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Captured Thoughts- Kevin Warren

Kevin Warren, Commissioner of the Big Ten, spoke to Leader’s Edge leaders last week. Besides leaders from a variety of vantage points, we were joined by student athletes from several area high schools. Mr. Warren shared tremendous content and applicable stories from his own life.

Thoughts from his presentation:

  • Meet people where you find them. A great leader always has time for people.

  • Point people in the right direction, but don’t give them all the answers or do it for them. You can walk into the weight room with them but can’t lift the weight for them.

  • Just because people don’t say thank you doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate you—but BE the one who says “thank you!”

  • We’re really good at spending other people’s money—but a real leader writes their own check. He or she does the work. When you really want it, you go for it every day.

  • Everyone wants to wear the uniform, but few want to work out.

  • If people aren’t talking about you, if you aren’t getting any criticism, you aren’t doing anything worthwhile.

  • Invest in people, but don’t let anyone waste your time. It’s disrespectful. You only get 1440 minutes a day. Decisions may only take a minute but can affect your entire life. One minute can give you everything or take it all away. Problem is, you don’t know which minute. Be ready and wise. You never know when the coach will put you in the game.

Numerous people asked insightful questions during the Q&A session. The answers were insightful as well.

  • There’s always someone who would love to be in your shoes. When you put on your shoes, use it as a reminder to be grateful. Realize there would be a line wrapped all around your house of people who would love to be in your shoes.

  • Don’t quit too early. Ronald Wayne was one of three founders of Apple, their business consultant. He was the only one of the three who had a car and a house at the time, and he was afraid the company would get debts that would be his responsibility. So after only 12 days in the company he took his name off the contract and sold his 10% for $800. If he had kept it, his share of the company would be worth $300 billion today.

  • Don’t tell everyone what God has put in your heart. Don’t let your dreams get stolen. Just keep steadily working. Embrace the rain. It takes rain and sunshine to make things grow.

  • When asked how it feels to be Commissioner: “I’m not tied to this position or job. What I care about is the influence and power it gives me to speak to things that matter and give people opportunities. I hire based on gratitude and EQ, not transcripts.”

  • When asked how you keep a work-family balance when you are so busy: “You have to lean into what’s most important. That is taking care of my relationship with God, being the best husband and dad I can be, hard work, and taking care of my body so I can live healthy. That’s about all I can do. That’s why I haven’t taken up golf. I would love to, but I know I’m so competitive I would spend too much time at it trying to be good. So I just can’t do that. You can’t shortchange your family for your work. You will never rise above the health of your relationships with your significant others long term.”

  • About ego—“On the plane here they kept trying to bump me ahead in the line because of who I am. Nope. I am a leader—leaders don’t cut in line.”

  • The first floor of a tall building is not windy. But the farther up you go, the stronger you feel the winds blow.

  • Calendar everything. Schedule everything. Anything that is not on your calendar will get dropped. Put your family, your time with God, your workouts on there.

  • Success is predicated on how well you master the mundane. You must build routine into your life. Develop great habits. Make them part of your routine. You will never be great when every day is a new setup.

  • When asked what keeps you motivated: “The thing that motivates me most is trying to live worthy to pay back everyone who invested in me. I owe tremendous debts, even back to the janitor at my elementary school who believed in me.”

  • Be careful what you say. Words are so powerful. (He is an attorney.) The research says that 70% of courtroom decorum is non-verbal—and jurors make their decisions on that. Be careful how you handle yourself.

  • Don’t just judge on what looks like is happening. Don’t watch the scoreboard. Watch God. God will “head fake” a lot when He’s really setting you up. I play zip attention to the scoreboard. I know I’m winning.

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