Tag Archives: tom brady

Peyton and Being Likable

All it takes is a catchy jingle and you have a pop culture phenomena.  Well done Nationwide Insurance…”Nationwide is on your side” easily becomes “being likable makes all the difference”.  People like what they relate to, what makes them feel comfortable.  There is no question, Peyton Manning has hummed his way into the American consciousness as “a good guy”.  Of course it does not hurt that he is widely regarded as the face of his sport, one of the all-time greats, and is standing at the threshold of a storybook ending to his career.  Peyton winning Super Bowl 50 – it is the stuff of legend.

It has been called many things, with the current flavor being Emotional Intelligence or EQ.  Then there are the more traditional “cultural fit”, interpersonal skills, or empathy.  In its simplest form, being likable, a nice person, is one of the most valued traits in all of hiring.  Never, not once in all the years and the literally thousands of hiring conversations we have been privy to, has the phrase “you know, we do not like them; heck they are a real jerk, but we will hire them anyway” ever been used.  Not one time.  Countless times we have heard the inverse.  Being likable brings an enormous degree of benefit of the doubt, of a higher forgiveness factor, of being given a chance, or two, or three.  It is a classic idiom of sales, “people do business with people they like”.  Throughout his career, from college to the NFL, Peyton Manning has ensured he remains at the top of the likable list.

There is no greater illustrator of the “likability factor” than Tom Brady.  It was one of the stories of 2015, Deflategate.  The Patriots, their coaches and Tom Brady have a long history of pushing the edges, testing the lines, but also of grinding, studying, preparing, and of winning…a lot.  Tom Brady, despite all the wins, all the championships, the spotless record, the incredible story of afterthought to champion, of a relentless work ethic, of being the consummate leader and professional, remains unlikable.  He is not like everyone else, his life is not like ours, he is apparently aloof, cold and distant.  Tom and Peyton literally have the same job, live a life wildly removed from the vast majority of us, yet one is perceived completely differently based on “likability”.

An athlete, the face of their sport, considered by many to be the best of a generation, dominating the competition, setting new records, a marketers dream, giving back to the community and charities, the personification of the comeback, overcoming career ending medical challenges, returning to form and dominating.  It is a timeless story.  And when doubts and dispersion are cast, as always happens in our society, when the “too good to be true” flag is waived, being likable will save the day.

It is comically sad.   Peyton and HGH – 100% benefit of the doubt.  Disparage the source of the story, proclaim innocence, threaten lawsuits, be folksy, be hurt, be staunch yet wounded.  Peyton is righteous.  He is likable.  Looks like Peyton learned the lesson of Lance Armstrong…being nice will get you the benefit of the doubt, and sometimes that is all that matters in the court of public opinion.

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Filed under Business, Current affairs, Hiring and Interviewing, leadership, Sports, Uncategorized

Thanks Eli

Much like most everyone, I too enjoyed partaking in all that is Super Bowl Sunday. Fortunately we seem to be in the midst of a pretty good run of Super Bowl games – competitive, down to the wire, class organizations and players – all that really any casual fan could hope for in a Super Bowl. And of course the drama and hype. The story lines of Brady and his legacy, the Patriots dynasty and Belichick, will Peyton play again and for whom, the Giants defense, and all of the other fodder of websites, talking heads, media moguls and bloggers. Nothing like Super Bowl Sunday.

Yet through all the noise, there stood Eli- quiet and focused, never the center of attention. He was probably the fourth most talked about quarterback in the week before the game. All the focus was on Tom Brady and his chance to join Montana and Bradshaw in the elite-of-elite 4 time Super Bowl Champion club. Then of course there were the Peyton stories – is he coming back, is he healthy enough to play again, will the Colts re-sign him, and of course how will Eli compare to him with his second Super Bowl appearance. And with Peyton comes the Andrew Luck talk. And yet, there was Eli, quietly preparing for the game – the one that will be played on the field.

Eli is the quiet warrior, the leader without ego.  In a market that has a long history of destroying the strongest, Eli has thrived.  New York and its media do not phase him, not with their relentless criticism in times of struggle, nor with their praise in times of greatness.  He is always steady, always calm, and above all always focused.  It is refreshing to see, in an era of flash and hype, statistics and marketing, celebrity in the name of celebrity, that the fundamentals still remain true in leadership and winning.  Focus on what matters and ignore what does not.  Practice, prepare, plan, and execute.  Think long not short-term.  Lead through action, both on and off the field.  But above all, make it about the team, about the organization, and the overall win.  There is always enough glory to go around – always.

Thanks Eli for reminding us all how it can be and should be done.  Your actions and lack of words send a very clear message.

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Addition by Subtraction

Even the most casual observer of the NFL is aware of the Patriots and their blowout of the Jets last night.  After a great deal of hype about “the epic” Monday night match up, the absolute pummeling of the Jets, though impressive, was rather anti-climatic. One thing that was readily apparent is how much better the Patriots have become since they traded away Randy Moss.  It was quite the reminder that sometimes addition by subtraction really does work.

Randy Moss, the future hall of famer and game changing wide receiver, was traded by the Patriots only 4 games into the 2010 season.  No one argues that the man still has loads of talent, skills, and abilities.  What did become very clear was how he was not good for that team.  And in football, as in life and business, Team trumps the individual. No matter what their talent level, their skills, or their production, no one is above the team.  We have been able to watch this lesson play out over the course of this season – the Patriots are thriving and Randy Moss is onto his third team of the year.

It is not the right answer in every scenario, but sometimes addition by subtraction is the right course.  Doing what is best for the team has to be paramount.  If the person with the best sales numbers, the highest rankings, the most visible role, is not bought into the culture and making the team better, it might be time to make a tough choice.  It is a slippery slope, addition by subtraction, but when done for the right reasons, done well, and done with forethought and wisdom, it can be a game changer.

Of course, all of the above said, it sure helps to have one awfully good team already in place, with people ready to pick-up the slack.  Yes, having Tom Brady at quarterback, a host of strong players on the team, and Bill Belichick as head coach does make a difference…just a bit.

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