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Working together, character, and trust all go a long way in business and in life, says Lee Corso

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
May 06, 2013

In the fast-paced world of freight transportation and logistics, it is incredibly easy to take a myopic approach to whatever task at hand you are working on. That is not a bad thing, of course, considering we are all getting paid at the end of the day to get a job done.

But at the same time, not everything can be done alone or at least without some help from your team members or outside partners, too. In the supply chain realm, that may be shippers leaning on carriers, for example, or vice versa.

Having trust in your colleagues, or teammates, if you will, is crucial and makes for the stronger product, service, or brand. That was a key message from Lee Corson, ESPN College Football Game Day Host and Director of Business Development for Dixon Ticonderoga, a Florida based pencil manufacturing company, at last month’s National Shippers Strategic Council (NASSTRAC) Annual Conference in Orlando. There is more to Corso’s CV that “just that,” though, as he also served as head football coach at the University of Louisville (1969–1972), Indiana University (1973–1982), and Northern Illinois University in the 70’s and 80s.

In describing the best ways to be productive and efficient, Corso said that personal relationships are the key, which could be viewed as “old school,” as opposed to the “new school” approach of the Internet and related social media technologies that may provide a type of presence for people but fail to properly substitute for having real relationships, whether it is an in-person meeting or a detailed phone call.

And along with having and developing strong relationships, Corso stressed that there is no room for greed in business, especially if you want to foster and maintain a strong relationship.

“Always leave something on the table and don’t take everyone’s cookies or let someone take all of yours,” he noted. “The essence of business is good relationships, surrounding yourself with good people, and win with character and not characters.”

Taking that a step further, Corso explained that business leaders need to analyze their team’s productivity, and, more importantly, character. If you have bad people on your team, he said, it can cost you your job.

“Never ever get rid of a hard worker with strong character, even if that person is not the best on your team,” said Corso.

Looking back on his coaching days, Corson recalled how back at Indiana he had six star football recruits come for a visit before their freshman year. He took them to an Indiana basketball game and three of the recruits took his hat off during the National Anthem before tip-off.

As it turns out, the three hat-wearing recruits were the top players of that batch, but that did not deter Corso one bit from telling them they would not be playing for him next fall.

This, he said, speaks to the concept of integrity.

“You cannot [compromise] your integrity,” he said, “whether it is to win football games or to get a job or keep one. Never do something shady to get or keep a job.”

Keeping those three players could have helped Corso’s Indiana team have a better season, but players with limited character are not the ones that help you go the farthest, he said.

Instead, he would have a player with lesser skills and strong character.

“How you treat people [as a coach] that don’t play is key,” he said. “Coaches are judged on that fact. This extends to your family, too. 95 percent of your closest friends are your family. Spoil them more, because you cannot do enough for them. They are the most important. They are the ones that will help you remember that the greatest gift in life is not falling but rising again.”

While this may not have been a traditional speech at a conference like this in that it did not address logistics and transportation specifics, it was prescient in that it talked about things that are imperative and cannot ever be overlooked in order to be successful.


About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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