Earlier this spring Joliet West athletic director, Steve Milsaps, allowed me to come to Joliet, Illinois and share for a couple of hours some ‘Culture Factory’ with his staff.  It was a great trip for a Texan who hasn’t ever been to the Chicago area and also to get to talk about what I believe is the edge in creating a culture – core values and the daily emphasis.  A few weeks later the thought hit me, ‘if Steve would bring me in who else would be open to doing this?’  After my usual 2 minutes of thinking about it, I tweeted out my willingness to go visit schools and do 1-day seminars.  In 24-hours I had seven trips lined up for this summer.  I scheduled most of them before we started our summer strength and conditioning program which started this past Monday so I took a few vacation days and headed out to see new sights.  I have been to Georgia, Montana, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  I still have a Houston and Georgia trip left, but there is one big ‘take home’ for me so far that is worth sharing now.

First of all, for all you Texans reading this we are lucky.  I knew had it good with our retirement system, athletic periods, and coaches in the classroom but when you go visit and see first-hand some of the limitations coaches around the country are dealing with it is eye-opening.  THANK YOU, THSCA and UIL for all you have done over the years to allow us to operate the way we do in Texas.  I have met some tremendous men and coaches on my journey this summer.  They have a growth mindset and took a chance of spending a little money to get me to their campus.  These guys will always be ahead of the game because they are not just ok with status quo they are hungry to learn and have the ‘better is possible’ attitude.  With that being said, many are doing it with ‘walk on’ coaches, no athletic periods, without indoor facilities, etc.  My hats off to you coaches who get it done anyway!

‘Blue collar’ Wednesday shirts for summer workouts.

The ‘Culture Factory’ topics are not sport or even coaching specific.  I have had principals and teachers sit in and have gotten great feedback from them.  We go over relationship building, elite team meetings, growth mindset for educators, branding, ways to give them an identity, leaders eat last and developing servant leaders.  I always start my seminar with the ‘holy grail’ of culture – CORE VALUES.  If you have read much of my writings core values are front and center.   Culture is how they think, speak and act for me.  I don’t think you can get this done without core values.

Of the five schools I have visited most have some type of core value system.  They have signs up that help sell them –  check.  Some of them even had the team help them create the core values – check.  Parkview Baptist head coach, Jay Mayet, has a card he gives his players with their values on one side and the phone numbers of his coaches on the other side so if any player is in a situation where he may not stay ‘above the line’ he can call a coach – double check!

The best strategy I have emphasized for each program is to sell them on the idea of IT MUST BE INTENTIONAL EVERY DAY if you are going to have real core values.  We must have signs of them up (everywhere), we must let them be involved in creating the values and defining them (what you are in on you are in with).  Even if you are way ahead of the game and doing all this but not attacking them daily and think you have ‘real’ core values you are wrong.  I call it the DAILY FIST-FIGHT.

Once you get this mentality that is must be part of your routine it is not only pretty easy but fun to see how many things you can come up with.  We have a ton, but we are some that I would like to share in this blog.

Music – each day when our guys arrive the music we have playing in our hallway will be specific to the core value for that day.  For example Wednesday (blue collar tough) we have ‘Tough Enough’ by the Fabulous Freebirds playing over and over.  On Thursdays (family) ‘We are Family’ by Sister Sledge is looped.

T-shirts – we ask our guys to wear blue shirts on Wednesdays in the summer to sell ‘blue collar’.  You can buy just about anything on Amazon so I have bought a few shirts to wear to emphasize the value of the day also.  Monday is ‘juice’ and I have a couple that I wear.  The collection is growing!  Our goal is to fascinate them and shirts are one way to do this.  *Never leave the back of a t-shirt blank.  Always use the prime real estate to sell your brand.  We have put all of our values on the back but also put phrases and quotes that are important to us.

Team Meeting – we have a daily team meeting and will find a way to work the core value of the day into the message.

Post Practice Team Talk – On Tuesdays (competition) we always ask your guys, “who was the most competitive, who made you better today?”  They will give us a few names and we let them ‘break us out’.

Summer Book Study – daily, we stress every way we can ‘you get what you earn’.  This summer we are studying Pound the Stone by Josh Medcalf each Monday after workouts.  It is totally voluntary to participate, but only those who do are eligible to be on our leadership council or a captain.

Post Game Recognition – on games we win we have a blue-collar nominee from the offense and the defense given to me from the coaches and players.  They rock, paper, scissors and the winner is our ‘Blue Collar’ player of the week.  He breaks us out.

Coin Toss Captains – we have our leadership council select the guys who have exhibited our core values that week.  For example- the most juiceful, the most competitive, the toughest, showed the most love for our family, etc.

Social Media – we have our guys on Thursdays take a pic with their favorite teacher, principal, and tweet.  We do this about once a month.  They have also taken pics with their mom, cafeteria worker, etc.  We tell them to give the person great eye contact, a hug and a sincere thank you for all they do for them.

The National Anthem – our game day values are ‘finish’ and ‘payday’.  We align in numerical order for the national anthem and when it is complete one of our players in the middle (last year it was #34) steps out and he and all players raise their fist.  When he shouts, “finish!”  the entire team yells payday” as they drop the fist.

These are just a few ways we make sure our core values are relevant.  IF YOU DO NOT FIND WAYS TO EMPHASIZE YOUR VALUES DAILY then your team will not live them and you aren’t getting much out of them.  Just like taking a bath if you only do something every now and then it is not effective.

If you have something you do in your program please share in the comments below.

Thanks for getting in ‘The Factory’!


Just wrapped up our first session from TX to KY with @CoachJacksonTPW Awesome stuff coach!!
Scott Grizzle
Greenup Co. Football
Greenup, KY
Many people talk about culture, but few people have built and sustained a culture like Coach Jackson. He is living and implementing culture on a daily basis. If you want strategies and examples of how to build your teams culture, then I recommend you learn from Coach Jackson’s down to earth, real-life approach to culture!
Steve Millsaps
Joliet West Athletic Director
Joliet, Illinois

I am a proud 28-year veteran coach and educator and am the head football coach and campus coordinator at North Forney High School in Forney, TX.  NF is a 5A school with 1,600 students that was opened in 2009.  This past season we finished 10-3, the best record in the history of the school. We achieved a few milestones; defeating three teams they had never beaten, avg. 53 points a game (top 10 in 5A Texas history), won first 5A playoff game and advanced to the third round for the first time.  None of this would have happened w/o great players, coaches, and administration support.  But, it also would not have happened if we would not have changed the culture, a holistic approach and a commitment to the mental game.
I will share some of the things we did this season but am also excited to learn from you out there who are also on this journey.  The bottom line for me is I love coaches and believe in our great profession.  I want to contribute and writing CDS has allowed me to do in a small way.  This newsletter will also, but I hope will connect like-minded leaders.  I plan to learn as much as I give by doing this.



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