There’s something that we’ve been doing at Steiner Sports over the last year that I need to tell you about. It’s called, “Steiner University,” where we have speakers come in to talk to our staff, along with our partners at the New York Yankees, to gain insight into how they’ve built their businesses and how we can improve our daily lives. I love the business insights that have come out of this and I love the personal lessons we’ve been privy to.
From Jeff Gitomer, Peter Shankman, Joe Sweeney, Bill McDermott, Mitch Modell and others, this series has kept our staff fresh and motivated to attack the workday. Recently we had another speaker that did the same. It was George Bodenheimer, the former President of ESPN whom I interviewed a few weeks back about his new book, “Every Town is a Sports Town.”
Here are the three most important lessons I took out of that conversation.
It’s okay to make a mistake, as long as it’s an honest mistake.
George drew this one from Tom Murphy, another longtime ESPN executive whom he looked up to as a mentor. He referenced ESPN’s launch of the ESPN MVP, a cellular phone that was widely considered overpriced and failure. Basically, it’s okay to make a mistake as long as you have good intentions when doing so because coming out of that mistake there is always great promise. In George’s case, the ESPN MVP failure became preparation for the digital/mobile revolution, of which ESPN is now a leader. Remember, “playing it safe is a road to the middle."
If you’re not selling something that’s different, you’re not going to sell anything.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your product isn’t worth the money you’re charging. That’s where a lot of business go array. They try to conform to what another company is doing, or yield to a certain expectation. When you do that you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you believe in the value of what you’re selling, your customers will, too.
Leaders are people who make other people better.
Have you ever asked yourself what the purpose of a leader is? When you think about it, how many “leaders” are there that only seem concerned with their own agenda? The true purpose of a leader is the trickle-down effect: set the tone for your people to accomplish something great. Like George said, "Leaders are people who make other people better." It doesn’t get any more simple than that.
I highly recommend you carve out an hour to watch George’s full discussion. You’ll get a fascinating insider’s look at the development of ESPN, as well as insight into how to hone-in on business success: