Playbook in Practice:
Joe DiMaggio and Jeff Walker

Is it possible to give it all to everything you do?

A few months back I wrote a blog post to mark the anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. In the post, I shared what I consider to be the key elements of Joe DiMaggio’s Playbook: a “Give It All” mindset, a commitment to excellence, creating a streak/consistency, and the importance of grace in both your behavior and contribution to others.

The post resonated with a lot of my readers, friends, and associates. That wasn’t a surprise because, after all, it was about one of the most iconic figures in our cultural history. What did surprise me was that I got the same two questions again and again:

  1. How do you give it all to everything you do?
  2. How can I pull these ideals into my life and take action on them? Especially in today’s complex and over-committed world?

Joe DiMaggio had an unwavering commitment to leaving it all on the field. Joe gave it all he had. His principals are alive in this day and age, and can’t be dismissed as nostalgic or bygone ideas. They are timelessly relevant qualities of a dominant player. Let me introduce you to a dominant player who is a living, breathing, modern-day man who embodies the enduring principles from Joe DiMaggio’s playbook.

It is nine a.m. and the large brown double doors on all sides of the ballroom swing open. As we walk into the room, the loud uplifting music swells around us. Suddenly we are standing up straighter as though meeting someone on a first date and our steps have shifted from simply plugging along to light and bouncy as we make our way to our seats.

The conference is packed, every seat in the ballroom is filled with enthusiastic individuals each with an idea (and passion) for an online product or course that will hopefully transform their businesses and the lives of others. Sharon, a sports and performance consultant, has had some success selling an information-based product, but she’s just finished writing a book and wants to learn how to launch an online course around the material. Steve, a real estate agent, has a mission to create a course on parenting for African American men. Joanne, a technology writer, has had multiple product launches and within one year achieved the holy grail: recurring revenue.

We’re all here to see Jeff Walker. Jeff is considered the foremost experts on product launches, author of a #1 New York Times bestselling book, and the creator of Product Launch Formula which has generated half a billion dollars in online products sales for students of the program.

I was familiar with who Jeff was and the expertise he offers. A good friend of mine worked with him on the development of Product Live Formula, and I’d watched his videos and completed his online program prior to attending this seminar, so I knew a little about him, what he looks like, how he spoke and his mannerisms. I thought I knew what to expect.

But in living color Jeff Walker has a certain magic and presence that I’ve seen only at events with world-renowned speakers like Al Gore, Tony Blair, Seth Godin, and Deepak Chopra.

Jeff has something even more important than presence and star power, too: he’s an everyday Joe. He’s worked hard to achieve tremendous success in his business, but he’s still the stay-at-home dad you chat with when you’re in line at Starbucks on a Monday morning. He is the good guy next door playing basketball in the street with his son. In other words, approachability and down-to-earth nature gave an added quality that you don’t see in too many moguls: relatability.

In that way, Jeff Walker is the mirror of our best self. He’s achieved success far beyond what he ever dreamed, but he has remained unimpressed with himself, lacks pretentiousness, and has a casual grace about him.

The iconic American hero Joe DiMaggio was also very humble and considered himself very lucky to be a Yankee. Despite all the media attention he received, Joe never really understood what all the fuss was about. Not even during his 56-game hitting streak (unbroken to this day) that captured the attention of the entire nation in 1941. Joe was very much an introvert, he detested fame, and shunned the celebrity life. When Paul Simon sang “Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away” Joe complained to friends: “What are they talking about, I’m right here.”

But there’s more that made me realize that Jeff Walker embodies the three elements of Joe DiMaggio’s Playbook. His stage presence was powerful, the information he was teaching was valuable and informative. We were all engrossed in the words booming throughout the room. Then he paused, looked around the crowd, and softly said: 100% is easy 99% is hard. The line resonated throughout the space and became a rallying cry for the weekend—it meant even more to me. “He’s talking about giving it all,” I thought.

100% is easy 99% is hard is a truism Jeff often shares to emphasize how this mindset can determine our success in launching online products and also in all areas of our lives.

I believe that he walks the walk, too. That “100%” is a central theme in Jeff’s life and he demonstrates a “Give it All” approach even when no one else is looking. I wanted to know how he does it.

So, when I recently had a call with him, I took the opportunity to share with him how I believe that he exemplified the elements of Joe DiMaggio’s Playbook. He was, of course, a bit taken aback, and then very honored that I would even suggest this comparison. I asked him the following questions to help you apply the Joe Dimaggio playbook principles.

What does excellence mean to you? What does it mean to you to bring excellence to your daily life your business your family and your clients? And how does excellence connect to giving and keeping a hundred percent focus on something you want to create?

“Excellence is a process, not an event. Excellence is continually showing up to the best of your ability. It’s relentless seeking growth. It’s a matter of staying in the moment and performing at your best, and at the same time focusing on the future and understanding that the long view wins.

“It means looking to peers and competitors as a source of inspiration, not a source of envy. And understanding there will always be outside circumstances that are out of your control, and you can only control yourself and your reactions to the things around you.

“It’s understanding that how you do anything is how you do everything. That you will not bring your best to your business and profession if your health or your family life if falling apart behind-the-scenes. It’s knowing that you can’t serve your clients if you don’t serve yourself and your loved ones—and vice versa. And finally, excellence is about being the best you that you can be. Not trying to be someone else. Focusing on your unique superpowers, and staying with them.”

Your “100% is easy, 99% is hard” truism and rallying cry immediately connected to Joe Dimaggio’s famous streak in my mind. How do you overcome the things that get in the way of giving 100%? Please share how does doing less than 100% give yourself an excuse?

“Every day (and, really, every minute of every day) gives you a choice of bringing your biggest, best, brightest self. Or not. Do you choose growth, or do you choose mediocrity?

“No one is perfect, and I won’t pretend that I choose growth every time. But the stakes are high—this isn’t a dress rehearsal, and to the best of our knowledge, we only get one shot at this world. I’m determined to make my one shot count.”

I believe you were graceful when I saw you on stage. You delivered a lot of star power but balanced it with your warmth, authenticity, and lack of pretentiousness—just like Joe. What values do you think have driven your success and how you present yourself to the world?

“Grace is actually one of my favorite words… and it’s one of the words that I’ve focused on for the last three or four years. I want my life to have a grace and ease to it. I want to be graceful as I move through this world (and as I interact with others).

“Another favorite (and similar) word is “elegance”—because I want to be elegant in my interactions with others… I want to leave them feeling better about themselves and their world for having interacted with me.

“There is much in this world that makes lots of people feel like they aren’t good enough, they aren’t thin enough, or strong enough, or smart enough, or rich enough, etc… I want people to understand that they are wonderfully talented and unique—I believe in people and their innate power. And I want to encourage them towards excellence (see above) not because of their lack, but because of their power.

“I’m incredibly lucky to have landed in the perfect moment for my unique set of skills. To have been born into the family I was, to have met my wife, to have the children I’m blessed with, and to have great friends and community…and on and on. Then I was incredibly lucky to have found the mentors and teachers that I found… and have the health and energy I have. I’m insanely lucky to have somehow attracted the team that supports me so selflessly.

“It’s been a huge confluence of incredible luck that has brought me here. I recognize that, and I understand that when I’m on stage or in front of an audience, I just have to be who I am. And for some reason, people resonate with it.

“I’ve stopped asking why I’m so lucky—and now I just accept it. At the same time, I know that I need to accept the power and accept that mantle of leadership. I must also remain humble because that’s a big part of the puzzle.

“The interplay between accepting the power and staying humble is a crazy dance, but it also seems to be one of my greatest strengths.”

I’ve been fortunate to meet many headliners, titans of industry, and household names. Some are brilliant and have achieved great things in their careers, but at a high cost to their family or with little compassion or interest in real people. Not Jeff Walker. His dedication to excellence, grace, and helping others grow in their success is surpassed only by his commitment to his family. The way he gives it all in his personal life and his work is an example all Dominant Players can follow.

Jeff Walker’s “crazy dance” works.