Thursday, July 3, 2008

The 5 C's of Success

I'm a Costco guy. I head to the store near my house about once a month. When I was there earlier this week, I picked up a copy of their magazine -- Costco Connection -- while standing in the check-out line.

Surprisingly, I found a good interview with the CEO of Pepsi, Indra Nooyi, who outlined her "5 C's of Success."

[As a side note, my Grandfather was with Pepsi for many years in Ohio, and my uncle remains with Pepsi today down in South Texas.]

The "5 C's of Success," according to Ms. Nooyi:

Competence: It's important to have what Nooyi describes as a "hip pocket skill" -- something you're known for. I've discussed this idea on previous posts as it refers to incoming rookies. They've got to have something that really stands out and differentiates their game from other players.

For coaches, I think it's important to be solid in all aspects of the game from an X's and O perspective. But when a coach knows something better than any other coach, his teams will have an edge.

For Mike D'Antoni, it's the fast break. For Don Nelson, it's small ball and creating mismatches. For Phil Jackson, it's the Triangle offense and his ability to get superstars to play together. For Larry Brown, it's teaching in practice. For Mike Fratello, it's late-game situations.

You can do this for coaches in every sport and every level. Rick Pitino is known for his press, while Ben Howland is recognized for his overall team defense.

Think about what players like Ray Allen (shooting), Chris Paul (ability to get in the lane), and Kobe Bryant (ability to create his own shot) are known for. Yes, they're great players, but they have one (or two) skills that really stand out and make them special.

Courage & Confidence: The courage and confidence in your abilities to make difficult decisions, take tough shots, or go against the grain. Danny Ainge had the courage and confidence to stick with Doc Rivers after a rough season in 2006-07 even though he knew he'd be heavily criticized. He also had the courage and confidence to make several big roster moves that, as we just saw, paid off big for Boston.

Communication: As she points out, if you can't communicate clearly and in a compelling way, the other C's are wasted. I've known plenty of coaches who know the X's and O's, have a vision and a plan, but fail to inspire or effectively communicate that vision.

Compass: When I was a student at the University of San Diego, I remember a quote by Henry David Thoreau from a philosophy class: "Be not simply good, be good for something." I may not remember everything from college, but that quote has stuck with me.

Clearly, I'm not the perfect person. I've made a lot of mistakes, including some very serious (and very public) ones. I regret them, but I've also learned from them. I'm also fortunate to have had a solid Lutheran upbringing under the guidance of two caring parents.

Coaching: Nooyi contends that mentors pick you, you don't pick them. I've been lucky to have a number of generous mentors, from my Dad; to Hank Egan and Jim Brovelli, my college coaches and, in Coach Egan's case, my assistant in Golden State; to Chuck Daly, John Gabriel, and Pat Williams in Orlando; to Pete Babcock and Lon Kruger in Atlanta; to Garry St. Jean with the Warriors.

Most successful people, from NBA players to CEOs, will point to one or two key people in their lives -- an uncle, a teacher, a coach, a senior executive, a neighbor -- who took them under their wing, worked with them, advised them, and encouraged them. These "coaches" have an incredible impact on the lives of those they mentor.