Do you deserve to be successful? Have you put in the work? Does providence move upon commitment? If you wrote ten new business plans this year would one be successful? This is the year. This is the time. Learn just how you can achieve this from the founder of Today’s Growth Consultant, a two-time Inc. 5000 designee with revenues that have doubled in each of the last 5 years. Started in 1992, the company is now an international, multimillion-dollar enterprise. You can’t miss this one!
Ken is the author of the upcoming book Guerilla Marketing Today, part of the best-selling Guerilla Marketing series, and best-selling author of Online Income: Navigating the Internet Minefield and co-author with Brian Tracy of Against the Grain. He is currently working on his next book Trust Trumps Everything: Why Your Digital Footprint Determines Your Income.
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This is the podcast where I live life. As my wife and I are heading up to this 100-employee, four-time Inc. 5000 eight-figure-a-year and growing company, I try to remember the things that impact me or the things that were going through that others might learn from. I’ve gone all over the board with podcasts. I’ve done mechanical podcast, leadership podcast, management podcast, motivational podcast, sales podcast, website building, website designing, and website-growing podcasts. I just reviewed some of the notes from some of the first and second quarter podcast I did. I have been all over the place. This podcast, I guarantee you, is unlike anything I’ve ever done before.
When I go to dinner at my Uncle Carl’s house, my dad just runs to the front door to meet me and he’s got this newspaper article in his hand. He’s like, “Tell me you haven’t read this article. It’s about Coach Korhonen who just passed away.” I’m like, “Really?” Coach Korhonen was a legendary Illinois football coach who I played against. I didn’t play for him but I played against him, but coach Korhonen had a little integral part of my life after high school.
To say he’s a legend would be an understatement. I think he’s the winningest or second winningest Illinois National Championship coach. He was a living legend in his time. I also happen to play for another living legend, Gordie Gillespie. I played for him in college. Conceptually, my dad knows the little impact that Gary Korhonen had in my life right at the end of my high school days and so he could not wait to get this article in my hands.
I’m going to read pieces of it. I apologize if it’s a little boring or dry and you don’t know where we’re going to go in the beginning, but the concept of this is, “Are we getting soft as a country, as people, as leaders, as business people?” This is written by John Kass. It’s in the Chicago Tribune. If you want to look up the full article, Chicago Tribune, John Kass, the title is, We Owe Much to Great Teachers Who Shaped Us.
I’m going to read a little bit. “I had time to think about it the other evening, standing before a coffin at a wake for Gary Korhonen, the legendary football coach at Richard High school in Oak Lawn, Illinois. A national coach of the year, one of the most respected in the game and one of Illinois all-time winningest coaches. As I stood there, a former player paying my respects, I could see he was loved, a mellow grandfather, his family lined up to greet mourners. His wife, Eileen, shook my hand, thanked me for coming. I told her that he had made a great impact in my life, but for some stupid reason, I couldn’t help but blurt this out too, “I had a love/hate relationship with him.” “I know,” she said graciously, kindly, evenly. “I know.”
In the coffin was an older man with a rosary in his hands. I stared past that, to see him out on the practice field decades ago: Korhonen beginning his coaching career, a young Korhonen in a frenzy, building a program, forming a crucible that would melt us down on those hot August days. Spartan was the word. Water at practice was for wimps. They handed out salt pills instead.
We might get a piece of ice from a Styrofoam cooler, or gulp down that melted ice in the cooler, along with the dirt and grass in there. We hit in full pads every day. We ran till we dropped. Sometimes he’d yell, staring us down, telling us that we’d quit, daring us to quit on the team, to quit on ourselves. We wouldn’t quit. We learned what we had inside us. Those lessons serve me to this day, and I’d say that every young man who played for him learned the same.
On March 22, 1988, a month before I graduated high school, I got a letter sent to my house. “Dear Kenny, Congratulations on your selection of College of St. Francis. Coach Gillespie is a great man with a great staff. You’re very fortunate to have played for coaches, Seliga and Lokanc and they’re great staff. They are great men. I’ve always had the greatest amount of respect for you. In my 24 years of high school coaching, you are the most impressive high school football player I’ve ever lined up against.
You always handle yourself in a very class manner which reflects your home and your mom and dad. Good luck to you, Kenny in college. If my son Christopher grows up like you, I will be a proud person.” Then underneath it he’s got, “1987 Final Score, Courtright fifteen, Richard’s twelve. Good luck. Sincerely, Coach Korhonen, Richard High School Head Football Coach.” Then he draws a big smiley face on the bottom and he signs it, “Coach Korhonen.”
I’ve got that framed behind my desk and so now I sit here to do this podcast because I do get the feeling that not only is our country getting soft, I think I’m getting a little soft. I often think about when people have children, let’s say you have three, four, five children, usually the youngest gets away with murder. They’re spoiled. The parents just get exhausted. Just as many, many people have witnessed that younger child getting away with murder, getting everything.You are going to deserve to win because you will have the right to succeed. Click To Tweet
After consulting 3,180 companies, I have seen senior leaders, senior managers, senior executives getting soft, allowing people to get away with things, and even allowing themselves to get away with things. I’m moved. As I sit at my desk, I have a massive sixteen-foot wide, four-foot tall vision board in front of me. It’s a cork board and it’s got a lot of past pictures, a lot of people that motivate me and then the floor of my office, there’s a plaque in glass with the cover of a book, No Easy Day by Mark Owen.
Mark Owen was one of the Green Berets or Rangers or Navy SEALs that went in and basically killed Osama bin Laden. I’m staring at the cover of No Easy Day and I’m thinking about boot camp and the trials and the tests they put these Navy SEALs through to shape them to be the best in the world. I’m thinking back of Coach Korhonen, how he used to physically mold children into men so that when they went out into the real world, life wouldn’t kick their ass. I played for Gordie Gillespie in college. His philosophy was the same. He would tell us so many times, “This is not about the game of football. This is about going into life and when life crushes you, are you going to stick your head in the dirt or are you going to fight like a man and stand up?”
Right around the corner is my closet and in the closet is a shrine to Walter Payton and Michael Jordan. I like Walter Payton because he was the record-setter when he was alive and he had this thing called the hill where everybody else went to practice. Walter went to practice, but after practice, Walter went home and ran the hill. Many people tried to run the hill with him and they could never keep up and he just got his body into such incredible shape. He took a beating and I think he only missed one or two games due to injury. The guy was amazing.
Then Michael Jordan, I’ve got a little shrine to Michael Jordan too, because Michael Jordan taught me a lesson in my early years. My wife used to be a Bull’s cheerleader and Michael had a concept that everybody goes to practice. Everybody does, but he said, I went to practice after practice. He says, “All the professionals go to practice, but I had to deserve to hit the game winning shot. Every day of my life, six days a week, I’ve practiced either before or after practice. Before every game I practiced for an hour,” including game seven of his final game of the NBA Finals. I’ve got a great podcast on that back in the day.
Walter Payton ran the hill, Michael Jordan practice outside of practice. These Navy SEALs did what it takes so my question to everybody is, “What if there’s this thing called the deserve factor? What if there is a God in the sky that is watching you truly think, plan and act?” Maybe provenance does move upon commitment, but faith is an action word.
You have to take a physical step and this podcast is for me, just as it is for anybody at 47 years old, I am definitely feeling that I’m getting soft and I’m not talking about in the belly area, which I am, but I’m talking about mentally back in the day, I was really tough on myself. I’ve found myself in the last two years referring to myself as I got to bring back the old Ken. I want to just drop a little story of why I think Coach Korhonen wrote me that letter and it goes back to my freshman year in football.
I’d never played the game before. I definitely had some muscle, hand–eye coordination, some good muscle skills. I definitely had a good physique. I was muscular, I was fast, but as a freshman, nobody knew me. I was just trying out for the team and I’ll never forget that Coach Seliga, the varsity coach and one member of his staff, sees me sitting there drinking a gallon of ice water in the hallway during doubles at practice. He says, “Are you Ken Courtright?” I said, “Yes.” He says, “You’re running back here, right?”
I said, “Yes.” He says, “We’ve been watching you practice and have seen some of your scrimmages and we believe just based on what we’re seeing that if you do a few things and you focus, you could probably set some records at this school.” I looked up at him and I’m like, “Is this guy kidding me?” I’m saying to myself, “Does he not realize that I have no experience? I’ve never played this game before.” I said, “It sounds like you mean that.” He goes, “Of course, I mean it.” I said, “What exactly that I have to do to be a record-setting running back at this school?” He says, “It’s simple. You get the record out,” which is 1,140 yards set by coach Mike Navarro, twenty years ago. He’s the sophomore coach here.
He gained 1,140 yards in nine games. We still play the nine-game seasons. He goes, “If I were you, I would get an index card and write 1,140 and put it in your pillow case and sleep on it.” He goes, “That’s just one thing. That’s goal-setting.” He goes, “You need to increase your speed a little bit. You are a white running back, if you know what I’m saying. You need to do some sprints three times a week before school and then at least once or twice a week you got to run long distance so you could make it all four quarters,” and I’m literally writing this down. I’m taking notes in my head and then he walked away, like a blur he was gone. Here’s the thing, I was so naive. I went home. I couldn’t wait to get home.
As a matter of fact, I had written down 1,140 on an index card before I left that school and I put it in my pillow. My mom did not wash my pillowcase. I think for the first year, year and a half, maybe even longer, I did sprints every morning before school. I ran long distance. I hated long distance running, but I knew I was not the most talented person. I was not the most talented gifted athlete on the field. It turned out later, I was pretty darn good because in my senior year, I broke that record in game seven. I ended up leaving with 1,400 and some odd yards. It’s been 30 years and that record still stands. As a matter of fact, I have more than that record. I have yards in the season, yards per game, yards per carry. I’ve got them all.
Here’s the question, “Why is it that after 30 years my record still stands?” I think there are a couple reasons for that and I’d like to share them. Number one, Coach Seliga, who told me that, ten, fifteen years later ended up passing away. I went to the wake and I remember being approached by the other coach that was with coach Seliga when I was a freshman and he goes, “Kenny, your record is still standing.” I’m like, “I can’t believe that. It’s amazing. It’s been ten, fifteen years. There have been some great running backs, much stronger, bigger, faster kids than me come through. I can’t believe it.” One kid came really close, but didn’t end up breaking my record. I said something like, “It’s amazing. I’ll never forget you and coach walking up to me and telling me to write down that goal and sleep on it and do the extra sprints and this and that,” and the coach says, “You want to hear something funny?”
I go, “Yes, go ahead.” He goes, “We tell that to every freshman running back,” and I said, “I wish you wouldn’t have told me that. I really thought I was special.”He goes, “No, Kenny, you’re the most special running back that’s ever come through that school because you’re the only person, in 45 years of us telling that story to, that actually did what we said. You took it, you wrote it on an index card. No other kid did it and you ran your sprints and you did the long distance. No other kid has ever practiced outside of practice like you. You are that special kid.”
Here’s what I’m here to say. I’ve gotten soft. I forgot how much extra physical work I did to deserve that record. I didn’t deserve the record because I was the most talented kid on the field. I didn’t have the right to succeed because I was the most talented kid on the field. I don’t still have college records by any stretch because I was the most talented kid on that college field.
I didn’t leave that high school with the fifth most wins in wrestling in the school’s history because I was the most talented wrestler. I was not talented. I never even made it down state. I came in fourth in sectional every stinking year. You needed to come in third to go downstate, but I was good enough to beat pretty much everybody, including a lot of the kids that went downstate. What is my point to all this? If you’re listening to this, “Have you gotten soft?”
I think back, when I was wrestling, I used to put headphones on, jump up and down in the corner and psyche myself up. I would have mantras. I would say how incredible I am. If I wrestled this kid ten times, I’d beat him one out of ten and this is that one time and then I would jump on the mat and I would destroy that kid. I would literally just mop that kid up. Here’s the question, “In your business today, if you wrote ten business plans, would one of the ten succeed in triple or quadruple your business?”
Here’s what I’m here to tell you. This is the year. This is one of those plans, it’s the plan you are writing now. You have to write the plan. You have to make one decision. This is the plan. This is how we’re going to grow it. You’re going to make one decision and here’s the thing. You are going to put massive action in a way that you have never worked before. You’re going to get up earlier tomorrow. You’re going to stay up later. You’re going to stop whining.
If you’re whining like I started whining these last two years, you’re going to stop whining of how hard you’re working. You’re going to put in massive action and you’re going to go back to that high school kid that you used to be or that college athlete that used to be or that junior high drummer that you used to be when you would practice and practice and practice. You are going to in this year, you are going to deserve to win because you will have the right to succeed. I hope this helps. Take care.