4:07 – The book references how individuals focus on peak moments and the ending moments of an experience when reminiscing about past experiences. How have you accounted for this phenomenon in designing athletic events and planning for constituency engagement?
8:00 – What are some transition moments you’ve chosen to implement or create at Fresno State? And why do you think those specific transition moments should be emphasized?
11:32 – How did you come up with the SOLVE acronym (SOLVE stands for Solution-Oriented Leaders Value Everyone)?
12:47 – How did you evaluate creating buy-in when changing the culture?
15:27 – How did you get your staff to understand the concept of duration neglect and start searching for these moments to create in athletic experiences?
19:47 – How do you create sustainable buy-in throughout the department?
24:03 – What is the impact that giving away gear can have for donors?
26:32 – Can you remember a moment or idea that a staff member brought up and subsequently owned?
29:11 – What is one overarching concept that you take when you revisit this book that you pass along to someone else?
Tai Brown: Greetings, this is Tai Brown with Athletic Director U and we are here with another episode of the Rising ADs Podcast. This is one of our book review episodes and I’m happy to have our guest today.
Our first guest is Terry Tumey. Terry is a director of athletics at Fresno State. He previously was Athletic Director at Claremont Mudd Scripps, UC Davis and Dominican University of California. He spent time coaching football and also time working in professional sports, and Terry I think you’ve been in sports total for 31 years, so I’m happy to have you on here on the Rising ADs Podcast.
Terry Tumey: Thank you so much.
TB: And then our guest is Randale Richmond. Randale is the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Student Athlete Welfare at Old Dominion and also spent time at Kent State and, of course, you’ve been in the industry for almost 15 years Randale. Thanks for joining us here on the Rising ADs Podcast.
Randale Richmond: A pleasure to be here, Tai.
TB: So the book we’ll talk about, I’ve been trying to find a book that somebody coming up in their profession and then also somebody who is in the leadership role in their profession have both read so that we could chop it up and do a book review on that book, and you don’t want to review the whole book because that could be long and extensive so we just pick a couple of chapters or concepts from the book.
The book we’re reviewing is The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact which by Chip Heath and Dan Heath and it kind of delves into the anatomy of creating defining moments in a variety of aspects for our life and it is important to be intention in doing so and briefly they talk about the four aspects that you need to do in terms of creating moments. There is an elevation. Create moments that rise above everyday normalcy. Insight, defining moments that help further understand ourselves and the world we live in. There’s pride or moments of courage and achievement. And then connection, defining moments that we share with others.
So, like we do on these podcasts, Randale, I know you have some questions you want to ask Terry about some of the chapters and concepts, so I’ll throw it over to you and you can take over in terms of leading the discussion.
RR: Thanks for the opportunity, Tai, and it’s a blessing to yet again be in the presence of Terry. The first time I could recall being in the presence of Terry was during a college athletic leadership symposium panel on building relationships that matter. And every response from Terry had a foundation of emotional intelligence, empathy and servant leadership, so it comes as no surprise to me that he is also a fan of this book, The Power of Moments.
So, Terry, with that, we’ll jump right into it. Chapter 1 talking about foundation, the authors cover something called “Duration neglect” and it explains how people tend to ignore the length of an experience but instead focus on the peak, the best or worst moment, and then the ending, how that experience ended. In athletics, we provide an experience that entertains fans for hours at a time, but based on what we’ve learned on this book, when they recap and rate their experience they will most likely be drawing from very particular moments. Really quick, the best for our audience was the Disney experience where they had this family and every hour and on the hour they would text and say, “Rate the moment that you’re in right now”. And the average came out to about 6.5 by the end of the day. But when they reached back out to the family a week later, “Hey, rate your overall experience?” They gave the experience a 9. And they gave it a 9 because they rated, one, their peak experience, that they had the best moment and then they rated their ending, how it culminated. And those averages were a 9.
The question is, “How have you accounted for this phenomena when designing your athletic events and when strategizing for constituency engagement as a whole?
TT: You know what, Randale, that is such an amazing concept and I really appreciate your insights and really your kind words as it relates to how we can best navigate through this.
So, it’s so funny, I’ve been dealing with this concept, I think, since I started in athletics. And really, when I think about some of my roles, not as an athletic director but even as an operations guy, I was an operations guy for a little bit of time. And when you are dealing with guests or student athletes or anyone who’s waiting on a plane, we all know what it feels like to wait on the tarmac or wait on the plane, wait for all the luggage to get loaded and all those sorts of things and you’re sitting there and you’re… either it’s a great win and everyone is talking about the win or it may not be so successful and you’re kind of still thinking about the shortcomings.
But during that time period, which could be quite long, how do we get people through that. And the way we did it, believe it or not logistically was with food.
RR: Oh, okay.
TT: Food solved a lot of problems. And so, what it does, food creates conversation. It creates dialogue. And if it’s the right kind of food, it harkens back to some great memories of what people think about. So we used to do that and you can have a traditional tarmac experience that’s supposed to be, you know, 15 minutes and it spans for an hour but people forget about it because they think about the food and the camaraderie that they were having. We do the same thing, believe it or not, in athletics here at Fresno state where we celebrate community. It’s all about community and how our community is alike almost to the point where the game is… I wouldn’t say as an afterthought, but it definitely… the outcome of the game is not as important as how you look forward to and remember your neighbors coming together and everyone wearing red and then being a part of it.
So we emphasize how our community is valued and important. And we try to make that the whole symbol of all the different things that go on. So regardless if you win, lose or draw, you’re proud to be a Bulldog and you’re proud to wear red and you’re proud to be a part of our situation here, and you’re proud to be at the stadium altogether almost, I hate to say, it’s like having church, you know, it’s the spiritual moment. You’re having church here at Bulldog stadium on a Saturday versus a Sunday.
TT: So that’s how we do it here at Fresno.
RR: That’s spectacular and it’s also spoken like a true former football coach, break bread and create families. So that makes a lot of sense on that front as well.
The next kind of stuff that I want to, you know, have a conversation with you about is “thinking in moments”. So Chapter 2, and our promise, we’re going to go beyond Chapter 1, 2, and 3. But for this particular one, in Chapter 2, this idea of thinking in moments is that we as leaders should evaluate instances where a moment can happen, having that type of observation. This could be a moment that somebody captures. So this concept covers the intentionality of manufacturing moments in the sense that transitions should be marked, milestones should be commemorated and pit field. So, Terry, working in athletics, transitions can be natural opportunities for creating these moments. So it’s typically an employee’s first day or the transition when hiring a new coach or the transition where at Fresno State they gave you your hat at your press conference and you put that on.
What are some transition moments you’ve chosen to implement or create and why do you think those specific transition moments should be emphasized?
TT: Randale, I think this is probably the most important aspect of this book quite honestly and I think this is where this book truly is a resource for everyone. If I think about our situation here at Fresno State, I really do think about what I feel as though the most salient moment that we had here literally was not my press conference. It was not really the first win. It was the day with which I got to meet our staff in our first staff meeting. That the most important day. It was the first time we came together and started our journey together, which to me was so vitally important and really did encapsulate everything that we wanted to achieve at the beginning because every day after that is a foundation or a building block off of that day.
So, for us, as I thought about that day and I tried to do as much research as I could not only on the people with which I was serving, which was my staff and my coaches and the students, but also I tried to understand how those days had happened in the past. And here at Fresno State, because of the financial difficulties and all the things that we had went through, those days once you had staff meetings, they were always, believe it or not, somewhat negative. They were always… something talking about the demise of our budget door, the difficulties that lie ahead. So they never really were celebratory. They never really gave you the feeling that we’re coming together to hear good news. So we took that pit and we wanted to make it a peak. We wanted to turn it on its head to give it some real flavor and value.
So when we got here, our leadership team which we were still formulating, we wanted to make sure that everyone, every time we had a staff meeting or a meeting of our congregation where we all serve these students, we wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were celebrating achievement and celebrating being a part of being together and the way we did that is, first, we came up with some things that made it … that went totally away from the negative and totally into the positive. We talked about being people who were going to solve problems and, in fact, SOLVE was the first thing we came up with. And for us, SOLVE was a moniker that we used for all of our group. And SOLVE stands for solution-oriented leaders value everyone.
RR: I love it.
TT: And that’s how we started this whole journey of developing solution-oriented people to move us forward and really took that meeting as a way of highlighting solution-oriented individuals from all frameworks. And the thing I loved about it was the humility of my coaches, no matter if it was the head coach of football who we all know that those people tend to make quite a bit of money and are held in a certain esteem or the person who was working in grounds, everyone at that moment was exactly the same looking for solutions to move our paradigm forward.
RR: Now, where did that come from, Terry, that you have some of that coming in, this idea of camaraderie and needing to build everybody up in that manner or did you garner that idea that come up with SOLVE from what you read in this book, how did that all come about?
TT: You know, I think it was a little bit of all of it. I think every time as leaders and we’re going through this experience if we could just sit back at times and, you know, kind of get off the treadmill a little bit and just start thinking about these different things that are moving forward in our lives, it does give us these moments of enlightenment. It gives us these small epiphanies that we can move forward with and literally that whole SOLVE principle came from just having conversations with our team here and really trying to understand how can we make it to where everyone embraces their importance in what we’re doing here and how we’re serving not only this institution but these students.
RR: That’s spectacular. Another follow up on that core is the buy in. How did you know you achieved the buy in at that time? Did you have some type of evaluation process? Or was it your senior staff saying, “Hey, Terry, they’re really buying into this SOLVE idea.” We always have the… there’s going to be some naysayers like they’ve seen another new person before, they promised I’m going to have a voice before. They promised this is a shared experience before. You have that. How did you, one, evaluate, yes, this is actually taking whole; and two, what was it that turned those naysayers on to this movement?
TT: You know what, I think it’s good old-fashioned consistency and hard work in staying true to these monikers and these things that people are embracing. I think sometimes it’s very important for us to… once we put something out there, stay the course. Stay the course. Make it a consistency that people can depend on and lean on even in times of difficulty. Right now, we’re all as a nation going through times of difficulty, but we’re still going down this path of trying to solve our issues and trying to figure out in putting our students first in what we do in terms of the offering here at Fresno State. So, I think, remaining consistent and quite honestly I have to… Randale, when you think about it, when we’re in athletics, we’re always in campaign mode, man, we never stop.
RR: That’s right.
TT: You know, you’re constantly continuing to, you know, reinforce these same lessons possibly in different ways but still moving it forward. And so, I always feel as though I’m earning or trying to earn today, just like I did my first day even though I’m starting my third year here at Fresno State.
RR: I tell you what, working for the San Francisco organization, that Jerry Rice mentality, you know, every day they said Jerry Rice is worried that he’s going to lose his job, the greatest receiver…
TT: That’s right.
RR: …arguably the greatest player of all time had that mentality. And that seems to be the same mentality you’re speaking about right there, Terry.
I want to jump to another piece that we talked a little bit earlier about duration neglect and then we’re talking about this chapter of thinking in a moment and how they kind of coincide with each other. One of the best stories in there, they talk about the duration neglect it comes from this idea that, you know, they had this test and these people were putting their hand in freezing cold water. And one is for 60 seconds and the second test was for 90 seconds. And then, at the end they’ll ask, “Hey, which test would you rather?” Well, the one that was for 90 seconds, it was the same cold as the one that was for 60 seconds but that extra 30 seconds they warmed it up about 3 to 5 degrees and that is how it ended. And then the people, when they told them again and said, “Hey, which test would you rather do again?” 67% said they rather take the 90-second test even though it was the same 60 seconds of cold, you know what I mean, but that ending towards the end, they forgot how it was. They just felt good on the way out, you know.
So then we’re talking about these, okay, now that I know this is how human nature is, what moments can I create in our activities. Now, you understood that concept. How did you get your staff to understand that concept and then to start searching for these moments as well?
TT: I think it really came down to giving them an ability to voice that grind that we just talked about, those pain points that they may have experienced but then saw the little glimmer of hope or light at the end that basically validated or reaffirm their contributions. I think that was the biggest key.
RR: That’s great.
TT: And we do that at every staff meeting, at every time we’re together and even try to do it beyond that by… we have the star principle where people can nominate other folks as stars in their contributions in what they do. So we do the same thing there but believe it or not, having that validity, validating your contributions and grind, your effort is literally all it takes and it’s a small thing. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be literally having a student athlete, one of the greatest things, one of the most touching moments that we had is we have, at the staff meetings, we’ll have a student athlete come and talk about their experience. Now, when I say a student athlete, it doesn’t have to be the highest profile student athlete. It’s probably better to have the one who’s the most gregarious, the one that people recognize and love and just say, “I like that kid. I really love that kid.” You know, there’s a couple of those folks that everybody in the department just cheers for. But when that young person starts talking about the things that they recall and that they appreciate, and it may be, you know, the way the field looks or it may be how my locker looks every day or it may be, “I so appreciate the fact that, you know, during the season, I eat a certain way and they always have this for me and I’m always appreciative of this person because they always have this for me,” you would be surprised how much all the heavy-lifting and all the grind that we all can remember just goes away and they remember those salient points. To me that’s that two or three degree temperature that is rising up after the long cold. And so, we try to highlight as many of those as… you could never have too much of that because it’s such a grind here and you and I both know, we don’t compensate our staffs as much as we should for all the effort and toil that they put in in service of our institutions. So we have to find these other points to pay them and that’s a way of paying them in my opinion.
RR: It goes right back to that emotional intelligence that I talked about before. You all listening right now can hear it. It’s the exact thing of being aware of where your staff’s story is and finding the student to come in there and speak towards that. Again, that makes so much sense why you’re having the success you’re having with your crew, Terry. And it goes right into the theme from chapter 10 which was “Create shared meanings”. And one thing that stood out that you just spoke, at least for me, was a student talking about the grass on the field and how that brings the grass crew now in to saying, “Hey, what we do is important because we keep these fields in a way that our students are able to continue to participate”. And they take pride in that because someone is looking and say, “Hey, I appreciate that and that you did it.” So in this grand idea of creating shared meaning, of delivering ultimately a great employee experience is what allowed you or what allows people to deliver a great customer “experience”.
You know, this chapter covers the Sharp experience, about this medical company and how there’s this exec from this company and is a nursing or a healthcare company and her father was going through a process, a very difficult one in his life and she was going through it with him and she realized the things that they preach at the executive level weren’t necessarily happening on the ground level. So that opened her eyes up to an opportunity saying, “Listen, what we’re preaching isn’t reaching our entire staff. What can we do?” And they created this grand assembly where they brought 4,000-plus employees in just to talk about what the goals were and then offered up an opportunity for people to volunteer to take on certain elements of those goals. So now the buy in is here and they are over certain things, and this changed their entire experience.
How do you create sustainable buy in through the department? SOLVE was one of the things that you talked about, but with that scope, what are some other things that you do, Terry?
TT: You know, it’s so funny how a small thing really does move the needle. So I think whenever you can recognize the collective and their achievements, it is the biggest thing going. I mean, and you know what, just like student athletes, our staff loves gear.
RR: That’s right.
TT: They like to look good.
RR: That’s right.
TT: And they like to be a part of it and they love the fact that, you know, a Jeff Tedford who’s a historical coach here at Fresno State is wearing the same thing as the admin assistants, and he recognizes them, right? He’s recognizing their power and their contribution. And then they go a little bit further to where all of a sudden he’ll say, “You know what, we had a very important family here and you made that family feel so good, I thank you”. I think it’s very important as athletic directors and as athletic leaders that some of the most visible of our leaders are in this with you and have the same mentality as you because at the end of the day their success is the students’ success and is also your success. So what we try to do is we try to make sure everyone understands that when we win a contest, that is the success of everyone. Everyone has had a part in that and we treat them like they’ve all had a part of it. We make sure that they understand you earned this. You earned every bit of it to the point to where they start doing things honestly that go far beyond their jobs.
RR: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
TT: It’s amazing how, you know, you see people literally picking up trash around, you know, because they have such a pride in their facility and they want it to look good and because they know when we have guests that’s a reflection of them. How we make sure people embrace what they do and make it a reflection of them is how it moves forward because in this business we all have pride. We all have a pride point and we all feel a meaning to be a part of something that’s really special. As long as you make sure your staff feels like they’re special, it’ll reflect and it’ll emanate throughout the operation of what we’re doing. And so, we’ve had a lot of success doing that through, like I said, through gear, through recognition, through other folks talking about other folks, through laughter. You know, people laughing with each other and having community, I mean, it really does… I have to be honest with you, other than COVID and how it’s decimated us because I think it’s the most devastating part of COVID is it does not allow community to join together.
RR: A hundred percent.
TT: That is the most destructive aspect of it, that it takes away our power in doing that. And so, we do it now through Zoom, but I cannot wait until the day when I can get all 150 to 200 of my staff back into a room together just to show appreciation and love to them.
RR: That makes so much sense. Like, it’s funny that you brought up the thing about gear and community. The community piece, because when they did… in another study that came from this book, when they were talking about laughter, they were on a campus and just going around just eavesdropping to see what’s on to say and is it the joke or what creates true laughter. And what they found was laughter, just like you said, was a social construct. It was more the people you’re being around and saying, “I’m laughing because I want you to know that I’m agreeing with the perspective that you’re saying. I hear you. I see you. I connect with this.” So it wasn’t the joke so to speak, it was the moment that they all understood and were conjoining in. So that makes sense why that’s so important. But I want to use that to jump into this idea about gear.
And so, you’ve done an amazing job with some of the financial campaigns that you’ve done for the athletic department out there. Speak a little bit about the opportunity to give a donor who’s giving you millions of dollars, you know, a t-shirt…
RR: …that makes them feel like part of a team and that’s what they remember. Can you talk about that a little bit?
TT: Randale, isn’t it amazing? It’s amazing, these people could buy things ten times over, but you give them a pen…
TT: …and it is the most precious thing.
RR: That’s right.
TT: And the reason why is because that pen represents a greater thing to them. It represents a greater power. And one of the things that is so special about Fresno State is the fact that this institution represents the valley. And the valley here is all about our ag community. Okay, it’s an ag country. You know, it’s all about how we feed the nation and how we feed the world. And those individuals really do appreciate the fact that this university as an epicenter of the valley takes the time to celebrate them and takes the time to celebrate their achievement and what they do. So it’s reciprocal. We all celebrate each other. So you could be going down the 99 Freeway and you could see these 18 wheelers with big bulldogs on the side of them and you’re wondering, “Where am I?”
TT: You know, and it’s their way of saying, “They’re celebrating us”. And so, we treat our donors in that way. It’s not the big grandiose things that touch their heart. It’s the small things that show your integrity and when you think about the intrinsics of who you are and what you represent, it really does have a value set that is right down their path. And quite honestly, it’s so funny, if you take it down that path, they also trust the fact that you’re being very efficient with the gifts that you’re giving them. So these farmers really do appreciate that.
RR: Hey, that’s a good point. That’s a good point. Efficiency in care of all you got, definitely makes sense in that industry.
Another follow-up question to that, like, you have a community that is brought in. You have from the donors to the student athletes to your staff, can you remember just one moment or some idea because you have that open communication that they brought up that they subsequently owned as an employee saying, “Hey, Terry, I know you don’t have the time to implement all these things but I got this one”? Can you remember one or anything that they may have implemented and owned?
TT: You know what, that’s funny you said it. We have this thing here called “The Day of Giving” which is where we, as a community, is where you just stop and you just try to give to the institution and support of the institution. It’s almost like giving back, right? It’s a giving-back principle. And, you know, in these times of difficulty, you know, you really don’t feel it’s appropriate at times to reach out and ask people to give money back because we’re all hurting. You know, we are all trying to make sure the resources go a long way. And, believe it or not, because we’ve tried to treat everyone with the difference and respect that is required of them because they’ve given tremendously to our enterprise here, these folks, they look at you and say, “Terry, we know that this university is struggling and our department is struggling, we’re going to give back to you”.
RR: It’s amazing.
TT: So, believe it or not, this year, in our giving, it was almost the same as it was during our heyday, during our highlight at a time period when things were financially going extremely well. Right now our giving is commensurate in terms of the number of people who are participating in our athletic department and in our athletic community. It’s almost the same. And to me that was a great complement to people taking the torch themselves. It really doesn’t… it doesn’t matter who’s in this seat it’s because this entity is going to move forward because it truly is serving a greater good and a greater community. And that was really, I’ll tell you, that was a touching moment for me being able to be a part of this community in that way.
RR: It’s amazing. At the end of the day, that’s who we are. We desire, as human beings, community. We desire to belong. We desire to be a part of something that is a defining purpose. And we use this industry to give back, so that gives back to the greater world. And like I said before, every word that I said about you and what I have known of you, I think the rest of our listeners here today got a little glimpse of that and they can see why, you know, you are a treasured person out there in Fresno State.
So that’s all the questions I have for you. Well, before I go out, I did have one thing to close this with before we bring Tai back in. What is one overarching concept that you take when you read through this book that you pass along to someone else, whether you get it for them on Amazon or you share your copy with them? What’s that one takeaway that you communicate when you hand it over to them?
TT: When we talk about, I think when we started to talk about defining moments, it’s so important for us to understand that as we put, as we start tilling that soil and planting those moments out there, know that the moment that is embraced by the community may not be the one that you think it is. And so, therefore, it’s important that every moment, every touchpoint that you can give to a person or give to a community member, try to make it the best it can be, try to make it the most fulfilling it can be because you never know which one is going to really, truly touch and enlighten that person to a higher level. And so, we try to make sure every touchpoint is a strong touchpoint here at Fresno State.
And sometimes we fail, but you know what, even in failing, and this is in the book as well, I’m sure you remember this, even in failing sometimes, that is the touchpoint, how you respond because your response shows care. And so, you don’t have to be a hundred percent. You can be 90 percent but that other 10 percent, make sure you make it extra special by really trying to serve that community in that way. And to me, I think that’s a very important aspect that truly resonates and goes way beyond athletics. It really goes to how we should move forward in any enterprise that we have in our lives.
RR: I love to see the platform that you’ve implemented, the lessons from this book, Terry, and I got to give a shout out to Katy Cemet who works at Marquette. We are part of the NCAA’s Effective Facilitation Workshop and we engage in community, all of us there. And at that moment she… a month later after that program, she sent me this book, The Power of Moments. And that’s a moment that I never forget, you know what I mean, about that opportunity because that has really shaped a lot of what I’ve implemented here along with my team at ODU. And it’s just that first-day experience, how you welcome people, how you get them engaged to feel like they are a part of the team because they are and you need all of them for every objective that you want to create for the purpose of serving student athletes in our community. And it becomes a beautiful thing where we’re able to now see and become more aware of all these moments that are there but need a little bit of manufacturing to be special. So that has been a great thing. So shouts to you, Tai, for getting us involved here and I’ll turn it back over to you.
TB: Yes, sir, gentlemen, that was an excellent conversation. I’ll touch on two things here and then I’ll wrap up the podcast.
First, Terry, like you, I worked in football for… well, I worked in football for almost 15 years. Of course, you do run a coaching side and administration side working in football, and to be able to, what you said in the beginning, be intentional in creating the moment that when the people who are traveling that the moment they remember is the shared meal rather going or coming, understanding football is anything could happen on any given Saturday or Sunday, we can win or lose, but if the moment is shared while we’re traveling is what they remember or even while we’re at the game, we share the movement while we’re at the game, it’s very astute of you to make sure those are the moments that are emphasized because the game can go either way and you don’t have any control of it. And I thought that was pretty good.
And then, Randale, of course, the questions you asked, right, anytime we’re in any role or on our way to a position like an athletic director or leading any kind of organization, we want to operate even if it’s just in thought or curiosity, much bigger than the role we’re in and the questions you asked were actually very good in terms of understanding college athletics and understanding what it takes to run a successful program.
Gentlemen, I really appreciate you joining us here on the Rising ADs Podcast for this book review.
RR: Thank you.
TT: Thank you so much, Tai, and Randale, you were phenomenal man. I appreciate you. You are such a great colleague and such a great reflection of what we’re trying to build in this industry. I so honor and appreciate serving students with you, man, you’re the best.
RR: Bless brother and blessed be in the presence man, appreciate that.
TB: That was Terry Tumey. He’s the director of athletics at Fresno State and Randale Richmond is a senior associate athletics director for compliance and student athlete welfare at Old Dominion. And the book we reviewed was The Power of Moments: Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. And of course, I’m Tai Brown with Athletic Director U. And in the words of Jill Bodensteiner, “Keep learning and keep leading”.