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Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Winning Game Plan by Jamey Rootes - Book Tour + Giveaway


A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success

Non-fiction, Business Leadership, Corporate Marketing, Careers

Date Published: November 10, 2020

Publisher: Elite Online Publishing


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As a leader, you don’t know everything . . . and you never will.

As you level-up in your leadership trajectory, you’re going to have to release some old stuff, even if you think that old stuff is what got you to where you are. Every new leadership opportunity you face—whether leading a new company or department, starting your own enterprise, or flexing your leadership muscles—is a chance to grow as a leader and as a human being.

This book outlines a world-class approach to leading a business, any business, to exceptional and sustained success. These are the same principles that we have used at the Houston Texans since inception, for more than twenty years. Through trial, error, and adjustment, these guiding principles have helped us deliver breakthrough financial results for our partners, a rewarding workplace experience for our teammates, tremendous customer loyalty, and a reputation as a committed caretaker of our community.

What you’ll learn is that challenges are to be welcomed; they are the impetus for change, learning, and growth. But you must learn from the challenges. Follow the guidelines in this playbook and you’ll have a reliable set of resources to meet each challenge head on.

EXCERPT

Introduction
So, you want to be a leader? Leadership can be an incredibly rewarding experience. I have always found it exciting and intellectually stimulating to create systems, processes, and practices that help others achieve exceptional results. I find it especially fun to help teammates become the best version of themselves and realize potential they never knew they had. This isn’t easy, but nothing valuable ever is. In fact, the beginning of my leadership journey was a quintessential trial by fire that pushed me to the limit. If not for great mentors, a willingness to work as hard as needed to develop my leadership skills, and some luck, my foray as a leader would have likely ended in flames.

My early goals involved playing sports, not managing them. When I stepped onto the campus of Clemson University as a freshman in 1984, I had aspirations of becoming a professional soccer player. I had never contemplated a career outside of that, yet as I finished my collegiate career, I learned that the options for talented soccer players in America were essentially nil. So, I toyed with the thought of going into sports management. In the meantime, I took a job in sales at IBM. Their training program was second to none, and I was confident that whatever my next career move would be, knowing how to use a computer would be a necessary skill. It was 1989 and although I was right about the future of computers, I had no idea how the digital revolution would impact practically everything in the world over the next few decades.

After three years at IBM, with amazing mentors like my manager Fred Bentfeld, I knew something was wrong. Something was missing. I needed athletics in my life, but I didn’t know if I wanted to be a coach or work in a sports business. I called Bobby Robinson, the athletic director at Clemson, and asked him to lunch. I told Bobby of my quandary, and he said, “Coaching and working in sports management are mutually exclusive. You need to decide between the two.” I still wasn’t sure which one I wanted most, but what I did know was that the time had come for me to make progress  towards something that would fuel my passion for athletics. Back at IBM, the entire company was bracing for its first major downsizing, starting with voluntary separations. While most of my coworkers might have felt the sting of their career aspirations going down the drain, I thought, “Here’s my chance! I can exit gracefully and get paid for it.” And so, I retired from IBM at the ripe old age of 26.

I packed up my Acura Legend and began a cross-country trip, staying with friends, conducting informational interviews in the sports industry with anyone who would visit with me, and generally having a blast. I ended up in San Diego and considered making it my permanent home. After spending months skiing, mountain biking, and reading like crazy, I applied for a job as a bartender at a beachside dive. In the midst of completing the job application, reality hit me. “What am I doing? This isn’t my dream.” I needed a new plan. So, I packed up the Acura, said goodbye to my California friends, and headed back to Georgia. My plan was to get an MBA, coach soccer, and work in an athletic department so I could decide once and for all between coaching and sports management. I landed at Indiana University to complete my MBA program. As great as the academic experience was, I still needed to satisfy my need to get back into athletics.

After my second year at IU, I accepted a position in brand management at Procter & Gamble, still hoping to find a sports job. While at Procter & Gamble, I maintained all of the contacts I had made in the sports industry. One day, opportunity came knocking, twice. The first was an invitation to become the global soccer manager for Reebok. The other was to join Major League Soccer in some capacity at some point. That didn’t sound very definitive. Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and his group liked me, but the league had yet to be fully formed. I was told to sit tight. While speaking to Tim Connolly of the Chiefs, who was leading the MLS franchise efforts for Lamar, I said boldly, “Well, if you’re not ready to make an offer, I’m going to accept the job at Reebok.” My comment was met with a slightly panicked look on Tim’s face. Just what I was hoping for. “No, don’t do that,” he said. “Give me an hour and keep an eye on your fax machine.” I went back to my desk at the worldwide headquarters of P&G. At exactly the one-hour mark, my fax machine began to hum. I could make out the Kansas City Chiefs helmet, but not much else. When the fax completed printing, I could see that it was an offer to become General Manager of a yet to be determined MLS franchise. My sports leadership adventure had begun!

I was 29 years old when I was hired as General Manager of a startup Major League Soccer franchise that would eventually be named the Columbus Crew. Thanks to the generosity of Lamar Hunt and his family, I had a five-year runway to try things, succeed at times, fail often, and most importantly learn how to be a leader others would follow. That experience nearly did me in and it tested my true commitment to being a leader.

We accomplished many things in Columbus. When I left, we had the largest season ticket base in the league and we completed the first soccer-specific stadium ever for a Major League Soccer franchise. That stadium was named the foremost stadium of the year, not because of its quality, but because it started a wildfire of stadium construction for Major League Soccer franchises. This opportunity in Columbus did not happen by accident. Actually, I don’t believe anything important happens by accident. This was the culmination of a five-year quest to break into the sports industry.

By the time I turned 34, I had realized a station in life that could have actually been my final destination. I was running a professional soccer team in my own stadium in a city that I loved. However, I felt like I needed a new challenge. It was October, 1999. In the midst of all this self-reflection, I received a call from a dear friend, Buffy Filippell, one of the first executive recruiters in the professional sports industry. “Hey Jamey, I have an opportunity for you,” she said. “I think you’re going to like this.” I hadn’t actually been looking for an opportunity, but I was intrigued. “What do you think about working in the National Football League?” I held the phone to my ear in silence and glanced out of the window of my home in German Village in stunned disbelief. Sure, I had wanted a change, but this was almost unbelievable.

A herd of thoughts ran through my mind before I finally responded, “Ummm, yeah, let me think about it.” I hadn’t even asked what the position was or with what team. As Buffy rattled off the details, my mind went blank. She explained that a new team was being formed in Houston, Texas. It would replace the vacancy left by the Houston Oilers. A man named Bob McNair had purchased the franchise rights and the team would begin play in 2002. A tingling giddiness rose up inside of me. It was a mixture of excitement and complete shock that I had been approached for a leading management position at an NFL team. Finally, I found my voice.

“Well, that sounds nice, but I need to talk it over with my wife. I’ll get back to you.” Then, I hung up. Even as the words spilled from my mouth, I realized that using my wife as an excuse to not provide a more definitive response might have sounded a bit like avoidance, but it was the truth. I was still a newlywed, having been married just one year prior. My wife Melissa was happy where we were and we hadn’t once discussed building a life outside of Columbus. For five minutes I stared at the phone and thought, “What am I doing!” Finally, I called her back and told her what I had meant to say the first time, “I can’t accept the job without my wife’s approval, but of course I’m interested in the NFL!” I agreed to head to Houston for a visit after my talk with Melissa.

Surprised only begins to describe my reaction when Melissa expressed her excitement at the opportunity to move to Texas. She was an Ohio native, but she was ready for a change. It turned out to be the perfect move for us. After spending the previous five years launching a professional sports franchise, I now had the chance to do it again. So, together, we traveled to Houston for a visit with the new owner and other stakeholders. The energy was right and the possibilities were endless. There was no doubt that this was the right move and the right time for me to step into this kind of leadership position. I didn’t have all the answers. In fact, I didn’t even have all the questions. But I believed I had a supportive owner who would allow me the margin to try new approaches, learn as I grew as a leader, and build a world-class organization from the ground up.

For the first thirty months, we put in place all of the foundational components required to successfully compete in the NFL. We built the organization and a beautiful stadium for the team, assembled a robust set of commercial partners, and filled our required base of season ticket members, club seat members, and suite patrons. It was a thrilling and exhausting experience, but it was what was required to set the franchise up for long-term success. During this time, I engaged a consultant to help us more completely flesh out our operating approach. I didn't have all the questions or all the answers. I figured a third-party perspective would help my management team shape up into a well-oiled machine quickly so we could move forward on some of the fresh ideas we were generating. “You know what would help me a lot,” he said. “If I could spend some time with each of your direct reports, just to ask a few questions. Nothing too heavy, you know. Just a meeting with each person ought to do it.”

His request sounded simple enough. And really, I thought it was a great idea. I’d be interested to find out what he learned during his time with my team. Not that I was using him to spy on anyone. I just wanted his take on who I might watch closely as potential to move up in the ranks as the organization grew. “Sure thing,” I said, feeling as if I were exemplifying the open-minded kind of manager I had always admired. What happened would completely transform my leadership philosophy. After finishing interviews with my leadership team, the consultant asked to visit with me late on a Friday afternoon. At the start of our conversation, he said, “You’re probably going to want to go home after this.” What? I braced myself for what I thought would be dismal news about a poorly selected rag-tag group of employees who he thought might need to be retrained or eliminated altogether. To my surprise, his comments didn’t focus so much on my team, but on me. During our discussion, he painted a not-so-flattering picture of me as President of the Houston Texans, based on the feedback received from my team. Although I didn’t know I had initiated it, I was being provided my first 360-degree feedback session . . . and it hurt.

He captured the true essence of the message by saying, “I’m sure you have heard the phrase ‘micromanager,’ but there is no such thing as a ‘micro-leader.’ You are a micromanager, but not yet a leader.” Once I got over the initial sting of his assessment, I realized that, despite the many successes I had experienced twice in a startup environment, the skills that had contributed to those successes were not the same skills that would deliver success in the future. In fact, holding onto my comfortable micromanaging habits would eventually lead to my downfall. It was a dramatic paradigm shift that launched me on a leadership development journey that has led to this book.

 

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As you level-up in your leadership trajectory, you’re going to have to release some old stuff, even if you think that old stuff is what got you to where you are. Every new leadership opportunity offers new chances to grow and learn. In the words of Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won’t get you there.” Accept that from the start and you’ll be well positioned to receive what’s next. The new frontier you face—whether leading a new company or department, starting your own enterprise, or flexing your leadership muscles—is a chance to grow as a leader and as a human being.

Your ability to impact results can grow exponentially when you're sitting in the top spot. In fact, my friend, and the imminently respected CEO of Texas Children’s Hospital, Mark Wallace says in his leadership maxims, “Leadership always influences or determines outcomes, not some of the time, but all of the time.” When you develop the talents of others, you can influence outcomes as well. On the flip side, leadership comes with its own unique set of challenges, and challenges are to be welcomed. They are the impetus for change, learning, and growth. But you must learn from the challenges. Follow the guidelines in this playbook and you’ll have a reliable set of resources to meet each challenge head-on.

Here, you’ll learn a proven approach to leading a business—any business—to exceptional and sustained success. These are the same principles that we have used  at the Houston Texans since inception more than twenty years ago. Through trial, error, and adjustment, these guiding principles have helped us deliver breakthrough financial results for our partners, a rewarding workplace experience for our teammates, tremendous customer loyalty, and a reputation as a committed caretaker of our community. Throughout this book you will notice that I often use acronyms to describe important concepts. This is both purposeful and powerful. At the end of the book,    you’ll learn how to leverage this technique. For now, just embrace getting to know    these principles through stories that have dramatically impacted my life.

I hope this book helps you make progress towards becoming the leader you want to be. To see that growth, you’ll have to embrace the reality that you don’t know everything . . . and you never will. I trust that you are ready to be better and to influence others to do the same. Most of all, take away some tools and techniques to become your best self as a leader. Enjoy!



About the Author

Jamey‎ Rootes has served as President of the Houston Texans since the team’s inception. Under his continued leadership the Texans have consistently been recognized as one of the most valuable professional sports franchises both in the NFL and globally, as measured by a variety of business publications.

Under Rootes’ Management, the Texans extended their sellout game streak to 185 consecutive home games – a Houston NFL record. A testament to his development and dedication to the team’s highly acclaimed customer service strategy and fan experience on game day.

Rootes' hands-on approach to all business functions of the club, including securing stadium-naming rights and sponsorship, coordinated radio and TV broadcasting relationships, engineered the club's successful ticket and suite sales campaigns, led the creation and launch of the team’s identity.

During Rootes tenure, the Texans have earned many distinctions, including numerous “Crystal Awards” and most recently two American Business Awards for marketing excellence. J.D. Power & Associates recognized the team for providing the best fan experience in the NFL and even featured the Texans as a service success story in their book entitled “Satisfaction.” The Texans were also recognized with Sports Business Journal’s PRISM Award, which is given annually to the top major professional sports team based on business excellence criteria.

He also serves as President of Lone Star Sports & Entertainment (LSSE), a sports management agency associated with the Texans. LSSE has been a catalyst for some of Houston's most significant sporting events. LSSE created and now manages the Texas Bowl, Houston's annual college football bowl game, as well as the Texas Kickoff, an annual college football game. In addition to college football games, Rootes also oversees the production of many soccer games put on by LSSE such as COPA America in 2016, the Manchester Derby in 2017 and an International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in 2019.

Rootes has been one of Houston’s leading executives for more than two decades. Sports Business Journal twice selected Rootes as a member of its distinguished “Forty Under 40” list of leading sports executives, and in 2014 Rootes was named a finalist for Executive of the Year by the Stadium Business Awards. In 2019, Rootes was selected as one of Houston Business Journal’s Most Admired CEOs and was selected in 2016 as the first-ever Houston Business Journal’s Business Person of the Year after serving as chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership. Rootes served on the Super Bowl Host Committees in 2004 and 2017 and was also appointed deputy chairman of two public boards for Super Bowl LI. Rootes led the efforts in securing the Texans appearance on Monday Night Football in Mexico for the first time in NFL history and elevated Houston’s visibility on an international scale.

Rootes maintains an active role in the community by serving on the Board of Directors of the Greater Houston Partnership and the United Way of Greater Houston. He also oversees the activities of the Houston Texans Foundation, whose mission is to be “Champions for Youth,” which has donated more than $35 million since its inception in 2002 through annual fundraising events, disaster response programs, the team’s United Way campaign and partnerships with nonprofit organizations on gameday.

Rootes has consistently been at the forefront of disaster recovery, most recently in response to COVID-19. Rootes is co-chairing the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, a first-ever partnership between the United Way of Greater Houston and the Greater Houston Community Foundation. The fund has raised over $14 million to support the most vulnerable families and individuals in the community. In 2017 following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Rootes worked with the league office, NFL teams, the United Way and others to raise funds for those affected by the storm. In total, all NFL-related entities donated over $50 million for Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Prior to joining the Texans, Rootes helped to launch Major League Soccer as the president and general manager of the Columbus Crew. During his tenure, the Crew was consistently among the league’s strongest teams both on and off the field, and Rootes was recognized as MLS’s Executive of the Year in 1996 and Marketing Executive of the Year in 1999. Rootes helped lead the construction of Crew Stadium in 1999, which was the first stadium of its type in the United States. This facility earned distinction as America’s Foremost Sports Facility of the Year and led to the development of numerous soccer-specific stadiums across the United States over the past decade, including BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

A native of Stone Mountain, GA, Rootes graduated Cum Laude from Clemson University’s Calhoun Honors College. While attending Clemson, Rootes was a member of the Tigers’ soccer team that captured two NCAA titles and he served as Student Body President. While earning a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) with honors at Indiana University, he served as an assistant soccer coach for the Hoosiers. Rootes previously held positions at IBM and Procter & Gamble before entering sports. He lives in West University with his wife, Melissa, and their children, Chris and Caroline.

Follow Jamey Rootes at:

www.linkedin.com/in/jameyrootes



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