Business Lessons for Marketers from Joe Theismann


I just saw the legendary NFL quarterback Joe Theismann deliver his keynote address today at SAS Global Forum 2012, and as expected, he provided us with vivid anecdotes and recollections from his experiences both as a championship athlete and as a businessman. By delivering an engaging mix of humor, lessons learned and candid reflections on his own experiences, he highlighted the many parallels between success in business with success in sports.

On the subject of change, he commented on how the SAS Global Forum experience is all about sharing information, and sharing often brings about change. What's interesting, he continued, is that change means different things to different people. To the fearful, change is threatening because it means that things can get worse. To the hopeful, change is encouraging because it means that things can get better. And to the confident, change is an opportunity, or a challenge, to make things better. The difference, of course, is your attitude.

And attitude also drives how you interact with others, which directly impacts your effectiveness on a team. Joe firmly believes that teamwork is essential to success, specifically saying "You cannot, will not, be a success in life if you think you're going to do it yourself."  Clearly teamwork is essential in team sports, such as American Football, and considering the complexities of marketing in today's business environment, teamwork is also an essential ingredient for great marketing. And once again, it comes back to starting with your own attitude. In today's business environment of constant change, the one constant is you - and the one thing you have 100% control of is your own attitude.

Joe asked us to think about what our passion is and be sure that whatever we do, to do it with enthusiasm. His perspective is that passion comes from really caring about whatever it is you're doing. And  before you get to caring or embracing your passion, you need to first start by believing in yourself. As he put it, "If you don't believe in yourself, then you can be sure nobody else will."

Other truisms and Joe-isms he shared include:

  • I’ve never had a failure in my life – only educational experiences that did not go my way.
  • People don't care how much you know until you show them how much you care.
  • Character is who you are, and reputation is who people think you are.
  • If you look for the good in people, you will find it. If also look for the bad in people, you'll find it.
  • It's nice to be important, but it's much more important to be nice.

Those are the biggest take-aways I got from his session, and to me they all apply for marketers today.  If you were able to attend and have any favorites I may have missed, please add to them with a comment.  And thanks again for following!


About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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