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October 30, 2006

News & Opinion: Michael Lewis Channels The Wisdom of Bill Purcells

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 5:16 PM – Filed under: Leadership & Strategy

For folks like me who still consider Michael Lewiss Moneyball one of the top five books ever written on developing talent, his new book screams for my reading time. And in the meantime, how about this great quote taken from Lewiss article What Keeps Bill Parcells Awake At Night (This appeared yesterday in the new New York Times Sunday sports magazine, titled Play):

At halftime theres no chance for a speech several of the Cowboys reappear on the field four minutes after they left but Parcells has taken precautions. This morning, before the game, he called a meeting of the players without the assistant coaches. I dont want to talk with the coaches around, he told me beforehand. I want the players to know that I am trying to make a point. This morning, he broke into his personal binder, took out the story of Vito Antuofermo and read it to his players. All week long it wasnt strategy that occupied him; it was character. Theres a tendency to believe that, to be successful, a pro football coach must have a gift for the chessboard aspect of the game. But strategy isnt what chiefly interests Parcells. His success depends on his ability to demand, and to receive, higher levels of performance from his players. He doesnt say so explicitly, but his actions speak for him: he spends much more time thinking about getting inside his players heads, and their skins, than about anything else. He tries to make them uncomfortable. On a baseball team or a golf team, this sort of pressurized approach might lead to a team-wide nervous breakdown. In football at least for him it works magic.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.