IBEX 2013: Rick Pitino motivates with impassioned speech

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference organizers picked a winning keynote speaker in local legend Rick Pitino, the NCAA champion basketball coach of the Louisville Cardinals, who delivered a motivational speech to more than 450 attendees at this morning’s Industry Breakfast and awards presentation.

Pitino’s talk mirrored his forthcoming book (available in October), “One Day Contract,” stressing the need to bring your best each and every day, regardless of your occupation.

“If you have just one day to be renewed, as an athlete or a salesperson, what would you do?” Pitino asked the audience.

He then explained in detail his philosophy on life and what makes for a winning, successful person in life and business.

• Listen and respect: “Listen four times more than what you speak. The only way to know what people want is when you listen to them. Really listen to them.”

• Focus and live in the present: “You need laser-sharp focus on what you need to get things done. We can cherish the past and plan for the future, but use the present tense we live in to be extraordinary in everything you do.”

• Eliminate distractions: “It starts with smartphones and tablets and social media. Billions of hours are wasted to the trap of technology. That person on the phone is not as important as the people you’re with.”

• Avoid negativity and moodiness: “Negativity changes your mood and moodiness kills the fabric of every winner. Moody people kill a team. You should start each day in a good mood, not with the fellowship of the miserable,” he said, referring to sports talk radio, which he says he hasn’t listened to in nearly 30 years. “Be fired up and ready to go.”

• Embrace creativity, not success: “We all face challenges in life. When we face adverse conditions we have to be creative to find solutions with a positive attitude and passion. When adversity hits, you get stronger, you get better. And don’t embrace success. Get creative and try to make it better.”

• Build a winning team: “Surround yourself with people smarter than you, more passionate and energetic than you,” he said, noting that 27 of his assistant coaches went on to be head coaches, including six as NBA head coaches.

Pitino closed by encouraging those in attendance to embrace those values to create a brighter future for their businesses and the industry.

“Your industry knows all about adversity and all about success,” he said. “If you face adversity, what will get you through every time is your dedication and your passion.”

He discussed the importance of maintaining high self-esteem and fostering it in employees and colleagues; the need for “meaningful distractions” from the vocation to avoid burnout and inspire rejuvenation and passion; and how stress produces nothing but negative results while pressure causes people to thrive at tackling a challenge.

“Passion and pressure are your best friends,” he said.

Pitino, 61, added a light note, explaining that he has been looking into buying a 28- to 30-foot boat for the past three years.

“Please don’t email me,” he joked to the gallery before offering one more bit of motivation for the industry.

“You will come back. It may take a little longer, but you’ll be ready for it because of your passion.”

Pitino has been coaching the University of Louisville men’s basketball team since 2001. He guided the team to the NCAA Division I championship this year.

He also worked as the men’s basketball coach at Boston University, Providence College and the University of Kentucky. He served two stints in the NBA, coaching the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.

— Rich Armstrong

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