What I learned about a sport I’ve never watched! Yes, you heard it right. I’ve never seen a single full football game my whole life. Ok wait, before you judge and stop reading, it gets better I swear! Let me explain what I did learn from a sport I never watched! In Canada, hockey was our game of choice, and of course basketball. We the North! Naturally, I didn’t really know who Peyton Manning was or what teams he played for! In listening to Peyton speak at the IT conference we attended in March, I found there was a lot to learn from him and his sport. I had the honor of having the best seat in the house, I was front row center, about 10 feet away, and here’s what I took away.

Must have a coach or mentor. Not only should you have them, but you need to be coachable as well. Coaches and mentors provide so much value, especially when you hit a plateau. Peyton was fortunate enough to have his father and brother (both
NFL quarterbacks) mentor him during his career. He mentions coach Tony Dungy and his unique style of leadership. He never raised his voice, spoke profanity, and he treated Peyton like a professional. The players didn’t ever want to let him down. He said things like “Take care of the little things, big things will take care of itself. No excuses, no explanations.” Peyton said
that Coach Dungy was “just as calm in the 4th quarter of the super bowl as he was at practice and when your leader is calm the rest of the team follows.”

Preparing is everything. Manning had the reputation of being the most prepared quarterback. His father taught him “Pressure is something you feel only when you don‘t know what you are doing”. If you prepare as hard as you possibly can for any role, you shouldn’t feel the pressure. Pressure means that you haven’t studied. In his words, “Preparation is where I felt I
could get an edge with the competition. I couldn’t out throw anybody, if you’ve ever seen me play you certainly know I couldn’t outrun anybody. I thought I could out prepare anybody.”

Sometimes you have to work with what you got! Peyton gave examples of having to find a team players strength and playing into that hand, instead of trying to meld them into a role that highlights a weakness. Or, in his personal case, sticking to a passing game rather than a running. We do our best to maximize our team members not only in their areas of strength,
but their areas of interest. In football, you don’t get to choose your team, you’re forced to do the best you can with the team you’re playing on.

Technology has changed the game. What interested me most is how football uses BI to optimize the performance of their players. Players wear chips in their shoulder pads which tell coaches how much a player is running during practice. By analyzing the data, coaches know when a player is running more than they should which would optimal performance, so then they cut down repetitions so that the player is set for Sunday. They also developed smart helmets called Insight by Ridell, it tells athletic trainers on the sidelines that a player has suffered a severe hit and that they should take the player off the field before he suffers more injury.

Technology has allowed to not only make the game smarter but safer as well. When the conference organizers announced an NFL star would be presenting, I thought – WHY? What insight could he contribute to my IT company? It was a welcomed surprise to see the elements and techniques that should be applied to a business being applied to a different type of team. He was very entertaining, well spoken, and a pleasure to listen to. There was so much more he had to share, so if you’re ever interested I’ll tell you all about it. Because of him I’m a bit more inclined to watch an inning or two, I’m kidding, I know that in football, they’re called quarters.

– A Message from the CFO Anne-Marie Lerch

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