One of the most successful college coaches of all time, the legendary Lou Holtz has mastered the game of football. There’s no doubt about it. But for this coach, knowledge is just a small part of winning. To be truly successful takes great leadership. And few have done it better than him.
Holtz has inspired young men for years to climb to heights they never could imagine. In fact, he is the only coach in the history of college football to take six different teams to a bowl game. He’s won five bowl games with different teams and has had four different college teams ranked in the final Top 20 poll.
On a recent EntreLeadership Podcast, we asked Lou for his secrets to success. Here are a few of our favorite takeaways.
- Study Successful People
As a young coach at the College of William and Mary, Holtz realized that the only way to improve was to learn from those who were better. So he sought out the best. At his own expense, he flew to Texas to meet the man whose team had just won the national championship—Coach Darrell Royal of the University of Texas at Austin.
Arriving unannounced, Holtz was told there was no way Royal could meet him. He played golf every summer afternoon. So Holtz asked for an hour of his time the next morning instead and Royal agreed.
Hoping he would meet the coach, Lou arrived prepared beforehand with a list of 83 questions. Royal was so impressed, the 60 minutes turned into a day-long learning session. He even took Holtz to dinner.
“I have found that the more successful somebody is, the more willing they are to give you their time—especially if you really, truly want to learn,” Holtz says. “Learning from people is invaluable, and please don’t think they won’t have time for you.”
- It’s Not a Popularity Contest
What differentiates a good coach from a great one? Holtz says a huge factor is being able to make the hard choices, even when they’re not the popular ones.
“As [Ohio State Coach] Woody Hayes said to me, ‘Your job as a leader is not to be well-liked. If you want a friend, buy a dog,’” Holtz says. “Your job is to make them the best they can be.”
- Pay It Forward
Although Holtz never strived to be popular, it doesn’t mean he didn’t care. In fact, he went out of his way to ensure his new team members knew that he and all the players were on their side. For example, each freshman was assigned a big brother, who had to have one meal with the young player each week. The veteran team members taught the freshmen how to budget their time, take criticism and hundreds of other life lessons.
Holtz says caring is not only for football teams—the same hold true for businesses. “You have to build love, a feeling of genuine care among your staff . . . It’s critical,” he says. “Any time you find a great organization, you’re going to find people who are accountable for decisions they make. But more importantly, they care as much about everybody else in the organization as they do themselves.”
Although Holtz is retired from coaching, he still continues to lead. He’s considered among the greatest speaking legends in America today, and he regularly shares his wisdom on overcoming seemingly impossible challenges by setting goals and working to achieve them. The coolest part? You can learn more from Coach Holtz in person!
Join us at EntreLeadership Summit in Orlando, Florida on May 21–24, where Coach Holtz will be speaking alongside some of the top leadership and business experts in the world. Along with Dave Ramsey and Lou, EntreLeadership Summit is featuring Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec as well as Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, John C. Maxwell, Chris Hogan and Christy Wright. Learn more now.