When Yogi Roth of the Pac 12 Network calls a football game as a broadcast analyst, he approaches it like an entrepreneur. He works painstakingly behind the scenes, sets bold goals to hit, and never takes his audience for granted.
"I want every game I call to be the best broadcast in the history of broadcasting," Roth said.
Ambitious? Sure. But before Roth goes live on national television, he sets himself up for success by preparing to be at the top of his game every single day. It's an approach that has served him well as a college football analyst, but is just as relevant for corporate managers or business owners striving for consistent excellence. Here are the techniques that Roth puts to work.
1. Use your background and unique experiences to your advantage
Roth has 15 years of unique experience in college football as a player, coach, and analyst. He says that being a former football player for the University of Pittsburgh gives him a deep sense of "empathy towards the players," but that his coaching experience is what sets him apart.
For four years, Roth served on the coaching staff at the University of Southern California's top football program under head coach Pete Carroll - now the Super Bowl-winning head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. (Roth also co-wrote a New York Times best-selling book with Carroll).
"I got a PhD in football," Roth said of his time working with Carroll and his staff.
2. Listen like your life depends on it and ask great questions
While coaching at the University of Southern California, Roth paid close attention to Carroll's approach to leading his staff and team.
"Pete Carroll is the greatest listener," Roth said. "When he would connect with you, even if he only had 10 seconds, he would be locked in for those 10 seconds. I remind myself before every game to listen like your life depends on it."
Roth takes this approach when preparing for a game and conducting interviews with coaches, players and others to gather information for an exceptional broadcast.
"During interviews, I can hear the littlest things," Roth said, "how this team has slept, how this team has dealt with adversity, if this coaching staff is allowing this team to have a lot of fun, what the philosophy is around the program. If the players and the head coach aren't on the same page, I can typically predict the outcome of a game."
3. There's no such thing as being over-prepared
On average, a televised college football game lasts three hours. To prepare, Roth works nearly 16 hours a day leading up to each broadcast.
"I know that I win with knowledge," Roth said. "Nobody is going to tune into a game because of what I did in my playing or coaching career. I'm constantly in this relentless pursuit of a competitive edge as an analyst."
The long hours aren't for bragging rights. Roth knows that his competitive advantage is doing what others are unwilling to do. It's about mastery.
"That's why I'm up late watching clips," Roth said. "That's why I'm reading something extra. That's why I'm listening to podcasts. That's why I'm interviewing people's parents and their cousins, just to find something unique."
4. Create a "We" culture
During the week leading up to the game, Roth and his team of producers and researchers are in constant communication. For Roth it's critical to have a strong team on the same page.
"Once I left coaching," Roth said, "there was a void there of having a team and building a group. I asked, 'Why can't I create it in television?' So we did."
Roth always shares all of his in-depth research and prep materials with the staff. His goal is to create an inclusive environment as opposed to an internally competitive one.
"Just because we're not in the same building every day, it doesn't mean that we can't come together 12 Saturdays a year and be on one heartbeat," Roth said. "My message to our crew each week is that we are in this together."
5. Preparation is the path to celebration
Because of his intense preparation, Roth said he rarely feels pressure when calling a game.
"Whether there are two million people watching or not, it doesn't matter," Roth said. "In business, we can build up something to be 'the biggest meeting of all time.' But no, your Monday morning should be like your Tuesday morning. Whether you're selling and buying stocks or merchandise, or calling football games, you can't give any one moment more weight."
That outlook allows Roth to focus on the most basic thing - having fun and celebrating the game of college football.
"I tell myself this before every game: celebrate the game, the student athletes, and coach the viewer. Enjoy the daylights out of this thing."