Lessons from Joe Cool at Dreamforce

I had the pleasure of seeing legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana speak at Salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference recently. Joe is 56, but looks like you could stick him in a jersey now and he could still play. Joe’s storied ability to keep calm and lead his team to victory when it counted earned him the nickname “Joe Cool.” The Hall of Famer shared tips that contributed to his success:

  • Nail the fundamentals. Practice them over and over, until they are second nature. Montana put extra effort into these throughout his career, working with his father as a boy and legendary coaches like Ara Parseghian and Bill Walsh during college and the NFL.
  • Preparation is everything. Montana spent hours and hours watching game film to prepare for opponents so that he could recognize anything they threw at him and he’d adjust.  He was ahead of his time here, as this is now a common practice.
  • Go the extra mile. Montana told how fellow San Francisco 49’er Hall of Famer Jerry Rice would run every pass in practice all the way to the end zone, rather than just catching the ball and running another 10 yards, like other players. This kept him focused on the ultimate goal (a touchdown) and kept him in great shape, as a bonus. Soon teammates were doing the same thing.
  • Don’t dwell on your failures, learn from them and then move on. Every quarterback has his share of interceptions, but the key is to have a short memory and not be afraid to throw the next pass. Admit you made a mistake and move on.

While many of these tips seem basic, they are great reminders for all of us. For example, following a structured process leads to successful projects and neglecting the basics contributes to failed projects. Preparing for meetings, rather than just showing up and reacting will make you more productive. Keep those ultimate goals in mind as you go through your daily routine, whether it’s a sales goal or a personal goal. You may not be a Hall of Famer like Joe, but you’ll certainly increase your chance of succeeding!

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