How to get two standing ovations from at a Better Business Bureau luncheon?
Keep calm, and be fond of yellow.
It helps also if you’re the Wichita State University men’s team coach who won 35 straight games in the previous basketball season.
Gregg Marshall spoke to hundreds of business people at the group’s gathering Thursday at the downtown Hyatt, and offered tips about success.
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Before success came, he spent many years as an assistant coach, he told them. He did extra chores. Painted the pool. Doubled as a sports information director.
He worked hard doing the simpler work in those jobs. And he studied how the good head coaches won, and years later copied how those good head coaches won.
“I was not the architect of any of our wins,” he said. “But I was the foreman, and could lay the bricks and sling the mortar – and steal the blueprints.”
He concluded then that winning came when coaches of integrity laid a pronounced emphasis on character: Don’t cut corners. Care about players, about their girlfriends, their parents, their lives, their grades.
He said he tells assistant coaches that no matter how busy they are, they need to drop whatever they are doing when a player comes in wanting to talk.
Show your players there are consequences when they cut classes, he said. “Care about doing things right.”
He joked a bit. In his first two seasons at WSU, when they lost a lot of games, he said, there was a game where he whirled on his assistants.
“I told them if they didn’t help find me some players tall enough I had to look up to, I was going to fire each and every one of them.”
It wasn’t a serious threat, he said. “I’ve never seriously considered firing anyone.”
When the wins came, he said, it was partly because they helped him find tall guys, but still mostly about character: “Energy. Passion. Work ethic. Integrity. Not cutting corners.”
He tells people when he recruits new players that he wants guys not with star egos but players “who are already over themselves.”
He tells those players they need to care about the overall good more than how they might be doing.
He told the business people that he had his first team meeting Wednesday, to prepare for the next season. He told them that “If you want success, the easiest way to get it is to surround yourself with other successful people.”
He warns the players that practices here are hard.
“I tell them they won’t like practices.”