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About Don Yaeger
For the last 30+ years, including his time as Associate Editor of Sports Illustrated magazine, Don has had a front row seat to study the greatest champions of all time.
Don teaches the lessons he's learned from these great champions and team builders to organizations all over the world with live and virtual professional development programs.
To learn more about these programs, and how Don can motivate your team to perform like champions, please visit Don's website at donyaeger.com
Don Yaeger lives in Tallahassee, FL with his wife Jeanette and their two children Will and Maddie.
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The youngest living Medal of Honor recipient delivers an unforgettable memoir that "will inspire every reader” (Jim Mattis)
NATIONAL BESTSELLER | 2020 Marine Commandant's Reading List selection
On November 21, 2010, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter was posted atop a building in violent Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when an enemy grenade skittered toward Kyle and fellow Marine Nick Eufrazio. Without hesitation, Kyle chose a path of selfless heroism that few can imagine. He jumped on the grenade, saving Nick but sacrificing himself.
One of the year’s most anticipated books, Kyle’s remarkable memoir reveals a central truth that will inspire every reader: Life is worth everything we’ve got. It is the story of how one man became a so-called hero who willingly laid down his life for his brother-in-arms—and equally, it is a story of rebirth, of how Kyle battled back from the gravest challenge to forge a life of joyful purpose.
Kyle Carpenter’s heart flatlined three times while being evacuated off the battlefield in Afghanistan. Yet his spirit was unbroken. Severely wounded from head to toe, Kyle lost his right eye as well as most of his jaw. It would take dozens of surgeries and almost three years in and out of the hospital to reconstruct his body. From there, he began the process of rebuilding his life. What he has accomplished in the last nine years is extraordinary: he’s come back a stronger, better, wiser person.
In 2014, Kyle was awarded the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his “singular act of courage” on that rooftop in Afghanistan, an action which had been reviewed exhaustively by the military. Kyle became the youngest living recipient of the award–and only the second living Marine so honored since Vietnam.
You Are Worth It is a memoir about the war in Afghanistan and Kyle’s heroics, and it is also a manual for living. Organized around the credos that have guided Kyle’s life (from “Don’t Hide Your Scars” to “Call Your Mom”), the book encourages us to become our best selves in the time we’ve been given on earth. Above all, it’s about finding purpose, regardless of the hurdles that may block our way.
Moving and unforgettable, You Are Worth It is an astonishing memoir from one of our most extraordinary young leaders.
“This is my kind of history book. Get ready. Here’s the action.” —BRAD MELTZER, bestselling author of The Fifth Assassin and host of Decoded
When George Washington beat a hasty retreat from New York City in August 1776, many thought the American Revolution might soon be over. Instead, Washington rallied—thanks in large part to a little-known, top-secret group called the Culper Spy Ring. He realized that he couldn’t defeat the British with military might, so he recruited a sophisticated and deeply secretive intelligence network to infiltrate New York.
Drawing on extensive research, Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger have offered fascinating portraits of these spies: a reserved Quaker merchant, a tavern keeper, a brash young longshoreman, a curmudgeonly Long Island bachelor, a coffeehouse owner, and a mysterious woman. Long unrecognized, the secret six are finally receiving their due among the pantheon of American heroes.
This is the little-known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation.
When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America faced a crisis. The new nation was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa’s Barbary coast routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute payments far beyond what the new country could afford.
Over the previous fifteen years, as a diplomat and then as secretary of state, Jefferson had tried to work with the Barbary states (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco). Unfortunately, he found it impossible to negotiate with people who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy—at least not while easy money could be made by extorting the Western powers. So President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy’s new warships and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli—launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.
As they did in their previous bestseller, George Washington’s Secret Six, Kilmeade and Yaeger have transformed a nearly forgotten slice of history into a dramatic story that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Among the many suspenseful episodes:
·Lieutenant Andrew Sterett’s ferocious cannon battle on the high seas against the treacherous pirate ship Tripoli.
·Lieutenant Stephen Decatur’s daring night raid of an enemy harbor, with the aim of destroying an American ship that had fallen into the pirates’ hands.
·General William Eaton’s unprecedented five-hundred-mile land march from Egypt to the port of Derne, where the Marines launched a surprise attack and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.
Few today remember these men and other heroes who inspired the Marine Corps hymn: “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.” Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates recaptures this forgotten war that changed American history with a real-life drama of intrigue, bravery, and battle on the high seas.
The War of 1812 saw America threatened on every side. Encouraged by the British, Indian tribes attacked settlers in the West, while the Royal Navy terrorized the coasts. By mid-1814, President James Madison’s generals had lost control of the war in the North, losing battles in Canada. Then British troops set the White House ablaze, and a feeling of hopelessness spread across the country.
Into this dire situation stepped Major General Andrew Jackson. A native of Tennessee who had witnessed the horrors of the Revolutionary War and Indian attacks, he was glad America had finally decided to confront repeated British aggression. But he feared that President Madison’s men were overlooking the most important target of all: New Orleans.
If the British conquered New Orleans, they would control the mouth of the Mississippi River, cutting Americans off from that essential trade route and threatening the previous decade’s Louisiana Purchase. The new nation’s dreams of western expansion would be crushed before they really got off the ground.
So Jackson had to convince President Madison and his War Department to take him seriously, even though he wasn’t one of the Virginians and New Englanders who dominated the government. He had to assemble a coalition of frontier militiamen, French-speaking Louisianans,Cherokee and Choctaw Indians, freed slaves, and even some pirates. And he had to defeat the most powerful military force in the world—in the confusing terrain of the Louisiana bayous.
In short, Jackson needed a miracle. The local Ursuline nuns set to work praying for his outnumbered troops. And so the Americans, driven by patriotism and protected by prayer, began the battle that would shape our young nation’s destiny.
As they did in their two previous bestsellers, Kilmeade and Yaeger make history come alive with a riveting true story that will keep you turning the pages. You’ll finish with a new understanding of one of our greatest generals and a renewed appreciation for the brave men who fought so that America could one day stretch “from sea to shining sea.”
Looking back on how he went from being a homeless child in Memphis to playing in the NFL, Michael talks about the goals he had to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family. Eventually he grasped onto football as his ticket out and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. With his adoptive family, the Touhys, and other influential people in mind, he describes the absolute necessity of seeking out positive role models and good friends who share the same values to achieve one's dreams. Sharing untold stories of heartache, determination, courage, and love, I Beat the Odds is an incredibly rousing tale of one young man's quest to achieve the American dream.
There is nothing more magical than watching a team come together, to manage adversity as a group, selflessly give to others, to find common purpose. Inspiring that to happen year-in and year-out is what keeps us in leadership. Don Yaeger has studied the best of the best. Now it is our turn to study this book.—Mike Krzyzewski, five-time NCAA Tournament Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winning Basketball coach, Duke University Men’s Basketball
What makes a team great? Not just good. Not just functional. But great?
Over the last six years, long-time Sports Illustrated associate editor Don Yaeger has been invited by some of the greatest companies in the world to speak about the habits of high-performing individuals. Delivering an average of 80 keynote speeches per year, Don was approached by his most consistent client, Microsoft, to develop a talk on what allowed some teams to play at a championship level year after year. From Microsoft and Starbucks to the New England Patriots and San Antonio Spurs, what do some organizations do seemingly better than most all of their opponents?
Don took the challenge. He began building into his travel schedule opportunities to interview our generation’s greatest team builders from the sports and business worlds. During this process, he has conducted more than 100 interviews with some of the most successful teams and organizations in the country. From those interviews, Don has identified 16 habits that drive these high-performing teams.
Building on the stories, examples, and first-hand accounts, each chapter in Great Teams comes with applicable examples on how to apply these characteristics in any organization. Great Teams is the ultimate intersection of the sports and business worlds and a powerful companion for thought leaders, teams, managers, and organizations that seek to perform similarly. The insight shared in this book is sure to enhance any team in its pursuit of excellence.
- Great Teams Understand the “Why”
- Great Teams Allow Culture to Shape Who They Recruit
- Great Teams Run Successful Huddles
- Great Teams Manage Dysfunction, Friction, and Strong Personalities
- Great Teams See Value Others Miss
- Great Teams Know How to Win in Critical Situations
- Great Teams Embrace Change
- Great Teams Build a Mentoring Culture
- Great Teams Have a Rallying Cry
It takes a special formula to construct championship quality teams and in this book by Don Yaeger you will be able to see how great teams are formulated. Don Yaeger is Awesome, baby, with a capital "A"! –Dick Vitale, Hall of Fame broadcaster, ESPN
Everyone wants to work on or play on a Great Team. The differentiator I’ve noticed is that the best teams pay close attention to and protect their culture and their people. Don Yaeger shows in this book that the same lessons are true on the sporting fields. There’s much to be learned within these pages and I know you’ll enjoy. –Gary Kelly, CEO and Chairman of Southwest Airlines
There are so many parallels between building a great sports team and building a corporate one, not the least of which that great culture makes amazing things possible. Great Teams by Don Yaeger provides a roadmap for all of us...in either of those worlds.—GJ Hart, CEO, California Pizza Kitchen
In 2016 the Cubs snapped a 108-year curse, winning the World Series in a history-making, seven-game series against the Cleveland Indians. Of the many storylines to Chicago's fairytale season, one stood out: the late-career renaissance of David Ross, the 39-year-old catcher who had played back-up for 13 of his 15 pro seasons.
Beyond Ross's remarkably strong play, he became the ultimate positive force in the Cubs locker room, mentoring and motivating his fellow players, some of them nearly twenty years his junior. Thanks to Cubs Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, "Grandpa Rossy" became a social media sensation. No one, however, could have predicted that Ross's home run in his final career at bat would help seal the Cubs championship.
Now, in Teammate, Ross shares the inspiring story of his life in baseball, framed by the events of that unforgettable November night.
Opening with an in-depth discussion of the nature of greatness - what it is, what it is not, and why it is worth pursuing - each subsequent chapter of the book consists of a detailed story illustrating one aspect of greatness with examples from the sport's greats that Don Yaeger has interviewed over the past 30 years. Included are practical tips and plans for assisting the reader in implementing new habits, routines, practices, and philosophies of greatness into his or her daily life. It is the strong belief of those whom Don Yaeger has interviewed over the years that greatness is available to all of us. Not in the same way or in the same field, but we all have the capacity to achieve greatness if they'll give dedication to the characteristics defined in this book.
His legacy is towering. Walter Payton—the man they called Sweetness, for the way he ran—remains the most prolific running back in the history of the National Football League, the star of the Chicago Bears' only Super Bowl Championship, eleven times voted the most popular sports figure in Chicago's history. Off the field, he was a devoted father whose charitable foundation benefited tens of thousands of children each year, and who—faced with terminal liver disease—refused to use his celebrity to gain a preferential position for organ donation. Walter Payton was not just a football hero; he was America's hero.
Never Die Easy is Walter Payton's autobiography, told from the heart. Growing up poor in Mississippi, he took up football to get girls' attention, and went on to become a Black College All-American at tiny Jackson State (during which time he was also a finalist in a Soul Train dance contest). Drafted by the Bears in 1975, he predicted that he would last only five years but went on to play thirteen extraordinary seasons, a career earning him regular acknowledgment as one of the greatest players in the history of professional football. And when his playing days were over, he approached business and charity endeavors with the same determination and success he had brought to the football field, always putting first his devotion to friends and family. His ultimate battle with illness truly proved him the champion he always had been and prompted a staggering outpouring of love and support from hundreds of thousands of friends and admirers.
Written with veteran journalist and author Don Yaeger in the last weeks of Walter Payton's life, Never Die Easy presents Walter's singular voice—warm, plainspoken, funny, self-aware—along with the voices of the friends, family, teammates, and business associates who knew him best at all stages of his life, including his wife, Connie, and their children, Brittney and Jarrett; his teammate and friend Matt Suhey; former Bears head coach Mike Ditka; and many, many others.
Walter made Don Yaeger promise that his book would be "inspirational and leave people with some kind of lesson . . . and make sure you spell all the words right." Never Die Easy keeps all those promises.
Born a spastic quadraplegic, Rick Hoyt was written off by numerous doctors. They advised his parents, Dick and Judy, to put their firstborn son in an institution. But Rick's parents refused. Determined to give their son every opportunity that "normal" kids had, they made sure to include Rick in everything they did, especially with their other two sons, Rob and Russ.
But home was one thing, the world at large, another. Repeatedly rebuffed by school administrators who resisted their attempts to enroll Rick in school, Rick's mother worked tirelessly to help pass a landmark bill, Chapter 766, the first special-education reform law in the country. As a result, Rick and other physically disabled kids were able to attend public school in Massachusetts.
But how would Rick communicate when he couldn't talk? To overcome this daunting obstacle, Dick and Judy worked with Dr. William Crochetiere, then chairman of the engineering department at Tufts University, and several enterprising graduate students, including Rick Foulds, to create the Tufts Interactive Communication device (TCI). In the Hoyt household, it became known as the "Hope machine" as it enabled Rick to create sentences by pressing his head against a metal bar. For the first time ever, Rick was able to communicate.
Then one day Rick asked his dad to enter a charity race, but there was a twist. Rick wanted to run too. Dick had never run a race before, but more challenging still, he would have to push his son's wheelchair at the same time. But once again, the Hoyts were determined to overcome whatever obstacle was put in their way.
Now, over one thousand races later, including numerous marathons and triathlons, Dick Hoyt continues to push Rick's wheelchair. Affectionately known worldwide as Team Hoyt, they are as devoted as ever, continuing to inspire millions and embodying their trademark motto of "Yes, you can."