102: Trent Dilfer: 14 Year NFL QB & ESPN Analyst on how losing his son to heart disease at age 5 taught him so many life lessons.

Trent Dilfer


Trent Dilfer is a former NFL quarterback (14 years), Pro Bowler and winning quarterback of Super Bowl XXXV with the Baltimore Ravens. After retiring from the NFL, he spent 9 years as an ESPN Analyst. Trent is the Head Coach of Elite 11, a quarterback camp featuring 24 of the nation’s best high school quarterbacks. In January, Dilfer was named Head Football Coach of Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, TN. 

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, former NFL QB & Super Bowl winner, Trent Dilfer, talks about family life, values and impact. Trent shares the non-negotiables (or big rocks) for him and his family: Faith, Internal Voice (calling) and Intentionality. He tells us about what carried him and his family through the loss of his 5 year old son and how he went from competitor to ally with rival quarterback Matt Hasselback. Listen in as Trent discusses how rewarding it is to develop quarterbacks that not only end up leading professional teams but go on to have a significant impact in their community as well. Trent isn’t shy to share his thoughts on what he loved and didn’t love about working as an ESPN Analyst for 9 years. Trent’s story reminds all of us that no matter how much personal or professional success you’ve had, you will never be more alive than when you are stepping outside of your comfort zone and following your calling! 

What You Will Learn:

Trent talks about the emotions he and his family faced as they made the decision for him to leave the comfort of retirement to coach high school football. This journey helped him to realize that we are all designed to have an impact, not to merely be comfortable. Dilfer says, “For the first time in 10 years, we all feel really alive and that we are serving our purpose. This was a calling!”. 

Trent shares the “Big Rocks” or non-negotiables for his family, and Faith is #1. He believes that we all have an internal voice and goes on to say, “The more I listen to it…the more productive, impactful and passionate I am about life.” Trent discusses turning to his faith for strength and hope when his 5 year old son died from a heart condition. He shares how he learned to handle conflict better and be more of a peacemaker through watching his son. 

Trent believes that life was meant to be lived with others, and this can be found in the dynamics of his relationship with former Seattle teammate, Matt Hasselback. Even though they were competing fiercely for the starting QB job, Trent earned Matt’s trust by being authentic and realizing there was something deeper on the line – a friendship. Trent served Matt by pushing him to be the best he could be. Later in life, when Trent went through tough seasons in his life, God used people like Matt Hasselback to help heal Trent. 

Trent was selected as the Head Coach of Elite 11 QB Camp because he had the vision, passion and leadership skills necessary to lead the organization. He took it from a camp to a cult following and eventually to a community. Trent discusses the unique journey that Quarterbacks take because there is a great burden on them for leadership. Elite 11 QBs will not only go to the NFL but will have a significant impact in their community. 

Trent discusses the polarizing dynamic of being an ESPN Analyst for 9 years. He loved the ability to see his family and stay involved in the game, but eventually, the network created everything to be political and dramatic. ESPN became like the big news networks, and his job wasn’t fun anymore. 

Driving down the field: :

Trent Dilfer has lived a life that most people could only dream of: 14 years as a quarterback in the NFL, Pro Bowler, Super Bowl winner, ESPN Analyst and married with 3 daughters that are NCAA student athletes. But it hasn’t always been roses for Trent. He has gone through his fair share of adversity both on and off the field: from being released by the Ravens after winning them a Super Bowl and playing back-up to a rookie QB in Seattle to losing his 5 year old son to heart disease and more recently realizing he was just being “comfortable” in life without making an impact. At age 47, Trent was in retirement but sensed a deep longing for something more. He told God he would accept whatever opportunity came next, not knowing what that would be. 

Getting back into the lane of life:

That opportunity came in the form of an offer to coach high school football at Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, TN. After listening to his internal voice and consulting with his family, Trent moved from Austin, TX to Nashville, TN to take the job. Previous to accepting this position, Trent had turned down 10 different pro and college jobs to spend more time with his family. While his intentions were pure, he now realizes that he had gotten too comfortable and challenges all of us to take inventory every year to determine if you’re too comfortable”. Trent is now focused on inspiring kids and giving back. He says, “I had great coaching, that’s why I’m passionate about coaching.” 

Links to Additional Resources:

E-Learning Course

Be sure to check out Mark’s new e-learning course here. Mark has a free PDF that gets you started. He’s also got an assessment tool designed to help you achieve your goals.

Free 10 Question Assessment: https://www.findingyoursummit.net/assessment/test?id=1

What You Will Learn:

Blair discusses the dynamics of TRANSITION between founders and non-founder CEOs. Founder must let go while the new CEO must realize they stand on the shoulders of all the work that’s come before them. The focus for the new CEO should be on Respect, Stewardship, Servant-Leadership, Trust, Honor and Integrity.

Blair shares his KEYS to SUCCESS in building a world-class team. People want to know work for a company that knows its WHY. Blair believes that workers are most engaged when their skills and passions are aligned. Having a forward-thinking, sustainable business model that is enriching the world is attractive to workers.

Blair talks about BRAND AUTHENTICITY versus the competition. Traditional Medicinals, the 4th largest and also the fastest growing tea company in the United States, has gone from being on the shelves at funky, local food co-oops to Safeway, Target and Walmart. Everyone in the tea space has come out with a line of wellness teas to compete with them, but consumers recognize their AUTHENTICITY and WHY above the competitors.

Blair believes that consumers today should demand that every product they buy is coming from a company that has an EQUITABLE SUPPLY CHAIN. The company focuses on connecting “both ends” of the supply chain – the family who’s growing the lemongrass in Guatemala and the lady buying it at Whole Foods in America. Traditional Medicinal invests $2M annually in their supplier communities including 5 schools that they own and operate in growing regions.

Blair gives advice for young people on living a PURPOSEFUL LIFE. Get out of your comfort zone, do things by yourself, travel, find ways to figure out who you are and what’s important to you. Align what you do with your career to what you like/are passionate about. It’s not about subject matter expertise, it’s about personality: Courage, kindness, humility. 

Climbing the Corporate Ladder:

Blair Kellison has had the fortune of working at one of the largest financial services companies in the world (Ernst & Young), the largest food company in the world (Nestle) and in several entrepreneurial environments. He learned how to run a business from these experiences, but he didn’t learn about authenticity, purpose or personality. He didn’t learn servant leadership. The WHY wasn’t strong enough.

Finding a Better Ladder:

In 1995, he made the best decision of his career by taking a pay cut and trading in the corporate life for a business development position at a mission-driven, all natural food company. He made this move to align his skills and experience with his passion for living a healthy lifestyle. For Kellison, the last 20 years working for mission-driven, health and wellness companies have been the highest and best use of his skills and experiences.

His focus now is on being a humble, servant leader working in service to the organization. As CEO, it’s not about how smart he is, it’s about making smart decisions and providing strong leadership. He is able to make smart decisions by hiring people who are smarter than him in their areas of expertise and then listening to them.

Kellison is passionate about helping others find their passion by encouraging them to align their passion and their skills.

Links to Additional Resources:

E-Learning Course

Be sure to check out Mark’s new e-learning course here. Mark has a free PDF that gets you started. He’s also got an assessment tool designed to help you achieve your goals.

Free 10 Question Assessment: https://www.findingyoursummit.net/assessment/test?id=1

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