Don Yaeger

  • American Sports Journalist
  • New York Times Bestselling Author
  • Award-Winning Leadership Speaker

Don Yaeger is an award-winning leadership expert and seven-time New York Times bestselling author. For the past twenty years, Don has written for Sports Illustrated and authored 28 books about lessons he’s learned to improve our personal and professional lives. Don shares stories from the “great ones” by motivating teams, leaders and everyone in between. He shares the formula that he's witnessed by the great winners he's worked with — and explains how that same mind-set can be transferred to others to make organizations great! Don’s stories are compelling and humble, even if you are not a sports fan, you will still feel motivated after hearing Don present, as well as learn some leadership skills to implement immediately.

 
  

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Rave Reviews About Don Yaeger
 Your 'conversational' manner of delivering the message on What Makes the Great Ones Great, and being able to weave that message into every day activities was truly inspiring for all in attendance. There is no question as I listened to you and watched the audience that you were engaged with them and the qualities you spoke of were from life's lessons we could all benefit from.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Don Yaeger
  • Cancer Coalition for Life Naperville
  • DELL
  • Microsoft
  • Hewlett Packard
  • CUNA Mutual Group ??
  • New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians
  • Target Companies
  • Society of Human Resources Management, Atlanta
  • AmeriTitle
  • Harrison Finance Company
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What Makes the Great Ones Great

As a New York Times bestselling author and Sports Illustrated Associate Editor, Don has had the opportunity to spend time with some of the greatest winners in the world of sports. Using these rich, personal accounts gathered from more than 20 years of interviews with legends like Walter Payton, Jimm ...

As a New York Times bestselling author and Sports Illustrated Associate Editor, Don has had the opportunity to spend time with some of the greatest winners in the world of sports. Using these rich, personal accounts gathered from more than 20 years of interviews with legends like Walter Payton, Jimmy Connors, Dot Richardson, Shaquille O'Neal, Michael Jordan, John Wooden, Pat Riley, and Dale Brown, Don has distilled "Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness."

Turning Adversity into Advantage

Don, a cancer survivor, relates stories and lessons taken from those who have encountered great challenges and become better, not in spite of 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 y ...

Don, a cancer survivor, relates stories and lessons taken from those who have encountered great challenges and become better, not in spite of 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 the monster hit, "Live Like You Were Dying."

All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Little League

Sportsmanship, Leadership, Teamwork, Honesty and Humility: Through emotional, personal stories, Don shows how these and other life lessons are learned in little league. Don tells how legendary Alabama Coach Bear Bryant used football to break down racial stereotypes and how Bryant's decision impacted ...

Sportsmanship, Leadership, Teamwork, Honesty and Humility: Through emotional, personal stories, Don shows how these and other life lessons are learned in little league. Don tells how legendary Alabama Coach Bear Bryant used football to break down racial stereotypes and how Bryant's decision impacted many in the South. He also details how the US government uses sports to help rebuild the fabric of fledgling democracies. From his experiences in Iraq, Don reveals that one of the first moves made after Saddam Hussein was captured was the successful restoration Iraq's sports community, providing Iraqi youth with opportunities to compete in soccer, basketball and track. Why? Sports give communities, families and friends something positive to rally around.

What Will Your Legacy Be, And What Are You Doing to Ensure It?

In today's live-for-the-moment world, few of us have given thought to the legacy we will leave behind. While working with two exceptional athletes - Walter Payton and Tug McGraw - as they were battling for their lives, Don spent hours discussing the subject of legacy with them. Both men provided les ...

In today's "live-for-the-moment" world, few of us have given thought to the legacy we will leave behind. While working with two exceptional athletes - Walter Payton and Tug McGraw - as they were battling for their lives, Don spent hours discussing the subject of legacy with them. Both men provided lessons that changed Don's life - lessons too important not to share.

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Biography

As an award-winning keynote speaker, business leadership coach, a seven-time New York Times bestselling author and longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated, Don Yaeger has fashioned a career as one of America’s most provocative thought leaders. As a speaker, he has worked with audiences as diverse as Fortune 500 companies and cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story.

He is primarily sought to discuss lessons on achieving greatness, learned from first-hand experiences with some of the greatest sports legends in the world. Additionally, Don has been retained by companies and organizations to coach their leaders, management teams and employees on building a culture of greatness by looking at Great Teams in sports and discerning the business lessons we can learn from them. Throughout his writing career, Don has developed a reputation as a world-class storyteller and has been invited as a guest to every major talk show-from Oprah to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America.

In the two decades since he accepted his first newspaper job in Texas, the breadth of his assignments has been astounding. He has traveled the world in pursuit of stories as diverse as:

  • Walking into Afghanistan with the Mujahadeen as they fought the Soviets
  • Going into Baghdad with the victorious Iraqi soccer team as the battle between insurgents and the US Military waged around them
  • Visiting China in pursuit of underworld characters counterfeiting American golf clubs
  • Heading to Damascus to find the last living terrorist from the 1972 Olympics
  • Living with football legend Walter Payton and his family as Payton was dying
  • Roaming around Europe and the Middle East interviewing Iraqi athletes tortured by Saddam Hussein’s son Uday, chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee
  • Traveling with candidates from both parties during Presidential campaign
  • Chronicling the high-profile Duke Lacross scandal

Yaeger began his career as a reporter for the San Antonio Light where he rose through the ranks to pen investigative features for the daily. He later moved on to the Dallas Morning News. Following his stint in Dallas, Yaeger worked as a political editor for the Florida Times-Union.

After four years, he decided to dedicate himself to the pursuit of writing books. Yaeger’s first book, Undue Process: The NCAA’s Injustice For All, was published in 1990. In the 22 years since, he has penned 23 more books, including seven New York Times bestsellers.

Movie rights to It's Not About the Truth: The Untold Story of the Duke Lacrosse Case and the Lives It Shattered and Turning of The Tide, a book about a 1970 football game between the last all-white team at the University of Alabama and the fully-integrated team from the University of Southern California, have recently been sold.

After several years of freelancing for Sports Illustrated, Don joined the magazine’s staff full-time in July 1996. Two years later he was promoted to Associate Editor, where his work was to cover not just sporting events but the off-the-field happenings which affect the world of sports. He took an early retirement from full-time work at SI in 2008 and continues to freelance for the magazine.

Yaeger and his co-author William Nack were finalists for a 2000 National Magazine Award in the public interest category for their cover story “Who’s Coaching Your Kid?: The frightening truth about child molestation in youth sports.” This important piece triggered follow-up reports by programs such as Dateline, 20/20 and The Oprah Winfrey Show. It also resulted in changes to the law in several states and several youth sports organizations, including Little League of America, changed rules to require background checks of coaches and volunteers.

Born and raised in Hawaii, Yaeger has traveled extensively. The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Japan and Great Britain can be counted among the countries in which he has resided. A 1984 graduate of Ball State University, Yaeger currently lives in Tallahassee, FL. He also owns a political consulting business and a public relations firm. He and his wife Jeanette have a son and a daughter.