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.

 

Add to my speaker list
Don Yaeger headshot
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
Great Teams: What High Performing Organizations Do Differently | Oracle Partner Network [48:57] - Get Sharable Link
Great Teams: What High Performing Organizations Do Differently | Oracle Partner Network [48:57]
(>)
Now
Playing
Don Yaeger on John Wooden
(>)
Now
Playing
Explore Don Yaeger's Talks
Expand all >

What Makes the Great Ones Great

What Makes the Great Ones Great – As a sports writer and author of more than two dozen books, Don has had a front row seat with some of the greatest winners in athletics, including Walter Payton, Jimmy Connors, Michael Jordan, John Wooden, Pat Riley and Dale Brown. They are all legends in their own ...

What Makes the Great Ones Great – As a sports writer and author of more than two dozen books, Don has had a front row seat with some of the greatest winners in athletics, including Walter Payton, Jimmy Connors, Michael Jordan, John Wooden, Pat Riley and Dale Brown. They are all legends in their own right, but does anyone believe the athletes mentioned above are really the GREATEST athletes of their time, physically? Remember, Jordan wasn’t even the first pick in the draft. Payton had to go to a small black college because bigger schools didn’t want to risk a scholarship on him. Each became a champion through strength and skills that had nothing to do with physical prowess.

Using rich personal accounts gathered from more than twenty-five years of interviews with many of today’s sports legends and business leaders, Don has distilled Sixteen Consistent Characteristics of Greatness. Don shares some of these characteristics with audiences, in an easy, engaging style, which helps participants realize that they, too, can achieve a higher level of personal success.

The Great Teams Understand "The Why"

They are connected to a Greater purpose.  Learn how to constantly remind your players and employees of who they are in service of while being acutely aware of downstream beneficiaries. The more a company creates “mission moments” for employees and team members to understand that Greater purpose, the ...

They are connected to a Greater purpose.  Learn how to constantly remind your players and employees of who they are in service of while being acutely aware of downstream beneficiaries. The more a company creates “mission moments” for employees and team members to understand that Greater purpose, the better off the team will be when it comes to enduring any challenges along the way to achieving its goal. In this captivating session, Don Yaeger shares his findings from interviews with Olympic Gold Medal winners like USA Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, and USA Basketball CEO Jerry Colangelo, as well as 4-Time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, brilliant thought-leader Simon Synek and longtime Medtronic CEO Bill George.   

What Makes a Great Teammate

Every winning team has an MVP... And every MVP has teammates.  The Great Teammates immerse themselves into the fabric of high-performing organizations. They accept and commit to whatever role is needed to ignite momentum and yield winning results!  Through remarkable insight from the GREATEST Teamma ...

Every winning team has an MVP... And every MVP has teammates.  The Great Teammates immerse themselves into the fabric of high-performing organizations. They accept and commit to whatever role is needed to ignite momentum and yield winning results!  Through remarkable insight from the GREATEST Teammates of our time, Don teaches you how to be invaluable without being most valuable. This universal lesson is one that is applicable to anyone in an organization from those at entry level positions to top level management. Fly the ‘W’ with Don as he breaks down business-applicable lessons that can be learned from former Cubs catcher David Ross and a World Series for the Ages, and many more.

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.

Learn more about Don Yaeger
Follow   Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  YouTube 
Books by Don Yaeger
(+)
Tweets by Don Yaeger
(+)
Biography

As an award-winning keynote speaker, business leadership coach, eleven-time New York Times best-selling 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.  He is also often retained by companies and organizations to coach their leaders, management teams, and employees on building a culture of greatness by studying great teams in sports and discerning the business lessons we can learn from them.

Additionally, as an Executive Coach, Yaeger has worked with a range of leaders from the president of the largest bank in the Caribbean to CEOs of financial services companies to technology executives. His coaching model is based on years of experience and study with those who have inspired championship-level teams.

Throughout his writing career, Don has developed a reputation as a world-class storyteller and has been invited as a guest to almost every major talk show – from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America.

 Few journalists can lay claim to as exciting and colorful a career as Don Yaeger.

In the three 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:

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 time 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 nearly 30 years since, he has penned 26 more books, including eleven New York Times best-sellers, including:

May 28, 2017

  • Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle that Shaped America’s Destiny (with Brian Kilmeade)
    October 24, 2017

Yaeger also wrote A Game Plan For Life, with legendary coach John Wooden.  It was published on Coach’s 99th birthday in October 2009.

Movie rights to four of Yaeger’s books have been sold, with two slated for nationwide release in 2018.

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

Born and raised in Hawaii, Yaeger has traveled extensively and lived abroad in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Japan, and Great Britain.  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.