Football vs. Supply Chain? Funny and Really Interesting, It Turns Out!

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If you attended the conversation with Peyton and Archie Manning, you probably weren’t expecting to find out the secrets to running a successful supply chain operation. And you’d be right! But, you probably also didn’t realize that there are a lot of similarities involved in running a successful football play and running a successful supply chain team. Or, that it could be so interesting hearing about some of the similarities from the very charismatic and, yes, comedic Mannings.

Such as being a good listener in order to be a good leader.

“Being a good listener is important,” said Peyton, especially when it comes to leaders. “Most of us talk more than we listen… We declare more than we ask.” Then, he cemented that point in everyone’s mind by sharing a story about the huddle at his first game in college at UCLA in the Rose Bowl, where he learned that you have to earn that leadership and the trust and respect from people first. “Don’t rush that process of being the leader.”

It is also important to be a good communicator. “Don’t talk to the same people every day,” Peyton recommended. Talk to other people at your company, he suggested. The more you know about them, the more effective communicator you can be and the easier it can be to communicate, he said.

What was most notable about the tips both Archie and Peyton shared is that each one was punctuated and illustrated with a first-hand story – a story that, most likely, would have erupted a chuckle from even the most serious.

For example, when Archie was asked about what he might be doing if not for football, he told a story about the possibility of coaching and the tip he got along those lines when playing for the New Orleans Saints: “If you get into coaching, get a mobile home.”

Or, when they both talked about the strength and motivation they experienced after Cooper’s spinal cord injury.  “Cooper’s attitude was so good, it kept us all together,” said Archie, which is a priceless tip for companies to remember if they go through rough times. Peyton also talked about the importance of sticking together, as a team, during rough times. “That is when you find out what your team is made of,” he said. And a great team isn’t always about finding the most talented person; there are other characteristics that can be priorities.

Peyton also talked about going back to the basics. “The little things matter,” he said. It is when you stop paying attention to them, that is when things start to slide, he added. Every day, you should be prepared to be graded and evaluated. “It keeps you on your toes,” he said. Plus you need to be flexible and adaptive, if facing change, while sticking to the basic core fundamentals that you believe in. 

And for the question everyone was wondering about? What do you miss the most after being four years removed from NFL? “I don’t miss getting hit anymore!” exclaimed Peyton.  He also misses the plane rides – the celebration planes rides out of town – and being part of the team. 

I think everyone who attended this conversation with Archie and Peyton Manning wholeheartedly agreed with moderator Mitch MacDonald’s statement when he said, “It gets challenging to raise the bar (each year, when it comes to the keynote speakers), but we’ve done just that.”


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