By Carol Haig, CPT, and Roger Addison, CPT, EdD

As we continue to draw from the exciting lineup of keynote speakers for ISPI’s 2011 conference in Orlando, we are pleased to introduce our second keynote guest. Interviewed by Glenda Feldt on the ISPI website, Andy Hill,, graciously agreed to talk with us about his interest in the intangibles of success in the workplace.

Andy is an author, motivational speaker, and executive coach with a master’s in education and years of success as a basketball coach and entertainment executive for television. Andy played basketball under Coach John Wooden at UCLA and is guided by the wisdom of this remarkable man. He contributes Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success model to the TrendSpotters Open Toolkit (TOT).

Genesis of the Model
Andy shares the Pyramid of Success here in the same spirit that Coach Wooden did. Developed by Coach Wooden in 1948 and refined for 14 more years, this model has been revered and used with great results by countless sports teams, business executives, and people in every imaginable arena.

Description of the Model
To Coach Wooden, success comes from hard work and enjoying what you are doing. Thus, the cornerstones of success are Industriousness and Enthusiasm, the anchoring blocks at the base of the pyramid. Each successive block comprises the individual intangible qualities of success. Here at TrendSpotters Central, we think that an individual’s effort to embody these qualities produces tangible results that describe success for each person who tackles the Pyramid.

John Wooden's Pyramid of Success Chart

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
– John Wooden

How to Use the Pyramid of Success
The Pyramid lends itself to self-improvement efforts in any number of situations:

  • Consider the values espoused by your organization and see how many are reflected in the Pyramid blocks. How could individuals align their successful contribution to the organization’s values?
  • Find a mentor and use the Pyramid as a guide to improve yourself in areas that will move you toward success.
  • Do you coach others? The lower boxes in Gilbert’s Behavior Engineering Model address Skills and Knowledge, Capacity, and Motivation, where good coaches go to work with individuals. ISPI President Miki Lane sees the 15-box Pyramid as an expansion of the two boxes, Capacity and Motivation.
  • Coaching a work team? Miki suggests looking first at the environmental issues and then use the Pyramid to explore issues on the individual level.

Here is a snippet of dialog from TrendSpotters’ conversation with Andy, in which Roger was an overworked, stressed-out entertainment executive, and Andy was his coach; and Carol recorded their exchange. Roger’s challenge was to identify critical issues and figure out how to get some balance in his life:

Coach Andy: You’re spending way too much time in meetings. Cut them in half.
Exec Roger: How can I possibly do that? Meetings are critical in this business.
Andy: Hold each of your weekly meetings once every two weeks. You’ll save hours immediately. Next, get control of your phone list. Limit the time you spend on each call.
Roger: But I’m a really important executive and I have to talk to people.
Andy: Make your phone calls efficient. Have your assistant make the call and say, “Roger is just on his way out but if you can cover your discussion in 5 minutes, I’ll put him on the line.” Do that for all the calls on your list and you’ll be caught up in no time.
Roger: I guess I could try that.
Andy: I see that you don’t delegate very much. Doing that would let you gain even more time.
Roger: But I don’t trust my people to do what needs to be done.
Andy: If you don’t trust them, fire them, and hire people you can trust to do the work. Etc.

Success Story
Andy spoke to 15 people at a training program for the disenfranchised struggling to re-enter the workforce and mainstream society. They liked his suggestion that anyone can make themselves the best they want to be. Twin, a big, tough-looking man in his 30s had a history of arrests and convictions. Twin said to Andy, “What you say sounds great, but it won’t help because my kid won’t talk to me.”

One of the tools participants in this program used every day was a personal Minder–a daily diary in which they kept track of appointments and other obligations. Andy told Twin to write in his Minder to call his son every Tuesday and to start calling.

Twin: But he won’t talk to me. He hangs up.
Andy: I didn’t say to talk to him, I said call him. He’ll hang up, and you keep calling him every Tuesday.
Twin: But he’ll keep hanging up.
Andy: Sure he will. But if you call every Tuesday, and you keep doing that for weeks or maybe even months, eventually he won’t hang up. And when he stays on the line long enough, you tell him you love him.
Twin: (cries)

Andy attended the graduation ceremony for this group several months later. And there, in the front row, was Twin with his son next to him.

Advice to Users
Use the blocks in the Pyramid of Success to chart your course. Then look around at those you consider successful. Watch what these exemplars do and use what you observe. Find a mentor and pursue that person. Mentors will not seek you out, so identify them, and ask them to help you toward success. Most people will be flattered and will sign on.

Links to the Performance Technology Landscape

The Pyramid of Success supports these principles of performance technology:

R Focus on Results–Each box in the pyramid describes a result to aim for.
S Take a System view–The Pyramid is a system; improvement in one block affects the others.
V Add Value–By defining success for yourself, and pursuing it, you add value to your organization.
P Establish Partnerships–Collaborate with mentors, team members, and exemplars to be successful.

Application Exercise
Use the Pyramid of Success as your coaching guide. What could you be better at in your life? Now, create a plan for change:

  • Establish a sense of urgency so you will take action,
  • Reinforce yourself for each small, incremental step.
  • Remember that change is never-ending, so step out onto the path.

Andy says two critical components of the Pyramid are, on the upper outside edge, Faith, to accept that “things work out the way they are meant to work out,” and Patience. With these, you can create change.

Find all the models and tools featured in TrendSpotters at – trendToolkit.

You may reach Carol Haig at or at; Roger Addison may be reached at Roger blogs at