Don Shula – My Opportunity to Spend Time with a Legend

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Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.”

– Don Shula


Legendary Coach Don Shula passed away at 90 years old earlier this week. After a fine playing career in the 1950s, at 33 years old he was named head coach of the Baltimore Colts – the youngest in NFL history at the time. He went on to win more games than any coach in the league’s history – 347 victories in all over both regular season and playoffs – including six appearances and two Super Bowl championships. His storied 1972 Miami Dolphins championship squad is still the only team in NFL history to go undefeated through an entire season.

I once had the privilege and opportunity of spending about 90 minutes – mostly one on one, with the great man. He was the Keynote Speaker at an association annual conference in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay in 2008. The Coach was staying at the other tower (and my association client’s staff was almost all non-sports fans, as my luck would have it). That morning at their staff meeting, a scheduling challenge was announced, and they asked if anyone would volunteer to personally go to the Coach’s hotel room, and escort him from there, across the casino to the Convention area, and all the way to the green room. Not being officially on staff, I waited for a second or two.

Then I jumped up.

At his hotel room, he was deciding on a tie. He held two up to his shirt, but he had the look that said he did not want to wear one. He asked me if most of the men in the conference wore ties? Even though it was probably 70% yes, I told him it was “50/50”. He left both ties on his bed, going with just a sports jacket. I told the Coach what he wanted to hear.

Coach Shula was 78 and had a bad hip, so the walk took 30 minutes with two or three sit-down breaks. During the walk, he began to share stories with me. What struck me most along with his unpretentiousness was his humanity and grace.

We arrived at the greenroom and had plenty of time to kill, so I stayed with him. He continued sharing stories and let me ask him anything that came to mind about the NFL, Baltimore Colts (as a player and as the coach), the Dolphins, childhood idols Bob Griese and Larry Csonka, quarterbacks in general, the ’83 draft, Dan Marino-John Elway (he said Elway was the best ever, better even than Dan because of his legs…), Jimmy Johnson (his successor as Dolphins coach, he was candid but kind). He demonstrated great pride mixed with humility.


Coach Shula & Pat Wilson


With Coach Shula’s passing, it occurred to me how fortunate I was to be in the right place at the right time that day. An unmitigated honor and a great memory – the chance to spend time with a true legend, who also happened to be a very nice man.


You take on what’s right in front of you. You want to do the best you can with the opportunities that you have.”

–  Don Shula

The #1 Sales Philosophy for Non-dues Revenue

By Association Non-Dues Revenue, Expo Sales, Sponsorship Sales, Uncategorized No Comments

Our team just returned from assisting a client at a successful building and construction association event. By the final day of this year’s event, over 75% of the expo hall was already under contract and reserved for next year’s event.  Can you imagine the non-dues revenue and time savings that this scenario could have for your association?

This is only possible with the realization that selling is never complete and the customer experience is as much a part of the sale as the close.  A sale doesn’t end with the exchange of money.  Sure, it’s great when you’ve closed a deal, whether it’s five dollars or five million, but your selling doesn’t end there. In fact, it simply can’t.

Gillin and Gianforte write in their book, Attack of the Customers, ‘…they may never consider a vendor because of a negative reference from a trusted source or even from someone they’ve never met’ and ‘A 2012 survey by ClickFox found that 33% of consumers said providing exceptional customer service was the best way to build loyalty.’

Associations looking to increase their non-dues revenue must make certain that the client continues to receive a positive ‘sales’ experience, for the organization’s sake as well as your own.  In order to sell out your expo hall every year, it is paramount to be aware of ALL client interactions with customer service  to include accounts receivable, accounts payable, shipping, production, and more.

Some potential pitfalls during the client experience are:

  1. Difficulty finding needed information on the website or a complicated payment procedure.
  2. Being tardy delivering the service manual or pre-event information.
  3. Requiring customers to go to multiple different people and channels due to a fractured service delivery model.
  4. Not having enough customer service representatives to handle on-site troubleshooting at the event.
  5. Failing to ask for feedback immediately after the event and incorporating it into future strategy.

Our team has 20+ years of experience selling out expo halls and increasing non-dues revenue for associations.  Our strategy is to work alongside you in partnership to grow your event.  If you are ready to power up your revenue please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

You may also be interested in some of the other success stories we have cultivated for our clients.