Deconstructing great partnerships and teams with Don Yaeger.

I recently interviewed Don Yaeger, whose latest book with Chicago Cubs Catcher David “Granpa Ross” just landed at #10 on the New York Times Bestseller list. In a podcast episode this 10-time NYT best-selling author and award winning speaker discusses the attributes of successful partnerships and teams !

As a former Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, Don built a reputation as one of America’s most provocative thought leaders. As a speaker, he is often sought to discuss lessons on achieving greatness, and learned from experiences with some of the greatest sports legends. And he’s been invited to every major talk show – from Oprah to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America. Learn more about Don here.

Don and I discuss the attributes of great teams and great partnerships gleaned from his book Great Teams.  Some key takeaways from the interview:

  1. A shared "purpose" at a deep level is important to the success of both great teams and great partnerships.
  2. Understanding "leadership style" and how to apply it to your partner and team's situation is important. Its equally important to understand your partners leadership style and adapting to ensure the most successful collaboration and the long term success of the partnership.
  3. "Comraderie" and a sense of "collective direction" were key to the 2013 Boston Red Sox's successful turnaround and drive to a World Series and how these attributes apply to teams and partnerships.
  4. Why "embracing change" is critical for partners looking to survive and thrive in this age of rapid digital transformation - the best teams are constantly out ahead.
  5. How David Ross changed his "mindset" to serve his team and ensure his destiny. More can be learned in Don's latest New York Times Bestseller, TEAMMATE - by David Ross and Don Yaeger.

As with each of my episodes, I ask Don to share his advice for our listeners on personal and professional growth.

  • Best advice you were given when you started out - When Don graduated Ball State with a degree in journalism in 1984, his dad suggested he use each interview to learn a lesson that would also serve him. In over 2500 interviews, Don asked this one question, "If you could point to ONE HABIT that allowed you to do what others could not do, what would that habit be?" Don distilled this to his book "Greatness - The 16 Characteristics of True Champions" - by Don Yaeger. 
  • Favorite lesson - from his interviews and talks with legendary coach John Wooden, "constantly pay attention and manage your inner circle". Don was a part of John Wooden's mentorship program and met with him often, resulting in the book - A Gameplan for Life.
  • Favorite Quote - "Make each day your masterpiece" - from John Wooden.
  • Advice he'd give his 25 year old self - "Slow Down". Which is great advice and something I'd recommend to all early in career listeners.
  • Favorite or most gifted book - "The Notebook"- by Nicholas Sparks".
  • What Don would put on a billboard, "Greatness is a journey and not a destination".

You access Don's complete collection of books here, you can reach Don at and follow Don on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram.

I hope you enjoy this episode.

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Thank you for listening

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