Episode #53 - What Makes a Champion with Don Yaeger, Eleven-Time NYT Best-Selling Author, and Team Culture Expert

Episode #53 Summary:

Don Yaeger is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, longtime Associate Editor of Sports Illustrated, and author of over 30 books, eleven of which have become New York Times Best-sellers. He began his career at the San Antonio Light in Texas, and also worked at the Dallas Morning News and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville before going to work for Sports Illustrated.

As an author, Don has written books with, among others, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, baseball legends John Smoltz and Tug McGraw, and football stars Warrick Dunn and Michael Oher (featured in the movie The Blind Side). He teamed with Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade to pen the 2013 best-seller George Washington’s Secret Six, a look at the citizen spy ring that helped win the Revolutionary War and then again in 2015 for Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History, and in 2017 for Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle that Shaped America’s Destiny.

Don left Sports Illustrated in 2008 to pursue a public speaking career that has allowed him to share stories learned from the greatest winners of our generation with audiences as diverse as Fortune 10 companies to cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story. More than a quarter-million people have heard his talks on “What Makes the Great Ones Great.” He collaborated with the Florida State University School of Business’s Continuing Education Program to build a corporate webinar program focusing on lessons building a culture of success within an organization. This naturally led to another keynote speech on “What Makes the Great Teams Great.” The release of his tenth New York Times best-seller, Teammate, was the inspiration for his newest keynote on “What Makes a Great Teammate: Becoming Invaluable Without Being Most Valuable.”

Throughout his writing career, Don has developed a reputation as a world-class storyteller and has been invited as a guest to every major talk show – from Oprah to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America.

Yaeger began his career as a reporter for the San Antonio Light where he rose through the ranks to pen investigative features for the daily. He later moved on to the Dallas Morning News. Following his stint in Dallas, Yaeger worked as a political editor for the Florida Times-Union.

After four years, he decided to dedicate himself to the pursuit of writing books. Yaeger’s first book, Undue Process: The NCAA’s Injustice For All, was published in 1990. In the 22 years since, he has penned 30+ more books, including 11 New York Times Best-sellers.

Don also wrote A Game Plan For Life, with legendary coach John Wooden. It was published on Coach’s 99th birthday in October 2009.

After several years of freelancing for Sports Illustrated, Don joined the magazine’s staff full-time in July 1996. Two years later he was promoted to Associate Editor, where his work was to cover not just sporting events but the off-the-field happenings which affect the world of sports.

Yaeger and his co-author William Nack were finalists for a 2000 National Magazine Award in the public interest category for their cover story “Who’s Coaching Your Kid?: The frightening truth about child molestation in youth sports.” This important piece triggered follow-up reports by programs such as Dateline, 20/20 and The Oprah Winfrey Show. It also resulted in changes to the law in several states and several youth sports organizations, including Little League of America, changed rules to require background checks of coaches and volunteers.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Yaeger has traveled extensively. The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Japan and Great Britain can be counted among the countries in which he has resided. A 1984 graduate of Ball State University, Yaeger currently lives in Tallahassee, FL. He also owns a political consulting business and a public relations firm. He and his wife Jeanette have a son and a daughter.

You get two choices: you could be bitter or your could be better.
— Don Yaeger, NYT Best Selling Author (quote from Betty Smothers, Warrick Dunn's Mom)

Have a question? Shoot me a note at dave@milestonemind.com


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