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Lessons in Interceptions: The Surprising Thing the Construction Industry Can Learn from Football Legend Steve Young

Steve Young Is a Keynote Speaker for the 2018 PlanGrid Construction Summit

“I threw 202 interceptions in my career. I don’t remember each one, but each one was painful,” said Steve Young while addressing attendees of a Deal Economy conference and reflecting on his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

After each interception, where the opposing team would take possession of the ball, he described how his team members  questioned, “why did you do that?” For a long time Young felt the need to make up reasons for his mistake: the sun in his eyes, it was wet, his teammate turned the wrong way and so forth. However, there came a day when Young was done explaining and owned his actions.

“At the moment of truth, I’m responsible.”

This coming June 11, Steve Young will keynote PlanGrid’s Construction Summit. Beyond his experience with interceptions, the former Hall of Fame football player will join 30+ speakers and address more than 500 construction professionals to share his insight on leadership, teamwork and accountability, both on and off the field.

Today’s Construction Depends on Touchdown Style Teamwork

Once Young stopped playing the blame game for interceptions, he took accountability and addressed his teammates. “I screwed up,” he said. “But here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to go down to the sidelines, we’re going to get a drink of water, we’re going to rest up, come back to the field and we’re going to win the game. What do you say?”

From that day forward, his teammates’ attitude shifted. The whole team took collective responsibility for what happened, and with accountability now infused into the team culture, everyone could move past the mistake with a winning attitude.

In construction, there can be a laundry list of mistakes – the subs didn’t build according to the design plans, the materials ordered were incorrect, weather impacted the schedule, personalities clashed… you get the picture. Accountability is often missing from the equation, and workers are quick to point a finger instead of owning up and moving on. As a result, project stakeholders can often be more concerned about looking out for themselves, rather than thinking about one successful outcome as a team.
“Perception is reality,” said Young in an interview with Forbes. “I worked hard my entire career to establish myself as a leader. But I wasn’t a leader until I was perceived as one. You become a leader in times of trouble. Leaders emerge when things don’t go well. When everyone else starts pointing fingers, a leader takes responsibility.”

Like football, construction is a team effort. Buildings are getting more complex, with more people involved and larger projects to tackle. These projects now depend on more roles taking accountability for the final outcome by collaborating and communicating as a team, increasing productivity in the process. Without a fundamental shift towards a team-oriented culture, projects will continue to suffer from poor performance, quality issues and cost and schedule overruns.

Register for the PlanGrid Construction Summit

To see Steve Young and 30+ experts from the construction industry, register for PlanGrid’s Construction Summit in San Francisco from June 10-11, 2018. Early bird discount is available through April 15, but hurry, conference spaces are filling up fast.

Register Today

About Steve Young

Young retired in 1999 as the highest-rated quarterback in NFL history. His gridiron achievements include being the first left-handed quarterback inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2005), a Super Bowl MVP, two regular season MVP awards, six NFL Passing titles and seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances.

Young, since his retirement has taken an active role in improving the communities that impacted him the most: San Francisco and Utah. He founded and chaired the Forever Young Foundation (FYF), which is actively involved in children’s charities in the San Francisco Bay Area and Utah. Young has also been a corporate spokesperson for high-profile companies such as Van Heusen, Visa, Nike, Sprint, Prilosec, PowerBar, ICON Health & Fitness, and Sun Microsystems.  

Young is currently a Managing Director and Co-founder of Huntsman Gay Global Capital.  He is also a member of Huntsman Gay’s Policy and Investment Committee. Prior to his tenure at Huntsman Gay, he was a co-founder and Managing Director of Sorenson Capital, a private equity fund which focused on middle market leveraged buyouts in the Western United States. Previously, he was a member of Northgate Capital, LLC, the general partner of Northgate Capital Partners, L.P., a fund of funds.

A versatile talent, Young is a licensed attorney, an acclaimed motivational speaker, has appeared on a variety of talk shows and has even dabbled in the acting world. He was the studio co-host of the Super Bowl XXXIV pre-game, half-time and post-game show on ABC. Steve has also written a children’s book entitled Forever Young. He is currently an analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage.



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