The Message

By Chris Lauderback on February 1, 2014 at 8:15a
Why, yes, I'd love to run through a wall for you, sir. Thanks for asking.

Like most high-profile coaches, Urban Meyer is no stranger to the banquet/speech circuit. It’s a great way to pocket some extra coin while repping the university and expanding one’s own personal brand.

For some, it’s even an easy way to stroke the ego a bit considering a coach like Meyer certainly doesn’t need the extra money but he’s certainly guaranteed to emerge from the black curtain to a starry-eyed group of employees chomping at the bit to soak in, and applaud, his every word.

Recently, thanks to the fact I’m lucky enough to work for one of the most successful companies in the United States, Meyer stopped to address our assembled leadership team and his talk was not only nothing short of remarkably invigorating and inspiring, it further illustrated exactly why he’s one of the top two head coaches in all of college football.

Though Meyer will tell you one of the aspects of his job that he dislikes most is addressing the media - and I’ve seen him first-hand in that setting numerous times - he still excels at it but clearly nowhere near to the level he does when speaking of what he’s passionate about versus being peppered by reporters.

It was obvious he was even holding back his passion a touch as he did his best to avoid profanity while forcefully jamming home his points in a way that made you sit up in your chair for fear of disappointing him.

Specific to the team, I was struck by just how similarly he runs his program in comparison to top organizations. He spoke definitively on the importance of evaluating talent and placing them into buckets such as the elite 10%, the middle 80% and the defiant/disinterested 10% while citing the worst mistake a leader/coach can make is to spend too much time on either of those 10-percenters.

Instead, he instructs his coaches to shine a light on that 80% group and devise ways to move them into the top-tier. In order to do that, they, with his leadership, they must perfect three techniques.

Meyer's passion for performance has him at the top of his professionUrban brings the noise 

The first is both Meyer and his coaches must master the art of having the players think the coaches are great at what they do, so they are willing to follow. As a visual, Meyer insists his coaches decorate their offices in a way that highlights players who have performed at an elite level under them and even forces his staff to pass an office inspection to ensure there’s plenty of glitz and glamour to not only wow a prospect but motivate a current 80-percenter.

The second piece is to get players to think as owners of the program; not simply renters passing through on a four-year stint. Ownership in the program breeds attention to detail and focus on becoming great both on and off the field.

Finally, Meyer, unlike a lot of CEO’s and elite coaches, openly works fear into the equation, tying it to the ownership piece in an effort to breed an attitude where players are afraid to take an action that would the program down or cast it in a negative light.

Interestingly, Meyer doesn’t believe the 2012 team really needed any of these three techniques to strengthen the foundation because of the incredible leadership already present in the senior class.

Meanwhile, moving to 2013, as many of you know, Meyer felt there was such a lack of leadership that he enlisted the instruction of Tim Kight, whom many of you recognize as the outstanding leader of Focus 3, an outfit that has mastered the “physics of performance” with one key element of that being the E+R=O (Event + Reaction = Outcome) philosophy.

Through Kight’s tailored program, Meyer felt guys like Braxton Miller, Ryan Shazier and others made huge leadership strides while noting there is still much work to be done.

Even with the outstanding content, it was still Meyer’s unbridled passion for excellence that stole the show. Sitting in the back of the room, and having been fortunate enough to hear him speak a dozen or so times, I found myself paying almost as much attention to the mesmerized reactions of the audience – many of whom I know very well – and imagining that same glare must be eerily similar to what Meyer experiences on his various trips to living rooms of elite recruits across the nation.

Considering Meyer has to be far less passionate about firing up a group of unknown employees than he is about convincing a set of parents and a young man about why they should commit to Ohio State, I could only smile with delight knowing this man is the CEO of your favorite football team.


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chirobuck's picture

I would love to hear him speak.....I got to hear Tressel do a talk last year for a program that I'm involved in called leadership medina and he was a good speaker but he made it very informal, almost like he didn't really prepare he made it work but it sounds like our last 2 coaches have very different personalities and ways of doing things, again I would love to get a chance to here Meyer
oh and not to nitpick but I think there is something wrong with your equation.....I'm no mathematician but something doesn't look right 


^ best post ever ^

Chris Lauderback's picture

oops, thanks man

Matt Gutridge's picture

I was lucky enough to hear him speak last year. What Chris described is exactly how it was when I heard him. 

Shaffbucks's picture

Reading that review Chris, got me all fired up man, jealous of ya! Keep holding down the Fort on High St. 


BamaBuckeye144's picture

Trying to figure out how to use this with my sales staff. I've strangely got that same 80/10/10 he's referring to. Good stuff!


brandonbauer87's picture

Very interesting stuff. You would really expect Tressel to be more formal than Urban. 

Northbrook's picture

Good read, Chris. Thanks.

CharlieBuckeye's picture

I have heard him speak on two different occasions on the Buckeye Cruise Against Cancer. Excellent speaker and if you get the opportunity to hear him speak it is well worth it.

"To have a great life simply follow this rule:  Do not bring undo conflict into your life..."

Charlie Baker - OSU - 1986

TMac's picture

This was delivered as a Great Message too, Thank You Chris!

ONE Not Done!

Colerainbuck's picture

I know I'm biased but combining the above w the passion of Kerry Coombs has to be a very inspiring message out on recruiting trail.
I remember sitting in the Colerain gym for freshman orientation for one of my kids. Coombs gave the welcome to Colerain speech w/ welcome, excited for new year, this is a great bunch of students etc etc. By the time he was done you had 40-50 year old parents ready to run through the walls we were so pumped!
It appears from outside looking in that Urban seems to be balancing the intensity and proper family/life duties very well so far.

Hovenaut's picture

A nice look into some of the other responsibilities UFM has as Buckeye HC, good read.

bucknut94's picture

Great stuff. I like the E+R=0 and the 10/80/10 philosophy. Those ideas can be applied to many different situations.

+1 HS
RicL's picture

Great story, Thanks for sharing. I like the 10-80-10 analogy, speaks directly to the core of building a sucessfull team. Sports, family or business.

MN Buckeye's picture

Thanks for sharing, Chris! 

sharks's picture

That 10-80-10 philosophy sounds a lot like GE's top grading.  Not sure if they still do it, it was a Jack Welch initiative.

A man got to have a code...

Jason Priestas's picture

Yep. The Welch model, which may or may not work, depending on the size and focus of your organization.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'll have to mildly dissent . . . the 10-80-10 analogy is an interesting thought exercise, but as a model applied to reality, it's a tautology and therefore not that helpful.

stevebelliseeya's picture

Ok, I had to look up tautology.

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

Ethos's picture

What company?

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Qujo's picture

Would absolutely love to see Urban speak at an event! I had the luxury and unique opportunity to have seen Woody speak at a Buckeye backers event ( he brought Jim Stillwagon with him), I think I was like 11 or 12, saw Earle speak at a similar event and saw Tress pump up the fan base at both the NC game at the pep rally in Pheonix and at the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State. All have been very inspirational. Woody was old school and probably my favorite so far but they are all equally talented in their spirit for TOSU! 

Our arch rivals.... 11 National Championships, 10 before 1949 - eight of eleven shared. Trying to respect them... trying.... Ugh!

HighBallAce's picture

My dad was friends with Rick Middleton and went to high school with him so dad would get to go to some of the Ohio State practices. He said that Woody was really intense and tough on his players when they were on the practice field but as soon as they stepped off of it, you could tell he really showed them love and cared greatly for them. Dad said that he got to meet Woody and that he went so far as to even ask dad how he was doing with school and how important it was for him to continue his education. Dad told him that he had volunteered to go to Vietnam and he said that Woody really seemed to show him even more respect after that. I always thought that was kinda cool and always hated the way Woody's name was brought up with the way he was fired.

allbucksallthetime's picture

Thanks for taking a few moments to summarize your experience as an audience member as Coach Meyer spoke to your company.  One of my favorite topics to read about is leadership and, IMO, the one quality all great leaders have is passion for what they do.  In that regard, we Buckeye fans are truly blessed.  Go Bucks! 

Colerainbuck's picture

Hey Steve...I'm sure you've seen tautology in action. You know, when the canary "taut he saw a puddy tat" which of course led to the sanctions when all those guys wanted a puddy TATT. And from what I can now tell Jack Welch and GE were responsible for our players infractions. So, logically ....FIRE GE!

nm_buck's picture

awesome display of logic and reasoning.  +1 for you sir

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15


Everyone I know who have heard and seen him speak said the entire room was riveted by what he had to say. I can only imagine what his pre-game speeches are like. No matter what he is an amazing representative for OSU and Ohio. Hope we have him as coach for a good long while.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Spivan's picture

I wonder if I could get him to come talk to my unit here in Colorado...

razrback16's picture

We are very fortunate, no doubt.

Doc's picture

Lucky duck!

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

pacow2334's picture

Is there any way to find this speech online????

Lucas Worrell

Crimson's picture

If it was a tOSU event, then SI will get the video through an open records request and publish it as a recruiting violation in about a year.

Athens BuckCat's picture

Would love to hear Coach Meyer speak, and I'm glad we buckeye fans are privileged to have him leading our program

bull1214's picture

ive heard myers and coombs both speak and its very easy to want to hang onto every word and follow them thru whatever wall they're going thru. some people have it and some dont. these guys just have IT.

BuckeyeJAK's picture

Thanks for another valuable insight into the man we are fortunate enough to have lead our team

Mark May is a mental midget