Friday, March 25, 2011

Recommending Ronnie Lott

I jumped onto LinkedIn today to track down someone's email address when I happened to see something interesting there in the People You May Know area... Ronnie Lott.

It appears I am now connected within one or two people of much of the NFL. Who knew?  (It's probably related to that half time speech I referenced yesterday.)

Naturally, I pulled up Ronnie's page and there were two things that struck me.

First, I loved the understatement next to Honors and Awards. "Class of 2000 Hall of Fame." That could be the Delta Skymiles Hall of Fame, but I suppose if you are working with Ronnie Lott then it's sort of implied it's the National Football League Hall of Fame he was inducted into in 2000.

The other thing I noticed is that Ronnie has only two recommendations. I thought about adding Ronnie to my network just so I could provide a third recommendation.

His two current recommendations are as Managing Member of Lott Auto Ventures, so I would put my recommendation under one of his other positions, like the one that says Safety, San Francisco 49ers.

In recommending Ronnie, I'm not sure if I would use corporate buzz words or not.  Ronnie Lott is not the type that needs flowery embellishment about creating synergy.  Not to mention that during his time in the NFL, Ronnie was certainly NEVER looking for Win-Win situations.  Obviously, corporate-Speak isn't the right tack so I would just keep it straight. My LinkedIn recommendation for Ronnie Lott would probably look like this:

"Ronnie's impact to a team stretches far beyond the white lines. His crushing tackles that cause trepidation for opponents are the clear reason why if I needed one guy to put an open field beat down on the enemy, my first choice is Ronnie Lott. And there is no greater leader in NFL history than Ronnie. That is a big statement, but if you have one inkling of doubt just shake hands with him using your left hand and remember why the tip of his pinky is missing. When you combine God-given ability, hard work, and passion for what you do, you can move the world. Ronnie Lott is a true warrior who exemplifies that recipe of success: Ability, Effort, and Passion."
Jeff Skiver recommends Ronnie Lott. 

(This ESPN video is a strong recommendation, too.)

Ya know... now that I think about it, I doubt a recommendation from me on LinkedIn is going to really add much to Ronnie Lott's resume. It's pretty strong on its own.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pick Me Out A Winner, Bobby

I've gotten a few emails over the last couple of weeks about my motivational speech about hawks.  Granted, most have asked me to stick to curmudgeonly observations.  However, at least a couple of folks wanted to know what my Corporate Rate is.  Rather than jump right into the quote for bringing Jeff Skiver to your next benefit, let me seed my Motivational Speaker resume with another example of my work..... and a VERY high profile example at that.

Below is the text of the speech I gave at halftime of the 2007 AFC Championship Game when my Indianapolis Colts were losing 21-6 to the evil New England Patriots.  As many Skiving Off readers know I had lost my beloved dog Simon six days before this game was played, and most people listening to my speech were expecting an exhortation to "Win One for Simon."  Instead, I went with the version below, and I believe it was quite effective.  As Wikipedia now documents, the Colts "18-point comeback was the largest ever in an NFL conference championship game, and tied the record for the fourth largest NFL postseason comeback."  (The Colts scored 3 points at the close of the 2nd quarter to cut the lead from 18 to 15 at halftime.)

Gentlemen, today I'm going to share with you a prize.  A true prize.  Today I am going to give you the greatest bar bet/trivia question known to the sports kingdom.

In the movie version of The Natural, what is the name of the bat Roy Hobbs uses to hit the Pennant Winning home run? 

When you ask this trivia question to someone you will get one of three possible responses:
a)  80% of the people will stare blankly with no clue
b)  18% will confidently blurt out the incorrect answer "WONDERBOY!!!!!"
c)  2% will smile and tell you that is a trick question and then correctly answer, "Savoy Special"

Throughout the movie, Roy Hobbs' hitting exploits are done with Wonderboy, the bat he hand made when he was still a boy living on his family's farm.  At the height of his heroic single season in the Majors, Roy even takes the time to help chubby bat boy, Bobby Savoy, carve a bat of his own that Bobby names "Savoy Special." 

Every man in the Colts locker room knows what it means to be worshipped as a hero by fat little kids.  But that's not what is important right now.  In the closing moments of that film, Roy Hobbs stood at home plate representing the winning run in a game that would send his team to the championship.  And in his hands he held his trusted bat, WONDERBOY, who had been with him for 25 years.  And when he lashed out at the ball with Wonderboy, he sent the ball over the fence.... but just foul. Then, when he turned around to go back and take another cut, he saw that Wonderboy had split in two.

Gentlemen, that is my question for you today:  What do you do, when Wonderboy is gone?  It is a touching moment in the movie when fat little Bobby Savoy runs out onto the field to take the broken bat away.  Roy hands his mortally wounded friend and partner, Wonderboy, over to the portly bat boy and says, "Go pick me out a winner, Bobby."  Bobby returns with Savoy Special, the bat he and the heroic Mr. Hobbs made together, and Roy returns to the batter's box to take another swing.

There is a life lesson here about handling fame and good fortune.  It adds flavor to the movie's plot that the relationship the Hero kindled with the lowly, seemingly unimportant boy can pay dividends when the hero most needed a friend.

It's easier to be a hero when you're healthy.  It's easier to be a hero when you hold a commanding lead.  It's easier to be a hero, when you're holding Wonderboy, the biggest gun in the arsenal.  But the measure of a Champion... indeed, the measure of a Man is what he does when Wonderboy breaks.

Out on that field the score shows the Patriots with 21 points and the Colts with 6.  I think it is clear to all of us that at this point in our season of destiny we are looking at the shattered pieces of Wonderboy.  But Wonderboy was only a tool.  And regardless of whether he held Wonderboy or Savoy Special, Roy Hobbs had the heart of a champion.  And if we X-rayed every person in this locker room we would see that same Champion's Heart beating.  We are down 15 points.  We are looking at the shattered dreams of Wonderboy lying in the dirt.  But our destiny doesn't lay in the dirt..... it courses through our veins, propelled by the Champion's Heart. 

Today's victory is NOT for our owner, Mr. Irsay.  Today's victory is NOT for our parents and families who sacrificed to help us.  Today's victory is NOT for the people of Indianapolis.  Today's victory is for harmony in the universe.  Gentlemen, it is your DESTINY to win today; anything less will create a divine disturbance in the universe.  See that victory in your mind, and go back to that field and fulfill your destiny. 

(Clicking above will play the scene from the film.)

It should be noted that at halftime of the AFC Championship Game on January 21st of 2007, I gave the above speech to my wife, Gail, and our surviving dog, Abby, in the living room of our home in Holland, Michigan.  I have no idea what speech Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy provided to the team down at the RCA dome in Indianapolis.  But it doesn't matter.  I've always known that it was MY speech and the spirit of the movie version of Roy Hobbs that propelled the Colts to their second half comeback and carried them through to their destiny of being Super Bowl XLI Champions.

That's what I do.... I motivate Champions.  Also, sometimes I take credit for Championships that I really had nothing to do with.  It's up to the readers to decide just how important my role really was.  However, my mom says I was key to the Colts winning the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interview With an Eagle

(Warning...  The following issue of Skiving Off contains a Motivational Speech.  If you are overly cynical or jaded, it may be best to wait for the next update.)

Sometimes life is like Robot Chicken, where you see something that is truly wrong, but you struggle to quantify exactly what the issue is.

Last night Gail and I were driving home from dinner.  Actually Gail was driving and I was staring out the passenger side window.  Sometimes just for fun Gail drives while speaking French like Rallying legend Sebastien Loeb and I scream out co-driver navigation commands in a fake Finnish accent, "Haaaard Left Fiiiiife Huudeeeeert metters oooofer da Ridddge!!!!!!!!!!!!"   (There's a reason Mika Hakkinen asks me to race with him every year... I'm that good.)

Nevertheless, last night I was just staring out at the muddy fields of Central Indiana when I yelled (in my own personal middle American accent), "Look at that hawk!!!!"  I pointed to the field off to the right where there was a giant hawk poking at something on the ground.  Then, it started running and flapping it's wings, and I said, "Well, that aint a hawk.  It must be a huge...crow."  My voice trailed off. 

I did NOT see it, but I imagine if we had been there 5 seconds earlier we would have seen little sparrows in green and yellow jackets & helmets running around before a yellow-clad Robin (the Shooter) saluted then started Vogue'ing.  Or as the Central Indiana Avian Catapult Procedures Manual describes, "extending his arm (wing) overhead and sweeping upraised hand (wing tip) downward in the direction of the launch, touching the deck and returning the hand (wing tip) to horizontal in the direction of the launch."

My brain was reeling.  The bird ran, flapped, and took flight; and it was NOT a crow.  It flew westward and crossed over Oak Ridge Road just as Gail piloted our TDi Jetta under it.  Kids, it was a MASSIVE hawk, and he was beautiful.  Still, I felt like I was five years old and reading Highlights because I was dealing with a "What is wrong with this picture?" situation.  Something seemed grossly wrong with the hawk's take-off.  Then, it hit me.  It was the flapping.

Hawks and eagles can be big, heavy birds.  However, they are beautiful.  They are birds that soar.  They dive.  They swoop.  That's how we humans like to envision our birds of prey.  Motivational posters show eagles soaring above majestic mountains, not running across muddy fields flapping their wings madly.  We like to see raptors swoop down and do a touch and go on a lake while pulling out a wriggling fish to serve as a carryout dinner for the chicks at home.  It is not as attractive to watch a hawk pecking at a dead rodent as its talons sink into the mud.
Yet the lesson is that even eagles hit bottom. 

Intrigued by what I saw with the hawk last night I called an eagle friend this morning and asked him about it.  His words were eye opening:

"Life is pretty sweet when you're soaring.  It's effortless.  It's both an adrenaline rush and an ego trip.  'Cause while  you're up there riding the thermals and taking your pick of the hot meals 500 feet below you, the humans just stare in awe.  What the opposable thumb crowd doesn't realize though, is that life happens, and sometimes we have to land and walk among them in order to get by.  However, we don't stay on the ground for long.  And as we run and flap and struggle for altitude, it isn't always pretty, but we do whatever we have to do to survive.  I'm an eagle, Jeff, and just because I occasionally have to get my talons muddy does not change who I truly am or what I was born to do.  Just because hunger can bring me to a place 'below' the humans does NOT mean I have to stay there.  I am an eagle, and regardless of the reading on the altimeter, you can rest assured that I am ALWAYS soaring on the inside."

Don't ever be embarrassed to flap. The soaring dreams we keep stored on the inside only come true through our tenacious efforts and our willingness to flap our way out of the mud.  (That last line is mine... not the eagle's).