As an award-winning keynote speaker, business leadership coach, eleven-time New York Times best-selling author, and longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, Don Yaeger has fashioned a career as one of America’s most provocative thought leaders. As a speaker, he has worked with audiences as diverse as Fortune 500 companies and cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story.
He is primarily sought to discuss lessons on achieving greatness, learned from first-hand experiences with some of the greatest sports legends in the world. He is also often retained by companies and organizations to coach their leaders, management teams, and employees on building a culture of greatness by studying great teams in sports and discerning the business lessons we can learn from them.
Additionally, as an Executive Coach, Yaeger has worked with a range of leaders from the president of the largest bank in the Caribbean to CEOs of financial services companies to technology executives. His coaching model is based on years of experience and study with those who have inspired championship-level teams.
“Don Yaeger was amazing. The stories that he had to make his points were so inspirational to me and gave me some great ideas on how to motivate my staff.”
The high quality of the meeting was achieved, in large part, because of the professionalism of the presentations.
Million Dollar Round Table, Clay Gillespie, CFP, CIM & Randy Scritchfield, CFP, LUTCF 2012 Top of the Table, Program Committee Chair & Chair
“Don’s presentation was a home run, touchdown, goal, hole in one and every other overused sports cliché there is.”
Ted Harris, National VP – Sales Development, Ameritas Life Insurance Corp.
Don is the author of 28 books, nine of which are New York Times Bestsellers
As an author, Don has written books with, among others, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, baseball legends John Smoltz and Tug McGraw, and football stars Warrick Dunn and Michael Oher (featured in the movie The Blind Side). He teamed with Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade to pen the 2013 best-seller George Washington’s Secret Six, a look at the citizen spy ring that helped win the Revolutionary War and then again in 2015 for Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History, and in 2017 for Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle that Shaped America’s Destiny.
Don left Sports Illustrated in 2008 to pursue a public speaking career that has allowed him to share stories learned from the greatest winners of our generation with audiences as diverse as Fortune 10 companies to cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story. More than a quarter-million people have heard his talks on “What Makes the Great Ones Great.” He collaborated with the Florida State University School of Business’s Continuing Education Program to build a corporate webinar program focusing on lessons building a culture of success within an organization. This naturally led to another keynote speech on “What Makes the Great Teams Great.” The release of his tenth New York Times best-seller, Teammate, was the inspiration for his newest keynote on “What Makes a Great Teammate: Becoming Invaluable Without Being Most Valuable.”
Throughout his writing career, Don has developed a reputation as a world-class storyteller and has been invited as a guest to every major talk show – from Oprah to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America.
Yaeger began his career as a reporter for the San Antonio Light where he rose through the ranks to pen investigative features for the daily. He later moved on to the Dallas Morning News. Following his stint in Dallas, Yaeger worked as a political editor for the Florida Times-Union.
After four years, he decided to dedicate himself to the pursuit of writing books. Yaeger’s first book, Undue Process: The NCAA’s Injustice For All, was published in 1990. In the 22 years since, he has penned 30+ more books, including 11 New York Times Best-sellers.
Don also wrote A Game Plan For Life, with legendary coach John Wooden. It was published on Coach’s 99th birthday in October 2009.
After several years of freelancing for Sports Illustrated, Don joined the magazine’s staff full-time in July 1996. Two years later he was promoted to Associate Editor, where his work was to cover not just sporting events but the off-the-field happenings which affect the world of sports.
Yaeger and his co-author William Nack were finalists for a 2000 National Magazine Award in the public interest category for their cover story “Who’s Coaching Your Kid?: The frightening truth about child molestation in youth sports.” This important piece triggered follow-up reports by programs such as Dateline, 20/20 and The Oprah Winfrey Show. It also resulted in changes to the law in several states and several youth sports organizations, including Little League of America, changed rules to require background checks of coaches and volunteers.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Yaeger has traveled extensively. The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Japan and Great Britain can be counted among the countries in which he has resided. A 1984 graduate of Ball State University, Yaeger currently lives in Tallahassee, FL. He also owns a political consulting business and a public relations firm. He and his wife Jeanette have a son and a daughter.
As a sports writer and author of more than two dozen books, Don has had a front row seat with some of the greatest winners in athletics, including Walter Payton, Jimmy Connors, Michael Jordan, John Wooden, Pat Riley and Dale Brown. They are all legends in their own right, but does anyone believe the athletes mentioned above are really the GREATEST athletes of their time, physically? Remember, Jordan wasn’t even the first pick in the draft. Payton had to go to a small black college because bigger schools didn’t want to risk a scholarship on him. Each became a champion through strength and skills that had nothing to do with physical prowess.
Using rich personal accounts gathered from more than twenty-five years of interviews with many of today’s sports legends and business leaders, Don has distilled Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness. Don shares some of these characteristics with audiences, in an easy, engaging style, which helps participants realize that they, too, can achieve a higher level of personal success.
The Great Teams Understand “The Why”. They are connected to a Greater purpose.
Learn how to constantly remind your players and employees of who they are in service of while being acutely aware of downstream beneficiaries. The more a company creates “mission moments” for employees and team members to understand that Greater purpose, the better off the team will be when it comes to enduring any challenges along the way to achieving its goal.
In this captivating session, Don Yaeger shares his findings from interviews with Olympic Gold Medal winners like USA Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, and USA Basketball CEO Jerry Colangelo, as well as 4-Time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, brilliant thought-leader Simon Synek and longtime Medtronic CEO Bill George.
Every winning team has an MVP… And every MVP has teammates. The Great Teammates immerse themselves into the fabric of high-performing organizations. They accept and commit to whatever role is needed to ignite momentum and yield winning results! Through remarkable insight from the GREATEST Teammates of our time, Don teaches you how to be invaluable without being most valuable. This universal lesson is one that is applicable to anyone in an organization from those at entry level positions to top level management.
Fly the ‘W’ with Don as he breaks down business-applicable lessons that can be learned from former Cubs catcher David Ross and a World Series for the Ages, and many more.