Powerful Note

Powerful Note

For the ninth year in a row, I returned to my television roots this month and produced the general sessions and awards celebration for a franchising company. The keynote speaker was Alan Stein, Jr., who works with NBA and college athletes. Here are the highlights of his 60-minute talk – delivered without a single PowerPoint slide!

Full Commitment: Alan asked Kobe Bryant to put him through his typical workout. Kobe: “Sure, we start at 4.” Alan: “I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”  Kobe: “4 a.m.” Alan arrived 15 minutes early to make a strong impression. Kobe was already dripping with sweat, having spent 90 minutes warming up. “Kobe wasn’t the greatest player of his era just because of talent. He outworked everyone and never got bored with the basics.”

Strong Habits: Forty-two percent of everything we do is auto-pilot. “We do things either ‘because of’ or ‘in spite of’ our habits.”

Flexibility: “If you’re not agile, you’re fragile.”

WIN: “What’s Important Now.” Stay in the present moment, let go of what just happened and refocus on what’s next. “Always choose a response that moves forward and improves a situation.”

Motivation: Steve Nash was a two-time MVP – and while an exciting offensive player, those skills might not be his greatest contributions to his teams. The Hall of Famer led the League multiple times in ‘emotional deposits’ – high fives, fist bumps, pats on the backside. “Those are just as important to success as scoring and assists.”

Leadership: Put 10 rubber bands on your wrist each morning. Every time you compliment a team member, move one to the other hand. At the end of every day, all of them should have switched positions.

Developing Trust: “It’s not about me. It’s about you… and how I make you feel.” Alan said he met legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski for a few minutes at a practice. Several days later an envelope arrived at his home. It was a thank you note from Coach K. Toward the end of his talk, Alan took a note card out of his jacket and said, “This is that note. It made a tremendous impact on my life.”

When the session finished, Alan handed me a pair of basketball-themed dress socks and a note card: “David: Thank you so much for your amazing help and support… and for being so awesome to work with! Let these socks remind you to ‘be where your feet are’ and live in the present moment. I appreciate you.” That felt really good.

Later I told him that our son had played high school basketball and watched many of his videos. Alan asked for his address. Within a week, Kyle received a similar pair of socks, a hand-written note card and a copy of Alan’s book.


Halfway There

She says, we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got
It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not
We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love
We’ll give it a shot

If you are a fan of 80’s Glam Metal – or prefer the New Jersey superstar not named Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel – you know the next line:

Woah, we’re halfway there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer

The star-crossed lovers of Bon Jovi’s stadium rock staple were facing dire times. Tommy isn’t getting paid because the union is on strike. Gina dreams of running away and cries in the night.

While it isn’t clear how the story ends, the song provides hope they made it. A year ago, hope was a long shot. Six months ago, hope gave way to promise. Recently, promise stepped aside for good health. 

You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got

Here’s to having made it through our darkest days. Here’s to a great second half of 2021. Here’s to answered prayers.


Fruitful Misdirection

June 9, 1981… I’m sitting with nine rising college seniors in the office of the news director of KDFW-TV in Dallas. We’re there to start our summer news internship. He’s going around the room, asking each of us what we envision for a career. When it’s my turn, I say, “I really want to be in sports, but you didn’t have that internship here.”

Bob Henry stands up, says to the others, ‘Excuse us,’ and takes me across the open newsroom to the small cubicle of the sports director. “Find something for this kid to do the next 10 weeks,” he says. The sports director looks at me and replies, “OK, but I’m leaving this afternoon for Milwaukee, so you’ll have to wait. Oh, and see that pretty woman out there? She’s mine. Stay away.”

I recall the next day clearly, because Major League Baseball went on strike. When he returned, the sports director asked me what I knew about sports. I brain-dumped a whole lot of trivia… and told him I’d had a sports internship in Austin at ‘the worst television station in Texas.’ I mentioned that because of limited resources, I got to do everything and learned how to edit videotape highlights.

A few weeks later, he went out of town again and asked me to pick him up at Love Field when he returned. I lived in Fort Worth and wasn’t all that familiar with the Dallas airport area. On the way back to our downtown TV station, I got lost. So we spent an hour in the car… talking and getting to know each other. That 33-year-old man and this 21-year-old kid became fast friends.

The summer passed quickly, the internship went well, and my last day arrived. A few hours before Live at Five, he said, “I’d like you to be my sports producer.” I said: “That would be great. I graduate in May.” He said, “The job won’t be here in May, I need you now.”

That evening, he spoke to my parents and told them he would ensure I’d graduate… and the next morning I drove to Austin to meet with the Dean of the Journalism School, written job offer in hand. “We’re here to educate and prepare you for a career. Seems we did that.” UT waved the ‘last 24 hours must be taken on campus’ rule and I went to work on Labor Day 1981 – making $5.05 per hour. It was a blast… and I learned so much from him.

On June 12, 1982, I was Best Man at the wedding of the sports director and the pretty woman. He worked there another year, got fired, and moved across town a week later to WFAA. There he found fame by airing strong opinions on sports and injustices of the world.

Fast-forward four decades to the day from that first meeting. He’s retiring in a few months. Congratulations to you and Chris for a well-earned rest – and thank you for taking a chance on me, Dale Hansen.


Curtain Call

Curtain Call

Growing up in Fort Worth, I sometimes accompanied my parents to Casa Manana for summer-stock productions of Broadway shows. The first one I remember attending was ‘Hello Dolly’ starring Ruta Lee. That theatre-in-the-round experience gave 11-year-old me an appreciation of musicals that continues today.

Here’s my ranking of shows I have attended:

Top 5

Les Mis (Seen 7 times)
Phantom (6x)
Come From Away

Next 5

Miss Saigon
Will Rogers Follies
Secret Garden
Million Dollar Quartet
Jelly’s Last Jam


Jesus Christ Superstar (3x)
Guys and Dolls
Five Guys Named Moe
Godspell (2x)
The Wiz
Putnam County Spelling Bee
Forever Plaid
Kissless (Local H.S. production; never made Broadway)

The Classics

Annie Get Your Gun
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Damn Yankees
Fiddler on the Roof
Hello Dolly
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Man of LaMancha
Music Man
Sound of Music
West Side Story

3 I’ll Never See Again

Li’l Abner
Starlight Express

2 I Haven’t Seen And Will

The Lion King
Dear Evan Hansen

1 I Like That Most Don’t


From 1974-76, Ruta Lee was co-host of High Rollers on NBC with a little known fellow Canadian: Alex Trebek. She headlined at Casa for decades – last performing there in 2015. Coincidentally, Ruta Lee was born on this date in 1935. Happy Birthday… and thank you.


Wise Words

Recently I facilitated a virtual team engagement retreat and one of the energizers was ‘What’s the Best Advice you ever received?’

I gave the example of when I was in television – after working for seven years to finally sit in ‘the big chair’ as producer of college football – the first three games didn’t go as expected. In fact, the executive producer called the truck many times during the games to yell at me about what I wasn’t doing right. He also pointed out all the mistakes I made on our post game Monday morning conference call.

Our color analyst – former NFL defensive tackle Dave Rowe – called me a few days before game four. “Kid,” he said, “you’re like a quarterback who’s afraid to throw an interception. You’ll never throw a touchdown pass until you get over that fear. Next game… let it rip.”

I took his advice, telling myself: ‘I was looking for a job when I found this one… what’s the worst thing that could happen? They fire me?’ The phone in the truck never rang that day, and in fact for the next six years I worked for him, he rarely pointed out any mistakes.

Here are some of the ‘best of’ advice ideas heard from attendees of the team retreat:

“Focus on the people, not the project.”
“There are many sides to the truth. Everyone has their own.”
“You can’t please everyone.”
“Past is past. Future hasn’t happened. Live in the present.”
“Honor the perspective of each person in a conversation.”
“Give your best effort… every day.”