Million Dollar Monday

Winning Through Adversity with Jim Tressel

February 08, 2021 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
Winning Through Adversity with Jim Tressel
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Jim Tressel led the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the 2002 National Championship and seven Big Ten Championships. Learn what it takes to win through adversity with one of the most respected coaches in college football history. Tressel discusses howanyone can handle the good times; it’s how you handle the tough times,’ with host Greg Muzzillo on Million Dollar Monday. 

Chapter Summaries

  • 02:25 - Jim Tressel Into 
  • 07:06 - Learning from Example
  • 13:21 - Setting Records 
  • 19.18 - Journey to Ohio State 
  • 25:23 - Believing is Achieving
  • 28:02 - Handling Adversity
  • 34:50 - Heart of Giving Back
  • 41:37 - Advice to Pivot


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Jim Tressel:

Adversity is what really helps you grow. And that, whether it's in the course of a game, when you think the game's going the way it's going, and then it starts turning the other way, how do you handle adversity? We used to always talk about the fact that the mark of a team, how they handle the tough times anybody can handle you know, when the needle's going up, how do you handle when it isn't.

Greg Muzzillo:

Hello and welcome to Million Dollar Monday, I'm your host, Greg Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. I'm excited to introduce my guest today for Million Dollar Monday, we're going to be talking about winning and I'm going to be talking with my guest who knows a lot about winning. In fact, he knows so much about winning. He wrote a book called the Winner's Manual, which was best-selling on the New York Times list of bestselling books. Of course, Jim Tressel, my guest today knows a lot about winning and most of you know about his winning as the head coach of Ohio State University, winning a national championship, there winning seven big 10 championships. And for those of us from Ohio, maybe most importantly is beating those folks from up North with an eight and one record against them. But Jim knows so much more about winning, winning through adversity, winning through pivoting and winning through many phases of life. I'm excited again, Jim, thanks for joining me.

Jim Tressel:

Thanks so much, Greg. It's an honor to be on your podcast or whatever we're talking. It seems like we spend our lives on zoom, podcast , WebEx, you name it, and it's an honor to be with you and share what little we can share.

Greg Muzzillo:

Awesome. So at the end of the day, Million Dollar Monday is to help empower and motivate people with big dreams. And so I like to start back at your youth, if you wouldn't mind telling us a little bit about, you know, where in your youth growing up, where did you get your work ethic from? Where did you get your desire to win and where did you get your dream of coaching football?

Jim Tressel:

It's interesting. I've grown to believe. And I can't remember who I read it from. I don't have anything original in my life. But someone once wrote that the only thing that the human being is truly capable the only way they're truly capable of learning is from example. And I was blessed to have unbelievable example. My grandfather was a farmer dairy farmer. So, you know, there are no days off. He was a butcher, he had his farm. He it was 365 days a year. And my father, as you know, of course with my dad, his work ethic was amazing. Unbelievable. He just night and day and, and he learned that from his father, the example, you know, his father and my grandfather was so busy. My, my father coached for 33 years and I think my grandfather saw one game because you didn't leave the farm. You worked every day. It was an everyday existence. And so just the example of those two, and then I had two older siblings, two older brothers, and, you know, and you know, they carried high expectations. You know, they studied hard, they worked hard. And as a youngster when I was in fourth or fifth grade, I began delivering the Cleveland press back when they had two newspapers in Cleveland, and because you know, no one was going to give you anything and thank goodness. I feel bad for the people that someone gives them something, because I don't think they, that's not the example that's going to lead you toward the greatness in my mind. And so I knew if I was going to be able to buy a dad's root beer and a couple of pieces of licorice, and I was going to have to go out and get a job. And so for a couple of years, I'd deliver the afternoon Cleveland Press. And then all of a sudden I was in junior high back then they called it junior high and not middle school, but I want it to be involved after school and stuff, and I want to play sports and all that. And , and so now I can't have this job anymore. I gotta get, I gotta switch to the morning paper. So beginning in about seventh grade, I started delivering the Cleveland Plain Dealer in the morning and ever since seventh grade, which I'm not sure how old you are in seventh grade, but ever since that, I am beginning to deliver with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. I set my alarm for five Oh one and I still set my alarm for five Oh one ever since. And people ask all the time, why five Oh one, why not five o'clock? And I said, you know, because I always wanted the first thing I see on the screen when I wake up is the number one, I want to be the best. And, and so it was just a reminder I got to get up, I got to get going to be the best. And so I think through that example, through the encouragement to go and do something that you're responsible for that began some habits that and that passion and you know, that's a good thing. The problem you have when you get to my age is people say, well, you know, you're 68 now. And you know, you gotta slow down a little bit and enjoy life a little bit more. I'm not good at that yet. Because you know, whether it's being a college president or vice president or a head coach or whatever, I'm going to be the best. And so I think you have to temper things at times, and I'm still trying to mature. I tell people all the time, if they could have seen Greg and the rest of our fraternity brothers in college, and if there were cell phone cameras, none of us would have the position.

Greg Muzzillo:

That's for sure, but we are getting distracted. So we'll come back to, how did you get the dream of becoming a coach in football tell us about that ?

Jim Tressel:

You know, that was an interesting journey. When you're a kid, you're not thinking about what job you want. You're thinking about today. What do I want today? You know, what do I want you know, play basketball, play football, you know, be in the student council, you know, do whatever. And then all of a sudden, when I was a junior, the guidance counselor called me in and said, Hey, now it's time to start taking the, you know, the act and the sat and you got to start thinking about what you want to major in, in college. And I'm like major in college. I kind of like my major now. I mean, I like what I'm doing now. And they said, well, you know, there's, you got to think about the next step. And I said, I haven't really given that much thought. And he said, well, let me look at your transcript here. And he said, you know, you're really good in math. Well, you ought to consider being an engineer. And I thought, you know, I'm not that interested in trains. And I don't know if I want to drive a train. And he said, no, I'm talking about an engineer, use your math build things. And so I said, well, I don't think about building things, he said, well, look, you got to start thinking about what you want to do. And so, as a junior, I started thinking and became a little more observant and you go back to that example thing. And so I looked at what my dad was doing, and I saw the impact he was making and he loved it. And he was passionate. I saw my brothers were majoring in education in college, and they were passionate about it. That's what they wanted to do. I thought about the teachers and the coaches, you know , that made a difference in my life. And that helped me gave me the example. So I decided by the time I was a senior in high school, that I was going to be a math teacher. I wanted to coach high school sports that became, that became my goal. And so I went through college and I majored in education. And , and I don't know if you remember Dr. Schlee calculus teacher. You remember Dr. Schlee,

Greg Muzzillo:

You know , I remember the name cause I studied math there, but go ahead.

Jim Tressel:

So I was in calc two or no, calc three and he called me in and he said you know, you did well in calc one. And you did okay in calc two, he said, but let's make a deal. I know you want to be a teacher. And you know, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to be a teacher. But some of these next math courses are going to be a challenge. So let's make a deal. He said, I'll make sure you get through calc three, you'll have enough math credits to have a teaching certification. And I know that's what you want to do, but you have to promise me, you won't take differential equations. He said I'm not sure that that will end well. And so I ended up being a math education and health and physical education and was going to go coach. And so everyone told you, Hey, you need to go get your masters , you know, because you can get a little bit of a pay increase and you don't want to do it when you have a family and go back at night, go do it, knock it out. Right. So , okay. Take that advice. And so I went to the University of Akron after graduating from Baldwin Wallace and spent a year and said, I'm going to knock this masters out. And then I'm going to go teach high school, math and coach. Well, halfway through that graduate study head coach of the football team, who I was helping with asked me if I wanted a full-time position on the staff. And I thought, well, you know, I don't have a job after this. And I've been applying for these coaching jobs. And no one seems to be banging at my door to hire me as a young math teacher coach right now. And so I accepted that job and ended up you know, spending the next 37 years, coaching college football, thinking that I was going to be a high school math teacher.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. If it makes you feel any better, I got to differential equations and I had the same wash out . Now I remember reading Jim that when you were applying for these jobs that you said you weren't getting job offers and then took the job at Akron, that you were actually applying for some head coaching jobs. And what made you think that you would qualify or that you should be applying for head coaching jobs at that point in your career?

Jim Tressel:

You know, I was probably, but I was, I was fearless. Yes . I thought, Hey, I've watched my dad be a head coach, my whole life. You know, from the time I was born, he was a head coach at the time. My brother had, my oldest brother had been a head coach, very young in high school. And I thought, well, you know, why not? You know, you know, you have that strong feeling I'll outwork everybody. And you know what, if you give me a chance you won't be disappointed. And in fact, I interviewed at a little place called Willard high school. Willard high school was over in North central Ohio. Okay. I interviewed for the job and I didn't get it. And Oh, maybe 30 years later I was doing some event up near Sandusky, which wasn't far from there. And this guy came up to me, was a very successful insurance man had done very well, made a lot of money and so forth. And his name was Don Graham and Don came up to me and he said he said, Hey, it's a good thing. You didn't get that Willard job. And I said, why is that? And I didn't, how did you know, I didn't get the Willard job. And, and he said, well, I got the Willard job. And we were so bad. I got fired in three years and I had to go sell insurance to make a living. So, so sometimes you're lucky in things you don't get.

Greg Muzzillo:

Absolutely. All right. So, so you had the job at Akron. Tell us how you got to Youngstown State as head football coach, where you set a lot of records. I think a lot of people aren't as aware of.

Jim Tressel:

It was interesting. I spent four years at the university of Akron and then a fellow who had coached at Akron before, who was very friendly with our head coach, Jim Dennison at Akron got the Miami of Ohio head job and was looking for someone to recruit that area and coach what I could coach. And so I got the chance to move to Miami of Ohio. And then a couple of years later Dick MacPherson, who was on the Cleveland Browns staff of the year, we lost with red right. 88, not to go to the super bowl when Sipe through the interception and all that. And he took the Syracuse job and he was looking for a guy that could coach quarterbacks and recruit Ohio. And so I went to Syracuse and then after being there for two years, I got a call from Earl Bruce, who was the head coach at Ohio State, who I'd never met, but he said, Hey, look, I've been watching your recruiting in Ohio. He said, you're killing us. He said, I want, I want you on our team recruiting for Ohio state. And I lost my quarterback coach and et cetera, et cetera. So I went to Ohio State for three years. And during my time there again, I was probably oblivious and arrogant or whatever I'm thinking. I've done this for nine or 10 years as an assistant. It's about time. I'm the head coach. And so after my first year at Ohio state John Carroll university right there in Cleveland called me up and wanted me to consider it. And I thought, you know, I decided, you know what, let me sit tight here. And then the next year, a little division three school in Columbus, Otterbein College said, you know, Hey, would you like to come over here? Because being from Baldwin Wallace, they knew that I had an affinity for that level of football. And I said, well, no I don't think I'm ready to make that move. And, and then my third year Youngstown State university job opened . So I went into the head coach. I said, coach Bruce, could you call and see if I can get an interview at Youngstown state? Cause if I can get an interview, I'm getting this job. So he called and they said, no, they weren't interested. And then about three weeks later, after about 10 people had turned them down, they called coach Bruce back up and said, Hey, do you think Jim would still be interested? And so I went and interviewed at Youngstown state and a week later, you know, I'm the head coach there and spent 15 wonderful years. And we were blessed to win four national championships. And I became the athletic director as well. And , and they gave me a $5,000 pay increase to be the athletic director when the ad retired. And I thought you were paying him like a hundred thousand dollars and you're paying me five to do the same job, but what the heck I'll take it. And, and so got to spend 15 wonderful years and people, Greg used to always say, well, we know that your dream job was always Ohio State. And I, and I told them, I said, you know Ohio State great place, but I can tell you, I never spent one minute dreaming about Ohio state. In fact, I think I did a good job at what I used to tell my players to always do. And that was to focus on the moment and maybe Greg the best, best advice I ever got from someone at the beginning of my career. And I hope I can say this on a podcast without getting exed out here. Is the ad at Akron. When I got hired called me in and they said, Hey, this is going to be a short visit. He just wants to meet you. Well , don't even sit down, just walk in and he's going to spend 30 seconds with you and leave. And I said, okay. And so I went in his his name was Gordon Larson and Gordon Larson said to me, only got one piece of advice for you. He said, keep your and your mind in the same place, focus on what you're doing here. Do it extremely well, then worry about where you'd like to go. And I share that with so many young people who would always talk about, well , I, you know, I want to think about progressing to this or to that he used to say, Hey, you better do it well here. That will be the ticket for you to go elsewhere. And so that's how I ended up taking that trip in coaching.

Greg Muzzillo:

Did that, did that quote make it in your book? I'm sure. Maybe it got edited a little bit, by the way. I did like the story that at least that I read that you and your father, when you won a national championship at Youngstown State, that you and your father became the first father, son team to have both won national championships.

Jim Tressel:

Yeah . That's I take a lot of pride in that and now there's been another father, son that have done it now close to our hearts, Greg Mount Union, Larry Kehres and the son Vince won national championships. And Vince has since left and gone to division one as an assistant at the University of Toledo. And so the only one my dad and I are holding onto , you only have so many things that no one else has done. And the only one that we're holding on to is that he and I are the only two in the history of college football to both be in the college hall of fame. And so congratulations on that. Thank you. I'm hoping Vince doesn't do so well. So he doesn't tie .

Greg Muzzillo:

I know that's not true, but it's fun to laugh at with you. All right. So get me to Ohio state. How do you get to Ohio state as a head coach?

Jim Tressel:

It was really interesting. Ellen and I were watching the Ohio state bowl game after the 2000 season and they weren't playing very well. And you could just tell, they kind of came unglued. And I turned to, I said, you know, I'm afraid my friend Coach Cooper, isn't going to make it either wonderful guy. And he always treated us well. And I said, but you know, when momentum sometimes gets going one direction, it's tough to earn it. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't make a change. And I said, you know, I don't know why I think this, but I got a feeling they might call here. Well, two days after the game in the newspaper coach, Cooper's not renewed at night the phone rings it's Archie Griffin, you know, the great Archie Griffin, for sure. Yeah. And it says, Hey, we'd like to fly into Youngstown and we're going to talk to about 10 different people and decide we're interview two or three. And would you be interested? Oh boy . You know, I hadn't given it any thought. But let me talk with my family, et cetera. So they flew in, we talked and I didn't know for sure if I would be brought campus or whatever. Well, then they called and said, Hey, you're one of three people being brought to campus. And I was the second one in the order. And I said, I don't know how I read that is the first guy their main one is the third guy their main, you know, you start thinking about those things and as it turned out, the first guy, I think there was their favorite, but he ended up pulling out and didn't want to be considered. The third guy was an Ohio State grad that had played for Woody Hayes. And I thought, well, you know, we'll see how this goes, but I did have a lot of confidence that I had a plan and that you know, I could convey that plan to them. And so one thing led to another and after the two of us interviewed they offered the job and you know, I'll never forget, Ellen asked me, so did they talk at all about the contract salary and all that? I said, no, honey, they didn't. But you know, I guarantee it's more than we're making at Youngstown State. I'm not worried about what it is. Let's go win there and worry about that later. And you know, so we just got on the little airplane and went to Columbus and started to work.

Greg Muzzillo:

That's awesome. Now I think it's 20 years ago. You started there if I if I have my math. Right. And, and the story goes that early on in your career there you met at a rally introducing yourself to the community and made this famous statement that in 310 days in Ann Arbor on the football field you're going to make the community most especially proud of you predicting a win. And now, now Ohio state at the time that you made that prediction was two and 10 and one in their last 13 match-ups against Michigan and was zero and six in their last six visits to Michigan stadium. So where do you get the gumption to make that proclamation 20 years ago?

Jim Tressel:

Probably like why I interviewed for or I could interview you for head coaching jobs when I was 23, I was oblivious. I was maybe talking out loud about what I was dreaming about. And as it turned out that day that like day or two, or maybe the day I was hired were playing Michigan and basketball and there's, you know, 20 some thousand people there. And , and I thought I was going to go out on the court and wave and you know, all that. And so I go out and wave and they, you know, they politely clapped, you know, they didn't know who the heck I was and they handed me the microphone and I was like Whoa wonder how I can get their attention. And I knew, I knew what was most important to them. And that's that rivalry that's clearly, what's most important to Buckeye fans. And, and you know, I just wanted them to know that I understood that that was important. And everyone said, I predicted, you know, that we'd win. As you said, I told that group that they'd be proud of our Buckeyes. I stopped short of saying we were gonna win, but of course it was billed as the, you know, this bold prediction. And as it got closer to that day, of course, all the Michigan fans were sending countdowns to reality. And remember coming out of the tunnel there in the big house, and there was about 109,000 people, they're kind of leaning over the side of the tunnel and they're screaming at me, well, this is the day. This is the 310th day. We're going to break your heart. And, you know, I'm like, Oh my gosh, me and my big mouth. And fortunately we won the game and got that one behind us. Sometimes when you say things, you can't get it behind you, this, you know, we survived that overzealous statement maybe.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. But here's where, where, where I like to talk with you a little bit is because I think believing ends up in achieving, right? It's a mindset. And even in your book, you talk about practicing visualization. And I wonder if what you're really calling, being oblivious is more of having a conviction and having a strong dream that you believed in strong enough that it actually happened.

Jim Tressel:

I think there's no question. I've always been a proponent of everything that the mind of man can conceive of and believe the mind can achieve. And I remember Greg when we came to Youngstown State in 1986 and sitting with the team for the first time, I asked them to memorize a poem and it went to that very topic. And the poem was that famous poem. It can be done. You know somebody said that it couldn't be done, but he, with a chuckle replied that maybe it couldn't, he would be one who wouldn't say so until he tried. So he buckled right in with a trace of a grin on his face. If you worried, you hid it and started to sing and tackled the thing that couldn't be done. And he did it. I said, Hey, it's never been done here, national champion . We're going to be national champions. Now you've got to decide, it's going to be while you're still here. Or are you going to look back and say you know what, I didn't get that done. Now, interestingly enough, we didn't win a national championship until our fifth year but so many of those kids, those first four years talked about how proud they were in building that and building that belief until we finally were able to do it. And then it just became an expectation. So there's no question, you know, leaders have to be bold, they have to take risks. They have to talk about what they're going to dream about. And then they have to go put the work in and, and you know, get it done.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah , yeah, yeah. And to believe themselves clearly. And then what I'm learning from you is, cause I never played football nor did I ever coach it. But, but when you're involving a team, you got to get everybody on board to believe it and believing begins and believing can end in achieving

Jim Tressel:

Like a company. You have to get everyone on board and, and that belief, what's the old saying Greg belief is the thermostat, which regulates success.

Greg Muzzillo:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And there's a lot of people right now in our industry and probably in every industry maybe even throughout the world that need to hear that need to hold on to that because of some of the changes that are going on. So get me to , you getting back, getting back to Youngstown State University and becoming the president. Probably I'm going to guess, Jim, I'm going to guess that you thought you'd probably end up the rest of your life coaching and yet, for whatever reason you resigned that and, and moved on to become a college administrator and made a humongous pivot to now being the president at Youngstown State University, and really setting records there, a record enrollment, record fundraising record retention of students. And how did that feel going through that pivot?

Jim Tressel:

You know, it's interesting. We talked to our players for years about the fact that adversity is what really helps you grow and that, whether it's in the course of a game, when you think the game's going the way it's going, and then it starts turning the other way, how do you handle adversity? We used to always talk about the fact that the mark of a team, how they handle the tough times anybody can handle, you know, when the needle's going up but how do you handle when it isn't. And I know both personally and professionally, probably the two most devastating moments in my life ended up being the ones that helped me grow the most. And so obviously 10 years at Ohio State enjoying loving those kids, you know, and, and willing to do anything for them. And then all of a sudden adversity strikes and I can't be there. So I decided at that point, I said, you know, I'd always thought that I had one more chapter in my life after coaching. I thought it was going to be teaching because I just love teaching. And I thought, okay , coaching was purest form of teaching, but no, I, I always taught a class though all my life years at Youngstown State and all my years at Ohio State on leadership and so forth. I always kinda thought my final chapter might be teaching , but I decided I was going to read a hundred books after our time at Ohio State ended before I decided what I was going to do. And I was going to read them, they have nothing to do with sports. I had spent my whole life sports and it had treated me well, and I did enjoyed it. Yeah. And but I wanted to grow I had a curiosity, you know, beyond sports. And , and so I started reading and got to about 32 books and I had some people approaching me about doing this and doing that. And so I'd read about their industry or read about their business. And after I got to 32 books, I got a call from Jim Caldwell, who was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. And he called me up and he said, Hey, we've got some bad news here. We've had great teams, but Peyton Manning's not going to be able to play. He's got a neck injury. And he said , quite honestly, we're not going to be very good. And would you mind helping us a little bit? I'm going to be honest we're only going to squeeze out a couple of wins because Peyton was such an important part on the field, off the field leadership the whole thing, but I could really use some help cause this is going to be hard. I said, I'll coach. I, you know, I kind of told myself I was going to read a hundred books and Jim, I know Jim Caldwell, I know you're a big reader. And I know you believe in that. And , and he said, well, how about if you only come over on the weekends, but you do all of your work from home and just send your reports in, give us ideas, et cetera . And then just come on the weekend. And get on the headset with me and help me manage the game. And, and if for Jim Caldwell being the nicest human in the world, I'd have said, no, he there isn't a better human than him. And I said, okay, I'll do it. I've always been curious about the NFL, never thought I wanted to coach it . So I spent that season with them. Jim did one of the greatest coaching jobs I've ever seen. We ended up two and 14, but we won two of our last three games. We were O and 13. And I thought, boy, my legacy in the NFL is going to be, I'm the only one that ever spent one year and never won a game. And that he gave me the game ball when we finally won the 14th game. But anyway but I'd had that experience then, and all the, while these headhunters were coming and talking about this and that, and a couple small colleges head hunters came to ask if I'd be interested in the presidency, one was Wittenberg , which, you know, that was our rival back in the day . And then after the BW, people heard that I was talking to the Wittenberg people. They happen to have an open presidency. So Baldwin Wallace asked if I would interview. So I went and interviewed at those two places and I thought I did okay. But I also thought, I don't know if I know this business. It's different. And you know, I think I could do some things, but it'd be so quite a learning curve. And fortunately when the two places called back and said, you're in the final three, you're going to do the on-campus interview. I had just gotten an offer as a vice president at the University of Akron. And the president there said, why don't you come here? I've heard you're up for some presidencies. Why don't you come here and spend a couple years and learn the business? And that was kind of my out good advice, good advice. And so I spent two years at the University of Akron and, you know, as fate would have it, my old Youngstown State home the president left I had a chance to interview and I said, okay, now at my age, I'm going to spend three years. And because I still think I have another chapter. And here I am in my seventh year. And, and it's been, it's been every bit as exciting as being the head coach at Ohio State or back at the days at Youngstown State. And because , you know, again, I was keeping my mind in my rear end, I'll say it that way, my mind and my rear end in the same place. Yeah .

Greg Muzzillo:

Great advice. And by the way, congratulations on all your success at Youngstown State. I, and and also congratulations on the wonderful gift. I know you have a heart of giving back and you know, it's public knowledge that you gave a million dollar gift you and Ellen to an endowment fund at Youngstown State. So one of the things you haven't mentioned is, and I'm wondering if some of that heart for giving and giving back, we haven't talked about your mom. Eloise did some of that influence come from her.

Jim Tressel:

You know, she didn't really influence me as to what I wanted to do. She influenced me on how you need to do it, whatever it is. And people ask me all the time you know, what's leadership. And, and I always tell people that I grew to believe that leadership wasn't any position that you hold, but it was the action that you take serve others. And I learned that from my mother. My mom had no title other than mom. And she woke up every day and she was going to serve people, whether it was her family or the local school system, or Baldwin Wallace, the community, the historical society. I mean, she believed that her life's work was to serve others. And she really helped me understand that that's what your life is really measured by. It's not measured by how many wins you have or how many sales you make or it's, you know , how do you serve? And between my mom, teaching that lesson of service and being that example, go back to that thing where you really learn best, through example, and my dad kind of leading by example from the standpoint of he wanted to win games, but you could tell what was more important to him was having his young people grow and have great futures. And if it meant we were going to win some games fine, but his, his passion was for his students you know, to be prepared for life. And , and I remember Greg one time sitting at a freshmen orientation with my oldest child, my son, Zach, and an engineering professor from Ohio State. We were visiting Ohio State at the time coaching at Youngstown State, but we were visiting Ohio State. And the engineering professor put a quote up by Albert Einstein. And it said concern for man and his fate must form the chief interest of all technical endeavors never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations. There, I was a coach who lived with diagrams and equations, and the challenge that, that engineering professor who has lots of diagrams and equations as do finance people as do chemists as do everyone. The challenge Albert Einstein gave us all was concerned for man and his faith. His future must form the chief interest while technical endeavors. And that became the sign that I always had for the next 20 years in my staff room. Was that, that was the challenge my coaches had, yes, we wanted to win games. We would be fired if we didn't. Yes , we wanted to achieve, but the concern for our students and their faith, their future was going to be our chief interest. So I got that from my dad and Dr. Meris at Ohio state, and I got the serving heart from my mom and you know, shame on me if I couldn't do a little something, with that kind of example

Greg Muzzillo:

For sure. And you've, you've accomplished a lot and you're very well known and I'm very proud and appreciative of our time together. And now that you've really accomplished two big dreams, one in the football arena and another one in, in the academic world. What are your big dreams now for the next chapter, if I might in your life,

Jim Tressel:

You know, that that's probably the one that I've been wrestling with the most in part, because you know, I don't have the ability yet I'm trying to mature, but I don't have the ability yet to do things not a hundred percent in full time . Part of me says, can I find something where I can make a difference, but maybe not work seven days a week and five nights a week and you know, 110 hours. In fact, our fraternity brother, Mark Summers, and I talk all the time, you know, Mark, as you know, is kind of a high tension guy and, you know, he's retired and that evolution into retirement, all he talks about. And I talked to him at least three days a week on the phone is, he said, I've got to figure out where I can make a difference. I've got to figure out where I can make a difference. And so that's kind of the, you know, the 68 year , there's a battle at every phase of your life. I haven't figured out what that next chapter can be. I guess I've continued to follow, keep your mind in your rear end in the same place, but yet you do have to plan and, you know, you do have to dream. And when you have grandkids, we have two grandkids. And especially with this COVID thing you don't get to see them as much as you'd like to. And and then they get a little older and all of a sudden they don't have time for you because you know, they're right there in middle school and high school, they want to be with their buddies. You know, so you know, like it like everyone else you try to figure out what drives you. And when you do you go full throttle and but Ellen and I have that discussion off and on. That's why she's down in Florida playing golf right now. And I'm up here in the cold working like crazy, cause she's getting a headstart on whatever the next chapter might be.

Greg Muzzillo:

Well, she's figured it out. And I'm pretty confident, Jim, that knowing your belief systems and just knowing how you live your life, when, when the universe is ready for you and for the next chapter it'll to you and the opportunities will come to you and whatever it is, you'll do an awesome job of it. And so to wind things down, clearly, you've already mentioned it, the COVID thing, lots of business people, primarily listening in who to some degree have had the blanket yanked out from underneath their feet, from underneath their opportunities in business and clearly, or ready for the massive pivot that they need to be doing in their businesses and in their careers and in their life. What advice would you have for those folks that they themselves find themselves needing to pivot?

Jim Tressel:

You know , it's interesting what I've been trying to challenge the university with ever since, all the way back to April May is the old Stockdale paradox. If you remember from Good to Great, the text book by Jim Collins where he talked about the Stockdale paradox and in the Stockdale paradox, if you recall, Admiral Stockdale was the highest ranking military person in American history that ever was put into a prisoner of war camp. And he was there eight years in dirt, eight years of a pow camp. And then when he got out and a lot of people didn't a lot of people didn't make it through that mentally, physically and all the rest. So when he got out of course, everyone asked him, how did you do it through that crazy time? And he said, well, ironically, people that didn't make it were the optimists and he said that didn't make it were the optimist. He said, yeah, he said, you know, they said, we're going to be out of here by Christmas, or we're going to be out of here by spring, or we're certainly going to be out of here by summer. We're going to be out of here by labor day. And he said they set expectations of which they had no control over. And eventually they cracked because they kept having disappointments. He said, I decided that I was going to have an unwavering faith that I was going to get out of here , but the only way I was going to make it was make good decisions every day. And I didn't know when I was going to get out, but I did know this, that I could make good decisions every day. And so the same is true really with this COVID thing. And I think we got tricked a little bit, you know, first they said 15 days, we gotta flatten the curve and they said, well, let's do it for 30 and we're going to shut down. And then we're going to open up that we're going to shut down. And , and I think unrealistic expectations hit people along the way. And so what I've tried to challenge the university is let's make good decisions every day. We know what we're hoping for. Let's make good decisions every day. Let's have an unwavering faith that three years from now, this will be the greatest university it's ever been. But right now we don't know, we don't know what the future holds. And so I would say that to the, to the people that are in business situations or that, that have that moment, that they're going to have to pivot, make good decisions every day and have that unwavering faith and belief that you're going to make it and know that it's painful. You can imagine Admiral Stockdale's pain throughout eight years. Can you imagine? I think he was tortured over 25 times. Can't imagine he decided he was going to make the decisions every day. And if we can hold one another to that we're going to make it, yeah, there is . There is no doubt,

Greg Muzzillo:

Jim. I can't even think of a better way to wrap things up than to hang onto your words, to remain optimistic, to have unwavering faith. And for all of you listening, make great decisions every day. You'll get through this. We'll all get through this. Jim, it's been a real honor to have you join me for Million Dollar Monday. Can't thank you enough. Thank you. Pleasure , my honor.

All about Jim Tressel
Learning from Example
Dream of Becoming a Coach
Setting Records
Journey to Ohio State
Believe and Achieve
Handling Adversity
Heart of Giving Back
Advice to Pivot