Don Yaeger is a nationally acclaimed inspirational speaker, longtime Associate Editor of Sports Illustrated, and author of over 30 books, eleven of which have become New York Times bestsellers. He began his career at the San Antonio Light in Texas, and also worked at the Dallas Morning News and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville before going to work for Sports Illustrated.
As an author, Don has written books with, among others, Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden, baseball legends John Smoltz and Tug McGraw, and football stars Warrick Dunn and Michael Oher (featured in the movie The Blind Side). He teamed with Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade to pen the 2013 best-seller George Washington’s Secret Six, a look at the citizen spy ring that helped win the Revolutionary War and then again in 2015 for Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War that Changed American History, and in 2017 for Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle that Shaped America’s Destiny.
Don left Sports Illustrated in 2008 to pursue a public speaking career that has allowed him to share stories learned from the greatest winners of our generation with audiences as diverse as Fortune 10 companies to cancer survivor groups, where he shares his personal story. More than a quarter-million people have heard his talks on “What Makes the Great Ones Great.” He collaborated with the Florida State University School of Business’s Continuing Education Program to build a corporate webinar program focusing on lessons building a culture of success within an organization. This naturally led to another keynote speech on “What Makes the Great Teams Great.” The release of his tenth New York Times bestseller, "Teammate," was the inspiration for his keynote on “What Makes a Great Teammate: Becoming Invaluable Without Being Most Valuable.”
Throughout his writing career, Don has developed a reputation as a world-class storyteller and has been invited as a guest to every major talk show – from Oprah to Nightline, from CNN to Good Morning America. After four years, he decided to dedicate himself to the pursuit of writing books. Yaeger’s first book, Undue Process: The NCAA’s Injustice For All, was published in 1990. In the 22 years since, he has penned 30+ more books, including 11 New York Times bestsellers. Don also wrote "A Game Plan For Life," with legendary coach John Wooden. After several years of freelancing for Sports Illustrated, Don joined the magazine’s staff full-time in July 1996. Two years later he was promoted to Associate Editor, where his work was to cover not just sporting events but the off-the-field happenings which affect the world of sports.
Yaeger and his co-author William Nack were finalists for a 2000 National Magazine Award in the public interest category for their cover story “Who’s Coaching Your Kid?: The frightening truth about child molestation in youth sports.” This important piece triggered follow-up reports by programs such as Dateline, 20/20 and The Oprah Winfrey Show. It also resulted in changes to the law in several states and several youth sports organizations, including Little League of America, changed rules to require background checks of coaches and volunteers. Born and raised in Hawaii, Yaeger has traveled extensively. The Dominican Republic, Honduras, Japan and Great Britain can be counted among the countries in which he has resided. A 1984 graduate of Ball State University, Yaeger currently lives in Tallahassee, FL. He also owns a political consulting business and a public relations firm.
- What Makes the Great Ones Great
- What Makes the Great Teams Great
- Turning Adversity into Advantage
- All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Little League
- What Will Your Legacy Be, And What Are You Doing to Ensure It?
- Deepen Your Customer Relations by Building Your Personal Brand
- Institutional Reputation Management (Breakout Session)
- Crisis Management (Breakout Session)
- When the Media Comes Calling (Breakout Session)
- What Makes a Great Teammate: Becoming Invaluable Without Being Most Valuable
Leadership, Motivation, Sports, Management, Coaching, Team Building, Media, Attitude, Success
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"The bottom line: you were fantastic. Your stories were moving and relevant, even at a conference where people tend to expect a focus on medicine and clinical issues." Executive Vice President, New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians
"Your down-to-earth, conversational presentation of 'What Makes the Great Ones Great,' along with the ability to weave that message into our conference themes and industry issues, truly inspired all in attendance. thank you for helping our members understand that Greatness is something achievable for any man with the will and discipline to strive for it. Yours is a message none of us will soon forget." Manager, Medical Society of Delaware
"I have no interest in sports, but this was not a sports speech. I have been watching and grading speeches for 30 years and this was one of the most poignant human interest and motivational speeches I have ever heard." Past President National Speakers Association and Inductee into the National Speakers Hall of Fame
"You possess the unique ability to captivate an audience and take them on an emotional roller-coaster ride. We laughed, we cried, and we were all inspired!" Exec. Director - Alabama Pharmacy Association
"I particularly enjoyed your encouragement of my team to see themselves as winners from the moment they wake up each morning. That ability to visualize victory is the kind of lesson every sales person can make use of." Vice-President - Hewlett Packard
"After having the opportunity to listen to Don’s message on leadership and Greatness, I immediately decided my team would find significant value by being exposed to Don and his philosophies on both business and personal growth and character." Senior Director - Microsoft Corporation
"Your Characteristics of Greatness presentation was overwhelmingly rated as the best motivational speech the employees had ever heard." Diversity Coordinator - Chevron
"Don's relevance to this theme was his relationships with today's professional athletes and what he has learned in developing excellence and a winning team. His presentation was on-point, humorous and heartfelt and the conference attendees enjoyed it tremendously." Executive Director - New Jersey Society of Association Executives
"Our management group was captivated and blown away by his stories and parallels of the sports world and life. It did exactly what I wanted - it made everyone pause and think about what they are doing as leaders and the way they are doing it." President - AmerTitle