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Episode 179- Mike McDaniel on Leading with Authenticity

September 28, 2023 • Athletes & Coaches
Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins

Mike McDaniel has been called “the most interesting coach in the NFL” and it’s easy to see why. In his second season as the Miami Dolphins head coach, McDaniel has captured the attention of the league. The 40-year-old Yale graduate has earned a reputation as a creative, offensive-minded coach and an authentic leader. He landed his first job in the NFL at age 22, but his journey to head coach didn’t come without struggle. On this episode, Mike opens up about how a drinking problem almost cost him his career—and how going through adversity has made him a better coach. We talk about embracing vulnerability as a leader, showing up authentically, and finding the opportunity in adversity.

Show Notes

  • You have to be passionate about your work to sustain excellence (2:07)
  • Be willing to fail (5:34)
  • How his family dynamics fueled his drive to be great (9:13)
  • A defining moment in Mike’s career (10:33)
  • His decision to quit drinking on January 4, 2016 (13:22)
  • The problem with “A to B” thinking (16:56)
  • The pressure to keep up with his peers as a young assistant in the NFL (18:28)
  • The 865 days he was out of the NFL that motivated him to come back better (20:13)
  • How his own life journey makes him a better coach (21:25)
  • Mike’s leadership philosophy (24:02)
  • The pressure he put on himself by focusing on the wrong things (25:28)
  • The importance of being present (27:55)
  • Stay humble: you are the product of your daily output (35:46)
  • Don’t pattern yourself after anyone else (38:30)
  • What he looks for when hiring staff (42:10)
  • One thing he’s always done to connect with his team members (43:20)
  • How he builds his players’ confidence (47:15)
  • Adversity is opportunity (50:25)
  • What he expects from his quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this season (51:19)
  • The biggest lessons he learned in his first year as a head coach (54:18)


Resources / People Mentioned


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