7 Business Lessons Learned From The SUPER BOWL Champion Philadelphia Eagles
Anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I am a die-hard & lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan. Driving back from the amazing NFC Championship game in Philadelphia late Jainuary I started to think about what factors have driven the Eagles unexpected success this season and what everyone in business can learn from them.
Here is where I “landed”:
Expect the best…but prepare for the unthinkable. During a critical late-season game against the contending Los Angeles Rams, the unthinkable happened: superstar quarterback Carson Wentz tore a ligament in his knee and was suddenly declared out for the season. However, this was a moment that the Eagles and General Manager Howie Roseman had prepared for all along. As it turns out, an experienced backup named Nick Foles was waiting in the wings and had been preparing every day as if his time to shine was inevitable. Despite Wentz’s catastrophic injury, the Eagles managed to defy logic, bounce back and somehow advance to the Super Bowl. Many teams (and businesses) are simply not prepared for the unthinkable, whether the loss of a top customer or sudden departure of a key executive. Know this: the unthinkable WILL very likely happen to you at some point … all that matters is how you respond!
Empower your young talent. After an early-season injury to starting kicker Caleb Sturgis, the Eagles were left with no choice but to rely on unproven rookie kicker Jake Elliott, who had been cut by the Cincinnati Bengals during the preseason. The team stuck with Elliott through the ups and downs of being a rookie and were unwavering in their support. His teammates held him up in times of need and his empowerment has paid back in spades. Don’t be limited by your perception of others. Empower and trust those around you — regardless of age — who are capable to get the job done… and then get out of their way.
Measure twice, cut once. In addition to the Wentz injury, head coach Doug Pederson has had to contend with a slew of injuries to key personnel including Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks. Instead of panicking or making excuses, Pederson and his team spent countless hours in the film room, figuring out how to leverage the unique talents of backup players now thrust into starting roles and how to exploit the varying weaknesses of their weekly opponents. Like many great war generals throughout history, Pederson outsmarted his opponents even in instances where he was greatly outmatched in talent and rode his players to victory.
Let the haters fuel your success. Nobody gave the Eagles a chance after Wentz went down. The Eagles and their new quarterback were laughed off by the media, became a national punchline as a desperate team, and were widely disregarded by competitors. Rather than let this doubt discourage them, the Eagles used it as a rallying cry, embracing the underdog role and even wearing dog masks after their first playoff win as a symbol of resiliency. DO not swim into the current of your criticism; instead, let it propel you to prove everyone wrong.
Persistence trumps all: During the 2017 NFL Draft, University of Wisconsin standout running back Corey Clement did not hear his name called among the 254 players that were selected thanks to questions about his character, stamina and talent. Not one of the 32 teams was willing to take a chance on him. Undeterred, Clement pursued an unlikely “walk-on” role in the NFL by participating in a slew of open tryouts. Apparently though, Clement always knew he would one day be an Eagle and simply did not give up on his dream. As fate would have it, it was indeed the Eagles who decided that Clement deserved a shot and allowed him to try out for the team during the preseason. Due to a combination of luck and opportunity, Clement miraculously made the team in August and has since made the most of it, turning into a critical contributor who now has a bright future in the NFL. At times, it will feel like everyone is saying no or hanging up on you. Be like Corey.. put your head down and keep pushing… do not give up on your dreams.
Invest in your top talent. The Eagles have done a stellar job at identifying elite talent and then quickly locking it up for the long term as they did this season with star wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. Once your key contributors know that you are invested in them, they are likely to return the favor as Jeffrey proved Sunday night with two touchdowns in the Eagles’ most important game in nearly two decades. Don’t take the chance of letting your stars walk out the door — and worse, heading straight to your competitor. Over-invest, incentivize, and get them on your team for the long-term.
Team dynamic and work ethic are contagious. Perhaps the biggest reason for the Eagles’ success this year is that they loaded their roster with experienced, hard-working leaders who put the team first. This team does not have “me-first” players who throw tantrums when they aren’t in the spotlight or don’t get the credit they feel they deserve. Instead, the Eagles filled their locker room with vocal leaders such as Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and Jason Peters who don’t look to take credit, but to build character, respect and determination from within. They lead by example, which has been contagious — and a major reason why despite endless adversity this season, the Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl.
There are really so many parallels between business and football and I believe that many of them emerged in closely following this lovable group of athletes. Win or lose the Eagles have a lot to be proud of and they certainly have pointed me in the direction of being a Super Bowl caliber CEO…. And now thr Eagles have a Super Bowl of their own😃 #FlyEaglesFly