You have a HUGE job, and a tremendous OPPORTUNITY.
In the lives of your student-athletes.
My name is Brett W. Gould.
I am a motivational speaker and life coach.
I failed out of college as a young student-athlete, and now spend my professional life speaking into the lives of the next generation so they don't repeat the same mistakes.
Why am I contacting you?
Their transition to college IS NOT going well.
I've been there as a student-athlete, and I know how to help others that are.
Here's my student-athlete story.
I failed out of college at 18.
I was in the top 20% of my HS class.
Athlete. Musician. Generally, hilarious and engaging in every circle I travelled in.
And then college hit, and hit hard.
I started skipping classes.
I drifted to anything that didn't hold me accountable.
I was living a nightmare, and no one really knew it.
I was scared.
I didn't like my classes.
I didn't know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
At the end of semester #1 I had a 1.85 GPA.
No one really addressed it.
Just a couple of months into semester #2, and it was over.
4 F's and an incomplete.
And a letter saying I had failed out.
I had just received a 0.0, and felt hopeless.
Luckily…I had a mentor that put his arms around my world and wouldn't let me quit.
I walked onto another campus, and they took me in…on the word of my mentor.
I had to fight.
I had limitations and expectations, for academic success, to stay there.
I couldn't play soccer, because I was ineligible.
I watched from the stands, knowing I was as good as any of the guys.
I pulled my grades up.
I walked-on the following fall…AND MADE THE TEAM.
I worked HARD.
The following year…I EARNED AN ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP.
I posted a 4.0 during an in-season semester.
I began coaching soccer in a city school my senior year in college.
And I graduated CUM LAUDE.
That's a snap-shot of WHO I was as a college student. That was over 20 years ago. Since then I have had the honor of working with tons of high school and college students. I've coached everywhere from the U6 level to College and in between. I've built curriculum that helps athletics programs, coaches, and student-athletes discover WHO they are so they will know WHAT to do. It works. I've spoken in High School classrooms, an auditorium, and all over different settings on College campuses.
What am I asking of you?
To have a conversation with me, about being a resource for you.
How would we work together?
I would be a Mental Coaching resource for your administration, coaches and student-athletes. Not as a one hit talk, but as a long-term relationship. I have a specific process I follow, that is a huge win for administrators, coaches, and student-athletes.
(You'll see a testimonial in a minute)
Can we be brutally honest?
You don’t have to.
Most of you, in fact, won’t.
And that's ok.
I want to work with a handful of people that get it, and I am hoping that might be you.
The great leaders take chances others see as distractions.
There are two approaches for Athletics Programs.
Play catch up. (Because other programs saw the value in this, first)
Play "catch us if you can". (Because you took the lead by doing this, first)
If you aren’t sure which side of that fence you are on, look around.
Are the people you lead looking tired or inspired?
Are their mental gas tanks on E, or are they coming in ramped up and ready?
At this point you have the perfect excuse to delete this email.
“Finances”. Except, it isn’t true.
There are always resources that can be found, for progress that needs to be made.
And…you are already spending the money.
Here's proof…does this sound familiar?
• Student-Athlete retention is an issue. (That means lost $ to your College)
• You, and other administrators, coaches, professors, etc…are having to meet with student-athletes who are having academic, athletic, or behavioral issues. (time = money)
• You are having to meet with coaches to go over unmet expectations about the academic and behavioral requirements of their team not being met.
When you start to look at lost tuition, and multiply out the hours x the salary of those who've had to meet over these issues…you can see that it adds up quickly.
That is why I am saying that your University is already spending the money.
The thing is, no one is tracking it.
It's happening…and you could be getting out in front of it.
Still reading? I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your teams better. You are the exact people I am looking forward to connecting with. You are the game-changers. The leaders.
Any speaker can show up once, say something clever, and “Drop The Mic” as they walk out the door. And once they do, it’ll rev up your engines for a few days…maybe even a week!
It takes a whole other kind of person, commitment, and vision…to develop a relationship with their audience. That happens over time, so that the impact is measured in sustainable life-change over years.
That’s the difference between hiring any speaker, and working with me.
I don’t speak at you, I work with you.
Not short bursts of energy that fade.
Long-term momentum and sustainable progress.
Here's a testimonial you'll love from one of your colleagues in collegiate athletics:
"Brett was excellent! We are in the process of rebuilding our program and his help has been priceless. He is an ALL-IN type of person and that's what we needed."
Head Men's Soccer Coach
St. Bonaventure University
Most of you are about a month out from your pre-season for 2016-2017.
If you would like to talk, I'd love to have the conversation.
No strings attached.
One phone call.
If there is a fit from there, we can talk specifics about how this will work with your University. If not, we've made a new friend. That's cool, too.
You made it.
And since you did, we should talk.
All The Best,
Brett W. Gould
I was working in my office today, and needed to erase the whiteboard you see in the picture above. I busted out the windex and paper towels to take care of what I thought would be a 2 minute project. Except it took longer. Much, much longer. I needed a scrubby-pad-thingy-what's it, too. And elbow grease. The quantity of which may have just given me tendonitis. Great, there goes my professional tennis career.
Mid-cleaning it hit me.
I had written the notes that were on the board a while ago. It was an important section of a book I am currently writing. I left it up, because I knew I would be referring to it a lot. And when my elbow began to feel like it was going to explode I realized something.
Consistent messages are hard to ignore.
That made me think of high school and college students. Specifically, our responsibility to speak life into them on a regular, consistent basis.
The words we use impact how they see themselves.
The actions they take based on those words multiply those results. Either for good, or...well, not so good.
We need to be intentional about the words we are pouring into the next generation.
The ones they think about themselves. The ones they use to describe themselves. The ones that act as a mental GPS to the actions they take.
And that's on us.
Just like the words on my whiteboard were not easily erased, neither are the ones we speak into the next generation. My whiteboard had encouraging words. But think about the many, many times that the emotional whiteboard of a young adult is getting filled with negative words. And then our first reaction is to blame them for acting on the only teaching they've ever known...negativity.
Millennials are listening.
And every time we lob the softball of "they are just an entitled generation", we highlight our unwillingness to be part of the solution. Actually, we also do a fantastic job of contributing to the problem.
Stop complaining, and start solving.
Stop putting down, and start pouring into.
Stop, stopping, and start, starting.
Be willing to spend the time scrubbing the emotional whiteboard of a Millennial clean, so that you can fill it back up with encouragement.
Unleash their potential, by bringing words of wisdom that are intentional.
Teach them the power of words.
Teach them how to leverage the momentum that comes from understanding WHO they are, and WHY they exist. Teach them to rely on values, so that WHAT they believe comes alive in HOW they act.
Every mind is like a whiteboard.
Fill it with great content.
Words are hard to remove, so make sure they are worth the time you are taking to say them.
Every word matters.
And one last thing...
The consistency of your delivery will either be part of the solution, or part of the problem.
We also have to be intentional about our commitment over time. Just because we said it once, doesn't mean our job is done.
There will always be a competing message for limited space in the minds that we are teaching.
Keep writing words of encouragement, life, challenge, love, hope, etc...on the hearts of the next generation.
That way when someone tries to fill it with the opposite, they will see the value in not listening to it.
Well, I have to run.
I have a whiteboard to fill with more notes.
Positive, life-giving, inspiring notes.
For the next generation.
I hope you will join me in doing the same.
If you Google the word, here is what you will find.
"A soft area of land that gives way underfoot."
"An awkward, complex, or hazardous situation."
And for many college freshman, that is exactly what it feels like to walk on to campus for the second time.
I'm not talking about the first time. You know...the one when you tour the campus, seeing the best of everything. When you get what J-Lo calls "the goosies". When you seal the deal that this will be your University with the rite of passage that has happened for decades. You buy the sweatshirt from the bookstore, and wear it all over your hometown.
Everything is full of hope and excitement on the first visit. But when it comes time to wave to your parents from the curb as they become smaller, disappearing into the distance that is your former existence...something shifts.
Don't get me wrong. You are still excited. Come on, man. You've just reached the pinnacle of freedom.
Where do you start?
So much freedom, so much time.
Until there isn't.
Yeah...it happens the moment the first syllabus drops in front of you, with the weight of an anvil. It's multiplied a few times over...from class, to class, to class.
All of a sudden free time looks like one of those freezer bags that gets any quantifiable amount of air left sucked out of it by a vacuum-looking device.
Welcome to college.
If you arrive at this point still unsure of "WHAT" you want to be when you grow up, "WHAT" your major should be, "WHAT" classes you should take...it can be a lot like knowing you are hungry, but afraid to take a bite. Why? Because you know you are allergic to some of it...you just don't know what part of it.
Silly analogy? Maybe.
Wouldn't it be nice to know what you were allergic to, before you consumed it?
I think there are 2 Quagmire-like times in a college freshman's life.
First steps and next steps.
Arriving and deciding.
How do you recapture the "sweatshirt-from-the-bookstore" feeling, when you are staring at the "what-the-heck-do-I-do-now" reality?
Take a step back.
Think about WHO you are and WHY you exist. Think about the very thing that drives you. Think about what you love to day-dream about.
Start to think about what you believe in. The non-negotiable values that steer you. The ones, that at the end of the day, will keep you on track, on time, and on point...amidst the attractive distractions (and they will come) that flood the world of every college freshman.
Think about it this way...
When you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do. You exist to do something of significance, based on who YOU are.
This may sound fancy and idealistic. Maybe it is. But from my personal experience, having lived it...and failed out...and hearing from current day college students...this matters.
And at the risk of losing you altogether, I have some homework for you.
Write down the problem that bothers you the most in the world today. Now write down next to it, what you are uniquely equipped to bring to it. (Not what degree you think you need, or major you think you need to declare) Be specific.
Write down the problem.
Write down where you would LOVE to participate in building the solution.
Once you get to the place where you begin to see the end, you will know where to start.
Once you start to see how you are built, you will know what you can bring to the table.
Once you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do.
That'll turn your Quagmires into Questions. Questions are a good thing. They lead to solutions.
No more loose footing and awkward unknowns.
Your first steps become confident next steps.
Your arrival is no longer about just survival.
It's time to thrive.
We have a generation of young adults,
many of whom are struggling with making good decisions.
Let's highlight one area where this happens.
Students don't have an academic problem,
they have a vision problem.
And I'm not talking about their eyesight.
So what am I talking about?
Applying themselves in the classroom starts with an ability to understand why they are there in the first place. If the primary reason is because "they have to be", that ship isn't gonna sail.
The Millennial generation fell out of love with "because I said so" a long time ago.
How do you help an at-risk student achieve the success they want, you want for them, and what the world needs from them?
Stop telling them what to do,
and start helping them discover who they are,
so that they will buy in to why they are there.
They won't care about your "because" until they know THE CAUSE.
Why am I doing it?
Who will it help?
What problem will it solve locally?
What problem will it solve globally?
How will this class help me change the world?
We either start answering these questions intentionally,
or we will continue to see them struggle academically.
So we've identified the problem...
but HOW...how does it change?
What is the solution?
THIS PROCESS IS A START.
I've watched this process change thinking.
I've watched this process change lives.
When you help them discover their vision,
they will want to follow direction.
Systems & structures aren't the enemy
of the Millennial generation.
Helping them understand why they exist,
and how their talents fit into this world?
That's the secret sauce.
Because when they know WHO they are,
they will know WHAT to do.
Or we can keep beating the drum saying everything we've been saying, changing nothing, risking even less...and expecting a completely different outcome. (AKA...rolling the dice)
I believe that's pretty close to the definition of insanity.
These 141 testimonials represent the hope that comes when we go first, change our approach, and risk more...all in the name of a generation that needs us to fight for them, not with them. (AKA...solving the problem)
How can you help?
Glad you asked.
Do you know someone in leadership at a University?
Simply share this blog with them,
and ask them to listen to the 141 voices for themselves.
Then have them call me, so I can tell them what made it happen.
(This number works best for that...716-672-9661)
Thanks for joining us in spreading the word.
You're the best!
It's been talked about a lot, lately. Largely because it's a core attribute of the Millennial generation. With their ability to access almost anything from anywhere at the drop of a hat, how decisions are made is changing.
Collaboration is no longer a nicety, it's a necessity.
Don't get me wrong. It's not like I believe the concept was invented yesterday, and the many generations prior to Millennials never worked in groups to solve problems. But...the fact is that the needle towards how much emphasis is placed on collaboration is moving, and moving fast.
When you can get information from anywhere, it's expected that any voice that wants to be part of the conversation can be. And we no longer live in a world where that is up for debate. Ask just about any organization, and they will tell you (if they know what they are doing) they no longer "control" the conversation about who they are.
The same is true in higher education.
And that's not bad news.
It should be seen as an amazing opportunity.
To connect. To engage. To empower.
What's the alternative?
The exhaustion found in isolation.
Administrators having closed door meetings, deciding on the entire direction their institution will take. Faculty believing their only role is to teach, and retreating to their office with a closed door when they are done. Students understanding that thumbs on keyboards, and earbuds in ears aren't valuing the relationships next to them. All of it creating more isolation, when what we need is healthy conversation. Across all groups of people, and beyond just the walls of the institution.
I'm not over-generalizing, and saying this is the case everywhere, for every University. But I'd be willing to bet that there are pockets of this on most campuses. And therein lies the amazing opportunity. Again...trading isolation for conversation.
No University is an island. And it's time to look deeper into why the recruitment, enrollment, and retention challenges are here, and what can be done about them.
There are 3 things that the exhaustion from isolation
will do to any team. And more good news...it's avoidable.
1. Desperation: Some institutions of higher learning fall into this trap. It's trying every idea that comes across the table to be "relevant". Most of the ideas tried end up being ones other Universities have tried, and have been remotely successful with in the past. The problem? Notice I said "the past". There is no forward thinking leadership in desperation. It's hang on and survive, not step out and thrive. But, Brett..."new" might not work. You're right. If it does? You just traded in desperation for innovation. That's a solid upgrade.
2. Frustration: When enrollment and retention begin to decrease, frustration increases. Trying to solve the problem only through internal channels may seem like the natural play here. I'd suggest this is the time to look externally as well. A "both-and" approach. Taking the best of who you are and connecting it with the very connected world "outside the University walls". Fighting off frustration comes when leadership is committed to doing something very different. Daring to question the status quo.
3. Unmet Expectation: Unfortunately, this is the "blame game" portion of the program. It's when the numbers don't look good, so the institution looks for the person they need to pin it on. I would suggest it's less of a person problem at this point, and simply a vision problem. What do I mean by that? It could be one of a few things. The University may not have a vision that is clear and concise (not a wordy paragraph where every other word is five syllables, just to sound good). If you can't articulate it, how can anyone be expected to follow it? If the University does have this in place, it's possible that hiring faculty and staff is done more as a "fill the position" mode, than to "support the vision". Bringing in people who aren't sold out to who you are and why you exist is a recipe for unmet expectations, because the measure of success looks different to everyone. And lastly...the recruitment never stands a chance, because it's being done by best of intentions, rather than intentionally. The "fill the funnel" method...aka, just get them here, and get a deposit. It just doesn't work that way anymore. Sometimes you have to grow differently. Addition, by subtraction...so that you can multiply. Cut out what doesn't cling to your vision (prune), so that who you are can grow back even stronger over time.
I realize it can be hard to have these conversations, and I applaud all of the Universities that are currently taking the time to do so. It's time we look at collaboration as a gift. The alternative? Continuing to work in isolation...facing the unwanted acts of desperation, feelings of frustration, and the reality of unmet expectations.
I have a friend, who is a professor, that made a comment recently about what needs to happen in higher education. Short, sweet and to the point.
"Deconstruct to reconstruct".
The only way it will work is through true collaboration.
Administration, faculty, staff, students...
AND those outside the 4 walls of the institution.
In the same room.
Make the decision to be intentional about building these relationships,
so that you create teams of influence.
That's how you...
Change a campus.
Change a life.
Change the world.
One collaboration at a time.
Don't get caught up with only what you can see today,
focus on what you know the world needs tomorrow.
Commit to your vision.
In the face of doubters.
In the face of naysayers.
In the face of critics.
Or you can give in.
And we'll all be in exactly the same place tomorrow.
And the critics?
They'll have done nothing.
It's what they do best.
Critics create fear.
You have a choice today.
Live in fear created by critics,
or hope built on your vision.
Which world would you rather live in?
When we stop...we give critics credit for their work.
Are you ready?
Will you go first?
Will you step up?
We are living in a time that desperately needs someone to do this work.
The "other shoe"?
Will you sit there and be crushed by it,
or be long gone...blazing a trail of progress?
If Ben & Jerry started a college.
What a thought!
Their enrollment would go through the roof because of these 5 reasons.
They've done what they can,
with what they have,
where they are.
That's why if Ben & Jerry ever decided to start a College they'd crush it.
Value Your People.
Seems simple really.
Yet so many Universities are stuck in the Vanilla ice-cream race,
trying to be just like that place down the road...or across the country.
Stop being a "me-too" University,
and you'll stand a chance of being the Ben & Jerry's of Higher Education.
The AmeriCone Dream.
Go create one the next generation wants to be part of.
I failed out of college.
In the spring of 1994 I received a letter telling me, due to my academic standing, I had failed out of the University I was attending. But I knew it was coming long before it arrived. Within a few short weeks of stepping onto campus as a freshman in the Fall of 1993, this ball of yarn was already starting to unravel.
I felt like a failure.
I suppose that isn't much of a story, in and of itself. Others have been where I was, and others will be in the future. So, why am I sharing this? Because others don't have to. Because I have made it my life's work to not "waste my pain". 1993-1994 was a painful year for me. And unless you've been there or are now, it is really hard to understand the feeling of isolation and desperation that accompanies it.
I didn't know WHO I was, and was desperately trying to. I knew who everyone else thought I was. I knew who everyone else wanted me to be. (Parents, Teachers, Coaches, Faculty, Administration, Friends, etc…) Which, in my mind, translated to what I was supposed to be. The problem was, it wasn't me. It was someone else's version of me. I couldn't articulate that thought then like I can now. 20 plus years of reflection can offer clarity like that. So now I spend my time working with high school and college students who are where I was. I work with them, so that they don't have to go through what I did.
They are standing in the midst of real struggle.
Emotional. Relational. Educational…struggle.
All of it, and more.
As a college freshman, it didn't take long for me to connect with a group of people who were willing to let me be me…or so I thought. Did they have my best interests at heart? No. Looking back, did they really know me at all? No. Then why was I so attracted to being around them, and neglecting my academics?
Because they offered me something I wanted.
Come here. Do this. Be part of "us". Do your thing. We value you, because of who you are. No conditions. No strings attached. (except there were) We'll "do life" together. Eat together. Play intramurals together. Road trip together. Everything…together. Until it gets hard. Then they were gone.
I so desperately wanted something that made sense as I struggled, that I took my eyes off of my future.
Let me be clear. It wasn't their fault. I can't and won't pass the blame. But my experience was real.
I knew I didn't want to be all the things everyone else wanted me to be. I knew I was confused. I knew I had no clue what major I should choose. And I knew the distraction of being pursued by a group of people was giving me what I thought I needed.
But it wasn't.
And the day I received "the letter", that became painfully clear.
None. Not one…single…person from that group has ever reached out to me after I left the University.
Let that sink in.
It was one of the most isolating feelings I had and have ever experienced.
The good news?
This isn't where the story ended.
Actually, it's where it started.
And it's why I am writing to you today.
My story of struggle in college was over 20 years ago.
But for many college students…their story is happening right now.
And the feelings of isolation, confusion, desperation, etc…?
They are real. They are the same.
You may know someone going through them as we speak.
I want to invite you to keep reading as I share more of my story.
You aren't alone.
And before you leave, please take this encouragement with you. (Share it with someone if this isn't you)
You are uniquely gifted. You are talented. The world needs every, single ounce of who you are and the change only you can bring to us. You are creative, smart, and compassionate. I look forward to sharing with you on this journey. I will share my story, so that you feel empowered in yours. You will make it. You will bounce back, comeback, and use this setback as THE moment you launched yourself forward.
I believe in you, and so do many, many others.
Thanks for stopping by today.
I look forward to hearing your story, too.
I've held onto this story for a long time.
I've told it in bits and pieces, but never in it's entirety...
I failed out of college.
It still hurts to write those words, and worse yet to read them back to myself.
But the hurt isn't a "feel sorry for me" hurt. It's a "I'm doing something about it" hurt. In the lives of those who need the advice, mentorship, and direction that can only come from the voice of someone who's been there.
I ended up graduating Cum Laude from another 4 year University.
The journey in between, and since, has taught me everything I will share with you. And I'm doing it, so that you can make it.
When you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do.
And one more thing...
You aren't a failure.
Maybe some of your choices are making you feel that way.
But...that word doesn't define WHO you are.
That word is simply a reminder that there is work to be done.
Work that you can do, so that you make it to where you want and need to go.
Failure isn't a permanent place.
It's a reminder that it's time to get to work.
So let's do the work.
Keep coming back to this blog for starters.
Take in some encouragement.
One step at a time.
We'll talk more soon.
I've got a lot of stories from my journey I am going to share with you.
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.