Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The System of Success

Their are literally tens of thousands of baseball coaches around the country. The highly successful ones ALL invest in their education.

In an effort to become one of the best baseball coaches in the country, I used to travel to one or two national baseball conventions as well as a state convention each year. At the conventions, the top coaches in baseball would discuss various topics, from hitting fundamentals to fielding drills, from pitching mechanics to baserunning strategies.

I would pay hundreds of dollars at each convention to listen to the speakers. After all, these are people with knowledge and expertise which I valued. I also paid to receive a couple newsletters and baseball magazines. Believe me, the information I received helped me become a MUCH better coach.

Also, at the conventions, hundreds of vendors would set up various promotional stands showing their products. Hitting machines, various bats and gloves, computers to keep statistics, grounds keeping equipment, and much more was available for the coaches to order.

To my knowledge, NOBODY complained about the ticket prices. (Nobody was forced to go!!). Nobody complained that the speakers were receiving gifts and money as compensation. Nobody complained that many coaches bought items (to help their programs) from the vendors. Nobody complained about being brainwashed by a system.

Instead, everyone seemed pretty satisfied with the information. At my school, I was praised for my desire to be the best coach.

More importantly, I DID become a better baseball coach, a product of hours of speakers, hours of note-taking, and of course, hours of applying those ideas.

When I consider the merits of the TEAM training system, I am more convinced than ever (and believe me, I too had initial doubts about the "need" for a system) that the system is essential to a person's success in ANY business or venture.

The top baseball coaches pay to improve themselves. The top teachers pay to take various classes and receive certain educational journals. Superior doctors keep abreast of the latest techniques through medical journals and seminars. Yet nobody questions the money paid for such continuing education

The bottom line is that the most successful people in any profession understand that a system of education is an investment in themselves...an investment in their future!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

EVERY Child Left Behind!

You would think that with billions of dollars spent on the No Child Left Behind act, there would be considerable progress as far as improving test scores in our public schools.

You would be wrong.

Poor performing schools, for the most part, are still performing poorly, and I know why.

Schools don't focus on RESULTS.

Correction: Schools don't focus on RESULTS THAT COUNT.

I will give you an example. I teach at a poor performing school in Atlanta. I rarely see any of my administrators. They are locked away in their offices doing paperwork for NCLB.

A couple times a year, an administrator will pop into my room, NOT to watch me teach and offer suggestions. No, they pop in to make sure that I have the correct content (student work, vocab words, etc.) on my walls. They actually record their findings on a clipboard!!

Recently, the administrators have decided to EVALUATE the lesson plans of teachers. They are NOT evaluating the lessons themselves, just the lesson plans. Almost all of the teachers in my building are conscientious in their lesson preparation, but ALL of the teachers think the 3 page form that we must complete every couple weeks is a tedious waste of valuable time.

I am NEVER evaluated on the results that count--the improvement of my students!!! NEVER do the students take a pre-test and a post-test to measure improvement.

In fact, I can't even measure my success against other teachers (to see if they have a better system or better lessons) because NONE of the teachers know if the students have improved.

Without a doubt, I am frustrated that my superiors judge my teaching performance on what is on my wall and how nicely I have presented my lessons, but they don't judge my performance with regards to student improvement.

Interestingly, I have been slow to apply what I know to be true to my own business. Sometimes, I "work" hard on my business, but I don't measure the results that count and make appropriate changes to get the results I desire. And for that reason, my business is smaller than it should be.

Good luck to all of you, and I encourage you to read Orrin Woodward's and Chris Brady's blog daily. Today, Orrin reminds everyone about the proper steps to reach any goal.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Here is an uplifting story of determination and guts. A girl running in a state cross county championship broke her leg 45 feet from the finish line. Knowing that her TEAM was counting on her, she crawled on her hands and knees the remaining 45 feet. Her efforts helped her TEAM earn fourth place in Ohio.

You can read about the story below, or follow this link (to read the story and see the video):


It has been almost two weeks since Claire Markwardt's horrific fall in the final stretch of the Ohio state high school cross country championship, and yet, the Berkshire High School senior has seen the video only once.

Only once has she logged on to YouTube and watched herself fall to the ground as first her left tibia and then her fibula snap in half. Only once has she watched herself crawl the final 45 feet to the finish line, ensuring that she would complete the final race of her high school career.

And even that one time, she had to stop the video at the point where a race official picks her up and carries her to a doctor.

"There's a scene in 'Harry Potter' where Harry breaks his arm and it's really jiggly," Markwardt said by phone this week. "When [the official] picked me up, that's what I remember thinking my leg felt like. It felt like it was swinging around a lot. And I didn't want to see that, so I stopped watching."

What Markwardt saw in the video might not be visible to the rest of us. She saw a teenage girl who, a year earlier, watched the state meet from the stands and made a personal commitment to run in that race in her senior year. She saw a girl who fulfilled that commitment, and then, with a badly broken leg 45 feet from the finish line, had a choice: Finish, or don't finish.
To her, it was a no-brainer.

What the rest of the world sees in the video, though, is a high-school hero. Thanks to YouTube and Internet blogs such as The Big Lead, the rest of the world sees courage, determination and an off-the-charts tolerance for pain. Strangers who have watched it have filled Markwardt's MySpace and Facebook pages with congratulations, well-wishes and thank-yous. The encouragement has helped Markwardt, with two surgeries behind her and six months of physical therapy ahead, believe her ordeal has been a good thing.

"Honestly, I think it's a positive in my life," she said. "Obviously, I don't enjoy having a broken leg, but I've gotten so much amazing feedback out of it. And I've learned a lot about myself. I didn't think I could ever do something like that. But apparently, I could."

Ask Markwardt to tell you her memories from the meet, and the first thing she mentions is how perfect the entire day was supposed to be. She was to run the biggest race of her life in the morning. As soon as it finished, she was to drive with her dad from Columbus to Warren, where she would be the maid of honor in her big sister Anna's wedding that night.

At the 1- and 2-mile markers, Markwardt was on a personal-best pace. Then, as she entered the stadium at Columbus' Scioto Downs, with about 400 meters to go, she heard her left leg crack.

The leg had been sore on and off for the previous two weeks, prompting Berkshire coach Julie Cole to limit Markwardt in practice. When she heard the crack, Markwardt thought it was a muscle pull or tear. She thought she could gut it out to the finish line.

"There was a runner from one of our rival schools right in front of me," she said. "I kept staring at the back of her jersey and pushing myself to catch her."

But some 200 meters later, Markwardt heard the leg crack again. And again. Then there was a louder crack, and her entire leg gave out. She fell to the ground as onlookers winced at the sound and the sight of what happened.

One of Markwardt's teammates, unaware of what had happened, encouraged her to get up. She tried, using her right leg. But as soon as she shifted weight to the left, the loudest crack yet came. And her leg gave out again.

"At that point, I knew what had happened. I knew my leg was broken pretty badly. And I knew I couldn't get up again. So I started crawling," she said.

She said she thought not of her coach, nor her parents, nor anyone else who had encouraged her to never give up, to see things to the finish. Instead, she thought of the countless stories she had heard about runners who collapsed before a race's end and somehow found the courage to cross that last line. Even if her leg had given out at the 400-meter mark, she said, it wouldn't have mattered. She was going to finish.

"They may not have let me, and it might not have been pretty, but I would have tried," she said.

"I had come so far. Our team had come so far. All season, we had been working for state, and now we were there. I was almost done, and there was no way I was going to let the team down."
So, she finished the race in a time of 20:24.07, only 18 seconds slower than her personal best (20:06), despite crawling for the last 45 feet. The finish was good for 67th place, helping her school to a fourth-place finish in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III championship.

"When I saw her crawling, I wanted to cry," said Richard Markwardt, Claire's father. "I was just so incredibly proud -- as proud as any father could be."

After the race, there were no tears, no screams of horror. Instead, Markwardt sat patiently on a training table while doctors put a splint on her leg and then transferred her to a Columbus hospital. She had broken her tibia in multiple places, her fibula in just one. She needed surgery, in which a rod and a series of screws were placed in her leg to help piece it together.

Doctors told her they believed her original soreness was a stress fracture made worse by running in the state meet. They said she likely suffered a partial crack of her tibia at first, but when she pressed on, she shattered the bone in multiple places. And when she stood up to try to finish the race, doctors told her, that's when they believe she broke her fibula.

"I had come so far. Our team had come so far. . . . I was almost done, and there was no way I was going to let the team down."Although her maid-of-honor dress and a hairstylist awaited her, she didn't make it to her sister's wedding. She shed her first tears when she apologized to her sister on a cell phone from the hospital.

Anna, of course, told her how unnecessary her apology was. So did her father, who, after signing the hospital paperwork and making sure Claire was in good hands, raced to Warren to give away his middle daughter. Several representatives from the school stayed with Claire until her parents, after attending the wedding and greeting guests at the reception, drove back to Columbus and walked into Claire's hospital room at 2:30 in the morning.

"The entire day was just an incredible emotional roller coaster -- one that I hope I never have to experience again," Richard Markwardt said.

Claire's recovery won't be easy. Following the first surgery, on Nov. 3, doctors realized her left foot was turned outward further than it should have been. So on Nov. 13 -- 10 days after the accident -- she went back into the hospital for a day so doctors could straighten and slightly lengthen the rod in her leg.

Doctors tell her to expect to spend six to eight weeks on crutches. It will be three months until she will be able to walk normally and six months before she will be able to run again. She plans to study industrial design or architecture at a college near her home in Burton, Ohio, next fall. She's unsure if she will try to run competitively in college.

For all she's gone through and all that lies ahead, Markwardt said she has broken down only twice: once on the hospital phone call to her sister, and once when she told coach Cole that she will miss the spring track season.

This Wednesday, when doctors asked her to rate her pre-surgery anxiety before the second procedure on her leg, she said, "Two."

"She's always had a certain degree of maturity that's just unusual for kids her age," Richard Markwardt said. "Someone once told me she has an old soul. And they're right. There's this unique sense of wisdom and resolve. And that's helped her get through this."

In fact, it might be that the person who has struggled the most with the emotional aftermath of Claire's injury is Cole, Berkshire's cross country coach.

"It's been difficult," Cole said. "I felt kind of guilty. This is what I do. I'm a coach. You try to get the kids to work hard and sacrifice for each other. That's what we try to instill -- to go after it. But if I push kids to go to that extreme, is that a good thing? Is that right?"

Markwardt already has told her coach that she had nothing to do with the injury. Nor, she said, did her parents or anyone else. Markwardt alone made the decision to press on after she heard her leg crack 200 meters before the finish line and after she crumbled to the ground 45 feet from the finish. Nearly two weeks later, she said she wouldn't do things any differently, even if she could.

Now, she's focused on her next hurdle -- returning to school. Doctors have cleared her to start classes Monday. Her mom wants her to do so in a wheelchair. Markwardt, the competitor, won't have it.

"I haven't used the wheelchair since I was in the hospital that day," Markwardt said. "I'm fine on crutches. I'm not going to school in a wheelchair. I'm fighting that wheelchair off."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Punishing Prometheus!

According to Greek mythology, Prometheus was tasked with molding man out of clay. Proud of his creation, Prometheus gave various gifts to man which often resulted in conflict with Zeus, king of the gods.

When Zeus withheld fire from man, Prometheus decided to steal fire and give it to man himself.

Zeus was so angry with Prometheus for his rebelliousness that he chained Prometheus to a rock. Each day, an eagle would swoop down and eat at the flesh of Prometheus, chewing at his liver. At night, Prometheus would regenerate his flesh. Thus, his torture would continue day after day.

Quixtar/Amway's desire to destroy TEAM is nothing short of Zeus punishing Prometheus.

What does Quixtar/Amway gain from continued legal attacks against TEAM? Nothing...they are simply acting out of vengeance against people who made Quixtar/Amway a ton of money.

Will TEAM return to Quixtar/Amway? NO! The repeated attacks have simply galvanized the TEAM.

Will repeated attacks stop TEAM members from resigning? NO! In fact, your harassment was one of the reasons I left Quixtar/Amway.

Will prospective IBO's gain from repeated attacks? NO! The attacks will keep others leary of Quixtar/Amway.

Will current IBO's with Quixtar/Amway improve their position? NO! The repeated attacks against TEAM will make it harder for current IBO's to recruit new members, which is essential since ONLY 3.4% of volume is retail sales.

So I ask a simple question to Quixtar/Amway: Who wins with your vindictive and repeated legal attacks?

Answer: Your legal department which gets to bill lots of hours and the TEAM!!!!

Although TEAM always had a purpose and a passion, Quixtar/Amway's repeated legal attacks encouraged a new set of TEAM leaders to step forward...TEAM leaders burning with newfound FIRE!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

KNOWing How to Hit Your MARK!

Growing up in the South and being a University of Georgia alumnus, it should be no surprise that I am a big college football fan. Obviously, I love the DAWGS!!

After being upset by South Carolina in Athens and then being demolished by Tennessee in Knoxville, the Bulldog season seemed lost early this year.

Then something changed.

To his credit, head coach Mark Richt changed.

Like any effective leader, Richt realized that to change the results, which had been disastrous so far, he had to change what he was doing.

To that end, he made several changes. To start, he listened to the players. Based on their comments, he realized that the game had become too pedestrian, too much like work. He encouraged the players to have more fun and to be more demonstrative during the games.

He orchestrated the now famous (and infamous if you are from Florida) touchdown celebration versus Florida. If you haven't seen it, when Georgia scored its first touchdown versus Florida, the ENTIRE Georgia team ran onto the field to dance and celebrate the touchdown. The excessive celebration cost UGA like 30 yards in penalties, but the tone of the game was set, and Georgia played with passion and reckless abandon.

Knowing that the players feed off of their leader, Richt became more emotional, hoping that the enthusiasm would be infectious. The normally staid Richt was high-fiving his players, barking at officials, and smiling. At the end of the Florida game, he found his wife (who works as a water girl during the game), and kissed her like it was the first time he had ever kissed her.

His energy and passion was infectious. It inspired his young team to play to win instead of timidly playing not to lose.

Lastly, Richt maximized the talent that was on his team. One of the biggest changes was the decision to make Knowshon Moreno, a redshirt freshman, his primary ball carrier.

If you haven't seen Knowshon run, don't worry. You will. He is THAT good. I would not be surprised if he wins the Heisman trophy in a couple years.

Knowshon has excellent balance and terrific speed. Plus, for his size, he is extremely strong. But what makes him such an incredible runner is how he finishes his runs. He punishes players, even bigger and stronger linebackers, by putting his head down and ramming anybody in his way. He NEVER gets pushed backwards.

Best yet, Knowshon always JUMPS up after being tackled, and SPRINTS back to the huddle. He has boundless energy and enthusiasm and the other Georgia players have been swept up by that emotion.

From these two men, much can be learned. Check results. Change if you want to change results. Be relatable. Have fun. Be enthusiastic! Finish! Drive! Do what you want your teammates to do, and they will likely follow your lead.

Good luck to all! And Goooooo Daawgss! Sic 'Em! Whoof! Whoof!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Always do the RIGHT thing!

A few years ago, I was teaching in a middle school in a county north of Atlanta. At the school, an attractive first year female teacher was approached before school by five of her 8th grade boys who started ask rather crude and sexually explicit questions of the teacher, questions that I cannot repeat here, but they were as explicit as one could possibly imagine.

She ran out of the room practically in tears and promptly reported the boys to the principal.

The principal questioned the boys who admitted what they had said. In their defense, the boys stated that they thought the teacher "was their friend."

Other than being removed from her class, the boys were never punished. They didn't even receive a day of detention. Apparently, the boys' parents had threatened the school system via their lawyers, and the school system was worried a story with a young female teacher and teenaged boys would be a public relations nightmare.

When the teacher protested, she was put into a room without representation with the principal and the county personnel director. They threatened her, telling her that she had to resign or it would be "bad for her if the case got public." In their minds, coercing her to quit, even though she hadn't done anything, was EASIER than fighting the parents.

When I started to ask questions about the situation, I was reassigned to another school. (Actually, my "mistake" was helping this teacher to file a complaint to the Human Resources Department.) Apparently, I had suddenly become a negative influence in the school even though I was recognized as one of the top teachers at the school...by the principal no less.

(Side note: I will never forget the personnel director telling me that "boys will be boys." When I asked him how that excused their behavior, he said it didn't, BUT "look at her.")

(Side note 2: After I was escorted off the campus by security (HA!), the administration threatened the entire school NOT to talk about the situation or about me. I had suddenly become taboo, and my fellow teachers, fearful of losing their jobs, would barely talk to me.)

In the end, the female teacher got her job back (after she got a lawyer herself), but she quit the following year, still shaken by her experience the year before. I moved on to a different county. The students, from what I hear, have had a checkered experience in high school.

The cowardly principal still works in the county.

Of course, the principal was put in a difficult situation. The county wanted the story to end, even if it ended with the teacher's career. Still he could have done the right thing.

He didn't.

The cost of his cowardice: a young teacher's career, a second teacher's tenure in the county comes to an end, and five boys learn that their inappropriate behavior will be tolerated by cowards.

In regards to the Amway/TEAM conflict, I have never been prouder to be a part of the TEAM. Although I don't know Orrin and Chris personally, I respect them immensely for their character.

It would have been so much more convenient for them to follow the path that Quixtar/Amway had charted for them. Instead, they examined their values and they examined Amway's plan, and they decided to DO THE RIGHT THING!

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Shoe Thing!

In sports, I appreciate team play and team players which is why I absolutely love players like Kevin Youklis of the Red Sox or Tom Brady of the Patriots or Steve Nash of the Suns.

It is also why I have come to loathe "me-first" players such as Kobe Bryant.

Although I consider Stephon Marbury to be one of the "me-first" players that I despise, I respect and even admire what he is doing in New York.

He is marketing and selling $15 "Starbury" basketball shoes, and apparently, he is selling A LOT! In their first two months on the market, over 3 million pairs of shoes were sold!!


Isn't it amazing how the market responds if you offer a quality product at a reasonable price?

As is often the case, my mind began connecting this story to the TEAM/Quixtar conflict.

One one side, we have TEAM, which hopes to use it's growing buying power to drive prices lower and lower, eventually supplanting Wal-Mart as the world's largest distributor.

On the other side, we have Quixtar, which hopes to continue to sell its high-quality goods at uncompetitively high prices.

I believe that money can be made in both scenarios, but honestly, the potential for a low-price, high volume internet distributor seems limitless to me.

Imagine this: "Hey Fred, take a look at this website. You can buy all your stuff here and save 10% over what you are spending at Wal-Mart. Plus, if you help build the community, you could make extra income. Are you in?"

Or this: "Hey Fred, take a look at this website. You can get a big bottle of shampoo for around $23 (good stuff though) and deodorant for $5.20 The site's called Amway! Plus, if you help build the community, you could make extra income. Are you in?"

Now, I know that we don't contact like this, but which situation would you be more apt to succeed...the first or the second?

Obviously, most people would choose the first option.

Even if the prospect doesn't wish to build the business, he will likely become customer with such discounted prices.

All I know is that Orrin and the rest of the TEAM leaders were trying to make the first scenario a reality with Quixtar, but Amway decided that the second option was the only option.

Thank goodness that Amway is not selling the "Starbury" shoes in New York. If they were, I know about 2.97 million customers who would be looking to buy a pair of shoes--a pair of shoes for under the $135 assumed Amway price.

As for TEAM, the future is bright! It's a shoe thing!

(Note: I have no specific knowledge of TEAM plans. All thoughts here are my own, formulated from many CD's, seminars, and books over the years.)