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Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood Book Review by Jeffrey Marx Reviewed by: Dr. Gerard Burke Biography: Dr. Gerard Burke is an assistant professor in Georgia Southern's College of Business Administration. He teaches courses in operations and supply chain management in the Department of Finance and Quantitative Analysis. Jerry researches primarily in the areas of strategic sourcing and supply chain optimization. Dr. Burke may be reached by email at [email protected] Disruptive products are those new product innovations that reshape industry positions. Cellular phones, digital photography, and automobiles all disrupted their respective markets upon introduction. With shortening product life cycles and more sophisticated consumers, firms are increasingly searching for innovation to capture or maintain a competitive advantage. This often requires thinking outside of the box. Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffrey Marx depicts how changing perspectives can profoundly impact life experiences. The book forces the reader to critically examine America's mainstream ideal of manhood. By association, business leaders, regardless of gender, may also gain a fresh perspective on their missions and business relations by reading this book. As the title suggests, this book is about life progression, so I highly recommend it not only to the business community, but also to the general population. The central message of the book is one of building relationships with others. Specifically, the (initial) football star alluded to in the title is Joe Ehrmann, a former Baltimore Colt's lineman. After a life changing event, Joe leaves behind the fast-life and finds purpose in divinity. Through ministering in urban environments, Joe develops the belief that a root problem in innercities is a lack of real men. From Joe's perspective the 3-Bs value system of ball, bedroom, and billfold conquests lead young males into unfulfilling and disaffectionate lives. Joe develops an outreach program for young men, Building Men for Others, which encourages boys to embrace measures of manhood in terms of personal relationships rather than athleticism, sexual prowess and financial clout. This philosophy is put into practice each fall by Ehrmann and Biff Poggi as they coach a Maryland high school football team; however, it is not the typical grid-iron scene. For example, players break pre-game huddles by yelling "Love each other!" rather than "Beat Team X!" The focus

The Cover Story Title and author: Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffrey Marx Number of pages: 192 Area of Business: management, organizational behavior, strategy, leadership Readability: Light Time needed to read: 2-3 Hours Why should I read this book? This book provides fresh perspectives on the importance of positive internal and external relationships in organizational success. Overall Rating: 3.5 bulbs

is on building valuable connections between players rather than distributing the outcome. The coaches' focus on teamwork, sportsmanship, and open affection among the team fosters positive emotions between males. Their tactics support their mission. Their leadership is driven by their shared vision. By developing trust among their players, the coaches enable the team to be greater than the sum of its parts. Jeffrey Marx spent a season documenting a football team coached by Joe and Biff, who strive to instill in the team the importance of using all of their talents on and off the field and to value the network of relationships that is the team. This is not to say that they do not encourage competition and want to win. They do want to win and have won frequently; however, they would rather have the boys play unselfishly and lose while giving their all than to win selfishly and half-heartedly. Marx does a masterful job of weaving several sub-plots around the central theme of building relationships. For example, two of the senior leaders on the team develop into the best of friendships despite living in opposite socio-economic circumstances. Interestingly, these two star players stuck together after high school and went on to become successful business students and football players at Wake Forest University. As I read this book, I noticed many parallels to today's business environment. Just as Joe believes the mainstream manhood value system leads to dysfunction, many investors are questioning incentives of corporate debt ratings services and corporate governance. Just as organized sports tend to measure success in wins and losses, business negotiations tend to be distributive rather than integrative. Joe and Biff's efforts to create synergy are akin to those of supply chain partners trying to bridge distrust inherent in dealings with disparate organizations. A tenet of this book and in contemporary business schools is that ethical integrity leads to a better long-term bottom line. Joe and Biff exhibit great leadership by developing tactics that reinforce strategies to foster the mission of Building Men for Others. An organization's mission is its beacon and managerial decisions that sacrifice long-term success for short-term success diminish its shine.


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