Monday, December 4, 2017

"O captain! My captain!"/ Trevor Georgie

Aug. 30, 2017 "O captain! My captain": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

The editor of The Wall Street Journal discovers that team leaders share seven traits that help make the best sports squads in history

The Captain Class By Sam Walker Random House, 332 pages, $37

Which were the greatest sports teams in history? And what distinguished those teams from other celebrated but not quite so excellent teams or the even weaker ones?

Sam Walker, an editor at The Wall Street Journal, set out 11 years ago to answer those questions. He checked the normal factors we assume are responsible for team success, including having one of the great athletes of all time in its ranks, overall talent, money and resources, culture, management, and the coach. None explained the difference.

In the end, it was the team captains – and seven traits they shared – that explained the difference between all-time greatness and the rest of the field. Although his book, The Captain

Class, has a broad scope, Mr. Walker says it’s about a single idea, “one that is simple, powerful, and can be applied to teams in many other fields, from business and politics to science and the arts. It’s the notion that the most critical ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness is the character of the player who leads it.”

Choosing the elite teams required considerable thought. He opted for those with five or more members, so no single individual could be too influential in performance. He looked at major sports, wanting teams whose dominance extended over many years against top competition.

His search extended to the 1880s, unearthing 122 finalists, but using eight criteria he whittled that down to 16 in the top tier, including the Collingwood Magpies from 1920s Australian rules football; the New York Yankees from 1949-53; the Hungarian men’s soccer team of the early 1950s; the Montreal Canadiens of the late 1950s; the San Antonio Spurs from 1997-2016; and two editions of New Zealand’s famed All Black rugby squad.

The seven traits he delineated of their captains were:

Extreme doggedness and focus in competition:

They were relentless, as when Maurice (the Rocket) Richard left a 1952 playoff game with a concussion and bloody gash on his head, but returned in the third period to score the winning goal.

They play to the edge of the rules, taking intelligent fouls:

The captains were no angels. “They sometimes did nasty things to win, especially when the stakes were the highest. They didn’t believe that being sportsmanlike all the time was a prerequisite for being great,” Mr. Walker writes. Perhaps, he says, that explains why classy captain Derek Jeter’s Yankees are not on the top list.

Leading from the back:

Didier Deschamps, of Italy’s Juventus, was once sneered at, called a mere water carrier, but he accepted the moniker gracefully. The best captains were understated, comrades serving their team, playing subordinate roles on the field and feeding the ball to others.

Michael Jordan’s Bulls didn’t make the list, perhaps because his focus tended to be on himself; he would sometimes not pass the ball to teammates he disliked.

Practical communications:

We assume sports leaders give fiery speeches, but that certainly wasn’t Yogi Berra’s forte – he wasn’t an orator – nor was it for other top captains. They talked one-on-one, cajoling and sympathizing – “boxing ears and wiping noses,” as the author puts it. At timeouts, the Spurs’ Tim Duncan would seek out one or two teammates and talk with them, often wagging a finger.

They used non-verbal communications:

Their on-field passion could inspire. In the dressing room before the game, Mr. Richard would stare intently with his fiery – some say scary – eyes at each teammate and then say, “Let’s go out and win it.”

They had the courage to stand apart:

Each of the captains at one point stood up to management to defend the team or argue for a different strategy.

They could regulate their emotion:

They could use emotion to drive their team but also knew when to cool it. The Rocket, after the famed riots following his 1955 suspension, under coach Toe Blake’s guidance, began to curb his emotions, his penalty minutes dropping, and it was that era during which his team made Mr. Walker’s list.

This is a fascinating book for sports fans, full of insider stories on top teams and the sources of their success. But it also offers leadership insights applicable outside of sports.

My opinion: I was kind of "eh" with this article.  It's because it was about sports and I'm not really that interested in it.

Sept. 4, 2017 The Ladder: Trevor Georgie: Today I found this article  in the Globe and Mail:

Trevor Georgie, 29, is president and general manager of the Saint John Sea Dogs major junior hockey team in The Canadian Hockey League.

I grew up in Mississauga. Hockey was something I always enjoyed, but I started playing late, at 13. At that age, when you're learning to play hockey, you're not going to have a bright future as a player.

At one point, My dad was a banker, so I was going to be an investment banker. In high school, I went and applied at a Bank of Montreal branch and sat and waited until someone would speak with me. I was 17, the youngest financial manager in Bank of Montreal history.

After four years, I was watching the Brian Burke press conference when he was introduced as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs owner MSLE. You had (president and general manager) Richard Peddie, (his successor) Gord Kirke and Brian Burke. It wasn't Brian I admired, it was Richard. A switch went on: One day, I want to run a professional sports organization.

My brother said you have to go to the University of Windsor (MBA program) – the person that has your dream job, Richard Peddie, is alumnus. You need to find the person that has your dream job and figure out how they did it. So I applied and got a place.

I get a phone call from the dean of the business school: We want you to represent the university and present Richard Peddie with this major award from the business community. I must have spent 40 hours preparing for 30 seconds. I introduced Richard, and when he left, one thing I really appreciated, he took out his business card and said, "Let me know where things take you," because he knew I was going to Florida.

I wanted to move back to Canada. I called the dean from the business school and within two weeks I was sitting down at Maple Leaf Sports, in Richard's office. He said, "We're not hiring but let me see if there's a fit here down the line." Finally, I get a call for a marketing co-ordinator with Toronto FC, with Maple Leaf Sports. When I first arrived, Richard had a welcome-to the-team card on my desk. He really took a great interest in my development.

My director at the time, Preben Ganzhorn left to go to SmartCentres, the biggest commercial developer in the country. A year and half after I started at MLSE, Richard is gone, and I decide to join Preben, working for Retrocom REIT, owned by SmartCentres. I was the marketing manager. You want to follow good leadership and I had a great relationship with Preben.

There are three sides of the sporting world: the property side (LSE, the Sea Dogs); the client side, that has the cash; and there is the agency side, people who have the ideas and contacts. I had already worked on the property side, now I'm on the client side.

Preben went to the agency side, Wasserman Media Group, and so there was an opportunity to come in and be the senior manager and be the lead on their biggest Canadian client, RBC. So, I come and do that. I've worked on all three areas of the sports world.

With Retrocom, I was visiting Saint John in January, 2014, looking at different sponsorship, marketing and strategic opportunities. It's my first Sea Dogs game. The Sea Dogs president at the time, Wayne Long, is sitting with Scott McCain. We get talking, and we seem to be getting along. The next day, we chat a bit at the airport, and Scott says, "Keep in touch." We'd meet every couple of weeks at his office in Toronto, and talk, and developed a great relationship, by fluke.

In September, 2015, I'm thinking I might do some consulting work with Scott, with Wasserman. Scott says to me I'd love you to meet the folks here, give me your thoughts on the operation. In October, Wayne wins as an MP. And a few weeks later, I get an e-mail asking if I'd be interested applying for the role of president. I have to give a lot of credit to Scott, because at that point I was the youngest president in the CHL, at 27.

The Jan.7, 2016 press conference, that moment, coming to Saint John, sitting down with Scott, really brought flashbacks of the press conference with Brian Burke, Richard Peddie and Gord Kirke. The cameras are blinding, and questions are just flying. I remember at that moment thinking, "enjoy this."

As told to Patrick Brethour. This interview has been edited and condensed.

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