Lead Any Team to Win

Master the Essential Mindset to Motivate, Set Priorities, and Build Your Own Dynasty


By Jason Selk

By Tom Bartow

With Matthew Rudy

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“One of the ten best leadership books so far this year.” — Bloomberg

Following up the popular peak performance book Organize Tomorrow Today, a new plan to motivate, set priorities and lead any team to optimal achievement

Watch a triumphant speech after a sports championship or business milestone and you’ll almost always hear some variation of this catchphrase: “It couldn’t have happened without the great team we have.” It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a 10,000-employee Fortune 500 company or running a small business, you’re a part of a team. With a combined 50 years of experience building, managing, advising, and troubleshooting teams in both the business and sports worlds, Jason Selk and Tom Bartow now reveal the common DNA that links the highest performing teams.

In Organize Your Team Today, Selk and Bartow show how it takes collective mental toughness to win, developed only through a clear understanding of the goals, limitations, roles and personalities on your team. Great leaders respect and embrace channel capacity, Selk and Bartow explain, which means they don’t overload their teams with blizzards of tasks and responsibilities. They bust the “focus” and “relationship” fallacies, as those words are meaningless for teams unless they are byproducts of activities that really matter. And Selk and Bartow teach how to manage expectations, since doing so creates a level of respect between the leader and the team — and among the team members–that is a catalyst for peak achievement.




You’ve seen the speech.

Maybe it’s the World Series MVP, covered in champagne, talking about the dramatic victory his team just earned. Or it could be a CEO at an annual shareholders’ meeting, talking about how proud she is that the organization crushed its financial goals.

“It couldn’t have happened without the great team I have around me,” the players and the CEOs usually say.

Those words come so often because they’re anchored in the truth. Teams are a fundamental part of sports and business. Teams can only survive and thrive if they have the right composition, the right leadership, and the right metrics by which they’re measured. And the teams that become dynasties? They operate at an even higher level.

The million-dollar question (or billion, depending on your team) is the same whether you’re a part of a 10,000-employee Fortune 500 company or a small mom-and-pop outfit.


How do you bring individuals with different talents and motivations together to form a team that consistently outperforms the competition? How do you avoid all of the standard pitfalls teams face? How do you align goals, inspire productivity, and measure performance?

How do you lead a team, and not just manage it?

How do you make yourself an essential part of your new team as quickly as possible?

In Organize Your Team Today, we’re going to show you.


We’ve been fortunate to work with some of the highest-performing organizations in the worlds of sports and business over the past thirty years. Clients ask us to help them create cultures where every contributor can get the most out of his or her skills and talents. Part of that job involves finding the right players—and part of it comes from helping teams understand how to work with the players they have.

The two of us have a combined total of almost fifty years of experience in developing and teaching the information we bring to you in this book. Jason Selk is one of the premier performance coaches in the United States, with hundreds of professional athletes and Fortune 500 executives as his clients. As the director of mental training for Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, Jason helped the team win two World Series championships, in 2006 and 2011.

Coauthor Tom Bartow left a successful career as a college basketball coach to join Edward Jones. He became a general partner in six years and then reached similar stature at the Capital Group, parent company of American Funds. He is the only person in the financial services industry to achieve this distinction. After starting his own coaching business in 2009, he has become one of the most creative and sought-after business coaches in the nation.

Together we have merged psychology with business acumen to create a simple, usable methodology for teams and individuals. Our first book, Organize Tomorrow Today, was recognized by 800-CEO-READ as one of the top fifteen business books for 2016.


If you’re familiar with Organize Tomorrow Today, you know that the tools to take control of your life and your performance are within your grasp. If you make a series of basic, step-by-step commitments to improve incrementally, over time you can get much more out of yourself than you ever thought possible.

Of course, teams bring a different dynamic into play. You can populate a team with a collection of A-players who all have their own ideas about what “high performance,” “communication,” and “setting goals” mean. But if those achievers don’t come together in an effective way—both through sure-handed leadership and through their own willingness to learn how to adapt and respond to change—the team fails.

Instead of gaining exponential growth by combining the talents of different players, you get something less than the sum of the assembled parts.

When that happens in sports, you often hear whispers about “bad chemistry,” or how the manager or coach “lost the locker room.” In business, you’ll hear about it when the board announces they’re replacing the CEO and undertaking a reorganization. All that time, effort, and expertise that went into putting talented people in position to win under the old strategy?


Yet you don’t have to look very far to find sports and business teams that create those dynasties. They consistently produce more than the sum of their parts. Team members come and go, but the framework and culture of the team stay in place, and they continue to produce championship results.

Coach John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won ten national championships in a twelve-year stretch with a variety of different players. Bill Belichick has won five Super Bowls in seventeen years with the New England Patriots—even though the NFL salary cap is designed to make it hard to keep teams together for more than a few years, and despite losing an almost constant stream of assistants and front-office executives to other teams. In business, Apple lost its founder and inspirational leader, Steve Jobs, to an extended leave for cancer treatment in 2009 and reported its best-ever quarter. When Jobs passed away in 2011, the company was prepared to move forward with Tim Cook, and has since reinforced its position as the strongest international brand in the world. In 2016, it generated almost $250 billion in revenue.

A basketball team from fifty years ago might not seem like it has a lot in common with a global tech giant, but the philosophies and strategies for team building and optimization they use are strikingly similar.

Don’t just take our word for it.

Andy Hill played for three of Coach Wooden’s national championship teams in the early 1970s, a time when some of the greatest players in basketball history, such as Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes, were also Bruins; he was a freshman when the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a senior. After graduating from UCLA, Andy entered the television business, eventually becoming the head of CBS Productions—the team that introduced shows like Touched by an Angel; Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; and Walker, Texas Ranger to the viewing public. Later, he would reconnect with Coach Wooden to write the best seller Be Quick—But Don’t Hurry: Finding Success in the Teachings of a Lifetime. Andy was a part of a bona fide dynasty at UCLA, then created his own at CBS. His insights have helped Jason and Tom develop the team-based programming they use when they work with corporate clients. They have all been friends for years.

The words Andy uses to describe his time with Coach Wooden will sound very familiar as you work your way through the nine concepts we introduce in Organize Your Team Today:

1. Respecting Channel Capacity

2. Managing Expectations

3. Self-Evaluation

4. Turning Chemistry into Cohesion

5. Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable

6. The No-Victim Mentality

7. Talent Selection and Development

8. The Attack Mentality

9. Making Adjustments

The essence of Andy Hill’s takeaway from his decades of experience both with Coach Wooden and using the Coach’s principles in his own business? Getting better is hard, and it takes work. And sometimes that work doesn’t feel good. But if you focus on what you can control, select the right talent for the right role, keep it simple, and prepare fully and thoughtfully, you can thrive.

Straightforward concepts, but they have profound consequences in the business world.

Focusing on what you can control and keeping things simple means respecting and embracing channel capacity—the hard-wired limit we all have in regard to how we can apply our attention. Dynasties in sports and business respect this dynamic more than any other single factor. They put great effort into not overloading their teams with blizzards of tasks and responsibilities.

Selecting the right talent for the role busts the “star player” fallacies that have become so imbedded in corporate culture. Peak performers are great to have, but the best teams have the ideal mix of stars, support players, and leaders. Every job gets done—not just the glamorous ones. Teams respond to leaders who set clear goals and establish the steps to achieve those goals. This kind of leadership creates a level of respect between the leader and the team—and among the team members—that is a catalyst for peak achievement.

In Organize Your Team Today, we’ll take you into the trenches with some of the most successful leaders. We’ll go beyond offering a laundry list of “best practices,” showing you concrete and proven strategies for joining and building a team that you can put in place on day one—with no specialized training or lengthy run-up period. You’ll be able to learn from the successes (and missteps) of those who have come before—and avoid the most common team traps—whether you’re a relative newcomer who is joining a team or a leader looking to drive peak performance.

When Andy was installed at the helm of CBS Productions, he spent his first year getting his management team in place. In hindsight, he says, he could have moved faster, but didn’t because some of the changes he had to make involved removing contributors he personally liked but weren’t a good fit for the reconfigured team. A limited budget stopped him from hiring the most prominent writers. He could have used this as an excuse, and he and his team could have become victims of circumstance. Instead, Andy focused on developing the writers he had, and in doing so, he led them to higher levels of performance.

Andy built a dynasty at CBS because he figured out the metric that mattered the most—and trained his team to be relentless in attacking that metric every day. In the years before he took the role, Andy had noticed that all the television studios measured their success by the number of shows they picked up for the fall schedule. In a dramatic departure, he decided he would measure his team’s success by how many pilots—or introductory episodes—he delivered that the creator of that show truly loved. It was a major adjustment from traditional “network thinking.”

The reality is that most new shows fail. If a show makes it onto the schedule and sticks into its second and third and fourth seasons (and so on), that’s when everybody starts to make serious money. Andy’s goal was to increase the odds of getting his shows to stick on the schedule—by focusing on compelling, high-quality shows—even if that meant pitching a smaller roster of shows each fall.

As we said in Organize Tomorrow Today, we’re not offering some kind of magic bullet that takes the work out of high-level success. We have called that book an “Owner’s Manual for Doers,” and that’s really appropriate here, too. If you have an important goal to achieve or problem to solve, knowing what steps to take and what mistakes to avoid can give you clarity and make you more likely to succeed—but you still have to pound the nails and put in the sweat.

To some people, the idea that there isn’t a hack or a shortcut might be discouraging. If that’s you, you can put this book down right now. But if you’re like most people we see week to week in our visits around the country, you’re excited by the idea that there are guideposts left by the people and the teams who came before you. And you know how great it feels to combine hard work with good guidance and produce great results.

The book is divided into three parts:

• Consistent Winning—Chapters 1, 2, 3

• Playoff Level—Chapters 4, 5, 6

• Dynasty Level: Rarefied Air—Chapters 7, 8, 9

All the tools work together as a performance improvement plan for both work and life—but you don’t even have to master them all to get a benefit. In fact, Jason and Tom don’t want you to tackle them all.

Channel capacity is the key. One of the biggest mistakes people make in business and in life is that that they try to change too many things too quickly. You see it on New Year’s Day, when so many people resolve to change everything they eat and go to the gym five times a week. After a burst of early enthusiasm for the new goals, reality sets in, and it gets harder and harder to cope with all the wrenching changes. At that point, it takes only a few days of “failure” to get discouraged and ditch the whole plan.

Instead, as you read this book, think about which of the nine concepts address some of the issues you’re having in your professional or personal life. If you are the leader or a member of a team, think especially about the issues the team is having. Pick the one that resonates the most. Start with that, and commit to following the step-by-step guidelines. The key to high-level success is to pick one thing to change—yes, just one—and master it. If all you take from this book is a single, concrete change from one of the nine concepts, it’s enough for you to make a true breakthrough to the next level of success—however you define it. Over time, you can build on them, one concept at a time.

Let’s get on the path.

Part I

Consistent Winning

Chapter 1


Channel Capacity: The limited biological bandwidth of the human brain





The chase for numbers, productivity, achievement, and results is relentless. It doesn’t matter what kind of organization you’re a part of. It could be a financial advisory firm, an NFL team, or a commercial real estate company. Organizations have goals, and the people in those organizations—from the leaders to those on the front lines—are held accountable if those goals aren’t met.

You don’t have to go very far to see examples of this out in the world. A large retailer announces huge losses and closes a bunch of its stores. An NFL team loses six games in a row and fires its entire coaching staff. A software company announces that it needs to “rightsize” and reorganize so it can more effectively compete in the marketplace.

And yet every one of those organizations had access to the very best in modern analytical data, had leadership teams made up of smart people from the best schools and with the best resumes, and had the ability to devote as much of the organization’s worker horsepower to their problems as necessary.

But it didn’t work.


Because the desire to do more, achieve more, and earn more has driven many modern organizations into a powerful trap that is very hard to escape. They see the ambitious goals ahead of them, and they see all of the cutting-edge information and tools available, and they turn the dial up as far as it will go. More research. More information. More people involved in the decisions. It’s like walking into quicksand. Your instinct is to struggle harder and harder to kick yourself free, but the effort just sinks you deeper.

These strategies violate what we consider one of the foundations of effective performance. They violate channel capacity—the mental bandwidth limit every one of us has hardwired into our heads. There’s a limit to what any person—or any team—can effectively manage without becoming distracted and less effective.

And when you reach that saturation point, you become far less effective than you would have been if you had just concentrated on one or two simple basics. When does more become less? Keep reading.


Tom had finished up a summer meeting for Edward Jones in the Colorado mountains and was waiting for his ride to the airport when one of the advisors who had been in the audience for his presentation approached him.

“Can I ask you a question? My business has hit a wall.… I’m having big-time problems increasing my production, and I’ve tried everything,” the man said. “I need some help.”

Tom responded with a quick, simple question.

“Today is Friday. You got here yesterday. How many days this week did you get out of the office and go see people?”

The man went quiet for what turned into an awkward length of time before answering.

“Well, I was really busy getting ready to come to this meeting,” he said. “It was a short week, so I wasn’t able to get out.”

Tom responded with another simple question.

“How badly do you want to get to the next level? If you do, then get out of the office and go see seven people every day. No matter what, get that one thing done.”

It looked like the man was expecting something more substantial, and he shrugged his shoulders and thanked Tom for his time.

Six months later, Tom returned to Colorado to meet with some of the advisors who were relatively new to the business—including the man who had asked for the extra help.

The meetings were scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m., but thirty minutes early, the man from the previous meeting walked up to Tom.

“Do you remember me?”

Before Tom could answer, the man continued.

“I’m not coming to your meeting today,” he said. “You know why? You made me mad! I was asking for your help, and you gave me what I thought was blow-off advice. I decided I was going to do what you said, so that when you came back I could show you why you were wrong—why your advice wasn’t going to help.”

Tom waited for the punch line.

“So I did what you said. I got out of my office and saw seven people every day. It was the only thing I did differently, and the only goal I gave myself. And it worked. This meeting is only for people at my original level. I’ve gone up two levels since then. I just wanted to come and say thanks, and I’m out of here!”

Channel capacity isn’t some clever management consulting catchphrase we’ve invented to spice up our speeches. It comes from science. People can consistently hold only three things in “working memory” at one time. Think of it as juggling. You can handle three balls in the air, but if another ball gets thrown into the mix, you’re likely to drop all of them. And that’s with things that are already understood. When it comes to learning new things, channel capacity is one thing at a time.

Think of your brain as being like the photo album on your phone. Once the capacity for memory is reached, there is no room for new photos. To free up space, you have to delete some pictures before you add new ones, and modern technology helps you make those choices. Unfortunately, with your brain, when new information goes in, current information is being randomly erased. If that happened with your phone, just think how careful you would be with your photo taking.

As we explained in our first book, Organize Tomorrow Today, with our multiple screens, super-powerful smartphones, and constant multitasking—we have pushed ourselves to the point of massive oversaturation.

This happens through a series of seemingly logical steps.

1. A leader intuitively understands that a goal is too ambitious to be achieved, so he or she tries to utilize every tool and technique for increasing production. But when individuals begin to struggle or fall behind, the leader fails to honor channel capacity. Instead of creating a more specific focus on only the most important activities to drive results, more ideas and suggestions are piled on.

2. The leader knows that good information is good. More good information must be better—or so the information myth goes—so he or she feeds it to the team with a fire hose to try to help it solve the problem and achieve the goal.

3. If the team does come up with a solution that is “simple,” the leader thinks there must be a flaw in the process—because “complex” means “sophisticated” and “simple” means “unsophisticated.” Just because we live in a complicated world with big problems doesn’t mean that the solutions to some of those problems aren’t simple.

We see this every single day when we travel the country to talk to different organizations about their performance process. Many people are asking too much of their minds to perform at their peak on their most important tasks. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s true: highly successful people never get everything done in any one given day, but they always get their most important things done each and every day.

Running your mental machinery at more than its capacity can work for short bursts of time, but when you make it a habit, over the long term you have the same issues you would with an engine—things begin to break down. Both individuals and teams can burn out and stagnate. Execution becomes inconsistent, new team members struggle to integrate themselves into the group, and teamwork bogs down.

Despite everyone’s high hopes, the team fails.

It’s an epidemic in the business world. But unlike some epidemics, for this one there’s a cure.

Our goal here is to get you and your team focusing laser-like on the most important information and activities—and only that information and those activities. That is where efficiency and effectiveness can be found.


When teams become dysfunctional, they’re usually very ready to listen to us when we come for a consultation. But the much more dangerous problem comes with teams that are already “winning”—however the organization defines it.

They’re working well together, making more sales, earning more money, and the inevitable conversation starts. How do we squeeze more out of the team? How do we produce more? They’re doing great, so why not move over some of the projects from the teams that aren’t doing too well?

The intentions are fine, but by overwhelming channel capacity, managers and leaders aren’t getting the increased production and profit they expect. They’re actually creating a team that performs worse than before—and gets less done, less efficiently.

We’re not talking about making normal productivity demands from a team within its same sphere of responsibility. If you’re coaching a football team and your offensive tackles have two main jobs they’re responsible for, you can demand increased performance in those metrics. But if you decide to get your offensive tackles to be really great special teams players just in case they’re needed—and move them to those practices for a couple hours per week—you’re endangering their productivity at their main job.

If you have a team of salespeople who are killing it getting your new software packages out into the marketplace, you’re playing with fire if you decide to cross-train them on the extended service package you also offer because the team you have in place on that line isn’t doing what you expect. By increasing the various demands on a team’s attention, you’re limiting its productivity in the job it does very well, only to get what might not be any real improvement in the other task. In other words, by asking them to multitask, you’re probably losing all around.

We like to tell all of our clients the same thing when it comes to channel capacity. Either you honor it or you put your productivity at risk.

What do violations of channel capacity look like in the real world?

Let’s start with something familiar to anybody who has ever worked in an organization.


If you’re running meetings and there are more than three subjects to be covered, you’re violating channel capacity. If you’re sending people out of the meeting with more than one improvement or action being emphasized, you’re violating channel capacity.

How do you avoid the temptation to pile on?

First, reject the idea that your situation and your team are different and somehow special. You might think that your team will be able to work harder and multitask more effectively than most others, so you don’t have to pay attention to channel capacity. You might even believe that simply demanding more from your people is enough of a motivator. You would be wrong.

Remember, channel capacity is biological. Your players may have the discipline and motivation to do more for a short period of time. However, when it comes to long-term performance, no one beats channel capacity for long.

Next, resist the basic principle that more knowledge equals more productivity. We know—there’s a reason people go to fancy colleges and expensive graduate schools. It’s to get more knowledge. But it isn’t what you know that accomplishes goals. It’s what you do.

Within the dynamic of a team, you have different team members with different training and knowledge. Unless the team knows in the most basic terms what the one main thing is that needs to be accomplished, all of that knowledge and information is wasted—and most of it is used in opposition to itself.

Remember the financial advisor who asked Tom what he needed to do to increase his level? Tom had all kinds of tools at his disposal to talk about increased advisor performance. They could have discussed sales techniques, client diversification, or any of a number of techniques—all of which are important to learn. But Tom understood what the first problem was to be solved, and what was required to address that first problem. The “one thing” was seeing more clients, and the “what” or “how much” was to go see seven of them.

It wasn’t magic. It was focus on the first, biggest goal.

The third piece doesn’t take any special knowledge, either. It’s repeating your best practices. Knowing what you’re doing well and repeating it is good programming. The team refines its ability to execute its job, and it becomes quicker, stronger, and better at doing so. When you watch one of Nick Saban’s practices at the University of Alabama, you see a marvel of efficiency and focus. Players are intensely drilled—repeatedly—on how to achieve their simple objectives on the football field. The repetition takes the thinking out of it. On game day, they know what they’re supposed to do, and they go out and do it.

You might have noticed that the keywords from these three ideas go very well together—and that there are only three of them. We want them to be simple to follow and easy to remember. Because that honors channel capacity!


  • "Far too many corporate executives confuse 'Goal Setting" with true leadership. These authors bring into focus the specific techniques necessary to guide each individual corporate team member toward the accomplishment of a well-defined goal. Their comparison of the use of techniques to that of sports team development is enlightened and on point. This book is truly a roadmap for the executive at any level."—Gerald C. Mansfield, President, CEO, United Facility Development, Inc.
  • "Mental toughness is a critically important component of individual performance, and that importance is only magnified if you're a leader. This book is the manual for the mental game of leadership. Read it, use the principles, and win!"—Roger Seip, author of Train Your Brain for Success
  • "Our minds are overloaded with to-dos. The idea of honoring your team and your own Channel Capacity is simple and relaxing at the same time. If you and your team are overwhelmed, [Lead Any Team to Win] is the place to start."—Robbin Phillips, Courageous President, Brains on Fire, coauthor of Brain on Fire and The Passion Conversation
  • "Techniques for ensuring winning strategies make for an engrossing discussion highly recommended for anyone who wants a team approach to success."—Donovan's Bookshelf

On Sale
Apr 14, 2020
Page Count
240 pages
Hachette Go

Jason Selk_Organize Your Team

Jason Selk

About the Author

Dr. Jason Selk is one of the premier performance coaches in the United States, with dozens of professional athletes and Fortune 500 executives as his clients. As the Director of Mental Training for Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, Dr. Selk helped the team win two World Series championships, in 2006 and 2011. He is a regular contributor to Forbes, ABC, CBS, ESPN and NBC, and has been featured in USA Today, Men’s Health, Muscle and Fitness, INC., and Self magazines.

Tom Bartow left a successful career as a college basketball coach to become one of the highest-producing financial advisors in Edward Jones’s history. He went on to help American Funds’s Capital Income Builder fund nearly triple in value. Since then, he has become one of the most creative and sought-after business coaches in the world, specializing in helping companies and individuals excel in times of adversity.

Matthew Rudy has ghostwritten twenty-six sports, business, and travel books since 1997, including titles by golf instructors Dave Stockton, Hank Haney, and Stan Utley; sports psychiatrist Dr. Michael Lardon, and personal development coach Bryan Dodge. His book with personal finance expert Anthony Davenport was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017. He is a senior writer at Golf Digest, where he has ghostwritten twenty-five cover stories since 1999 and earned national awards for his investigative and feature work.

Learn more about this author