Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A coach of a different sort

There's a great article in the July 21 issue of Fortune magazine about former Columbia football head coach Bill Campbell ("The Secret Coach" by Jennifer Reingold).

He hasn't worked in sports in since the late 1970s, when he stepped down after five years as head coach at Columbia where "he motivated, inspired, and lost -- a lot."

In fact, in his last year of coaching he was hospitalized for exhaustion.

[Campbell also played football at Columbia. Despite being only 5-10, 165 pounds, he captained the 1961 Lion team to the Ivy League Championship game (where they tied Harvard).]

After leaving football, he worked at an New York ad agency for awhile before joining Apple, in 1983, as VP of sales. According to the guy who hired Campbell for that job:

"It would be pretty unusual today to hire a football coach to be your VP of sales. But what I was looking for was someone who could help develop Apple into an organization. We had a dealer network in those days, and he gained trust both inside the company and in the dealer channel. He was just a natural."

Campbell, who is still a member of Apple's board of directors, would go on to serve as CEO of Intuit. But he's still involved in coaching -- just not the coaching of athletes. He serves as a consultant and mentor to executives all over Silicon Valley.

According to the article:

An important element of Campbell's teachings is the system he's developed for reviewing employees, which many of the executives he mentors now use. Rather than simply focusing on whether a manager has achieved his financial goals - which can lead to short-term thinking - Campbell gives equal weight to four areas. The first is traditional: performing against expectations. But then he looks at management skills, working with peers, and innovating. If you aren't good at all those things, you aren't good.

Said one executive: "He loves people, and he loves growing people."

And he's still involved in football:

During nine of the past 15 years...he has spent an hour and a half each fall weekday and every Saturday coaching the eighth-graders at St. Joseph's School of the Sacred Heart in Atherton, Calif. His earlier failure to be tough enough is a mistake he seems determined not to repeat. "He's very demanding," says school athletic director Jeff Reynolds. "He'll get right in the face of kids if they're doing something he doesn't like. And kids respond." Campbell has won six championships.