Jan. 27, 2022

Talk, Teach, Play with Aaron Locks, CEO/Founder of the National Academy of Athletics

Talk, Teach, Play with Aaron Locks, CEO/Founder of the National Academy of Athletics

In Episode 66, Aaron Locks, CEO and Founder of the National Academy of Athletics, talks with Phil about the importance of failure in success, three important questions he asks himself every day, the Pyramid of Success and what he learned from working...

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In Episode 66, Aaron Locks, CEO and Founder of the National Academy of Athletics, talks with Phil about the importance of failure in success, three important questions he asks himself every day, the Pyramid of Success and what he learned from working with John Wooden, his definition of leadership and success, secrets of successful youth coaches, synergistic collaboration, and how leadership is like jazz music. Specifically, Aaron discusses:

  • His story, how he developed his passion for sports and leadership, and how he got to where he is today (1:44)
  • The mission, vision, and values of the National Academy of Athletics, and how it is working to transform the lives of youth in America (2:58)
  • How we can make youth sports more accessible to all kids from all backgrounds (4:29)
  • Aaron’s personal “Why,” how he is living it out every day, and the three questions he asks himself at the end of each day (10:08)
  • The importance of encouragement and doing for others with no expectation of anything in return (12:15)
  • How he defines leadership (18:39)
  • Secrets of successful youth sports coaches (20:32)
  • A couple of the lessons Coach Wooden taught Aaron in their time together (26:27)
  • Synergy through collaboration and teamwork (34:14)
  • The importance of healthy conflict in teams (37:47)
  • What he hopes everyone will understand after they work with him (44:37)
  • How he uses the lessons he has learned through soccer in his parenting (46:07)
  • His recommendations (50:48)

Resources and Links from this Episode


Phil: Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again, for being a part of this conversation. Very, very much appreciate each and every one, he out there grateful that I get to do what I do. I know Paul Jobson, always, as I've said before, he's, he's jealous that I get to do these. I know it. And every so often we get to chat about the different conversations I get to have.

Most of them, I will say pretty much all of them actually have been great conversations. So if you haven't listened to the ones before I encourage you go back and do that, go back and listen to the go, go through the episodes that we've been able to do with some pretty amazing people and listen to what they have to say.

We have a one that we just released a few weeks ago. Called the Memorable Moments of 2021. So that gives you a little sampler platter, as I like to say of, of the last year. And you can check that out too, and I just encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to check out The Facebook page, the how soccer explains leadership Facebook page to go deeper into the conversation that we're able to have here on the show.

After the interview, I'll tell you about a couple of other things that we got going on, but I want to get [00:01:00] right to it today. I have another great person, a great human being great leader that I get to talk with. Aaron Locks, the CEO and Founder of the National Academy of Athletics. Aaron, how are you?

Aaron: If I was any better, be illegal, man.

Phil: Wow. All right. All right. All right. I don't want to get in the details of that and maybe I should. I don't know. We'll see. But you know, as always, I like to just be able to have you tell your story, just briefly share how you develop your passion for sports and you know, basketball in particular. I know that your, like your, your your love, but leadership and how you got to be to where they are.

I appreciate

[00:01:34] Aaron: the opportunity to be here and to share the story. And I love listening and watching a lot of stuff you do. So, kudos for that, you know, real simple. My dad left when I was three years old and when I was seven, I was the biggest sissy in the county. And my mom drove me to the baseball field and said, there's your baseball coach, closed the door and drove off. And my first coach was Marty Esless. We're still friends. He's 82 years old is about a half hour from me. I take them to ball games each year. [00:02:00] That's why I do what I do. Right. But I was extremely blessed. I played multiple sports all the way through high school. And then I left college to go work for a guy named John Wooden.

Some people will know his name, especially for

[00:02:11] Phil: tomorrow, just a little guy, little guy in the sport. Oh, some,

[00:02:15] Aaron: some, you know, Pyramid of Success, by the way, if you want to have a leadership, talk about pyramid of success, we'll dig in later. I'm sure have it is. I spent my entire adult life 36 years now working in youth sports and sports.

I worked for the Lakers and the Warriors and just had a really great run. Ran one company for 20 years called university of sports. And I'm proud to say this month is 10 years at the national academy of athletics.


[00:02:38] Phil: That's fantastic. And can you just dive into that a little bit? The national academy of athletics, what is it?

What is the mission vision? Just, you know, why did you start it and what have you been able to accomplish?

[00:02:48] Aaron: Great. So National Academy of Athletics partners with youth sports organizations, municipality cities, rec centers, schools to run and bring recreational sports back to the [00:03:00]kids. When my kids now are basically my daughter's a senior planner last year high school, and my son is.

When they were coming up, they didn't get what you and I got was the opportunity to go down the street and just play with your friends. Right. And since they didn't get that opportunity, I thought, okay, with the national account academy athletics, we can help teach the sports and life skills. So we're in over 125 cities now partnering to bring through physical education, back to schools, afterschool sports, helping to run leagues and really help the masses of kids just stay engaged with the games.

Fall in love with it. It's about their passion as well as the

[00:03:34] Phil: fundamentals. Yeah. I love that. You know, and that's something that I actually just I just finished another interview recently, and, and we were talking about it after the interview. He, he, you know, he asked me, do you, do you ever think we'll get back to just playing sports and, and having parents coaching and having it be where you show up?

I remember Diego Bocanegra, our mutual friend, and he talked about in his interview. We we'd go to the park or we'd find where the [00:04:00] bikes are. That's where we'd go and there'd be a game going on. It would be football or soccer or basketball or something, and we'd just play whatever was being played. It didn't matter what it was.

And do you think we're going to get back there? Like, I mean, is that, that's what you're working on? I know because we can learn so many lessons from it and how do we get there?

[00:04:19] Aaron: There is no better life teaching tool than youth sports, in my opinion. Parents can't make it work for their kids. They can screw it up as we know, but they can't make it work.

It's up to the individual child to have a passion for it. What we've got to figure out is how to bring it back to your point so that the kids can just play for the, truly the love of the game. Cause you know, when I used to walk after school home, we started, we, we would invent games, right? Like we had this one game called Dodge, the rock, which was a lot of fun until you hit me in the head with a rock.

So I'll play that anymore. Nowadays they call the police, right? You all buy rocks at each other, then. But we, we, this is how we started games and I had a problem and we did [00:05:00] some of this and that's how we learned to improvise, adapt, overcome. So to me, we have to find a way right now through the national academy of athletics, you, my passion, my work, we're putting it back in through organized sports recreation departments through schools, but ultimately it's going to become a trust.

Where I grew up in the sixties and seventies in a place called Marin county and mill valley where you could, I hitchhiked to school at 11 years old and Janis Joplin picked us up and we would get in the back of her, of a Ranchero dude in the back of Rancho and get a ride to school that's not happening ever again.

Right? Yeah. But there are pieces of this that we can do. There are pieces and it's going to come with the parents trusting that it's okay for your kids. Yeah, we're too focused on, oh my God. They have to, they gotta be, oh my God, the world's going to add, oh man, let them sell. That's how they learn. And you know, I've heard you talk about it, man.

Tell yours part of the process.

[00:05:58] Phil: That's right. That's right. [00:06:00] With failing forward. As we, as I know, John Maxwell has a great book failing forward. Right. And so, so who are the, who are the coaches who like in these programs? That's, that's something that I was, you know, I'm curious about and just hearing this, I just, I get excited about the, the idea and the concept and, and I love that it's working and I love that you're able to get out there, but, but obviously we know that the, one of the big reasons the costs are so high is because the coaches or the professional coaches and coach.

Year-round and all that, but what's, what's that look like in the, in the programs that you're, you're working on?

[00:06:30] Aaron: Well, the ones we work with, we primarily use college students you know, that age group and rather going through, like through our internship program or they're in college, we will then take them and we'll train them on my trademark “Talk, Teach, Play” system.

And they will use that. And then we will then get them background check and fingerprinted and concussion protocol and certified, and a mandated reporter and bully prevention, all these things. They have to go through to be able to be [00:07:00] allowed to coach through the national account of athletics. Once that.

Then we can take the next step. And so we reach out, man. I mean, you know, we've got 600 coaches or whatever it is. So we reach out all over. We recruit them, we train them. We, we work with them on not just, not just the sports of what to teach, but how to teach, because that's the key man. You got to do it in such a way.

That's why the talk teach play is such a huge piece of what we do because we found that kids are different than when you and I are kids. And so how does. Teach in such a way that keeps them engaged and interested in one, developing their passion. And a key to me is we focus on the effort rather than, than the result.

That's how, because if the kids put the right effort out there and get out of the way amazing things happen.

[00:07:46] Phil: Absolutely. Absolutely. And how can people get in to get in touch with you? How can they find out about, more about what what you're talking about?

[00:07:53] Aaron: Well, NationalAcademyofathletics.com is probably the best right.

Nationalacademyofathletics.com, but we're on all social [00:08:00] media is right. You know, Twitter and Instagram and Facebook, and a lot of those things going on. But yeah, reach out that way. You can email the office. Give us a call 8, 6, 6 90 sports, whatever you want to do, man, you'll find this. If you want us to write us and we're out there, I'm out there.

Aaron locks as well on Facebook and everything else. Just hookup, man. I, by the way, just Phil appreciate that. I promise I will connect back. Sometimes it takes me 24, 48 hours because I do get a little busy, but I promise if you mess with me personally, I promise that.

[00:08:28] Phil: Yeah, he got back to me. So I mean, that, that shows that I, I, no one knows who I am.

So that was great. Actually, I think we met on clubhouse. If I'm not mistaken, those were some, some fun conversations we gotta get back. We gotta get that back going on. We've I talked with a few guys about that. I know that it's the soccer community there, at least as I know, died away a little bit, but we're trying to, we're trying to.

Bring it back a little bit as, as we're in the off season for most of the coaches, but, you know, yeah, I just had a flashback to, when you said it's mostly college students. I actually coached junior high basketball when I was at UC Davis. [00:09:00] And you know, it wasn't this obviously, cause there was a few more than 10 years ago, but I loved it.

It was so much fun. It was, it was just a great experience to be able to learn. I mean, I learned a ton of lessons obviously about it, you know? Parents that thought their kid was this and that. And, and, you know, trying to help the kids and their parents, the guys come from swim, he's doing this. And I, it was just because it was great.

And then that was what we have to juggle right in, in, and it's okay. And it's right. And it's good. Cause I'd rather have him playing on the team then not because he wants to get, you know, I had one guy who was, I think he was super tall in junior high. Like an elite swimmer. So he'd show, he'd barely show up and he'd fell out in like three minutes, but that's a whole different conversation, but all right.

So let's, let's get to the next thing that I know. I know, I know this is something that you've thought about even heck you worked under John Wooden. We'll get to the John wooden conversation in a few minutes, but what's your personal, why your life purpose and how does that play out in your work with national academy of athletics and, and everything else?

[00:09:58] Aaron: I had some major challenges in [00:10:00] life. Very blessed. I have had an amazing life. I honestly believe that, but I probably have been through more obstacles than most. The last time I got a paycheck from anybody else was the golden state warriors in 1989. Mm. You know, going through family and divorce and all different kinds of situations, scenarios.

So to me, I had to come up with what is my why? So I came up with my true mission statement, a personal mission statement, not just a business personal statement on my personal one, which was I I'm putting on planet earth to enhance the lives of people through positive experiences. And. My kids will be encouraged and loved unconditionally to do whatever their passion is, knowing that if they fail that I'm there to support them and hold them accountable for their growth.

And before I leave planet earth, millions of kids will have had a positive experience through youth sports. Cause I was here. So that's, that's why that's what. So every day you've seen my post and my information. That's how I live. And it's not, it's not a fallacy. It's not [00:11:00] a thought it's, it's who I am.

Right. And I celebrate every day doing that. So that's, that's me. That's what it's about. And that's my why. And I measure every day asking myself three questions and I would loan this to whoever wants it part of the. Pat Riley training or when he was go to a lake, but so three questions. One is what did I do today?

That was productive because I feel if I'm productive, then I, and I have accomplished something. I feel good. Number two, what did I do that I enjoyed because it's about joy and something you love doing. And three, which I learned from Coach Wooden is what did I do for somebody with no expectation in return?

So if you do those three things every day, so I am a sunset hunter. So every day, no matter where I am, I find the sunset. Sometimes it's not easy. It's a side of a building, but I know where west is. And I go and I stopped and I asked myself those three questions. So every day I train myself to make sure that I'm productive, that I do something that.

And I do something for somebody else with no [00:12:00] expectation return. Then I feel like I've lived on planet earth for the right reasons. So that's, that's my thoughts, man.

[00:12:05] Phil: I love it. I love it. You know, folks, if you didn't listen to that, I mean what he said and what his, why is obviously what, what your, why is air.

Is your personal why? But I think the lesson we learned there, you've heard me folks out there you've you've heard me share my why is to help, you know, to help others to flourish and to make good things better. Right. And so the important lesson there in life lesson is you gotta know your, why you gotta take time to develop your why to be able to.

Understand why you, like you said, why you're here on planet earth. We were, we're not here by accident and we're in, we're not just this cosmic accident. We're here over purpose. What is your purpose? The fact that you're breathing and walking right now, you have a purpose. And so that's something I absolutely love that you clearly not only have taken the time you need.

And you're living it. I [00:13:00] love the questions. I very likely will steal those as I've stolen much from this. Yes, exactly. Well, I love that book steal, like an artist, you know, it's actually the title of one of our episodes, but it's just such a great title because it's, it's true. There's nothing new under the sun.

Right. But, but I think our. Our mission. I mean, our personal whys are very similar, but they're different and they're personal to us. And how do we see it? The words we use, I think are very personal as well. So that's something that I absolutely love it. And the intentionality shines through, obviously in what you do.

And if we're not intentional, we're just going to wake up 10 years from you just said 10 years now for national academy of athletics. If you didn't have purpose and live intentionally, you'd probably be waking up. It'd be very, probably wouldn't have lasted 10 years.

[00:13:52] Aaron: First of all, it’s like driving through like my braille man bumping into something that bumper that she could do that.

But why? Right? Why not? Why not have a [00:14:00] purpose and a sense of accomplishment, a sense of fulfillment every day. I to me, man, pay a and all that. I could tell you stories, the same thing, the more we can do for others. That's what it's about, right? Yeah. Especially now we need

[00:14:13] Phil: this easily. Yeah. And I love the book Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.

And he talked about the idea of the serotonin. Right. And, and as you talked about that, what did you do for others in the most poignant thing? That the one thing that I remember and I talk about all the time from that book is the fact that with the serotonin. The serotonin rush, which is our feel good chemical when you encourage, when you're encouraged, which makes sense.

Right. Because everyone loves being encouraged when you encourage someone else. And when you simply see someone else being encouraged. Yeah. And so this idea that when that goes to team, that's a whole different conversation, but even just when we are encouraging others, when we are doing things for others that, that causes the other person to [00:15:00] be.

More joyful and the people around us who see it too. So I mean, that idea of multiplication is just huge. So I absolutely

[00:15:08] Aaron: love that. So at our camps, we have teaching social, emotional components as well. Right. So one of the sessions we do is that. So while we're doing stations, we're at soccer camp, right?

So you've got soccer, it's working on goal scoring soccer skills, work on defense, and then we got a session and they're going, whoa, what's this. Well, here's what it is. It's it's empathy. So we do is we have one of our instructors walk and they tripped themselves. And then most of the kids, what do you feel?

Well, they laugh. It's kind of funny. Yeah. But what's the next step? How many of you felt sorry for the person that fell? How many of you thought God? I wonder if I could help them? C just teaching and recognizing as the first step. Right? So at our camps, our clinics, our programs, we, we teach these components because if you.

Real, if you make it relevant, if you [00:16:00] make it. So they see it and it's recognizable, that's the first step, right? Once you first recognize it. Now you have to train yourself intentionally to your point as, okay. I recognize that. What can I do when I see a lady who is unloading her kids and her cart, I wait.

And when she's done with her cart, I go put the cart away. Yes. Well, that's a big deal. Don't pat me on the back, but that little bit of kindness makes it easy for that mom, those two kids. Yeah. Dealing with her. She's got to deal with what if we all did that?

[00:16:35] Phil: And you didn't say, Hey, can I help you put the kids in the car?

Cause that might be weird,

but it's true though. I mean, we, we don't think about it now. I think about it and that makes perfect sense to me. And I know the value of that. Cause I. I have five kids. And I remember putting the kids in the car and seeing the fact that that cart needs to go over there and I don't want to leave the kids in the car.

And so it's a little thing. That's actually a pretty darn [00:17:00] big thing right before that person. And even if it wasn't a big thing of the person, it's a, it's a little touch, right? It's a little touch that we can actually touch the lives of somebody else. And who knows what that might lead to for them. In their day in their, in their weeks and their months in their years.

I mean, like it could have an exponential effect that we, we just grabbed the cart. It wasn't a big deal, but it's that into again, intentionality of being intentional and intentionally helping and intentionally serving and intentionally loving others, you know, and, and having that servant

[00:17:34] Aaron: leadership depo, talking about the law of detachment, because if she's not interested in.

I don't take it personal if she doesn't say thank you. I don't care what I love your smile. A wave. Absolutely. Right. But the reality is I am detached from her response. I just know it makes me feel good and it checked off my list. Right. I helped somebody do that. I opened the door for some, whatever the case is.[00:18:00]

Right? Yeah. So that's part of, that's part of the leadership side of it. Believe it or not, it comes through sport because we do this intentionally with our teammates, all of that. Yeah. So we just have to make, it takes a village. How do we make our village

[00:18:13] Phil: bigger? That's right. That's right. All right. So let's get into some leadership conversation.

How, I mean, we've been talking about leadership, but that's the little bit more specific, but how do, how do you define leadership with all the different leaders that you've been able to work with? How do you, how do you define leadership?

[00:18:29] Aaron: So I define leadership based on the goals. And that starts with coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success.

Success is a peace of mind of knowing you've done your very best, right? So I have to start there because in order to lead, you got to know where. Right. So for me, if every day I have my goals and success is peace of mind doing your very best, or I'm a do everything I can to be better today than I was yesterday that I have to be a role model.

And I have to find whether I'm coaching, teaching, helping my kids, whatever it is, the relationships are [00:19:00] there. I have to role model what it is that I'm, that I'm. And so, that's a big part of it to me in terms of the leadership. Other than that, I have, like, my company's got an inverted pyramid. People think I'm nuts, but I'm the CEO and founder.

I'm the guy, but I'm at the bottom. My job is to lift up my computer, my community partners, my strategic partners, my business partners. We lift up our area captains and our leaders w they lift up the directors and they lift up the coaches and they lift up the community that lets up the kids. Cause we're lifting everybody up.

We also know that poop rolls down. So as a leader, when they make a mistake and things come downhill, I have to be proactive. Right. I have to start with the end in mind. I have to do the Stephen. Covey's all those things to make sure that, oh my God, this guy is fine. That's not how it works. Okay. Creatively problem solve role model worked together to make it better.

And that's really what it is.

[00:19:56] Phil: Yeah, no, I love it. Absolutely. That's great. That's great. [00:20:00] So, okay. You have this program that's called secrets of successful youth sports coaches, right? So, I mean, that's something that I know there's some sports that you suppose courts out here. I'm sure it, doesn't just not exclusive to youth sports coaches too.

I'm sure it can apply to other areas of life and other coaches, but you share a share a couple of those secrets and just how can coaches help players to develop their leadership? Yeah,

[00:20:22] Aaron: man. So when I was developing that the man you're talking about stealing stuff, I thought, frankly, what would, what would dusty baker say?

What would you know, Bernie Bickerstaff say, what would these guys, Joe Montana, these guys that had had the blessing to be, to spend time with what would they say? Right. So the biggest secret that I've found to this number one is you have to be present with these kids and understand to note there. Hmm.

Cause I don't care what your, why is when it comes down to it. If your why doesn't match up with your kids, why is going to be a frustrating experience no matter who you leave right now, that doesn't [00:21:00] mean that if there, why is all of this that you have to acquiesce to that, but you've got to find a way to manage.

One of my fun day jobs for four seasons. I was the umpire in the San Francisco giants television commercials. Yes. I have a face for a mask. Right. So

[00:21:17] Phil: it was cool. And for radio and for radio.

[00:21:20] Aaron: So that's why clubhouse was so cool, man. That's exactly right. So I was there during the run 10, 11, 12, and 13 with Buster post.

And Joe panic and Brandon Crawford and these guys. Right. And I got to talk with these guys and hang out with them all day while we were shooting the commercials for three or four days. And I was asking like, what does it take for a Brandon belt, man? What does it take for a kid to get a chance to play high school, varsity, to play college, or even get paid?

Pat it's it's it's gotta be, they've gotta be there. Determination. I mean, Crawford was talking about fundamentals and all these other things now Posey his [00:22:00] nickname for me. Cause I was, the umpire was knuckle. It ain't not glare. It's passionate. So I dug in and we talked about a little bit. It's passionate, man.

If, if it's a kid's passion, if it's people you're leading passion is what it is. You know, as well as I do to be a good soccer player, you can't go to practice one hour, two days a week. And also in your stead, you gotta be willing to do it on your own. Joe panic takes 250 ground balls, seven days a week, 365.

Well, how, what, how much passing do you have to have to do that? Wait a second. So he's in the, in a tennis ball at the end of a hallway taking ground balls. Why? Because that's important to him. That's his passion to do that. So for me, I would find as a leader, find their passion as part of this number one, find that, develop that, bring that out.

Okay. Number two, is that. It's a secret, but most know it is criticize or correct privately as possible and correct [00:23:00] publicly as possible too often, we want to scream to get our point across, but what happens is great coaches or leaders, coach wouldn't quote, create positive change without causing resent. I don't care what you do if you're doing something and someone's yelling at you and you're not doing it right.

You're going to hell. I don't want to do that. I'm developing my passion, but if it come up and say, Hey, Hey, Hey, you know what, Phil, the next time, when that guy's cutting off to the sideline, if you take a better angle, you're going to be there for. You're going to actually get the ball and be in a good position rather than coming from mind, man, that's a difference.

So those, those are some tips maybe it'll help.

[00:23:39] Phil: That's super good. As I'm developing our coaching, the bigger game program. I'm like, we have a few of those in there. I'm going to add a little of those nuggets in there. Just some of those quotes and some of those things. Cause we talk about that. The coach that you got to have self-leadership to know your own.

You got to know your own. We got it's very self-aware, but if you're not aware of the individuals that make [00:24:00] up the team, and I think too often, we skip to the team and we skip the individual and we don't know the individuals that make up our team. And so we don't understand why they're not jelling and they're not cohesive and we're having toxicity and we're having different players there.

Some don't care some, as I said, if, if you have a, a bunch of players on a team and some are just out there to, to have fun and hang out with their friends and other ones want to win league, you're going to have disconnect. And you're going to have people that are really mad at each other and because they just don't get why they're not giving their all.

And you know, that just, I love the wooden quote. I mean, the success is the peace of mind that have done my very best. That's what I tell all our players all the time. All we can ask from you is your best. And what we're asking you for is your best here's every day.

[00:24:49] Aaron: There's no such thing as 110% man. Right?


[00:24:51] Phil: It doesn't

[00:24:52] Aaron: work. You could have, it just doesn't work. There's one word, which I would love for you to take a look at, because this is the last piece, [00:25:00] which is attitude, right? There's one word that we found. I learned from pat Riley, that if you total up the numbers value and you take the word. It's 100.

So a equals one T equals. If you took it out the basically right, and you did the numbers and you added it up, the word is attitude, which was 100, which to me means your success and failure in life is based on one word

[00:25:30] Phil: attitude. Yep. That's the idea that you can't you can't control your circumstances, but you can control your response to the circumstances.

Right? It's so important to remember. All right, dude. Now I, I, I, this is something I, I you've, you've talked a lot about John Wooden already. I can tell. I mean, even if I didn't know you worked for him, like, okay, this guy's really impacted his life. Of course he's impacted your life. You've got to work. I mean, what an amazing thing.

I just got to hang out with him for like five minutes and that was pretty, pretty amazing. So you got to do a lot more than that and have Cori Close who was on [00:26:00] earlier. She was able to be mentored by, by him as well, but. But what are, what are a couple, I asked Cori the same question and I loved her answer.

I just, cause I had like one or two or three of the top lessons that he taught you about life and leadership.

[00:26:17] Aaron: Wow. You know, there's so many, right. So that's what

[00:26:20] Phil: she said too. That's what she said. I have no doubt. That's actually true. Of course it is. That's amazing. But that's why I get to ask the question.

[00:26:26] Aaron: So I would say this, I would say if you look at his pyramid of success, Th this is it's a cornerstone. My, my, my player had have fun comes from this and it's been my entire adult life and everything I brought forward.

And so it's this, it is in the cornerstones of the pyramid of success. I'm visualizing it. There's industriousness and enthusiasm on the left is industriousness. Now industrious means work hard. Okay. Enthusiasm means enjoy what you do now. Here's what. If you work [00:27:00] hard, but you don't love what you do.

You're going to die out, man. It's not going to not going to want to do this. Right. However, if you love what you do, but you're not doing anything, it's unrealized potential. However, whatever it we're having fun, we're having fun yet. But you got to go in there right. Only when you. Play hard, have fun destress enthusiasm.

Do you have the true opportunity to reach your true potential? So to me, that's the biggest one was really studying and living an understanding that that that's why for me, it sounds crazy, but I don't do anything that I don't enjoy, but that doesn't mean I enjoy them. Right. I come to work like right now, time of year, I'm dealing with end of the year, dealing with the talent stuff, but I look at it and go, you it's part of the process because look what I get to do.

Right. Right. The other thing that I remember from coach, which was [00:28:00] funny is that he said, I would say things like I remember we were, we were, I was demonstrating in front of a crowd and I'm holding the ball and it's away way my. And I've got a picture of it, in fact, and he signed to me, he says, Aaron, if you don't hold the ball close to your chest, the next time I'll take it away from you.

Right. The one that's the closest he'd ever get with tongue and cheek to never use an unkind word toward anybody, right? Like, like one time he was on a show. I remember it was on a late night talk show and he was teaching the form and the other guy, the other guests. And coach didn't necessarily appreciate some of his antics, but his way of presenting it was he had a different approach to life.

That's the most unkind thing he would say crazy. So those two things, you know, be careful what you say, what you think and how you go about it. [00:29:00] So the key to me was coach would say, Aaron, you've now said three times that we have to go to this clinic. We have to be here. He said, Aaron, we

[00:29:10] Phil: get to be there.

[00:29:11] Aaron: Yep. We get to do this. So shifting, shifting in your mind for having to, to getting to.

[00:29:20] Phil: That's one of my favorite things in the world is, is to remind people and you know, the half to versus get to mentality is, is everything, you know, if we have to do it, if we have to do it, you're not going to do with joy.

You're not gonna do it with love. And I think I've said this on the show before, but my. Favorite story of that is my daughter when she was, you know, we'd always, I don't know if it's the same in your house, but if we ever say to our kids, you got to do the dishes. It's like kryptonite and all of a sudden, you know, world war three breaks out every single time.

Right. And it's, it's like the worst thing in the world you could ask a kid to do boy. And so my daughter was no, no different. And so one, one day we, she babysat, she was probably 11 or 12 and my [00:30:00] wife and I came home from the date and. Our daughter met us at the door and she was just beaming she's, you know, the oldest of five.

And we had all five at that point. So she was, she had, I dunno, they were all the bed or whatever, and we're like, okay, what happened? What broke what's wrong? And she's just like smiling and. We kind of come around the corner of our, of our hallway, into the kitchen and I see the kitchen and it was like glistening.

I mean, it was like those, those commercials with the sparkles coming off the counter. And she, my daughter was so. Joyful to be able to share that she did this for us and I, my, my wife loves us. She's just like, she doesn't matter. She goes, Phil, don't say anything stupid. I want her to do this again. You know?

And, and I was like, I know, but I got to say, I got, and I actually use that to, to be able to teach her that last night. I said, this is it's actually, you know how God sees it. Like, like when we do stuff, It's this, when we do step out of joy, [00:31:00] out of love, out of you know, because we want to, because we get to it's so much it's everything, rather than just doing it out of duty and out of this, I have to have mentality.

And that was just this great lesson. I go, I know that it's hard. I know you don't fully understand this yet, but the reason why you're so joyful right now is because you got to do that because you got to say, I know you guys love us and I get to do this for you. Yeah, nothing better. And I actually said it, my, my he's probably listening to this right now.

A guy is in my. And he said, he kept saying, I have to take my kids to school today and I go, no, you get to take your kids to school. So he, actually, every time he gets to take his kids to school, he's like, I get to take my kids to school today. So I need to leave at seven 30 or whatever, whatever. So it's so good.

So good. I'm so glad that you said that. Cause that's, that is one of my favorite Things in the world as well. And I don't even know if I knew that came from wooden. Of course he got it from somebody else too. Cause he [00:32:00] stole like an artist too, but he did it like he was like the whatever Monet stealing.

[00:32:08] Aaron: And then he would find a way to make it his own, right. So much, you know what I mean? But again, the difference is it's like, if you and I are working and I'm painting something, you can't come in and paint over what I'm painting. Right. You have to take that. Okay. Now I have to figure it out for my own and we can make it our own and add to it.

That's when the best that's what it oh yeah.

[00:32:28] Phil: And that's what you're doing and I love it. And it's, it's, it's that's the thing is it is a great leaders will be in there. They're people that they lead and you will, they will continue to be living it on and, and making it their own and make it better in some ways.

And, but it's, it's just different, right? It's, it's I say better, it's just different and, and will impact people with the different things that we bring to the table, which is, which is fantastic. So, That, that goes to the, I mean, I think it's a good segue to the next, the next thing I want to [00:33:00] talk to you about for a few minutes, the synergy of teamwork and collaboration, and in sports in life, the things that we can't do by ourselves and, and the things that we, when we do them by ourselves, they they're way better.

When, when we when we do it together, the old, the old adage, African proverb is what it's always a tested to the, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go. Go together. And you know, so I want to talk about a couple of things in the midst of that. One is how dealing with conflict well is necessary to any healthy team and actually strengthens the collaboration and how teams can really develop that the, the be able to deal with conflict.


[00:33:42] Aaron: right. Well, so I guess the question, I guess, going back to the start right. Of that is kind of. The importance of team, maybe like

[00:33:53] Phil: understanding that. Yeah, just really there's the synergy, the idea of, you know, we, we can't, there's some things we [00:34:00] cannot do by ourselves and, and other things that are better in the context of

[00:34:04] Aaron: team.

I mean, there's so much, I mean, I think about when, when I went out on my own started working, I still wanted to be a part of something. And so there is. No, no, I in team sorta speak, but you have to be able to truly flourish in life. It takes a village to really make things work, because I don't know many people that are truly happy that do everything on their own.

Right. The true joy comes from like your daughter sharing what she's able to do, exceeding expectations, changing things, creating things. Right? So for me, I think that the art of team comes from understanding that this is going to be a shared vision and a shared goal and a shared. And I said this to somebody the other day, which you know, we're talking about where we're at right now.

I feel like as a country, at times, we're all [00:35:00] sitting in the same rowboat right now, dealing with this stuff. We're all rowing in different directions, complain, how come we're not getting anywhere? Well, you know what, at some point somebody has to go, okay, let's work together towards a common goal. I do believe that when you're willing to put the good of the team for the goal above my own industry, Component that's when you thrive.

I think all too often there has to be individual accountability, but I think at times we have to look and say, okay, what is the best interest of this team for our goals? If we all agree that is our goal. But again, then you've got to go like Ronnie Lott taught me about particles. What are all the particles?

Right. They all have to come together to make. I don't know if that makes sense, but for me, I think we have to look at the higher vision, Stephen Covey, start with the end in mind. Right. And then go through that process, understanding if that's truly what we want and that's where we want to go. Then everybody's [00:36:00] gotta be responsible for their own individual part.

Right. They've got to have empathy that they have all the components that make up a team. And they have to do their own work to make it work going forward, but it will not work if my goal is more important than the team goal, the team will fail. If I'm going to score 30 today is more important than the team winning the game we'll lose.

[00:36:25] Phil: Right? Yeah. And sometimes that understanding that that scoring 30 isn't what will make the team. Which is, which is hard. And, and sometimes, you know, I have players on the flip side of that who are playing striker in, in a soccer game and they're just not shooting. 'cause they they're trying to be quote unquote unselfish.

And I say, well, the problem, what you're missing there is it's actually being selfish to not take the shot. Absolutely. Because that's, what's best for the team at that point. Right. We need you to take that shot. And so that's something that is, that is there. [00:37:00] And, and I, I, I do believe what you're talking about.

There does lead to the conflict when we have individual over team. But also there are just some times when there are players who just. Don't get along. They just are they're oil and water. And they're whether it's, cause they're both great players and there's egos, or, and we've seen it at the professional level, we've seen it at college.

We've seen it at youth. It happens. Right. So how do we do that in a team? As a leader, as the coach, to be able to Build a culture where conflict is not only dealt with well, but actually part of the process to be a great one of

[00:37:37] Aaron: my friends played seven seasons in the NFL and he talks about friction, right?

And bill, bill check, he played for, for, for now, he played for five teams and he said, friction is actually the most important piece you need because without friction, nothing gets done. Yeah. You have to understand is with the right friction. Good things happen. The wrong friction. You get. So it's up to the [00:38:00] leader to set the goals, to set, to set things up, to make things work, and then build the friction, build the fire.

Right. And by doing that, so when you get to competitive pieces, I mean, think about this. When I, when I worked for pat Riley, he had Showtime magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You want to talk about two completely different personalities, right? Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Magic rabbit. How do you bring those together?

Right. That's the beauty of leadership in that the key is, is to recognize the individual strengths and celebrate them and find a way to say how to bring it together. And I love this analogy, a great jazz. Right. That's sports because here's, what's going to happen. Yeah. There's a basic sheet music, but what's going to happen is we're going to start playing and the drums are going to do the, and the trumpet and the, and the bass and the guitar and a piano.

They're going to do their [00:39:00] thing. Right. And all of a sudden it's going to be Phil hit it and you got to improvise. Yeah. Right. But then what are you going to do after you got to come back in and get back right in the rhythm with what's going on. So to me, you have to be willing to celebrate. Strengths or challenges and with the goals of helping to build each other up, but then it goes back to coach Wooden's change without causing resentment. That's the key to do that. You have to be willing to make corrections, not embarrassing them rather to build them up too often. Like I tell everybody with kids, we were so much more in need of role models, critics for

[00:39:42] Phil: our kids. Right? Yeah. And one of the things you talked about as you talk about that jazz The jazz band, right?

And with conflict, it's the same thing. And with teams is jazz bands need to trust each other teams need to trust each other, right? Without trust, everything falls Patrick on, he talks about the [00:40:00] idea of vulnerability trust and in the, in the healthy characteristics of a, of a healthy team. And. What he also says in the book of the advantage of, he talks about the idea of, I don't know if it's in the book or in an interview with the book, but he said, when there is trust conflict becomes the search for truth.

When there's no trust, conflict becomes politics where someone has to win and someone has to lose. That's one of those powerful quotes for conflict in marriage, for conflict in the family. Right. That's exactly right. That's what it is because yeah, exactly. Yeah.

[00:40:36] Aaron: Yeah. But again, that comes from a common goal.

And understanding, not just trust, but also understanding I know your strengths. So I, you know what, man, if you're, if you're a great striker, I gotta find a way to get as a coach. I got to get you in the best position to get the easiest shot possible. And as a teammate, I got to know that my job is to be present.

Like football is a perfect example. If I [00:41:00] don't run it. Pattern. If I don't run my routes, that defender doesn't have to guard me, he can be closer on the other side to help make that tackle. Even though I know you've all not coming to me. Yeah. Right. That's where I have to trust the bigger picture I have to trust the process.

I have to trust the journey. I have to trust my teammates and know that today, you know, perfect. But you know, if you want to get. 30 seconds to show. My son played football when he was a little Peewee and the first three games of the season he was at, he was a tight end receiver and he caught like six passes and two touchdowns, fourth game of the season, it was raining and they didn't throw the ball.

My son, we won the game seven to six or something, and my son was upset after the game. He had nine years old, eight years old. He calls me, he says, dad, You know, better that as long as that happens. Okay. Well, you want to talk to coach cause I would never go talk to coach by the way, with Adam, it's his journey.[00:42:00]

He coached, you know, Mason wants to talk so fine. Coach actually was six, eight next player. So he got on his knee down. Mason, I had hi, what's the matter buddy. And, and miss said, you don't trust me. You didn't, you didn't tell me the ball coach. And he goes on, on, on Mason. We're worried about the quarterback's hands.

The ball was going to slip out. So we couldn't throw the ball. My son. Thanks coach, you know, but my dad throws the ball. I in the pool, I would have caught it, even if it was wet. I love the carpet, but here's the cool part. After the fact coach talked to me and we had a conversation cause you know what, he knew who I am, what I do.

And he says, man, how can I, what could I have done better on that one? You know what you could've done? You could've let Mason know before the game that today, I still need you to run a run. I still needed a block, but we're not gonna throw cause the ball. And it Mason's experience. Would've been so different.

Why? Because of communication and advance. So he understood that's the key, right? If y'all knew that would have been a big difference. That's why true

[00:42:57] Phil: and communication going back to trust, [00:43:00] open, healthy, vulnerable communication builds. Right. And so in ahead of time, it's much more powerful because after there, if there's, especially, if there's already not great trust, if you say it after they think, oh, he's just making that up to make me feel better.

If you say, look, this is part of our game plan. This is part of what we're doing today. This is why you're not starting, why you're not playing, why you're not going to do this, why you're not gonna do that. Okay. That makes sense. All right. Thanks coach. But afterwards it builds up in your head,

[00:43:34] Aaron: right? The soccer team are playing today.

They have two that are just extremely fast player. So we're going to have to make shorter passes, to not make it spread, to make it more controlled today. Yeah. This is why we're going away from this to do this, man. If you knew that as a player, now I understand the why what's going on now. I feel more empowered.

I'm on the inside. I'm going to be able to understand and perform it better than like you said, and [00:44:00] this is like playing offense versus defense right there. Right. Giving me information and trust the players are still gonna do what you need them to do, even though you're not going to pass the

[00:44:09] Phil: bottle.

Yeah, absolutely. All right. Ma'am got a few more questions. Wrapping it up, man. This always goes so fast, but what is one thing? You hope that everyone touched by you and your programs will understand and live out after they work with.

[00:44:27] Aaron: I hope that day will each one reach one for kids, because I think that our kids are in a real crisis mode, 80% of what our kids hear nowadays is direction or correction.

They're not given the freedom to fail. Then I give them the freedom to figure it out on their own. And I feel like, unfortunately, we're creating a society, a nation, a world of followers rather than leaders. So what I want. For me is to learn and through our program for our system through working with us is that failure is part of life.

It's part of the journey, and I [00:45:00] want them to encourage those. They model, they train for themselves, for kids to push themselves, to try and go through this journey that way and give them like someone asked me the other day, where's it come from? My mom gave me unconditional love to figure. Unconditional space to figure it out.

She hosts a catalog. He started me on this and that, but I didn't, I didn't have, I didn't have a bedtime after eight years old. Why? Because she said, look, you're going to get your backside up. You're going to eat breakfast and get ready to go to school at this time in the morning. And the day you don't is a day, I have to give you a.

Man. Why do you think we figured it out ourselves, right? Yeah,

[00:45:42] Phil: exactly. Exactly. All right, man. Okay. Last two questions. We always ask everybody what lessons learned directly from really any sport, but let's say the game basketball, other sports have you used in your parenting?

[00:45:57] Aaron: The big one really that I've learned through the sport [00:46:00] is, is making sure that I'm very aware of.

That would be careful what I say can and will be used against me. And it's not just what I say about it's how I say it because the body language is such an important piece. And I learned this through sport, not from my experience, but I remember watching it where we were at a game and a kid struck out and the dad loved this kid.

I know it and I'll deal, but he went like this and that, that look, we saw the kid look up. And that was the moment the kid decided to quit playing baseball. Oh wow. And the kid was good. Why? And the dad, we talked to dad about it, that's it? No, no. I was just, I was upset for him. Disappointed for him. Not in him.

Kids don't know that. So I had to learn my son and I took a Jeep trip from down to visit a 17 beaches and four. Driving down Southern California. I had to buy sunglasses because my son was sitting in the car and he's 18 years old and he's telling me life stuff, that's going on in his [00:47:00] life. And I didn't want to have the face.

So I put so glass I'm like, oh my God. But he was able to, you know what I mean? So game face, game face.

[00:47:10] Phil: Yeah. That's so good. That's so good. I just, I just thought about that as we talked about the, strike it out. My son had tryouts the other day or evaluations, excuse me for his little league team and a. And he hasn't played, he hasn't touched a baseball or a bat for probably a year, year and a half, maybe two.

But but he went out and, and, you know, five pitches and he whipped them all and he was like, he was so distraught and he of course came and looked at me and I said, don't worry about it. Just get your glove on and go do the fielding. No big deal, like who cares? Right. And, and I know I have perspective to know they saw his swing, they can see he's and he's a lefty for crying out loud.

They're gonna, they're gonna pick him. But but, and then he went out and I was, I was a little nervous that he was going to just, you know, Cash it in and, you know, not be able to, but even caught the fly balls, got the [00:48:00] grounders and, you know, do his thing. But he looked to me and our players look to us, like you said, the game face, that reaction.

And in parenting, they see it, they look to us and they're watching us. And I'll say that for leaders, you know, I know this, your players, your people are watching you, whether you know it or not, whether you think it or not, whether you like it or not, they're watching how you react. They're watching what they're listening to, what you say.

Even the high schoolers that I coach, they, they want to pretend like they're not, but they are. And, and they will remember you well past your time with them. So if you're. An a-hole then that will be remembered. And that will be sometimes emulated, unfortunately. And they'll see that as what they're supposed to be in sports.

So be really cognizant of that. Not gonna say be careful because I want it to be that you are being trained up by stuff you're hearing on this show, [00:49:00] the stuff that the different programs that we have to be able to have it be your why in your DNA, as your automatic thinking in your automatic muscle memory is to be the person who's going to build them up.

Who's going to help them to flourish and create the environment on your teams to help everyone to flourish in their different ways. Right. That requires a lot of. No, who they are know that the individuals are all those things that we've been talking about today. Do you agree with all that? I assume.

[00:49:27] Aaron: A hundred percent and, and realize, you know, they're different now.

Like, like when you were a kid and coach run through the wall, what did you do? You ran through the wall and nowadays you said, rather would want to go hold on a second. That's going to hurt by the way, my dad's a lawyer, you know what I mean? It's a different deal coaching nowadays, you have to be a lot more cerebral and understand what it does translate to translate to parents.

One thing I will say, as a parent, really. Trust the coach. If you're going to allow them to coach your child, trust them. If you're not going to [00:50:00] trust them, then pull them and do something different. Cause you're going to ruin it for them. You're going to ruin the experience for them. Trust the coach. If you're gonna let them coach.


[00:50:09] Phil: And if you don't trust him, you got to go to different team, different chamber to walk. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. All right. So what have you read? And by the way, we, we could talk about any of these things for hours as we know. And so I I'm cutting it off because I know if I go into. Talk for another 20 minutes and we gotta, I gotta wrap it up.

We gotta wrap it up. All right. So what have you read, listen to, or watch that has most impacted your thinking on how basketball and other sports explain life and leadership?

[00:50:38] Aaron: Well, there's no doubt. It's the Pyramid of Success for Coach Wooden. If you're not a, if you're not a Coach Wooden guy, you need to become one that whatever, there's so much information, there are quotes that you hear every day.

In business be quick, but don't hurry. Whatever these things are that are used every day that comes through coach wooden. [00:51:00] And for me, there's no doubt. I still, I mean, I read his quotes every day. I have his stuff. I've got books, I've got videos, I've got DVD. I look back at all these things because what I found is that even if I've seen it over and over and over.

It comes back. My other guy is Stephen. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. There's nothing better. You know, all those things sharpen the saw on start with the end of mine. Those are my two guys. John, Maxwell's get all these other components, but these two specific, but man, coach wouldn't, if you're not a coach wooden person and you don't know much about him, get in, take a look at the pyramid of success, understand how it works together, because it could be like, Yeah,

[00:51:39] Phil: there are a few people that transcend all sports and, and he's one of them, for sure.

And, and because of who he was like, a lot of people say a lot of things, but he lived it. He was humble. I mean, which just shined, you can say the right things to, to say [00:52:00] and sound humble. But as you talked about body language, just the way that you relate with people listening. I mean, I stood in a line. The reason it took forever in the line is because he stood there and talked with each person and listened to who they were and got to know them in the minute to three minutes, whatever it was.

But most people in autograph lines are like done. Right. And, and like, that was, it's just a real, and so then when you read it, it means something a whole lot more because

[00:52:34] Aaron: generally appreciative of everything. He's very religious. He's the closest thing to an American Saint that I could not only met work with, but ever could think of just, just in terms of, because it, there was never an unkind.

He was always looking for the greater good of those around him. Don't get me wrong. He was the most competitive, most additive. Right. But he's the guy that would teach you how to put your shoes and socks. He's the guy that would break down to the [00:53:00] littlest detailed possible. Do it over and over again until you get it right.

Cause practice does make perfect, perfect practice. Does all these factors across the board? Yeah, but done in such a way that was all based on mutual respect. Right? Look up the story about, about bill Walton. If you don't guys don't know the story, look it up. I mean, it's there and this is, it's not, this is.

[00:53:24] Phil: Definitely do that. Cause that's the thing about that as he didn't, he didn't play favorites either. Right. So, and you know, it's one of the things it's like the little things that make all the differences. The rule I have on my team is yet you have to wear shinguards and practice for whatever reason these kids aren't wearing shinguards anymore.

And practices, I coaches, I don't know why you allow it. Like don't. Not only that they get hurt, but what I say, my kids, they know now I say, why do you have to wear shinguards and practice? And the, the players who played last year say, cause we work harder when we have shin guards on. It's absolutely right.

You're gonna work harder when you have them on because, [00:54:00] and you need to, you're going to play like you practice. And if you're, if you're uncomfortable in practice, they're going to be uncomfortable in the game and so on. So, so yeah, I I. Very much appreciate you very much appreciate this conversation.

All the conversations we've had and I was able to be on your podcast as well. Absolutely love that. And, and I just really have been very encouraged just in the, in the short friendship that we've had. And I look forward to future conversations that we get to have. So thanks for.

[00:54:29] Aaron: Appreciate it, man.

And, you know, are the one we did before. It's interesting. Cause I was thinking about coming on here to talkteachplay.com. It's really cool. Cause that interviews up there and some of the stuff we've talked about, but I really liked the way you've interviewed, not just me, but the ones I've watched because you just have a real natural way of making people feel comfortable and bring in stuff out and proclaim the conversation.

So kudos for you to keep up the good work. And I appreciate that. Just what you're doing here, but the friendship. Do you believe it's real and that's what it's about. Be authentic, man, and sort of comes across.

[00:54:59] Phil: Hey, man. [00:55:00] Thanks. I appreciate you. I appreciate all those words. It's super encouraging. Super encouraging.

Alright, folks. Well, thank you for listening and thank you for your download. I just, I just want to encourage you to take a look at the different things. We'll have it on the show notes that Aaron's doing. We'll have the websites there. So you can get in connect with him and be able to check out national academy of athletics, the talk teach.

What is it? What is the website again? Talk to each play.com talk, teach, play.com. I wanted to get it right. Talk to you. You played on Tom, it's a little tongue twister and and also just really take what you're learning from this show and, and use it as we talk about to be a better leader, to be a better spouse, to be a better parent, to be a better friend, to be a better leader.

And. You know, and so we have some tools as you know, folks who, if you've listened to this at all of the coaching, the bigger game program that we're launching in February coaching, the bigger game.com for soccer coaches the warrior way program that Paul and Marcy Jobson have out there in Waco, Texas.

Check that out. Also, if you just want to connect with me, [00:56:00]phil@howsoccerexplainsleadership.com, you can join the Facebook group to continue the conversation after this show, but most important. I really hope and pray that everything that you're learning on this show is reminding you that soccer and basketball and other sports really do explain life and leadership.

Thanks a lot. Have a great day.