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“You’re Just Getting Started”

By: Ted Sundquist

 

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You learn a lot of lessons over 25 years as an Air Force Officer and NFL Front Office Executive. Tremendous leadership and team building opportunities were presented to me at an early age as a Flight Commander and continued on for 16 years in the National Football League. These lessons came together in my new book Taking Your Team To The Top—How to build and manage great teams like the pros, where the very techniques used to build a successful NFL franchise or military unit are related to the groups, companies, organizations, and “teams” out in the real world.

 
The Best Example
 
To effectively present the point, I traveled across the country interviewing various leaders and team builders who understand the parallels between sports and business. One person I had the privilege to interview was Dr. Harvey Schiller. Dr. Schiller is a Citadel graduate, former Command Pilot, Viet Nam veteran, permanent professor of Chemistry & Associate Athletic Director at the United States Air Force Academy and retired Brigadier General.
 
After a 24 year career in the Air Force, Dr. Schiller went on to become the Commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, Executive Director and Secretary General of the United States Olympic Committee, President of Turner Sports Inc., President of the NHL Atlanta Thrashers, Chairman and CEO of YankeesNets (an integrated sports-based media company with ownership of the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets, and New Jersey Devils), President of the International Baseball Federation, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board and CEO of Global Operations Group, a multidisciplinary international risk management and business solutions company.
 
Sound Advice
 
His career and philanthropic accomplishments go on and on. He is a man I have truly admired for many years. During our discussions, Dr. Schiller pointed out the tremendous pressures on Academy graduates to perform and succeed, early and often in their young careers. High achievement is at the forefront of everything. So much so that by the time many have reached the end of their military service, it becomes difficult to fathom what is left to accomplish?
 
Dr. Schiller was quick to remind me that the majority of the things we discussed in his very illustrious career were accomplished after he retired from the Air Force and begun just before he reached the age of 50. He pointed out that even though I had already competed on the United States Bobsled Team, served as an Intelligence Officer during the Cold War in Berlin, played and coached football at the United States Air Force Academy, served as Director of College Scouting and General Manager of the Denver Broncos for over 16 years, been a part of two Super Bowl Championships and many other exciting ventures—life was just starting.
 
Milestones
 
I bring this up because I myself just recently entered into my 50’s and life REALLY IS just starting. There is so much more to be experienced, so many more people to meet, so much more to be a part of.
 
That’s true for all NFL veterans as well. I think of Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins’ recent retirement. His decorated 16 year career with Philadelphia and Denver brought memories galore to both Eagles and Broncos fans alike. “I know I’m shedding tears because I’m thinking back and reminiscing, but this is a happy time for me. I chose to walk out the way that I’m walking out,” Dawkins said.
 
Build upon Your Success
 
It should be a “happy time.” Dawkins is just getting started and there is still much yet to be accomplished. For many NFL players the future after football seems murky at best. What can top the thrill of having competed as a professional football player in the National Football League? There really is nothing quite like it out there to replace the feeling of Sundays in the fall. And as with every NFL season, 2013 will see long time careers come to an end and aspiring young careers never get off the ground.
 
But as Dr. Schiller told me, “You’re just getting started.” So as I reflect on my own “first 50” and try to pass on a little wisdom from the knowledge of having been there, I encourage everyone with the same advice. Use your own experiences to build upon and benefit others. People want to be around you, be part of your efforts and energy; whether in private business, public service, or charitable work. It will catapult you to even bigger and better things down the road.
 
After all, “You’re just getting started.
 
Published: August 20, 2013
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Ted Sundquist

Ted Sundquist is the former General Manager of the Denver Broncos and 16 year veteran of the organization. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy where he both coached and played football for the Falcons, Sundquist was stationed as an Air Force Intelligence Officer in Berlin, Germany. He was a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team from 1985-88 and participated in the Olympic Trials in 1988. He is now an analyst for both pro and college football, having appeared on NFL Network, Altitude Sports, and The Mtn Network. His popular website TheFootballEducator.com also plays host to his radio show on Mile High Sports Radio. Sundquist and his wife (Amy) live in Parker, Colorado. Follow @Ted_Sundquist, Connect with Ted on LinkedIn, Friend him on Facebook

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