Friends! Football fans! I have a fun one for you today. We're talking to my dear friend Mike Macdonald, a coach for the Baltimore Ravens!
I knew that Mike was meant to be a coach since the day I met him back at UGA. We used to study together for biology and I will NEVER forget how he mapped out the Krebs Cycle on a white board as if it was a football play. Lots of erratically drawn arrows and motivational yelling were involved and it. was. awesome.
It was also awesome when Mike would pick me to be on his team for flag football. He had such an incredible vision for the game and always did a great job of including the girls in key plays (a rarity in coed football games, let's be honest).
Mike has worked hard to get to where he is and I couldn't be more proud of him for recognizing and relentlessly pursuing his dream. And beyond all of his professional achievements, Mike is a loyal, kind, hilarious, fun-to-be-around guy. The Ravens are lucky to have him on board and I'm lucky to call him a friend.
Let's get into the interview!
Give us a background on who you are and what you do for work.
Hi, I’m Mike and I’m a football nerd — plain and simple. Growing up I’d do all the normal stuff young kids do… like break down my Dad’s video of my middle school games, make scouting reports of other JV teams, or turn my high school notebooks into working playbooks — you know, normal stuff. I’m currently living in Baltimore and get to do all of that stuff for the Ravens!
What about your work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
I love seeing our guys make a play that they didn’t make the day before. That’s really the building block behind everything we’re trying to do as coaches. Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate how much work and preparation is required to create even the slightest improvement; so when I physically witness their development it’s a big deal. To play a small part in that is very fulfilling. On game day, there’s nothing better than to see the players reactions after making a play — especially if we helped put them in that position. Their reactions are priceless, too, because they’re all unique to the paths that got each of them to that moment — it’s pretty awesome.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
I guess my answer combines the who and what in this question: I love seeing my friends and family live their lives and do the things they love to do with the people they love to do them with. It’s liberating and inspiring really — it’s like this overwhelming message of just “GO!” — Go after the life you want to live without holding back and enjoy every second.
What has been difficult lately?
Coaching has a lot of time constraints and if I’m not intentional with how I use my time I’ll look up and I won’t believe what I’ve missed in the meanwhile. The challenge for me has been to really take responsibility for the type of person I want to be and the life I want to live — rather than consistently accept the hand I’ve been dealt. That’s why it’s so inspiring to have such amazing friends and family — to see what everyone is doing like your awesome artwork, or your dedication to this blog is a motivator for me to pursue an extraordinary life.
What makes you different from everyone else in the world and how does that uniqueness manifest itself in your work and life?
I’ve taken a pretty unconventional route to where I am compared to other coaches. I didn’t play in college and I have no family connections in sports, so my perspective on things is unique to what I’ve witnessed from others so far in my career. While it was a little more difficult to get here, I’ve found that being an outsider of sorts has its perks- my ideas on how things should work aren’t necessarily weighed down by path dependence and what the status quo view as risky doesn’t necessarily translate to how I see it. I think my background has built a unique foundation of who I am as a man and a football coach. I coached high school ball in undergrad. I became addicted to the joy of empowering people to be their best self. In college I met and learned from incredibly talented, smart, and ambitious students and business people. They taught me the importance of having a great culture of synergy and respect. And, like I mentioned before, I have the most phenomenal friends who are doing remarkable things all over the world. They remind me to stay focused around the right set of values and priorities. I really believe there’s another frontier in football out there that’s yet to be seen and I think my foundation will help me realize it.
Do you have any weird quirks?
Um, where do I start? I consistently try to speak French in an NFL football office, so that always goes over well. I’ll throw out lame phrases like “Mac Show” or just make up words that I either think will draw a laugh or are fitting to the situation. What else? Any Jim Carrey movie from the late 90’s will probably be quoted at some point each day — seemingly always in the perfect situation though, of course. I’m sure there’s plenty more; just have to hang with me to find out!