Pat Ferschweiler discusses life, leadership, and driving a vision of world-class, winning hockey at Western Michigan University.
Pat Ferschweiler discusses life, leadership, and driving a vision of world-class, winning hockey at Western Michigan University.
How are you driving vision, today?
Unknown Speaker 0:05
You know, at the end of the day, you're gonna achieve a higher level. But you have to really chase it in a way other people don't
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Welcome everyone to the driving vision podcast brought to you by the Zeigler Auto Group and here with me Auto Group Director of Talent Development, Mike Van Ryn. Welcome, Mike. Hey, thanks, Sam. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast like it if you do, and leave a comment.
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Driving an enormous vision of hockey success at Western Michigan is Head Coach Pat Ferschweiler joining me in the new Zeigler studios are coach Pat Ferschweiler and Zeigler Auto Group President and CEO Aaron Zeigler. To hear Pat's vision, how he's driving that vision to success at Western Michigan University. We go there now.
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Hey, everybody, welcome to the future of ZAG today Driving Vision podcast today. in studio we actually have an incredibly special guest and it's an exciting opportunity to have a guest that was with us for the Ziggler speaker series. Coach Pat first Wyler with Western Michigan hockey thing. Welcome Coach. Yeah, excited to be here. And of course back Aaron Zeigler, President CEO of the Zeigler Auto Group, Aaron Zeigler. Sam, thanks for having me. excited to have you here. So Coach last year, you go back a little over a year ago, you were the assistant head coach at Western Michigan University. And right before the season started, the head coach got mad at the administration because they cut the cut his budget, and it was too big a challenge for him and he quit and you got the head coaching job, because you looked at this as a not as a challenge that was to enter surmountable, but you looked at it as an opportunity. And you went on to have the greatest season in the history of Western Michigan hockey, and at the end of the year, in the national tournament, you have a number one seed, tell us about that. What was the opportunity you saw when the other guy thought it was too big a challenge and quit? Well, one, what a great ride. It was, it was it was a ton of fun. And and what I had worked with this team for the last, you know, the two previous seasons after I came back from Detroit, and I knew what a special group of players this was, and really what a special group of people, you know, and we were in that locker room. So it was a great group of kids that were there to achieve. And they love coming to the rink, and they love the process of getting better. So what a what a great group to start out with, right. So I was excited for the opportunity. I got the job 28 days before our first practice. So that itself you think, Oh, but I was used to the guy's I had a plan, you know, and I had, I had a plan to be the head coach eventually here. And, and I knew how I was going to start and I knew the hockey side of things for sure. And, and so we just kind of hit the ground running the group that was excited for me to be in charge. And I think I was excited to be there. And that energy really carried us throughout the year. And, and it was just watching young men grow and really believe in themselves. You know, so many times at Western, like, we have to say we're we want to be great. That's a good thing saying that, right? Let's, let's say we want to be great that and go chase it. And that's exactly what we did last year, that was great. So you get the job 28 days before the season. So you don't have a lot of time to prepare. But the reality is, you knew you were going to be a head coach at some point. So you've been preparing for this for years and years and years. 100%. And it's it's something that Jeff lash and I talked about when I was first at Western, you know, 12 years ago and spent a year with blash. And then and then you know five more in pro hockey with Flash. But he talked every day think like a head coach everyday prepare, like you're the head coach and to make sure that because he you know, he had planned for me to you know, to be a head coach at some point as well and plan on that every day. Be ready to lead your own team, what would you do in these situations? So you know, credit to him to challenge me to be ready in all those situations. And I really think helped me last year. Yeah, that's awesome. So in our organization, we have something called Ziglar University, and it's our development program, and we're trying to do the same thing that you're talking about, and that is develop a future generation of leaders. Yeah. And everybody can be a leader in a organization. And then when they get the opportunity, they're ready because they prepared for that position. You know, it's amazing when you came and spoke to us. You showed us a video that reflects your passion. And we sense that passion in the locker room. You showed us the Jordan Jordan, Michael Jordan's the last fans, what made you choose that video to start with themes popular one, I just I think, you know, winners Jordans, one of the greatest winners of all absolute right? Yeah. So you know, you watch the last dance and it came out at a perfect time during COVID where everyone was watching TV and I think everyone got really excited. What kind of leader in person he was and, and you know, there were some things in there that that were exciting to me when when he says you know, leadership has a price. Yes, you know, winning has a price these kinds of things to me makes sense. And like, there is a price to be paid for these things. You have to do things that others aren't willing to do to achieve more than they can achieve. And that excites me. You know, so Erin talks about your becoming Western Michigan's head coach one ran towards the
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To me that was you, the other kind of not ran away from it but didn't want to embrace that opportunity. What is the price of winning? What is the price of leadership that made you run towards it? What was that price you are willing to pay at Western Michigan to be the head coach? Well, it's a total emotional and literally physical investment into what you're doing. Right? And to be the challenge of being where you're at 100% Every day, yeah. And all in. And I think, you know, I was all in, we brought a, I was lucky enough to hire a great assistant coach, one of my best friends in the world. Jason herder has been broseley successful in college hockey, maybe one of the best recruiters in college hockey, so we got our staff on board, we get the right people on board, and then we just go for it, you know, and we're all in every day, you know, Aaron Ziglar, talks about this a lot. Not only be all in be present, but run towards your goal with a passion that's unknown in any industry. And to Aaron's point, our Zeigler University reflects that. Why is that so hard in business, in sports, to be present to have a clear goal and to run towards that goal? Why is that a challenge today? Well, I think it's a challenge. There's so many distractions in life and in and even to the column distractions are not there just there's life going on, right? You have family, you have you have children, you, we have different things to do. It's not an either or though isn't, it doesn't have to be there, you can choose great. And while you're while I'm at the rink, I am at the rink 100%. There and then invested in that. And then when I'm at home, I'm 100% invested in the family as well. So I think it is not either one. And I think some people get lost with man, and they lose their vision of what it is. But you can really do everything. Well. Aaron, What's your philosophy on that in business? You know, it is I think, a lot harder to stay focused these days. And you have to keep your eye on the ball. And when you set a goal, you've also got to set a time limit, because otherwise, it's something that you can kind of keep kicking the can down the road. So you have a goal, you have a time limit. And then you got to figure out what you've got to do to achieve. And you got to ask yourself, hey, what am I willing to sacrifice for my goal? Because there's going to be sacrifices to be to be great. Yeah, so So Coach, one question I get I love going to Western Michigan hockey games, because you walk in the arena and energy and there's incredible, I think you guys got voted the number one student fan base in America, they call him the Lawson lunatic. So it's last night. I mean, the loss and lunatics and how have you created that type of excitement, that type of an environment in hockey was so exciting. And you're right, they are the number one students action in college hockey, and they're the excitement and the energy that is infused into our team and into the building gives us a tremendous home ice advantage for sure. I think our success for sure our communication with it with the students, we embrace those students, we know that they're a very important part of us winning so much at home. So certainly, that's a big part of it. And they just drive us forward. And one of the things I love is when you guys score a goal on the other goalie, the students talk to him, they have this chant. And they told me let the whole team down.
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You let the whole team now that gets in their head, right? ultimate accountability. That's awesome. That's awesome. So Coach, you know, in business in sports, adding new members to a team is super important. Recruiting is important. And you have a philosophy about recruiting that very closely mirrors ours as an auto group, one of the things you recruit for is character. Talk to us a little bit about character, we talk in our first, you know, kind of thing on our checklist of any recruiters. Are you a good person? Yeah, we talk about that daily. And we mean, we've before we ever recruit a person, we'll talk to everyone in hockey that has touched his life that we know, what is he about? Is he a good person? A good person? You know, someone is that does it? Right? Yeah, you know, that Kipps. And that loves hockey. So everybody loves their sport they play that is not true. A lot of people like the sport they play. And a lot of people play it because they're good at, we want people that love it. And people that have inner drive. We believe those people that are self driven and pass people along the way, and they continue to improve past the other people. Isn't that interesting that that passion and drive exceeds raw talent. That's the motion. That's the drive. You talk about inner drive. And Aaron, I think that's something we look for at the Zeigler Auto Group. It's something you can't teach right? Now, you can't teach somebody to be driven. You can't teach them to be passionate. And the reality is in life, people are passionate about different things. So you got to find what you're really passionate about to be good at it. And when you're passionate about something, it's easier to be good at it. Yeah. Right. And I think the only way that you can truly be great is to have a love for what you do. And you know, coaches or the other day was with us and he said do you like it? Do you love it? Or do you live it? And you really gotta live it? Yeah, to be great at it. Yeah. Yeah. It's great. We're looking at you got an interesting philosophy you shared with us, you said and I'm going to use different words you can the right words. You said complaining is losing. Tell us the way you said it.
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I don't know if I ever
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And I said a bit unique was, yeah, always has you mean by always? So, I mean, we're given lots. Yeah. And
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especially our players, our players, they're healthy. They're Division One athletes that are a world class university. They're given lots of opportunity to succeed. Yeah. So let's focus on that. Right. And then the other part of that is, you know, you're not allowed to listen to your teammate complaint, love this part. Or like, that takes them right off the hook. Yeah. And so and in fact, if I'm a teammate, and I'm hearing this, you say, I have a responsibility, what's that responsibility? Yeah, to shut it down to send them to the person who can affect change. And that's the leadership, that's me and my coaches. So come if you have a concern, or or a thought that you're unhappy with, or you're unclear about, come and talk to the coaches, we're the people that can affect change, your teammate cannot. So you guys be in that locker room, you're together, you're a unit, you're a team, and anything concern or complaint, our doors wide open, come on in and talk to you. Yeah, in business, sports and elsewhere. I imagine there can be these huddles of negativity, and they grow as quickly as the contagion of passion and excitement, right? They can. And it's got to be a challenge to figure out in any moment who can affect that change in your world? It's the coach Aaron, what's our philosophy of the Zeigler? Auto Group who can affect change? If I'm around a salesperson or a technician or, or a lot, Porter that's complaining? How do I know where to take that energy? Well, I think everybody can affect change. And I think everybody has to affect change. And, you know, I agree with Coach's philosophy here that, you know, you don't want to sit around and listen to somebody else complain and bitch, yeah, you got to tell them, hey, you got to fix it. If you have an issue, you gotta go to the person that can fix it, you got to communicate directly, with with them, it doesn't do any good to go to somebody that can't can't fix it. It just brings everybody else down. And that's what that's all sudden, you know, culture will start to crumble and you'll get cracks in it. And the culture is the foundation that a company or a team is, you know, last year coach, you know, we talked about you have and one of the best teams in the country. Number one seed, the NCAA tournament, you lose a bunch of guys this year to the NHL. So the media comes out and says it's gonna be a rebuilding year, but you don't accept the and, you know, last Friday night, you're on the road to beat the 44th ranked team in the nation you want you have again, one of the top ranked teams in the country? How do you come back, you lose a bunch of guys? And how do you How do y'all son, you know, come back and start winning again, at a very high level. Well, we started with all our returning players, really investing in their in success over the summer, they all got better, they all got stronger, they all got faster, they saw the success last year, and that our seniors and our other players had and they knew the model was correct, right, the development the model, but they had to invest it all in. And so also they're stronger, they're faster, there are leaders immediately coming back, we were able to, to to secure some transfers that helped us as well. But really, you know, the culture is, is there. And we have great leadership again, this year, give him Jason Poland was on the team last year. He's been a tremendous player for four years. And, and I think that, you know, just that setting, that standard that they set every day from our leaders on down has really helped us, you know, start well, this season. That standard is such an important part of success, isn't it? And if there's a belief level at the leadership level that transfers to the troops, and then everything becomes possible, Aaron right. Yeah. You know, it's interesting. I was at a game the other night and and you guys were up by two goals. The end of the game, the other team pulls their goalie, no goalie in the net, and your senior captain, Poland's got to break away, and he's going to easily score and he's got another linemate with him when he passes the puck over and lets the teammates score to get a goal. Now he'd already had a hat trick that night. He had a hat trick the night before. But I thought from senior leadership, amazing way to build a culture now you also might look at that and go God, what if they missed the goal? Because
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a little scary, but he obviously had confidence in himself and his teammate to make an easy goal. What are your thoughts on that moment? Well,
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Aaron nailed that. What if it had no but what a self did it make you nervous? I mean, they were there on it, I would probably shot it, honestly. But what what what a unselfish, selfless act by our leader. And don't think that wasn't immediately recognized in a locker room afterwards with everybody was talking about when I walked in the locker room after the game about that pass, and about our leader, and that's just the kind of young man he is. Yeah, I thought that was awesome. And I just thought that was an incredible moment of great leadership. And I had instant respect for him doing that. When you talk about developing a high performance team, a winning team. There are two other things that I just thought were really neat from your time with us. Number one, it echoes something coaches have said to us in this day of it being so tough to be present. You talk about talking to every player daily, which is tough. And in NCAA sports. It doesn't happen a lot. Talk to us about your philosophy behind that. Well, it's it Yeah, no, it is. It isn't
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easy, but it's I think it's it's so necessary for success. And again, it's not just myself, it's it's our coaching staff, we're trying to touch every player every day in some way and let them know that we truly are invested in them as people. Yeah. And I think once they know that, and they feel they're gonna give you everything they have as well, and their teammates, everything they have, it's part of building that culture for sure. And you know where they are, you know, how to supplement you know how to pull back, you know, how to make adjustments. So the other thing that you said, you recruit for competitiveness, right? And you can't teach competition, you've got it or not, in a lot of cases, and you said greatness has a little slice of crazy. And when you said an Erin, don't you remember? He you said it with the smile on your face? Because you've got that crazy? A little bit? Well, I have to, I always say, you know, you have to be willing to do what others aren't. Yeah. And, and not just, you know, the, you know, the high achievers, you have to be willing to do more than they're doing, you know, so real true greatness just takes that willingness. And, you know, I always thought a little slice of crazy, because it people will say, Well, he's crazy, because you've worked so hard. He crazy does us, I think those are called, you know, winners. Yeah. You know, at the end of the day, you're gonna achieve a higher level, but you have to really chase it in a way other people do not. How do you embrace a little bit of that crazy, because I see that every now and again, some of some of the best performers take potshots from the peanut gallery for that crazy. Hey, why are you willing to do this? Why are you willing to do that? In fact, you shared an example of a workout session where you went and saw one of your players working out you could have easily turned around and left the locker room after a late night plane ride or the the gym after the late night plane. Right. Instead, you actually went in and didn't compete with them, though. But you would not you would not concede. Tell us that? Well, yeah, I was gonna go through the whole thing. But it was. It was one time when I tried it was elite player in Detroit for sure. Yeah. And he's in there working out after we get home at four o'clock in the morning. He's worried about at 11 o'clock the next morning. It's every excuse not to work out both you and he right? Yeah. And in the middle of an NHL season 50 Games in and he's cranking out an hour and 20 minute leg workout. That is I mean, we're crumpled. Most people in the summer. Yeah. And here he is. He's our best player. And and he's achieved a super high level already. And I asked him, you know why, why he was doing and he said, I need to work harder. Yeah, to be better hadn't been good enough. And that's what greatness looks like You're never satisfied, right? And you're always willing to do more. You know what the secret sauce is? It's literally work harder. Yeah, I heard. There was something on social media, Kobe Bryant talking about his workout schedule, and how he managed to actually fit into additional sessions by waking up at four o'clock in the morning. And he talks about how the power of time, not only does it work in money and investing, it works in our personal growth and development Aaron, doesn't it and that's why we've given Zeigler teams are so many opportunities to grow and develop. If you'll spend those hours every day they multiply in a way it's tough to ever catch up on. You know, it's interesting, because we've got our development program. And if you look at it, like on the sales side, when we first brought that out, our top sales guys will merge the top sales guy, why do I need to do that? Because we're going to make it better. So used to be you know, the top sales guy would sell 30 cars a month. Now it's 75 a month. Yeah, that bar is has risen out there. Because the best are constantly making themselves better. Yeah. And it's just like in sports, the best of the best, because they're willing to do things that others aren't. They've got that work ethic, and they're willing to put the time in and they're willing to stay focused on their goals. And if you're willing to do that, that's what it takes to be successful. You talk about that commitment. And it's exciting. And it's inspiring, you said be the best player every day. We believe that Zeigler has talked to us about that within the Western Michigan hockey program. Well, certainly this is a challenge of our leadership group. And and and every team knows who their best players Yeah, it's not a secret, you know, they're slotted in there, those guys have to performance at that standard. And once they said it now everyone else has to set their standard as well and try to live up to that standard. So and we think a team is best when it's player driven and player centric. So we coach our early in the season. And then slowly as the season goes on, we pass it to the leadership group and the leadership group is now in charge of the team as much as we are. Yeah. So a question that we typically ask them the beginning last year towards the end, what is your vision for the Western Michigan hockey program? I think sustained greatness you know, and and it's we've Western throughout our history has had lots of good years and some very, very good years. But again, I think we need to say we're trying to be great. Yeah. And not be afraid of that or shy away from it. And there still might be a down here in there. But there's we want to set a championship standard and really chase it let people know that hey, we that's what we're going to really achieve
Unknown Speaker 19:59
The high standard that is so inspiring isn't an errand because there are programs your size, our size that might say, hey, you know what, we're not going to have that goal because right resources, timing, location access to players, you're daring to be the best without question. Regardless, we can I believe Western Michigan can win a national championship in hockey and we have all the resources here to succeed at high level. I think we prove that last year as the number one seed and we haven't done it yet, but we're going to chase it as hard as we can. That's awesome. When you do win that national championship, you're gonna have to come back on our podcast. Yeah.
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Next year as
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a coach, we absolutely appreciate you being here. It's awesome to have you in the locker room here with Team Zeigler, Western Michigan hockey coach Pat Ferschweiler Aaron Zeigler. We appreciate it. Thanks, Dan, and good luck the rest of the year.
Unknown Speaker 20:52
A special thanks to Aaron Zeigler and Western Michigan hockey coach Pat Ferschweiler for joining and participating in the podcast this week. Until next week, how are you driving vision today
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