Thriving In Chaos: Mindset and Teamwork, with Don Yaeger

Thriving In Chaos: Mindset and Teamwork, with Don Yaeger

Episode 162:

Don Yaeger is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, longtime Associate Editor of Sports Illustrated, and author of over 30 books, eleven of which have become New York Times Best-sellers. He began his career at the San Antonio Light in Texas, and also worked at the Dallas Morning News and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville before going to work for Sports Illustrated.

As an author, Don has written books with, among others, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, baseball legends John Smoltz and Tug McGraw, and football stars Warrick Dunn and Michael Oher (featured in the movie The Blind Side). He teamed with Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade to pen the 2013 best-seller George Washington’s Secret Six, a look at the citizen spy ring that helped win the Revolutionary War and then again in 2015 for Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History, and in 2017 for Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle that Shaped America’s Destiny.

Don left Sports Illustrated in 2008 to pursue a public speaking career that has allowed him to share stories learned from the greatest winners of our generation with audiences as diverse as Fortune 10 companies to cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story. More than a quarter-million people have heard his talks on “What Makes the Great Ones Great.” He collaborated with the Florida State University School of Business’s Continuing Education Program to build a corporate webinar program focusing on lessons building a culture of success within an organization. This naturally led to another keynote speech on “What Makes the Great Teams Great.” The release of his tenth New York Times best-seller, Teammate, was the inspiration for his newest keynote on “What Makes a Great Teammate: Becoming Invaluable Without Being Most Valuable.”

What you'll learn about in this episode:

  • Why chaos is unavoidable and unpredictable, and why having the right mindset to face challenges is an important component of a great team
  • Why not knowing when your current challenges will end means you have to act as if they will go forever and adjust your plans accordingly
  • Why teams go through certain phases during challenges: the rally phase, the “this is hard” phase, the “fracture” phase, and the “need for grace” phase
  • Why tough times should be treated like a “cancelled flight” rather than a “delayed flight”, and why your team should make plans around the current environment
  • Why great leaders need to stay strong even during tough times, demonstrating hope to keep their teams motivated, and why regular check ins with your team members is key
  • What steps you can take to form your own mastermind group with other entrepreneurs facing the same challenges you are
  • Why it is important to limit your exposure to the news of the day to help maintain a healthy and positive mindset
  • Why being disciplined and making a plan for yourself can help you keep your focus on getting through these challenges
  • Why you should be asking yourself now what the world might look like after the pandemic is over, so that you can be better prepared and make better decisions
  • Why the elements of high performing teams will be the same in the future but may be executed differently due to changes caused by the pandemic


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