The NFL, David Letterman, The World’s Most Positive People and Great Hiring Practices Have This in Common


UP People are a joy to be around. I once read that ”

Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope.” These words describe UP People. I have been fortunate in my life to be surrounded by them. When I hire people, I am always looking for people with a positive disposition and a can do attitude. One of my mantras, and I know many of my CEO colleagues share this view,  has always been to “recruit for attitude and train for skill.”

Recently, I have had encounters with three of the most positive people that have ever walked the planet.  Leland Eric Johnson (AKA – Lee) played 18 seasons in the National Football League.  He came out of BYU in 1984 after winning a national Championship with the Cougars.

In his 18 seasons, Johnson played in 259 games, recorded 1,226 punts for 51,979 yards, third most in NFL history. But guess what – in all of Johnson’s storied career, he only played on one team that made the playoffs.  You would think that would frustrate the average person.  Not Lee- he is world of positivity.

Lee personifies this quote:

“When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation, and people want to be near you.”

― Shannon L. Alder

The Second person is my Mother – Kay Bradford. She is the Mother of 7 and grandparent of 25 and so many great grandchildren, frankly we have lost count. She is 90 years old and has 104 Facebook friends.

The other day I

sent her some proposed designs for my new book and here was her response: “David they are all wonderful… are wonderful….the world is wonderful and I am so very happy about your many successes. life is beautiful. I love you mother”- NOW THAT’S ONE POSITIVE PERSON!

When people ask her how her day is going, the response they hear is:  “This is the greatest day of my life.  Really, I cannot believe how blessed I am.”  Now I can tell you from direct personal experience that her life has not been a bowl of cherries.  But you would never know it from meeting her. When you meet Mom you will likely here her say:

“Something wonderful is going to Happen to Me today.”

Bev Tanner – known far and near as the “Baking Lady” on the David Letterman Show. This woman, Mother of 14 children, was one of the most energetic and positive people I have ever encountered. The energy she had for life was contagious. Bev passed away a couple of years ago.  She was a teacher, a baker, a great Mother,  a spiritual leader, and a human dynamo. One of the things I remember from her funeral was a statement made by one of her students:  “Bev Tanner is the only substitute teacher I ever remember. So much energy and joy!  She was a great example of living life to the fullest.”

The other day, I had occasion to reminisce on Bev’s life and legacy when I shared one of her Letterman show appearances with a friend. Check it out as David Letterman, Demi Moore, and Bev Tanner bake Tiramisu.  You are in for a high energy, UP person. 

As a hiring manager, I have always made it a point to rank attitude higher than skill set. Teaching and training a person on how to be an “UP” person is next to impossible whereas you can train someone to improve their skills. While someone’s resume may tell you a lot about the job candidate’s skill set, it does not tell you if they are an UP person. I strongly believe that when a hiring managers surround themselves with people with can-do attitudes, there will be a positive energy at play and you will be amazed at what can get done. One of my all-time favorite quotes is this from Margaret Mead, the well-known cultural anthropologist:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed (and I would add ‘positive’) citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

My advice:  If you want to change the world and get a job done, hire “UP” people. 

What about you? Who are the “UP” people in your life? How have they made a difference for you?

Posted in Posted in Up Principles  |  8 Comments

8 thoughts on “The NFL, David Letterman, The World’s Most Positive People and Great Hiring Practices Have This in Common”

  1. I do agree that positive attitude is much more important than skills. You can always learn new skills or improve them but you can never learn to have a good attitude. Having a great energy and being optimistic about life is inside each person and I don’t think you can learn that.I LOVED that quote by Shannon L. Alder. It was so good that I had to write it down. I think this other quote that I just read perfectly matches the UP people. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” Art Linkletter

  2. Any task and I mean any task can be made fun and interesting if you are working along side UP people. It just doesn’t seem like work. Thanks for sharing, wish more employers could understand this concept.

  3. I totally agree – work is much easier and much more fun and you achieve a whole lot more with get-up-and-do-it and fun colleagues around you. Great article.

  4. Amen! It has been my pleasure to have my own personal lists of “Lee, Kay, and Bev” in my life and career. Indeed the positive outlook turns ideas into actions, successes into catalysts, failures into value, and the ride worth taking. Thanks for the post to remind me how grateful I am for those who have propelled me forward…a marvelous direction.

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