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Don Yaeger        

Award-Winning Leadership Coach & Best-Selling Author

Don Yaeger is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, longtime Associate Editor of Sports Illustrated, author of over 30 books, eleven of which have become New York Times Best-sellers, and host of Corporate Competitor Podcast. He began his career at the San Antonio Light in Texas, and also worked at the Dallas Morning News and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville before going to work for Sports Illustrated.

As an author, Yaeger has written books with, among others, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, baseball legends John Smoltz and Tug McGraw, and football stars Warrick Dunn and Michael Oher (featured in the movie The Blind Side). He teamed with Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade to pen the 2013 best-seller "George Washington’s Secret Six," a look at the citizen spy ring that helped win the Revolutionary War and then again in 2015 for "Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History," and in 2017 for "Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle that Shaped America’s Destiny."

Yaeger left SI in 2008 to pursue a public speaking career that has allowed him to share stories learned from the greatest winners of our generation with audiences as diverse as Fortune 10 companies to cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story. More than a quarter-million people have heard his talks on “What Makes the Great Ones Great.” He collaborated with the Florida State University School of Business’s Continuing Education Program to build a corporate webinar program focusing on lessons building a culture of success within an organization. This naturally led to another keynote speech on “What Makes the Great Teams Great.” The release of his tenth New York Times best-seller, "Teammate," was the inspiration for his newest keynote on “Becoming a Team of Great Teammates.”

Speech Topics

Turning Adversity into Advantage.

Don, a cancer survivor, relates stories and lessons taken from those who have encountered great challenges and become better, not despite them, but because of them. In this speech, he reminds his audience that adversity is one of the most potent forces in life – it can build you up or tear you down. Your reaction to adversity – big or small – shapes your character, clarifies your priorities and defines your path. And, as described in this speech, it can fuel your greatness. He has discussed this subject with athletes and entertainers like Tim McGraw, who watched his father lose a battle with brain cancer. McGraw's experience preceded the release of Don’s monster hit, "Live Like You Were Dying."

When The Media Comes Calling

In today's age of instantaneous communication, companies and individuals alike need to be more knowledgeable than ever when it comes to media relations. If a member of the press contacts you, will you be ready for that call? How will you react when a question comes your way that you weren't expecting? And what if you actually want to tell your story? Is there a trick to getting a reporter to see your story as worth telling?

Don Yaeger has developed a national reputation for answering these questions. His expertise has been sought out by countless high-profile athletes, business leaders and elected officials. As a New York Times bestselling author and former associate editor of Sports Illustrated, Don has been on both sides of the microphone. He has conducted interviews around the globe and has been interviewed on countless national television and radio shows about his work. His 20-plus years of experience gives him the qualifications to teach you how to win the battle between a professional interrogator and an amateur respondent.

Crisis Management

As the author of the best-selling book on the Duke lacrosse scandal - a spectacular example of poor crisis management - Don has studied ways to prepare for and manage potential crises. This seminar is a shortened version of a one-semester course that he taught at a major university.

Institutional Reputation Management

Don Yaeger, a four-time New York Times best-selling author, major newspaper veteran and former Sports Illustrated associate editor, has covered some of America’s most challenging stories over the last two decades.

This session will cover everything from tips on how to create a well of good will with today's media to developing a communications plan to guide you through any potential crisis.

Building Your Personal Brand

Everyone recognizes the value of a brand. In fact, BusinessWeek magazine once said that Coca-Cola’s brand alone is worth $67 BILLION. But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to be a brand. Today, in the Age of the Individual, every one of us is a brand. And, just as executives at Coca-Cola must do, it is your responsibility to increase your brand value daily.

Don Yaeger is a nationally recognized expert on the development of Personal Brands, having worked with business leaders, elected officials and world-class athletes on building their brands. In this workshop, Don challenges your audience members to work on the fundamentals of personal branding, including: identifying what they want their brand to be; understanding what intentional acts they must take to get to that place; and discussing the responsibilities of brand ownership.

Why should your employees or members attend this session? Because those who possess, develop and constantly work on their personal brand find their path to professional success a little smoother. People do business with those they enjoy, trust and respect, all are characteristics of a strong brand. Like most skills, some people do these things intuitively. But, most of us must work on these things intentionally. This program lays the framework for that growth.

What Makes the Great Ones Great

Don has had a front-row seat with some of the greatest winners of our generation. Each is a legend in his or her own right, but their career wasn't built strictly on physical gifts. Remember, Jordan wasn’t even the first pick of the draft. O’Neal didn’t make his high school varsity team until he was a junior. Payton had to go to a small black college because bigger schools didn’t want to risk a scholarship on him. Connors, at 5-10, 155 pounds, was dwarfed by most of his competitors. But each became a champion through strengths and skills that had nothing to do with physical prowess.

Using rich, personal accounts gathered from more than 25 years of interviews, Don has distilled Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness that you will find consistently in the super-achievers. He will share with the audience these characteristics - in how they think, how they prepare, how they work and how they live – that truly make the great ones great. Then he’ll explain how every audience member can apply these characteristics to their personal and professional lives.

Don works with every organization to customize his presentation by determining which characteristics and stories to discuss. Depending on the theme of your event and the needs of the audience, he may choose to tell the story of John Wooden and how he demonstrated the Value of Association or how Michael Jordan showed him that hating to lose is more important than loving to win, among many others.


Don Yaeger Slated to Speak at Vitality 2015
Everything we do and stand for here at Vi is building up to one momentous event—Vitality. This year we’re excited to announce business leadership coach and eight-time New York Times Best selling author Don Yaeger as our keynote speaker.
Don Yaeger shares characteristics of greatness in new book
Don Yaeger has spent many years in the world of professional sports interviewing legendary athletes. He has written 22 books from his experiences and recently wrote another called "Greatness: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions."

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