We’ll be moderating a breakfast discussion with technology company veteran Bill Campbell tomorrow morning at the Churchill Club.

You don’t hear much about this guy because he is media-shy, and rarely gives interviews. Campbell coached the Columbia University football team until he was 39, and tried his best with an underfunded team to eke out some victories. He learned humility there, getting demolished at one point 69-0 by Rutgers.

He then embarked on a prolific career here in Silicon Valley — as an executive at places like Apple, Claris, Go, Intuit, and then more recently as a mentor at start-ups like Tellme and Google.

He is known as “The Coach,” for his warm, charismatic demeanor, his raspy voice, and for his focus on getting individuals to work together for the good of the team — in business, just as in…


Hopefully you can drop by (warning; there is a $125 membership fee at Churchill, but it is good for a year). He characteristically doesn’t like talking about how he coached Google at a crucial stage early on. But Google board member John Doerr mentioned his role during an interview for this insightful story about Google by journalist John Heilemann. We highlighted the article’s points about Campbell in a post here. So the cat is out of the bag, and we’ll try to get him talking as best we can.

Among other things, we’ll be asking him how hand-offs like the one at Google (when he began to take over from Google’s earliest mentor and angel investor, Ram Shriram) is similar to the one that coaches have at sports teams, and the sort of decisions you have to make regarding key people on your team, tough changes, and the various constituencies you have to deal with. As a colleague once told Campbell when he was considering leaving coaching to enter business world, there are similarities: In business, you have to manage your clients and co-workers; in coaching, it’s the parents, the kids, the faculty.

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