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The Coach

 

I grew up in Loogootee, Indiana.  (Locals with teeth pronounce it, “la-GOAT-ee”)  You’ve probably met people who CLAIM to be from Loogootee, but most of those brazen hussies are really uppity suburbanites from Whitfield or (heaven forbid) Cannelburg.  Me, I grew up on the mean street of the inner city.

 

The Gritty City

 

Loogootee has 2,741 residents, but that number jumps to nearly 2,750 during tourist season when the place is darned near overrun with sightseers hoping to capture the excitement of the annual  “running of the carp”.   To call the place a one-horse town would be a gross understatement.  Located on the edge of a large Amish community, there are usually dozens of horses dutifully pulling their buggies loaded with a half dozen kids and a fresh supply of Mountain Dew.

 

Side note…if you’ve ever eaten at an Amish restaurant such as Loogootee’s “Thy Starch Trough”, you’ll get a pretty quick understanding of why there aren’t too many Amish supermodels.

 

Back to the story…

 

Loogootee is pretty much the entertainment epicenter of Martin County, which boasts a total human population of 10,391.  Livestock far exceeds humans not only in population, but also in the depth of the gene pool (if you catch my drift). 

 

Basketball = Life

 

Smack dab in the middle of southern Indiana, the local sports scene revolves around high school basketball.  If you’ve seen the movie, “Hoosiers”, you’ll understand that Indiana and basketball go together like mold and mildew.

 

Loogootee’s high school basketball coach recently retired.  Jack Butcher had been head basketball coach there for 45 years, and in that time he earned the honor of becoming the winningest high school basketball coach in Indiana history.  Throughout his career, he had only two seasons when he didn’t have a winning record.  The first of which was his very first year as coach.  As he walked in to start his new job as assistant, the head coach unexpectedly tossed him the keys and said, “You’re on your own, kid”.  That first impromptu season was sub .500, and it would be over 30 years before Jack let that happen again.

 

Uneven Playing Field

 

Although none of his 806 victories captured the state title, two of his teams reached the state finals.  What makes this even more impressive is that until the last few years, Indiana pitted the smallest schools head-to-head with the largest schools.  While that made for a good Hollywood screenplay, it usually resulted in a serious butt whuppin’ for the little fellas.  In 1975, Loogootee lost in the final championship game to Marion, an Indianapolis area powerhouse that recruits the best players and could probably beat the Indiana Pacers in two out of three games.

 

Recruiting

 

Since Loogootee’s a rural public school, there is no recruiting.  Heck, there are only 10,000 people in the entire county (and that’s even counting the tree hugging hippie commune way out in the sticks).  Jack had to field his team from the 75 or so students in each class.  As for competition, it’s not like he could pick on smaller schools, because well, there just aren’t that many.

 

Start ‘em young…

 

I believe that one reason Coach Butcher was able to have such a long and successful career was his ability to develop strong fundamentals within his players.  Starting in the fifth grade, the boys who aspire to be basketball greats begin a training program that focuses on the fundamentals of dribbling, passing and ball handling.*  All the way through high school, the players spend every free moment during the lunch breaks shooting literally hundreds of thousands of free throws and working on ball control. 

 

*I lasted in the program exactly one hour, when they politely recommended that I go out for the detasseling team. 

 

Who’s in control?

 

Jack’s strategy has always been to work for the right shot.  That meant slowing down the tempo to control the game.  In a controlled game, little things like ball handling add more value than in a fast paced game.  In Loogootee, “run and gun,” describes more weddings than it does ballgames.

 

What’s the point?

 

Most of Jack’s victories occurred before his team ever took the floor.  Their mastery of the fundamentals gave his players the necessary edge to control and outlast their competition.

 

Follow the bouncing ball…

 

Success in sports is very similar to success in business.  TransWestern has a six step sales process that encompasses each of the fundamentals necessary to build a successful advertising campaign for our clients.  If you will dedicate yourself to mastering these steps, you will maintain control of each sales call and ultimately succeed.  These steps are

 

  1. Account Preparation/Planning
  2. Introduction / Interest Creating Remark
  3. Fact Finding
  4. Presentation
  5. Recommendation
  6. Close

 

 

I have a few questions…

 

  • Do you use EVERY step on EVERY sales call?

 

  • Do you INSIST that your team members master and use each step?

 

  • Do you faithfully PRACTICE and REHEARSE EVERY DAY?

 

  • Do you coach your teammates to success?

 

Fairy Tales

 

The  “born salesman” is a mythical figure.  People who wouldn’t commit themselves to self-mastery created the myth to justify their own mediocrity.  The born salesman simply internalizes the six steps and applies them naturally. 

Even the great Shaquille O’Neal practices his fundamentals faithfully every day. 

 

How can we expect to reach the heights of success in our careers unless we are willing to devote attention to the fundamentals necessary for our own accomplishments?

 

Action plan

 

Pick the first of the six steps (Account Preparation & Planning) and commit yourself to use it on every single sales call for the next two weeks.  Write in your schedule next to each appointment whether or not you used it.  By the end of the second week, it will be totally ingrained into your program.

 

After two weeks, move on to the next step and repeat this pattern until you’ve gone through the list.

 

You will have begun the pattern of success that will change your life.  It will not be easy.  It will take determination and dedication, but it’s well worth the payoff.