Don Yaeger is a leadership/motivational speaker, seven-time New York Times best-selling author and longtime associate editor of Sports Illustrated. After retiring from SI, he joined SUCCESS magazine as a Contributing Editor and regularly handles profiles for the magazine on figures from the world of sports. His most recent book – GREATNESS: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions – examines how the habits of great winners can be applied to our professional and personal lives.Follow Don Yaeger:
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Posts by Don Yaeger
- Don Yaeger: Greatness Made Special
Many of my best days these days, at least professionally, involve getting the chance to talk about the 16 consistent Characteristics of Greatness I’ve witnessed in great winners. This past month alone, my speaking engagements included travel to Los Angeles, Louisville, Costa Rica, and Puerto Vallarta. However, there’s one date on the calendar that ranked [...]
- Great Resilience in Challenging Times
Each week, it seems the sports world captures our attention and sends us on an emotional rollercoaster worth the price of admission. But this week’s thrill ride inspired me to focus on perspective. Under what lens would you view emotional moments of failure, tragedy or triumph? If you were Baylor’s 6-foot-8 women’s basketball sensation Brittney [...]
- Don Yaeger: Super Bowl Siblings
The storyline has gotten a lot of attention these last couple of weeks, but as most anyone who follows sports knows, this weekend’s Super Bowl will be the first ever pitting two brothers against each other as head coaches of the competing teams. Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers are slight favorites over older brother John [...]
- Don Yaeger: Lombardi Time
As the NFL Playoffs continue to take us further from the regular-season routine and closer to Super Bowl dreams, I can’t help but tap into my appreciation for the iconic figure who won the very first Super Bowl in NFL history. Back in January of 1967, Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi captured the [...]
- Rudolph: One of the Great Leaders of All Time!
The holiday season merrily provokes the decking of halls and the jingling of bells. There’s something about Christmas that programs our brains to focus on questionable sweater patterns and multicolored light decorations. Beyond Yuletide carols and roasted chestnuts, the Christmas spirit gives us the chance to tap into the purity and passion of our childhood [...]
- Don Yaeger: “Today, I’m going to pinch myself.”
Naturally, the holiday season takes our busy lifestyle and revs it into a new gear. We’ve pre-ordered this and re-ordered that… We’ve probably even started dropping hints to loved ones about a desired gift or two. But I want to urge you to reserve some of your time for pinching this holiday season. No, I’m [...]
- Don Yaeger: Be Perfect On EVERY Play
Decisions are the frequent fabric of our daily design. Studies show the average person makes at least five decisions per minute. Given the ideal goal is eight hours of sleep each night–although since becoming a father to young Will and Maddie, that appears to be more fantasy than a realistic goal– the average person is [...]
- Don Yaeger: 5 Things We Can Learn from the Downfall of the Boston Red Sox
My grade school teachers severely undersold the lessons on compound words. While “downfall” fits the grammatical parameters of a compound word, its definition in the business world is complex mostly because it is often the result of a series of compounded mistakes. I often look to sports for lessons that can be useful across a [...]
- Committing to Great Change
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interview many of the world’s top athletes and champions. While their greatness had more to do with their inner characteristics than their ability to touch their toes, I’d be out of touch if I completely overlooked the physical conditioning of the great ones. To this [...]
- Are You Getting in Your Opponent’s Head?
College football has once again intercepted a powerful life lesson in the quest for greatness. This week, the value comes with one glance at the Top 5 Associated Press rankings. Alabama is the top-rated team in college football, followed by LSU, Oregon, Florida State and Georgia–a list of powerhouses that are dreaded matchups for every [...]
- Taking Advantage of Second Chances
The U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows gave me the chance to have a true New York City experience, filled with stars and one of the city’s most historic sporting events…. Where else can you go in the Big Apple where backhands, smashes and faults aren’t followed by flashing lights and police sirens? While I admit [...]
- Never Out of It
Life has once again given us a crystal-clear reminder that competition reigns supreme… and that you’re only out of a game when you decide you are (or the buzzer sounds!). Every summer the Little League World Series showcases the best of the best on both the domestic and international fronts. Pre-adolescent baseball players take their [...]
- The Sweet Brand
College football is ready to kick off another year loaded with opportunities for greatness. But the countdown to kickoff goes beyond the usual sell-out crowds or the frequent clashing of helmets and shoulder pads. For the last five years I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of college student-athletes, discussing with them the [...]
- LeBron’s Leap Year
The closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics capped off an athletic celebration of more than 40 world records being etched in history, and more than 100 Olympic records being shattered. In a span of 17 days, thousands of the top athletes on the planet showcased what had been, in most cases, at least four [...]
- Doing the Right Thing All The Way to The Gold
Through my experiences writing about some of the greatest athletes the sports world has ever known, I’ve learned that greatness doesn’t happen by chance. Sometimes it’s the ability to do the “Right Thing” at the “Right Time” that makes one truly great. Take Olympic gymnast Jordyn Wieber for instance; at age 17, she defined greatness [...]
- A Moment of Reflection
Last Saturday, my wife and I were in Salt Lake City with thousands of others to attend the memorial service for Stephen Covey. Covey was one of the most influential business authors of our generation, having penned the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989 and then watched as the book sold more than [...]
- Thinking Your Way Out of a Slump
Former Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.” Yogi, one of the best interviews you could ever imagine, was clearly not a math major. But he did have a point. Mental strength is a huge differentiator between winners and losers. How many times in your life [...]
- Have You Thanked Your Competition Today?
I had a speech last week in Nebraska and before I caught my flight home, I made my way over to the US Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha to catch up with two of the greatest competitors on the planet. Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have established in the pool what Jack Nicklaus and Arnold [...]
- My Dad’s Unwritten Letter to My Children
While celebrating with my two little ones on Sunday, I read a dozen or so wonderful Father’s Day tributes on the Internet. Many of you probably did the same. A couple were from famous men writing notes to their grandchildren. That afternoon I sat down and imagined what my father, who passed away in 1999, would [...]
- What Shaq and Warrick Dunn Have in Common
Warrick Dunn is one of the most exceptional people I’ve ever met. Warrick played 13 years in the NFL, becoming the smallest player in the league’s history to carry the football more than 10,000 yards. While in high school, his mother, a police officer, was killed during a robbery at a bank. When Warrick made [...]
- Changing the World, One Pencil at a Time
One of the greatest parts of my work as a speaker is getting to watch other presenters at events share their amazing stories. A couple of weeks ago, at a celebration of one company’s top performers, I met Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun and it was a jaw-dropper. I couldn’t wait to join in the standing [...]
- Coach Jimmy V: Find ‘Happy’ and Stay There
Last weekend in Sarasota, Fla., the most recognized voice in college basketball, Dick Vitale, gathered 900 of his closest friends to make a difference. The gala was to raise money to cure pediatric cancers, and the night was a celebration of Vitale’s one-time broadcasting partner, Jim Valvano, affectionately nicknamed Coach Jimmy V. Valvano was the [...]
- High-Fiving Your Way to a Championship
With the NBA playoffs in full bloom, I’m looking for something a little different as I try to assess who might win this year’s title. I’m looking for high fives, butt pats and chest bumps. During last year’s championships, The Wall Street Journal wrote about a study done by researchers at Cal-Berkeley. The VERY academic [...]
- Check Your Ego at the Door
Every Saturday during the college football season, millions of fans tune in to ESPN’s College Football GameDay. On the set are four of the most well-known faces in all of college football. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, former Heisman Trophy Winner Desmond Howard and Lee Corso entertain fans from their traveling desk—usually at the best game [...]
- Don’t Let Others Take You to Where They Are
Full disclosure: This was not one of my finer moments. I was in New York recently for meetings and walked to Starbucks for my morning “starter.” As I was standing in line, a call came in from someone I had been trying to connect with for a few days. I took the call. Two minutes [...]
- “Man, I’m under a lot of pressure.” Really??
To the casual fan flipping channels, Sunday in Major League Baseball must have appeared confusing. EVERY player on EVERY team was wearing the same jersey number: 42. This was the fifth year that MLB has celebrated April 15 as the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in what was then the most popular [...]
- Competitive Easter Egg Hunting: A Tell-All
Sure, I know it was the first full weekend of the Major League Baseball season. And I know that National Hockey League teams are fighting for the opportunity to make the playoffs. And yes, there was that little golf tournament over in Augusta called the Masters… but I watched the Friday night news and braced [...]
- The Blessings We Take for Granted
In New Orleans last weekend, I had the opportunity to celebrate former Louisiana State University basketball coach Dale Brown for his lifetime of achievement in basketball. Before Dale stepped up to accept the crystal, Tim Brando of CBS, a TV legend in his own right, introduced Dale. Brando noted that he had been a young [...]
- MLB’s Chipper Jones: Lessons From My Mom
Chipper Jones, the amazing third baseman for the Atlanta Braves, announced last week that this would be his final season in Major League baseball. This 19th year – all spent with the same team – will lead him “into the sunset,” he said. He is taking that rare opportunity in sports to retire on his [...]
- Why March Madness Pits David Against Goliath
It’s my favorite sporting “event” of year. March Madness, the NCAA Basketball tournament, is in full force. Some call it the Big Dance and one reason is that some of America’s smallest colleges get to appear at the ball like Cinderella. You get to pull for teams with mascots like Greyhounds, Jackrabbits, Racers, Catamounts, Zags, [...]
- Peyton’s Place: How One Person Can Elevate A Team
I’m sad to see it end, but so glad it was handled with such class. Last week, the incomparable Peyton Manning, after sitting out a year with injury, was released by the Indianapolis Colts. His exit press conference, with the team owner that was cutting him standing just feet away, should be the standard for [...]
- When a Loss Doesn’t Have to Be a Loss
With all due respect to my friends in Alabama, it is “The greatest rivalry in all of sports.” That’s how Dick Vitale refers to the legendary tussles between Duke and the University of North Carolina basketball teams and I agree with him. You have a private school in Duke less than fifteen miles away from [...]
- How a Homeless Man Reminded Me of My Why
In the discussion about chasing greatness, there really is a starting point. Anyone who is in the pursuit of a champion’s life has to know their “Why.” No one has ever sustained Greatness without a strong sense of why they were driven to it. Week in and week out, I will tell you some great [...]
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