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Lessons from a Pro Football Front Office

Written by CultureCon Guest Blogger Mark Oristano

We’ve learned a lot during this crisis we’ve all been struggling through. One thing we’ve learned about business is that the minimum wage person who delivers you pizza is a great deal more important to you than the pizza chain CEO who does the TV commercials. I’ve met a lot of pizza deliverers. I’ve never met a pizza CEO.

This is going to be important going forward because when we all get back, employees are going to realize their worth more than before, and they’re going to expect better treatment as a result. So when anybody, especially managers, get back to the office, they’re going to have to figure out whose side they’re on.

They’re not on management side. And they’re also not on the employee side. What they better be on is the People side, because that’s where the payoff is. Call it servant leadership, conscious leadership, whatever you want, but the fact is many employees are going to come back to work with an increased sense of importance and demand for dignity. It isn’t just the doctors, nurses and other medical types who deserve applause.

And how do business leaders deal with the new sense of propriety? Well, if they’re smart, they’ll realize that the company is about its people, not the stock price. They’ll remember the truth of the saying that nobody does their best work in a climate of fear. They’ll realize that the success of the person lowest on the chart is also their success.

I worked for ten years in the front office of the original Dallas Cowboys football team, and that organization was years ahead of their time in finding, training, and retaining people. People at all levels of the company stayed for decades. Turnover was almost nil. And this is all due to the general manager, Tex Schramm, who knew how to handle people.

Tex had three rules for staffing any organization…

  • Hire the best people you can find

  • Train them your way

  • Get out of their way and let them do the job you hired them to do

All sounds so common sense, doesn’t it? Yet there are still countless companies working on the “My way or the highway” system, running people off and constantly struggling for some sort of normal.

Tex’s 3 rules are the way you deal with turnover. It’s a Zen thing, you don’t deal with turnover by dealing with turnover. When somebody has decided to go, it’s too late to change their minds.

But mostly, you keep in mind the simple, timeless, eternally true rule of business, life, and all else…

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Give it a try. Works miracles!


About the author:

Mark Oristano spent 30 years as a journalist/sportscaster in the National Football League, broadcasting games for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers, in addition to working in several different capacities in the Cowboys front office. He broadcast two Super Bowls, and covered some of the greatest games in NFL history. He was part of the legendary KVIL/Ron Chapman Morning Show for nearly a decade.

In addition to his speaking duties, Mark is a noted stage actor in Dallas-Fort Worth, mostly recently winning the Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Forum award for Best Actor in a Play for his work in Glengarry Glen Ross.


Mark is a 22-year volunteer at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, and devotes much time to organizations helping children’s causes.

Sundays in the fall, he’s in front of the TV.


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