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Episode 002 – America’s Breakthrough Coach Brian Biro

Posted on Sep 12, 2016 by in Podcast Episode | 2 comments

Brian talks Phelps, servant leadership and Pygmalion!


Corporate vice-president and a wildly successful private swimming coach.

Over the past 24 years he has made over 1500 presentations on the topics of leadership, possibility thinking, thriving on change and team building.  His impressive client list includes companies such as Microsoft, Lockheed Martin and Starbucks.

Very close to one of the all-time great leaders in sports, former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, and in 1997 authored the book Beyond Success, building upon Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

Author of nine other books including his latest in 2014 titled Loving Life Lessons for my Daughters.

Interview Questions:

  1. First things first as a former elite level swimming coach, what were your thoughts on what we saw in the 2016 Olympics? What can we learn from Bob Bowman and Michael Phelps?
    1. Phelps is greatest athlete of all-time; and that a human being can change.
  2. What leadership skills did you learn as a swimming coach that translates into how you teach leadership today?
    1. Coach each individual differently and according to how they respond.
    2. Pygmalion effect.
      1. 56% of communication is body language
      2. 37% is tone
  3. How did you first meet Coach John Wooden and how did you come by the opportunity to work with him on Beyond Success?
    1. Called him up on his home phone line; he answered and was willing to meet with me!
    2. Credit is something you give; responsibility is something you take
      1. Our culture has this backwards
    3. “It’s what you learn after you know everything that makes the difference.” – John Wooden

From the book Beyond Success

  1. Who was Pygmalion and what can we learn from him about leadership?
    1. Our thoughts, expectations and beliefs about others are magnetic.
    2. Harvard research – kids identified as “spurters” spurted, regardless of ability
  2. What is the difference between being willing to support and give yourself to your team, and being eager? How you can instill eagerness in your teams?
    1. No overachievers; we’re all underachievers
    2. Good or average teams – willingness is there; great teams – eager
      1. Willing – like when a teenager cleans their room
      2. Eager – Can’t wait to do it
    3. Get rid of the words “I have to”
      1. Puts yourself at the effect rather than the cause, which leads to less enthusiasm
  3. What is servant leadership and why is it important?
    1. What we should all aspire to
    2. No job too big, no job too small
    3. You notice them (servant leaders) the most when they aren’t there – what seemed previously to be magically held together now starts to fall apart
    4. Bear Bryant – “when things go great, they (the team) did it; when things go pretty good, we did it; if things go bad, I did it.”
    5. The meaning of my communication is the response I get
  1. If there were a 2016 version of Beyond Success, what would be the first new chapter you would write?
    1. Be East To Impress, But Hard To Offend
      1. Jack Nicklaus – gained respect, then was liked, now revered
  2. Many of us have admired and respected Coach Wooden; what can you tell us about the man himself that we may not know?
    1. Love of learning; would show up at a high school coaches’ clinic to hear someone talk on a new way to teach rebounding
  3. Talk about the connection between vision and reality.
    1. Vision becomes reality; what we focus on is what we create
    2. Manage around weaknesses; manage towards strengths
  4. How can people lead or influence those who are above them?
    1. Don’t look at how you rate v. others – success is peace of mind knowing you’ve given the best of what you have
    2. Most debilitating need – for external approval – put yourself at the effect instead of the cause
  5. How do you start your day?
    1. Ask what am I grateful for today and say thanks
    2. St. Francis prayer for peace
    3. Exercise
      1. People remember your energy
  6. What advice do you have for young professionals who are striving to be better leaders or maybe even trying to get that first opportunity to lead?
    1. You’re already a leader; CEO of your own life
    2. Be a blame buster – blame is about the past
  7. Where can people go to learn more about you?
    2. Beyond Success – The 15 Secrets to Effective Leadership and Life Based on Legendary Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Group – music
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite – voice over


  1. Tremendous nuggets of leadership truths throughout this podcast with Brian Biro. Would like to hear a follow up question on the servant leadership segment with an exploration of the spiritual underpinnings of this concept.

    • Thanks Professor! Wasn’t he awesome?! I’ll see if I can get him to answer your follow up!

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