Golden rules

Packers announcer: Success requires right mix of people, trust

January 11, 2017

Green Bay Packers radio announcer Wayne Larrivee speaks Wednesday, Jan. 11, at UW-Stout.

As a sports broadcaster for 40 years, including the last 18 with the Green Bay Packers Radio Network, Wayne Larrivee has seen a common denominator in the championship teams he’s covered.

With talent levels comparable on most professional teams, winning often comes down to intangibles, said Larrivee, who spoke Wednesday, Jan. 11, at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

“It’s not hiring the best talent. It’s the right talent,” said Larrivee, whose public presentation was on communication in the workplace. “People have to fit. It’s all about putting the right team together. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned in sports and team-building,” he said.

Along with finding the right mix of people, another key to success in any work environment is to find leaders who build trust and who trust the people around them. While he didn’t make a prediction about the Packers’ playoff game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, he sees those qualities in the team, one of the hottest in the NFL with seven straight wins.

Green Bay Packers radio announcer Wayne Larrivee speaks Wednesday, Jan. 11, at UW-Stout.“The key to the Packers recently is they trust their preparation,” Larrivee said.

They also trust their field leader, Aaron Rodgers, and coach, Mike MCarthy, he said.

Larrivee was asked about Rodgers’ leadership style. “He requires a lot of his teammates but no more than he requires of himself,” Larrivee said, citing Rodgers’ willingness to forgive a dropped pass but not so much mental errors, like a receiver running the wrong route.

“Rodgers is very stern on the field. Leaders are not popular. They get us to do things we didn’t think we could,” Larrivee said.

Rodgers believed the Packers, 11-6, could make the playoffs when their record was 4-6, and McCarthy has done a masterful job of keeping this team focused like in 2010, when the Packers also jelled late in the season to win the Super Bowl.

Green Bay Packers radio announcer Wayne Larrivee speaks Wednesday, Jan. 11, at UW-Stout.

That year when things got tough, McCarthy told the team that their photo soon would fill the empty picture frame in a meeting room that had the photos of other Packers’ title teams. Also, the night before the Super Bowl, when the Packers defeated the more experienced Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25, McCarthy had a jeweler measure players for the Super Bowl champions rings he believed they soon would be wearing.

“Instilling confidence is not just by words but by actions,” Larrivee said, who added that McCarthy may be doing an even better job coaching this season than 2010.

By comparison, Larrivee said a previous Packers leader, Mike Sherman, was an excellent coach in many ways but didn’t put enough trust in the people around him.

Wayne Larrivee signs autographs after his presentation at UW-Stout.Jodi Kendrick, of Spring Valley, who works at UW-Stout, said the key points in Larrivee’s presentation can be applied beyond football.

“I liked the communications piece and leadership. Everybody has to fit. If you don’t have the right players, it’s hard to succeed, even with family. And you have to believe — what you can believe will happen. You get back what you believe,” Kendrick said.

Before announcing Packers games, Larrivee was play-by-play announcer for the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls. He cited the 1985 Bears, a team full of “alpha males” who put aside their personal agendas “for the good of the team” to win the Super Bowl. The Bulls won their first of six NBA titles in the 1990s when superstar Michael Jordan began believing in his teammates instead of trying to do it all himself, Larrivee said.

“A lot of it has to do with the leader trusting those around him, in whatever your walk of life,” he said.

Larrivee was introduced by Chancellor Bob Meyer, a Packers season ticket holder who wore a Packers shirt, scarf and stocking hat — even though the presentation was in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center.

“It’s January in Wisconsin and the Packers are making a playoff run. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Meyer said.

The University Staff Senate at UW-Stout invited Larrivee to speak as part of January Professional Development programs on campus for faculty and staff.



Green Bay Packers radio announcer Wayne Larrivee speaks Wednesday, Jan. 11, at UW-Stout.

Wayne Larrivee signs autographs after his presentation at UW-Stout.