NEW PODCAST EPISODE #48 — 'Winning together', Brendan Gale and the speech that changed Richmond
On 2 March 2010, Richmond FC's newly appointed CEO Brendan Gale boldly predicted three premierships in ten years. In 2020 his team delivered. A great chat about strategic direction & motivation.
It’s a footy episode, but every corporate manager and aspiring CEO should listen to it.
Brendan Gale opens his brilliant and bold speech from 2010 with the words, ‘I’m a proud Richmond man’, and it’s from that launching pad that he embarks upon one of the best and boldest footy administrator speeches in the history of the code.
Gale isn’t just an administrator. He’s a great of the Richmond Football Club, 244 games across eleven seasons, but he played in the era that is the focus of the first section of the speech:
From 1980 to 2010, we have had many, many fine contributors, both on and off the field, and indeed, we have been successful on a range of measures – but not on the measure that matters most. For a big, proud club that, historically, has been hard-wired for success, where premiership success is part of our DNA – collectively, we have been a failure.
Gale speaks in this episode about his desire to reset the club, to stir things up, to admit to the failures of the past and the unacceptability of continuing mediocrity.
The Tigers have dominated AFL news here in Australia this week. I said in my introductions today that there were three off field pillars that created a dynasty _— Gale as CEO, Peggy O’Neal as President, and Damien Hardwick as coach. Hardwick quit this week after 307 games, more than any coach in the club’s history. In his press conference he possessed the lightness and humour he’s managed as the public facing voice of the club.
I introduced the episode with Hardwick’s speech from halftime in the 2020 Grand Final, and Tommy Hafey’s ‘nothing more tigerish than a tiger, a wounded a bloody tiger’ rant from 1975. I’ve thought about the riddle a lot, and I do think T-shirt Tommy is right — there is nothing more tigerish than a tiger … wounded or otherwise.
My favourite Richmond themed speech on Speakola is undoubtedly Kevin Bartlett’s eulogy for his coach, Tom Hafey. I’ve chatted to KB before about the speech, he knows I love it, and he told me that it was delivered mainly off the cuff, with just a few handwritten notes. Bartlett is not just one of the game’s greatest players, he’s also one of its funniest storytellers. I’m hoping he’ll come on the podcast one day.
I’m so pleased Brendan Gale chatted to me about his speech at the end of a longer interview about Allan Jeans (I‘m writing a Yabby biography - send me your stories!)
Things to look out for in the Gale CEO speech:
Inject a personal connection, and in this case, personal connection to team failure;
Contextualise failure, what that would look like from here; ‘Look at each other, and think – can you imagine the next 20 years playing at this club, AND PLAYING IN JUST TWO FINALS SERIES.’
Why that’s unacceptable;
What needs to be done;
The Geelong blueprint;
Medium and long term goals;
Long term goals:
Together, our entire club is motivated by the vision of our future in 2020. It’s a vision of greatness and leadership that we describe as THE POWER and THE GLORY. By 2020, we aspire to have won our 13th Premiership; consistently provide the most exciting and powerful match-day experience in the competition; once again have the strongest support base in the nation, and enjoy the strongest emotional connection with our members and fans.
Short term goals:
If we could boil the whole plan to its fundamental essence, it means that by 2014 we expect to deliver 3-0-75
• 3 finals appearances (including 1 top 4 finish)
• zero debt
• 75,000 members
Gale and the club ticked the box on debt and members within the time specified.
Richmond managed two of the three finals appearances by 2014.
But amazingly, impossibly even, Brendan Gale called three premierships by 2020. He stood up in front of a club that had played in two finals series since 1982, who hadn’t won a flag in thirty years, who were the laughing stock of the competition, and said they’d become a powerhouse.
And then made he made it happen. With only a little help from Dusty.
Here is my segment from radio this week with Sammy J. It was about great screen eulogies, and inspired by Shiv’s speech in Succession. I’m going to write a post about that this week.
You can read Brendan Gale’s whole speech and listen to the re-enactment audio here.
I’d love it if you’d review or rate the podcast.
Speakola newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Thanks to recent subscribers ⭐ Brad McRobb ⭐ Mick Symons ⭐ Penny Oldfield
I also have a personal Substack, Good one, Wilson. This piece is about writing the AFL Season Launch ad for 2023.