CNLP 454: Scott O’Neil, Former CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils on Recruiting Top Talent, Creating a Winning Culture and the Future of Sports

Scott O’Neil is the former CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils and author of Be Where Your Feet Are. Scott talks about why he stepped back as CEO of a massive sports franchise, how to build a winning culture, why ego is a killer, high standards, recruiting top talent and the future of sports.

Welcome to Episode 454 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Guest Links

 Twitter | LinkedIn

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Conversation Links

Be Where Your Feet Are by Scott M. O’Neil

Philadelphia 76ers

New Jersey Devils

At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof

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Insights From Scott

1. Scott’s formula for wellbeing

It’s been an incredibly stressful couple of years. With the COVID-19 pandemic and anxiety on the rise, Scott offers his formula for helping you focus on your wellbeing—do something for your mind, for your body and for your soul every day.

Practical steps for these include:

  • Listen to a podcast, read an article or watch a TED talk
  • Stretch, exercise and get the right amount of sleep
  • Practice gratitude, pray or send a note to a loved one

2. Keys for building a healthy culture

Scott uses two simple acronyms for building a healthy culture and team.

  1. API – Assume Positive Intent
    Assuming your teammates have positive intent allows you to be open to feedback. One practical way Scott and his team practice this is through what they call “palms up” which literally means your palms are up. They’re not crossed in front of you. When your palms are up, you’re open. You’re open for listening, you’re open for learning.
  2. WMI – What’s Most Important
    When you have a strong team of driven people who want to do extraordinary things, you can find yourselves saying yes to everything. And oftentimes, this can create overwhelm. So, Scott encourages his team to challenge each other’s decisions and ideas by asking, “What’s most important?” This filter allows you to focus on your goals and make better decisions for your team.

3. Help your employee succeed by firing him

You can help someone succeed by firing them. Sounds backwards, right? Sometimes in an organization, you have incredibly strong employees who receive incredible opportunities elsewhere. Scott says that he loves his employees so much, that he encourages them to leave his organization for grander opportunities.

On the other hand, sometimes you have employees who aren’t thriving, and maybe they’d be better off somewhere else. One of the kindest things you can do for those employees is to cut them loose to pursue jobs where they can thrive. In these instances, Scott says his employees are never surprised by these conversations, and he offers them ample time to remain in their positions while they seek new opportunities elsewhere.

Quotes from Episode 454

Culture effectively is what you expect and what you celebrate and what you tolerate. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet It takes time to build an organization, and it takes time to break one down. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet It's more important to be where your feet are than to be balanced. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet Abandon balance, embrace passion. Click To Tweet Put your phone down and put your head up. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet Gratitude impacts you, the sender, more than it does the receiver. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet My formula for wellbeing is do something for your mind, something for your body, and something for your soul every day. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet When you're at your best and you're healthy, you can look out for others. But when you're struggling and maybe working on a half-full tank, that's when you've got to lean in and take care of yourself. @ScottONeil Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 454

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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Next Episode: Jessica Jackley

Jessica Jackley is a serial entrepreneur who shares her top lessons accquired as a founder of multiple ventures, including KIVA and Alltruists. She talks about what the most successful entrepreneurs and leaders have in common, what Oprah taught her about preparation, how to ensure that success and failure don’t determine your identity, and why ‘touchy feely’ honest feedback is essential for growth.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 455.

CNLP 454: Scott O’Neil, Former CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils on Recruiting Top Talent, Creating a Winning Culture and the Future of Sports

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