Category Archives: Leadership

Geoff Goodman of the Princeton Posse

Geoff Goodman Princeton Posse Coach
Geoff Goodman
Princeton Posse Coach

I wish my own children had received the teaching and guidance of a coach like Geoff Goodman of the Princeton Posse. In a nearly 2 hour conversation in our home, I sensed that his values and coaching style can have a positive, life changing impact on his young players. He had caught my attention earlier when he sent 2 star players to the Osoyoos Coyotes, coached by Ken Law, to give them an opportunity to showcase their talents with a team that would go farther in the playoffs.

Geoff started with the Posse on May 15, 2015, after being an assistant to Law. It was a difficult time for the team. Before departing, the previous coach had sent most of the players to other teams. Only 5 remained. Geoff chose to view this predicament optimistically. “We began rebuilding from scratch, mostly with players from the midget level.”

Reflecting back on the season in which the team won only 9 games, he says, “for several weeks we had 8 regulars unable to play due to injuries. The guys didn’t stop trying. They continued to practise hard and they grew tight as a team.” It is evident he is proud of his team’s stalwart character.

“The town gave us phenomenal support,” he said. “We didn’t win often, but we still had an average of 160-170 people at our games. Even when we lost, the fans sometimes gave the team a standing ovation. The mayor spoke at our year end banquet.”

A lot of work, including an ongoing bottle drive, is done by volunteers. Geoff is grateful for the diligence of all those who strive to make the team a success. “We could use a few more volunteers,” he said. It seems like a great opportunity to play a role in a vibrant organization.

Princeton Posse Bus Team Photo, Courtesy of Princeton Posse
Princeton Posse Bus Team Photo,
Courtesy of Princeton Posse

(click on photo to enlarge)

The Posse, a Junior B team, plays in the 20 team Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Geoff’s own hockey experience includes playing for the Dunville Mudcats, a Senior Triple A team. “At every game, after ‘O Canada’, someone threw a dead catfish onto the ice,” he said, smiling at the memory. He still retains his robust, athletic physique.

In addition to his coaching role, Geoff has a full-time job as a sales rep. He lives in Summerland and works in the Okanagan Valley. It’s a long trek to Princeton for practises and games. “I want to be a positive role model,” he said. “It’s important that the players are convinced I’m totally committed.”

Winning games is important to Geoff, but he has a broader perspective. “I want to influence the way they live,” he said. “I show respect for them. I seek to instil a diligent work ethic and a sense of pride.”

He still receives notes on facebook from players he coached in the past. One called to say, “I’ve got a job and I’m a dad now”. Ken Law, who had accompanied Geoff to the interview, shares similar goals and values. “Years later former players send us notification of the births of their children.”

The players, ages 16 to 20, come from various communities in B.C. and other provinces. Several have come from the U.S. including Colorado. “Some are a long way from home and it’s important that they trust us,” Geoff said. “They come to us with girl issues, when they’re lonely, or need a job, etc.”

The team has 23 players on its roster, each of whom pays $3,000 for the privilege of playing. The team provides billets, food, transportation, uniforms and much more.

“Our emphasis is on developing their potential as players and as people. We want them to learn social skills. This happens in the dressing room by interacting with each other, learning to work through interpersonal issues. They also learn to accept instruction from the coaches. We arrange for them to help in the senior’s centre. They read to children in schools and play with them.

In all sports, serious players seek out coaches with a reputation for player development. Arranging for stars like Stephen Heslop and Drew Carter to show case their talents elsewhere was a courageous, selfless decision. This style of putting a player’s development ahead of his personal ambitions probably accounts for the 65 player turnout at the Posse’s recent spring camp.

When I asked if he’d be interested in coaching the Canucks, he said, “I like this age group. There are fewer egos to stroke.” It will be fascinating to stand on the sidelines and watch Geoff Goodman continue to build an exciting Princeton Posse team.

Great By Choice – The 20 Mile March

Cannington Dog Sled Races
Cannington Dog Sled Races
This is the third in a series of posts based on Great by Choice.  Although the book is aimed primarily at the business community, I consider it extraordinarily helpful for leadership in any realm.  I am finding that the 20 Mile March concept is also useful for maintaining a sense of balance in my personal life.  It is a reminder to not become either complacent or overly aggressive in pursuing life objectives.  
 
As noted in the two previous posts, the authors, Jim Collins and Morton T Hansen, compared a number of highly successful companies with less successful companies in the same industry.  Their purpose was to discover what distinguished the top performers from the others.  They refer to the successful companies as 10Xers because they out performed their industry by at least ten times.
                                                           *     *     *
The authors again help us understand the importance of their findings by comparing the strategies of two South Pole explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.  Just as he had been meticulous in planning and preparing for his expedition, Amundsen held rigorously to his strategy and schedule once he was on the trail.  He had determined beforehand that he would be wise to travel 20 miles each day, in good conditions and in adverse conditions.  Undoubtedly he and his men were tempted to hunker down in their tents on cold days when the frigid wind blew in their faces.  And almost certainly, they were equally tempted to keep going longer when the weather favoured them.  By exercising discipline, Amundsen was able to conserve the strength of his men and the dogs.
 
Scott, however, did not embrace the 20 Mile March concept.  He pushed himself and his men hard on the good days, then took days off when the weather harassed them.  By pushing too hard, he exhausted himself and his men.  Then, waiting in his tents for favourable weather, he fell behind and eventually lost the race to the South Pole.  On the return journey, he ran out of food. He and his men died of starvation only 10 miles from their next food cache.
 
Collins and Hansen point out the similarities in strategy between Amundsen and Stryker’s CEO John Brown.  When Brown assumed the helm at Stryker, now a leading medical technology company, he set a benchmark to drive consistent performance.  He engrained the 20 Mile March concept (“the walk” as he termed it) into the culture of the company.  If a division fell behind, he would insert himself into it, working almost non-stop, to “help” the division get back on track.  The authors suggest that “you get the impression you don’t want to need John Brown’s help.  He does not tolerate excuses.” 
 
In spite of pressure from Wall Street to grow the company rapidly, Stryker had a self-imposed constraint never to go too far, never to grow too fast in a single year.  John Brown understood that if you want to achieve consistent performance, you need both parts of the 20 Mile March.  A hurdle you have to jump over and a ceiling you will not rise above.
 
The company Collins and Hansen used as a comparison to Stryker, did not employ the 20 Mile March concept.  Its CEO was an aggressive risk taker and for a time it grew with amazing speed, much more rapidly than Stryker.  When adverse circumstances confronted both companies, however, Stryker continued to prosper but the comparison company, like Robert Scott did not survive.
 
Whether in business, community leadership, or in our personal lives, the 20 Mile March concept can enable us to achieve more consistent success.
 
 

Fanatical Discipline

Great by Choice

 #2  Fanatical Discipline

Victory awaits him who has everything in order. Luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time. This is called bad luck.” Roald Amundsen, South Pole explorer.

The authors graphically make their point by comparing the fanatical discipline demonstrated by Roald Amundsen in preparing for his South Pole expedition to the considerably less rigorous preparations of Robert Falcon Scott.

Amundsen rode his bike 2000 miles to condition his body. He lived with Eskimos (Innuit) to learn from them how to survive in extreme cold weather conditions. During this time he ate raw dolphin meat because he knew he might have to resort to an unaccustomed diet in untoward circumstances. To pull the sleighs, he decided to use dogs, knowing that if food ran short, he might have to kill some of the weaker animals to feed the strong ones.

Scott elected to use ponies and motorized sleighs. The ponies gave out under the strain of hard work and extreme cold weather. The engines cracked on his motorized sleighs. Consequently, he and his men had to pull the sleighs themselves. Scott brought only one thermometer and it broke. Amundsen brought four. The authors say “Amundsen and Scott had different behaviours, not different circumstances.”

Like Amundsen, the 10X companies chose to be risk averse. Understanding they would almost certainly encounter difficult circumstances at some point, possibly unexpectedly, they prepared with fanatical discipline for these potential “Black Swan” events. Like Amundsen who took plenty of extra food, the 10X companies built buffers that would enable them to survive, and even thrive, in the difficult times.

They understand that “it’s what you do before the storm arrives that determines how well you will do when it comes.” Collins and Morton found that 10X companies had 3-10 times the ratio of cash to reserves. They managed well in good times to do well in bad times. It is this approach that made Southwest Airlines the only airline to turn a profit in 2002.

Collins and Hanson say that leaders in the most successful companies know they face continuous uncertainty, but they reject the idea that outside forces or chaotic events will determine their results. They accept full responsibility for their own fate. They realize unanticipated adversity may strike at any moment. They exercise fanatical discipline so their company will be strong when circumstances turn against it.

Note: I recommend that you read “Great by Choice” to learn about the other 2 core practises of 10x companies: Empirical Creativity and Productive Paranoia. I will deal with the 20 Mile March concept soon. For our personal lives or in leadership roles, this is a good one.

 

“Great By Choice”: Strategies Of Successful Leaders

“Great by Choice:  Uncertainty, Chaos & Luck”
Why some thrive despite them all.

 

The authors, Jim Collins and Morton T Hanson began their research for this book with the understanding that “the dominant pattern of history is not stability but instability and disruption.”  It is their firm opinion that there will always be disruption and chaos and we should expect them.  They consider their research findings important and useful in that they suggest strategies, thinking and actions for preparing and dealing with difficult times.

  Although Collins and Hanson applied their research primarily to companies, what they learned can benefit each of us at various levels.  Whether we are searching for strategies to enhance our personal lives, family relationships, or leadership roles, this book provides specific approaches that will lead to increased effectiveness and greater success.

 The authors examined a number of successful companies, such as South West Airlines, Microsoft and Intel and compared each one with a less successful company in the same type of business.  The question they wanted to answer was “what did the great ones share in common that distinguished them from their direct comparisons?  What does it take to build a great company?”  The question I asked myself while studying their findings was “How can I apply these principles and strategies to build a satisfying, fulfilling life?”

The authors and their research team considered only companies that:(1) had achieved truly spectacular results (at least 10 times that of the industry),

(2) had achieved these results in particularly turbulent and difficult times, and

(3) had begun from a position of vulnerability.  They wanted to know, for example, why South West Airlines became so successful in the same unpredictable and difficult environment in which Pacific South West Airlines failed.

  They call the highly successful companies 10xers and outline the particular practises, strategies and thinking separating them from the comparison companies.

 The authors cite a number of examples of leaders who successfully applied the 10x principles and strategies.  They compare these companies with less successful companies that performed poorly in difficult circumstances, because they didn’t apply the 10x thinking and practises.

 At various points the authors refer to the  South Pole explorers, Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott.  Amundsen prepared diligently and ensured that he had adequate and appropriate supplies.  Scott was less rigorous in virtually all aspects of the expedition and died on the return leg of the journey.

 Amundsen’s meticulous preparation and his rigorous attention to details while en route to the South Pole are exemplified in contemporary leaders like Bill Gates  (Microsoft),  John Brown (Stryker). Herb  Kelleher (Southwest Airlines), Peter Lewis (Progressive Insurance) and others.

 In following segments I will write more specifically and in greater detail about Fanatical Discipline, (one of the Three Core Behaviours of the successful companies), the 20 Mile March, the practise of “fire bullets, then cannons,’ and the SMAC recipe.

  I am finding that as I apply the thinking, strategies and principles in Great by Choice, I’m increasingly aware of a positive change in my approach to life and leadership. My purpose in giving considerable attention to the ideas presented in “Great by Choice”  is to encourage leaders, especially those at the community level, to grow in leadership, wisdom and understanding. The next segment will deal with Fanatical Discipline and will be posted soon.