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Joyfully Running with the Bulls (EP 12)

During this episode, we dive deep inside the business of sports and discuss innovative approaches to leadership through the lens of a top-tier professional sports coach. John Paul (JP), coach of the Atlas Lacrosse Club of the PLL and one of the top coaches in the game, is a transformation and startup specialist who shares his non-traditional road to coaching and how he has led the rise of the University of Michigan team to NCAA Division 1 status and is now is coaching Paul Rabil, the co-founder of the new Premier Lacrosse League and innovative professional league poised to transform the sport. John Paul discusses who he leaned on throughout his career and the perspective he gained from each of his mentors. He shares his advice for parents, players, business leaders, and fellow coaches alike and says the secret to all his success may just be keeping the team focused on one simple thing: joy.

About John Paul

John Paul is the current coach of the Atlas Lacrosse Club – one of six teams in the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). Prior to his time with the PLL, John Paul was the head lacrosse coach at the University of Michigan. During his time with the Wolverines, John Paul oversaw the program’s elevation from club to Division 1 status, helping build the program from the ground up. From 2002 to 2009, Paul was the President of the MCLA, helping secure venues and television contracts for the league. John Paul also has seven years of experience in development in the University of Michigan athletic department and then with the UM College of Literature, Science and the Arts. John Paul is an Ann Arbor, Michigan native and attended college at both Albion College and The University of Michigan.

 Show Highlights

Segment 1: Introduction & Background

1:45        How JP’s lacrosse career started. (Albion College. University of Michigan. Atlas Lacrosse Club. Premier Lacrosse League.)

6:05        JP’s time as a professional lacrosse player. (Detroit Turbos. National Lacrosse League (NLL). Paul Gait. Gary Gait. Robert ‘Bob’ DiGiovanni.)

7:34        How JP launched his coaching career.

8:42        How JP’s essence as a transformation and startup specialist  grew lacrosse at the collegiate level.

Segment 2: Brave Leadership & the “Top Three” from the past

10:52      JP’s “Top Three”: Robert ‘Bob’ DiGiovanni – passion for the sport and how it should be played.

12:00      JP’s “Top Three”: Ron Hebert – the practice of coaching.

14:44      Coopetition has played a large role in the sport of lacrosse.

15:57      Indirect Mentor- Coach Jack Clark, University of California Rugby – The expanded role of club coaches: Coach & CEO.

18:14      Some caution for aspiring coaches “it’s great…but you lose so much of what you love about coaching…”.

18:57      JP’s “Top Three”: Dave Brandon – how to approach the business side of sports.

20:05      Share with your mentors what an influence they were/are.

Segment 3: Brave Leadership & the “Top Three” from the present

22:26      Disrupting lacrosse and athletics: The launch of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) (Paul Rabil. Mike Rabil.)

25:15      Disrupting the business of lacrosse – “language used in this league is same as is used in the tech world”.

27:52      JP’s “Top Three”: Other PLL Coaches – coopetition to ensure the league survives.

29:15      JP’s “Top Three”: Paul Rabil – the art of balance (Kyle Hartzell. Tucker Durkin). (Twitter. LinkedIn.)

Part 4: Industry Disruption

38:52      The biggest disruption is the way that TV is covering us – it has never been done in lacrosse or sports in general before.

42:03      Is the dynamic of the individual athlete inside of teams a disruptive fabric? Yes.

Part 5: Transformation

45:07      Does JP have any regrets? “You can’t be deeply into a career and not look back and say I wish I would have done that differently, but…none of them keep me from sleeping at night. “

47:25      “Whatever happens, it is the opportunity that matters. That you have the opportunity, the chance to be in the fight to do that.“

48:21      “No matter what’s going on, find the joy in that.”

49:35      How to manage top talent: manage ego, manage chemistry, and manage disappointment

 51:38     How to get where you want to go? Focused on what is in front of you every day and keep moving forward.

53:09      Connect with your network not only at the pits of failure but the heights of success.

Part 6: Wrapping up via the Fire Round

54:58      Advice for the youth player: Don’t lose the joy of what you do or the comradery with your teammates.

55:47      Advice for parents: “Leave your kids alone”.

56:48      Advice for coaches and leaders alike: “Just listen”.

57:50      Stay in touch and tune into the PLL on NBC!

Additional Information

Contact John Paul:

Contact Gregg:

Contact CGS Advisors:


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