Improve your team with these 5 lessons from Mat Ishbia

I had the good fortune of being at an event the other night and hearing one of my former teammates Mat Ishbia speak. Most people remember Mat from his time on the basketball court as a fan favorite at Michigan State, I remember Mat as being one of the most important players we had on the team. He had the ability to connect with people and his understanding of the game made him a great coach. It’s no surprise that since his graduation he has taken that same philosophy into the business world at United Shore. Here a few of the principles he’s used to help grow his business from a team of 12 to 1,100.

You Are Important – Each member of the team is just as important as the next, it doesn’t matter if it’s the CEO or a receptionist. You’re all on the same team. You have to work to be the best because your continued best effort is imperative to the growth of the team.

Set Standards, Hold People Accountable – Talk about the standards you expect from people and what it will take to achieve them. At MSU Coach Izzo only talks about National Championships because that’s the standard. It also enhances your ability to hold people accountable if they aren’t living up to those standards on a daily basis.

Recognize – Each team member at United Shore can develop ideas that they think will help improve the company. Many of these ideas have been implemented and the individual is reward with a light bulb to showcase on his/her desk. These light bulbs signify your creation of a bright idea that is helping the company and have become more coveted than a monetary bonus

What’s Important This Moment – What do you need accomplished right now to continue moving the needle. We all run into the muse at some point and it can take over our concentration but if you want to end the day knowing that you got 1% better then you have to figure what’s most important at that moment and do it

Be in the weeds of your business – have you ever seen a Tom Izzo timeout? He’s coaching everyone and knows exactly where everyone needs to be on the floor to make the system work. That’s a guy who’s in the weeds of his team. He’s spent time with each coach/player so he can understand what he can do to make them success. That only happens if you spend the time with your teammates so you can understand how the work and what you can do to help.

10 Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned from Podcast Conversations

The idea of a conversation is being lost on a lot of people, we’ve all seen the boom in technology that makes it easier for us to not have to talk face to face with a single person.  By starting my podcast I’ve been able to have 18 different conversations with people and allowed me to learn so much from each individual person.  Through these conversations I’ve had with various people about different industries I started to notice a pattern of underlying lessons in leadership.  These are a simple things that most of us forget and need to be reminded of from time to time.

  1. Understand the value of your own time – make sure the things you commit to doing are worth sacrificing the seconds, minutes or hours it will cost you.
  2. Once you establish a standard within your team, it becomes your jobs as a leader to make sure all the team members are working at a level that will live up to it.
  3. You don’t have to be the boss to be the person people look to for advice and guidance
  4. It never hurts to ask a question and be curious about a topic.  You only know what you know so there’s nothing wrong with trying to learn something new.
  5. Sometimes investing your time into doing something for another person leaves a lasting impression
  6. Appreciating the things and people in your life that put a smile on your face.
  7. Giving someone a new experience can ultimately change their outlook on life and may change the course they were heading on.
  8. Self-evaluation is a hard thing to do.  You need to sit down and take an unbiased look at where you’re seeing success and what areas you can improve.
  9. Leaders make decisions and are ready to deal with those consequences.
  10. We tend to over complicate things – show up, work hard, repeat

PODCAST – ENGAGE, EDUCATE AND EMPOWER – My conversation with Kaleb Thornhill


“The more you go through, the more you learn”

Kaleb Thornhill enters his fifth season with the Dolphins as the organization’s director of player engagement. In his role, Kaleb engages, educates, and empowers individuals to reach their full potential both on and off the field. This includes helping players in the transition process in and out of the NFL through continuing education, financial education, and providing assistance in dealing with family matters.

Since joining the Dolphins, Kaleb has been selected to participate and completed the NFL Athlete Development Professional Certification Program conducted by the Wharton School Executive Education program at the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2013, he has served as a member of the NFL’s Steering Committee for NFL Player Engagement, which provided advice and opinions in matters related to off-field support of players and their families.

Kaleb has fostered a holistic approach to the overall development of Dolphins players through Gratitude, Respect, Integrity, and Trust (G.R.I.T) and the creation of the Veteran Executive Education Program (VEEP), which aims to continue to develop the veterans and families in all areas of their lives.

Kaleb joined the Dolphins from the Detroit Lions where he worked in the team’s football operation and player development departments. Prior to his time in Detroit, Kaleb served as graduate assistant to the Athletics Director at Michigan State University while earning his master’s degree. During his time, he created player development/mentor presentations that were shown to the Athletics Director and Head Director of Student Athlete Support Services and helped to develop a transition program for student-athletes.

Serving as the Director, Kaleb was an instrumental part in bringing the 4th and 1 Football Camp to East Lansing, MI in 2011. 4th and 1 is a non-profit football, ACT prep, life skills, and character development camp that is 100% free to attend for student-athletes that show a strong desire to attend college.

4th and 1 East Lansing is transitioning to APEX Academy in 2015, a non-profit organization that Kaleb co-founded with his friend and former Spartan teammate Travis Key. APEX Academy’s purpose is to ENGAGE, EDUCATE, AND EMPOWER student-athletes from under-resourced backgrounds that lack the support and resources needed to properly prepare for and achieve their goals of attending and completing college. The mission of APEX Academy aims to provide under-resourced student-athletes with a wide range of tools necessary for college & career success, while closing the achievement gap.

intro – Shining Star Earth, Wind, Fire

outro – Happy Rock BenSound

Podcast: D3 Basketball and how AAU has changed the game – A conversation with KZoo College Assistant Coach Kevin White @CoachKQW

Listen Here

Kevin White returns to the Kalamazoo College coaching staff in 2014 after previously working under Joe Haklin and Rob Passage from 2000-2003.

White has also coached at Albion College, Glen Oaks Community College, Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Central and Kalamazoo Central, and was the co-founder of the Camp Darryl Basketball Academy. He also was a head coach for the Grand Rapids Storm summer travel program.

Kevin graduated with an associate’s degree from Glen Oaks in 1999. He currently works for Parchment Public Schools as a coursework and discipline advisor.

Intro – The Truth Beanie Sigel

Outro – Happy Rock BenSound

Podcast – The power of creating access for other people – A Conversation with @MotownKurtis

Listen Here

The Short:

Has been athlete. Professional Speaker. Life long learner. Obsessed with creating ACCESS for others.

He will mention that “you cant stop a go-getter”.

The Sweet:
Kurt Richardson is a resident of Ft. Lauderdale, FL by way of the Mid-West.

After spending 10 years at Quicken Loans (A Fortune Magazine Top 5 Employer) where he was been a part of the Banking, Training, and Coaching teams, he decided to spread his passion for training and development to companies across the United States through his own private venture. In addition to his own entrepreneurial work, he is the Associate Camp Director for Apex Academy (Formerly 4th and 1 Football Camp) in East Lansing, MI, a collaborating partner with www.TribeRocket.Com , and is in his 5th season as a guest speaker for the National Football League’s “Rookie Success” Program.

When asked what he does for a living, he always responds: “What I do for a living is make other people feel good about what they do for a living”.

Kurt has a daughter named Ashley who is majoring in Pre- Medicine with a concentration in Chemistry at Central Michigan University.

Connect with Kurt on Twitter at

NEW PODCAST – Impacting our homeless community with a haircut and a conversation – My conversation with Jonathan Arias of @cutsandconvos

Listen HERE

Cuts and Convos was founded by Jonathan Arias, a student at the Michigan State University College of Law, in November 2014. God put the vision in Jonathan’s heart to serve people in Lansing, and share the love of Jesus Christ with them. He launched Cuts and Convos and began going to the Lansing City Rescue Mission twice a month to serve the men there and to share God’s love with them. Although Jonathan thought he was going to the mission to create change, the truth is that he was the one who was being changed. That is the case with anyone who helps serve with Cuts and Convos. Our vision is to provide our services and spread God’s love beyond the mission. Stay tuned, there will be more amazing things to come!

Jonathan is originally from Homestead, FL and is an avid of the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, and the Miami Marlins.  He is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and is currently a student at Michigan State University College of Law. He is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for two things, God and people. He has worked in youth ministry for 15 years.

Music Credit

Ever Felt pt 2 – Otis McDonald

Happy Rock – BenSound

30 years 30 pearls of wisdom from Kaleb Thornhill

My good friend Kaleb Thornill recently turned 30 and the morning of his birthday he dropped 30 knowledge bombs that he’s learned through his years.  Below you’ll see the list, take the time to read them and see how you can apply them to your own life.

30 years old……30 words of wisdom I’ve obtained throughout those years (In random order, just wrote this in the morning)

1. Sports will provide life lessons, emotional intelligence, and build character and it’s essential you participate in them because you cannot learn these same lessons in a classroom. I am thankful my parents provided the opportunity for me to play multiple sports growing up, without them, I 100% would not be where I am or who I am today.

2. Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. By surrounding myself with individuals that are reaching, growing, and pursuing greatness – guess what, the reciprocal effect happened for me. From a YOUNG age, it’s extremely important to understand this concept. If you’re friends aren’t talking about college growing up, do you think it would be easier or harder for you to get to college?

3. What you focus on……you find…..(Kurt Richardson) Train your brain like a muscle, it can be done. What you CHOOSE to focus on in your life, you’ll find…meaning if you make up a story in your head that you’ll never get a promotion, guess what – your body language, attitude, and everything else will follow that thought. If you say I’m going to give my absolute best every day and continually say that throughout the day, you’ll find your best. FOCUS on something positive…..

4. Mental resilience is something that sports, specifically football taught me that can’t be learned in a classroom either. One the first day of summer conditioning at MSU, we ran 24 110’s, wow, I saw Jesus that day. Getting through many of the outlandish workouts made me realize that I could do ANYTHING! Thank you coach Mannie & Hoke

5. Education will always be your foundation……for generations to come. One thing I’ve learned is don’t let the game define who you are, but take from the game everything. The characteristics I learned from the game of football afforded me to transfer into my academic life. If your opponent is your school work, then study it, know its tendencies, know your weaknesses, and make a game plan to beat it! Higher Education is the KEY to generational success – KEEP LEARNING (Thank both of my parents for this wisdom)

6. Eat your humble pie…..and like it! When I was done playing at MSU, I went to grad school for Sports Administration and worked as GA in the Athletic Department. After earning my Masters degree, I went to be a seasonal intern with the Detroit Lions making $900 a month and working more than 70 hours per week and started the job by shuttling NFL players back and forth from the hotel to the facility, filing paper work, changing personal boards, and many other tedious tasks. I felt like I deserved more, but one thing you’ll learn throughout life, you don’t deserve S***. Eat your humble pie at an early age and lots of it… will lead to something great

7. Everyone puts there pants on one leg at a time…..from my dad, the “Mad Dog” – When I was in Miami interviewing for the job, the GM was getting ready to bring me in to see Bill Parcells (Big Tuna) and stopped me in the hallway and said “Do you need a glass of water or use the bathroom?”, basically implying that am I nervous…and thought of my dad right away saying “everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time”, saying speak to this man just like anyone else, don’t be nervous Kaleb. Shortly after that interview with the Big Tuna, I was offered the job in Miami that changed my life.

8. Don’t take life for granted….I had my father and my only 3 grandparents pass away in a span of 3 years. This was one of the toughest times of my life. Everyone say this, but you only start realizing that you shouldn’t take life for granted until you start losing people in your life. Make the best of every single day, you truly never know….

9. Work ethic – work ethic – work ethic……my god, did my brother show me what that meant during an early age. My brother was a straight beast in the classroom, on the football field, track, and whatever else he choose to compete in. He demonstrated to me the hours of dedication it takes to be great at something. He was never the most talented, he just out worked EVERYONE and I just attempted to grab some of that knowledge from him…thank you JOSH!

10. Don’t let other people define you….when I was named to the Lansing State Journal “Catch 22″ the 22 best players coming from the state of Michigan, my caption said “Unproven” while everyone else has a wonderful word to describe them….so the lesson here **** that don’t ever ever let people define who you are or where you’re going in your life. You outwork everyone and see where that takes you.

11. FACT vs. STORY. Your reality is only your personal story, not the truth. Every single day, you make up a personal story in your head such as “this person doesn’t like me” or “it’s impossible to get a job”, this is the personal story you make up inside your head. Then there is the actual FACT that many people can’t see because they make up stories inside their head that prohibit the inability to find the TRUTH. SEEK FACTS

12. Never let a missing conversation get “missed” – whether that’s a relationship at work / home / parents / ect. The only dangerous conversation is one that is missed. Before I left college, I missed a conversation with many people, which is “what am I going to do when football is over”? Although everything worked out in the end, that was a missing conversation I never had with multiple people at the school. People keep their emotions bubbled up inside and never have missing conversations that can change your life, organization, or family – Now open your mouth and communicate!

13. Life’s short eat dessert first…..Order that cheesecake first, lol seriously. Next time you’re out to eat order dessert first, you never know how long you’re going to be on this earth. Start living!

14. Good things come to those who wait, be patient young grasshopper….My greater half, which is my fiancé Tara Lonergan is the best thing that has entered my life! Everything works out for a reason and I’m glad that I waited to find Tara (she actually hit on me first, what can I say lol), she is tough as nails and doesn’t put up with my crap lol. She has been an absolute blessing and is a phenomenal mother. Be patient people, the right one will come……I can’t wait to get married to the women of my dreams on 2/20/15

15. My mom is a straight warrior – My mom has been through some extremely tough times throughout her life and continues to battle past anything! From raising two crazy children, going back to school later in life, having her husband pass away, and commuting back and forth from Detroit to MSU every day – she experienced a lot more that I can’t share, but WOW – I just don’t know how she did it. Thank you for showing me what a great mother looks like!

16. Having a child will mess your life up…….in a good way. My future wife and I have the greatest gift on earth, Charlee Grace Thornhill, our first child. This has been a blessing in our life, she is an absolute joy and neither of us come first anymore – it’s all Charelee Grace and I love it. Raising a child in today’s society is going to be one of the toughest task we are going to face, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Time to start saving that cash flow so Charlee can go to Harvard

17. There are 3 elements to happiness – 1. Connecting with others 2. Personal Growth 3. Contributing to society – It’s pretty simple, if you can answer yes to each of these, you’re most likely a happy individual. If you can’t, you’re most likely not happy. For me connecting with others through my work, charity, and home life answers number 1, getting my MBA, starting a business (non-profit), and continually finding ways to improve at work answer number 2, Number 3 is serving youth around the country and helping them use the game of football to change their life beyond the gridiron.

18. Start with the start….. You have to start with the start, if you have an idea don’t think about the end because it will discourage you, just START. I was hesitant to start a non-profit business while I had work and starting a family, but Travis Key (Co-Founder) and I said, once we start this thing nothing can stop us…..and nothing has

19. Treat people right regardless of gender, race, personal beliefs, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, etc …..this is a lesson learned from one of my best friends and mentors Travis Key. If you just treat people right it will change your life dramatically, just try it…

20. One conversation away from having your dream job – you just don’t know when it’s going to come. One conversation changed my entire life, the more conversations you have the more opportunities you’ll have. If you don’t know how to communicate, it will significantly limit your access and opportunities throughout your life.

21. Iron Sharpens Iron – you must sharpen and be sharpened. If you’re only concerned about yourself, you’re unfortunately never going to be happy. Allow yourself vulnerable and allow other people to help sharpen you as a person and your life. Do the same for others that need some clear guidance or mentorship. Most of us will work in teams (via sports or work), if you can get your team to understand and live this concept, you’ll become an unbeatable team.

22. Make mistakes, but you sure as hell better learn from them. The pre-frontal cortex of your brain is not fully developed until your mid-late 20’s meaning your rational thought process is not fully developed. Therefore you’re bound to make some mistakes when you’re younger, but you better learn from them. Repeat mistakes are a problem, those that don’t learn from their mistakes won’t find success.

23. YOLO (you only live once) – I’ve traveled all across the United States before I turned 30 which is absolutely CRAZY to me since we never traveled very much growing up and I didn’t get on my first airplane until I was 16 years old.

24. Feeeeeeedback – Allow people in your life to give you feedback without getting upset or angry, you’ll need it later in life. Some people will give you accurate feedback that you need to hear and others will give you garbage feedback, regardless of that, you’ll need it throughout your life to grow and develop. So take what you want with it and move forward, it’s helped me significantly.

25. Be there for people…….when they need it the most. Whether is a family member, friends, or co-workers, be there for people when they need assistance. When my dad passed away I needed some major support and received it from a multitude of people. When people are going through a tough time, BE THERE for them.

26. That sentence needs all kinds of work….Yes I’ve said that many times looking at different threads of social media posts. Keep in mind that 1/3 of people get rejected from a job by something the employer found out on their social media. Many posts I’ve read have hurt my eyes and my heart knowing that this is how they actually talk, which unfortunately will hinder them throughout their life. In today’s society your personal brand is 24/7, 365

27. Don’t be a slap……we’ve used this phrase since I was in college and it still is used today. Don’t be a guy that just wastes your talent throughout your life, that would make you a complete slap. For all my friends reading this right now, you most likely can remember using this 1,000,000 times in college. I’ve learned not to be a slap throughout my life by surrounding myself with non-slaps.

28. Repetition – repetition – repetition – Repetition creates behavior change, very simple. If you want to be great at something you get a lot of reps, a lot of feedback, and a lot of improvement. This has been a true testament of what football teaches you – practice – watch film – corrections – go back on field and do it again better. Isn’t this is what life is supposed to be about? If you can apply this simple concept in your life, you’ll be happy with the end result……compound effect

29. $$$$$$$$ If you define yourself by your money, when your finances take a hit you take the same hit. You believe your value as a human being is directly linked to the value of your net worth. I say this to the NFL players I work with all the time because they are going to make 1.3 million in 3 years, then be LUCKY to make $50,000 once they transition out of the game at 25 years old. If they let money define their value, they are going to be extremely depressed transitioning out of the NFL. Money can create a certain level of comfort in your life, but will never provide true happiness.

30. Please & Thank You (kind words) – These are 2 words that should be used more than any other word throughout your life. These words have never steered me wrong since the moment I could understand what they meant. Make sure everyone you come in contact with hears these words along with other kind words that build people UP, not break them down.

Hopefully you enjoyed these 30 words of wisdom that I’ve learned.

***There may be spelling errors as this was written in 30 minutes, don’t judge lol***


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