Currently in his third season as Head Coach of Columbus Crew SC, Caleb Porter is a two-time MLS Cup winner (2015, 2020) – one of only six coaches to win the trophy twice and one of only three coaches to do it with two different teams – as well as the recipient of the 2013 MLS Coach of the Year (2013) award. Caleb discusses why it’s so important to know your players lives, how to create the right mind-set to win in life and how the underdog can be such a wonderful position to be in. Learn more about Caleb at: www.columbuscrewsc.com
EPISODE #38:The Championship Recipe
Aired February 23, 2021 with Caleb Porter
Written Summary: Currently in his third season as Head Coach of Columbus Crew SC, Caleb Porter is a two-time MLS Cup winner (2015, 2020) – one of only six coaches to win the trophy twice and one of only three coaches to do it with two different teams – as well as the recipient of the 2013 MLS Coach of the Year (2013) award. Caleb discusses why it’s so important to know your players' lives, how to create the right mind-set to win in life and how the underdog can be such a wonderful position to be in. Learn more about Caleb at:www.columbuscrewsc.com
Larry: Welcome, I'm Larry Olsen and what's on your mind once set it delivers your life. To change the outcomes, we want we must change the plays we're running. Join us at Mindset Playbook with real people, real talk, for real insight.
Sponsor: Today's episode is sponsored by Aperneo, an Achievement Acceleration Company whose approach to professional development enables clients to gain insights and perspectives to live, work, and engage with more success.
Larry: I want to welcome all of you to Mindset Playbook and as you know we have a variety of guests and in particular the one that we're going to be talking with today, has a history with me and he's been a mentor to me and as I hope I've been a mentor to him throughout the years and has had some phenomenal successes, so I'm going to go ahead and start out and share a little of that with you and then, buckle up because you're going to have the time of your life on this one. Currently his third season is head coach of Columbus Crew SC, Caleb Porter is a two-time MLS Cup winner for 2015 and 2020. One of the only six coaches to win the Trophy twice and one of only three to do it with two different teams as well as the recipient of the 2013 MLS, major league soccer coach of the year 2013 award! And that is some pretty strong compass Caleb is working with. He also served as a head coach in the US under-23 Men's National Team from 2011 to 2012 and at the Collegiate level Porter served as the Head Coach of the University of Akron from 2006 to 2012 where he helped the Zips win the NCAA college Cup in 2010. Seven consecutive Mid-American Conference regular-season championships 2016 to 2012 and 5 Mac tournament titles to 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012, we are working and having the opportunity to listen to a real player in the world of National Soccer. I was fortunate enough to work with Caleb in 2009 and 2010 with the Zips and it was absolutely outstanding! While he's not coaching Caleb likes to spend time with his wife and three children. He has two sons Collin and Jake and a daughter, Stella, He also can't get enough of sports psychology, which I'm sure plays a big role in his successes. On another note, last year during the pandemic Caleb recorded a video where he read to his children Stacy McAnulty, Max Explains Everything Soccer Expert. I wonder why I picked that title? Anyway I shared that with you, because he really encapsulate what it is to bring out the best in others, and what it is to recognize what are others going through. We're really going to find out a lot more about that and how that plays into him as a coach as well as a little Mister Rogers opportunity. I watch the video Caleb and you are wonderful, thank you! Great Story too. Caleb, with all of the successes you've had through your career, what would you say is the most consistent element or foundation you brought to your coaching year in and year out?
Caleb: Thanks Larry, first of all appreciate you having me on, it’s good to be with you and I look forward to a nice chat, good to see your face. Remember those years back at Akron that we had together. I can say before I dig into your answer that you changed, my life, in how I look at my job, how I lead, and how I look at the mindset of my team, and the way that I work. I don't think it's any coincidence that since I started working with you, I've won three championships and I think a big part of that is certainly your influence, so I appreciate that!
Larry: Thank you buddy, that means the world to me!
Caleb: You're welcome. As far as your question to the consistent thread in the championship teams and successes that I've had, obviously it's a big question, there’s a lot that goes into a winning team, you know, certainly the first thing that comes to mind is players and talent, you can't win unless you have talented players. You know but can I say you know most teams have talented players. You know tactics certainly a lot of coaches think that's the difference but then when you really think about that most coaches are pretty good at tactics otherwise you probably not a division 1 coach or MLS coach. So what I've learned is it's not the talent that's a difference, there are talented players on every team. It's not the tactics, it's not me, you know as the coach we all want to think we’re the difference. It's the psychology, that is the difference, and the mentality that you create in your players individually, and in your teams collectively, that's for me the difference. What I would say is the best coaches and players have the best mindset. In the right mentality for optimum performance in Vision accomplishment, as you once taught me. Some coaches and players do it I think innately, some coaches and players have learned how to do it and I it’s probably a little bit of both. I don't think it's a coincidence when Nick Saban wins as many as he's won. You know the way that, I don't think Tom Brady, all these guys whether it’s Michael Jordan or whoever, I don't think it's any coincidence that I've won three, because I think the edge that I've had is in the mentality of a psychology that I create in my teams.
Larry: Let's peel that onion a little bit, you were a soccer player you had some knee issues it didn't allow you to continue your career and yet that doesn't necessarily make for a good coach. You also talked a lot about the fact that you're a part of creating a mindset with these high-performance athletes, and these high-performance athletes, I don't mean this in a negative sense, can require a different approach I mean some can be high maintenance others can be, your so excited to have them on the team, but it's not the fault of the athlete, it lies in the leadership that they've had before they've had the opportunity to work with you. How do you deal with the discrepancies in personalities and egos if you're performing at that level and I don't mean that negatively at all, I think that's very important that you think highly of yourself, but it can sometimes rule out the ability and play together. How do you deal with these inconsistencies to be able to win championships?
Caleb: I think that's the fun part of what I do. I love the game, but I love even more than the game helping my players reach their potential and to achieve what they want to achieve.It's truly not about me, of course I'm a part of it, I'm a servant leader for the club and a servant to them. I'm more of a servant leader in the way that I approach my players, I serve them, and I help them achieve what they want to achieve. That's the way I look at my rule, you know obviously I've been doing this a long time, 20 years now, and I've never been clearer on why I love this when I wake up every day on what my purpose is. There was maybe a time when I was younger that I thought it was about me, it was about the wins, it was about maybe the money, it was moving up the ladder, I want to be the best. What I learned is that roller coaster that your ride wins losses becomes pretty shallow and you know if isn't about you, it's about the money, it’s not enough to keep you stimulated, keep you motivated, so I make it more about my players and seeing them be happy, achieve things, and helping them become better and better people, leaders, and teaching them also what I learned from you and others, of how you can create a vision and how you can accomplish that vision. When you open the mind that’s Pandora's box of how you think differently, it's amazing what comes to you and what you think you can accomplish. It’s not just big things like a national championship or an MLS trophy, but even just little things like being a better husband, father, or losing weight, whatever you want to do, you know, you can go and do it. I think it's the growth mindset you create, you know, the catalyst for all this information. So how do I manage all the personalities? I really don't think it's a magic button or magic recipe, I think it's the simple approach I have is, get to know the people, the individual, and I got guys from 17 different countries on my team, so they are all different.They all grew up different, they have different families, they have different experiences, cultures, everything, so I love that. I get to know him and then try to figure out what they want to do, and how they want to do it, and what makes them tick, and then caring for them as well. I mean it's pretty simple so amazing if you care about someone how much buy-in, that’s what makes me tick, that's the greatest joy I have. When won the Trophy this year Larry, being on the field with my captain who's Ghanaian an amazing man. He's a Ghanaian who played in two World Cups being with him and actually just knowing what he just did in leading our team that is why I do it. He’s an unbelievable guy, he is a great person, and you know those are the things we'll remember really when we're all in a rocking chair old and gray. You won’t look at the ring, you look at the ring and say, “oh that’s great”, won't remember the money made you remember the relationships that you developed and the impact you had on your players, that's more meaningful than anything.
Larry: That’s beautiful, that’s beautiful. Let me ask you this for the leaders out in the group, and those of you that said he's not talking about me, we're all leaders, because if we're leading no one else, we're leading ourselves through life.I'm appealing to everyone to hear this, how would you handle this if I was one of your players and I started to get a little full of myself and I wasn't aware of it because I'm out in the field, how would you talk to me about that?If I was interfering with what we could accomplish, and not passing as much and a little egocentric. How would you deal with that?
Caleb: Well, I think the mistake that people make a lot of times in that situation is not understanding the person, the reasons and instead of jumping to a conclusion, you first want to understand the person. Make sure what you're seeing, or feeling is what’s really happening because you can mis-read people a lot. I always tell a story, I'm staying in the locker room in Akron and realizing one of my players head was down and not looking at me in the eyes and I get use to sizing up everybody in a locker room, and as a young coach, you want to see everybody locked in, and to respect me, and I'm the powerful guy up here. His head was down and after the talk I said, “Darren, you sit here and stay here okay, I will talk to you. Then I say, “what's going on? You’re not looking at me, you don’t look like you care, you’re not bought in at all.” I said, ``You're disrespecting me, what the hell's going on?” He literally goes, “coach my country in Jamaica, we show respect by not looking at people in the eyes. People we respect the most, we don’t look them in the eyes. I'm taught in the streets if I start looking people in the eyes, that's basically a confrontation, I'm ready to fight you, I'm ready to …” It opened my eyes to not assuming anything, to just learn to listen. So, I try to do that, and I give my players the benefit of the doubt but also if guys do start to put themselves first to a fault, I don't mind, you said the word Ego, I agree 100%. Don't check your ego at the door, bring it in and ego is what makes a lot of guys good, that Pride I know it's seven deadly sins supposedly, but pride is what every good, successful player, coach, you have a little pride that's a good thing. I always say, “don't be arrogant”.
Larry: Be confident, but don’t be arrogant.
Caleb: Confidence is a trait and arrogance is a state, or the opposite right? Confidence is a state and arrogance is a trait? So, I try to get …..
Larry: That is, everybody who's listening has just gotten a beautiful secret in avoiding conflict, making an ass out of yourself, bringing down the morale of the individual that you're working with. Morale equals performance, you want to know the story first before you make any assumptions. Like this guy, “is disrespecting me”,“why is he not looking me in the eye”, imagine that if you called him out in front of the group? This is what I have always had an affinity to you, I feel like we're soul mates, because when I first met you, I had started out with the football team and none of the coaches were into it, they didn't want me on the field when I was invited to come down and talk to the players and just support them. They performed miserably, they had a terrible season, and the coach ended up getting fired. I really don't really want to take credit for that, but in the meantime, I met you, and you wanted to know what I did, and you just started asking one question after another. You weren't about, “let me tell you what I know, and how good I am”, and right there, that old Jerry Maguire movie, “you had me at hello”, I mean you just really captured my spirit, and I can see why the players are just drawn to you because you make it about them. This is the difference between the football team and the soccer team, was their coaching and you guys hung on everything we did, you encourage the players to pay attention, you want to maximize the opportunity, whether it was valuable or not, how do we know unless we got the opportunity to experience it. So, by you finding the story out first, somebody comes late to meeting in the band leader gets upset with them, and then finds out later that they just found out their wife has cancer or they one of their children got sick, I mean if we had found that out first, we would have reacted entirely different. I thank you for sharing that because that can really be a huge cure to the collaboration that we need and while we're recording this today was the inauguration, so we're experiencing it a totally different type of leadership and whether you voted for you know that that particular President or not is immaterial, we need to be a collaborative entity, as you are a coach. Let me ask you this, you're just a little guy growing up. What would you say that you wish you'd known at 17 that you know now, that would have maybe made a little difference in your growth?
Caleb: Great question. I'm going through that a little bit and directly with my three kids right, in making sure as a dad and a parent, that you know that they tap into what they want to tap into. I thinking that simple thing, I remember when you used to talk about how most kids decide they want to be good at something or decide they are good or bad at something before the age of 5, 6, 7, something like that right, is that true? And I’ll never forget that because it makes so much sense and the problem with that is most kids decide that they are good at something based on a parent or teacher or coach or maybe their first failure or maybe their first negative experience. I totally agree, and it says again going back to being growth mindset that you really can be good at anything, as long as you want to be good at it and you take the time to do it, a lot of people just don't get that or believe that you're just born like, a really good coach, you're really good player, your talent in something or you're not. What's really interesting is, again going back to things you taught me, it's simply assigning a value to it, right? When you sign a value to something, you work on it, and the more you work on it, the better you get at it. Unfortunately, there are bad, maybe that’s harsh, there are parents, coaches, and teachers, that unfortunately are fixed mindset that think, that kids dumb or that they say it all the time, parents, “that's a smart one, that's the good athlete, that's the trouble kid, and that gets in your mindset and then now those kids think that's who they are, and they defined by those experiences. If I'm going back to the question, “if I knew what I know now”, I probably wouldn't have listened to a lot of people that told me “I couldn't do things”, “you're not something”. You know I would have worked a little harder being a better dancer, I don't know, I’m a pretty crappy dancer and I always thought I was a bad dancer, and I never did it, so I'm stuck as a bad dancer. You know I always wanted to be a good soccer player, so I worked at it, and I worked at it and I became a good soccer player. Funny story, I was definitely afraid of public speaking.
Larry: Oh, no kidding.
Caleb: Deathly afraid.
Larry: Where did that come from do you think?
Caleb: I think it probably came from an embarrassing experience, probably when I was young and I got embarrassed, I don’t know, someone laughed at me or something. Then even early as a coach I want to get nervous sometimes, but it is funny, now I become so comfortable speaking. I obviously have to be to become a coach. It's simply because I worked on it right? I had more fun doing it and I became more comfortable doing it and realized I was really good at it. But I thought I was horrible at it in college, I wanted nothing to do with it.
Larry: That's such a powerful point. One of the things that I just had when I watched this was the end of the chant, your victory, you took a victory lap, and I watched it on television.
Caleb: I don't remember it.
Larry: I don't imagine you did.
Caleb: Out of body experience.
Larry: I'll bet, I’ll bet, you had so many much dopamine pumped into your system. When I was watching you going around and clapping to the fans, I said that's my Caleb! You know I mean it was just it was just such a natural thing for you to do, was to be grateful. I think that's why I've always stayed in touch and always wanted to have the opportunity to work with you. It is because of that gratefulness. Why don't you share with people what where that comes from for you, being grateful like that?
Caleb: Yeah, another great question. You know, I love people and I think I feel like I've had to kind of fight work for things, and I always appreciate when people have done things for me, you know. We hadn’t talk for a couple of years, but you would from time-to-time text me and I texted about the championship because you know, I do think that I'm where I'm at because of you, because of certainly a lot of coaches I've studied under, there’s a lot of people that I'm where I'm at. So, I don't know I just really appreciate that, it's probably goes back to again you know the people that served me right so I'm now working people and I and if you have that purpose than you probably appreciate the people that have served you, and help you, and taught you, and took the time to just, you know teach you this little thing or help you with this little thing. I am who I am for the people that have helped me and serve me. In some cases, questioned me, in some cases doubted me. I sprinted down the sideline to thank the fans because a big motivation was when I took this job, I almost felt a responsibility and obligation to bring a trophy to Columbus because I took one from them in 2015.
Larry: That's right.
Caleb: I like the story which is why I pick jobs so carefully because I like a story in life. I have a very deep way of looking at my life and my legacy well beyond, kind of the wins. It's more of the relationships, that legacy. It's more of, in a city you know, the legacy that people attached to me coming in that city and helping that city, bring attention to that city, because I know through sports, it’s a huge vehicle to ignite a community, to bring attention, to bring happiness and joy. I was motivated this year with covid and everybody, you know in a dark time. I remember thinking we can really lift this city through our vehicle to win this trophy, but then also I did, I wanted to bring a trophy back to them. I love that story that motivated me, allowed me to set a vision, to do it, and allowed me to stay passionate to do it. At the end there was a release of, “I did it”, “we did it”. I’m so happy that they could be happy, if that makes sense.
Larry: You know that, “goes around, comes around”. Do I remember this right, was there a coach who you happen to hear state that “Akron would never win a National Championship”, does that ring a bell?
Caleb: Yeah, and I think you know people still wonder why I consider myself an underdog, and I say it had a lot of people who never thought I'd have two championships. They said you know, your team was an underdog this year and I said yeah, I'm underdog, I’ve had to work for everything. I’m the last college coach to step into the professional ranks, there's not been anybody, you know after. My path is very rare, there are no other coaches in my league that have done what I've done. I feel like I have been doubted and questioned, and probably again when you go back to your Rox-Talk you talk about, you know I had a lot of rocks dropped in my pocket the only thing is I never signed any value to it, was a little pebble, the value I assigned to the rocks I dropped, or naturally to the people that I allowed to drop massive boulders in my bucket right that's what made me better. I learned that and I used those little pebbles to just give me a big boulder on the other one, you know. I've had people, for good reason, just think there was no way I was going to be able to coach a MLS, no way I was going to be able to take Akron to a national championship. I love being doubted, I love the impossible, I love people saying that there's no way Columbus Crew’s is winning a trophy, that was two years ago. Portland Timbers when I got there, they hadn’t made the playoffs. So, you know those are little things I think give you that little bit of motivation. Akron my first got there, people said there's no chance you're going to get the best players, there's no chance you'll win a National Championship, and I love it when people say that so, I probably look for jobs that I'm the underdog in the club the underdog and we go for it.
Larry: Yeah, you know one of the one of the elements that we haven't talked about yet but we've been talking about parts of it, is the importance of culture, and how important is the culture of the team to you, and share with folks with that with that means to you, “the culture of your team”.
Caleb: Yeah, the culture for me, the most important thing really, because it's the glue that you know kind of bonds everything together and unites everything it creates and ownership and collective everything. Whether it's your style of play, your game model, tactically, that’s wrapped up in your culture. Your goals that you set, that’s wrapped up in your culture, your leadership, locker-room responsibility accountability. I don't like to work “rules” but I like more of a behaviors.
Larry: Yeah, there has to be parameters to operate within.
Caleb: Yeah, your training, how you train, it’s the collective, basically responsibility and accountability that you have. Culture is everything, culture when you think about it, it’s what motivates your players and you to be a part of the club. Because it's the positive aspects that you share, and you share together, and you share collectively. It's bigger than you, is bigger than even your team. It’s traditions, you have to create that as a leader. I’ve learned that your players have to really take ownership and have to be a part of creating that culture. that's even more powerful. I do a leadership console where I have a cross-section of players on my team and we meet once a week and I share everything with them, there's nothing to hide, I share everything with them, I share my decision when I am adding one player, I even asked questions on them on players, and they take responsibility and ownership and everything that we do. That’s when you create a powerful thing.
Larry: Absolutely. Now you go to the players, since you let them get involved, they are embracing the change and the new player, opposed to “we’ll see whether or not we will include you in the group”. A lot of companies face that and fight with that whenever they bring another associate in. You know you create some magic; I've sat in a couple Timbers games when I had a client in Portland and the place was on fire! I mean it was the most eccentric and explosive group that I had witnessed in a long time and that makes changes occur, that brings something out of the player to want to be the best they can possibly be within the parameters that use a coach and they collectively have set.So, you get all this magic going and everybody's feeling so wonderful in the community has been lifted and then you end up going to another team, what is that like for you having to make that shift after you've built something so wonderful?
Caleb: Yeah, I get that question a lot, because people don't see the move that I made leaving Portland very often. I wasn’t fired, I had years left on my contract, I think ideally again it goes back to “it's not about me, it's about what's best for the club and for the players”. There is a cycle I think of the team or business, there is a cycle of there needs to be changes after a certain amount of time and usually changes come in the form of either different culture, you know if you want to adapt and change or different people. When I go into a job, I picked that job to go in there to make it better, leave it better than it was and accomplish things, then hopefully, you leave, not get fired and hopefully you leave the club in a good position where they will keep being successful and now the next guy comes in verses staying too long, getting fired, they have to blow the team up, they have to bring in new people, so I love that when I came to Akron we were good, but we were better when I left. They have continued to be successful. A lot of things we created are still there. I love that and take great pride in that. I love that I’ve gone to Portland and they were better when I was there and when I left, they have continued to be successful. That's the same thing for Columbus, that's what I want, that’s the way I look at jobs. I think it's very selfish of a leader, you go in and want to make it about you, you leave let it crash and burn and then what does that mean? I would say the most prominent and successful leaders will leave a bigger footprint on every place they go.
Larry: Beautiful, beautiful! Caleb, you know when we talk about what holds people back, the number one fear of the human race basically is “not being accepted”, that's because if you look at it from an eight prospective with our species would die, we wouldn't be getting together, there be no provocation of the species, so we're innately wanting to be together, and rejection so becomes at number one fear, nobody wants to get rejected and some people it's a boulder when they have in a rejection in their life and they draw in and they really never make anything happen after that.Everybody can pretty much understand that, how important it is to be validated and the second one is, change, and the third is, death. When you think about change most people the only change, they like is the one that came up with themselves, and typically change triggers the amygdala and we going to fight, flight, freeze mechanism, because it's going to break routines now, it’s going to make everything different, and here you are talking about the importance of that transition called “change”, so that things can thrive and prosper. What takes place inside of you, Caleb, when you're having this illustrious career, you're finding out that you have figured something out about “how to win” and so you're not doubting that you're not ever wondering you know, are we going to win. I mean you know what Vision is all about, you owned it before the season even starts. I mean you and I have talked a lot about that, a lot of people don't get that, but what I'd like you to talk a little bit about is, what are some of the clues that people can pick up on, and these are the plays that you've utilized to recognize it's time for a change?
Caleb: Yeah, great question again. I think as coaches and as leaders in general, you said it, anybody, people like to be comfortable, they like a rhythm, they like to know what is around the corner, and actually, the best coaches they have a rhythm, they have a way of working, they have consistency in their behaviors, the players like that. But what I've learned is that overtime too much consistency, too much continuity, while early in the process that leads to performance because when you have consistency and continuity then your chances for consistent performance, your percentages for that are better. Does that make sense? Eventually there is a curve where you actually start to see decreased performance, because they're not stimulated enough if they are not motivated enough, that they lose that vision if you're not careful in redefining. The analogy I use is, you're trying to get to the top of mountain, top of the mountain is the goal you want to accomplish, you know in our case the trophy MLS cup, you start at the bottom, and you climb, and you climb, and you climb, you know where you're going and you're going to get there, right? There’s nothing stopping you from getting there, you're going to get there but what happens is when you get there finally and you win the trophy, people try to stay there.
Larry: How do you mean, “stay there”?
Caleb: They try to stay on top please, try to stay on top and even punditry okay, they'll talk about you defending the trophy, you're on top of defending the trophy. That gets in your players head and You start to think I'm defending a trophy, I’m fighting everybody off ,I'm at the top and next year I'm fighting.
Larry: So, you're playing, not to lose?
Caleb: You’re now not climbing towards a goal, you’re fighting, I guess fighting something? What I always say is, “you are not at the top of the mountain anymore, at the top of the mountain the air is thin, you can’t stay up there. You’re not fighting people off, you have to come all the way down again, reset, in some cases pick a new mountain or pick a new path, because the next year you're not defend anything, it's a whole new year, a whole new trophy, your goals are different, you have to climb again and probably have to climb even harder. I think people just they just get complacent through success, they lose hunger, they lose motivation, they don't adapt, and so what I've learned, “you have to redefine your goals in some cases make sure the players and the coaches you work with, are still stimulating you, are still able to climb the mountain again, they still want to climb the mountain” because what happens Larry, is when you have success, you’ve think you have arrived, you think you’ve made it. You think the next year it's just going to be automatic or maybe you don't even want to do it again cuz you've lost your motivation to do it. If you see players, their performance drop, or the motivations drop, you try to help them get back to where they were or keep going higher, and staff as well otherwise unfortunately you have to make changes with the people because in my job unfortunately people stop performing. That’s the hardest thing in my job to make changes with a group that I’ve just won with. So, that's why ultimately, I left/chose to leave Portland because it was either going to be I'm going to need to leave or I'm going to need to change my players that I just won a trophy with or staff members I just want to trophy with and that's why I prefer when that when that curved starts to drop, that's when I'm going to leave.
Larry: Yeah, yeah.
Caleb: Because I am a loyal guy. I want to go in, set a goal, drive things, create a culture, create a style, play well, while it's exciting, it's fresh, we're in the honeymoon, let's go for it. I know we're going to win it and I always won a championship wherever I have gone. So, am I leaving Columbus? No, because this is the first time, I want to win it again, it’s the first job where I’m going to win it again and I’ve learned a lot through Akron. Not winning it again, knowing I had to leave or thinking I had to leave, in Portland the same. This is a new leadership challenge for me because I want to win the second one in the same Club.
Larry: Yeah, that's going to be a wonderful learning that whole element of getting re-motivated again, and because we all know that once we reach a goal, we set, we lose drive and energy. You know what I mean, if your goal is to get home, you do, and you sit on the couch and can't get up because you've reached your goal. That's how our brain operates and something that you've always been able to do and now you're really challenging yourself is the reinventing and not letting people get complacent or board is more than just instructing them not to get complacent or bored, you can't talk about it, it's got to be the new vision, you said that “if the vision is the mountaintop, nothing's going to stand in your way you're going to get there”, now what you just said, would mean that everybody that sets a goal or vision would accomplish it and we know that's not the case. That unfortunately is about 10 to 12% of people out there, who don't let the setback set them back. What do you mean to be able to have a vision that doesn't allow you to let the setbacks slow you down? What is that about so the people that are listening don't just think they have a vision or a goal and then the circumstances became too overwhelming and so they change the goal or the vision instead of being able to get through the circumstance? How do you instill that in your team?
Caleb: These questions are amazing because they're all great questions.
Larry: Thanks bud. You didn’t expect anything different did ya?
Caleb: But they're not easy answers, they're all great questions and I think it's the key to unlocking right?
Caleb: I think you said it, it takes knowing what you know, what you taught me, but then I brought into it, right? Now I have to know what I know and teach it to my players, and they have to believe it.
Caleb: You have to be good, and you have to know first of all, you have to sell it but specifically …
Larry: How do you get them to believe?
Caleb: It’s first of all not being scared.
Caleb: Scared to fail, right? You have to set the goal, right? So, the first day of pre-season Larry this year, I told him we were going to win the MLS cup. First day of pre-season. and at that time coming off a year that was a transition year last year we didn't have a lot of success, I'm sure those players thought I was crazy, but I told them “you get what you think about, and I told them that the only way you're going to win the MLS Cup is actually creating that vision now.You have to believe it, and buy into it, and if you do that you have a chance that most people don't set that vision and I told him that there are 26 other teams right now having the same meeting and I'm guessing they were maybe only a couple of them at best that are creating that vision right now. I told them we're probably only going to have to compete and the end of the year with three or so teams that truly believe and have believed all year that they were going to win that. I've always thought that was an advantage that I've had in these moments and I reminded him going to play offs and I showed them before when the playoffs, because my media people filmed it I showed him the first meeting I had with him in pre-season and what I said to them, I told them this is what we talked about all year, this has been the vision, this is where we expected to be, don't be surprised, and so how do I get them bought into it? I think a little bit it starts with you, just not being scared to say it because coaches are scared to say it and how are you going to be judged, this guy is crazy really, you think we are talking about right now? Coaches like to wait until the end, wait until the end to say “yeah, now we are going to win it!”. Guess what, there’s no winning, you don’t win at those coaches. You don’t wait and win it, you win it on day one because you’ve already won it, you create that vision. So, the second thing is there is no other choice, you don’t even think you’re not going to win it. Like you said, 12% do it, why do they do it? Because they are the 12% that actually never left any doubt come into their minds. If you can sell your players on that, then you will get it.
Caleb: Those other teams don't have that same mindset, don't have that belief.
Larry: You know and this is where I want the audience to be aware of this, and I'm sure they are. I want everyone in your life to be aware of this.Your common denominator of your success, is your presence Caleb, it's something that you aren't aware of which is the good news, because then arrogance could slip in, ego can take over,“well all I gotta do is show up and we're going to win,” but it's the fact that you're concerned about the person that hasn’t bought in, and then you don't cop an attitude about them and then make sure that they're not attending any more , and you're looking for a trade is that you find out what their story is. I mean you're in for the long run and you're going to have to overcome challenges and you have to overcome setbacks and one of the things that so many people would love to hear how you handle it is, “you don't get scared” and you just hit a nerve with everyone on, “how do you do that”? Because that opens the door to doubt, doubt leads to hesitation, hesitation leads to failure, and then …… And then you can go, well that was a pretty big goal, winning two MLS Cup in a row, I mean you get into all of this stuff that shouldn't even enter into your head. So where were you able to do this for yourself, because you first got to own it, or you're no danger getting anyone else to own it. Then in hindsight how do you see yourself helping others on the team who have the doubt or the fear or the “I'm not getting paid as much as that guy” or whatever the little seed of discontent occurs, so that the people listening have a little bit of a, they know what the trigger is, the trigger isn't getting fearful now. what's the , what's the vaccine if you will, that keeps you resilient to that?
Caleb: I think the thing that really helps me is the process.
Caleb: There is a lot of stuff that I could get, stressed out about.I could feel pressure especially when you lose a game, right? The external pressures come in the media, the fans, you if you're not careful you start losing confidence, you start acting differently, your players innately lose confidence, start acting differently, and you know, you’ve got to be careful through the short-term struggles to stay on track in to be exactly the same that you were, and one thing I always say is, you lose a couple games, “how would you be playing and acting today, if you won both those games?” That’s how you should play because a loss shouldn’t take away anything from the next game, it’s just, of course we will learn from it and there are some changes but not too much, just some little things, and I just keep them focused and I stay focused myself on the process. We know there is a goal, we know we are going to get there, we know to get there their steps we know there are games, but we know if we lost one week that we were going to win the next week and losing didn't doesn't Define who we are, it actually helps us grow, get better improve, but irrespective, we know where we're going to be at the end, always, we know where we are going to be, it’s that simple. I think it helps when I have one because they listen a little more for sure.Nick Saban, when he talks about winning the National Championship, right?He has done it so many times, that the buy-in is a little more, so I think that's synergy once you’ve won is why people that have won continue to win.
Larry: Yeah, yeah.
Caleb: Because the winning is easier when you’re talking about doing it, they're not looking at you like you’ve never done it before or what are you talking about, you don't know how to win. What helps a little bit, when I got to the playoffs, I firmly believe that because I've won in the playoffs, that the players were like okay, and then there were other players on our team by the way, that had won trophies, so they think they are going to win and they are confident and I think that edge, I knew there were teams in those playoffs that were just happy to be in the playoffs. They weren’t trying to win it, didn’t talk about winning it. You don’t see a Cinderella story win it; you see a Cinderella the NCAA tournament make it to the 16 don't you? You never really see the Cinderella really win it. It's the top programs with the coaches that have bread that in them every year after year, after year, those are the ones that end up winning it.
Larry: This is how Caleb handles complacency, he calls me up and I happened to be in Akron at the time and he goes you know my teams getting a little complacent Larry, do you think you could stop by and you could talk with him a little bit? I think I showed up about 9 that night and I said what do you mean by complacency? He goes well we're playing a game we get behind by one and then they go ahead and score, then they score again, and now we're up by one and then the other team scores and then we score right away. So they're just playing enough to win and do you remember the night I challenged them about how many goals did they ever scored in one game and I threw a big number out there like 7 because you guys are going to play Michigan. First off the kids kind of reacted like, “yeah right”. Then I go, oh you don't think you can? You got involved and we all got involved in it and then you invited me to sit on the sidelines during that game with those reserves and I want to tell you that was one of the most classic and wonderful evenings that I've had in a long time, because they ended up winning 7 to 2 . One guy even got three hat tricks and you know it and I started to use it as a tool and I had the video that I got off of YouTube and whatnot.
Caleb: “The power of 7”
Larry: “The power of 7”. What was so miraculous for me was, there was a part of me that went, “ oh my God, being clear and specific makes all the difference”. Because why didn't they score 8, why didn't they score 6 why was it 7? I think we all learned something from that, and you taught me because there was a part of me that was doubting me, “what are they don't do it”, you know I would have done a disservice to Caleb.
Caleb: We were playing, by the way, a really good team as well. They actually made it to the final four, Michigan.
Larry: Exactly! I brought that because I want people to recognize that we were talking about what each and every one of us has and that's a brain. All the brain needs is in his direction and clarity and learning what to do and how to deal with doubt and how to recognize that it's something to get excited about not something to fear be fearful of, because it's got a lesson that we we've got to learn if we're going to continue to be as great as we can be. My wife Diane was saying you know you're a little nervous today honey, I’ve never noticed that in you before, how come? I'm doing a podcast with Caleb Porter. and I telling you, you have become a more than a celebrity for me, more than a great friend, you have become an example and a model of what I teach, what I believe in, and most importantly, the truth that, making your mind up first and the rest will take care of itself, you’ll figure out the process and you'll overcome the challenges in. I have no doubt that you guys were going to win your second MLS Cup! The reason I say that is because you're the coach! Yeah, you said I can't do it alone, of course you can't do it alone, but you can't do it with anybody other than you, and that's the common denominator of why you've been so successful Caleb, is because you care about others more than you care about yourself! I love you brother and I hope that everybody out there has had a really enjoyable time listening to someone who is as successful as you are and you had a great father, and all I have to do is watch your video reading the story to your children. Your children were amazing to watch as well. On how they reacted, and your son put his arm around his sister it was just all kinds of really sweet touching moments. That's what I experienced with you and that's why I enjoyed having so much time and being able to watch high performance at its best! How would you kind of like to wrap things up for our audience as far as some things that you think would be a benefit to those that are not playing at the top of their game, maybe sometimes I found ourselves getting a little down, especially with the covid-19 and every one of has needed to reinvent themselves.Every one of us needs a little inspiration and I love the definition of “what inspiration is”, “to inspire is to breathe spirit in”. You've always done that for me my friend! In parting what could you share with our listeners to kind of get through the challenges in tough times we are facing?
Caleb: Yeah, I think a big thing is just there are so many people that I come across that you know they are in ruts. life is tough, marriage is tough, parenting is tough, work is tough, watching the news right, is stressful, covid-19. I just see a lot of people who just get in ruts, get in whatever you want to call it, depressed, they are down, they feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Those people they stop living, they stop having like they had when they were younger, a dream or goal. They go back to thinking, well I can't do that, or I don't like my job, or I don't like my wife, this parenting thing is not what I thought it would be, they stop living life, they stop having dreams, stop having passions, and goals. What I would say to those people is, think about what you want to do with the next Whatever It Is 40 50 years of your life, and stop looking at the negatives and look at what it could be and what the positives could be. Set a vision, set 10 of them, I lose 10 pounds, okay, quit saying you want to lose 10 lb., DO IT. Write down, and then think about it and it will happen, make it happen! Attach a value to it, you want a change of job, a promotion, then go and set a vision, work at it, go learn, get back to school, whatever it is.You want to be a better parent or husband, okay, don't talk about how bad it is, talk about how good it could be. If you start thinking that way and you'll get out of that rut and you'll stop being in the negative patterns that you've been in.
Larry: Beautiful! Thank you so much for the time, I mean we could go on and on and I know how valuable, and everyone's time is and I know that you've got a tight schedule. I thank you so much for taking your time to share with all of us! Caleb everyone out there I know has found this fascinating.You've shared a lot of great ideas for leaders and most importantly you've shared how you operate, and how you think, and it’s that mindset and knows plays that have made a difference in thousands of lives with all the fans, the players that you've touched, and the people that have embraced you and been a part of your team, it's been magnificent and it's just beginning for you! Thank you for the bottom of my heart, kudos to you, and just continue to be Caleb, continue to bring out the best show up, the best version of you and every moment you have, and again your time has been invaluable, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Caleb: Thanks Larry
Larry: You're welcome buddy!
Closing: In a moment you will hear some music and then hear from Walker as to who our next guest will be. So, thank you all out there and remember, “whatever is going on in your life right now is the exact moment that you've waited for your entire life,” “Get to Vision”, as Caleb has shared, find the process, and make every decision filtered through the vision, and you'll be amazed at the outcomes you create in your life! All the best to all of you and thank you again Caleb!
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