I was an invited guest to a recent breakfast hosted by Accelerent, a business development platform. Don Yaeger, eight-time New York Times best-selling author and longtime associate editor of Sports Illustrated was the speaker.
Yaeger has written books with, among others, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, and U.C.L.A. basketball coach John Wooden, baseball stars John Smoltz and Tug McGraw and football stars Warrick Dunn and Michael Oher (featured in the movie “The Blind Side.”)
Yaeger shared a few examples about leadership qualities and real life community relations.
Michael Jordan hosts a basketball fantasy camp every year in Las Vegas, which raises $1.5 million annually for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Yaeger said that Jordan, in addition to being the greatest basketball player of all-time, is the greatest trash-talker of all time!
He told the inspirational story of Warrick Dunn, who lost his mother before his freshman year in college. She was a single-mom, a sheriff’s deputy, who was killed during a bank robbery leaving him to raise his three younger siblings – while playing college football! He graduated in four years with a degree in business. He graduated Upon signing his first pro contract, Dunn established a foundation, Warrick Dunn Charities, that has since provided homes to more than 100 single mothers and their children. Dunn says it was a dream of his mother’s, to have her own home.
“There is one thing we are all promised, a moment of adversity. It is what we do in those moments… You can be bitter or you can be better. Always choose better.”
--Betty Smothers (Warrick’s Mother)
Yaeger said moments of adversity can take people to places they wouldn’t otherwise go and do things they otherwise wouldn’t do.
This brings us back to community relations. Businesses and individuals give back to their communities because it’s the right thing to do. Anything else they derive from it is gravy. Often times, as in Dunn’s case, it’s personal.