I’ve posted in the past about inspiring speeches, specifically the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakepeare’s Henry V. Prominent venture capitalist Brooke Byers once played a video clip of this speech at an entrepreneur conference as an example of what leadership at a startup should be like. It’s always been a favorite speech of mine, and I suggested in my previous post that any entrepreneur or CEO should be able to inspire their employees with a speech of similar sentiment. I’d like to suggest another speech in this post.
King Henry inspired his troops to fight on St. Crispin’s Day, against tremendous odds, with inspiring words of pride and promises of immortality:
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Real life is rarely as dramatic and inspiring as theatre, but the speech below by the late Bo Schembechler to the Michigan football team is as inspiring as King Henry’s, if not so eloquent. Rather than emphasizing greatness, honor and historical importance as King Henry does, Bo emphasizes teamship. In 77 seconds, he uses the word “team” 15 times. I suggest that this speech be added to those that any entrepreneur and CEO should be able to give to inspire their employees—it incites a spirit that anyone should want within their company, particularly within a startup.
We want the Big 10 championship, and we’re gonna win it as a team. They can throw out all those great backs and great quarterbacks and great defensive players throughout the country and in this conference. But there’s gonna be one team that’s gonna play solely as a team. No man is more important than the team, no coach is more important than the team. The team, the team, THE TEAM. And if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do you take into consideration, “what effect does it have on my team.” Because you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play, after you leave here, you will never play for a team again. You’ll play for a contract, you’ll play for this, you’ll play for that, you’ll play for everything except a team. Think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is “The Team.” We’re gonna win it. We’re gonna win the championship again, because we’re gonna play as a team. Better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team. We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other. And when we play as a team, when the whole season is over, you and I know it’s going to be Michigan again. Michigan.