October 17, 2019

Joe Theismann Scores Business Touchdowns at MILK Business Conference, Page 2

 |  By: Portia Stewart

4. Make a contract with yourself. 

In 1985, before his injury Theismann was making $1 million a year on the field. The year after his accident, he earned just $65,000.

“My entire life changed,” he says. “I’d become an ego out of control. I really didn’t understand the world of business.” 

So Theismann set about learning, and he studied successful businesspeople to discover what they knew. One thing became clear: goals were essential. 

Theismann had written his goals in sports, and now he decided he would find personal and professional success by writing his goals. 

“Every day you go to work, you know why you’re there,” he says. “But yet in our own lives, we don’t take the time to make a contract with ourselves and say, ‘These are the things we want to accomplish in life.’”

5. Manage your attitude. 

“I get full of myself sometimes, and I have had different people bring me back down to earth,” Theismann says. He recalls a meeting 10 years ago where he was speaking to about 3,000 people. He was sitting on a dais at a black-tie affair and the server brought out his potato and gave him one pat of butter. He asked for another pat, and the server refused. 

“I said, ‘Whoa, time out. I am Joe Theismann. See all these people who came to see me? I want another pat of butter.’ 

“The server responded, ‘Sir, I know who you are. You’re an amazing football player.’ 

“I said, ‘Thank you very much.’ 

“He said, “You were an MVP in the National Football League.’ 

“I said, ‘Thank you very much.’ 

“He said, ‘You won a Super Bowl.’

“I said, ‘Thank you very much.’ 

“He said, ‘Sir, do you know who I am?’ 

“I said, ‘No.’ 

“He said, ‘I’m in charge of the butter. You get one pat of butter,’” Theismann recalls. “Attitude precedes everything we do in life.” 

Theismann 4

6. Step outside the box.

The first steps are to anticipate, educate and work hard. Then you can take the next steps to achieve greatness.

“Bill Belichick? Unbelievable preparer. Bill Walsh, unbelievable preparer. Joe Gibbs, unbelievable preparer. Between those men, 14 World Championships,” Theismann says. 

Preparation gets you ready, and then you can step outside the box and reach new heights.

7. Engage your employees as team members. 

“The people inside your organization don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Theismann says. “I do not like the term employer. I do not like the term employee. They’re cold in their heart. I prefer terms like partner, associate. When you get your people together in your businesses, sit him down and say, ‘You know what, you aren't employees. You’re partners, and we’re in this thing together.” 

8. Choose your players wisely.

One day Theismann asked coach Joe Gibbs what he looked for in a champion player. 

Gibbs’ answer? “I look for character, intelligence and abilities,” he said. “And I look for them in that order. Character is first. Character is who you are. Reputation is who you think you are.” 


Theisman’s final advice to dairy farmers? Remember how much you matter. 

“Just remember this and what you do is so vitally important in the world, and so many people rely on what you do,” he says. 

Missed the MILK Business Conference? Check out these stories: 

2020 Milk Prices: Obstacles and Opportunities

2025: How Dairy Farms Will Need to Adapt to Survive

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