Yesterday, I introduced Big Ten Football Coach of the Year, Jerry Kill, at the PENWorks conference.

Yesterday, I introduced Big Ten Football Coach of the Year, Jerry Kill, at the PENWorks conference. Photo credit: Tami Ekstrand, Central Media Services

Yesterday, I had the honor of introducing one of my contemporary heroes. University of Minnesota head football coach, Jerry Kill, was the keynote speaker at the PENWorks annual conference, produced by the Performance Excellence Network. Congratulations to the PEN president, Brian Lassiter.

My favorite statement from Coach Kill’s speech: “We’re not in the football business, we’re in the ‘kid business.’ And when you are in the kid business, you are always teaching the basics: 1) Be on time. 2) Go to class. 3) Act the right way. 4) Play hard on Saturday.” he said with a drawl.  “That’s the formula for winning football and in life,” he finished.

Following is the introduction I shared:

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Performance Excellence Network because “leadership” is at the center of the Quality movement. Our speaker is definitely a good leader, who radiates goodness!

  • Good leaders like Jerry Kill help us believe in what’s possible if we work together, and they personally set the example for what’s not acceptable
  • Good leaders like Jerry Kill reward excellence as a fundamental strategy to get their organization to the Next Level.

It’s easy to see the room today is filled with business-improvement junkies…people who are passionate about digging into the layers of an organization and inspecting for areas of continuous improvement. But when you coach a Division 1 NCAA Big Ten college football team – a couple of million rabid fans inspect the quality of your program on Saturday afternoons!

Jerry Kill reinforced the importance of fundamentals to change culture.

Jerry Kill reinforced the importance of fundamentals to change culture.

Today we are in the presence of a leader who embraces the scrutiny of the public eye. Just this past Saturday, the iconic sports writer Patrick Ruesse wrote about Coach Kill in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune. His insight: the University of Minnesota hasn’t had a strong, ethical football program with this much promise since 1968-with Jerry Kill’s “country charm” the momentum just keeps building!

Coach Kill was awarded the Big Ten’s Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year last year; a fine accomplishment for a football coach whose winning started with a state championship at Webb City Missouri High School way back in 1989.

Perhaps the most important part of the impressive story is to know that along the way he, and his wife Rebecca, raised two beautiful daughters; he defeated kidney cancer; and today he lives and works in the public eye while managing epilepsy.

Jerry, please let me say: as “quality and excellence” aficionados…we are impressed to have you with us today.

I led a rousing cheer of "Go Gophers" to welcome Coach Kill to the stage.

I led a rousing cheer of “Go Gophers” to welcome Coach Kill to the stage.

For the football fans in the room, we’re busting at the seams to hear your contagious “country charm” message about leadership and excellence. With that, I’m going to ask our audience here to welcome you with a raucous “Go Gophers.” Are you ready? 1-2-3: Go Gophers!  Please join me in welcoming Jerry Kill.

Good leaders find inspiration in leaders from all walks of life who reward excellence. And they stay focused on the fundamentals to get their organization to the next level.

Please share with us – what do you consider to be the fundamentals leading to your success?