Coach Max

For the last eleven years, I have been known as Coach Max. It is bittersweet that those days of parenthood are coming to a close. Eleven seasons of Cross Country and ten of baseball and girls softball. What a ride.

As your children develop and start to compete in athletics, it is common to playback and remember your failures and successes. There are only two rules that will lead to a lifetime of success in athletics and life, “Have fun and do your best.”

What is a Michigan Man?

What is a Michigan Man?

I learned a little about that unexpectedly from the man himself, Bo Schembechler over 30 years ago. I was in my sophomore year and in need of a hair cut. My barber at the time was Jerry Erickson at the Coach and 4 Barber Shop in Ann Arbor on State Street. I first went there because it was close to my freshman dorm, I later learned that Jerry was the barber of Michigan’s best and he never charged much.

This one day, I was waiting for awhile and longer than usual, but the conversation was good. Bo, recently retired from coaching and still UM athletic director and president of the Detroit Tigers at that point, had just fired broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. Bo’s house had been egged. It was on ESPN and was the talk all over campus. It was a barbershop full of righteous sermons about this pure sacrilege. I was about to be next when an old man in a suit bounced through the shop door and literally jumped in the the bathroom in back. Jerry, the barber, looked at me and said, “Mind the wait, will you?” At first I was annoyed, but I let it go. Turns out that old man was Bo. Here he was not some figurine on a faraway sideline. The man and legend in the flesh right in front of me. He just canned the greatest living announcer in the great game of baseball and jumped the line at the barber shop. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Bo vented to Jerry that he was upset about the eggs. The shop agreed that it was unacceptable. I chimed in. It was clear that asking why the eggs happened was a non-starter, so I opened with how baseball broadcasters were different that other broadcasters. They paint a picture and connect with audiences. In those Detroit summers, the velvety smooth voice of Harwell made the terrible Tigers teams interesting night after night. He was not the rah-rah party animal I grew up with in Harry Carey. He was the bridge to the first great baseball broadcasters, like Red Barber. Bo listened and showed respect for my opinions in away that I never expected. I always have appreciated the respect shown and the confidence it gave me in that brief moment.

Go Blue!

Cold Plunge

Long before I understood the health benefits, I have been doing cold plunges and polar bear swims. Living near the cold waters of Puget Sound, it is easy to find sub-50 degree water.

Recently purchased and received the Edge Tub from Edge Theory Labs. After looking at several other options, Edge Tub won out due to portability and cooling capacity. The tub inflates quickly with the supplied pump. I was surprised at how fast it inflated and how rigid it is. Additionally, not having a hard, fixed tub does make it seem less of an investment. Cooling capability was the other factor. I have been able to get the tub below 37 degrees. The fan does work best when there is good air flow and is powerful, so it is about as loud as a washing machine when cooling.

The setup is in the laundry room, so the location is not exotic yet it makes getting a daily plunge possible.

Overall, very happy with the Edge Tub.

SABR BioProject

Have now completed four @SABRbioproject profiles. The latest convers the life and baseball career of the Third Earl of Snohomish and Seattle area baseball royalty, Earl Averill. Son of the Hall of Famer, Earl Averill, he lived the life of a baseball journeyman. I enjoy working on the biogrpahies of players like Averill. Exceptionally talented but not superstars. These ballplayers have so many stories that make baseball great. Link below to my work with SABR.

Michigan Man

Great trip to Univeristy of Michigan, my alma mater. First time in the Big House for the boy. Visited with Barger Leadership Institute where I mentor. Discovered that “fragels” are back. Saw many old friends who all are awesome. Told many tall tales of intramural glory and the time Bo jumped the line in front of me for a hair cut.

DirtFish Rally School

Great experience at DirtFish Rally School in Snoqulamie, WA

On 340 acres of an old lumber factory, DirtFish has created an incredible driving experience that teaches car control to all levels. What really made this a great day was that amount of care that the DirtFish team showed all the drivers in our group. Thanks DirtFish!

Godspeed Richard Tait

Richard Tait (1964-2022)

I had been lucky enough to meet and discuss entrepreneurship and life with Richard Tait just enough to consider him a friend.

He was a dedicated father. My heart goes out to his children.

Revisiting the notes from our coversations and emails through the years. I wanted to share Richard’s lessons.

Tait’s Eight Principles

As a serial entrepreneur, Tait has honed eight principles that have helped him grow successful businesses and endure the trials and challenges of entrepreneurship. It is a journey, a way of life he said. It is tough. It can be very lonely. He defines success not by how many times you are knocked down, but how many times you get back up.

1) Have a mission

A clear sense of mission is vital to ask people to dedicate their lives to create history. At Cranium, it was to give everyone a chance to shine. It was a cause that made it easy to recruit people. At Golazo, it was about creating products that are true to the game and the fan. With Golazo, similarly to Cranium, the mission is that everyone is born to score.

2) Change the rules

Before Cranium games were sold at toy stores. Cranium was the first non-coffee product sold at Starbucks, the first game sold at Barnes & Noble and the first game to be sold on Amazon. The company changed the rules through an act of desperation. Tait and co-founder Whit Alexander had missed Toy Fair, so they took the game to where their customers were.

3) Know what you are good at

Tait said plainly, “Do not stop until you are the best in the world.” You, as entrepreneur, must create world-class products and services. Know what you are best at and then commit constantly at this level. At Cranium, the term CHIFF was coined. CHIFF, an acronym that stands for “Clever, High- quality, Innovative, Friendly, Fun”, became a mission and a mantra. Everyone, even suppliers, understood the statement and how it defined the company strategy. Golazo defined its CHIFF as “Golzao-style”.

These six values include:

  1. Passion for the beautiful game,
  2. Play where we can win,
  3. Respect for Latino heritage,
  4. Pause before you pass,
  5. Platform for human potential,
  6. Born to score.

Every product and project that the company does must be “Golazo- style.”

4) Make hiring priority number one

People who join the company must fit and actively engage in the culture. Cranium had a philosophy of hiring for smarts and renting experience. A hard lesson was learned that the opposite is true for operations and finance. Everyone must pursue the dream, live the mission and culture and go for it. Tait built Golazo around the dream and is defining the culture.

5) Your customers are your sales force

Customers came first at Cranium. They responded and many became “Craniacs”. Birthdays, proposals and weddings were themed around the game. The company would do ridiculous things for its customers.

Tait’s stories range from sending bike messenger to deliver a game to a grandmother sending in a game idea that ended up selling 800,000 games. Tait employed word-of-mouth strategies before the term became commonplace. Golazo took a similar word-of-mouth approach building the brand through amateur 3 on 3 tournaments and Golazo Ambassadors on local college campuses.

6) Avoid hairballs

Tait’s favorite book is Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. The book is a guide to how to stay creative in a large company. MacKenize and Tait developed a rapport during Tait’s transition from Microsoft before starting Cranium. That relationship left a lasting impact on him. “He taught me to trust in my creativity.” Tait believes that every would-be entrepreneur should read this book only to understand that the challenge is not to be in the reaction business, but rather the avoidance business.

7) Do good as you do well

Giving back as you succeed in business helps tremendously. Tait recounts a terrific story where Cranium had donated more than $1 million to afterschool programs. One of the beneficiaries was a young girl who played violin. For that hour, there were no distractions, no older brothers, no homework, just her and the violin. The way she took the violin and made it play made that hour the best hour of her day. Tait recommends giving back because it is good for those you help and you.

8) Lead with passion, a sense of discovery and speed

“Speed is your friend.” You must push yourself hard to succeed in business. It can also be lonely as well. Tait believes that every entrepreneur will need to recover from the inevitable knockdowns.

Tait takes chances and believes in himself. His self-confidence radiates and is infectious. He believes to invent is why he is on this planet and he encourages everyone around him to find their own leader within. “I am in your corner,” he wrote me in an email — five simple words of encouragement that continue to inspire me.