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Redskins QB Theismann Urges Passion in Business

InfoComm AV Executive Conference keynote speaker gives business leaders keys to building winning teams.

Between anecdotes about how Notre Dame’s athletic department changed the pronunciation of his last name to rhyme with “Heisman” to help his campaign for that trophy to barbs directed at Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys fans, Joe Theismann proved he knows a little something about AV.

“In the next five years, it’s amazing how much things are going to change in our world,” says Theismann, the former Washington Redskins quarterback who served as keynote speaker for the 2015 InfoComm AV Executive Conference. “You’ve seen an evolution in this business and you’ve been very successful, but you have to be open to the changes that are coming. Changes occur in our world in a very unique way. How can you make those changes work for you?”

Theismann urged the almost 140 business leaders to understand they’re still part of a team and to make sure they let that team do what they were hired to do. He dismissed the terms “employer” and “employee,” saying he uses “partner” and associate” in his business dealings, which include public speaking and the restaurant business.

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“You can not, will not be a true success if you think you can do it yourself,” he says. “You become a success when you start to give something back.” He urged business leaders to bring enthusiasm to their work, noting, “enthusiasm changes attitudes and lives.”

Business leaders, says Theismann must ask themselves some key questions as they look for ways to set themselves apart from the crowd and evolve.

“What price are we willing to pay to be special,” he asked. “Do you love what you’re doing? And are you passionate about what you’re doing?”

Too many companies, Theismann said, are afraid to take risks and make a mistake. But innovators and industry leaders are the ones who try often and fail at times.

“Don’t be afraid to take an educated guess and a chance,” he says. “That’s how we grow. If you look for the good in people, you’re probably going to find that. If you look for the bad in people, you’re probably going to find that too.”

One thing Theismann despises is losing special connections with people. He still hand writes most of his letters, saying it gives the addressee a special feeling to have that personal touch. Even when leaders send a stack of form letters to customers and prospects, he suggests adding short-handwritten notes.

“Are you doing the same things for your customers today that you did when you started? Or have you forgotten about the little things,” he asked.