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Hall Of Fame Sportscaster Lesley Visser Never Saves Her Best For Last

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In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Maxwell Leadership Thought Leader Don Yaeger sits down with sportscasting legend Lesley Visser to discuss how she keeps her eye on the ball whether she’s talking to Billie Jean King and John Madden or writing an article about an obscure badminton match.

When Lesley Visser was a young beat writer on the Boston Globe sports page, she looked in envy at the other writers who got to cover the big, glamorous events while she covered, well, let’s call them the more obscure and less glamorous events. “I remember the assignment very well,” she said in a recent episode of Corporate Competitor Podcast. “I got an assignment to cover a badminton tournament.” Not exactly the kind of assignment you dream about as an aspiring writer.

But Visser tackled the project with everything she had and, after it was published, got a journalist’s ultimate praise from her editor. “I got a note from my editor telling me I ‘wrote the heck out of the badminton piece!’” said Visser. “After all these years, it remains the highlight of my professional career.”

Eventually, this kind of approach to her work won her the glamorous jobs as well. Among her list of firsts, which included being the first woman inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, she became the first sportscaster – male or female – to have worked on the network broadcast of The Final Four, The Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, The Triple Crown, the U.S. Open and the Olympics.

Visser says she owes her extraordinary career success to following one simple maxim, picked up from the great baseball slugger “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio, who once noted that his approach to the game was to treat every at bat as a quality at bat. That’s a good rule of thumb for a batter or a business leader, and it’s one Visser applied throughout her career.

The accomplished podcast host of In Conversation with Lesley Visser, Visser was named as one of GQ’s “five ideal dinner guests,” an honor which reflects her expert listening skills as well as storytelling prowess and remarkable experiences.

In the podcast, the range of Visser’s storytelling talents are in evidence as she offers new perspectives on the leadership qualities she saw demonstrated by a host of friends from sports, entertainment and broadcasting, including:

  • What the legendary sports writer Red Smith taught her about “creating memories” with every piece of work she did.
  • The advice Billie Jean King gave her that changed the way Visser dealt with pressure.
  • John Madden’s note to her when she entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but Visser shows what can happen when you view success not as the quest for a one-off grand slam home run but as a body of work distinguable mostly by quality at bats. Joltin’ Joe would be proud, and you’ll be entertained and educated by this episode of Corporate Competitor Podcast.

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


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