An Interview with Andy Hill, Keynote Speaker
Lead Your Team to Greatness the John Wooden Way
Closing Session, Wednesday April 13, 4:00 – 5:30 pm
Recently, Glenda Feldt, EdD, CPT, had an opportunity to sit down Andy Hill. Below is a reflection on their conversation.
On a rainy autumn morning I was on the phone with Andy Hill, former president of CBS Productions. Andy is slated to speak at the 2011 ISPI Conference in Orlando and the interview was to provide information we can use to generate interest in his presentation among ISPI’s potential conference attendees. Before the interview we sent Andy Hill a list of six questions we planned to ask, affording him the professional courtesy to prepare before we spoke. The purpose of interviewing him was to present a brief preview of what we can look forward to in his presentation next April.
I was very serious and determined to guide the interview to learn more than his online biography. Interestingly enough, we never got past the first two questions and I learned enough about Andy to make me eager to hear him speak. Andy asked what I knew about him, so I quoted from his website that he was a motivational speaker. He stopped me and asked what I thought a motivational speaker was. “It’s somebody who lights a fire under you,” I offered. “Yes and what happens to that fire the next day or so after you leave the session?” he asked. I realized that typically that fire just fizzles and goes out. Andy then told me that he is “an inspirational speaker who wants to light a fire inside of you.“ He said that a fire inside you will glow and grow and can be life changing.
I explained what ISPI is about, and talked about human performance technology, performance improvement, and how we focus our professional efforts on improving the worker, the work, and the workplace. I explained that much of our professional effort is to help companies improve productivity and profits. Andy’s thoughtful response was that we have done a very bad job by isolating people in the workplace. “All we do now is make money. We’ve mostly stopped manufacturing in this country. We need to again make things and we need to value people.” Andy described how companies set up a five- or 10-year plan to nurture and grow the organization with an eye toward increasing profits. He explained that for the organization to grow, its leaders must have values, and the most important value has to be how you treat people. One of his keys to success is for leaders to “Be most interested in finding the best way, not having your way.”
Asking Andy about his biography revealed that he was president of CBS Productions when new shows were piloted such as Touched by An Angel, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and Walker-Texas Ranger. My personal all-time favorite show was Touched by An Angel, a show where someone took the risk to make a show about values, morals, life lessons, inspiration and hope. Andy Hill is the man who took that risk and turned CBS’ Saturday night programming around while entertaining and enlightening millions of viewers. He was later president of programming for Channel One Network, the leading source of news and information for American teenagers in secondary schools across the country. Andy’s educational credentials include a master's degree in education and an undergraduate degree in psychology, both from UCLA.
“Tell me something about you that doesn’t appear in your biography,” I queried. Andy admitted that he was interested in measurement and had invented a statistic that is used in basketball today. “We measured tangibles then such as rebounds, points, and assists. But coaches had no way to teach the intangibles; we only measured individual performance but needed a way to measure how the team was performing. The statistic is the Team Contribution Index, now known as a plus/minus. By measuring how the team did, we took some of the focus off the individuals who were all about themselves,” Andy said. “The best leaders measure the intangibles.” An article about Team Contribution Index was published in Scholastic Coach in 1977.
Andy was a member of UCLA’s Bruins championship basketball teams of 1970-1972. That’s three consecutive NCAA championships! Later ESPN named his coach, John Wooden, the Coach of the Century. Andy said he spent most of his years on the UCLA team sitting on the bench, on average scoring 2 points per game. He did not get along with his coach then and thought little about him after leaving UCLA to build a successful life.
I asked Andy what was the greatest professional risk he ever took. His quick reply was: “Getting fired from CBS.” For all of us who have experienced that frightening feeling as we face our own failure, it was interesting that Andy said this provided him the greatest opportunity of his life. Through much soul searching, he suddenly realized that his personal success was mostly attributable to Coach Wooden. He renewed his friendship with Coach Wooden, whom he described as “simple and clear.” Wooden “got to the finish line and never fell down. He was 99 when he died and he left a life with no scandals, no affairs, and no skeletons in his closet,” said Andy. Andy’s best-selling 2001 book, Be Quick – But Don’t Hurry! - Finding Success in the Teachings of a Lifetime, was co-written Wooden. Andy talks about his renewed relationship with his college coach. He entertains, enlightens, and inspires with stories from Wooden’s approach to life. According to Andy, “If you worked for Coach, he was with you for life.” Although Wooden is gone now, his values and life lessons live on through the work of Andy Hill. Wooden left behind 21 secrets to the “Pyramid of Success,” co-authored with Andy. It shows how to build competitive greatness such as Wooden experienced in his time. “Success is a peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming,” sums up Wooden’s approach.
Andy’s best -selling book and dynamic speeches focus on Wooden’s keys to leadership and life. As Andy described how he used these lessons in his career, he drew this listener in, and had me looking at ways they could affect my own life. After 45 minutes with Andy I realized that my questions were not needed to provide our ISPI Conference attendees a preview of his upcoming presentation. Telling his story, as he shared with me, is much more riveting. I listened, laughed more than I have in a long time, and left our interview much lighter than when we had started. As Maya Angelou said, “I left feeling better than when I went in.” In parting Andy asked, “Will I meet you at ISPI?” I suspect, Andy Hill, that you will be surrounded by a throng of admirers after your inspiration is shared, so you may not meet me. But I most assuredly will meet you.
Join ISPI on April 10-13, 2011, in Orlando, Florida, for Andy Hill’s presentation, “Lead Your Team to Greatness the John Wooden Way.” Register now for THE Performance Improvement Conference 2011 on April 10-13, in Orlando, FL. Take advantage of early-bird pricing by registering before December 23, 2010. For more information or to register visit http://www.ispi.org/2011.