Keys to the Corner Office

May 29, 2015

On those rare Sunday mornings when I’m not traveling for one reason or another, my routine is a very early walk during which I purchase the Sunday New York Times.
Reading the Sunday Times has a routine as well: first the Travel section, next Business, then Opinion; and after that, national news and sports and theater in no particular order. And I always read the top of page 2 of the Business section, a regular Q and A by Adam Bryant who features successful businessmen and women. It’s called “Corner Office.”
Week after week, the people profiled will credit the extracurricular activities of their formal education for launching their successful careers. For example ...

  • The chief executive of Bluemercury cited volleyball.

  • The chief executive of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt cited “clubs and sports in high school.”

  • The chief executive of the Hogan Lovells law firm was captain of his high school football team and president of the student council.

Obviously, there are many individuals who participated in those school activities and did not ascend to chief executive status, just as many other CEOs earned the keys to their corner office without participation in school athletics and activities.
But it has been difficult for me to miss how routine it is for the “Corner Office” to make the same connection I do – that outside the classroom school sports and activities are linked both anecdotally and statistically to leadership in later life pursuits.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.