The Primitive Podcast: Kirby Hocutt

Posted by Kade Wilcox | May 1, 2020

The Primitive Podcast: Kirby Hocutt

Texas Tech’s Athletic Director, Kirby Hocutt, has been with the Red Raiders since 2011. Since then he has seen his fair share of wins and losses both on and off the field. However, with his current contract being extended to 2027, Hocutt has proven a capable and successful leader at Texas Tech and in the Lubbock community. 

Transcript

Kade Wilcox, Host:
Hey everybody! Welcome to the Primitive Podcast. In this week's episode I had the privilege of interviewing Kirby Holcutt, the Athletic Director for Texas Tech. I've had a couple of occasions to talk to Kirby and every time I've ever talked to him I'm just super impressed. Anyone who's been following Tech Athletics for not quite ten years now knows how fortunate Tech is to have him and how much success that Texas Tech has seen under his leadership. With the exception of a few programs, which one could argue are even now making some major progress, Tech athletics has seen unprecedented success under Kirby's leadership. And so it was fun getting to listen to him talk about leadership. One thing that I've always admired about him from a distance is just his humility. Even when he was on the college football selection committee or whether it's big runs like last year's NCAA tournament with the basketball team or Omaha appearances by the baseball team anytime you listen to him talk or you watch interviews it's really just marked by a sense of humility and level-headedness. And I think he's a perfect fit for Texas Tech. And it was fun getting to talk to him all things leadership and to learn from him. So hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did. 

First of all, again I know you're super busy and really appreciate you being here. I've been a huge fan for a long time. We had you at one of our young professional events that was super fun. But I think that when you look at your leadership at Texas Tech it's a great example of that when you bring in a really effective leader,  dramatic things happen. And if you look, you haven't been here quite ten years, but if you look at nearly every program under your leadership, it just it's blatantly obvious that everything has improved dramatically. And not just for the major sports which I think are important but when you look at the impact your leadership has made across the entire organization, it's really fascinating to me. So I'm thrilled to have you on our podcast and really grateful that you would meet with us. So for the listeners that don't know a lot about you I'd love to learn a little bit about your background: where you grew up, where you're from, and just a little bit of your journey going from the beginning of your journey to where you're at today. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
Well I appreciate you having me on Kade and was looking forward to this opportunity so appreciate your kind words and introduction. And it's an honor for me to be on. I guess start with what's most important I'm a native Texan. Was born and raised in the great state of Texas was born in San Antonio, Texas. My father was in the Air Force so I was born at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. And we moved to Paris, Texas for a couple of years but then where I would say I grew up was the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Garland, Texas and then in about the sixth grade we moved to Sherman, Texas. About a half-hour north of Dallas 45 minutes north of Dallas so if people ask where I'm from, I tend to say Sherman, Texas. Those are my high school memories and the relationships that still hold very dear. I wanted to play football. Sports has always been a big part of my life and starting in high school, living in the state of Texas, of course, high school football was important. I thought I wanted to play big-time college football. In Sherman, Texas the challenge was recruiters were not lined up at the doorstep of a five-foot 10, average-speed linebacker. So there was only one knock on the door and fortunately for me that was at Kansas State. Bill Snyder was in his first full recruiting class at Kansas State and offered me an opportunity to be a part of what is now known as the greatest turnaround in college football history. And I didn't know what a blessing in my life that was going to be that opportunity until much later. But the lessons, the leadership, the experience, and most importantly, the friendships that developed over the course of the five years that I was there are very important to me and have really shaped where I am today and a lot of my behaviors today. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
That's fascinating! So probably a year ago I saw this documentary on YouTube about Coach Snyder and like I did not realize, of course I've been a sports fan my whole life, and many of the listeners on our podcast may not know this either, about how bad it was at K-State when he took over. So could you speak into that because I think for a lot of people, and I didn't know until I watched his documentary, it was like the basement. So walk us through what went through your head when you were being recruited by this coach and going to a program that had been so desolate. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah I vividly remember the first contact with Kansas State that I had was by an assistant coach at that time, his name was Bob Cope, unfortunately Coach Cope has since passed away, but I remember him introducing himself as Assistant Coach Kansas state that had interest in me as a prospect. And honestly I didn't know Kansas State was a member of the Big 8 Conference at that time. And so when I went home in that spring, Sports Illustrated had put Kansas State on the cover of their magazine as "Futility U the Worst College Football Program in America" and when I took my recruiting visit there it wasn't far from that. The facilities were horrendous, the culture within that program was not very positive, and it was a program that had been at the very bottom. But it was easy to see that Coach Snyder had a vision and he surrounded himself with a great group of men and it was fun. But you're exactly right, it was the basement of college football at that time and in the environment within the program, around the program, and the investment into the program was was equally as bad.

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
So having experienced that like what are a couple things that jump out to you from that time your just playing football so maybe you view it now differently than you did in them in the moment. But what are some of the things that you think contributed to, I don't know if it's an immediate turnaround but a dramatic turnaround for sure, like what are some of the things that you observed that you think contributed to that turnaround? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
Well I think it starts at the top as most things do with with leadership and that is Coach Snyder. It was his first head coaching opportunity of his career. He had been at Iowa as the long-term offensive coordinator under Hayden Fry. But coach Snyder had a vision. He had a vision for what Kansas State could become. And they're no easy fixes it was a day-to-day commitment of improving each and every day. And while I didn't understand it at the time, through his vision through his day-to-day approach and work ethic there was a pathway ahead of us, a pathway to a better time for Kansas State football. And those were life lessons, that's no different than being the Athletic Director at Texas Tech or any other leadership position, that vision, that pathway of success being built into your daily agenda. There's no quick fixes. It's a lot of hard work and a step-by-step process and that's what I saw, that's what I learned during that time at Kansas State. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
That's awesome so you played football at K-State for four years and where do you transition after you get out of college? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
Well when I when I was finished out of college, I had an opportunity to get my foot in the door from a coaching perspective. Brent Venables was one of my closest friends during that phase of my life, and Brent's now the defensive coordinator at Clemson. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
A good one we might add. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
Yes I think one of the most talented in the country. Brent was two years older than me, so when Brent left I replaced him as the middle linebacker for two years. He became the graduate Assistant Coach on the defensive side of the ball. At that time coach Snyder elevated him into the linebacking coach position and came to me with an opportunity to be the defensive GA. And at that time I wanted to stay involved in college athletics but didn't think coaching was for me. And I had an opportunity to go to the College Football Association. It doesn't exist any longer, but it was promoting all the good things about college football, made up of the 67 most high profile schools playing the game of college football at the time. So I served a one-year internship at the College Football Association, then had a chance to go back to Kansas State working in the athletic department, marketing and promotions, was there for just about two years and had an opportunity to go to the NCAA office. Which was at that time located in Kansas City and served for about two and a half years at the NCAA office and when they made the decision to move their headquarters from Kansas City to Indianapolis, I was prepared to move to Indianapolis. But at that same time Joe Castiglione, who was the previous athletic director at Missouri, had just got an Oklahoma job. And I'd met Joe through the College Football Association intern experience cold-called Joe, and he offered me the chance to join him at the University of Oklahoma. So I was the first person he hired at Oklahoma. Little did I know about three weeks after I was hired that he would hire Bob Stoops to become our head football coach, who was the defensive coordinator at Kansas State when I played. So it was just a unique experience an opportunity there. But I spent seven years at the University of Oklahoma before my first Athletic Director job. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
I didn't realize you were at OU for so long. That's crazy. It's fascinating, of course we don't have time to probably get into it, but the tree of leadership. Right like when you think of coach Snyder, and then Venables, and Bob Stoops, and OU, I mean it's crazy just how quickly leaders can spread. Then that web of leaders get so big so quickly. So you leave OU, at what point did you start a family, where did you go from OU, all that fun stuff. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
Yeah so, during my time at the University of Oklahoma, I'd gotten engaged to Diane, who's my wife of 20-plus years now. And Diane and I had met while I was in Kansas City working for the NCAA. She was a CPA she was working for KPMG at the time and one of my best friends introduced us. And we got engaged during those years at Oklahoma. And at that time had the chance to pursue my first Athletic Director position. I was 33 years of age at the time, and was offered the AD job at Ohio. I had never been to the state of Ohio before, but it was a great opportunity. And I had known that Frank Solich was their head football coach, their basketball team had been to the NCAA tournament the previous year, and it was a great opportunity. But I still remember that first contact I had with Ohio. The search firm Bob Odean who was doing the search, reached out and said, Ohio University do you have interest? And I mentioned it to Diane, and she said no way. And so well maybe we'll just we'll explore this and see if I get to second base with it. Long story made short, the position was offered, and we pursued it, and we were in Athens, Ohio just right over two and a half years. And at that point in time I got a call and an opportunity to be the Athletic Director at the University of Miami, in Coral Gables, "The U",  with such a strong tradition and brand within college athletics. We picked up from Athens, Ohio, and moved to South Beach, to Miami. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
Slight difference. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
You couldn't find a 180 degree, more separation between Athens, Ohio and Miami, Florida. We were in Miami for three years and I tell you what a great brand and program that was. I had the opportunity to work for Donna Shalala, who was just such an influential leader, and just so talented. And three years into it is when Gerald Meyers retired here at Texas Tech, and being a native Texan, really desiring to raise my family in a more of a traditional collegiate environment and college town. This was just too good of an opportunity to not pursue.

Kade Wilcox, Host:
And were glad you did. So you've been here just under 10 years, is that right? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah eight and a half years, just under 10 years and it's gone very fast. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
So when you think of your leadership within the athletic department, like what comes to mind, like what's your role, what's your responsibility as the leader of the organization? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah well I want to go right back to my collegiate experience, because I do think there life lessons that we teach every day through athletics that complement the lessons that our young people are learning in the classroom that is going to prepare the next generation of leaders. And I think in my role as a leader every day, I've got to set the vision for Texas Tech athletics. I've got to set the vision on where we want to be five years down the road, and make sure that's a bold vision. One that is going to elevate our program higher than it's ever been before. And then what's the pathway, how are we going to pursue that vision each and every day and then to empower the teammates that I work with each and every day to do their jobs and to raise the profile and to grow Texas Tech athletics higher than it's ever been. And I think it's a pretty simplistic formula for me Kade I think that it starts with people. And for us in athletics I call them my teammates that I work with each and every day. And I'm only gonna be as strong as each one of them, just as I was playing college football as the middle linebacker. Obviously with my size I was only going to be as good as the defensive lineman I had in front of me and the support I had behind me in the secondary, and you have 11 people on the field. And for a defense to be successful each individual has to do their job. You can't do somebody else's job, you got to do their job. And I think same thing now with Texas Tech athletics it's the teammates that I have around me that are going to continue to raise our brand and raise our profile. And I think as the Athletic Director the best thing that I can do is just make sure that we have alignment through our organization with our mission statement, and our guiding principles, and our goals, and our day-to-day objectives. That we're working in sync with each other and not working against each other in any way. And then it's just the culture. That's probably the most important thing I do is to build that environment and that culture that everybody looks forward to coming and being a part of. And one that's healthy, it's living, it's breathing, it's ever-changing. It's not perfect but nothing ever is, you just have to have that same day-to-day approach that I learned during my time at Kansas State as a student athlete that I saw with Coach Snyder and his coaches and within our team. That you got to strive to get better and improve each and every day. And if you do that you start stacking days on top of each other, better things are going to come.  

Kade Wilcox, Host:
Yeah that's really good. You talk about culture and culture means something different to everybody. What do you mean by culture, number one, and then two, how do you keep culture in front of your coaches and the rest of your staff and the rest of the organization's team, so that it's a priority? So one, what is culture to you, and then two how do you keep that in front of everybody consistently so that it really takes root? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah so to me and what I tell our organization, our culture is what we think about each other, how we communicate with each other, and how we work together. Communication is the simplest thing to do but also it's the most challenging thing that we do each and every day. And I think it's no different than being in the locker room, in our locker room as Texas Tech athletics, if we have a healthy locker room we're gonna be successful as an organization. And I've seen it too many times with teams or with coaching staffs or with units when there is dissension within that locker room or that office space, you're not gonna be successful. So to me culture is how we think about each other, how we communicate with each other, how we treat each other on a day-to-day basis and that becomes our culture. So how do we keep it in front of our staff, is we talk about it. We talk about what we have going on. We get together as an athletics department team each and every month, and we have our head coaches there, we invite select student-athletes in, we have our whole staff. And we talk about our priorities our objectives and everything that we have going on as the department. We're in actually a series right now with our athletic department staff meetings where we're focusing on our guiding principles. So for us to be a healthy organization, it's not Kirby's mission statement to "Educate, Serve, and Grow Fearless Champions", it's ours. It's all 215 full-time employees that we have, and right now we're taking it a guiding principle each and every month. And we're talking about it and we're doing it in a way we're using video to do, it in the words of our teammates, it's not Kirby talking about this guiding principle and what it means to me, it's my teammates. And if we continue to talk about these things our culture is going to continue to be vibrant and to grow and to build and stack days on top of each other that are so critically important. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
That's really good, thanks for sharing that. So this is a little bit of a transition, but you hear leaders talk all the time about failure and learning from failure. And again it's kind of like culture, right it's a fancy thing to say, but I'm curious how you as an individual, so not necessarily the organization, but when you absorb failure, when you experience failure, whether that be of a program, any type of failure whatsoever, how do you personally view failure and try to learn from it? What's your normal practice around failure? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah for some reason that word just is not a one of my favorite words, failure. Because I do think that you try to win each and every day, and in athletics we keep score of every game that we play. And you're not going to win every game so failure, or not winning each and every game, is going to be something that we deal with on a regular basis. But I always believe that as long as we give it our best effort, as long as I approach each and every day with the right mindset. As long as I capitalize on today and do the very best I can with whatever may be in front of me, and it doesn't work out the way we thought, and it doesn't turn out the way that I want it to turn out. It's a learning opportunity, and I guess I would replace learning opportunity with failure and what can we look back, and what could we do different, what could we change. So I think, being in athletics and in sports as long as I have, I know you're not gonna win each and every competition, you're not gonna win each and every day, but as long as you brought your best effort and gave it the best you could then you can continue to look yourself in the mirror and put one foot in front of the other.

Kade Wilcox, Host:
That's good so you just mentioned 215 some employees within the athletic department and you're their leader, so a lot of times leadership can be a bit draining. So how do you personally, how do you develop your own leadership skills, how do you stay inspired and empowered to be a good leader?  

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Balance is the best way that I do that. And John Wooden has one of my favorite quotes, and at one time Coach wooden said balances is critical for competitive greatness or for greatness. And I truly believe that, you've got to have balance in your life. And I believe that and I try to make sure I keep that in front of me. So that if I devote myself 24 hours a day or every waking moment to Texas Tech athletics, you're gonna get burned out. And I'm not gonna be as an effective leader as what Texas Tech athletics and the Red Raider Nation needs me to be. So you've got to build balance into your life, for me right now that's my kids and my family, and then sleep and exercise. If I don't get seven hours of sleep on a regular basis, I know I'm gonna wear down. If I don't get some type of exercise in at least three or four times a week, I know I'm gonna feel sluggish I'm not gonna feel a sharp as what Texas Tech athletics needs me to be, and the Red Raider nation expects me to be. So it's a balance for me and is that balance easy, not always, but I try to keep that in front of me. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
Yeah I'm trying to imagine what that would look like, because sports fans never turn it off, there's always a new season there's always a new team, there's coaching transitions. I mean I can't imagine in collegiate sports there's a lot of downtime, and so what does that look like for you? Do you like literally just have to like shut your phone off, like literally disappear? I mean I would imagine you can't go anywhere in Lubbock and not be grabbed by someone, who may or may not have strong opinions, so what does that look like for you? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Well when they quit giving you their opinions then that's when you start to worry. Yeah but for me it's again balance. We're in the midst of football season, I've got two boys that are playing for the Frenship Tigers. I've not missed a Frenship Tiger football game this fall, I'm not gonna miss one. I haven't missed a Texas Tech football game, so you find a way to do that. And that's what it looks like for us right now our downtime is the month of July. And used to be June and July until we start making a regular occurrence of going to Omaha every year, which is a great thing. But in July it's a lot of family time and recharging the batteries, but this time of year, it's just making sure that I'm present at as many of my family events, and get to interact and be a part of my boy's life at this point. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
That's awesome. You can kind of make anything look true online, but I've always from observing you from a major distance, it seems like you have a genuine affection and love and prioritization of your family and I think that's something for sure to be admired in your role. How many direct reports would you have? Like you have a large organization but how many people like directly report in to you? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah I have nine direct reports within our staff from an administrative side. And then ultimately all twelve of our head coaches are direct reports. The way that we're structured I have liaisons with the majority of our sports, minus football, men's and women's basketball, and those are the coaches that directly report to me. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
So ten staff members, twelve head coaches. What is personal development look like for them, like when you when you look at your responsibility to help them become the best leaders that they can, what does that development look like between you and them, and how do you approach that? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah so I would probably say for the sake of this answer, I want to keep the administrative staff and the coaching staff in different boxes per se. So as my administrative staff, those that report to me, those are individuals that are overseeing sports medicine, external operations, compliance, academic support, etc.  It's individualized. Everybody is at a different point in their career, everybody has different career aspirations, which means I better have individual relationship with them, to know what their goals are. So I think it's individualized there to help them grow, and annually we talk about personally and professionally what are our goals over the next 12 to 16 months, we keep those in front of us. As an athletic department leadership team we meet each and every week, but individually I meet with everybody every three weeks. And during those meetings every three weeks, we keep goals in front of us, what are your personal goals, how your professional goals, how are we progressing in each of these areas, what what are we deficient in, how can I help continue to move forward in these initiatives. So I think it's individual. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
Yeah that's good. What's the most challenging part of leadership, in your mind? I want to know the most challenging things in your mind, but I also want to talk about the most rewarding aspects of leadership. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah the most challenging parts of leadership, I think are just when you hit a speed bump, or when you're going through a point of challenge, and how do you work together to overcome that. And a lot of times in athletics, again I would say nothing's ever perfect, but nothing's ever going to be perfect, and I think it's accepting that. And I go back to my time as the Athletic Director at the University of Miami and there were some things that we were dealing with at that time, and Donna Shalala said something to me that has stuck with me all these years. She said, Kirby our job in administration is to address the problems. There are always going to be issues, we work with people. People are imperfect, people are gonna make mistakes. So we've got to come in to work each and every day knowing that the day's not gonna go as you plan. They're gonna be issues, they're gonna be challenges, and we've just got to address them. You can't walk past any issue no matter how small that particular thing may be, because if you don't address it today, it's just going to continue to roll downhill, the little pebble is going to become a boulder. But expect it, and that the fact that there are issues and challenges is not a sign that we are ineffective in our jobs or administrators, it's part of our jobs and that's what we do. So I think that the challenging part is just when you face adversity, when you face challenges as a team or with something that somebody's dealing with how do you continue to work together to move the ball forward. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
Yeah that's good. What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your work? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Success. Watching young people celebrate, is the most satisfying part of my work. Being in that locker room this past Saturday afternoon in Morgantown, West Virginia, and watching those young men celebrate that win, because I know how hard they've worked. I have such clear pictures in my mind of watching us qualify for Omaha, and watching the dog pile at Dan Law field. I remember the celebration in the locker room last year as we advanced all the way to the national championship game. So the best part of my job is being able to stand back in those moments of celebration and just watch our coaches and our student-athletes celebrate with each other, because I know how hard they have worked to put themselves in that position.

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
That's really good. I'm curious, college sport seems to just continue to ramp up in terms of competitiveness. The arms race for facilities and fundraising and gathering the the greatest talent from a coaching standpoint, so how do you view the competitive landscape as everything seems to continue to move so fast and the bigger the better, etc. Like how do you view competitiveness and in that whole competitive landscape within college athletics? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Well you're exactly right. It continues to feel like it just strengthens and the difference between different programs is becoming smaller and smaller and it's it's so challenging to win in competition. So you look for those incremental advantages as an administrator as a leader, what can we do at Texas Tech to provide an incremental advantage for my coaches or for my student-athletes to have that hedging in competition. And I think you look at the landscape of television and the revenue that comes from television. It's really leveled the playing field significantly, when you talk about the revenue that we enjoy from TV. How we've been able to invest that into our athletics department into our programs. Well what every other team and power five out there is having that same type of investment so I think you have to look at the revenue from television that has really leveled the landscape nationally and I think will continue to do so. And that's why the pressure continues to build to be successful, and it gets back to some of the things we were talking about earlier, is just we've got to make sure that we're in alignment with our core values, our goals, our mission, so that we keep it between the boundaries and we don't let things veer off into a place that they're not supposed to be. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
Yeah that's great. I'm sure you learn a lot from your entire staff, your entire organization, all your coaches, but certainly one that has gotten a lot of attention over the last several years because of the impact and success is Coach Beard, I don't know Coach Beard personally, I've been around him just a couple of times, and he's just intense. The moment you meet him you can just almost just sense and feel that he wants to win. And he certainly appears to put in the effort to do that. What are some of the things that maybe you've learned from him in watching him over the last several years, that are leadership takeaways even for your own leadership? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah I think two things come to mind immediately, Kade. And things that obviously Chris Beard is all about, one is his drive, his drive for excellence, his drive for success is second to no one. I mean he is here to win a national championship and he's not gonna back away from that, and that's always been his goal from the first night we met in Las Vegas. He wanted to know, was there alignment with me and Texas Tech if he came here, not to get in the NCAA tournament every three or four years not to compete for a conference championship ever so often, he wants to do it every year. And the fact that we made it to Monday night the National Championship game but came up 12 seconds short last year drives him even further. And until we win that Monday night game, he's not going to be satisfied. So one thing I think is just the drive for success and the relentless pursuit of that to be successful is something I think Chris exemplifies. And the second thing I would say is just the sense of urgency. Again it's trying to win each and every day, and how important today is for the goals that we have come the first Monday night in April for the NCAA basketball tournament. What we do on today November the 11th is extremely important and is going to have an impact on that ultimate goal. So I think the relentless drive for perfection and the sense of urgency are two things that Chris Beard brings every day that are important reminders for all of us. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
Yeah it's awesome to hear you say that, because again just from a casual observer from the outside not knowing him personally, you can hear it. I mean whether it's as comical fireside chats or media interviews or whatever, another thing that fascinates me about his leadership is just how gracious he is, I mean it doesn't matter if it's, doesn't matter who the competitor is, I mean he's always going to be prepared and he's always going to really just seem like he really respects them. And I think even from a leadership perspective, regardless of what industry you're in, or what the competitive landscape looks like, that there's some major takeaways from that. And I'm always fascinated, he's always talking about elite. And his infatuation with Nick Saban, who's been elite for a long time. So thanks for sharing that that's interesting. A couple more questions for you. Who one person or multiple people have been the biggest influence on your own leadership? I mean even just listening to you talk to the last 15 or 20 minutes, it seems like you've been really fortunate to be around some remarkable people. But who's one of those people that really had you feel like influenced you the most? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest: 
Yeah, two individuals in my professional journey one is Chuck Neinas. Chuck was the executive director of the College Football Association when I interned there. But prior to that Chuck was the number two individual at the Big Ten Conference. He then became the number two guy at the NCAA, and then became the Commissioner of the Big Eight Conference. He was also the interim Commissioner of the Big 12 Conference. But Chuck was my first boss and I just saw his passion for intercollegiate athletics.  Chuck always told me he never wore a watch because he was passionate about what he did and he was gonna it wasn't a job to him it was a passion. And I shared that with him and Chuck's been influential in every position that I've sat in in my professional career. And the second is Joe Castiglione. When I went to Oklahoma I spent over seven years working for Joe. He really took me under his wing and allowed me to grow, allowed me to become exposed to many things within intercollegiate athletics. And there's not many things I do today professionally that I don't pick up the phone and call Joe and just say hey help me think through this, am I thinking about everything I need to at this point in time. And just two great friends and mentors for me. 

Kade Wilcox, Host: 
That's awesome. Well if you could, last question for you, if you could look back 10, 15, 20 years ago, what advice would you give a young young Kirby going into his first Athletic Director job or whatever. When you think if you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your younger self? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
Yeah that's a really interesting question, thought-provoking. I think I would tell myself that there there are no quick fixes. That to attain success, greatness, it's a step-by-step process. You go about something bit by bit. Success isn't going to come overnight. And I think, as a football student athlete, you want to win that game and so if you don't win a game, you get another opportunity seven days later to win that. Well it doesn't exactly work like that within the administration of a large department. So I think I would want to tell myself to understand there are no quick fixes and to enjoy the journey. And the other thing I might tell myself is just, I've learned this, but in the pursuit of excellence or success comes scrutiny comes criticism. And that's natural especially in the world, Kade, that you're awfully familiar with in the social media world that we live in today, there can be a lot of noise there can be a lot of criticism, there can be a lot of second-guessing, but again if you're gonna be excellent, you've got to state that and you've got to believe it. Just like you mentioned with Coach Beard he talks about being elite, we want to be elite but it doesn't come overnight. And people can be can criticize the use of that word, but if I don't believe it as the Athletic Director, and I don't verbalize that, then I can tell you our departments not going to believe that. So I think just to know that criticism is going to be natural as you sit in these leadership chairs, and it's not personal, it's people just wanting the same goal as you but sometimes being critical about it. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
Is it hard, I guess I lied. I guess I have another question. Is it hard, I mean if you view if you view it that way that it is a process, that makes sense right, most of life is a process, whether it's physical health, emotional health, relationships, it's all a process, but living in a society that doesn't much care for processes, and it isn't a quick fix, it's not an overnight success, but that's kind of what people expect. How do you keep yourself grounded so that the sense of other people's urgency doesn't overwhelm you or your team or your organization? 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
I think you've got to be goal-oriented and again have a plan. You got to have a game plan for where you want to go. And I tell our team a lot our leadership team, progress over perfection, because likely we're never going to attain perfection. We're not going to go 32-0 in basketball, we're not going to go 14-0 in football. More than likely there's gonna be a loss in there, but it's progress over perfection. And I think you get it you got to have a goal, and you gotta have a game plan, and goals built in that allow you to continue to see that progress being made. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
That's good. Well I really appreciate your time today thanks again for joining us. I feel like Lubbock and West Texas and all of the Texas Tech family is really lucky to have you. And we're glad for your leadership and just really appreciate the way that you approach it, and the impact you've not just made on athletics, but really our entire community. And so thank you, thanks  for being such a great leader and being a model for all of us, I appreciate it. 

Kirby Hocutt, Guest:
You're very kind and Lubbock, Texas is a great place to live and to work. And I appreciate all you do for the community as well. 

Kade Wilcox, Host:
Thank you. 

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