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“Think Outside The Box” For Recruiting Strategies That Can Make A DifferenceMonday, January 7th, 2013

By Sean Devlin, Front Rush

This week, I digressed from technology…

“Love something besides magic, in the arts.  Get inspired by a particular poet, film-maker, sculptor, composer.  You will never be the first Brian Allen Brushwood of magic if you want to be Penn & Teller.  But if you want to be, say, the Salvador Dali of magic, we’ll THERE’S an opening.”

This excerpt is from an email between celebrity magician Teller (Penn & Teller) and a young up-and-coming magician Brian Bushwood.

I read the above in a blog post and my head exploded with the simplicity and obvious nature of it, yet we all practice this so little. It’s true. Think about how often you look to your peers or predecessors for inspiration but rarely look outside the coaching world. Or think about how often you emulate your competition instead of seeing how others in a different domain dealt with their challenges. We all fall into this trap of tunnel vision so let’s explore the idea of breaking away a bit.

Let’s start with an example that you are already using with this blog/newsletter. You are learning techniques that Dan Tudor has taken from a parallel industry (sales) and applying it to your own (recruiting). It’s a small chasm to cross to make the leap from recruiting to sales yet the lessons and strategy and passage are the same.

So let’s step further outside our comfort zone, and look at magic. Is your presentation style that of David Copperfield: very dramatic, very elegant, very artistic. Or more of a David Blaine: up close and personal, very raw, very simple. Or maybe you are the Chris Angel of the recruiting world? Where else? What about music? Could you learn from the calculation of Mozart or the business of KISS or maybe the intelligence of Tupac? What if you research business leaders? Are there lessons from Rockefeller and his outright declaration of war on his competition or Warren Buffett and his focus on the long term?

In the competitive world of college recruiting where so many coaches and schools are looking to “stand out” or find their niche, one great way to do so is look beyond your initial surroundings. Instead of looking at the person next to you, look to outside worlds…look to presidents and world leaders…look to artists and musicians…look to engineers…look to war heroes…look to ancient cultures. Expand your recruiting and coaching by incorporating ideas found far off of the playing surface.


You, Recruiting and “A Message to Garcia”Friday, November 9th, 2012

What kind of a coach and recruiter are you?

At your core – when nobody is looking, and you’re the only one in the office – how focused are you on getting the job done for your program, your fellow coaches on staff, and your college?

That question applies directly to your role as an effective recruiter.  What you do, how well you do it, and what kind of focus and energy you apply to that part of your job, will (in the long term) determine what degree of success you have as a college coach.

Which brings me to a short piece written in 1899 in pre-Socialist Cuba by a businessman and author named Elbert Hubbard.  If you are a college coach who wants to be the very best in the business, this should be something that you print out and read regularly.  It’s powerful, and though written in language that is better suited for the last century, the core questions it raises for hard-working recruiters are timeless.  In my opinion, it’s also an excellent piece to have your team go through, as it addresses the concepts of hard work, personal accountability, and results that each individual is responsible for in their professional and personal lives.

After the piece, I have three key questions for every college recruiter at the end.  Enjoy.


“A Message to Garcia”

by Elbert Hubbard, 1899

“In all this Cuban business there is one man that stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba- no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Some one said to the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How “the fellow by the name of Rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men and women need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: Do the thing- “Carry a message to Garcia!”

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

No man or woman, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office- six co-workers are within call.

Summon any one and make this request: “Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio”.

Will your co-worker quietly say, “Yes, sir,” and go do the task?

On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he?

Which encyclopedia?

Where is the encyclopedia?

Was I hired for that?

Don’t you mean Bismarck?

What’s the matter with Charlie doing it?

Is he dead?

Is there any hurry?

Shan’t I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?

What do you want to know for?

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia- and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average, I will not.

Now if you are wise you will not bother to explain to your “assistant” that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile sweetly and say, “Never mind,” and go look it up yourself.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first-mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting “the bounce” Saturday night, holds many a worker to his place.

Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply, can neither spell nor punctuate – and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

“You see that bookkeeper,” said the foreman to me in a large factory.

“Yes, what about him?”

“Well he’s a fine accountant, but if I’d send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street, would forget what he had been sent for.”

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the “downtrodden denizen of the sweat-shop” and the “homeless wanderer searching for honest employment,”  and with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne’er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long patient striving with “help” that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is constantly sending away “help” that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues, only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer- but out and forever out, the incompetent and unworthy go.

It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best – those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him. He cannot give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia? His answer would probably be, “Take it yourself.”

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled No. 9 boot.

Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slip-shod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude, which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry and homeless.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds- the man who, against great odds has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there’s nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes.

I have carried a dinner pail and worked for day’s wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the “boss” is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets “laid off,” nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village – in every office, shop, store and campus.

The world cries out for such: They are needed, and needed badly – the man or woman who can carry a message to Garcia.”

* * *

So, here are my three questions for you as a college coach:

  • What are you doing – or could be doing – without being asked?
  • When you set your mind to recruiting, do you approach it begrudgingly?  Or, do you strive to learn as much as you can about this part of your job and attack it with the same enthusiasm you do in preparing for the pure coaching part of your career?
  • What needs to change right now?

Look for opportunities to “carry a message to Garcia”.  And when you get that opportunity, excel at it.



What Coaches Can Learn From the Amazing Life of Steve JobsMonday, October 24th, 2011

Steve Jobs’ death brought an end to the amazing life of a man destined to go down as one of the most incredible innovators of our time.

He is also someone who developed principles that every college coach should try to learn from, and put to use in their program.

Here is a list of Steve Jobs’ rules for success.  Are you following them in your coaching career?

1. Do what you love.   Jobs once said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, “I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.” That’s how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe.  Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Don’t lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections.  Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn’t have any practical use in his life — until he built the Macintosh.  Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don’t live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4.  Say no to 1,000 things.  Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the “A-Team” on each product. What are you saying “no” to?

5. Create insanely different experiences.  Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message.  You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter. Jobs was the world’s greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products.  Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It’s so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don’t care about your product (Coaches…translate “your recruits don’t care about your program at first”). They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you’ll win them over.

Special thanks to Coach Karen Corey, Head Volleyball Coach at Bowdoin College, for sharing that with us.

The Importance of Selling Your VisionMonday, February 28th, 2011

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota Women’s Soccer

Coaching your team and developing leadership starts with having a vision statement, then developing a plan to achieve it.  That’s the starting point for every business that wants to be successful, and it’s a must for college coaches who want to build a successful program.

A vision statement answers the question, “What will our program look like 5 to 10 years from now?”

A vision is more than a destination.  It is an inspiration, a motivator, and a rallying point for a team.  Results matter, but they are often the by-products of an effectively created and communicated vision. 

How does the vision you have for you team apply to managing your time in the office?

Dan Tudor talks a lot about how recruits don’t care about your past or your present, they only care about how they fit into your future.   

Coaches who consistently sign the recruits they want have mastered really good communication and a great selling message on how the program’s future expectations, goals, and aspirations will meet the recruit’s needs and help him or her achieve their goals.  

Communication of a vision is the difficult process of inspiring your recruits to see the future reality which you see, and are committed to make happen for them. Communicating your vision will help recruits focus their energies to see that their real needs might best be met through your program.

So, how do you do it?  Communicating your vision is talking about the future, evoking images and responses in the mind about what it is going to be like for them over the next 4 years while at your college.  Communicate your vision so people can feel it, see it, and feel it. 

When communicating and selling your vision to recruits remember the following:

1. Clearly articulate the vision of your organization.
2. Be enthusiastic toward your vision, and let others see your passion for that vision.
3. Repeatedly share the vision in various ways.

Concentrate on the “what’s-in-it-for-them”, and the what’s-in-it-for-you will then usually take care of itself. 

Mandy Green is the head women’s soccer coach at the University of South Dakota.  As a coach, wife and mother, she is preparing a session on organization and time management for the upcoming 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  The principles she developed and put into practice lead to her best recruiting class ever, and with a fraction of the stress that she experienced in past years. 

Recruiting – and Training – Your Future Team LeadersMonday, January 26th, 2009

Mandy Green, SFC Team Building Expertby Mandy Green, Selling for Coaches

When coaches are deciding who they should offer a roster spot or even a scholarship to, intuition and gut feelings can play a major role in the decision making process for many important things, including identifying potential leaders out of several players they may be recruiting. They all may appear to be equally talented and qualified and to choose the best fit for your program can be a daunting task. The choice you make can have a lasting impact on the success of your program.

For your program to continue to grow and be successful, you need leaders on your team. Coach, I am writing this article in an effort to help you fully understand the difference between those who are great players and those who are great leaders of players.

Effective leaders within your program have the vision to see what needs to be done, are not afraid to take action, will hold their teammates accountable, and will motivate and energize their teammates to perform to their potential. Having strong leadership within your team in place, you’ll find it much easier to build a strong, respected and prosperous program.

Identifying recruits with leadership potential is not always easy. However, to ensure your programs continuing winning performance, you need to identify these people and nurture their leadership potential.  Its beginning to be a reoccuring theme at our SFC Recruiting Conferences because coaches know that it is important, yet lack some of the necessary skills to accurately identify that potential in athletes.   

Leaders on the teamLeaders aren’t necessarily the high performers – they may not demonstrate the greatest technical skill in your sport or even be a starter. High-potential leaders are often the people who want more and do more. They’re the ones who embrace changes and try to help others. They make your program better in terms of performance and culture.

So, how do you identify those recruits who potentially have what it takes to lead others?

It’s common for college coaches to label high achievers as potential leaders. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple: If players perform well, that really only shows that they’re well suited to their sport.

Let’s look at two examples:

  • Gina, is a very good point guard. Her teammates admire the work she does on the court, and it’s very likely she’ll be one of the most highly recruited point guards in the country because of her vision of the court and defending ability. However, she is very quiet and leads by her actions.
  • Natalie is an above average point guard but not necessarily extraordinary. What stands out is that she has forged great relationships with every single player on her team. Because of this, whenever coaches feel a change needs to occur within the team, the coaches count on her to see the benefits and motivate her teammates to accept them.

Who is the real leader?
Chances are that Natalie is a more promising leader than Gina. You won’t know, though, until you look a lot deeper and observe many more behaviors both on and off the court. What’s clear from the start is that player performance, by itself, is not a reliable indicator of real leadership potential.  In working with college programs to help build strong team-building initiatives for our clients, I see this mistake being made by coaches on a regular basis when we start work with a college.

I believe that most every athlete can develop leadership qualities, but some recruits may already be more advanced in their ability to do well in leadership roles.  It’s up to you, Coach, to make the right call and identify the right players as soon as possible. 

There are six identifiable behaviors that will usually tell you if one of your athletes has this high leadership potential. For SFC Premium Members, I’ll be telling you about these six traits, and give you 34 questions to help you identify them.  You can look for these personal attributes in the players that you are recruiting, as well as those members of your current squad.  If you aren’t a Premium Member yet, sign-up before this Thursday.

And, if you want help in identifying the characteristics and traits of your current players – on and off the court – you can now use the same psychological reports that the NFL and Major League Baseball use to evaluate their prospects before they select them in the draft.  They are turning into a reliable barometer for college coaches to use in quickly and accurately identifying how their team will perform, as well as who the leaders (and followers) will be.  Click here to learn more.

Selling Your Prospects on Becoming LeadersMonday, November 17th, 2008

by Mandy Green, SFC Recruiting Solutions Consultant

Coaches who successfully recruit players use their leadership development program as a tool to draw in high-potential recruits that otherwise would go to another program.

Why?  Because most high-level recruits understand that they need to develop great leadership skills to be the best college player they can be, and to be successful after college. 

An even more important question: Do you have an established leadership development plan? 

If so, you should sell your leadership training program to recruits by telling them (and showing them) how invested you are in helping them develop as a leader. Recruits that are keenly aware of the importance of self-development will be impressed that you want to make an investment in them.

Don’t have a leadership development plan?  Here four suggestions for getting one started.

1.  Evaluate what you already have in place.  Make a list of what you what you have been doing and what you would like to be doing.  What worked well?  What needs to be changed? 

2.  Develop your definition of leadership. Spend some time thinking about what leadership means to you and what it might look like in your program. With this definition in mind, you are ready to communicate your expectations to those who may be ready to lead.

3. After you’ve defined your leadership expectations, you need to demonstrate these qualities in your daily decisions and interactions. Modeling the leader behaviors that you want to see in others has a dramatic effect on your program by shaping its culture. Demonstrating the leadership values and behavior you believe in lets people know that you take your leadership role seriously and that you have high standards for leaders. Your prospective leaders will take their cues from you when they see you set challenging goals, deal effectively with failure and adversity, respond quickly to opportunities, guide the team through tough problems, or sensitively deal with an upset player.

4. Develop an outline for how you are going to develop your leaders. A mistake a lot of coaches make is that we talk about the need for leadership but don’t teach people how to do it.  Don’t assume your team has the skills needed to be a good leader.  Make a list of the skills needed on your team, then map out a plan for how and when you are going to teach and develop each skill.   

Once you have formed an outline of how you want to develop your leaders and what "success" looks like, you must start implementing the program within your team. Keep in mind that leadership development takes time, patience, and persistence. 

Author Jeff Janssen, in his book The Team Captain’s Leadership Manual, says that effective team leaders impact the most important areas you hold near and dear as a coach: Your success, sanity, satisfaction, and significance. 

Developing the leaders on your team will not only create a more successful culture within your program, it will also establish an environment that will attract future leaders in your upcoming recruiting classes.  Mandy Green

Mandy Green is an experienced college coach who is an expert in sports psychology strategies and team development techniques.  SFC has developed a special one-day training course for college coaches and their current athletes that focuses on team leadership development and using your team to effectively recruit athletes during on-campus visits.  To find out more about this new on-campus workshop for coaches, email her at mandy@sellingforcoaches.com.