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Network Like a Champion

Champions are made, not born.

In 1985, the University of Notre Dame football team had a record of 5-6.  They lost every single road game on their schedule – including a nationally-televised 58-7 wholloping by the highly ranked University of Miami Hurricanes on the final game of their season.  During the off-season, coach Gerry Faust was fired and the university hired Lou Holtz as their new head football coach.

When Coach Holtz arrived on campus, one of the first things he did was go to the library and take out every book he could find about the University of Notre Dame football program.  Contained in one of the books was a photograph of a sign in the locker room which had since been removed.  The sign simply said “Play like a Champion Today” and Coach Holtz loved it.  Immediately, he commissioned a replica of that sign to be re-installed in the locker room and he used that as motivation for every player on the team from that day forth.

When the team takes the field, every player touches the sign above the doorway as they exit the locker room – reminding them that they have prepared for this moment. They will “Play Like a Champion Today” and every day. The commitment to this standard exists still today.

Coach Holtz’s purpose was clear:  these young men needed to believe that, for three hours every Saturday, they had to perform at the highest possible level.  It was their most important time each week as a team.   But what was underlying that three-hour period was the other 165 hours of the week; hours for preparation, for practicing, and for training.  Three hours were critical, but the 165 were absolutely necessary if those three hours were to be meaningful.  The team adopted the slogan “Play like a Champion Today” and things started to turn around.

The following season (1986) the team had the same 5-6 record, again losing every road game they played.  In 1987, their record improved to 8-1 before the team lost the final three games of their season to finish at 8-4 with a disappointing bowl loss to Texas A&M.

The following season, 1988, was a different story.  The Notre Dame Fighting Irish reeled off 12 straight wins to go undefeated including beating the teams ranked #2, #4, #5 and #7 in the final AP poll that season.  They beat #1-ranked Miami 31-30 in what some consider to be one of the greatest games in college football history.  Notre Dame finished the season as National Champions for the 11th time in school history.

The slogan “Play Like A Champion” did not create a championship team.   It created a championship mindset.  It also didn’t work overnight.  Change is a process and the team, the staff, and the coaches all had to develop into that championship team.

Network like a Champion

In our Two Twelve Network, we have a clear call to “Network like a Champion” and change our mindset. We’re not successful for one hour a week if we don’t mentally prepare during the other 167 hours.  We have to be physically present to our clients, our relationships, and our teams so that we can provide our best permission-based referrals.  We need to be intellectually engaged on the needs of our clients and our referral partners to create opportunities.   Networking Like a Champion means being prepared (always) to help each other be successful.

We ought to be challenged to consider how we prepare for our meetings.  Consider these questions:

  1. What steps have we taken to engage our clients and discover possible opportunities for our team members?
  2. Have we learned enough about our team members through BizChats so that we can refer them with confidence?
  3. Have we invited guests to join us at our meeting?
  4. Have we tried to recruit new members who can fill important voids in our teams?
  5. What businesses are we aware of that our teammates and fellow entrepreneurs need to know about?

As we prepare for 2019 and start planning our goals for next year, let’s keep focused on the idea of “Networking Like a Champion” and the opportunities that it can bring to ourselves and our referral partners.

To our mutual continued success!