011 - CEO by day, Referee by night. Officiating adversity with Andy Gallion | Sport Coats Podcast

A podcast fueled by professionals bridging the gap between Sports and Business. Enjoy as guests share stories & experiences from the playing field to the board room.

011 - CEO by day, Referee by night. Officiating adversity with Andy Gallion

Meet Andy Gallion:

Andy is the CEO at InCheck which is located in the Village of Wauwatosa just outside of Milwaukee.  InCheck provides full service customized nationwide background screening and drug testing solutions since 2002. Their clients represent a diverse range of industries and sizes ranging from local family run companies to enterprise level multi state corporations. For over 29 years Andy has been a basketball official for The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and he brings with him a phenomenal insight into the sporting world from the referee side of things, as well as a long and recognized business career.


I've been coaching hockey now for seven years and I always find myself always trying to change the refs mind. I'm still actually looking for the secret sauce on how to do that so I'm curious if you could start the show by telling us what the secret sauce is to changing a call and ultimately changing a referee's mind?


It might not be about the one that you're questioning at the moment, but you might be able to get the next one to go in your favor if you play your cards right. Also, it is based off just how a coach approaches you throughout a game and what things stand out to you. It’s not that they're going to change your call so much, but whether or not you go up and you talk to them after a call or whether or not, or if you take the time to kind of hear them out after a call. I've had it both ways where sometimes I'll have to say, “Coach, I need you to sit down and he just shut the heck up,” or “Coach, I'll give you the time of day and let's talk through it.” With experience comes an understanding of when I expect to hear from coaches. So if there's a bang-bang play, or a 50-50 call, especially in a crucial situation of a game which goes against the coach, I can understand in that moment why he or she may want to talk a little bit more about that particular play. If it's a call that maybe I knew that I kicked, yeah, I'm gonna listen a little bit more and give them a little bit more rope, but that’s not usually the case. As a coach, pick your spots as to the calls that we're going to talk about because it's not going to be every single one of them.


If you could talk to sports fans that haven't put on the black and white and haven't been in your position, what do you think is a logical expectation to have of referees at the high school, collegiate or professional level?


Just to understand that the amount of training and time that they put into it makes them highly qualified for that position. I don't think most people understand, especially the basketball floor, what it's like to blow the whistle and then have thousands of people looking at you, and having to be the ultimate communicator in that moment. Now, at a professional level I think what we see as sports fans is that the NBA refs take a ton of criticism from the general NBA fan public. But quite honestly, those are the best basketball officials on the planet, and the percentage of plays that they get right is probably not understood.


When you leave that arena after a game and you're in your car by yourself, thinking back to that one play you might've got wrong, over your career, how have you evolved in handling those situations?


A great example of that is the last game that I worked last year was a high school sectional game, right before the season was cut short due to the quarantine. There was a play in that game that I'm still thinking about, a call that I should have made that I didn't make. I don't think it affected the outcome, but it sticks with me. I think for most officials, we are our own biggest critic and so getting certain plays wrong, or missing calls all together are things that can stick with us for a while. If we're trying to improve and do things the right way, we use those experiences as learning opportunities, digging further into the rules, or maybe having our peers review a certain play by sharing video with others and things like that. Definitely a lot of self critique that comes with this profession.


What are some of the similarities to facing adversity as a referee and as the ultimate leader of business? How have those experiences benefited one another from your reffing career to your professional career?


So I think like any person, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and I think one of my strengths and weaknesses is that I'm an emotional person. On the basketball floor in emotional situations, I may say something or react a certain way to something that a coach yells at me that I may regret. So for me, it's trying to manage my emotions through those situations, trying to maintain that calm, maintain my composure, maintain my focus. I think in situations at work, whether it's losing a big deal where we're at the finish line and we just weren't selected as the vendor of choice, or its working with a client on a particular project that has a lot of challenges along the way, I am competitive so I want to win and I want things to work out. I think it's just managing my emotions through the ups and downs of certain work related cycles or processes that is a challenge for me at times as well. 


I can totally relate to being competitive and wanting to win, but that can’t always happen. How do you communicate to your team specifically after a loss? 


I like to ask if there is something that we could have done differently that would have put us in a better situation to succeed? And if yes, how can we improve to build that into how we do business that may help us win in the next opportunity? As a leadership team, we meet on a quarterly basis to review our successes and failures, both individually and collectively. We try to have open and candid conversations to figure out what we can do better, but also to celebrate the wins. Then in those meetings, we will also plan for the next quarter by understanding what each manager in each area of our business is identifying as the number one target that they're looking to achieve for the next quarter, and then that next quarter, we review successes and failures from the previous quarter. On more of the micro level we have managers that are meeting with department managers more on a weekly basis, kind of digging down to the more granular details. So there's a consistent process for talking about what's working and what's not, and reviewing weeks, months, years, that is built into how we operate at InCheck. 


And so much more...