Pete Carroll just can’t help himself: He can’t stop coaching, no matter the environment.
That was the case even when the legendary head coach of the Seattle Seahawks appeared in front of a room of tech geeks and mobile marketing professionals on Thursday afternoon at the annual Postback conference in Seattle.
Related: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s tech dream: Holographic robot players so the real ones don’t get hurt
The high-energy 65-year-old football coach got so excited midway through the 30-minute fireside chat that he jumped out of his seat, and started coaching the crowd on the art of leadership.
Audience members went wild. I was seated in the second row, and at one point felt ready to charge out of the tunnel on to CenturyLink Field. An audience member next to me said, “I love Pete Carroll.”
The advice certainly applied to the sporting world, but it also should resonate in the tech ranks, especially for entrepreneurs looking to build their culture and mission. Carroll asked those in attendance how many could recite their personal philosophy on the spot in 25-words or less, something he stressed is important for individuals and organizations to clearly articulate.
Here’s the full dialogue on what Carroll, a disciple of Coach John Wooden, had to say as he coached the crowd:
“If you want to be really good at something, and you want to perform at a high level, and you want to effect those people around you to also perform at a really high level … then wouldn’t it help if they understood — those who work around you — understood what it is you feel is important, what are the things you believe in, what are the things that makes up your philosophy, which is really the collection of things you believe in? And wouldn’t it help if when they represent you or they speak for you when you are not in the room or they act upon big decisions, that they knew exactly where you were coming from? Of course!”
Carroll stopped, and turned to moderator Peter Hamilton of Tune, and asked in his upbeat style: “Can I coach you for a second?”
Hamilton responded with a polite “please” and asked him to stand up. Carroll jumped out of his seat to applause, and started preaching his philosophy.
“If you don’t know exactly what you feel about your … approach to the point where you can help people … come to understand what that is all about so they can have a chance on acting in accordance with you, and so they can complement you by understanding. If you aren’t able to do that in a clear and succinct fashion, you got to get going … because this is just a process.”
“If you took the time to step back … and tried to really orchestrate what it is you firmly believe in and not just for you, but that is a great moment individually. It is a great moment for any individual to say: ‘Wow, I never realized this is really who I am and this is what makes me tick.’ That’s one thing. But when you can share that with the people around you, they will function on a much different level. They will (say): ‘Have you been working out or something? Have you been eating right?’ They will see it, and feel it in you. That is so powerful, but also for you to have a chance about being successful as you can be.
The point is: I have been fired enough times now … the last time I was fired was the most significant in that I just had to figure it out. I had to come together with my own thoughts, and I kind of stumbled into it going back to Coach Wooden, who had inspired me in the sense that he was such an unusual enigmatic leader. The best champion winner ever in college basketball. He was unbelievable … But what hit me is that he had this philosophy. He knew what he thought, and it wasn’t like anybody else. And I just stumbled into trying into figuring that out…. If you want to be great, if you want to do something really at the top of your game, you got to figure out who you are, what you stand for, what’s important. And not even that, so you can convey it to the people around you, so they know about it.”
During the 30-minute interview, Carroll also discussed his favorite stadium to play in outside of CenturyLink Field (Lambeau Field); players using social media (some found out the hard way that Tweeting is not texting); the job he’d most want to have if he were not coaching (archaeologist); and the tech rivalry between Carroll’s birthplace of San Francisco and Seattle (both are great tech hubs with an amazing innovative spirit, though Seattle has better music).
The biggest laugh line, however, occurred after Carroll’s remarks on leadership.
“We are seeing some interesting illustrations of leadership in the country right now,” Carroll said, clearly referencing President Donald Trump. Later, Carroll mentioned that he checks his mobile news app each morning, just to see what the president had said the night before.
Postback is a two-day tech conference for mobile marketing professionals, hosted by Seattle-based Tune, which sponsored our on-location recording of the GeekWire Podcast at the event.