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Episode 053 – Anchor Up Author and Former Grand Valley AD Tim Selgo

Posted on Jun 8, 2017 by in Podcast Episode | 0 comments


Tim returns to the show to talk about his new book Anchor Up, which details five key steps to leading a successful organization.


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Hey everyone and welcome to the All-Star Leader Podcast, where together we learn about leadership from the best and brightest, and keep it fun by connecting it to our passion for sports!

I’m your host Daniel Hare, and today we have our first returning guest on the show. Former Director of Athletics at Grand Valley State University Tim Selgo appeared on Episode 007 of the podcast, and he is back to talk about his new book Anchor Up: Competitive Greatness The Grand Valley Way.

This is Tim Selgo; hey Tim welcome back to the show!

Interview Questions:

  1. Before we jump into the book remind our listeners who you are and what you’re up to.
    1. Retired July 2016 after 20 years as AD at Grand Valley; former coach prior to that
    2. Ready for second career: Athletics Staffing and Consulting, author, speaker and teacher
    3. Blog:
    4. Now has four grandkids so that’s his other role
    5. Episode007 – Tim’s first visit to the show
  2. Let’s get right into the book because there is a ton you’ve packed in here that I think is just gold.
    1. First, why did you decide to write the book, and what is it you are hoping to accomplish?
      1. There was a story to tell after 15 years as the dominant Division II program
      2. Wanted to write the story of building the program
      3. Audience is anyone in athletics, as well as anyone leading/managing an organization
      4. Really a book about leadership and about how to build a team and lead the team
    2. We should mention that the foreword is provided by the former football coach at Grand Valley and the current Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly. He talks about the vision you had for Grand Valley Athletics; could you share with us the importance of vision and how we can find one and communicate it?
      1. Step One – must establish a vision of what you want to accomplish
      2. Athletics is nice because there’s a built in measure of success
      3. Grand Valley had been described as a sleeping giant before he got there; it had not won the president’s cup (the conference all-sports trophy) since 1979
      4. Won it in 1999 and haven’t lost it since
      5. Important about vision: how are we going to get there? Focus on process.
      6. Three fundamentals: 1) create best learning environment possible; 2) challenge teams to competitive greatness (best effort/best performance when it is most needed – direct from John Wooden’s pyramid of success); and 3) commit the energy necessary for success.
      7. (How to handle skeptics to the vision) – stay focused on the process not the result. Build the vision around the process; what’s going to happen daily.
    3. A large portion of the book is divided into what you call The Five Leadership Steps. We already talked a bit about vision, which is the first. So let’s talk about the remaining four:
      1. Number Two: Align your vision with that of your company or organization – what do we need to know about that?
        1. Two examples: a) before you take a position with an organization, you have to do your homework and learn everything you can about that organization. At Grand Valley, the president had a vision for the university regarding students living on campus that Tim bought into and fit his values as well; and a vision for raising academic standards, which Tim was able to get an academic advisor to go along with them; and b) his wife had to sync up her values/goals as an injectionist with a clinic.
      2. Number three: Set ambitious yet realistic goals and expectations. What do you mean by that and how do we balance this with dreaming / long-term vision?
        1. “When you’re through improving, you through.”
        2. Doesn’t buy into the shoot for the stars approach to goal setting; it needs to be achievable in someone’s mind
        3. Never set a goal such as winning a national championship or the Director’s Cup (there’s too much subjectivity in that); but if get to the tournament, goal to advance as far as possible
        4. (Talk about the faculty member who freaked out when they didn’t win the Director’s Cup) – finished second by just a few crazy last minute circumstances, so Tim was not disappointed. But a sign of respect/compliment that the program was at that point of high expectations.
      3. Number Four: Surround yourself with good people. How are you defining good? And how do you go about ensuring you attract and retain good people.
        1. You should be an expert of the organization; freedom in not worrying about what other people (students/parents)
        2. High character and hardworking is key
        3. Find out what they have done (not philosophy); tell us what you’ve done in the past to make us believe you’re the person to fix out problem.
        4. Usually best to hire people on their way up when they’re hungry for a new challenge
          1. Example of hiring women’s soccer coach Dave Dilanni from the high school ranks who is not the head coach at Iowa
          2. Example of Jerry Baltes who coaches track/field/cross-country; positive energy; Tim recruited he and his family every day to keep him from leaving
        5. Commitment from the top will help you keep great people
      4. Number Five: Earn trust from those you report to and those who report to you. How do we go about that?
        1. Develop and grow relationships; people make you successful
        2. This is true in athletics and business
        3. People produce and sell products
        4. Must show genuine care/concern for people
        5. Wanted to take athletics off the plate of his president/vice-president so they could enjoy it; but also stood up for the people below him with the leadership which built trust with the people below
        6. Must be honest and forthright
        7. Must have courage to stand up for moral right/wrong – example about applying new/extra scholarship dollars to current athletes rather than new recruits (leadership didn’t understand this at first). But Tim was ready to walk away from the additional dollars.
        8. Many times people want to earn fame rather than respect; don’t be like that.
  3. Where can people go to get the book, and where can they connect with you (social media, etc.)?
    1. Amazon (affiliate)
    2. Five Count Publishing
    3. @TimSelgo: the first five to tweet at both @timselgo and @DanielHare that you want the book you’ll get it as a gift!
    4. The Selgo Stop on Tumblr

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

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

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