Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success book and his life teachings are now available in a 10-module course. The family of the former UCLA basketball coaching legend did their due diligence and decided to partner with SUCCESS Academy to make it so. The launch in November, 2016 of the digital learning course allows college hoops fans all over the world to learn from this adored and respected sports figure responsible for a record 10 NCAA men’s championships. For the first time in history because of technology, the public now has direct online access to his life lessons, spiritual-driven beliefs and lifetime of wisdom revealed through exclusive interviews and insights by an impressive list of “Champions” such as Bill Walton, Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas among others, along with seldom before-seen archival film provided by the family and UCLA. The Sports Techie community blog chatted with Greg Wooden (grandson of Coach Wooden) about his Grandpa and why their family decided to partner with Success as well as with former LSU Head Coach Dale Brown about Coach Wooden’s philosophies. This framework of success operate as a, “tool set to help you overcome adversity,” says Walton. The Pyramid of Success legacy the “Wizard of Westwood” known as “Coach” left behind has finally been transformed from paper to digitized format you can easily engage with over the web.
“A mistake is valuable if you do four things with it: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – John Wooden
TheWoodenEffect.Com – Coach: The Life and Legacy of John R. Wooden
“Make each day your masterpiece”
Coach Wooden was the very first person inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame twice, once as a player in 1960 then again as a coach in 1973. Wooden was named the ESPN “Coach of the 20th Century.” President George W. Bush awarded Coach the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Yet Coach did not care much about awards, fame and money because he truly valued teaching, growing and helping others succeed.
Greg said, “I grew up with the Pyramid of Success as a way of life.” His Father Jim is Coach Wooden’s son. As Greg found out, the friendship, confidence and enthusiasm blocks of the Pyramid help kids reach their personal best. In hindsight, Greg felt lucky to be around him and be taught how to master the fundamental skills of life. Course takers will learn as Greg did first-hand about his Grandpa’s road map for individual and team excellence. Greg feels the online course is the next best thing to being in living room with John.
Greg now runs the business known as John Wooden Legacy, LLC. When his Grandfather was going to pass away, the family began interviewing agencies with the mindset of wanting projects that would be approved by Wooden. The Wooden family has an expert that looked through for accuracy and authenticity. They signed on with IMG and gave Success owner, Stuart Johnson, permission to produce the digital course.
The price of the 10 week program, one hour a week course is $497. I asked Greg what his Grandfather would say about the online course and the price tag. Greg responded, “He would be happy.” Proceeds go to Success and the John Wooden Legacy.
A fond memory Greg shared with me involved the annual summer basketball camp at Cal Lutheran (nearby Whittier College where I graduated from) where the Pyramid was discussed by Coach for 45 minutes with campers. The lessons Wooden taught were the corner stones of the blocks. Greg recited how important it is to work hard at whatever you do, to be enthusiastic about it and to do things the right way.
Greg would often visit his Grandpa and wife Nellie at their small condo in Encino. They would go out to eat lunch and dinner at the local Fleming’s, Islands, Cocos, and Denny’s, because Coach preferred buying a $5 steak instead of a more expensive option at a higher end restaurant. Wooden had no cell, fax or computer, he preferred life without any tech.
Whenever he left the condo for home Greg said, “I wanted to be a better person by his example of how to live life. He stayed true to his values,” Greg emphasized Coach Wooden was not a preacher, he had a way to be make people better by teaching how to be a better person. Greg said, “With our divided country, the time is right for this message.”
I wanted to know if religion played a role in the Pyramid as Coach was a strong Christian. Greg responded, “Although he was a spiritual man, I never asked him about faith or religion.” Coach wanted his players to be true to faith. The Pyramid, according to Greg, was not about religious beliefs rather it was truly a framework for success. Greg feels a couple of his Grandfather’s best qualities were his abilities to not judge others and push religion on others. Coach would rather stick to teaching how to do the right things and lead a productive life.
I broached the topic of racism with both Greg and Dale and how Coach Wooden might respond because of the last Presidential election and the campaign run by Donald Trump. Greg said Coach very rarely made political statements rather he was so much more about love and bringing people together. John really never spoke about racial inequalities. Greg did not know how his Grandfather voted politically but felt he may have been a little bit conservative but it was a topic they never discussed together.
Included in Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success
- Instant Online Access to 10 In-Depth Learning Modules
- Direct Teaching and Insights From Over 40 of Today’s Most Successful Leaders, Influencers, and Champions
- Supplemental Worksheets and Exercises for Deeper Learning and Retention
- Surprises! Each Module Contains Surprise Footage From Coach Wooden’s Archives
- Plus, a Unique Bonus Package for Early Students of the Program
Dale Brown – The Master Motivator
I spoke to Dale Brown for a privileged hour. Coach Brown was the LSU Head Coach for 25 years. During his tenure, the school won 448 games and 4 SEC championships. Coach Brown led the Tigers to 13 NCAA tournaments and 2 Final Four appearances. He was awarded SEC Coach of the Year 4 times. Dale retired from coaching in 1972. He is a renowned public speaker having done so in 90 countries and all 50 states.
I have written hundreds of blogs, interviewing founders and CEO’s, sports and tech figures with advanced education, amazing experiences and an inner motivation which are instantly recognizable. These are all attributes Mr. Brown possesses in abundance. His quick wit, ability to carry on a conversation and respect for Coach Wooden was a treat to behold. We spoke about Wooden’s Pyramid, basketball history and current events. Dale quoted Wooden, President Abraham Lincoln, former slave Booker T. Washington, poet Edgar Guest, and scientist Albert Einstein.
I asked him if had taken the digital course which he had not however his response was appropriate. He said, “I could write the course.” What he meant by that is Coach Wooden was his mentor, friend and role model for 38 years, he cherished the “old man” and felt confident he knew what the course represents.
According to Wikipedia and an unknown source, Wooden said, “Dale did an outstanding job in raising the level of LSU basketball to the status of equality to anyone in the country. Also, if heads of states throughout this troubled world of ours had real concern and consideration for others as Dale Brown, I doubt if our racial, religious, and political problems would be a major issue.”
I began our interview by asking him why he got involved with the program, what lessons he learned from Coach Wooden, any Coach Wooden lessons that he taught his players, what can people gain from the course, etc.
I then asked Dale his perspective about different topics such as the ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ Wooden coined and how that related to the millennial generation having growing up with a phone in their pockets and what Coach Wooden might say about it in terms of relating it to the philosophies in his book.
His answer to my last question was profound as I have a 3-year old genZ son and earlier this year I coached a local high school lacrosse team that both provided me with valuable insights and helped me to form my own opinion to this modern generation issue. First, Dale believes in paying attention to detail. He was calm the entire interview but on this subject his emotional response was a bit unchecked when he said, “Kids are scattered, there is no talk at the dinner table.” Dale has a no-phones at the table rule in place for his 3 grand-kids during supper. He added, “Social media has done harm to ideas.” Dale is a stickler for ideas. He is self-admitted “old school” which he says is “better than new school.”
Dale still lives in Baton Rouge but grew up in North Dakota. He began his head coaching career at LSU in 1972. One of his early goals in life was to contact and learn from the best speakers, sports, political and business leaders. This is how he met Lawrence Welk, John Wooden and other influencers of the time. Dale flew out to California and spent four days with Coach Wooden learning about success. Dale was prepared to learn and take notes about what Wooden knew about a topic derived from each letter of the alphabet. For example, A was for Achievement, C was for Coaching, all the way through Z for Zone defenses.
Coach Brown said, “I understood instantly that John Wooden would be among my life’s most significant mentors.” Dale says, “The greatest lesson I learned from him was to love what you are doing every day and love people.”
He added, “John Wooden was truly an American treasure. He was kind, caring, highly intelligent, vibrant, strong-willed, principled, humble, and one of the most fascinating men of this or any generation.”
The last day Dale was with John in those early years he told me, “I went to his house and thanked him for being so gracious.” He was about to get in the car and leave when Coach said to him, “Well Dale, I’m really glad that you came out, and it’s been a delightful time. However, really it wouldn’t have been necessary for you to waste your time and money and all those pages of notes you took because if you do the following three things, you will be successful in major college basketball. If you don’t do the following three things, it will be most difficult.”
Dale added, “Now remember he didn’t say it would be impossible, typical of John Wooden, he said it would be most difficult.”
Wooden continued by saying, “Those three things are fairly simple: Number one, make certain, you always have better players than anybody you play. Now with that locked up, make sure you always get the better players to put the team above themselves, and number three, this is very important, don’t try to be some coaching genius, or give your players too much information, and always practice simplicity with constant repetition.”
Dale believed Wooden was himself a believer in what the first dictionary ever printed in 1806 described success as fortunate, happy, kind and prosperous. Dale updated me as to the modern definition of success in dictionaries of today as the attainment of wealth, fame and rank. It’s taken over a hundred years and the election of a President who personifies the modern definition of success to flip this word upside down and expose this ugly truth about American culture, something Coach Wooden would not be in favor of and neither is Dale or I.
Dale told John one day when it was just the two of them together that after 44 years of coaching he had clearly recognized his limitations, mistakes, and distance from the ideal. What was next was vintage John Wooden, he said, “Did you try to do your best and if you did then you are a success and that is the most important thing.”
Dale majored in kinesiology and earned a double degree in education. He knows muscles and the body. Yet he was constantly amazed as to Coach Wooden’s energy level and faculty of mind even towards his later years. Wooden told Dale the brain needs to be exercised, if not it turns to mush just like the body. The first thing Wooden would do everyday was play crossword puzzles and mindgames, daily tasks Dale believes kept his mind sharp even as his body began to fail him on his way to living 99 years.
When Wooden was 95 year old, he asked Dale to represent him at a roaring lamb from the bible award in Dallas and give his acceptance speech. Wooden’s daughter Nancy was in attendance as was Dale’s own daughter. Dale asked Nancy how her Dad was doing. She said, “Dale, he does not lay around the house and stays active.” She asked Dale to guess how many speeches her Dad did last year. Dale answered, “25 or 10.” “Nope,” replied Nancy, “Daddy last year did 100 speeches. He was also on the radio and granting interviews not just in L.A. but across the U.S., Canada and Mexico” Dale related this pace to Wooden’s energy combined with his spiritualism and willingness to help anyone.
Wooden told Dale he felt average on the X’s and O’s of coaching strategy however his greatest strengthens lied with getting young men to value the team above themselves as well as putting out the right team on the floor.
Coach Brown does not miss coaching after 44 years, he saw changes coming up such as AAU ball, one and done, and agents in particular. He loved recruiting. His top recruit at LSU happens to be Shaquille O’Neal.
Dale is so kind he shared with me via e-mail a copy of the thoughtful letter he wrote to Shaq during his first year in the NBA. He said Shaq told him the reason he signed with the Tigers was because Dale was the only coach that did not promise him a starting position as a freshman, rather he would have to earn it like every other player in the program.
Brown was a lifetime member of NAACP. He received death threats when he coached from a south that was reluctant to change. Dale feels the African-American population as a whole needs to value education more and not drop out of school. As an example, he cited the average level of schooling with black prisoners in Angola prison as third grade. He also believes too many births in black families occur with no father. Finally, Dale believes the issue of black on black crime is not talked about enough and should those tough discussions happen it would help solve many problems faced by inner city and rural blacks alike. Dale, like my Father, was a tireless civil rights worker for years.
Dale Brown said, “My dear friend John Wooden is truly an American treasure. He is indeed a legend in basketball but more importantly he was a legend in serving mankind as a master teacher.”
“A person can make mistakes, but they are not a failure until they blame others,” – Coach Wooden.
Pyramid of Success Influencers
The online course provides on and off the court lessons Wooden and 30 of Coach’s former student-athletes, his peers and the Wooden family, followed as a Framework of Success in hoops, business and raising families. Perhaps the greatest value Coach Wooden received from teaching was his ability to help make people grow. He measured his success as a coach by saying to others to ask him in 20 years how good his former players were as husbands, leaders and coaches.
Greg verified what Coach Brown told me about the list of Success Academy Champions in that Walton may be the most devoted person on the planet to Woodenisms with Dale probably second. Brown added, “Outside of Bill Walton, I believe I’ve heard more of his quotations and phrases than just about anyone, but I am constantly amazed by his memory and knowledge on a variety of subjects.”
Walton likes to share the notion that Coach Wooden’s teachings were more than just about basketball and how he used the sport as a vehicle to share his perspectives about life. “Everyone’s job in life is to search for, find and learn from a master teacher,” Walton says. “And that’s John Wooden.”
Greg mentioned how close Walton was to Coach Wooden. This was during the Wooden Vietnam War era and movement. Greg said the two often butted heads about things like cutting Bill’s red hair and beard, taking showers and even wearing underwear while Walton stood fast about not shaving and wanting to do things his own way. If he didn’t do the things Coach asked from him, Walton would not play because of the Wooden rules. In refection, their’s was like a Father and son relationship. As a father himself, Walton likes to say he finally he got it and the “old man” got through. Walton was fond of writing Woodenism quotes on his kids lunch sacks like, “be quick but don’t hurry.” Coach Wooden would not put up with his Walton’s demands because Bill needed it. Walton applied these lessons learned later in life. Greg said former players often stayed in touch and visited his Grandpa.
Bill Walton: Learn About Life From John Wooden, a Master Teacher
“This was a man who lived a life of virtue and built the most powerful college basketball dynasty ever,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says of Coach John Wooden.
Success Academy Champions
- Steve Kerr (Oakland, CA)
- Bob Meyers (Oakland, CA)
- Dick Vitale (FL)
- Beau Bridges (Topanga,CA)
- Dale Brown (LA)
- Pat Williams (Orlando)
- Jay Bilas (Charlotte, NC)
- Denny Crum (Louisville)
- Tubby Smith (Memphis, TN)
- Bill Walton (San Diego, CA)
- Joe Torre (NY)
- Jamal Wilkes (Santa Barbara, CA)
- Andy Hill (Los Angeles, CA)
- Bobby Bowden (Tallahassee, FL)
- Don Yeager (Tallahassee)
- Dale Brown (LA)
- Pat Williams (Orlando)
- Jim Calhoun (Storres, CT)
- Ann Meyers-Drysdale (UCLA)
- Sue Enquist (UCLA)
- Cori Close (UCLA)
- Valorie Kondos-Field (UCLA)
- Dick Enberg
- Greg Wooden (California) – Grandson
- Tyler Trapani (California) – Great Grandson
John led a life full marked by key characteristics and traits that helped him ultimately define a successful person via a list of 25 common behaviors. By the year 1948, Coach Wooden designed his triangular diagram as the foundation for “Pyramid of Success.”
The building blocks of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success
There is no substitute for work. Worthwhile results come from hard work and careful planning.
To yourself and to all those depending upon you. Keep your self-respect.
Be observing constantly. Stay open-minded. Be eager to learn and improve.
Cultivate the ability to make decisions and think alone. Do not be afraid of failure, but learn from it.
Brushes off upon those with whom you come in contact. You must truly enjoy what you are doing.
Practice self-discipline and keep emotions under control. Good judgment and common sense are essential.
Comes from mutual esteem, respect and devotion. Like marriage, it must not be taken for granted but requires joint effort.
With all levels of your co-workers. Listen if you want to be heard. Be interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.
Set a realistic goal. Concentrate on its achievement by resisting all temptations and being determined and persistent.
Respect without fear. May come from being prepared and keeping all things in proper perspective.
A knowledge of and the ability to properly and quickly execute the fundamentals. Be prepared and cover every little detail.
A genuine consideration for others. An eagerness to sacrifice personal interests of glory for the welfare of all.
Just being yourself. Being at ease in any situation. Never fighting yourself.
Mental-Moral-Physical. Rest, exercise and diet must be considered. Moderation must be practiced. Dissipation must be eliminated.
Be at your best when your best is needed. Enjoyment of a difficult challenge.
In 1948, John was hired to be the Head Coach of the UCLA Bruins college basketball program and school athletic director earning him a salary of $6,000 a year. By seasons end, his initial squad had won a Pacific Conference championship after years on the bottom. What followed over a 12 year period after winning their the first NCAA title in 1964 included 10 national championships, an 88 game winning streak, and 885 wins against 203 losses, all unmatched records. Coach retired in 1975 as six time national coach of the year.
Upon retirement, UCLA bought him a new Mercedes-Benz car. After driving it for 6 months, he took it into a local dealer and traded it in straight up for a 1978 Ford Taurus. Greg says he would tell people it was a good deal because there was not any additional cost to him involved in the trade in even though the value of the Mercedes was obviously more than the Ford.
The last time Coach Wooden was in Seattle was for the March Madness Final Four in 1995 when he sat next to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in the Kingdome as Ed O’Bannon led UCLA to their 11th Title. Greg shared with me that his Grandpa said all Gates talked about was going back to work (in Redmond at the Microsoft campus I grew up down the street from).
The current UCLA Head Coach is Steve Alford. His team is 10-0 and ranked second in the nation. They are led by freshman point guard Lonzo Ball. Greg says his Grandpa would have liked Bell because he makes others better.
Coach was born in 1910 and grew up in the farmlands of Indiana where he was raised old school with a knack for working hard, staying disciplined and playing basketball. After a successful high school playing career, he followed it up at Purdue University as a 3-time All American.
Sports Techie, I read this book once as a young teenager in the 1970’s when UCLA was my favorite team of any, even beyond Michigan State at the time (before Magic Johnson) because I wanted to play for the Bruins and help win NCAA championships enough though I had never visited California before. My brothers and I often played nerf basketball in the basement of our home or dunk hoops at our local elementary school and pretended we were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Walton and Jamal Wilkes.
I never met John in person but I have seen UCLA games at Pauley Pavilion. After speaking with Dale and Greg I felt touched by this dear man who lived his life from his early days in the Midwest to his later career in Southern California with a loving soul, a dedication to family and a focus on improvement through hard work and teamwork, not winning at all costs. John’s lessons influenced his players in the NBA, in business, and as husbands and fathers, throughout their trials and tribulations of life.
The heartfelt stories I listened to about Coach/Grandpa Wooden and his old school-driven ability be a consistent person and mentor throughout his entire 99-years on this planet reminded me of my Dad. Yet the one fact that impacted me more than any other was his age of 53 when he won his first NCAA Championship for the Bruins. I am 50 and like Coach, have not made earning piles of money my top life priority. His highest salary was $32,500 and Wooden never asked for a raise. I am a late bloomer like Coach and many others like us.
Dale told me Wooden assumed he was always a success and was never about the instant gratification syndrome. The patience UCLA administrators had with Wooden would not apply today with the win at all costs attitudes prevalent across sports and society.
Wooden tried to teach his team the notion that a court is 94 long by 54 feet wide and teams that played together and executed often were the winners even when they lost. Wooden kept his wisdom filled lessons about playing the game and life as simplified as could be.
He is best remembered for implementing a full-court pressing defense, developing leadership techniques and having a stellar reputation marked with excellence, virtue and ethics.
His Father gave Wooden The Seven Point Creed after graduating from elementary school.
- Be true to yourself.
- Make each day your masterpiece.
- Help others.
- Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
- Make friendship a fine art.
- Build a shelter against a rainy day.
- Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.
This led to the famous “Competitive Greatness” Woodenism – “Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”
Last month, a Success Magazine social media hashtag campaign on Twitter asked fans to respond to the following quote, “I am a Better … Because of #TheWoodenEffect.
I would answer, “I am a Better Father, Student of Life, Curator, and Grinder, Because of #TheWoodenEffect.”
How about you?
Make it a Pyramid of Success kind of day and enjoy the online course taught by one of the true legends of the game.
Thanks to the Wooden family and Dale for the opportunity to write this sport and tech story.
See y’all later in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world.
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