1987, Million Dollar Round Table, Chicago USA
Thank you, thank you, thank you very much! I need as much applause as I can get after that last presentation.
Thank you very, very much. I'll tell you, what a morning I've had! I have cried from the young lady from Mexico, and then I laughed with your own Mr. Donaldson, and then I thought, the Rabbi made me think, and made me feel guilty, and all kinds of things. I'm going to bring up the thing about descending opinion, Rabbi, if you don't mind. Then the last one, President Ross, I mean he scared the pants off me. That's a bad choice of words maybe.
Holy cow! Now we're gonna talk about- I love that film [film of Valvano's team winning the NCAA championships], I'll be honest with you. Kinda like that picture up there too, as a matter of fact. They told me I had to stand behind that, and I cannot do that. I just gotta explain that, I'm an Italian kid, from Queens, New York. All right? This section, watch your wallets, this section over here. Be very careful.
I have to move around a little bit, I have to. And I will try, they told me I have to keep this thing to thirty minutes. Its hard to get my hands going, takes me a while to get cranked up. But what a fantastic group this is, I'll be honest with you. This is a privilege and an honour to speak here today. I mean you folks are fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. It's not often I get to speak with an audience that really excites the speaker and that's the case today, this is a great group of people.
I want to explain that film first of all though. A lot of times people see that and they say "What a wonderful job." The people who run the presentation, to bring that film so that you can better acquaint yourself with the speaker, I don't assume that everybody knows who I am and follow sports. But the fact of the matter is: I brought the film. I want you to know that. I brought the film. Okay? I love that film, you know? Oh yeah.
People say to me, and I apologise Rabbi but in 1983, won the national championship, and they say do I think about it very much? It's in the past I shouldn't think- well the fact of the matter is: other than I have that film in 16mm, colour, sound, I've got it on VHS, beta, half inch, three quarter inch. I've got, when I go to work a little cassette I put in, I listen to the last minute and half of the game and if you came to my home in North Carolina if you ring my door bell, the last forty four seconds of the game play. I love it, I love it! In fact, lets run that sucker again, if you get a chance back there. I love that.
That's not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about, the topic is cutting the nets down. In my profession cutting the nets down means you reach the top. Two hundred and ninety schools division start the year and one school gets to cut the nets down. And that's what you saw, that we cut the nets. I
have to explain a little bit, I gotta talk fast, you got so many things I want to tell this group, there's so many things I'd like to share with you. Because I think there's so much similarities between us. I was talking to some of the people about making the million dollar round table. And what it takes to get there. And yes you know the success of the competition that you have each year, great [inaudible 00:03:40], that's what I do after we won the national championship, the following year, the ball goes up again, and you have to do it again. If you want to make the NCAA tournament again you must earn your way in it, just like you do every year. I have a great feeling I think for what you do. And I'm also admiring so much.
But that film, you see, there's one thing before I go on and say anything, I'd like to hopefully say something significant, everybody still laughs and I want to explain it. There's a point there you see when I run around, and people laugh. And I know why you're laughing. People laugh because they think that I lost my mind at that moment. That I didn't expect to win, that it was a shock that we won the game, not a whole lot of folks thought we could win. Washington Post said trees would tap dance, and elephants, and all that stuff.
Well its true not a lot of people, nobody out there, nobody, my mother. I am the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano, I want to tell you that. You got that? Yes, and my mother, little Angelina, little Italian lady, about four foot three with the bun in the back, the knitting needle goes through there, black mark over- dresses in black, all the time in case there's a death in my neighbourhood, and that's where I grew up. Where I grew up, she's a professional mourner, my mom. My mother, her second son, who she loves, like no other, I mean she, my mother, she took Houston and gave eight points for that game. I'm telling you, I'm very disappointed.
So, nobody thought we would win that game, so I want to explain to you, because you'll understand it, more than anything. A business group like yourself will understand, what I was doing that night in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When I was sprinting around. I didn't lose my mind, I wasn't shocked we won, what I was doing there, very simply: I was marketing myself. I know how important that is.
Let me explain it to you. I grew up watching Wide World of Sports. You've all seen this. Spinning the globe, spanning the sports world. Joy of victory, agony of defeat, they said that every week. What was the agony of defeat they show every week? Somebody tell me. Every week this came on, and I was born in Queens not a lot of slopes there. I assume the fella is supposed to go like a bird in flight. What does he do each week that guy? He takes one of the worst falls I've ever seen. I check these things out, that man is still alive, and every week of his life, no matter where he is, its true. He's in a bar, they go "oh here you come Pierre, check it out again" . So embarrassing that man. Everybody remembers that, but nobody remembers the joy of victory, because they don't have a good one in the Wide World of sports. So I was going to give them a great joy of victory. That's what I wanted to do.
Let me picture this, you gotta picture this. I'm down in the locker room before the game, biggest game of my life I gey, any Italians out there we got a [inaudible 00:06:50] or two around here? All right one right here, you know what [inaudible 00:06:53] means don't you? What's your name? Tell me your name. Federico, he he. Do you fix the equipment where you work? I'm only kidding, I can say that Federico, what's your first name? Frank? I knew that, only two guesses: Tony, Frank. What else could it be? I got a sister named Tony, what are you kidding me?
So the fact of the matter is: I get [inaudible 00:07:26] before a big game, its a nervous stomach I get, you might wonder, what do the great coaches do? I heard a gentlemen being [inaudible 00:07:31], you might think the great coaches probably spend- before a big game, going over strategy. Last second plays.
This is what I do before a big game, I get [inaudible 00:07:40], so I spend most of the time in the men's rooms before a big game. And that game was so big I was so nervous so I came out, "whoa a big game". And a fellow from the NCAA came over to me said "Coach Valvano. Thought you'd like to know, if you win tonight's game you'll become only the 28th coach in the history of the game to win a national championship" I said "wow I didn't realise that's all, only 27?" He left. Zoom! I went right back into the john. I want you to know what I was thinking for the biggest nigh of my life, I came out again said "What a moment I have" fellow from CBS television came to see me, said "coach, good luck" I said thank you, he said "thought you'd like to know, we expect tonight's game to be the most watched game in the history of televised basketball." I said "how many people" he said "we expect over 50 million people are going to tune in,".
In fact 50 million people watched, how many people out there saw it? Unbelieve- hey roll the film again. Oh I don't have time, sorry. I said "50 million?" He said "yup" he left. Zoom! I went right back in. So I want you to know, what I was thinking before the biggest basketball game in my life, I said "holy- I got a chance to become the 28th coach in the history of the game, to win the championship, and I can do it in front of 50 million people." If we win, what should I do?
The year before me, Dean Smith, beat Georgetown in the national finals, I watched, I was there I said "How'd he handle it?" This is what he did, buttoned his coat, and he walked over and shook hands. With John Thompson, he shook hands and then he went down to the locker room. And everybody said "What class that man has, what dignity." And I said gee, I was dreaming, "I wonder if I ever win, if I- nah, no way."
And there it was. There I was thinking what I would do if we won, was sprint out on the court why? Because the Rabbi said he talked about Chariots of Fire before and that kind of- I remember those- I would sprint out on the court- you had Rocky Balboa. Figured I would run out and the cameras would go where? Right to the coach. So here I come, running out, and what do they do? Television? They capture that, and put it in slow motion, you know that. And they put music in the background, probably the theme from Rocky. Or Chariots of Fire, and here I come running in slow motion. Not bad? Pretty smart.
And the kid, Derek Whittenburg, who took the shot is a kid who broke his ankle, after 7th game of the season. Doctors said he'd never play again, but he made it back. Miraculously with rehabilitation just for the tournament, the next game we lose, is the last game of his career. Not only varsity, his career, so every game we won he'd run over and he'd hug me. We won 9 games in a row. And he'd run over and he'd hug me every single game. And we had one game we beat Los Vegas on a last second shot we missed it we tapped it we missed the tap, they had three Los Vegas players had the rebound, once the games over, and they knocked it out of each others hands and my kid [inaudible 00:10:44] Bailey, plays Utah, falling to the ground, caught it and threw it up, at the buzzer and banked it in. He was on his keister, threw it up and it went in. And the writers said to me, "would you explain that last play?" I said "that's something we work on every single day. In practise, sometimes its hard to get the opposition to fumble it like that, but-." And Derek Whittenburg would run over and he'd hug me. So for 9 games.
So picture what I had in mind, what I thought. I figured, I'd run out, in slow motion, Whittenburg would turn and see me, right? Nine games he'd hug me, and he'd run to me, in slow motion, you get the picture? Can you see the commercial coming? What a wonderful thing it was. That's what I had in my mind you see? When with 44 seconds to play, you saw that, I called time out, I set up that last play, that lob pass that we threw to the-.
Hey, Federico. You believe I called that play? Yeah. What are you kidding me? You think that just happened? Lorenzo Charles, the kid who dunked its from Brooklyn, New York. You understand what I'm saying you folks from Brooklyn. He's from Brooklyn, New York. I'm from Queens, two city kids, right after I diagram the play, and I thought, "what if it didn't work." So I called Lorenzo over, I said "Lo, come here" he said "what's up coach?" I said "look, pay attention, it's very important, anything, like if this play doesn't work, anything that's up near the basket, at the end of the game, make believe it's a hub cap." You understand me? You see? That's a smart coach you know? You didn't get that from Enterprise, Alabama. To be honest with you.
The shot goes up, it's to the right, I see its gonna be short, Lorenzo Charles grabs it and he dunks it. And at that moment I knew two things: I was the 28th coach in the history of the game to win a championship and there were 50 million people, so I took off to run my commercial, Wide World of Sports. What you see there, is an incredible thing that happens in marketing sometimes. I sprinted and got to centre court, in Albuquerque, New Mexico with 50 million people watching me, to hug Derek Whittenburg, and for the first time in 10 games, he's hugging someone else. I'm out there all by myself. With 50 million people watching me, so embarrassing you know?
That's what happened to me back in 1983. That's what I want to talk about I want to talk about 1983, the year I got to cut the nets down. And what I would like to say, because we are in, okay? I'm going to be tunnel vision for a while, just tunnel vision, about the world that we both travel in, in the business sense. My job. My goal, what I want to do each year, is to win a national championship, I want to cut the nets down. There are 290 division one schools, that have that same goal. There are only three coaches in the history of the game that have done it two times. Only nine coaches who have done it twice. Now its 30 coaches in the history of the game-. Its hard to do, but that's my goal.
What I want to discuss, is how I do my job, in a very competitive field, and see if, in any way, we have some similarities. See if there's a way when I'm done that maybe, it helps you in your highly competitive world too. Because I'm starting again. Each year, season ends, doesn't matter what I did last year, we won a conference championship last year, doesn't matter. We've been in NCAA's six of last seven- doesn't matter. Starts over again.
So how do I do my job? Here's what I'd like to share with you. Of how I try and get it done. I think it's important when the seasons over, I always remember, I love to remember from whence I came. There are three things I think about: where I was, where I am, and where I want to be. If where I am is exactly where I want to be that's as far as I go. If I'm satisfied with where I am in life, professional life's as far as I go.
Well I'm not, I want to win, I want to be the 10th coach to win two national championships. We've been in the final eight three times in the last five years. I'm getting close. To do that, as I begin the journey again, I'd like to remember where I started.
I think its important, you're here because you folks are the best. That's why you're here, but think for a second, about the journey it took to get here. All of you, I'd like to think about your first job. How was it? How did handle it? What was it like?
My first job was the freshmen coach at [inaudible 00:15:46] university, at [inaudible 00:15:46] New Jersey. I wanted to be the best, amazing, I looked at your book it said "Dedication to Excellence".
I read a book by [inaudible 00:15:52] called "Commitment to Excellence." [inaudible 00:15:56] I wanted to be the greatest coach that ever lived. So I read this book. He had a movie out too and I watched the movie. And there's an emotional point in it with [inaudible 00:16:03] standing before his Green Bay Packer team, for the very first time, wants to inspire them. Motivate them, lead them, and he does it in that dramatic fashion, after he finishes the game plan he turns and he challenges these guys. He says "Gentlemen, we'll be successful this year, if you think of three things and three things only: your family, your religion, the Green Bay Packers." And he paused, and he got up, knocked the walls and the rest was history. I said oh that's great, your family, your religion, Rutgers Basketball.
I'm now 21 years old, I got these 17 year old kids, my first time ever, speaking before a group and I finished my game plan and I turned and challenged these kids, just like [inaudible 00:16:48]. I said " gentlemen, we'll be successful this year, you think of three things and three things only: your family, your religion, and the Green Bay Packers." I said that. When you toss that out, you cannot get that back. So I stood there just like [inaudible 00:17:10], and the kids went "oh well I don't know".
We went out and lost by about 18 point or so. We were tackling people all kinds of stuff. As I stand here before you today to talk about what it takes to cut the nets down, to reach the top in any business, I always like to remember, from once I came, what the journey was all about, what was it like. Remember, I'm the same guy who cutting the nets down, who told his team "the Green Bay Packers". I like to think of it. I worked at Rutgers a couple years got my next big break.
Next big break, worked a few years, became head coach. [inaudible 00:17:51] John Hopkins University. Hey, that's a big job right? I was the tallest person in the whole programme. I like to remember that, where I came from, I worked there, I left, the next big break I got, I worked about seven, eight years, in my business, to become a head coach at division one, there are three divisions.
Division one, I was so proud, I applied for the job at [inaudible 00:18:16] University in Louisville, Pennsylvania. I'm not saying they have a bad basketball team, they hadn't had a winning season wince the French and Indian war. Its one of those jobs where, they're telling you what a great job it is. And I'm telling the people "you won one game last year, one in 26, why do you think its such a good job?" Fella looked at me and said "coach you're overlooking one thing" I said "what's that?" He said "we've got everybody back from that team." I said "wow, am I lucky, the whole team we got back, huh? The guy without thumbs? Yeah he's back. We in good shape."
But you know, there aren't that many jobs, there's only 290 of them. So I got it and I took it. And I was excited, oh this is my- I've worked eight years, eight years, and now I'm on my road. First game I ever coached in division one in my business, was against [inaudible 00:19:07] university up in [inaudible 00:19:07]. Oh yeah, they ranked in the top 10 that year, that year they go to the final four, just like they did last year. I got this team, day before the game, reporters are saying "how do you think you're gonna do?" I said "we're all right, we're excited, we're ready, I'm ready. I've been training for this moment. I'm ready." Fellas said "you know you only won one game last year?" I said "yeah, but we got everybody back."
I want to tell you what you can accomplish, what you can accomplish in life. I took that team, that won one game before, played [inaudible 00:19:38] a team that went to final four, and at the half I was only down by eight, boy was that exciting. The bad news was it was eight touchdowns. I was losing by. At the half, I was losing. In the first game I ever coached, by 56 points. You're walking down the locker room, its not like chess where you resign, you say well I've had enough that's it. You took my king, my pawn, my queen, that's it I'm done. Its not like boxing, they throw the towel in, no. Heres where they said "hey come back up now 15 minutes." "yeah I'll be there."
You're walking down there and the fans are yelling at you "there's more where that came from turkey." "yeah I know, I know." I lost the first game in my business that prepared eight years for I lost by 72 points, wait a second, that's not a bad second half, think about it. I was getting smart even as we went along here. Could you imagine if someone had said to me after that game "coach V, 10 years from this date, you're going to win a national championship." I'd have said "in what sport? Its not going to be in this one, I'll tell you that."
I'd start taking my picture for the resume, you know? I was done. That's what I like to remember, as I prepare again, in this competitive- I like to remember where I came from. I like to remember the journey. The biggest break I got, was- after that I got the head coaching job, as some of you may have heard of some of you may have not, I own a college. Its great. Every job has its problems every product you're selling sometimes has a problem. My owners problem was I a little credibility. First kid I recruited, not from the New York area, I said "Hi, Jim Valvano, I own a college," kid said "Hey ma, this kid own his own school" I don't own it, that's the name of it, "Maybe he'll give us a dormitory or something."
Unbelievable, worked there five years, then I got the job by presently hold. Which was the biggest break of my life. I am the head basketball coach at North Carolina State in the Atlantic coach conference. I'm not saying we're the best basketball in the country, but we're gonna be up in the top two, three every year. But I was a little worried about getting this job, I'll be honest with you.
I am the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano, from Naples, Italy. And I'm going to get a job interview down on tobacco road in North Carolina. I sat next to my man Fred here from enterprise, we spoke to each other for 20 minutes I have no idea what he said, he has no idea what is said. But he was laughing a lot at what he said so it must've been funny. I mean here I am, I want this job so badly I go down for the interview. You'll understand this, I get off the plane they meet me at the airport. Fella says "Hi" says "I'm Billy Ray Bob" I said "where are the other two guys?" [crosstalk 00:23:09] I tried to fit in I said "Jimmy Tommy Tony" tried to adjust, if I can.
So, picture now, I go for the interviews and we find out we kinda like each other a little bit. Month goes by and they offer me the job and I want it, I'm so excited, I'm gonna coach I Atlantic coach conference and I'm ready I get down there, and they're a little worried and I'm a little worried.
And they said "look in order for you to really do the job here we've gotta get you out and speak to our booster club, our alumni, our fans," so I said "I'm ready, what do you want to do?" Said "we have a wolf pack club, that's our support, wolf pack club" 11 thousand members of the wolf pack club, means I have 11 thousand assisting coaches every game that I play.
They've said "you've got to go to the first wolf pack club meeting. And knock them dead, give an inspirational, motivational talk, knock their socks off," and they'll say "we got ourselves a smart Italian from New York." I'm an Italian, so I say "I'm ready" I was dressed kinda like this and they said "no you cannot go that way" and I said "why not" they said "you got a lot to learn, living down south son, you gotta wear the school colours, you're gonna go to a wolf pack meeting, you gotta wear a red jacket," and that's what the wolf pack wore. So I said "okay." And the gave me my first official, eight years ago, NC state red coat, made out of that material, kinda like steel wool. You get hit by a truck, you just brush the sucker off, like that. Just keep going. I'm sure I should clean this thing but the way it follows me around, lets go, here we go. They give me these big wide lapels and it say NC state basketball, I said "I'm ready, I'm fired up, I'll do it" they said "not yet, you got so much to learn."
Those of you who are supporters of particular universities, understand what I'm saying, they say "we have school ties, yo can wear that tie with the redcoat, we have a wolf pack tie." I said "oh I'm ready let me have it" I thought it was gonna be one of those ties with little tiny wolves on it, where you had to get up real close to see "oh, gee, that's a wolf pack tie" nah. This guys got three wolves on it, one, two, three. I'm talking about, three angry wolves. With a fierce growl, and a hat- each wolf has a hat on it. That says "NC state" do you realise how big that's gotta be? To have a wolf with a hat on it? Each one. And its the kind of tie, when you wear that tie, you do not have to wear a shirt, if you know what I'm saying. Have you seen people with ties like that? You know what I'm talking about? Those wide, like that.
So I got this red steel wool coat on, I got this red tie, with a wolf and a half on it, you see because its made out of that material, no matter how you tight that knot, you pull it as tight as you want, size of your fist around your throat, makes your collar go up, kinda like that. I got this red coat on, this tie with a wolf and a half around my neck, and I said "I'm ready to roll" and they said "not yet, you got so much to learn." Now I say this with love in my heart, all of you born and bred southerners, I've lived there eight years, I love it. My wife loves it. My family loves it. But there are difference in every part of the country.
I was ready to roll and in no place in this United States of America like the south, do you have more of an affection for checked pants. I guarantee you, Fred's got about 26 pairs right now. And I know when he was home he said 'Helen, should I bring about four or five pairs to Chicago or what?" They said to me "coach, you gotta wear your red checked pants." I tried telling them "very rarely, on a Sunday, did Rocco Valvano, yell up to Angelina, 'Hey Ange, where my red checked pants?'" They were shocked I didn't have a pair.
They gave me my first official, one size fits all, NC- with blocks and in every block it said "NC state Basketball". They said "oh you look good now" I said "let me go" so I had to give my first speech, most important speech of my life, to 300 members of [inaudible 00:27:34] club, whatever I say, is going to spread throughout the state, of what kind of a guy I am, what kind of a speaker I am. Am I inspirational?
So I'm on a plane flying down there, some [inaudible 00:27:46] women sitting next to me, says "are you the coach at state?" I said "yes I am, mam, I'm proud of it. Are you an NC state fan?" She said "NO." I said "oh," got off the plane, got my luggage, fella behind the counter, he said "I saw your picture in the paper, you're the new coach at state." I said "yes I am, are you an NC state fan?" He said "nope" I said "well I'll make you one." He said "oh no you won't." well we don't have a lot of fans here in Greenville.
Now picture this now: I'm at the most important meeting of my life, I'm waiting, 5:30 I'm not picked up quarter to six, not picked up, six o'clock, 6:15 phone rings, I pick it up, page head of wolf pack clubs says "what are you doing there?" I said "I'm in Greenville, where are you?" He said "yeah, yeah, Greenville, describe the airport to me." I said "right behind me it said Greenville, Spartanville, airport." Now, that's right.
Most of you, just like me, until he told me the most important meeting of my life, I flew to the wrong state. I flew to Greenville, South Carolina. Dressed in a red steel wool coat, with a red wolf tie. 300 boosters waitin for their new leader, and I went to the wrong state. How would you like to start the most important job of your life that way? He told me he said "get your tail up here where you work." I said " I'm coming boss" you know what its like going thought that airport like this, and getting back there in line, and that same guy behind the counter says "yeah coach what can I do for you?" And I said "did you realise, that there is a Greenville in both North and South carolina?" True story he goes back and he says "hey Burt, I told you." True story.
You talk about starting a job and it get tough, I like to remember that before I start my journey, I'm the same guy who told his team "Green Bay Pack-", I lost my-, I flew to the wrong state. I also cut the nets down at the national championships. Become one of 28 coaches ever to do that. Its incredible the things that you can accomplish.
One last story then I want to talk seriously about something Rabbi talked about that was very dear to my heart.
My favourite thing happened 1983, what a championship. I'm home one night and the phone rings, pick it up and I said "uh yes" they said "is his coach Valvano?" I said "yes it it" they said "this is the White House calling." I'm like wow the White House. What would you do if you had a call from the White House? I hung up.
Maybe you get a lot of calls from the White House, this was my first you know, I figured it was my cousin or somebody, cousin [inaudible 00:30:30] calling me or whatever. So I hung up, phone rang again. "coach this is the White House calling, do not hang up." I said "Nah, I didn't hang up, we got cut off." And you know how it is, when you win a championship, you see it in football, baseball, basketball, they say "the president of the United States requests your presence at the oval office, tomorrow to present you with a plaque to commemorate your national championship," and that's heavy stuff a kid from Queens, New York. Son of Rocco and Angelina Va- I mean I'm gonna go to the White House. But you gotta play the role fist, so I said "let me check my calendar." Cannot just call me at the last minute like this you know what I mean? I was going grocery shopping tomorrow. I said "well I can be there tomorrow at 3ish" they said "you'll be here at 10ish." I said "Well I'll juggle around a bit." [crosstalk 00:31:24]
Now I call up home, you know what that's like call up your parents like "Mom, dad, I'm going to the White House." She said "what did you do?" I said "its good, its good, they're going to give me an award," she said "really?" One of the things she said was "please, do not embarrass the family." "keep your mouth shut." She said. "just smile and keep your mouth shut" I said "mom I'll be fine."
I went to the White House, what a great experience, [inaudible 00:31:57] gonna be on television, its a wonderful story, and we get there early, and its one of those things where you rehearse it a little bit, and they tell me "presidents gonna walk in, that's when we all get up," they had someone come in as a stand in, someone with clip boards, right. They say, "what are you going to say to the president?" I said "what's he going to say to me?" They said," don't get wise here now." I said "wait, I thought that was the way it worked, he'd say something to me, Id say something to him." If he's got nothing to say, I'll carry the whole conversation.
Picture this: president finally comes in, it was great, everybody gets up, you shook- I noticed some group dynamics, terrific. There's the president of the United States, has a little smile. Everybody in the room has a little smile. When he went like that we all went like that. He went to sit down onc, he faked, went like, everybody went like "whoa". I said what pressure I have on me. I'm not sure I can handle this pressure. Now he's a nice man, whatever your political affiliation is, he's a nice man, he really is. He's charismatic he's warm, he made me feel at home, that's probably not good for me, I'll be honest. He made me feel at home, I started you know, "want a piece of gum?" I said to him. It was really bad I only had one slice, I'd split it in half or something. I was feeling good.
So now, we're right before it goes on television, they said "Mr. President, one minute til air time." So he, he goes to sit down, he gives one of those where he looks back up to me and he says "coach I apologise, how do you pronounce your name?" I said "its Valvano sir" and he said "Valvano?" And I said "yes sir very good."
Now not everything I say starts down here, I mean up here, it starts here goes up here, and goes boop, and it comes out, I've no control over it. Once its here goes boop, then its out. Heres one of those occasions, picture this: the oval office, the president of the United States, says "how do you pronounce that?" I say "its Valvano sir" and he said "Valvano?" I said "yes sir." And I looked at him I said "is yours Reagan, or Regan?" I said that.
And as soon as I said it I said "Aw, ma, I'm sorry ma." And the whole room went *Gasp*. And its an amazing thing, what happens to your body, I started immediately to sweat. I mean up here, over here, my pits, I'm standing in a pool of water. In the oval office, and I said "please laugh sir, please laugh." And Ronald Reagan went "Aha ha ha." And everybody in the room went "Aha ha ha." And I went "Aha ha ha." That's a true story. I have it on tape, the president he says, "well coach Valvano, that was a great victory, are you gonna do it again? I said, I'm not gonna do it again, I won't do it again." He looked at me like I was crazy.
In 1983, I had a wonderful year. Now I like to think each year as I try to get to the top again, I want to think about where my career began, where the journey began, every speaker I've ever heard, in a motivational sense has always talked about "do this, this, this and you're there". That doesn't work that way, not in my business, maybe in yours, but not in mine. Hey you think of where you started, and the journey and what it took, I understand there's a gentlemen here, Mr. Todd, 52 years, and a million dollar round table, am I correct? That's unbelievable! Congratulations, that's fantastic. And I bet you, if I gave him the mic, he'd come up and tell some stories, about where he failed, where he made a mistake.
Now I want to talk to you about, how I do my job. I have like 6 minutes left. How I do my job, in a competitive field, how each day I try to beat the Nortedames, North Carolinas, and everybody else, how am I gonna do that? I think every body has to have a personal philosophy of how you live your life. Heres mine. Very simply put, you, plus motivation, equals success. I have that only thing in my locker room, nothing else in my locker room but that sign. You, plus motivation, equals success, I have it on cards. Book marks. I have it on everything. It drives me. Its a passion.
I was 16 years old I heard the Reverend Bob Richards speak, remember him the Wheaties guy? Pole volt champion of Olympics. Here's what he said "the lord must've loved ordinary people, because he made so many of us." And there I am 16 thinking I'm special. And here's a man that respects it. The man must've loved ordinary people he made so many of us ordinary. You get a little down at 16 someone telling you that. And then he said the line that changed my life at 16 that I felt then, I'm 41 years old, I've been working 21 years in my business, and I feel it the same way today, he said "every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people, do extraordinary things. Ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things."
And I raised my hand, I'm applying for the job right now, I'm an ordinary guy, I want to do extraordinary things in my life, and I believe it I think that true, I think that's what its all about. And I know this group has that same feeling. How do you do that? How do you go from the ordinary to the extraordinary I think its the second thing. Its motivation, and motivation to me is three things, three things each day I try to do. To get myself ready to roll. Some people will say to me, "how do you motivate 18 year old kids? How do you motivate yours-"
I don't in 21 years motivate anybody, except each day, one person, I get up. James Tommy Anthony Valvano, and that's a full time job, keeping me up at the level and while I hope that if I'm there my assistants my players, everyone else, but its a full time job for me. I'm not a finger pointer, say "hey, I'm working my- how about you-" no I work each day to get myself there. How? Motivation. Number one, enthusiasm, [inaudible 00:38:33] speaking at the graduating class at Harvard, said "nothing great has ever been accomplished without enthusiasm". How enthusiastic are you every day? Every day in your profession?
interview people every day, and I'm very bad, I'm one of the worst coaches to come and say "what's the benefits here?" Id don't like that, I've never hired someone who's asked me what the benefits- one fella asked me last year "uh, do you have a dental plan?" I said "yeah, if we don't win, the alumni kick our teeth in." That's me, I don't like when people ask how many weeks off we get before they start to work, that's how I am. I love what I do, I'm very fortunate, enthusiasm, give yourselves an enthusiasm check.
One of the things which is disappointing to me at times is when I travel around and someone says "that was a good talk, I wish my son or daughter had heard it." I say "I've been doing this job 30 years. I don't know." Someone else "I've been doing this 23 years." See I never understood that, I didn't realise, that after a certain number of years in your profession you put it on automatic pilot. And you automatically win, you automatically sell, why because by the very force of your presence. I say "that's a great thing to know" if I hear another coach say "how long you been coaching?" They say "eight years." "oh, oh he's done. I'll kill him, I've been coaching 21, you've got no shot." Don't work that way, you must maintain each year, the enthusiasm.
My second part of motivation is dream. Do you still dream? I still dream. I dream all the time, I watch that film a lot, I also for my players we have one practise every year, they come up on the court, there's no balls, there's no drills, all we do is practise cutting the net. I have golden scissors, they carry each other up, they carry me up, I cut the last one. We do that, we film it, we go up and watch it, then we watch us at 83' doing it, we see the reality, we see the dream.
The dream can become the reality. How? By being enthusiastic. By fuel that you can accomplish that. Extraordinary events from ordinary people. And also by the work ethic that I don't have to tell you about, you know. It just took me a long time to understand eh relationship, between work and success was not direct. If you work hard you'll be successful. Relationship was if you don't work hard, you cannot be successful. That's a big difference. Too me a while to understand that. You work hard because that's part of being successful, but if you don't work hard you have no shot.
So there is my philosophy of getting the job done. A pinch of laugher each day. I think you should laugh every day. I want to be enthusiastic, and kep my dream alive each day and work even though I'm going to fail. And the last thing is what the Rabi was talking about. And when I was in the room listening, I almost cried. He talked about his father. I want to talk about my father, and then I'll go out of here.
Rocco Valvano. I have no problems telling you, maybe its my family, he talked about family, it means so much to him. I could look at anybody and tell you I love my mother, I love my father. I have no problem saying to them, I've never had a problem. I understand the statement that sometimes the people you understand the least- That wasn't the case with me. My father was the single most important influential person in my life. He never made a lot of money, and I think he's the richest man I ever knew. He never had a position of real importance, and yet he influenced more people than anyone else that I know. My father, Rocco Valvano. You have to share. So when I got this job my first job. I said to my pop, I said "Boy, its great dad," and he said "What do you want to do?" I said " want to win national championship." And he said "I'll be there"
It took me eight years of work before I even made the tournament that was my dream to win. Eight years. First year I made it coaching in [inaudible 00:42:34], I call up home. My dad and mom in New York I said "we made it, we got a bid." So we celebrated the way Italians celebrate, we eat. It was on a Sunday, we start at 2, finish at midnight, half time about 6. My father calls me upstairs in his bedroom, which I've never been in my fathers bedroom, and he calls you up and he says- there's a suitcase. My fathers never left New York. My father thinks everything north of the George Washington bridge is Canada, right? We lived in a neighbour hood with [inaudible 00:43:11], I brought in my wife was the first fair skin person that they ever met. Brought her home my father said "we're not sure what it is but lets keep it."
He's got the suitcase, "what's that for?" He said "I'm gonna be there when you win national championship, my bags are packed," I said "pop, its hard to w-" "you'll do it" we lost the first round. Next year same thing, we lost the second round. He said "you're gaining" I move to North Carolina, we made the tournament, I called him, it became a phrase. My father said "my bags are packed for you, my suitcase is packed for you." And we kept losing. The year we won, 1938, I got a great picture of my father and I on centre court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hugging and my brother gave it to me and it said "like father, like son". Its the most important gift that I have from my brother. That picture, I know I'm not half the man my father is, but just that he knew what compliment that would be to me.
That night we celebrated, he said "what are you doing now?" I said "I'm going to do it again." He said "and I'll be there." And I said "I know you will." The next year we made the tournament, called "my bags are packed." We lost. Next year we made it, we lost. We lost the regional finals, after the game I called up, we lost to Saint John's. In Denver, Colorado, he said "what a great game I saw it. Next year you'll make it." Then I flew home that night.
He was one of those people who after I spoke to him I always felt better than before. Maybe you know someone like that, after you talk to them, you feel better then you did before you talked to them. I get home that night, two years ago, a get to my house in North Carolina. A lot of people there, I go what's the matter? They call me in, two years ago, April, my father had a heart attack and he died. And I lost my best friend in the whole world, this is not a sad story, its happy story. But I was knocked for a loop, those of you who've lost a loved one you know, what that's like this was my first time in my life. I didn't know how to handle it, I couldn't understand what it was I was missing. A lot of people lose the people they love, and maybe handle it a little bit better. What was it? I didn't see him all the time. I was travelling a lot.
The gift my father gave me. I think its the strongest most powerful gift I've ever received, and its a gift I find we don't like to give to each other, both in our business and in our personal life. I spent two years trying to give this gift to other people, the gift my father gave me, every day of my life, was he believed in me. My father believed in me, he believed in me when I failed, he believed in me when I wasn't as fine a son, friend, husband, father, as I could be. I've done all that. He the one person who when I didn't measure up to my standard or someone else's standard he'd look me in the eye and say "you're going to make it, I know you are, my bags packed, you're going to make it."
How many people do I give that to? My own players. And how often when they make a mistake am I critical but never ever, look then in the eye and say "son, you'll make it, I know you will. I know you can I believe in you." How many people that I work with do that? How many people I work for do that? Its an incredible gift and I've worked two years to add it to my personal philosophy.
I like to remember where I started. I know where I am. And I know where I'm going. And I know I'm gonna get there. I'm gonna be excited, enthusiastic, every day that god gives me on this earth. I am going to dream my dreams, I'm gonna work, not harder than anybody else, as hard as everyone. And accept the failures, and I'm gonna laugh a little bit and believe in the people I work with, the people who work for me, and the people I work for, and there's nothing going to stop me from cutting that net in my second national championship, and when I do, I'm going to sprint out on the court, you'll know why I'm sprinting out, and I'm gonna look up and I'm gonna say "Pop, this ones for you." And I know he's up there. Elbowing someone, I know its no a referee, its gonna be somebody else, he's elbowing someone, saying, "that's my son. I knew he was gonna do it, my bag were always packed."
I ask you to have your bags packed to share in the successes of others, to not only have your bags packed to share but be able to believe in the people you work with, if you can fill each day, I think, with that kind of belief and enthusiasm, the dream and the work ethic, a little laughter, I cannot imagine us all not having the chance, or cutting the nets down, years in a row. I said that at the beginning, this is a special audience, it a special group, its been very motivating and invigorating for me to be here, I know that yo folks can accomplish anything you want. I know because my father told me so. God bless you, and I hope you have the kind of year that you want to have.
Thank you so much.