As Mike Krzyzewski, better known as “Coach K”, told the audience during his keynote speech at the 2013 NSGA Management and Team Dealer Conference, “Whatever team you’re on, you can still learn.” And he should know. As the Head Coach for the USA Men’s National Basketball Team, since 2005, he came home with gold medals from Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012. In 2011, the Duke Blue Devils coach became Division I’s coach with the most wins in history, when a win over Michigan State gave him his 903rd win, breaking the tie with Bobby Knight. Knight was Krzyzewski’s coach at Army and his professional mentor. What’s Coach K’s secret? Well he only spoke for about an hour, but during his speech, he explained some of his proven philosophies with the crowd. For example, instead of wondering why we are not successful, he told us to ponder “What do we need to do more of in order to adapt?” And he encourages buy-in from his players by asking them to submit their ideas on how to win. “How do you get better unless you share ideas?” He reminded us we need to hear, see and FEEL. He is a big believer in the power of a fight song and united the Olympic team players by making them understand who they were really playing for through the power of the team “fight song,” The Star Spangled Banner. Music can evoke strong feelings. But he did admit that “trust is the cornerstone on which everything is built.” He also shared his “no excuses” sentiment and admitted that ultimately, “You’re responsible for doing the best job in whatever environment you’re in.” Coach K also expressed his thanks to all the sporting goods store owners, team dealers and manufacturers in the audience for playing a very important role in inspiring kids to play sports, by designing innovative products and stores where you can “imagine” your athletic dreams coming true. He strongly believes that our country and business people need to be more involved in the athletic development of our youth and that playing sports is one of the best places to learn about teamwork, trust and leadership. The best advice anyone ever gave him? When an audience member tossed him that question, Coach K told a story about his mother, harking back to the time when he was about to enter high school in Chicago. His mother sat him down and told him, “Make sure you get on the right bus.” A savvy inner city kid with lots of street smarts, Coach K said he was almost insulted that his mom thought he didn’t know the right busses to ride to get to his new school. But she corrected him, “Not that kind of bus son.” She explained that he was about to start a new chapter in his life, a very important chapter and she told him that he should get on the “right bus.” And whether he was driving the bus or whether he chose to get on someone else’s bus, he should make sure to have only good people on that bus. In short, get on the right bus, with the right people. Based on all his successes and many that are obviously still yet to come, it seems like Coach K did an excellent job following his mother’s advice over the years. And I know everyone in that audience wished they were on Coach K’s bus! Big kudos to the NSGA staff @NSGASportingGds for arranging to have this very inspirational, educational and entertaining speaker at the conference. I can’t wait to see who they bring in next year. I can heartily recommend you plan to attend the 50th Annual NSGA Management conference at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells in Palm Springs, California, scheduled to be held April 27-30th, 2014. Save the date. It’s on my calendar.