Hi There!

I hope you had a great weekend. Welcome back to another episode of Ask Ash, where I interview WatchMojo Founder & CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan and ask him questions about various topics, ranging from covering the news to giving career advice to students & entrepreneurs. 

This past weekend, the NFL inducted several former high-caliber players into the Hall of Fame. Among these players, Peyton Manning was one of the standout players and is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Manning was selected first overall in the 1998 Draft.

At the 1998 Draft, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were considered to be the best quarterbacks of the class, however, each player’s career turned out differently. I wanted to ask Ash how a scenario like choosing between Manning and Leaf at that time could be related to recruiting young professionals who have recently graduated.

This weekend, Peyton Manning was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He and fellow quarterback Ryan Leaf had the scouts torn. Obviously, in hindsight, Manning was the better pick by a mile. Can any of these lessons be applied to the field of human resources when recruiting young people out of school?

Peyton’s pedigree aside – his father Archie Manning was the 2nd pick in his draft year but never lived up to expectations – with the benefit of hindsight it was clear that the Tennessee gunslinger would excel at quarterback in the pros… but during the NFL Draft Day back in 1998, it was not so clear. Across the country in Washington State, there was another quarterback who was bigger, stronger, and was destroying records. His name was Ryan Leaf.

Indeed, in March 1998, Newsday’s Bob Glauber polled 20 NFL executives: 14 said they would take Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. The following is CNN/SI’s scouting report on Peyton Manning for the 1998 Draft: “He is not quite as natural of a player as (Ryan) Leaf.” It wasn’t just league executives. Journalist Hunter S. Thompson told Colts owner Jim Irsay to draft Leaf over Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL draft. “[Leaf] looks strong & Manning doesn’t — or at least not strong enough to handle that ‘Welcome to the NFL’ business for two years without a world-class offensive line,” the late Thompson wrote.

Manning went on to throw for 71,940 yards, 579 TD’s, and take home 5 league MVPs, along with 2 Super Bowl titles.

Leaf, not so much: He threw for 3,666 yards, had 14 TD’s, and have 4 total wins.

Draft picks are a crapshoot. For every Peyton Manning who pans out, there’s a JaMarcus Russell (another quarterback who went #1, in 2007). It’s hard: there’s so much at stake both in terms of physical and mental development and reactions to high-pressure moments, that it’s unfair to look back and criticize the scouts, general managers, coaches, and owners whose decisions can make or break their franchises. It also helps if you go to a winning organization. 

Can any of these lessons be applied to the field of human resources when recruiting young people out of school? To some extent, yes. 

Success boils down to nature and nurture. Leaf was widely seen as a “petulant child” with a sense of entitlement. Manning, meanwhile, despite having the former NFL QB as his dad, seemed more down to earth. Leaf may have been influenced by his own physique into thinking he was ready. Manning wanted to win but understood that winning in the pros came with humility, patience, and learning.

For me, I don’t care where you went to school. I don’t even care that much about grades. I look for people who are:

– driven but don’t have a sense of entitlement. 

– ambitious but not arrogant (when we’re young, we know some things, but we don’t even know what we don’t know)

– aware of opportunities, because in life, talent may be universal, but opportunities are not

Additionally, what I look for in terms of whom to empower and promote are those who pay attention to the details, the blocking, and the tackling of the task at hand. I work on some very high-level, strategic matters… but if I think I am above ensuring that I cross t’s and dot i’s, you won’t find success. 

Whether I am playing soccer or competing in the business arena, I expect people to finish their plays. Not doing so just means you are out of position and your teammates may be too, because they expected you to be somewhere, doing a task, and you failed. 

I think if you spent time with Ryan or Peyton, it was clear then that one individual thought success was a god-given right, whereas the other understood this was a privilege, and he had to work at it. He didn’t lack Leaf’s confidence, when he was drafted by the Colts, he told them: “I will win for you,” but he didn’t take that for granted. 

That’s the balance you look for: confident to know you can win, but humble enough to know you can lose it all.

Lastly, if you want to submit questions to Ash directly, you can do so by clicking the link here: https://watchmojo.com/suggest/AskMojo%20-%20WatchMojo’s%20founder%20Ash