During the NFL Draft we put together a successful video series, Back to Campus, which highlighted former players meeting with current prospects on their college campuses. Now we’re shooting a similar series with NFL Media entitled Back to Camp, which is the same concept, but pertaining to training camp.
This week we visited Seattle with Michael Robinson (“MRob”), who won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2012. Going to Seattle is always great because it is such a positive, engaging environment. A huge part of that culture and being one of the best teams in the league is obviously a testament to the head coach, Pete Carroll. His charismatic approach and being on top of everything is a big reason the Seahawks have been so successful.
Aside from shooting our piece, Coach Carroll asked Mike to speak to the team that day about his “Excel to Excellence” program in his hometown of Richmond, Va. The program is like reverse fantasy football where students compete against each other for points and earn scholarships. Pete saw that as something the rest of the league needed to hear about so, even though his meetings are always closed to cameras, he invited us in.
Before the meeting began, we were staged outside in the hallway waiting for our cue to enter. Pete walked by while we were standing there and says, “I know you’ve got to film this because the whole league needs to see what Michael Robinson is doing in his hometown. It’s very important.”
He asked who was in charge and I introduced myself and asked if I could send one of my cameras to the front corner of the room to shoot a reversal of the players listening to his message. He said no! He wanted me to put a GoPro on MRob instead, but I told him that would mess up our primary shot. In the end, I was relegated to our two cameras in the back of the room.
When we got into the meeting room, the first thing that catches our eye is a full-size basketball hoop on the stage and there is some Drake blaring from the DJ booth stage right. Doug Baldwin explained to us that Pete likes to keep a loose, competitive environment for his players so paying attention in the meeting room is a whole lot easier.
Michael Robinson squaring up to shoot.
He will have players compete against each other in shooting contests for fun prizes or for pride to keep them on edge: defensive back vs. a receiver; offensive lineman vs. defensive lineman, etc. He also throws out trivia competitions from time-to-time. That day he was quizzing the rookies about the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
What resonated with me is that he’s always thinking and he has his hands into everything. He is a true CEO of the team, knowing what is going on and having a purpose for everything he does. I came away with three things I could apply as a CEO of my own company:
1. Keep things light.
There has to be a break from the grind. Working all the time without something fun results in employees whose work suffers. Pete has the basketball hoop, trivia, and other presentations to keep the mood light and morale up.
We all get caught up in the daily grind and its important to remember to take a break, appreciate your employees & take them out to a nice lunch or a happy hour, or take a half day and go to the beach. Whatever it is it’s important to maintain a fun atmosphere.
What Coach Carroll does best!
2. Know your business.
Pete is not an innocent bystander in anything going on with the Seahawks and that is reflected on the field. He is guiding the ship as the head coach; he knows his players and how to keep them moving in the right direction.
I have to do the same with my business. I have to stay on top of the nuances of the company, what each of my employees is doing, and steer it all.
3. Appreciate your employees.
As a business grows, a CEO runs the risk of losing sight of the “little people” so to speak. That is the worst thing you can do. Pete took the time to introduce himself to us and explain what he was looking for out of the piece. He didn’t consider himself “above” talking to us. Because he took a moment to talk to us, we felt appreciated and his message was clearly conveyed.
Pete Carroll is a Super Bowl-winning head coach for a reason and we can all take a page out of his book and apply it to our own businesses. Get to know every single person working with your company and know what they are doing … your brand depends on it!