Thursday, January 26, 2012

Former CEO taking over at Coastal Carolina

Another story on my Alma Mater and its new football coach, a friend of Warren Buffett according to the article.

The new boss opens the door of his office, where the walls are still bare, and walks into the adjacent conference room. When he sits at the head of the table, his employees get quiet. Then Joe Moglia begins talking about how his new team will sell their new product.

This is a familiar scene for Moglia, the 61-year-old Fortune 500 CEO-turned-football coach: Uniting a team under a big-picture vision while obsessing over details. Details like getting Equal instead of Splenda for the coffee room. Or using a bigger font for the list of recruits. Or that it's of utmost importance to pronounce a recruit's name correctly -- to know Octavius goes by "Tae" -- because that makes a kid feel special.

But at this coaches' meeting just weeks before signing day, it's not Moglia's obsessing over small details that defines him. Instead, it's the inspirational qualities we all want in our football coaches that captures the room.

Moglia starts riffing to his staff on what to say during a meeting with a recruit, and it's clear he's selling more than football.

"'You think you may have an opportunity to play in the NFL?'" Moglia says. "'We very well could help you with that, but that's not what we're about. Because at some point in time, your career comes to an end … The decision you're really making at this point in your life is this: Where am I going to go that's going to give me the best chance to make it as a man, as a leader, as a father, as a husband?'"

The stuff of a head coach -- the delegating, the analyzing problems and making decisions on the fly, the projecting an aura of decisiveness from the head of the room: it's old hat to this man. He rose through Merrill Lynch until he was in charge of all investment products for private clients. He became CEO of Ameritrade Holding Corp., and he increased the company's market capitalization from $700 million to $12 billion.

But the most striking difference on this sunny morning near Myrtle Beach? The surroundings. Right now, outside Moglia's conference room window aren't the high-rises of Manhattan or the TD Ameritrade campus in Omaha but instead the quaint football stadium at Coastal Carolina University, a low-level Division 1 school where Moglia was hired last month.

Right now, it seems, Joe Moglia is the least likely head coach in all of college football.

The challenge of Coastal Carolina's new CEO of football will be twofold: To sell Coastal Carolina. And to sell himself as a real football coach, not just some rich man who wants a new hobby.