Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Mike Tomlin. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos.
Mike Tomlin: 00:00 So we want it to start to challenge and encourage fathers to be the best fathers, husbands, and fathers, Godly fathers. They can be not only for theirs but the ones that they come in contact with, the ones in their communities and to be bold and maybe search out opportunities, to provide those relationships for, for kids that are less fortunate.
Doug Smith: 00:21 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 224
Doug Smith: 00:38 Hey 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 my interview with Mike Tomlin, who’s the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And this was the third time I had the opportunity and privilege to interview coach. And he’s just incredible. And I interviewed him at the Mane Up Pittsburgh conference hosted here annually by Urban Impact. And if you’re unfamiliar with the conference, I encourage you to look it up. It’s a conference focused on helping men become better dads and not only to become better dads to their kids but to also challenge them to be intentional about being a father to the fatherless in their community. And so in this interview, you’ll hear Mike talk about his passion for reaching the father. This, you’ll hear them talk about what he’s learning about, being a dad himself.
Doug Smith: 01:20 And then we talk a little bit about leadership as well and you’re going to love that. But before we dive into the interview, I just want to mention a few things. First, I just want to thank Urban Impact for hosting this conference. This was the seventh year of the conference and I can tell you that it’s made a huge impact on my life and many of the men that I know have been transformed by this conference or thank you so much for hosting this. And if you’re listening to this and are familiar with Urban Impact, I encourage you to check them out. Just Google Urban Impact their nonprofit that are reaching urban kids in an incredible way here on the North Side of Pittsburgh. And I can’t speak enough that their, their ministry, they are unbelievable. So please check them out. There are lots of ways to get involved with their ministry
Doug Smith: 01:55 if you live here in Pittsburgh and I encourage you to do that. And also if you live here in Pittsburgh and you are looking to get involved, I encourage you to check up the Man Up conference. There’ll be another one next year. And I just really want to encourage you to get in the room and be challenged to be a better dad and to be a dad to the fathers. It’ll change your life. And also I just want to thank our media sponsors Sho Films. They produced this video and I can’t speak highly enough of how great of work they did. They did all of our work for our l three one day conference and they’re just incredible. So if you’re in need of a good videographer company, I encourage you to check out, Sho films and that’s Shofilms.com but she, so lose the w, that’s shofilms.com. So that’s all the people I want to thank. With that being said. Let’s dive right into the interview with coach and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements. Well, thank you coach so much for being willing to do this interview and we’re here at Man Up Pittsburgh for the seventh year, which is incredible here in Victory Family Church put on by Urban Impact and you’ve been partnering with this since the beginning and so I’m just curious, why are you, why are you still involved in, why are you so passionate about this conference?
Mike Tomlin: 02:55 It was born out of my desire to impact more kids, touch more kids. This is the time of year where I get a moment or two to kind of do some things. And I used to do a free football camp for kids at Brashear high school I wanted to bring a football and instructional environment to some kids that maybe were less fortunate and give them those camp opportunities that, that you see a, a lot of that costs a lot of money and so forth. And so I put together a team to kind of do those things. I partnered with really Urban Impact because I knew that they were working with some kids and Urban Impact what would come to my camp and busloads, these kids. And really just got to really admire what Pastor Ed and his group’s doing and in the lives of these kids. And I was thinking about ways that I could increase my interaction or, or impact on them.
Mike Tomlin: 03:47 And really it just born out of conversations with Pastor Glover about, you know, how we could do that and really how you do that, is not enough of us to go around to get to kids. So we wanted to start the challenge and encourage fathers to be the best fathers, husbands, and fathers, godly fathers that they could be not only for theirs but the ones that they come in contact with, the ones in their communities and to be bold and maybe search out opportunities, to provide those relationships for, for kids that are less fortunate. So, you know, in an effort to touch more kids, we came to the understanding that may be encouraging and touching people that have an opportunity to be impactful. The kids might be the venue or the way for us to go.
Speaker 4: 04:33 And thank you so much for using your platform for that. It’s been amazing to watch what God’s done in the past seven years,
Mike Tomlin: 04:38 Man, it’s awesome to be a part of it.
Doug Smith: 04:40 Yeah. One thing I love about you is just your humility and willingness to learn and get better. You know, every year you stay here, man. I just come here to be, learn how to be a better dad. So I’m just curious, over the last year you have teenagers, how have you grown as a dad over the past year?
Mike Tomlin: 04:55 You know, boys are, are, you know, we all have talents and blessings and you know, boys are easy for me. You know, it just is, my daughter is a challenge and she’s a great kid but just those interactions, being what she needs me to be, being firm and fatherly with her, I got a soft spot for her and she knows it. I grew up with a brother. I grew up, you know, I grew up in a large area around cousins. It was 21 of us. My mom has six brothers and six sisters. Okay. Out of 21 cousins, nieces and nephews and so forth. 18 males, three females. So, so I got the mail interaction down. My 13-year-old daughter is very challenging and I’m learning every day.
Doug Smith: 05:56 I know one reason you’re passionate about
Doug Smith: 05:58 the fatherlessness issue is because you were impacted by fatherlessness and you know, you’ve shared your story on here before where you were impacted by men like Poo, Johnson, your stepfather, your grandfather. I think, can you talk to just anyone who’s been impacted by fatherlessness? Cause I don’t think it just impacts you when you’re young. You know, I knew adults that are still dealing with the wounds of fatherlessness in their life. What advice would you tell to someone who has a fatherless wound in their life.
Mike Tomlin: To acknowledge it. You know, and, not only the challenges that it presented, in your upbringing. But also the challenges that it could present to you in parenting? I think I increasingly become aware of maybe some of the, some of the things that I lacked, in an effort to, to parent my kids.
Mike Tomlin: 06:46 And, and it creates obstacles and hurdles because, you know, I’m not modeling behavior, father-child behavior that I was able to experience. So it was, so it’s somewhat mystical. There’s somewhat abstract and that’s something to be overcome. It’s something to be acknowledged. And I think acknowledgment is the first step of, of minimizing the potential negative impact of it and to be, be conscious of the maybe challenges that it presents. I’m often in awe of the security that my kids display and I’m aware of the security that may be, I lacked in watching them, in terms of some of the decisions that were very grey for me are extremely black and white for them. They have strength that I didn’t have in terms of security and decision making and so I’m continually kind of learning. I think, and I think we all are. If we think critically about it, those of us that had fatherlessness in our life, is it something that we continually, are faced with and, and have to find ways to overcome or minimize.
Speaker 4: 08:00 Yeah. And I’m curious that man, that’s awesome to hear that your kids are secure and they’re clearly secured because they have great parents in their life. You’re also an intense guy yourself. You go hard and your coach of the Steelers, which is a huge responsibility. I’m just curious, how do you, what do you and your wife do intentionally to make sure that you don’t lose focus on your family while on such a huge responsibility in coaching the Steelers.
Mike Tomlin: 08:21 You know, it’s just simply what I do is not who I am and my wife’s the best that, that she is so unimpressed by my employment. You know what I mean? She always has been though man. That’s probably why she’s my wife. You know, she was the girl at college that was unimpressed by my athletic abilities, you know, she’s always been really good at keeping me grounded in things of that nature. It is one of her strengths and I got to give her the credit in terms of piloting in us in terms of maintaining a proper balance and focus in terms of what was really important in our lives.
Speaker 4: 09:07 Yeah. I want to transition a little bit into leadership and just as I asked you how you grew as a dad in the last year, you now have another year of leadership under your belt. And I’m just curious, what have you learned and how have you grown as a leader in the last year?
Mike Tomlin: 09:19 You know, it’s funny, I acknowledge that I’m in a process of continual growth, but in the way that I analyze the decisions that mirrored the decisions that I have to make. And the things that you can describe as leadership in terms of my job, to, to express that growth, to quantify it in a setting such as this, it’s just really not enough time. I’m getting better in a lot of ways. The use of technology, the proper use of technology, in my job. And I think we all are faced with those challenges, man. We were in a job for an extended period of time. How the job changes based on information, the speed in which you have information, the amount of information that you have, the amount of information and the speed of the information in the speed in which decisions need to be made on my job, but very different than they were 13 years ago when I got this opportunity. That’s just one of the many ways, that I’m hopefully getting better all the time. And I just wanted to pick one thing out to kind of put it in a snapshot analytics when, you know, it’s something that’s fast evolving in our business, but man, I got a bunch of irons in the fire and, and man, I’m trying to get better and all of them. And so I just, I thought that’d be a good example of kind of share one aspect.
Doug Smith: 10:44 Yeah. I love that. Thanks for sharing. I’m also, you talked about the speed, uh, I’ve noticed in leadership it seems that leadership comes with so much pressure and so much oftentimes painful seasons that are difficult to navigate. And I’m just curious, as a leader, how do you even process that with all the pressure from the public, to the team, to the performance? How do you deal with, with pain and pressure as a leader? And how have you learned to manage that better now than maybe you did?
Mike Tomlin: 11:06 You know, I, I really think, it’s clarity borne out of experience. To put it in layperson’s terms, I better come to the right answer, as quickly as I can, but the first part of that is I better come to the right answer. So you can’t let outside forces and pressures and so forth puts you on a clock. When you come to the wrong answer. I’ve got to have the right answer and I need to come to the right answer as quickly as possible. So speed is an essence of it, but, but speed is not the deciding factor. Doesn’t trump everything. First thing’s first. I better make good decisions. And then after I get in that mode of making the good and proper decisions, I better do so as quickly as I can. I always try to maintain that perspective. I can’t let outside forces, accelerate the process by which I come to decisions because if you come to the wrong decision, the speed in which you come to it as irrelevant.
Doug Smith: 12:04 And just as we start to wrap up, is there anything else you’d want to leave leaders with today, I always like to ask you that.
Mike Tomlin: 12:09 You know, one of one of my missions for 2019 and it’s probably, you know, I’m so passionate about sport because this is, is it’s always been a teach tool for me. It just is, I could relate my experiences in sport to life and learn and grow. One of the challenges that I see in sport these days is, you know, your word means less. And, I think those of us that are in the sporting world, those enough that where the moniker coach at any level, we have an opportunity to combat that with the young people that we work with. We combat that first and foremost by, you know, living out the things that we say and making sure that, that we’re true to our word and then we challenge and we challenged them and hold them accountable to be true to their word. My oldest son has gone through the recruiting process.
Mike Tomlin: 13:04 He was a senior, he just graduated from high school and he was recruited to play football in college and to kind of be a part of that process and to watch kids commit and then decommit to schools and opened their recruiting back up. And you know, it was just one of those things that really is kind of struck me like a lightning bolt. I told my son early in his process that if you make a commitment to a university, then your recruiting process is over. That’s where we’re going. It doesn’t matter how attractive the next pursuer is or you know, however they dress it up. Your word means something. So when you make a commitment to a university, that’s what it is. To watch how the word commitment is thrown around in today’s recruiting world where kids come in and decommit universities offer scholarships but then pull it back. And this shuffling is really saddening to be quite honest with you. And it’s kind of my mission based on my exposure to that in the last year to really talk about, being true to your word and particularly those of us in athletics. It’s a shame, but I’m watching athletics being a negative vehicle. And usually, athletics is such a positive vehicle for good moral decision making and things of that nature. That’s something that I’m advocating in 2019.
Doug Smith: 14:25 I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your impact on men and fathers and our city and I just appreciate you. Thank you.
Mike Tomlin: Thank you.
Doug Smith: Hey everyone. Thank you so much for listening to our interview with coach Tomlin. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did and if you want to find out ways to connect with urban impact and man up in what they’re doing, you can go to the show notes at L3leadership.org forward/224 and you’ll get everything that you need there few. As we wrap up, I want to thank our sponsors, Henne Jewelers, they’re jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through Henne Jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible organization. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people.
Doug Smith: 15:05 In fact, they give every engaged couple of book to help them prepare for their marriage and we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out Hennejewelers.com I also want to thank my friend and sponsor Alex Tulandin. He’s a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you were looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more about Alex and connect with him at Pittsboropropertyshowcase.com and lastly, if you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at l three leadership, you can sign up for our email list on our website L3leadership.org and you also get a free copy of my ebook Making the Most of Mentoring, which is my step by step process for building relationships with mentors and I’m making those relationships last and I know that will add value to you.
Doug Smith: 15:50 So make sure you get a copy of that. And as always, if you listen to this podcast, I encourage you to subscribe and leave a rating and review that helps us get the word out in spreads, spreads the, the reach of this podcast as well. So thank you so much for that. And as always, I like to end with a quote, and I will quote John Wooden, I just read a book of his called Wooden on Leadership, and it was incredible, but I love his definition of success. And he said this, he said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction. And knowing you made the effort to become the best of what you were capable.” I love that there’s not a better definition of success out there. Thank you so much for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.