Bo's Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership

Bo's Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership

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by Bo Schembechler, John U. Bacon

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During his record-setting tenure as coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Bo won thirteen Big Ten titles and finished as the winningest football coach in the school's storied history. But if you asked him, his most important achievement was having a remarkably positive impact on the hundreds of athletes he coached. In these pages, you'll hear Bo's distinctive voice as he… See more details below


During his record-setting tenure as coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Bo won thirteen Big Ten titles and finished as the winningest football coach in the school's storied history. But if you asked him, his most important achievement was having a remarkably positive impact on the hundreds of athletes he coached. In these pages, you'll hear Bo's distinctive voice as he shares the principles he applied on the football field and in the locker room to create a football dynasty, and he'll tell you how you can apply his insights to any leadership role. His words will educate, motivate, and inspire-just as the man himself did every day.

Editorial Reviews

Yonette Joseph
…a rip-roaring manual on leadership…[Schembechler] fairly leaps off the page, offering funny anecdotes amid rules such as "Listen Before You Lead," "Turn Mistakes Into Momentum" and "Stay Focused Under Fire."
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

With a style so conversational that readers will almost be able to hear the voice of the late, great Michigan Wolverines football coach, Schembechler (1929-2006), it seems as if coauthor and sportswriter Bacon did little more than push the "record" button and let Schembechler dictate this exceedingly unconventional business title. The coach-who earned the respect of practically every player, coach and fan during his 30 years as Michigan's head coach-lets loose his boisterous personality in italicized and capitalized words, exclamation points and rhetorical questions that punctuate otherwise simple statements and observations. Completed just days before the coach was brought down by heart disease, this volume spells out the leadership principles by which he lived en route to 13 Big 10 titles and 10 Rose Bowl appearances. The book contains no complicated formulas or M.B.A. treatises, but rather commonsense approaches to everything from setting goals and motivating mid-level employees to emphasizing execution and maintaining focus under fire. Along the way, Schembechler shares details from both his professional and personal lives, in which he's always prepared for anything. Schembechler's lessons are practical, well-illustrated and based on a solid legacy of determination and hard work. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

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Grand Central Publishing
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Bo's Lasting Lessons

By Bo Schembechler John U. Bacon Business Plus Copyright © 2007 Estate of Glenn E. Schembechler, Jr.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-446-58199-8

Chapter One You Better Start with Your Heart

Let's start with first things first: passion. Because without that, nothing else I'm going to tell you in this book is going to be worth a damn. It just won't do you any good.

Because the fact is, you're never going to be able to lead others effectively unless you put your whole heart into what you're doing. If it's just a job to you, it's going to be just a job to them. And trust me: You're not going to fool them.

So you need to find something you really love to do, because otherwise you're going to hate it. And if you hate your work, you'll never put in the kind of effort the guys at the top are putting into it. You'll lose!

Once you figure out what you love to do, don't worry about the money or the prestige or anything else. Those things won't make you happy if you hate your job.

For me, it was easy to figure out what I loved-football! The game got me at an early age, so when people talk about all the sacrifices I'm supposed to have made pursuing this crazy life-in time, in money, in status-I have to laugh. They weren't sacrifices to me. I got to coach! And that's all I ever wanted to do.

I'm from Barberton, Ohio, and went to Oakdale grade school, where we had baseball, basketball and track teams, but no football. So you could only play football if you were willing to get to the high school and practice with the freshman team-and it wasn't easy. You had to go down the hill, across the tracks, over the canal and walk five miles to get to Barberton High on the north end of town. And if you were going to get there on time, you had to run.

Nobody else in my class would go with me, but as soon as the school bell rang each day, I started running down that hill and across town for freshman football practice, and I kept it up for two years. When I was in eighth grade, near the end of the football season, the Oakdale basketball coach wanted me to quit freshman football because I was a starter on his team, too. I said, "No way. I've got to play in the last football game!" So that's what I did.

They drove us over to Akron in this dump truck with two benches in the back for the players to sit on. A dump truck! It took us an hour to get there and an hour to get back, with the wind and the rain and the cold coming in, whipping all around. This was no school bus-heck no. That would have felt like a Cadillac to us!

We get there, and no one's in the stands. No one. I mean, the Akron parents weren't even showing up for this one. Guess they were smarter than we were.

You consider the whole thing-the daily run to practice, the distance to our games, the dump truck, the empty stands-and you'd have to say we were a little crazy to do this. But I loved it. I knew I'd rather be in the back of that damn dump truck going to play some football game in the freezing cold in front of nobody than standing in a nice warm gym wearing shorts playing in front of a big crowd.

Football is what I loved.

By the time I got to tenth grade, I'd already played freshman football for three years. There was no question I was going to be a starter on the high school varsity. But the question was where our coach, Karl Harter, was going to put me. Our two big plays were the reverse and the reverse pass. You've got to have righties to run those plays, and fast ones, too.

Well, I was a lefty, so there's one strike. And we had guys who could run a lot faster than I could. There's two strikes. So I went to Coach Harter and said, "Where do you need the most help?"


"Then put me at guard!" Hell, I didn't care. I just wanted to play. And I started the next three years.

If you want to know why I've always loved the big lugs on the line the most-well, you can thank Coach Harter for that.

Even then, I knew-and I don't know how to put this without sounding like a jerk-but I knew I had a way with people, and the reason I had a way with people is because I liked 'em. And the reason I chose to coach football instead of baseball or basketball is because, of all the athletes out there, the football players were the ones I liked and respected the most. And I think that showed in the way I coached them.

When I graduated from Miami of Ohio, I knew I was going to be a coach. I was as sure of that as anything I knew-and nothing was going to stop me! To be honest, I always thought I'd be a high school coach-and that was fine with me. I didn't care about money or fame or any of that. I just wanted to coach.

And let me tell you, now that I'm looking back on the whole thing: I made the right call!


Excerpted from Bo's Lasting Lessons by Bo Schembechler John U. Bacon Copyright © 2007 by Estate of Glenn E. Schembechler, Jr.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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What People are saying about this

Keith Jackson
"Bo's persona fairly crackles on the pages of Bacon's book. Good stuff from a good man who also happened to be a pretty darn good football coach. A classic."--(Keith Jackson, Hall of Fame Broadcaster, ABC Sports)
Laurence J. Kirshbaum
"Forget about the Gipper. There has never been a more inspiring coach than Bo Schembechler and this brilliant book shows why he was such a brilliant leader. Read his fundamentals and you will run for touchdowns every day of your life!"--(Laurence J. Kirshbaum, former CEO Time-Warner Book Group and ardent Michigan alum '66 LSA)
David Maraniss
"In an era of corporate coaches who might as well be accountants, Bo's throaty growl and gruff but loving style are sorely missed. There is nothing superficial about Bo's basic philosophy of life and leadership - and his lessons are truly timeless."--(David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi)
Dan Dierdorf
"Bacon had the great fortune to sit down with Bo and hear story after story, lesson after lesson. Read this book and you'll feel like you were there. Outstanding!"--(Dan Dierdorf, College and NFL Hall of Famer, NFL on CBS Analyst)
Mike Wallace
"Absolutely wonderful. I hear my old friend in these pages, and his advice is just as direct as he was. Read it - and pay attention!"--(Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes)

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