My Favorite 5! Leadership Book Reviews

Written By: Chad Toms, VP of National Sales, Sales

#2 is a book that I just read; Bo’s Lasting Lessons written by John U Bacon. I absolutely loved this book!  Wow, what a perfect book on leadership.  Bo Schembechler took over a long-standing program in 1968, at Michigan, and felt they were soft.  He knew that he had a lot of work to do.  It was not the Michigan that you now know.  The team had no weight room or practice facility – they worked out by running stairs in Yost Arena and watched film in the storage room under the baseball field.  He declared “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.”  And, he was right.  Those who stayed became Big Ten Champions that first year.  Many quit and did not want to put in the work.  Those that stayed, worked like they had never done before and they achieved.  In the end, Michigan was tough and fearless.  The hard work helped them believe they were champions.  They beat an undefeated Ohio State team that year and it started what was known as the 10 Year Way between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes at Ohio State.  This could become my favorite book as I loved every page.

I especially enjoyed reading about Reggie McKenzie who later played for Buffalo and Seattle in the NFL.  He was one of the first African – American players to come to Michigan, just after the riots in Detroit in 1967.  It was a difficult time in our history, but for Bo, it didn’t matter what color you were.  If you did your job and were a great teammate, it simply did not matter.  I met Reggie earlier this year and now to read about his personal story, I was blown away!  I cannot wait to see him again and share the experience with him.  There are tremendous tributes from his players, coaches, and friends, at the end.  It was quite an emotional experience to read that part … especially on a plane to Texas!  I was the teary eye guy in 12A and I got a few odd looks, I am sure!

The book was published shortly after Bo’s death.  The book was such an easy read and every part of his leadership approach was spot on and applicable to any business.  My favorite part was goal setting and also him setting clear expectations on Day One.  You always knew were you stood on that team and you knew what the expectations were.  The seniors drove those teams; it didn’t matter if you were Jim Harbaugh, Dan Dierdorf, or a walk on player that you never heard of.  If you were a senior, you sat in the front of the meeting room, with both shoes on the floor!  No favoritism!  If you were a freshman regardless of your abilities, you sat in the back of the room!

There were a lot of great stories throughout.  I loved the two stories of walk on players who gave it their all, Donnie Warner and Brad Bates.  They both went 100% every day and never stopped believing in themselves.  They both had great careers at Michigan and later went on to be successes in life.  This book is perfect for any leader of any organization; it will make you a better person.

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