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Conference Connection


Deciphering the Champion’s Code WRITTEN BY RYAN GRAY | RYAN@STNONLINE.COM R


oss Bernstein is an example of turning a passion into a livelihood. A walk-on hockey player in college, he said it soon became evident that didn’t have a career waiting in the NHL. But as he’ll explain during his July 17 keynote


address at the STN EXPO in Reno, Nevada, he still carved out a niche for himself in the business of sports and the sport of business. “Focus on what you like,” he recently advised his teenage daugh- ter as she searches for colleges and potential majors. For Bernstein, what he’s always liked is learning about what makes the great ones great. He turned that drive into a career, writing nearly 50 books that tell the behind-the-scenes stories of professional champions in the sports world. His work has made him a credentialed member of the media in his home state of Min- nesota for the past two decades, providing him with direct access to athletes from dozens of different sports so he can ask them to share their wisdom. Trough his work with and writing about these famous athletes and coaches, he discovered that they personify many of the same traits and values of winning business organizations. He developed “Te Champion’s Code: Building Relationships Trough Life Lessons of Integrity and Accountability from the Sports World to


the Business World,” and shares the message with organizations all over the world, including student transporters this summer. He’s also been featured on ABC News, CBS News, CNN, ESPN, FOX News, HBO, NBC, NPR and dozens of other national and local media outlets. “A lot of my message is figuring out what you love to do, and the money will follow,” he told STN in March. “But I also talk about the DNA of champions, about winning with integrity.” And about the pitfalls of success. Bernstein pointed out there is a fine line between cheating and gamesmanship. “I challenge people to think about why someone would want to do business with (a cheater) or hire them or be led by them,” he explained. “I talk about the great companies, people with great teams and why they win, why they fail and how that translates into being a better leader and achieving more success.” Bernstein said he challenges audiences—which have included those at John Deere, Caterpillar, Wells Fargo, Mitsubishi Motors, Levi’s and Best Buy as well as local, state and national government agencies and associations—to use these lessons from the sports world to think differently about how they run their businesses, and their transportation departments, as well as how they treat their people.


A Who’s Who of the Sports World


STN EXPO keynote speaker Ross Bernstein has worked with some famous athletes, coaches and other sports professionals who know all too well the focus and hard work necessary to become great at what they do. The list of stars who have written forwards for his books is impressive enough: NHL Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe and Phil Esposito; NFL Hall of Famers Joe Theisman, Jerome Bettis and Mike Ditka; MLB Hall of Famer Paul Molitor; PGA golfer Phil Mickelson; sports commentator Bob Costas; and dozens more. But the nearest and dearest to his heart is a book he published in 2006 on the life of NHL Hall of Fame Coach Herb Brooks. Brooks is perhaps best known for coaching Team USA to an improbable gold medal at the 1980


Ross Bernstein


Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, the famous “Miracle on Ice.” Walt Disney Pictures utilized Bernstein as a consultant on the film “Miracle,” starring Kurt Russell as Brooks.


52 School Transportation News • MAY 2018


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