A New NFL Assistant Coach’s Many Mistakes: Dr. Jen Welter

A New NFL Assistant Coach’s Many Mistakes: Dr. Jen Welter

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My guest for Episode #60 is Dr. Jen Welter. She has a PhD in Psychology and a Masters in Sport Psychology.

Jen played professional and semi-pro football as a linebacker (on women's teams) and as a running back (for a men's team). She's most notably known for being the first woman to be hired as an assistant coach, when the Arizona Cardinals brought her in to be an assistant coaching intern during their 2015 pre-season training camp.

She is author of the book Play Big: Lessons in Being Limitless from the First Woman to Coach in the NFL.

In today's episode, Jen talks about breaking the “glass sideline” of NFL football and what it was like to work amongst men on the field and the sidelines. She openly shares some mistakes she made when she got so much attention in 2015 with the Cardinals, including “maintaining an air of perfection,” “not being open to help,” and getting taken advantage of since she didn't have an agent or others looking out for her.

Jen also discusses topics including:

  • Coaching and working with girls and how football is great for their self confidence and developing their bodies for strength, not just appearance
  • What would we have seen if they did a reality show about her coaching? Or if they made a movie about her story?
  • What are your biggest strengths as a football coach in terms of connecting with players? Knowing you played the game? Or more than that?
  • Being a speaker — what sorts of messages for a corporate setting?
    • Your unique value proposition is special – lean into it… be more special
    • Authenticity – giving note cards to the players, “that’s what I would have wanted”
    • Empathy is a leadership trait, period
  • Has she watched “Ted Lasso”?

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  • Full transcript

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)


Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.