Life & Business Lessons - Coach K - Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski sets a stunning example for success
We can all learn from Coach K’s success, no matter what your profession. This is especially true in the world of custom audio and video integration. If you treat your clients, your co-workers and your community with respect and compassion, everything else will fall into place.
A few Sundays ago, I was sitting in Madison Square Garden with my son, waiting for the game between the Duke Men’s Basketball team and St. Johns to begin. Duke’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski was on the verge of his 1,000th win as a head coach – a truly extraordinary achievement by any measure.
My nine-year-old son was trying to make sense of the history we were hopefully about to witness. “What’s so special about 1,000 wins Dad? Doesn’t that mean that he’s just been coaching forever?”
As I did my best to provide some perspective for him, it struck me that we can all learn from Coach K’s success, no matter what your profession. This is especially true in the world I live in professionally – that of custom audio and video integration.
Longevity in our business speaks to the quality of the products and services we provide our clients. Audio Den has been in business since 1975, interestingly the same year Coach K began his coaching career at West Point. Much like Coach K, our staff comes to work every day with a commitment to excellence, a dedication to our clients and a passion for our work. Equally as important, we have always tried to conduct our business the right way. Honesty, class and compassion are words that we use to describe our modus operandi.
Developing a top-flight basketball program or a successful custom integration firm takes time, practice and hard work – sweat equity. It’s vital to recruit upstanding, quality individuals. We have found that our best employees join Audio Den at a young age and develop their skills organically over time. Looking at Coach K’s staff, almost all of his assistants throughout the years were players on his team prior to their hiring. Loyalty and dedication to a common vision are traits that run deep in Audio Den’s team, as well as Coach K’s. We both demand accountability from our respective teams and those teams work together for the good of the whole. No matter how simple the task at hand appears to be, our squads bring their A-game to the court or office every day.
With a core group of solid players on the roster, implementing a clearly definable game plan is the next step to success. James Feldstein, the owner of Audio Den maintains a long view approach to his business plan. A steady hand on the rudder has been steering the Audio Den ship for almost four decades. By maintaining a focus on the big picture and preaching the importance of customer service, James has shepherded our firm through good times and bad – including a handful of major economic downturns. Coach K has adapted his approach over the years, as the culture and kids he recruits have changed. However his vision, his message and the overarching ethos he sets forth remains constant. Namely, excellence, character and winning the right way – those ideals never change.
As the final buzzer sounded his 1000th win, the manner with which Coach K handled himself spoke volumes about the upstanding character he embodies. With a throng of media clamoring to capture his picture, he took the time to share a handshake and a thoughtful word with the opposing coach, his assistants and all the St. John’s players. Later that night my son and I had a chance to listen to Coach’s postgame comments. With humility and gracious sincerity, he kindly deflected the praise being lavished upon him. Instead he spoke about his players and his mentor Bobby Knight – only referencing the significance of his achievement in terms of its impact on his program and the game he loves so dearly.
A West Point graduate, a dedicated family man and a philanthropist of the highest degree, Coach K represents all that any man could hope his son would grow up to become. I’ve always stressed to my son that the key to life is being a good person. The same can be said for being a successful A/V integrator. If you treat your clients, your co-workers and your community with respect and compassion, everything else will fall into place. I am proud to be a Duke graduate and consider myself lucky to have had the chance to learn from Coach K throughout the years. I am equally proud to call myself a member of the Audio Den team. Every day I’m afforded the opportunity to work with people I respect, expand my skillset and make a positive difference in my community.