he didn’t make his usual two birdies. I asked him if that was his intention and he said that he tries to make two birdies every time he plays. I shared that I intend to have at least one experience of Magic every time I play! He responded by saying I had clearly pulled it off holing out from the fairway!
Brad Smith is the chief executive of Intuit, the software company. He learned leadership skills by becoming a black belt by age 18 and teaching 150 students soon after. There, he learned that “success is creating the environment where people can be their best selves and continue to grow and develop.” I love it! In my business I do likewise for the people I coach from athletes to entrepreneurs to adolescents trying to figure out life!
Tom Erickson, C.E.O of Acquia, an open-source softwear company, addresses the value of accepting failure on an emotional level in this Corner Office interview. He states, “I’m looking for people who are going to jump in and own their own work, who are going to risk something and risk failing.”
Sheila Talton, C.E.O. of Grey Matter Analytics, a consulting firm, an anti-Vietnam war activist in her youth failed out of college because she focused to much on organizing and protesting. Working as a secretary at a fork lift company a white male salesmen noticed her initiative and then got behind her and pushed her to go back to college offering to help her with her coursework. I shared this part of her interview because I just got off the phone with a minor league baseball player that I’ve been coaching for seven months. He is heading into spring training this year with a clear head, zero drama, and much greater focus! He thanked me for all my assistance and told me that he is now behind his girlfriend much like I got behind him. She too is thriving!
Reading about dangerous sports in the Los Angeles Times Sports section while traveling out here on business made me think about a golfer I am coaching who used to be a professional snowboarder. He’s shared several adrenaline addiction stories having had a series of near death experiences in his younger life as his passion for extreme sports and dangerous situations like surfing in near hurricane conditions nearly got him killed.
As I was reading this article on A-Rod’s suspension in the Los Angeles Times, I saw a quick highlight of the 60 Minutes special on the Biogenesis founder who spoke convincingly on A-Rod’s guilt. Anthony Bosch basically said that not only did he sell A-Rod several performance enhancing drugs but he also injected them into A-Rod himself on multiple occasions. With each phase of this sad saga A-Rod sounds more and more like Lance Armstrong who lied and denied until the evidence became overwhelming or Roger Clemens who got off legally but looked horrendous in the process. It’s disheartening to watch.