Over the last 20 years, motivational business speaker and best-selling sports author Ross Bernstein has written over 50 books and interviewed over 1,000 coaches and athletes to discover the secrets of successful sports teams. As a professional speaker, Bernstein shows businesses how this insight can help them reach their fullest potential.
Why do you think that lessons learned through sports are so applicable in business?
RB: I think that sports is a universal language—we can all speak it in one form or another. It doesn’t matter what gender, race, ethnicity, or religion you are— we all played organized team sports at some point and can all relate to the life lessons. Characteristics such as teamwork, perseverance, work ethic, commitment and passion—they’re all common among peak performers in sports as well as among peak performers in business.
What is the No. 1 quality of a successful sports team?
RB: Chemistry, without a doubt. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in the history of the National Hockey League, and asked him what the secret sauce was. He said, “Ross, it’s not so much about having the best players, it’s about having the right players.” He knew that he couldn’t afford a roster full of all-stars, so he would get his veteran “A” players to coach-up his “B” and “C” players. He would also put those players who were friends, especially former high school and college teammates, on the same lines together because he knew that they would sacrifice for each other and literally fight for each other. Scotty knew that when you could get all of your players “rowing the boat” together in the same direction, amazing things could happen—that’s why he’s got 13 Stanley Cup rings.
What do you love most about speaking?
RB: As a professional speaker, I feel very blessed to be able to make my living doing what I truly love. My passion is sports and I’ve been extremely lucky to have been able to meet and interview so many amazing players and coaches over the years. So, to be able share all of those stories and life lessons with others in hopes that they can in turn use that wisdom to be better leaders, to make deeper relationships, and to ultimately grow their businesses? It’s pretty humbling.
Do you have any advice for planners when hiring a speaker such as yourself for an event?
RB: The first touch point for every speaker is his or her website, so that’s the best place to start. Once there, their demo video should pretty much tell you everything you need to know. I don’t want a meeting planner to take my word for it, I want them to see and hear what my best customers have to say about me. Hiring a keynote speaker is a huge decision and the right person is really going to set the tone for your event.