Posted by: johnocunningham | November 10, 2011

What I Learned From B’s Star Terry O’Reilly

This year’s New England LMA conference offered some very helpful advice about legal marketing in the age of technology, but my favorite portion of the program was actually the presentation by guest speaker, Terry O’Reilly.

The former Bruins star, team captain and coach left me with 3 lasting impressions from his talk:

1. Coaching and mentoring changes lives. The self-effacing O’Reilly recalled that there were many players more talented than he was, even as a kid, but explained how certain coaches and mentors in his life made all the difference (none more important than his mom). It was obvious from his facial expression, body language and tone of voice that this was no cliche point he was making. O’Reilly remembered each coach and each gesture, however tiny, that raised his confidence and raised his game. Note to law firm coaches and leaders: the smallest genuine gestures of recognition and confidence in a person count for a lot!

2. A little inspiration can last for a life time. O’Reilly also recalled how he was lastingly affected by a trip to the Shriner’s hospital to visit a young boy who had lost his legs in a train accident. The young man he visited was extremely touched by O’Reilly’s simple gestures of offering him Bruins tickets and memorabilia, and he befriended the B’s captain for a time, though they eventually lost touch for a while. When O’Reilly met him again some years later, the young boy had grown into a man and he had become a well-known competitor in wheelchair sports. He had also become a motivational and inspirational speaker, telling O’Reilly that he had made a difference in his life.

3.  Coaches can affect performance by getting the team to play together. It sounds pretty basic, but the execution can be subtle. O’Reilly described how he, as a coach and manager in the late 80s, cast as co-captains an aging veteran (Rick Middleton) and a young buck (Ray Bourque). This blended the aging and youthful elements of the team, and it gave O’Reilly a combination of captains who could tell him as coach how his moves were affecting the entire locker-room. He wanted and sought that feedback from strong-willed players who were each cut from different cloth. He also said he greatly valued when those captains could pull him aside and say, “You were a little too tough on the boys tonight” or “What we’re doing isn’t working right now.” Note to law firm leaders: push-back from your captains is not a bad thing – it helps you to reset your compass in the right direction.

The former B’s star also mentioned the Boston Bruins alumni charity events, which pit past Bruins stars against local firemen, policemen or youth hockey players. Not only do these games serve a great cause, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that there is no better spectator experience in hockey than seeing former pros in their 40s, 50s and 60s toying with amateur hockey players in the prime of their lives. So, if you want to see O’Reilly, his two steel hips and his fellow alums in action, check out the Bruins alumni schedule.

For another perspective on the highlights of last week’s New England LMA conference, check out Amy Campbell’s Web Log entry. As always, Amy has some great observations to share (she also raises the question, “What if Paul Revere was on Twitter?”



  1. BRILLIANT. I have taken away your points and I believe they will make a lasting impression relative to raising teens and also for cheerleading coaches to motivate team members who may be having a tough time.

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