For all intents and purposes at the Holiday Inn Select, Jim Covert was simply the CEO of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, talking to the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce about business and leadership.
However, to most Naperville business leaders, he is known simply as “Jimbo”–number 74 for the Chicago Bears. Covert was the starting left tackle for the “Monsters of the Midway” from 1983 to 1990, including four seasons where he was named All-Pro.
Being back in the Chicago area, Covert talked about how he still applies football lessons to the business world, citing examples from the man simply known as “Da Coach.”
“Mike Ditka stood in front of all of us and said, ‘I don’t know about you guys but I’m going to the Super Bowl,'” said Covert. “He goes, ‘I’ll tell you what’s wrong with us. There’s a lot of guys around here that are just collecting a paycheck . . . So I’m gonna tell you all right now, I’m going to the Super Bowl, but I can guarantee you half of the guys in this room won’t be here.'”
Fast forward two years, and Covert was one of the Bears in New Orleans celebrating a 36-point victory in Super Bowl XX.
Covert puts Ditka’s goal setting as one of his three pillars of leadership, along with honesty and accountability. Because of that, local business leaders in attendance took away more than just some great stories from their favorite team.
“To have a professional athlete, and somebody from the ’85 Bears is phenomenal,” said Chamber CEO John Schmitt. “But the message he gave us was even more powerful than what happened 25 years ago.”
But even with all the business and leadership talk, to many, he will always be “Jimbo” and will always be a Bear.
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