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Manning Keynotes ASI Chicago

Mixing personal sports stories, jokes about his career as a product pitchman, and tips on becoming a better leader, NFL star Peyton Manning headlined the ASI Show Chicago this morning. During his 40 minutes on stage – which included a speech and a Q&A session with ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews – Manning encouraged attendees to be game-changers at their companies by cultivating trust and through meticulous daily preparation.

“Excellence doesn’t happen by chance,” he said. “In today’s business world, you may need to change your strategy, but you can’t change your vision. You have to be ready to compete and never get too comfortable.”

Manning – a Super Bowl champion, 14-time Pro-Bowler and five-time league MVP – listed several ways businesspeople can excel in their field, relating his advice to his own life experiences. “Don’t be stymied by change, be stimulated by it,” he said. “Be a master observer and look for things that aren’t evident to your competitors. That’s what I try to do when I call an audible. And invest in a coach that can help you continue to grow. I still want to be coached myself. When you stop wanting to be mentored, I think you’re in big trouble.”

Manning, 39, admitted that as he’s aged and suffered injuries, he’s had to adjust his approach on the field. Instead of judging himself against the past, he’s focused on his dad’s advice to “get back to zero,” meaning he finds a new baseline. He suggests businesspeople do the same. “When you make a bad deal or bad sale, or when you have a bad presentation,” he said, “you need to erase it from your mind and get back to zero. Start again.”

Known for being a spokesman for brands like Buick, Papa John’s and Nationwide, Manning entertained with a few one-liners, as well. For example, referencing Colorado’s recent legalization of marijuana, Manning joked: “As a guy who sells pizza in Colorado, I can tell you the business is really good there right now.”

Finally, while he didn’t specifically address his future in the National Football League, Manning said: “This is the best I’ve felt since I’ve come back. A lot of players retire because they get tired and bored with the grind. I’m not bored and I’m still looking for more ways to compete and win.”