Monday, June 29, 2009

Who is your “Sweet Chuck”?

Disclosure – I am not a big Kobe Bryant basketball fan. I believe he could be doing so much more for the community and the world.

That being said, as a leader, it is my responsibility to find the contributions and value every individual brings to an organization and respect their efforts. I learned in a recent article by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, entitled “Scout’s eye helped Bryant focus on title drive,” exactly how much effort Mr. Bryant puts into mentally preparing and studying for every game. It seemed to be off the map compared to his peers.

The other very interesting thing about Bryant’s preparation is the fact that he is willing to accept insights and guidance from non-traditional sources. Kobe’s most insightful source in the current championship drive was a relatively unknown basketball scout with the nickname “Sweet Chuck.” Mike Procopio (his real name) came with facts and specific recommendations, not generalities. He gained Kobe’s respect and the rest is history.

Whether we call them mentors, coaches or just colleagues, we all need the advice and insights of others. Even more importantly, as our careers progress, we cannot forget that best leadership advice often comes from the most unlikely sources. My twenty-something coaches provide me insights a peer or boss could not. The 35-year shop guy knows more than anyone where the skeletons are hidden.

Do you have “Sweet Chucks” that tell you the facts? Have you found non-traditional mentors useful in your career?


Clare Novak said...

Hi John,
Another great question. I'd say I've had several "Sweet Chucks" over the years, my favorite feedback from a Sweet Chuck--"You don't think you're overthinking this do you?"

Of course I was and once I could laugh at myself, I made the decision and moved on.

Joe Farrell said...


The short answer to your question is "Absolutely".

I have a small network of people who's insights, comments and constructive criticism's I value. They are work associates, friends and family. Without them, I would be less effective than I am.

Rod Satre said...

Actually, I call this the "young pup, old dog" issue. The young pups will see things with a new, fresh insight and ask questions that help you explore details of a situation or whatever that the "old dogs" ignore as background noise. Thus working with professionals that ask questions and take your time are a blessing as they keep you grounded to keeping an eye on the little changes that sometimes lead to big discoveries.

While the "old dogs" [like myself] know how the systems are supposed to work, We need to keep a balance of exposure to a myriad of ages and knowledge when it comes to seeking feed back on issues we are managing. Thus the originators' comment on the 20-something coaches that see things better. It's not that they see things better, it is just that they have not developed the "filters" that blind us as we establish our business paradigm concepts and throw out information that does not fit our own paradigms.

Prasad Dixit said...

HI John,

I like what you have mentioned. I just found out that the simplest of thought provoking statements can come from the youngest of the people. I can recite an expreience which is as fresh as yesterday.

In India we are crazy about cricket. I was watching this cricket match between India and West Indies ( there's one tonight as well). Normally the statdiums are full with people ( Just like any soccer match).For this match however there were very few people in the stadium. As I was watching this match LIVE on TV, my 4 year old daughter asked me " Dad, why isnt there anyone in the stadium?" to this without giving it much thought I replied " Because its a boring, one sided match" and then innocently she asked me " Then why are you watching it? "

She had just bowled me over a thousand times in just one go!

The next minute I was reading something that wasnt boring.

My point is there are lots and lots of people who are 'Sweet Chucks' but I wonder how many of us really LISTEN to them.

Prerna said...

Hi John,

I feel after reaching adulthood we respond to our environment and people based on our personal and career aspirations. We can not be forced to learn; rather we consciously choose our goals and paths. Intensity of inner drive to fill the gap between where we are and where we want to be, helps us filter the large amount of information we gather daily from different sources.

Consciously or subconsciously we are attracted to the ones that relate to our chosen goals and paths (that goal could even mean work life balance). Those we term as "sweet chucks"

So where I see the difference between traditional mentors and sweet chucks is that the traditional mentors try to mould us in a way they want to like a soft clay. Whereas sweet chuks are identified if we drop our selective filters and have openness to accept what they say without the backdrop of our preset notions and aspirations.


Jennifer V. Miller said...

Great question, John!

The most unlikely Sweet Chucks for me? My kids. They are quick to point out inconsistencies in my espoused versus actual behaviors. Of course, this isn't what they call it-- to them, it's just "Mom, you're always telling us to ______" so how come YOU'RE not doing it?"

Nothing like having an 8-year-old point out your transgressions to make you straighten up and fly right.


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