BMJ Stone
EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Pullman Ermator
Southwest Scaffolding
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
August 20, 2010 7:00 AM CDT

Project Leadership Lessons from a Sports Agent: ‘Jerry Maguire’

Get coaching, get a plan, get started, get the money


I can tell by the way you are looking at the title, you could not possibly be interested in this column! What could a sports agent possibly have to teach us about construction project management and leadership?

First, an intro for you who are not familiar with this movie about an agent for professional athletes. Jerry Maguire is an aggressive agent for an extremely successful, even more aggressive, sports agency. Not really a good guy by nature, he still develops somewhat of a conscience and decides to move on to his own business. Problem is, he only has one athlete he can take with him (sort of) Rod Tidwell.

Winning Tidwell over to his new company is crucial for Jerry. Rod listens as Jerry paints the picture of what it’s going to be like:

“I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcasted during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens. I’ll give you fifteen minutes to call me back.”
Rod sees the picture. But he also has his own financial responsibilities. So, what does Rod say to Jerry? You know the answer, so say it with me: “Show me the money!”

The funny thing is that Rod says it several times, so convincingly, that Jerry begins to see Rod’s picture! The perfect turn-around: Jerry goes to sell Rod, but then Jerry gets sold by Rod, just like construction.

You see, there are some aspects of this movie that hit close to home, if you care to look. It’s a “dilemma,” meaning a twoedged sword. On the one side, a business cannot long endure without making a profit or taking from the savings of its owners. On the other, it you are ruthless, people won’t want to work with you, regardless of price or craftsmanship. So, somehow you’ve got to find a way to consistently make reasonable profits, while hanging on to a reasonable number of your clients. And, if you are better at making a profit than you are at hanging on to clients, you probably need a consistent stream of new clients, as well. What a mess! There must be a better way.

Here is a strategy that will pay you thousands of dollars over the years, beginning now:
  • We let the client make the rules; that seems nice, but, after all, it is his money.

  • We treat him with respect. He deserves it. We promise our best. We mean it.

  • He tells us what he wants, and we give him a price.

  • We deliver what he wants. He gets our best.
Simple enough? What, you’ve already heard this? It doesn’t work? Have you implemented it exactly the way Coach would? Find out how I’d implement it, for free, in full, by going to my website,, and getting my five-part course on the “Winning RFI.”

Basically, though, here is the shortened version: While always, always, always treating your client with respect, you very firmly remind him that he wrote out what he wanted. He came up with the plans and specs, asked you for your very best price, and that’s what you have given. However, because you did give out your very best price, there is no “fluff” in it to do work that appears to be “out of scope.” And, unfortunately, the contract he wrote and asked you to sign, and by which you must abide, does not allow you to do any out-of-scope work without the expressed, written permission of the client. That permission also must lay out the terms of payment.

This presents the client with his own dilemma. He has to acknowledge that his own documents laid out exactly how you are supposed to build the project and what is included. You didn’t draw up the contract; he did. You didn’t leave anything out; he apparently did – you say with a huge, respectful smile, because he is about to Show us the money!

Coach Gary’s Corner

Want your own version of Jerry’s vision for Rod? Want to become the most recognized and wanted company in your area? Need new business? I’m only looking for two new marketing clients, so, email me immediately. Got a coach to take you to the next level – the finish line? You need a process. Readers get this report for free, along with free video tips from Coach Gary. Go there now.

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at

Copyright 2010 Gary Micheloni


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