Book Recommendation on Team Building: Running Into the Wind

Football and business.  A great combination to keep your interest, which Running into the Wind: Bronco Mendenhall – 5 Strategies for Building a Successful Team does all the way to its end.  Paul Gustavson and Alyson Von Feldt share a behind-the-scenes look at the remaking of BYU Football under the leadership of Bronco Mendenhall using principles and guidance from Paul’s consulting work.

Bronco is a Level 5 Leader and was humble enough to seek advice from Paul on the principles of leadership and organizational change he could utilize for BYU Football shortly after he took over as head coach.  The book explains the principles, referred to as 5 smooth stones, and shows how Bronco applies them at BYU through interviews and stories.

Bronco doesn’t seem to hold anything back and the reader learns not only through his successes but also his mistakes.  My respect for Bronco and BYU Football has definitely increased after understanding more of what the program is about and how it operates.

The last section of the book summarizes the 5 smooth stones for building a successful team.  The 5 smooth stones analogy comes from David and Goliath where David selects “5 smooth stones” from a brook to battle Goliath.

The 5 smooth stones are:

  1. Organizations can craft a sustainable competitive advantage through differentiation.
  2. Organizations are perfectly designed to get the results that they get.
  3. Organizations are made up of business processes, and not all processes are created equal.
  4. Knowledge is the purest form of competitive advantage.
  5. Effective leaders capture hearts and minds.

Paul’s strategies were developed through his own research and consulting work and the work of other great strategists like Michael Porter.  I utilize many of the same principles in my own consulting work and like Paul’s approach.  I recommend the book for your leadership library.

For more information on Paul, you can visit his website at  You can purchase his book on

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