Connecting your team to its something greater is everything for a high-performance leader. At Vesper, you don’t have to ask any of the men or women on the team what that something greater is for them. It is literally hanging in our trophy case: Olympic gold medals.

Boats rowed by Vesper athletes took home the gold in the 1900 London Olympics, the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. To this day, Vesper is the only rowing club in the world to field three gold-medal-winning teams in the eight-man race.

The achievements of the past aren’t what fuel the athletes of the present, however. Michiel employed similar emotion-first leadership tactics that had worked so well for Mark back at Sonoma State. He knew that winning ...

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