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The Power of Playing Offense: Official Textbook at California State University's Business School

Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen so quickly, but what Eric Yuan (founder and CEO of Zoom) wrote in The Power of Playing Offense has manifested.

“Because leadership starts with self, it can help you as much at home, in SCHOOL, on the playing field, and in the community, as it does in the boardroom.”

Thanks to Aaron Raby, professor at California State University, who wrote the below blog contribution, The Power of Playing Offense has now been integrated into the core curriculum of the university’s business school. Given my late father being a teacher, this means EVERYTHING.

Cheers to the impact ahead, and with the deepest gratitude to Aaron for making this impact possible, as we inspire the leaders of tomorrow.


Paul and I met soon after my life changed from the "Why" discovery process I experienced via the Chapman and Co. Leadership Institute in 2018. I was soon after invited to a dinner where Paul and I immediately connected over our love for the 49ers and all things California. His energy and enthusiasm to make his father proud found a partner in my own drive to make my own, recently passed, father proud of me. Since that time we have remained close in our pursuit of purpose in our lives.

As I was preparing the syllabus for my Fall 2021 University Management Course, I wanted to find a publication, text or book that would complement my learning objectives. Even though the course is mainly about theories and concepts of contemporary management, there is also an objective to apply learnings to the real world through the practice of management and how to be an effective leader. I have found that students respond better to simulation and practice vs lecture after lecture after lecture. They have told me they have trouble staying focused and attentive when professors simply repeat the text and don’t discuss how management theory is applied in the workplace.

At the same time, I was looking for a complimentary text, I was reading the book The Power of Playing Offense and attending monthly book discussion webinars with Paul. It was during the first webinar that I quickly realized I had found my complimentary text in The Power of Playing Offense.

What led me to this realization?

#1 - The book focuses on actual practice! Very rarely have I come across a book on leadership that also flows like a workbook. My students have stated that it is one of the best books on leadership because it isn't just someone writing about research and theory. The book makes them think deeply and practice intentionally. My students love being able to consume portions of text and then practice or reflect on what they have read in short quick bites. Students also appreciate that the book asks tough questions about purpose and transforming organizational culture. Coming out of the pandemic, all of my students are asking themselves what they want from leaders and organizational culture.

#2 - This book also helps students understand the career implications of choosing to be a leader. I have seen many people make career moves because they have been told taking leadership roles will advance their career. What many people are not being told is to find your purpose and match your purpose to your career goals. I have been part of thousands of coaching conversations and sadly many people have stated they are dissatisfied with their jobs because they are only doing what the organization wants from them vs fulfilling their greatest purpose with their greatest talents.

When I added the text to my syllabus, I reached out to Paul to see if he might speak to my class about his book and leadership journey. He graciously agreed and students circled the date on their calendars. They could not wait to hear Paul’s story and have an opportunity to speak to an author. Students told me what an amazing opportunity it was to discuss purpose and leadership with Paul. His story and book resonated with every student and by the end of his time with us there was a mixture of reactions from tears (happy), smiles, thoughtful reflection, and hope for the future.

Paul gave these students the gift of his time, knowledge, and real human connection. We spent the rest of class discussing Paul, the purpose of life and how to be better leaders. Many students stayed after class because they were trying to figure out where to go from here? How do I take the first step to a life of purpose?

The good news is Paul provides the game plan for those next steps. Imagine being able to wake up on a Monday morning and feel energized and grateful because your purpose is matched with your “job”?

Paul puts people on task to match purpose, talents, and career so we all can make our greatest contribution. If we genuinely want to write our own stories vs someone else's vision of success, then Paul has given us the playbook.

Aaron Raby is the Head of Learning & Development at Foster Farms, Proud Father of four, Husband to a wife that makes him a better man everyday and moonlights as Adjunct Faculty for a number of Educational Institutions. His why is to "Inspire people to transcend boundaries so they can write their own stories"

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