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Archive for the ‘coaching’ Category

Pete Carroll-198x300Pete Carroll, football coach for the Seattle Seahawks, in his 2010 book Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion, described in detail a conversation between himself and Jim Valvano, legendary college basketball coach.   The conversation was about Coach Valvano’s insights into the hiring process.   Coach Carroll recalls Valvano’s ‘interviewing tactics’.

Coach Valvano told me that my goal should be to leave the interview with “no negatives”.  Every comment, every phrase, or story must be positive, and I must be prepared to talk only about things that put me in the best light.  No matter what the topic, it was my job to turn every answer into a response that highlighted my strong points.  Like his point guard, who controlled the court, or my middle linebacker who controlled our defense, I had to control the interview.

Carroll summarized his conversation with Valvano:

He taught me that if they asked a questions I couldn’t answer, then I shouldn’t answer it but instead find a way to turn the question to something I could talk about comfortably, positively and honestly.  ……   He explained the importance of being disciplined in the setting and avoiding any and all negative thoughts.  If I spoke with positivity and confidence, it would be evident that I believed in myself, and that belief was what the interviewer would be looking for.

Actually, there is more to the story.   When Carroll had to apply these lessons when interviewing for the head football coach at the University of Southern California, he consistently responded to questions with answers that reflected a consistent theme about his vision and philosophy.

When it was time for me to present my vision and plan, I stated my intentions in the clearest and boldest way that I could think of. ….. I took them through my philosophical approach, discussing everything from the central theme of competition that would be synonymous with the program, ……   With each statement I gave, I felt more confident.   The more confident I felt, the more excited I became.

As I reflect on academic searches at the President, Provost, Vice-Provost and Dean levels, I certainly buy into Jim Valvano’s tactic of ‘leave the interview with no negatives’ and Pete Carroll’s strategy of ‘consistently responding with answers that reflect your vision and philosophy’.    I have witnessed several successful candidates at our university that were able to leave the interviews with ‘no negatives’.   However, I do not recall any candidates in my twenty years of academic experience who have left the interview process having effectively communicated a consistent vision and philosophy.   I’m still waiting!!!

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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Navy-LogoThere’s nothing like humor when it comes to university presidents.   One humorous story comes from the U.S. Naval Academy where the equivalent of the college president is the Superintendent who is is always an admiral in the Navy.  John Feinstein, sports columnist for the Washington Post, recounted a great story.

This story is set in 2002 when Vice Admiral John R. Ryan served as the academy’s superintendent.  It seems at the time that the Navy football team had not won a single football game the previous season and was looking for a new football coach.

An up and coming coach, Paul Johnson, interviewed for the head football at Navy.    Johnson, known for his innovative and highly effective triple option flexbone offense, was never short on self-confidence.  During Johnson’s interview for the head football coach position, negotiations between Johnson and Admiral Ryan had begun to stall.

“What it’s going to take, Coach?” Ryan asked when negotiations stalled. “What do I have to pay you to get you to coach my football team.”

Johnson gave Ryan a number and the Admiral was stunned.

“Young man,” he said. “I’m a three-star admiral in the United States Navy and I don’t make anywhere close to that kind of money.”

Johnson replied:

“Well, Admiral, I guess you got into the wrong business.”

Admiral Ryan paid Johnson the money, and Johnson went on to become one of Navy’s greatest football coaches.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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dennis greenDennis Green, former NFL head football coach for the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals is often remembered for a famous rant after a tough loss to the Chicago Bears:

The Bears are what we thought they were. They’re what we thought they were. We played them in preseason — who the hell takes a third game of the preseason like it’s bullshit? Bullshit! We played them in the third game — everybody played three quarters — the Bears are who we thought they were! That’s why we took the damn field. Now if you want to crown them, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were! And we let ’em off the hook!

Is our college what we say it is?   Do we really believe the things we say about ourselves?   After taking a look at our college’s mission and values statements, our college’s strategic plan, and some of the “branding” found in our promotional materials and web site, here are some of our defining characteristics:

  • innovation/innovative
  • able to work in global economy
  • integrated curriculum
  • high job placement
  • academic rigor
  • effectiveness in groups
  • strong internships
  • prepare citizens
  • develop leaders

Are we who we say we are?   In my opinion, the words we use to describe ourselves need to be fully vetted by the faculty and external stakeholders.   Who are we?   Who do we aspire to be?  The words we use to describe ourselves are very important.

– from the pen of Dr. Percy Trappe

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