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Adam Bradley is an entrepreneur, intraprenuer, speaker & coach. Adam is one of the original founders of the Hardwood Hustle Podcast. The Hustle is a resource designed to educate, empower and encourage coaches in the basketball community and beyond.
In 2015 Adam launched the nationally recognized leadership program Lead ‘Em Up, that provides coaches an engaging & cutting edge curriculum they can use with their players and is now used in over 500 schools around the world.
Adam serves as a mentor to many youth programs & schools in the Baltimore/Washington market. In addition, Adam is the Director of one of the largest charitable golf tournaments in Maryland, the Bradley Open and is a regular speaker at his home church, Journey’s Crossing.
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Grab a pen and some paper so you can take some notes as you listen to this episode with Adam Bradley, host of the Hardwood Hustle & Founder of Lead ‘Em Up.
What We Discuss with Adam Bradley
- Starting out his career in sales rather than sports
- Getting his start in sports and podcasting with Ball Hogs, a DC area sports show back in 2008
- Building Ball Hogs into a 10 show network covering the major pro and college teams in DC
- Signing a deal with Ted Leonsis, owner of the Wizards and Capitals
- Why he describes himself as a builder and a creator
- Turning the deal with Leonsis into speaking opportunities to explain how he built his podcast network
- His Simply Fresh business, building websites and mobile apps
- How he met Alan Stein and started the Hardwood Hustle Podcast
- How the Hardwood Hustle led him to opportunities to work with schools on leadership
- Leaving the podcast network behind to focus on the Hardwood Hustle, speaking, & leadership so he could impact and pour into people
- The social media feedback and sponsors that let him and Alan know the Hardwood Hustle was taking off
- Getting recognized by strangers as the Hardwood Hustle grew
- Trying to figure out the next steps for the Hardwood Hustle in the early days from a business perspective
- Why they started and then ended their 110% Club subscription model for the Hardwood Hustle
- Working with the football team at Watkins Mill High School and figuring out week to week what he was going to teach and do when it came to leadership
- Realizing that his impact was dependent on building relationships with the players so there was mutual trust
- Why he always thinks big and how the idea for Lead ‘Em Up started to form in his mind
- Teaming up with Steve Shenbaum from Game On Nation
- Combining a digital curriculum with in-person training through regional coaches
- Trying to eliminate the “cool” mentality on a team
- Developing not just leadership, but also followership
- A great follower is a leader’s best friend
- A Green environment – trying to be money from a leadership and character perspective…helping kids to buy in
- His process for building trust, both for him and his regional Lead ‘Em Up Coaches
- Being humble and excited to work with teams, not stepping in like you have all the answers
- Some inspirational stories from his experiences at Lead ‘Em Up
- You’re not having to get the buy-in because this is where they want to be
- The benefit from a coaching perspective is, it increases performance. It raises your team’s ceiling
- Why coaches may not understand what their environment and culture could become if they invested more time into it
- Why he believes leadership often gets bumped from the schedule when time gets tight
- Don’t confuse good kids with good leaders
- Bringing on TJ Rosene from PGC Basketball as a co-host when Alan left the show
- How it had almost been Adam Harrington before he got hired by the Brooklyn Nets
- Creating a Lead ‘Em Up Curriculum for Teachers next
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THANKS, ADAM BRADLEY
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TRANSCRIPT FOR ADAM BRADLEY – FOUNDER OF LEAD ‘EM UP & HOST OF THE HARDWOOD HUSTLE – EPISODE 393
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host, Jason Sunkle . And tonight we are pleased to welcome from the Hardwood Hustle and from Lead ‘Em Up. Adam Bradley, Adam, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod
Adam Bradley: [00:00:13] Mike and Jason. Appreciate it. Appreciate the invitation looking forward to it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:18] Absolutely. We are very excited to have you on get a chance to talk to you about all the things that you’ve been able to do in the basketball world and the podcasting world and the entrepreneurial world, the leadership world. You’ve had a hand in a lot of different things. So let’s start out by kind of giving people your background as a sports person.
Tell us a little bit about your upbringing in the world of sports.
Adam Bradley: [00:00:41] Yeah. You know, I think I’m like most people where my passion and love for sports was better than my talent. You know what I mean?
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:49] I do. I do.
Adam Bradley: [00:00:52] I’m not saying personally
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:55] I mean, I know what you mean though. Hey, I thought I was going to make it to the NBA.
So my talent came up a little bit short.
[00:01:00] Adam Bradley: [00:01:00] I always loved sports. Love, competition, love just as a fan watching sports. My athletic career was very, moderate high school, enjoyed all that and, and didn’t really do too much, but I always wanted and dreamed about staying connected to sports.
I always just felt like that could be a cool way to operate, a cool way to live, just being around teams, being around competition is so beautiful. What sports allows you to. Just kind of be a part of it always wanted to be a part of it. So I always had that passion. It just didn’t play out for me from a playing perspective.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:38] So what did that look like for you when you started thinking about, okay. It’s time for me to get out into the real world, my athletic career, as a player, other than maybe playing in some men’s leagues is over, what is it that I want to do? Just, what was your thought process in terms of where you thought you might end up as a career.
Adam Bradley: [00:01:57] Yeah. I mean, I think like most people that are [00:02:00] sports fans, they have this vision of this being part of sports, but the reality is the opportunities are, are limited. Right? A lot of times the pay, the compensation, isn’t always great because you have so many people willing to do it for free or willing to do it at very little in return just to be around it.
So I don’t quite know what I expected and I didn’t know and I remember back in 2005. I remember going up to, I live in right outside of DC and on the Maryland side, I remember traveling up to New York City to Madison square garden for the sports and entertainment job fair.
And it was me and one other, we drove up and we just wanted to like, see what opportunity existed out there. And we were early twenties. We went up there. And there wasn’t much. I mean, there wasn’t much out there and
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:53] GM of the New York Knicks?
Adam Bradley: [00:02:55] I mean, I would have taken a job even they didn’t have anything, [00:03:00] but everything was very entry level.
It was very minimal pay, if anything. it’s just, I think the thought of being in sports sometimes is better than the reality from a working perspective. So at that time, I pursued it, just trying to live this dream that I didn’t even have clarity on. Okay. And ended up not pursuing it, ended up just jumping into sales and, and ended up going the sales route.
But then in 2008, I was able to kind of jump into a sports, perspective actually in the podcasting space, ironically enough, 2008, which, You’re talking 12 years ago at this point, podcasting was really, really new. In fact, it had to be introduced to people. Okay. Just what the concept, what it even was.
And 2008, but a buddy of mine who was very innovative, very cutting edge. He had this podcast studio full of [00:04:00] cameras and audios and mikes and mixing boards. And that may seem common to today’s world, but in 2008, It was like, Holy smokes, what is this? And he invited me on, I had this charity golf event that I’d hosted for many years and it had turned into this big thing and he wanted to do this interview and he invited me over and he had this little show with his buddies and they were just doing this nightly show.
And I came over and saw his set up and said, dude, this is amazing. This is incredible. Ended up pitching him maybe right then and there and said, Hey, I’m a diehard Washington football team. I’ll use that term now, right? I’m a diehard Washington football team fan. I’m a diehard local DC sports fan. Can we, can I host a sports show?
You produce it, you manage all this technology I see in front of me, let me be the personality. Let me lead it. Let me bring the people, let me promote it. I’ll build it. And together we’ll [00:05:00] do it. And we launched. We called ourselves the Ball Hogs and long story short Mike, over the last, over the first 2008.
And it was in 2012. We built this, went from this one single show called the Ball Hogs. It was four of us recording on Tuesday nights for it. Three two or three years later, we ended up having 10 shows on the network. We covered every one of the major pro teams in the Baltimore Washington market, Ravens, Orioles, Wizards, Capitals, Nationals, Maryland, the whole gamut there.
We had a full network. We had our own studio, but a thousand square feet. that we recorded each night of the week, that all the shows could go to and, and do their show on different nights of the week. We had corporate sponsors and we even signed a deal with Ted Leonsis. Who owns the Washington wizards ann the Washington capitals who had his own online network at the time called the Monumental network.
And in 2012, [00:06:00] signed a deal with him and took our independent sites and migrated them onto his platform. And we were doing it, Mike, we were doing it. And at this point we were credentialed with every team. We were covering the teams as media. And making money. We all had still full-time jobs, but we were doing it from a side hustle perspective.
And that is what allowed me to get into sports. pretty cool how it played out.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:27] Absolutely. So before your friend brought you to the podcast studio, had you had any awareness at all of podcasts?
Adam Bradley: [00:06:34] I don’t think I had, I really don’t think in 2008, I think I may have heard the concept once or twice or the term.
But I don’t recall ever having listened to one. No.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:47] Did you have a plan for ever turning it into a quote unquote real job or making some money or was it initially just, Hey man, this is really cool to be able to sit in his studio and talk sports all night with my [00:07:00] friends.
Adam Bradley: [00:07:01] I never thought that far ahead.
Right. I’m very focused on the here and the now and just trying to I try not to like plan out too far in advance, so I don’t think I thought that far. I think at first it was like, let’s just have some fun, but I’m a builder and creator and that’s just part of me.
So I knew I was gonna build it. I didn’t know what I was gonna build it into, but I knew I was going to build, I knew I was going to hustle. I knew I was going to grow. I was going to network. I was going to. Not be content with just doing it for the sake of doing it. You know, I’m someone, if I’m going to do it, I’m like, let’s do it big.
Right. So I knew we were going to build it. I just didn’t know what it would build into. So I wasn’t quite sure.
Mike Klinzing: [00:07:39] Gotcha. When you sat down, were you the guy that went in and sat and talked with Ted Leonsis, or how did that process come to pass? Did he reach out to you? Did you reach out to him? Just explain to me how you got connected to him and how that eventually went down?
Adam Bradley: [00:07:54] Yeah, that’s a great question. So they were launching an online network and I remember seeing a press release. [00:08:00] or like some PRPs coming out, talking about, they were building this online network that was going to be where the Wizards and the Capitals, platforms lived. And they wanted to have collaborations with different sites and host them on the side and really create this DC sports kinda home.
Right. so I I’d read all that. And as I was reading it, it just clicked. I said, He needs us, right? We’ve already got this. We’ve got 10 sites covering it. And we are fan created, right? Fan hosted fan created. We could be the fan voice, right? on his platform, we had great traffic. We had great branding here in the Baltimore Washington market.
So I ended up getting a friend too, who worked there at the time to make the introduction, planted the seed for me, was able to. Gave me permission to email it over. I ended up emailing over a really, kind of like a 10 slide deck of sorts of just who we were and what we did to [00:09:00] see if they had interest in talking, they emailed back and said they did.
And then we got on a call. We kind of told them our story of what we were all about. And then just naturally just kept talking. Right? And then we ended up signing the deal. It was a three-year deal and ended up migrating all of our platforms. And it was a big thing. And for me although it didn’t change anything we were doing on the day to day, perception-wise it changed everything.
Right. And isn’t that crazy? How the world works? Sometimes Mike it’s almost like a fickle nature. It’s like, I’m not doing anything different today than I was a month ago, but now that Ted Leonsis or this major network has endorsed us and partner, now, all of a sudden people are like, wow, they’re for real.
And then that actually kinda, launched of sorts, my kind of entry into working with schools. Because after we signed that deal, I started getting [00:10:00] asked to speak at different colleges and high schools about our story. They would, they began to be intrigued with this man. Y’all started this little show.
You created this network, you’ve got your studio, you signed a deal. Tell us about it. Right. And then I started getting asked to go around speaking and, and that eventually I didn’t connect the dots initially, but it ended up. Being what launched Lead ‘Em Up down the road. That was, that came later though, but it helped the momentum there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:29] So were those speaking gigs, people reaching out to you to talk about it from the entrepreneurship angle?
Adam Bradley: [00:10:34] Exactly. Yeah. Just success habits building from an entrepreneurial perspective. That’s exactly what I do.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:42] Which one of those shows do you, which one of the other shows did you like the most when you had it from thinking back to those original whatever set of 10 that you created?
Adam Bradley: [00:10:50] Well, so I, I hosted two of them. So hogs, which was really the Washington football team, primarily with some other [00:11:00] sports and then also hosted the Wizards. So I w I’ve always been a big basketball fan. That’s always been the sport that I’ve really enjoyed. So I probably, I mean, there’s nothing that’s going to top the ball hogs just because we had so many opportunities that were so cool.
Experience-wise broadcasting live draft parties at the stadium and stuff like that. You know, it’s hard to kind of top that. but I I’d say the Wizards one was the first one that we got credentialed with. Obviously, once we became connected with Leonsis and monumental our access to the team elevated significantly.
We had full access. We had, so we had greater access with the Wizards than we did with any of the other teams. So I think from that perspective, that made it really cool that we could just go and be at practice and be at games and just walk around and get to know, I mean, just be there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:11:52] Right, right, right, right.
And that point you’re still, are you still working your full-time sales job
Adam Bradley: [00:11:57] still working a full-time sales job at that point [00:12:00] yet? Gotcha.
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:01] All right. So at the end of that three-year contract, what happens?
Adam Bradley: [00:12:03] Wow. Towards the end of that contract? I end up getting connected with Alan. So for those that don’t know, Alan Stein, my original co-host on the Hardwood Hustle.
I’d say with about a year left into the contractor, some point maybe midway through my mind, your mental contract. I also had a third business called Simply Fresh, where myself and my partner on the podcast network, the tech guy. All right. He’s a genius. He can build websites and mobile apps and that’s what allowed us to have 10 websites.
And while I built kind of the marketing and did all of that on the front of, he was kind of that brains behind the scenes of the podcast network. So he and I launched a company called simply fresh because people were coming to us during all of this, just impressed with our branding and press with our web platform and press with what we had built.
And we were building a nice audience that [00:13:00] we were like, wow, we could actually promote this and make some money building websites and apps, and I’ll manage the front end. You do the building, I’ll do the sales. And we started launching that. So at that point, I have three things going on. I had my sales, I had the podcast network and then we had simply fresh, well, Alan Stein.
Who most know in the basketball community, he reached out at one point, and asked if we would build some websites and an app for him, and he had known us because, he was on the ball hogs. We had him on as a guest a year or two prior on the ball hog show, just because he was a local individual who was growing.
And, we did a profile and spotlight on him and he and I developed a friendship during that. So he reached out and we built this website and he said, I need two sites built. This was back when he had Stronger Team, right. He needed a Stronger Team and he needed stronger team nation. His nation was when he was going to get trainers kind of under him.
And he also wanted a mobile app [00:14:00] built. So we started working together and building it. And this was probably in 2012 or 2013, maybe. And I had him meet me at the studio one day and I started pitching him on this idea of a podcast. Cause I’m looking I’m kind of like consulting with them and looking at his business, looking at all that he does looking at his audience size.
I was kind of looking at the landscape of where podcasts were so that he had this successful YouTube channel. And I’m like, Alan, do you know about podcasts? And he didn’t really like, I mean, he knew a little bit about it, but not like he didn’t really know about it. Okay. And I’m like, Allen, doing, man, you’ve got this audience, you’ve got this platform, I’ve got this studio.
Now we should do a show together. And I said I’ve been covering the wizards. I’ve been doing all this public speaking with schools from like a leadership entrepreneurial perspective. I could be the fan. I could be the media guy could [00:15:00] be the leadership guy while you’re the coach.
Once we have this nice balance of a yin and yang, we should do it. And he loved the idea. And then especially when it came to the studio and he saw all that we did, he was like, man, this is sweet. Let’s do it. So we ended up launching the Hardwood Hustle. So that was with about a year left in my monumental contract that we launched the Hardwood Hustle.
And I’ll be honest with you. It absolutely took off. It absolutely took off. And you know, Alan’s a hustler, I’m a hustler. We had a great product. As we joked about before we started recording, we were kind of the first platform that could really help coaches like this, that can really provide inspiration and guidance and just developmental resource for them.
So it just took off, we had great sponsors and while that was growing, I started realizing like, wow, I’m really passionate about not sports talk anymore. I’m more passionate [00:16:00] about like impacting people. And so then I ended up just starting to have a real heart shift. And some more like impacting people through this platform.
At the same time I was doing more speaking and lead them up with starting to get going a little bit. I got asked by one school, that I spoke at. If I would be willing to be their leadership coach, we had no direction and guidance Mike of what that would look like, but he just, the head coach said, or the coaching staff said.
We just want you around every week. I’ll give you the kids one hour every week. I feel like you could impact them. They listen to that you have a way to connect with them. Is there a way you could do it. And so I ended up doing it and that’s where that first team was. It was at a school, a Watkins Mill high school, actually where Alan and I went, it was with their varsity football program.
And every Tuesday from five to six, I was given all 50 kids to spend an hour to pour into them and really just. [00:17:00] Loved every minute of it spent so much time around the team that year to do everything I can to pour into them and impact them and build them and grow them. And I realized I had to have relationships in order to do that.
And they had to really trust me. So it really became like I was all in. So between that starting to build and between the Hardwood Hustle taking off and the heart shifts. I ended up going back to my network guys and saying I wanted to sell my piece out. I wasn’t interested in renewing it.
I wanted to do everything I can to set them up for success because some of those guys still wanted to do it. So I ended up kind of helping them continue it. And then I ended up getting out and then focusing on, Lead ‘Em Up and Hardwood Hustle.
Mike Klinzing: [00:17:51] Yeah. So are those, are those guys still there’s anybody that was involved in that original group, still doing what you guys started?
Adam Bradley: [00:17:59] Not [00:18:00] as a full network. So I’d say there are three of the platforms out of the 10 that are still active and live. I believe the Baltimore Ravens one is I believe the Washington Wizards one is, and I believe the Baltimore Orioles sites still is. but they’re independent now. They didn’t renew. I communicated suddenly announces that I wasn’t going to renew, the agreement there.
Mike Klinzing: [00:18:26] Gotcha. All right. So when you and Alan get hooked up and you start the Hardwood Hustle, and you said it blows up. Tell me what that looks like in terms of how quickly did you guys know? Oh, man, this thing is going to take off. Was it two episodes in, was it five episodes in, and then what does blowing up look like in terms of how did you know where you’re getting feedback?
Was it the numbers that you were seeing? Just describe what that process looked like?
Adam Bradley: [00:18:55] Yeah. so there’s a lot, right there, there was a lot of things that were pointing to the [00:19:00] direction that it was blowing up, you know? Obviously social feedback. That’s one, right? You certainly can get a true read of how you’re doing based on the engagement of social.
Right. You put an episode out, does it go kind of along with crickets in return or is there like tremendous feedback? Right. And we were just getting great feedback. So that was certainly encouraging. We actually lined up for sponsors before we started recording. Which was a really unique thing because of the fact that we didn’t really have a platform to sell on.
Right. We couldn’t say we’ve been doing this for a month. Look at all we have. Right. But we found four sponsors. We’d line them up. We painted the vision and they were all on board with us. And one of the things that really helped us was that each of the four, because we were so new, it essentially became their podcast also.
Which was a huge value add. So they each, all four of them promoted it as if it [00:20:00] was theirs. In addition, we strategically coordinated the sponsorships in ways that it was organic and integrated. So they actually had pieces on our show where they added content. So they actually had a piece of it and they felt like they had a piece of it.
They weren’t just doing, we weren’t just doing a commercial read. They were reading and submitting reads to us and. You know, for example, better basketball at the end did a full-time out where they did two minutes of whatever they wanted and they actually submitted it. PgC basketball, did our halftime inspiration and they could pour in and they submitted that content, Team Snap did training tips.
We had all this content, so we jump in, right. And we’ve got four sponsors. So we already feel good about that. Okay. Absolutely too. They are promoting it as if it’s their own. You’ve got Alan and I promoting it and Alan at this time had a much bigger audience. So he [00:21:00] promoted. Obviously that’s driving a lot of it.
We’re getting the feedback and then just naturally my mindset Alan’s mindset is just like, Let’s go right? How can we build, how can we do it better? How can we keep growing? All of a sudden we go down to Carolina, we spend the day with Jay Bilas, at his house, and record some episodes down there.
Right. We go to ESPN and record with Jay Williams up at these at Bristol. We go to Dallas and spend a day with Mark Cuban. And it was just constantly like, who can we get next? What should we go to next? How should we do it all, man, we got Mark Cuban. We got a hype. It let’s, what do we want to do from a marketing to really hype this up and build energy and.
All of a sudden, we’re just realizing like, wow man, this, this is really going. This is really, really happening. And our audience is getting bigger and and then we’d be at places where, we’d be at the NABC at the final four. We’d be at a coaching clinic and. And coaches would just be coming up to us saying, Hey man, I love [00:22:00] the hustle, man.
I listened to it every day. And you know, just like you said, like, we’d have parents say like, Oh man, I have my kid listen to it. We listened to it together. We’d have coaches say, Hey, I’m listening to it in the car with my athletes on the way home from practice, rather than just sitting there fairly silent.
We listened to them the hustle. And I think at that point, you just, you begin to see, you’re like, wow, we’re on to something, right. This is really, really special. And, and it just kept fueling us to keep growing.
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:26] Was it ever strange? I think one of the things that I found, especially the first time I met Alan in person, after having listened to so many of your guys’s episodes and again, doing it, as I said before, the podcast, like my son and I used to listen to it on the way to a few games.
And so we kind of felt like we got to know you and Alan. And then when I got a chance to actually meet Alan in person, He obviously didn’t know me other than a couple of phone conversations and some email exchanges, but I felt like, because I had listened to so many episodes, I knew about him and I knew about his kids and I kind of [00:23:00] knew about his life and I felt like I knew him.
And that’s kind of a weird sensation. I think it’s one of those strengths of podcasting is that it’s a really. Intimate medium for being able to interact with people. Because if somebody is a regular listener of your podcast, especially when clearly you’re most of the time you’re sticking your on topic and you’re talking about whatever it is or you’re interviewing guests, but there are certainly times where you’re talking about your own life or things that are going on, and then people feel like they get to know you.
And I know that was a strange sensation for me when I first met Alan, because I felt like. I know him, but he doesn’t really know me from anybody else. So did you ever experience anything like that on, on your end of it when people would come up to you and be like, Hey Adam, like they were your long lost they were your long lost friend.
Adam Bradley: [00:23:45] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, thankfully it happened quite frequently, which was pretty awesome. Right. And humbling. And I think those few times that it happens, I think that just feeds to what we were talking about. Just recognizing we’re onto something, [00:24:00] you know, and. I mean, obviously, Alan, we got a lot more attention than I did.
Right. I was fairly new into the basketball space into the coaching space, whereas he he’d kind of been going. So he certainly was a lot more, receiving of the attention, which was fine. totally good. But yeah, I mean, that definitely happened and it definitely takes you back a little bit. I think in those moments when it happens, my mind just goes.
To the other side of like, trying to make sure the other person feels comfortable for sure. Right. Because it can get a little awkward cause they they’re like, Oh, Hey yeah. Hey, congrats on the birth of your daughter. You know? And I’m like, I can see where it can get awkward. Right. and I just try not to make them feel bad and be like, man, just, Hey, thank you so much.
You know, Hey, tell me about you. Right. And like just quickly just go back to them. So that would be my approach at the time
Mike Klinzing: [00:24:50] When you guys started, did you have. An end goal in mind, in terms of what you thought you wanted to do with the platform. [00:25:00] Was there anything that you thought like a year or two out, Hey man, if we can get to this point, we’re going to be able to do X, Y or Z, or was it more just a case of, we want to just keep growing it and kind of see where it takes us?
Adam Bradley: [00:25:13] Yeah, I think for both the hustle and for the original network, my sports network, I think you just go and you just keep growing and just wait and see where it’s going to take you. Right. I think the medium of podcasts that though at that time, both with the hustle and the network, it was still uncharted territory.
So it wasn’t, we weren’t quite sure where it could go. We didn’t know what the potential could be right now. You look around, you see podcasts networks is such a big business while at the time it didn’t look that way. So we didn’t quite know, we had had some conversations at times about.
You know, do we try to pitch it to an ESPN? Do we try to pitch it to a Bill Simmons or something like that? then you just start. Kind of facing the [00:26:00] predicament of like losing intellectual property, losing control of the show. And then you’ve got to start weighing the pros and cons, like is the pro and the benefit of joining one of these other groups, is it really that great, right?
Is the financial benefit that great is the audience growth that much greater in exchange for lack of control or having to be managed or not having the freedom and autonomy to do what we want. So w we experimented a lot we try to a subscription based thing for there for a period of time.
We called it the 110% club. I remember that. Yeah. And we said we would do extra content, or we do coaches notes and we’d record extra episodes. We wanted to see if. No, cause that was one thing we wrestled with a lot too. Do we just leave it open for all right. Or do we bring it in house and make it some type of subscription base and really serve more intimately, a smaller community as we try to monetize it that way?
And we did [00:27:00] okay. With 110% club but not enough to, to get us to switch. I think it’s hard.
Mike Klinzing: [00:27:08] I think it’s hard to transition from free to pay. I think that’s really tough, especially when you look at clearly from when you guys started. Podcasting has continued to grow. I mean, week by week by week, since you started, there’s been more and more people in this space and when more and more of it is free, it becomes more and more difficult.
I think, to turn it into a subscription again, unless you’re talking about being part of, as you said, a big conglomerate of ESPN or some other big podcasts network where maybe then because of. The volume of listeners that those things can generate, then maybe you can pull it off, but it just seems like once you’re in a free medium to turn around and have it become paid, it seems like you’d have to, you’d have to really execute that almost flawlessly in order to get that to an order to get that to happen.
Adam Bradley: [00:27:56] Yeah. And we gave ourselves six months that we were [00:28:00] going to go all in six months, we were going to give it a true shot and then just evaluate it. And like I said, we had subscribers too, It’s not that we didn’t. We just, after six months we came to the conclusion of one. We didn’t have enough subscribers to warrant the extra work, to truly justify the extra work.
And secondly, it just kind of revealed itself and became more clear that we didn’t want to move away from the reach, right? Cause you go into a subscription. Now, all of a sudden we’re limiting our audience reach. And the more we thought about it and talked about it, we wanted to impact and the greater impact.
So when you offer free, so we then moved away from it at that. And, and honestly, I think naturally you should experiment, you know? And, and when we experimented with that idea, I’ll be honest. There was a local podcasts are here in the Maryland DC, Virginia area that had a subscription. Moto. And he had this, this tight-knit community of paid subscribers [00:29:00] that were so loyal.
And I remember being introduced to his business model and that’s what intrigued it. And I remember going to Alan and say, listen, this could be something. Andyou just don’t know. Right. And so you try it and to give it a shot and we did, and I’m glad we did, but it just wasn’t the right fit for us.
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:21] Yeah, absolutely. I think anything that you try, you end up learning lessons, and if you take advantage of those lessons that can lead you into the next thing that you’re going to do, whatever that may be, and you just continue to grow and experience things. And that’s what allows you to have. Future success.
So when you think about the start of lead them up and going back to your high school and they ask you, Hey, we want you to come in and spend an hour every week with the team. And obviously at that point you don’t have a curriculum created, you don’t really have anything. So clearly you just nod your head at that point and say, yes, I’m going to do it and then figure it out as you’re as you go.
So talk about how that experience [00:30:00] sort of led you into the creation of Lead ‘Em Up.
Adam Bradley: [00:30:03] Yeah. I mean, you’re absolutely right on how it played out. Right? You agree to it and you figure it out and that’s what it was. Right. They, they asked if I would do it. I was intrigued with it because I hadn’t thought about that before.
I love him. I love people. Like that’s, that’s the first thing. Right. I love people and I love impacting people and, building people up and leading people. I mean, that’s just kind of how I’ve always been wired and the thought of being able to work with this team in that regard and have freedom to do.
It was cool. And in the schedule worked out. So I said, let’s do it. But the figuring out process came by literally becoming so connected to this team. And just entrenching myself into this team, that entire season I needed to know what they were struggling with. I needed to know the challenges I needed to understand the dynamics I’m needed to [00:31:00] understand the family issues that was causing certain things with the players.
I needed to know about the, the internal beef, so on the team, right. The clips I needed to know it all. And. And that year, I just spent every week with them. And I mean, my time was Tuesday from five to six, but I was at games. I was showing up on days. I wasn’t, I was texting them all. I was taking some of them out to eat.
I was driving some of them home, just. Doing anything else reaching into my contacts, that I’d built over the years with the network to try to do additional things. I remember I had Alan out there one day, working them out. I had some Washington Redskins come out and do a workout. I had some swag cause I had a relationship with this vendor and I hooked them all up with five power, not bypass, but like the girdles where the thigh pads slide in are already built in something like that.
And with gloves, I remember. I just wanted to serve him. I wanted to love him. [00:32:00] Right. But during that process, you begin to see what they are challenged with. And each Tuesday I’d sit there and I’d say, all right, this one, I got to talk about this. We’ve got to discuss this, but I’ve got to do it in a way that will engage them.
I’ve got to figure that out. And that’s where I’d sit there and we’ll just brainstorm and try to figure out how could I create the illustration or metaphor or an activity or an exercise that would get them locked in and all around it. And as I would do that, I was just thankful that God’s kind of wired in my mind to be that type of like creative thinker, I guess, right.
Where these ideas and these concepts and these themes come, come to me. Right. And I also think there’s a lot of truth in to that, which you look for, you will find if you’ve ever heard that quote, I was looking for things also, right. I was looking for. Engaging thoughts and metaphors. And when you [00:33:00] start looking for it, it presents itself in many cases.
So I was journaling everything I did that year, Mike, with the team, a journal, every exercise I’d sit, I’d drive home after the exercise and after my time with them and I’d critique myself and say, did I meant, do I feel like I moved on? Was that cheesy? Was that, was that. Impactful. Was it powerful? I’d ask the kids.
Hey, what’d y’all think about last Tuesday. Oh, that was good, man. That was good. That really hit me. And I just was building and that’s where the momentum of that year started playing out. Okay.
Mike Klinzing: [00:33:33] Question number one. I’ve got two. So the first one is, did you know, as you were going through that, that this was a business opportunity or was it just a really cool opportunity to have an impact on those kids?
That’s question number one. And then question number two is how much of it. Did you go into feeling like you had a handle on what you wanted to teach them [00:34:00] and how much of it was. Week to week gaining their trust, figuring out what was going on within the team and adjusting from there. So in other words, going into it, did you think there’s six things that I want to hit over these next six sessions?
Or was it I’m going to hit this in the first session and kind of see what’s going on with the team and then adjust from there.
Adam Bradley: [00:34:24] Well, let’s answer the second one. I had no plan. There was a complete read the team, see the situation week by week. So I had no plan. I had no content. I had no curriculum. I was week by week.
the second thing, very similar to the podcast. I’ve always been a builder. I’ve always been a creator. I don’t want to do anything small, right. I always want to go big. It can drive my wife crazy. You know, like a neighborhood cookout, it can’t be three families. Just gotta be the whole neighborhood. [00:35:00]
Mike Klinzing: [00:35:00] shut down the block.
Adam Bradley: [00:35:02] We are shutting down. We are going to make it a thing. I’m going to create flyers and put them on the mailboxes. Like, that’s just how, that’s just how I go and same deal here. Right. I don’t think I knew what it looked like. But a couple of weeks in as I’m going and I’m hearing the feedback and I’m seeing the coaches really enjoy it.
And talk about man, this has been so good for our team. All of a sudden there goes the ideas, the ideas start coming. Right. Like, wow. If this is good for this team, it’s got to be good for that team. It’s gotta be good for this team. And then once again, the Hardwood Hustle is happening at the same time, I’m talking now about the things I’m doing with this team on the show, which is now generating feedback and inquiries from our audience.
Hey, I hear you talk on the show about doing these activities and working with this team and this exercise. What is it you’re doing? Is there a chance I could get access to it? [00:36:00] And then all of a sudden. You get a few of those, you get some positive feedback of what you’re doing. You start getting some local coaches asking about it because they’re seeing it on social and it seems different and it feels different.
And it doesn’t take many inquiries to trigger an idea that I may be on to something. No, I don’t, I don’t know that exact number if it’s five, 10 50, but it doesn’t take a lot. Okay. And, and then just as I kept going, I kept thinking about it also in a concept of Alan would talk on the show about when he graduated from Elon and he went back and started training that there was this, this void with the sports programs at the time that nobody has strength and conditioning.
It was like a foreign concept. He shared this story many times on the episodes about him writing letters to Stu Vetter at Montross Christian. Right. Hey, let me [00:37:00] work out your players. Let me, let me work out your team. I’ll do it for free. Okay. And he talks about, he talked about that all the time, because I forget what year he graduated college.
probably late nineties, that this is all happening, but nobody has shown anything conditioning coaches. It was, it was. It was void, but now that’s not the case. Everybody has it. Right. And he talked about how he kind of pioneered that in many ways. And I started thinking about that as it related to leadership I started thinking about this is interesting.
Every coach, I mean, he talks about the importance of leadership and character in their program, but the more coaches I’m around, the more I see that nobody has a program. This is crazy. And then I started connecting the dots. I’m like, could I be someone who initiate a transition of leadership programs with sports teams?
The way Alan did was strength conditioning were sports teams specifically at the high school level. And then when [00:38:00] I then as those dots, keep all coming together, right? Inquiries coming in positive feedback ideas, the natural mindset of being a builder and a creator and a go getter. That’s when I start thinking, okay, I could, I could be honest something.
I’ve got to figure out though how to scale it, how I can replicate myself. Right. Cause I don’t want to be someone that’s just simply trading dollars for hours. I can only be so much. I have another job. I’ve got a wife, I’ve got a kid. So that’s when the digital curriculum thoughts started playing out.
Why don’t I just take what I’m doing? Put it down and basically transfer thought. Give permission to other people to use it through a digital curriculum of lead them up.
Mike Klinzing: [00:38:44] Did you have in mind at that time, obviously that is, is, and was a great idea to be able to put that curriculum online that allow people to access it.
Did you have a thought that you would eventually have people who would be. [00:39:00] I’m going to use the word under studies of you, that they would go out and do the same thing that you had done at Watkins mill. They were do them at schools and in-person for people who were looking for, rather than if I’m a high school, varsity basketball coach and the, I can get the curriculum and look at it and I can try to teach it to my players myself.
Maybe it would be more impactful if somebody from the outside. Comes in and it’s a different voice and there’s obviously benefits to that. Did you see that piece of it at first? Or did you just see the digital let’s put the curriculum online?
Adam Bradley: [00:39:38] I’d say yes and no. I saw it. But I didn’t see it to the point where I was pursuing it and the reason I say that is so when we launched, Lead ‘Em Up, one of the big things that helped us when we first launched is that we signed a partnership with a group out of Florida called Game On Nation. A game on nation is ran by a guy named Steve Shenbaum, him, Blair, [00:40:00] Blumenstein H J Lee.
They’ve got a great team, Chris Friday. And they essentially have a leadership program of sorts. It’s a little different of a vibe it’s game based. So it’s really fun dynamic games. And they work with corporate high-level collegiate and pro teams. And I got introduced to Steve. We had him on the hardwood household and then he and I were speaking at a conference in Texas together where we continued kind of just getting to know each other. And the timing of this was really interesting. He was working pro collegiate high-level collegiate and corporate with his program. He, I got introduced a few of his exercises and concepts on the podcast when we had them on, and that’s when I really began to learn and then study them a little bit more and began to see what he did.
And, and I realized that he, they were doing what you just alluded to Mike. They had their team of trainers and they’d go [00:41:00] and work with pro teams or college teams, Calla Perry and stuff like that. And he also, not only did he have him, but he also had a team of regional coaches that would also go around.
He obviously did the larger jobs and maybe the more high profile, but he had a team that went around and did it. So that thought was always there as I watched his business, but initially he didn’t, he wasn’t doing anything in the high school space and he wasn’t doing anything digitally. It was all in person.
So I ended up pitching him on my vision of what I was building with, Lead ‘Em Up and told him that I wanted his curriculum. If I could license his curriculum, include it in what I had already built now. Keep in mind. I had journaled everything I did with that year one at Watkins Mill, but I’ll be honest, the curriculum wasn’t extremely rich at that time.
It was fairly new where our curriculum is today after five years. Oh my gosh, night and day. But year one, it was still fairly new. It was in an [00:42:00] infancy stage. So one of the things I really wanted and felt like we needed was another anchor into the curriculum. Where if people bought, there was more substance, more content.
So I pitched him on that idea. He loved it. He wasn’t doing digital. We were, I was pitching him strictly as digital and that’s all we had in mind at the time that I was going to keep working my local region in person. But for the most part, how could we reach the country? It was through digital and he wasn’t serving high school.
So there was no overlap or conflict there. And we signed a deal. We signed a, it was either a two or three-year deal. I forget. but it was huge. So that allowed me this insight into what he was doing. It gave me the thought that of one day regional coaches, but I wasn’t really thinking because that’s not what we were doing at the time.
What happened though? After a couple of years of digital, I began to realize that if lead them up was truly going to grow where I thought in wanted it to grow. It [00:43:00] couldn’t just live digitally because of what you just alluded to Mike about coaches. Yes, they could access it, but there is still a large number of coaches that even though it may be less expensive to buy it online, they could do it themselves.
They just don’t want to. Maybe it’s not their personality. Maybe it’s not their style. Maybe they’re too busy with other things. But they would pay gladly to have someone come in. And I began to realize like, we, if we’re going to get lead them up, we’ve got to shift our business model and start doing more live training and all that.
And at that point, our curriculum had grown where I felt like it could stand alone. So we didn’t renew the agreement with game on. And after that, But then that’s when it started positioning into the regional coaches. Now we’ve got seven of them, seven of them around the country. I think you had two of them on a past show.
Kyle & Aseem, those guys rockstars.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:51] Great guys, man. They’re awesome. They were fantastic.
Adam Bradley: [00:43:55] So, I mean that’s once again, not really knowing, but just day by [00:44:00] day, right? Little by little things to reveal themselves. Absolutely.
Mike Klinzing: [00:44:03] All right, so let’s talk. Specifics of leadership, some of the things that you believe in as a leader.
So if I’m a high school basketball coach in this case, what are some things without giving away your entire curriculum? What are some things that you feel like from a leadership standpoint, every coach should be engaging with their players when it comes to that particular topic of leadership?
Adam Bradley: [00:44:29] Yeah. I mean, that’s a big topic, right?
There’s a lot of different ways to go on that. I think, No, I think, I think the first thing, especially in the high school age, let’s just stick there. Right? We’ve got to get to this point where we shift, what’s perceived as cool within the team. Okay. we’ve got to get to the point where we like get rid of that cool factor and it penetrates in and permeates through majority of programs out there.
There is a need, an addiction to kind of do what’s cool. And it interferes with [00:45:00] leadership and it interferes with building a healthy environment that produces winning. So for me, that’s one of the big things is to try to fight through that. and there’s a variety of ways you can help do that. But as you know, by being around sports, that’s a big issue.
Right? That’s a big, big problem. So, that’s one of the things, because I think until we’ve got to get an open mind from the players. Like they’ve got to embrace this. So that’s one of the things I think we differentiate ourselves significantly is I just think our leadership program hits differently.
And what I mean by that is I think there’s a lot of good content. I think there’s a lot of good, leadership coaches out there. A lot of good leadership organizations out there and not to knock them all. I think they’re, they’re incredible. I think their heart’s in the right place. I think they are.
You know, their mindsets are where they need to be. I just think we’ve done an incredible job speaking in a way and teaching in a way [00:46:00] that kids learn and they want to learn. So I know that doesn’t answer your question, but I I’d say here’s a couple of the concepts we talk a lot about. and I’ll give one, that’s a lot.
That’s different. that a lot of coaches made might not be thinking of. We talk a lot about a topic called followership. So most coaches. Are accustomed naturally the speaking about leadership, we always talk about leaders needing to step up. And that is absolutely the case. We need leaders to step up. We need leaders to lead us and move us forward.
Absolutely. But I don’t think we spend enough time talking about the followers because you can have the most passionate good-hearted committed leader. But if they’re trying to lead a group of people that don’t want to be led or want to make the job of the leader, difficult and challenging. We’re not going to get where we need to go.
We’ve got to talk about how we perform as follower and we call it followership. It’s a phrase that we’ve pointed within lead him up and it all [00:47:00] builds on this theme, that what we call rotational leadership, we believe on every single scene that you have both leaders and followers that every single person on your team plays, both roles.
They play the leader role and the follower role. In fact, they rotate. It’s a constant rotation. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, one minute. You’re leading the next minute. You’re following one minute. You’re leading next minute. You’re following one minute. You’re leading next minute. You’re following.
And that’s for everyone. Even the best leader on the team, there are moments where they lead and then a moment later they’re following, right? Because of that. They’ve got to perform at a high level in both areas. This is a different concept that a lot of people don’t talk about. So we spend a significant amount of time.
In fact, we just released a four-part exercise series to develop followers because we believe if you can build the followers in turn, it strengthens the leader because a [00:48:00] great follower is a leader’s best friend. And when you’ve got great followers, you will see greater performance and greater commitment out of the leader because poor followers or quote unquote, unhealthy followers, they burn out our leaders.
And most cases, our leaders get burned out by our own teammates. And it’s a sad tragedy. so we teach a lot about that. So that’s one concept in particular that, that we think has had a huge impact on creating that environment that we believe creates winning. And we call that a green environment.
We do everything around the scene called the green team. we want kids to be green. we’ve got this whole exercise concept called that breaks down the green and the gray is the reds. It’s pretty cool. And dynamic seven rules that it takes to build a green team and the kids just get all in and, and they understand it.
And yeah. Green represents money. And before we’re trying to be money and [00:49:00] it’s the money team and the kids are buying in and they’re flashing dollar signs after practice, but it’s not what you think it is. It’s us trying to be money from a leadership and character perspective. So that’s a little bit of how we’ve tried to flip it in a way that kids actually want to view it differently.
Mike Klinzing: [00:49:17] Yeah. Make it a fun. I mean, making it fun so they want to participate. So I think to go along with that, Adam, I have a question for you and that is, I think in order for. Any of us to work, especially when you’re going to bring in an outside voice, it would seem to me that the first step that would need to take places, you have to be able to get those kids on that team to be able to trust you and trust that you have their best interest at heart.
So what do you personally do to help earn their trust? And then with the guys that are your Regional lead them up, guys. How do you, how do you train them? Or what do you talk to them about in terms of building trust [00:50:00] with the kids that you’re in front of? So the first time you walk into that room, they don’t know you at all.
And so they’re not going to open up. I’m sure the way you need them to open up in order to accomplish the things that you just described. So how do you make them trust you? How do you get them to trust you and open up.
Adam Bradley: [00:50:16] It’s a great question. I I’ll be honest with you. I think in many regards, this is one of the most difficult things to teach because I think it naturally comes out through your personality naturally comes out through your character.
I think like us as adults, we’re able to read people, even the people that even people that have very low emotional intelligence still can, can feel when something doesn’t feel right with another person. Right. Think about your own life. Mike, those people you interact with were just feels a little different and it’s not that they did anything.
You just didn’t get the same feeling that you did around this person. And that’s very hard to teach. I think some people are just kind of gifted with it. I [00:51:00] think just some people have a personality and a, a charisma and an attitude and a vibe to them that. It’s welcoming, it’s warm. It feels trustworthy.
So from that regard, I think there’s some coaches that have it greater than others and others don’t. So I think a little bit of that goes into the hiring process for sure. Then the training process. Absolutely. Can I bring on regional coaches that just kind of have it. Right. People that I’ve met along the way, that one, that I am in love with their character.
I’m in love with their heart. And I’ve gotten a vibe from them that they just, man, they’re easy. They’re easy to talk. So you just, you just trust them. You just really believe, and they’re not rigid. They’re not cold. They’re not standoffish, they don’t seem like they have a barrier. So I think that’s one dynamic, but as it relates to trying to teach it’s going to be important that we go in those moments with an incredible sense of [00:52:00] humility right.
And appreciation. So at least for me, when I start week one, prior to me jumping into our first exercise, I’m communicating to them. A couple of things I’m communicating to them, how thankful and appreciative of the opportunity to be with them this season that I am. I just want them to know just I’m excited for it.
I’m thankful for it. I’m appreciative of coach bringing me in. I look forward to helping play a part in this, so I certainly communicate a thankfulness and appreciation for it. And then the second is a humility. I, I don’t want to. Come in there and make it seem like I’m going to fix everything that I’m going to be this magic, man.
That’s going to turn this team around. Do I believe I can? Yes, but that’s not what I’m going to portray to them. I’m going to portray that like, Hey this is going to be a fun journey that we’re [00:53:00] going to go on and I’m excited to do it with you guys. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to look, but I do believe if you all lean in on this, that it’s going to be really helpful.
And, and I don’t think that it’s gonna Lead ‘Em Up alone or me that I’m going to do some type of magic. It’s going to be all of us working together and guys. If y’all are up to building something really special. I like to do that with you guys offer that right. And just simply kinda presenting it in a way where you’re appreciative and trying to communicate humility.
You don’t want to go in there and just be like, I, they y’all, they hired me like, I’m the man, you can’t go that way.
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:40] Understood. Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. I think what you said right off the top of hiring for that trustworthy feel is probably the most important ingredient.
And for you as the head of the organization, to be able to. Sit down with those people and, and get a feel for who they are and what they are [00:54:00] and know that when they get in front of an audience that they’re going to give off that trustworthy vibe. And they’re going to be able to build that rapport with the kids that they’re in front of.
To me, that seems like it’s the most important thing. And then you back that up with what you just described with the way you train them and the way you talk about coming in there. humble and not saying that you’re going to have all the answers, but instead I’m here to work with you. I’m here to help you.
Now, my next question is going to kind of piggyback off that, but it’s going to take it in. Not a different direction, but just so here’s the question. Let me just ask it question is what give us the most transformative story that you’ve been a part of, whether it was interaction between teammates or with an entire team.
What’s the most impactful thing that you’ve seen happen or maybe inspirational thing you’ve seen happen with a team or with a group of players as part of Lead ‘Em Up?
Adam Bradley: [00:54:52] I don’t like this question, Mike. And the reason I don’t like this question is, [00:55:00] I don’t know how to answer it humbly. Right.
Because, and I don’t like boasting about it, but we’ve got so many. We’ve got so many stories.
Mike Klinzing: [00:55:11] Can you generalize it, like give me a general, like I know there’s probably been similar issues on teams that you’ve worked with and that you’ve been able to help the team work their way through it.
So maybe pick a topic or something that is somewhat common that you can share.
Adam Bradley: [00:55:32] Yeah. I mean, I think the most common is. The year to year transformation, that players experience. So when they look at like this team this year, what has been experienced in what we’re doing this year and they compare it to the year before.
It’s like night and day. Right. And I mean, I had a player just the other day, we were talking and we were engaged. They’ve been going through the [00:56:00] Lead ‘Em Up program this year with the team and their previous year’s team. Just wasn’t that healthy. Right. They it’s almost like a team culture doctor, like the coach had to call the doctor.
Right. Cause their previous team was unhealthy. Right. And we had to clean it up. And, and we’ve been going through the process just does week after week of, of building of creating this new environment, emphasizing the, the things that need to be emphasized, building momentum getting people to be vulnerable and, and creating this really fun and enjoyable, safe place.
And we finished up a session recently where the exercise required the players to do some things out of character, where I even posted this on Instagram. It’s one of our most dynamic exercises. People absolutely love it. When I show video of it, of teams doing this particular session, they think it’s the [00:57:00] coolest and coaches are like, Oh my gosh, that’s incredible.
But I shared in my Instagram story when I was sharing some highlights of it, I shared at the end that, Hey, this is our most enjoyable, fun game changing exercise. We have arguably in Lead ‘Em Up. Unfortunately, not all teams can experience it because the reality is you better have a special environment.
With healthy leadership and even healthier followers to even be able to experience what you’re seeing in the video. It’s not for everybody. And it’s why I actually do it late in my work with teams compared to early on, because most of the teams I work with could not do it early on. It would be a train wreck.
It would be awkward. It would be uncomfortable. And, and after we did this, the, the player, and we’re talking this a high-level collegiate athlete, [00:58:00] messaged me and said, man, I just want to thank you for the work you’ve been doing with us this year. It’s incredible. To be honest with you, what we did last week, wouldn’t even nearly happen.
Not even in the slightest bit, the year before our team couldn’t have done it. And here we are doing it and loving it, you know? So I, I hear about stories like that. I see stories like that. you know, it, it’s just really hard to say. I mean, I will say our work with teams vary. Okay. So there’s coaches can hire us in multiple different ways.
They can hire us for a single session. They can hire us for three sessions throughout the season, but they also can hire us to be with them all season. And I can really tell you the teams that hire us all season. I’ve got a Rolodex of stories and testimonials of just what has been created that I tell you what happens.
And this is one of the [00:59:00] best compliments that we get. Like we get compliments when we get this one, when a player or a group of players go through, lead them up on a team, and then they go into the next season and they go and jump onto another team. It’s pretty remarkable to hear all the feedback we get, about how much they don’t enjoy their next team.
That that happens like all the time, man. How’s it going? You know, they’ll say they’re jumping into, I don’t know, lacrosse in the spring how’s it going? How’s the season going? Ah, man, I just be honest. It just doesn’t feel the same as basketball in the winter. Man. I just love what we do there.
Like Lead ‘Em Up. I love what it creates, what it produces and they jump into a program where the coach isn’t intentionally trying to develop that environment, trying to develop that, that culture, [01:00:00] those leaders, and it just feels so different. So I love that compliment. I’ll be more specific.
Do you have a more specific. Or request in line?
Mike Klinzing: [01:00:10] No, I mean, I think that, I only think when you’re talking about that stuff, that’s kind of what I’m envisioning and what I’m thinking about when I say transformative situations where you have a team that. Maybe it’s dysfunctional. You have teammates that don’t get together, or you have an experience for the kids in your program.
That isn’t the experience that maybe they would want. And what I come back to Adam a lot of times is I think clearly as coaches, everybody wants to win games. I mean, nobody, everybody on Friday night likes to go home with a victory in their back pocket instead of a loss. But. Ultimately, especially at the high school level and below, it should be about much, much more than that.
And I think that’s what your program really is trying to do is to have an impact on those young people. So that two years from now three years from now, 10 years from now, that program is still [01:01:00] impacting them. And I think one of the things that as high school coaches, sometimes we take for granted or that we don’t think about is.
What kind of experience am I giving the kids that are on my team? And I think that story that you just shared illustrates that clearly where here you have the kid who said, Hey, basketball season was awesome. Cause we were doing leading them up, lead them up and we were getting along and we had all this good culture stuff going.
And now I jump over to the lacrosse team and that’s, that’s not there anymore. And so my experience. And notice that kid didn’t say anything about you didn’t mention in your story, anything about the won-loss record or how the team was doing or how much playing time the kid was getting. It was only about the experience of being on the team.
And I think that’s something that as high school coaches, again, in any sport, I think it’s worth taking the time to evaluate your program and look at is being a part of this program. A positive experience for kids. And that doesn’t mean that it’s fun and games and goofiness. Every second, you can still demand that the kids work hard and you can [01:02:00] still have a very high level of expectation.
But I think the experience is so important. And I think what I hear you saying is that lead them up ads. Infinite value in terms of providing the kids that become a part of it and the teams become a part of it. That type of experience that they’re always going to remember that hopefully it’s going to have an impact on them for the rest of their lives.
Is that kinda how you describe it?
Adam Bradley: [01:02:23] No, I mean, I think that’s well said and I think the benefit from a coaching perspective is it increases performance, right? It raises your team ceiling. It gets, when you talked about standards there. It actually allows you to raise the standard and not have to fight the standard as frequently, because now you’ve got a group of players wanting to give it their all right, wanting to be all in.
You’re not having to get the buy-in right, because this is where they want to be. This is the best thing that they’ve experienced. And for me, I have a personal little challenge I want, [01:03:00] and I don’t share this almost. I don’t think I’ve ever actually shared it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:03:03] All right. Debut share on the Hoop Heads Pod, an exclusive
Adam Bradley: [01:03:07] So you know how the teams you’ve played on at certain point or teams you’ve coached on every coach, every player has those special years and they always go back and reflect on them with. Great and nostalgia and they say, Oh man, that 2012, 2013 team that was special. Right. You always hear things like that, where they referenced these years.
For sure. Right. You probably have them, yourself. My own personal little game that I play in my own head. I want every team I work with that I take through Lead ‘Em Up. I want them to reflect back on that year as their number one year. As like, Oh man, man, that’s funny. 2020 year. That was just the best man.
I love the group of guys, man. We were building something so special. It was [01:04:00] fun. It was awesome. You know, like that’s what I want. I want that year to be, I want the Lead ‘Em Up year. Let’s say I only got a chance to work with the team. One time. I want to Lead ‘Em Up near to be that year. And I would honestly say, I bet you could ask most athletes.
They would say it I had lunch with three guys that I coached this past basketball season, last winter, and they were going away to college and they the four of us went out to eat. This was maybe like three months ago. That’s all they talked about. That’s all they talked about.
They said our four years in high school, we were with you we had Lead ‘Em Up that last year. It changed everything, coach. It changed everything, man. It was by far the best sports experience that I’d had. And these were multiple sport athletes. So you take multiple sport athletes over the course of four years in high school, they played on eight, nine, 10, 11, sometimes 12 teams.
Okay. And when they can walk away and say, without a doubt, my [01:05:00] Lead ‘Em Up. Season in basketball my senior year was the best experience I had. That that means something, but the positive is from an Encore perspective. It usually means you get the best out of them. Okay. So there’s, there’s a by-product that is positive.
Not only are you creating a great experiencing developing leaders, which are also getting better.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:21] I think coaches have come around on that in the last five to 10 years where I think if you look back 10 years ago, I think you, would’ve got a lot of resistance and pushback from coaches that, Oh, come on, man.
That culture stuff, that leadership stuff that’s not really that important to do. Let
Adam Bradley: [01:05:38] me, let me interject real quick. I agree with you. It’s still, I agree that they believe it. They still aren’t. At the point where they’ll commit to it. Yeah, I agree.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:51] I mean, I think there’s, you get a lot less resistance when you have those kinds of conversations. There’s lot less of. [01:06:00] I think back to like the Bobby Knight style of coaching and the you’re going to do it this way. Why am I going to do it that way? Well, because I said, you’re going to do it that way. And if you don’t, you’re not going to play or you’re not going to be on this team anymore. And thankfully that’s gone away.
But I do think that when you talk about. Culture. And you talk about leadership there still, I think some hesitancy in coaches and it goes to kind of why people would want to bring in somebody from the outside. There’s still a hesitancy, I think, on the part of coaches to take time away from their on-court or on field.
Activities where they don’t want to carve out that hour, that you originally carved out at Watkins mill to be able to do this type of thing, because coaches say, well, I could be working on six more plays out on the football field, or I could be working on special teams, or I could be working on our baseline out of bounds, plays at basketball.
Adam Bradley: [01:06:53] Right. And you are absolutely right Mike and sorry to interrupt there. I just want to [01:07:00] reiterate you’re absolutely right. And, and I’ll tell you those coaches that feel that way. Let me tell you, I think TJ says this on the podcast a lot. You do the best with what you know. Okay. I think in those cases, those coaches just don’t know what it can truly look like.
Mike Klinzing: [01:07:16] That’s a great point
Adam Bradley: [01:07:17] They don’t know what it truly could look like to have this environment that I was describing a few moments ago, they don’t know what it could truly look like. They don’t realize the buy-in, the commitment, the energy and fire and enthusiasm of what that could generate and become.
I don’t think they, they understand what the extra work, how much you’ll see and how much you’ll get out of the players. They just don’t see it because they haven’t experienced it maybe to that level. So they’re not. So, so I try to look at them and interact with them with some grace in the sense of like, they’re not doing it purposely, they just don’t know.
[01:08:00] Okay. But the reality is when you do become exposed to it, you can’t go back. Right, because now you’ve seen a new standard in the program. You’ve seen the way a team operates when it’s all in and everything’s healthy and you realize like, Holy smokes, I was missing so much. I can’t go back now. So for us, that’s part of our mission, right?
We just gotta keep fighting to make sure. Coach has truly recognized, like, Hey, when you do pour into your players, when you do intentionally spend time 30 minutes a week in the classroom, working on your team, working on your leadership, working on followers and under all those different things, man, that is time you can’t afford to waste because it always gets bumped.
Leadership gets bumped by those who don’t prioritize it enough. Okay. So when time gets tight, Schedule gets cramped. What gets bumped? Leadership. We neve see strength and conditioning get bumped. You never see skill training, [01:09:00] get bumped. It’s always leadership by those who haven’t fully recognized the power of it.
Now, those that on the flip side, there are many coaches that, Oh, that’s not getting bumps like that absolutely is part of it. And, and I think those coaches just they’ve seen some things and experienced it and they can’t go back now.
Mike Klinzing: [01:09:21] Yeah, I think you’re a hundred percent, right. I think once you take the time and see the impact it can have on your kids.
And I think it’s important to keep in mind. And you said it a couple of times that it’s not only what I said in terms of providing a better experience because all things being equal. Coaches would probably like to provide their kids with a better experience, if that better experience can continue to lead, to wins on the scoreboard.
And I think there’s no doubt that there’s a connection between having a team that is built around these leadership and character, character principles that you guys have put out there and winning and having a, go ahead…
Adam Bradley: [01:09:56] Another dynamic of why I think there’s a lot [01:10:00] of coaches that don’t embrace it.
Right. I think a lot of coaches are still confusing good kids with good leaders. I’ve got good kids. I’m good. We’ve got good kids in our program. I don’t need to spend that time as if it’s like, as if a Lead ‘Em Up program is simply trying to keep kids out of these extremely negative situation.
That’s not always, that’s not the case. Yes. That is the case, maybe in some instances, But good kids does not mean good leadership. We’ve got to make sure we’re clear on that coaches. Right? You’ve got well-behaved good mannered kids. That’s cool. That’s a positive, right? I think that gives you a little bit of a head start.
Okay. You don’t have to like get them you don’t have to pull them all the way from back there, but it doesn’t mean that they, that they’re holding each other accountable. Well, it doesn’t mean that they’re showing up [01:11:00] consistently with great energy enthusiasm. It doesn’t mean that they know how to communicate.
Right. It doesn’t mean a lot of these things doesn’t mean that they go out of the way to mentor an underclassmen and bring them up. It doesn’t mean that they know how to develop strong relationships within the group. Good kids does not mean good leadership and there’s still a lot of coaches out there that aren’t embracing the Leadership development because they think I’ve got good kids, Mike. I’m good. True.
Mike Klinzing: [01:11:28] I think that’s really true. And there’s a difference between being a good kid, as you said, and being a good leader and understanding what that looks like on the basketball court or on the football field or the soccer field, whatever it might be.
I think if you have that in place and you are intentional about it, then I think you’re going to end up getting far, far better results. And when you have somebody who like yourself has developed an expertise in this area, it becomes even more valuable sometimes then I like, I, like, I kind of believe that you have that outside [01:12:00] voice kids hear their coaching staff so much.
It’s kind of like being a parent. Your kids hear you so much on all these different things that sometimes sports, is there a way to get away from you at times? You know, they just like, look, I’m dad, I’m tired of hearing your voice on every single thing in my life. I need to hear a different voice. And I think sometimes teams are like that too.
That just the refresher of hearing somebody from the outside makes it, makes it better. I want to talk about another outside voice at, and that is after you. You got a new cohost, after Alan went a different direction, TJ came in. So just talk a little bit about what the chemistry has been like between you and TJ Rozine and just kind of where you guys are with the hustle.
And then, we’ll, we’ll talk a little bit more about that. We’ll get back to the podcasting side of it for a second here.
Adam Bradley: [01:12:43] Yeah. So man, TJ is incredible. TJ people are impressed with TJ with all that they see. Just know that he’s doing about five times more than that unseen. Okay. [01:13:00] And I think that just speaks to his character.
Right. You know, people will see the stuff with key five and PGC and the hustle and, but man, the amount of stuff he does to serve people, coaches, players, that he never talks about is second to none. he doesn’t toot his own horn. he, he really is the real deal. And when he came on board to be the co-host, it was unexpected actually, when Alan left, to go kinda jump into the new role that he was entering into I was kind of, okay, I’ve got the platform.
You know, I get to hold on to it. Where do I go? And initially it was actually, I was actually going to have a co-host named Adam Harrison. Does that name ring a bell?
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:48] I remember. Yeah, I remember that and then he got hired by an NBA team. Correct?
Adam Bradley: [01:13:52] So he was going to be the co-host. We went out to Houston together during one of the final fours he was [01:14:00] doing, individual pro training.
He was getting hired by teams to come in and work with their athletes. So, he was actually on like an assignment with the Houston rockets at the time. And he was just independent. He was like an independent contractor per se, training. He had spent the previous couple years with KD and now he’s just kind of doing his own thing, working with different teams.
I approached him about being a co-host because he and I had developed a really good friendship and he was all in. And at that final four in Houston, he and I recorded all weekend. I flew out there and he was there and then we had Sam Dekker. We had all these Rockets on this show. We recorded all these episodes.
It was awesome. Right. And I couldn’t wait to launch it. And the night before, no joke. The night before we go to launch relaunch, the podcast re we’d gone through the full rebrand and everything like that, he hits me up and he’s like, Hey man, we can’t release any of the episodes. And I’m like, what? And he goes, yeah, I just.
I got, I [01:15:00] got hired by the Brooklyn Nets. I knew he was interviewing. We both didn’t think it was going to happen anytime soon we knew he had his feelers out there. We thought it was going to be more towards the beginning of the NBA season. So I thought at the very least it would be like a six month co-hosting, but which would give me enough time to transition.
Right. It’s kind of getting back up and going. But yeah, man, he hit me up and said, we can’t release any of the episodes. I said, you’re kidding me. He’s like, no, he’s like, they won’t let me, which makes sense. Right. There’s you know, you can’t, if you’re a coach on one team, you can’t release interviews with players on another team.
There’s tampering issues and a coach doesn’t want a team doesn’t want their coach sharing all his secrets. Cause he was sharing all his training secrets and stuff like that. So I get it. So, yeah, so I was sitting there pretty discouraged actually at this point, really not sure what to do with the platform.
You know, I was obviously, [01:16:00] I’d kind of worked through the transition of Val and leaving. Where do I go? Brought on Adam, got all excited. And now Adam went now I’m like, man, right? Like where do I go? Right. Who’s a candidate. I was thankful that after Allen left, there were a couple of sponsors and partners that wanted to stay on with me, which I was really excited about.
Sue, certainly humbled about TeamSnap wanted to stay on as well as PGC. So I’ve been staying in communication with those two in particular, and I’ve made them aware that we were not going to be rereleasing any of the episodes we just recorded that Adam no longer was going to be the co-host. And as I shared that with PGC, remember TJ called me right back, like after I shared that with him.
And he just said, let me ask you a question. Have you thought of who that co-host is going to be. And I was like, no, I don’t know. And he was like, Hey, let me call you right back. He went and called, I [01:17:00] guess, Mano and ended up calling me back and said, what if I and PGC became the co-host and we started talking through and I was like, wow, this is incredible.
He was already familiar with the podcast because he had been doing our halftime talks with Alan. They are incredible people at PGC. TJ is incredible. We already had some chemistry in a relationship and I started thinking, wow. And PGC would put all their time and effort and energy behind it. So it worked out amazing.
couldn’t have been happier. it’s allowed me to get even closer to the PGC family over the years, which has been a huge blessing because they, like I said, are so incredible TJ and I think we’ve got great chemistry. I think I’m a little bit more fiery on episodes. You know, I’m sort of leading the themes and the topics week to week, crate all the different episode ideas and then TJ just being who he is, just very down to earth, [01:18:00] very centered, always and offering great perspective. And TJ let’s not get it twisted. He coaches D two basketball. He’d be one of the best division one basketball coaches in the country. If he chose to do it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:18:18] Yeah, Iagree. I think that’s one of the things that it’s not a lesson just for TJ, but I think it’s kind of a theme that’s run through our show.
Is there are great coaches at every single level of basketball. You could find high school coaches who would be tremendous coaches at the college level and vice versa. You could find tremendous college coaches who would be outstanding at the high school level or at the pro level. And I think it’s just a matter of sometimes there’s a perception out there of what level you coach at.
Certifies, what type of coach you are and how good you are. And that’s not necessarily the case. I think there are great coaches at every level. And TJ is certainly an example of that, who he’s not a whole, he’s not a household name that you’re going to see on TV every Saturday afternoon, [01:19:00] but he’s certainly a guy who can, who can coach.
And if you’ve listened to the hardwood hustle that he can share and talk the game and get points across that. Help coaches and help players who are listening to improve themselves. And really that’s kind of what the platform’s all about.
Adam Bradley: [01:19:14] He’s too focused and committed on impacting and pouring into people to be a division one coach.
And I know that may sound interesting to some because they could say, well, wouldn’t he have a bigger platform division one. Sure. But he’s got a situation right now where he’s able to coach a division two. While leading parts of PGC while leading key five coaching while co-hosting a hardwood hustle podcast platform, right?
You go and you jump into a new print. Not say it doesn’t have pressure now, but a new division, one high profile, like a lot of that stuff I asked to go and I don’t know exactly, but my guess would be that it would, and he, he wants to serve. He as much as he [01:20:00] wants to coach and as good as he is. I mean, that’s where his heart is.
Mike Klinzing: [01:20:04] No doubt. I think that when you start thinking about how you arrange your life as a coach, we all know the challenges of time and balancing that your ambition as a coach with your family and your other obligations and the things that you do. And so you’ve got to find that equilibrium that works for you.
And clearly TJ loves doing what he does with you on the hardwood hustle. He loves the PGC piece of it. And then. No, the coaching during the season at Emmanuel gives him the opportunity to impact young people and really honest in all honesty that that’s what it’s all about. Adam. I want to get, we’re pushing up against the time limit here.
So I want to give you a chance before we get out to share how people can find out more about what you’re doing at lead them up. Find out more about how they can listen to the hardwood hustle, how they can connect with you. Just give us all your social media platforms, connections, just ways that people can get in touch with you.
Adam Bradley: [01:20:56] Yeah. You know, if you’re a coach would love to [01:21:00] get you connected to Lead ‘Em Up, we have access, you’d have access through our digital curriculum. So all of our themes concepts, exercises that you can use with your team, you can get signed up and set up at, leademup.com and get access to that. If you’re in one of the regions where we’ve got a regional coach, you absolutely could take advantage of them.
And we also travel, right. And they’re willing to work with teams and able to work with teams around the country. We’re obviously doing a lot of virtual work right now. So, if, to Mike’s point, you need that second voice, right. That alternate voice, and you want to have that we’re certainly open and willing to help serve you there.
So Lead ‘Em Up is continuing to roll. We’ve got a lot of great things in the pipeline. our big thing, which I teased a little bit on Instagram just recently, we’re gearing up for a rollout of an in-school curriculum for the 2021 2022 school year. We’re currently piloting, Lead ‘Em Up at four [01:22:00] different schools around North America, I say North America, because one of the schools is up in Canada. That’s testing it and piloting this in-school curriculum. we are super excited about that. We’ve just had so many inquiries over the years from coaches who are also teachers. Most of the cases say, man, I would love to teach this in my class with my students and we’ve never allowed it.
Just for a variety of reasons now, we’re starting to move in that direction to be able to provide that. So that’s a big thing that we’re looking at here in the future. but yeah, I’d love to connect. You can follow me on social media @ABradley5, check out our podcast, hardwood_ hustle, on Twitter and Instagram.
But Mike, I appreciate you guys having me on. and, and I just want to celebrate you guys for all that you all are doing, right. I was certainly looking into some of the things and you guys have your network and you guys are gaining shows and trying to build this platform and you guys are clearly hustling and you’re doing it the right way, right?
Just [01:23:00] some of the attention to detail in preparation of today’s episode, communicates to me that. I know you guys, aren’t sitting down Willy nilly, just trying to host the podcast, right? Like you guys are trying to be intentional. You’re trying to be strategic. You’re trying to grow and you’re trying to produce great quality content and trying to build something special.
So I just want to celebrate you guys for that.
Mike Klinzing: [01:23:22] Well, thanks. We appreciate that, Adam, those kind words, are always well-taken and well-received, and we can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your schedule to jump on here with us tonight for almost an hour and a half and share the things that you’ve been able to do over the course of your career.
Both from an entrepreneur building business standpoint, and also a basketball standpoint and pouring into coaches and pouring into teams and pouring into players and really looking to serve, as you said, multiple times throughout the episode tonight. So again, thank you for coming on. We really do appreciate it and to everyone out there.
Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.