The Irsay file Featured

7:08am EDT June 30, 2006
Education: Broadcasting, Southern Methodist University, 1982

What is the most difficult business challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
It’s quite a challenge when (ownership) passes from father to son in a business. When my dad got ill and then passed away, there was a large transition that goes with that, particularly with a private company of great worth.

Certainly, when you go through that transition, that is a (difficult) time. I was blessed in the sense that I prepared for that. I knew that day would come and successfully made it through.

What you finally learn is that all the weight that your father had. You kind of understood, but you didn’t really understand. You look back and say, ‘So that is what he was thinking’ or ‘That’s why it was so hard for him.’

What is the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Restraint of pen and tongue, to be able to temper yourself and really deal from a place of wisdom and not be reactive. You cannot be paralyzed from consternation and indecision.

You’ve got to be able to make a decision. Not that you rush to it, but when it comes time to make that decision, you make it. You can’t get overwhelmed and paralyzed in that state of not knowing what to do.

Irsay on a public persona:
It’s important that you’re able to maintain your poise and your grace, and you always carry yourself as a leader. It’s not always about you.

I think about, before some of the biggest games and times, how am I going to be there? If we lose this game, I need to support the coach, I need to support the players, I need to support my executives, I need to support family or children.

That’s what leadership is about. It’s being prepared for some of those moments and seizing those moments with grace.

Irsay on understanding:
In life and in business, it is so important to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to say, ‘If I were that individual, if I were doing what they’re doing, what would it be like?’ and remove yourself from your own ego position.

Irsay on self-importance:
One of the big things that is important is to have a sense of humor. You just can’t take yourself so seriously sometimes.

That’s the problem — you have to be able to laugh and laugh at yourself and take things lightly. The only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions. When you start trying to control all these things that you have no control over, it becomes pretty stressful and difficult.