Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Mike Tomlin. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For links to everything discussed, check it out here.
Mike Tomlin: 00:00 Work Harder, talk less, you know, that’s, that’s one of the, you know, that’s one of the trap doors in my job. Communication is a part of it. I value listening more than I do talking, but my job requires me to talk a lot. I get tired of hearing myself talk sometimes. I like to shut up and work sometimes.
Doug Smith: 00:20 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 197.
Doug Smith: 00:38 What’s up everyone, and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith, and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s episode, you’ll hear an interview that I got to do with Pittsburgh Steelers, head coach, Mike Tomlin. I had the honor of interviewing him at a Man Up Conference here in Pittsburgh, which is a conference put on by a local nonprofit called Urban Impact and they have a heart, and the whole point of the conference is to equip dads to do something about the fatherless epidemic we have in our country. And so they have a four dad process, which I love. It’s simply four dads. One is, Hey, be a great dad to your kids. Dad two is to be a great dad to those within your influence. Dad three is to intentionally be a great dad to the fatherless
Doug Smith: 01:18 in the inner city, which is what Urban Impact does and you can partner with them and dad four is to recruit other dads to do something about this epidemic, and I absolutely love it. I love the conference love Urban Impact, love everything that they’re about, and I encourage you to check them out. They’re actually starting to spread into other cities. They just hosted their first Man Up Charlotte Conference, and I really do hope that this is a conference that’ll get into every major city so that we can make a big impact on this fatherless epidemic we have in our country. But again, it was a great honor to interview Coach Tomlin. We spent the first half of the interview talking about how to be a great dad, how to be a, how to invest in the next generation, and he shares a little bit about the men who influenced him. And then the second half of the interview you’ll hear some fun questions when it comes to leadership. We talk about what he would tell himself if he could go back and have coffee with himself when he got the news that he became coach of the Steelers and so much more. So I hope you enjoy the interview, but more importantly, I hope you connect with Urban Impact and man up Pittsburgh and their whole Man Up Conference and let’s go make a dent in this epidemic. So enjoy the interview, and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements.
Doug Smith: 02:22 Thank you so much Coach for doing this interview and thank you for all the work you’re doing with Man Up and I just really am curious your life was impacted by three men more than that probably, but Fo Johnson, your stepdad and your grandfather. And I’m just curious, can you talk about the impact that those men made on you and why that made a difference?
Mike Tomlin: 02:38 I certainly will, you know, like a lot of young people, man, I came from a broken home. My parents separated when I was about 10 months old and the three men that you mentioned, very critical with many others in my growth and development as a young man, but those guys specifically because the time in which they came along, when my parents separated, and I moved along with my mother and my brother back into her parents’ home. And so my grandfather was the central male role model or figure in my life for the next several years. And then as I got older and started going to school and doing things that young people do, the boys and girls club became a central part of our life. The location, the activities that were done out of the boys’ club. On work at school and there were men like Poo Johnson were critical to my growth and development.
Mike Tomlin: 03:29 Poo ran the boys club. And he raised a generation, generations of young people just like myself, who I consider him very significant in their lives. And then my mother got remarried, and my stepfather came into my life. And, always want to highlight that because man, he loved me and my brother. And, and my mother and really came along at a great time for us and it was a surrogate dad for us and a lot of ways, so, you know, and it just goes to show the missed a lot of negativity that’s associated with broken homes that I was really blessed and, from a, from a variety of people in a variety of times, to provide a significant positive male role model in my life.
Doug Smith: 04:15 Can you talk to grandfathers are stepdads, and even Poo Johnson’s in the community listening. What advice would you tell them for people who just consistently pour into others and may or may not see a return?
Mike Tomlin: 04:25 It’s a couple of things. First, I want to thank them for what they do, whether or not the young man, thanks them or is even capable of understanding the impact of those interactions. I want those men to know that the work that they do is, is much needed and appreciated. I can’t say that always appreciated the mentorship I got along the way when it was occurring, but through the grace of God, man, time is afforded me the opportunity to see how significant those men were for me, so I encourage them to continue to do what they’re doing or regardless of whether or not they see the fruit of that, and I’ll also challenge them a lot of young people in our close proximity and the communities in which we live, and we’re around them every day in those moments, those moments of encouragement, those, natural interactions that we don’t think much about that are seemingly meaningless could be very impactful in terms of the growth and development of a young man.
Doug Smith: 05:23 Yeah. So you’re a dad now. So you have an opportunity to raise your own kids and I love the story she had last year about taking your daughter to Beauty and the Beast, and your son told you or daddin’ hard. What advice do you have to dads? I’m new, I have two daughters at home. How can we dad hard?
Mike Tomlin: 05:38 Man, I’m not afraid to look stupid, you know, my kids make fun of me. I go after it, you know, I want them to know that, you know, obviously they’re a significant priority in my life and what’s important to them or what’s going on with them is important to me or that anything, man, I just want to give of myself and my times. I definitely don’t have all the answers. I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing this conference, you know, I’m trying to be better. I’m learning and getting inspired by the men that I’m shoulder to shoulder with here today. So that I can better be the dad that I need to be.
Doug Smith: 06:21 You’ve been coaching now for I believe, over ten seasons. You can go back and have coffee with yourself when you got the news that you were going to be the head coach of the Steelers, what would you tell that Mike Tomlin?
Mike Tomlin: 06:30 Wow, I’d probably be more pointed about how to utilize the platform, you know, there are a lot of things to get involved with, you know, and this is an awesome platform for ministry, this job that I have and you’ve got to make tough decisions about what to involve yourself with. I think over time I’ve gotten very good clarity about how to utilize this platform to help people, to help young people. I see that with so much greater clarity now than I did in ‘07 and you can’t get that time back.
Doug Smith: 07:07 What I’m just out of curiosity, as far as your job’s concerned, where is the greatest investment of your time and energy as the head coach?
Mike Tomlin: 07:15 Boy, you know, I’m an environmental guy. I like to build an environment or culture where others can be great. They can realize their hopes and dreams. And so, my to-do list is a little different man. I try to be what the guys need to be. And that’s changing daily. I don’t know that I approach my job with a to-do list from an agenda standpoint. I just try to create an environment daily that’s conducive to success that allows the guys to maximize their potential and work harmoniously together toward a common goal.
Doug Smith: 07:48 Yeah. Just having a few fun questions. If you could put a quote on a billboard for everyone to read, what would it say?
Mike Tomlin: 07:55 Yeah. Work harder. Talk less. That’s one of the, you know, that’s one of the trap doors in my job. Communication is a part of it. I value listening more than I do talking, but my job requires me to talk a lot. I get tired of hearing myself talk sometimes. I like to shut up and work sometimes.
Doug Smith: 08:17 Is there anything on your bucket list left to do when you want to? What’s on there?
Mike Tomlin: 08:20 Oh my gosh, man. I hadn’t even scratched the surface in football or life. Man, I’m just excited about what God has in store for me, man. The challenges and opportunities that are presented daily and I realized that if I’m open to it, man, awesome things happen. So I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me next.
Doug Smith: That’s awesome. Anything else you want to leave leaders with today?
Mike Tomlin: You know, I appreciate what they do. I know oftentimes it’s a thankless position, but also challenged them. You know, leadership, there’s an awesome blessing, one that, that we should take very seriously, man, to utilize that blessing for, for our communities. Good. And that’s all I’m trying to do at challenge others to do the same.
Doug Smith: Thanks, Mike. Appreciate it.
Mike Tomlin: My man. Appreciate it.
Doug Smith: 09:09 Hey everyone. Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Coach Tomlin. I hope that you enjoyed it, but again, more importantly, the emphasis of this episode is to help you to get involved with doing something about the father of this epidemic. I encourage you to get involved with Urban Impact, whether you’re local or not. Maybe you’re listening to this in a city, and you’re saying, Hey, I would love to host a Man Up Conference in our city. Maybe you could do that one day. So again, I encourage you to Google Urban Impact Pittsburgh. Check them out, just google Man Up Conference, and you can find out more information about them. And I’ll include links to all of those in the show notes as well. So thank you so much for listening. I hope you have a great day and I will be back next episode.