How Communications Coaching Brings Learning & Opportunity Together for Student Athletes

Watch this video to see how Chris Westfall and Chris Valletta answer the Tough Questions - on what's missing in education today

What's the Difference Between Knowledge and Insight?

Knowing that a football field is 53 1/3 yards wide is good information, but it doesn't necessarily help you to get out of the way when you're about to get sacked. Knowledge can be useful, but in the middle of the game it won't intercept a pass, catch a punt or tackle a running back.

In other words: there's a difference between knowledge and insight, and it's observed in application. A difference between learning the game and playing the game. Insight  brings knowledge to life, and experientially connects learning to peak performance.

Coaching Bridges the Gap Between What You Know...

and What You Can Do 

Student athletes know how to work hard, how to play as a team, how to lead others on the field. But what about playing the game of life - and applying those same skills to the workplace?

As a communication consultant, coach and resource for students at Texas A&M University, Chris Westfall has helped raise millions of dollars for student entrepreneurs. His accelerated learning strategies have helped students and staff  to achieve unprecedented results, by tapping into a place of peak performance. The place that athletes know is the key to their success on the court, or the field...or in life. Now, for the first time, the 360° Leadership Accelerator offers new coaching skills to students. 

Every Athlete Knows That Coaching Is the Key to Peak Performance 

Coaching brings together all of the learning - the game films, the practice sessions, the hours invested in excellence - to provide the strategic guidance that's needed to win the game. There's no shortage of research and academic excellence at A&M - but what about a program that brings it all together, creating a clear and cohesive action plan (on an individual basis) that helps student athletes to win at the game of life? Student athletes understand discipline, grit and determination in ways that others can't. Applying those skills to career management, leadership and impact is a coaching exercise - because coaching provides the insights that are missing from the classroom. More importantly, a tailored coaching experience accelerates the learning process, creating greater retention, transfer and implementation of critical thinking skills. 

Who Is Chris Westfall? 360° Leadership Accelerator

Recognized as the US National Elevator Pitch Champion, Chris Westfall is the publisher of seven books. His eighth is Leadership Language: Using Authentic Communication to Drive Results (Wiley). A leading author on career issues, he regularly contributes to Forbes.  His writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, SUCCESS, Fortune and many other publications, and he's appeared on CNN, NBC TV and ABC NEWS. Working with  students at A&M since 2013, he coached Essentium - the winners of the Baylor New Ventures Competition, the SEC Pitch Competition, and the Rice Business Plan Competition (the largest and most lucrative competition of its kind in the world).  In addition to working with Fortune 100 clients and high-growth businesses around the world, he is a Certified Transformative Coach.

His strategies have helped raise over $100 million (and counting) for entrepreneurs. His career strategies have influenced thousands, from college campuses to the C-Suite. He regularly presents workshops to universities such as Ball State, The University of Wisconsin, Penn, SMU, Kansas State, TCU and many others. An internationally recognized expert in marketing, branding and communication, he's helped his clients to land on Shark Tank, Dragon's Den in Canada and Shark Tank Australia. 

Never before has a program like this been offered at Texas A&M - and this video will show you why coaching is what's needed today, to differentiate A&M and prove the value of the university degree:

Why Coaching is the Key to Student Athlete Success at Texas A&M University

The Students' Perspective - What Others Are Saying


"Chris Westfall gave me the tools and skills to be successful..." Pitch champion McCalley Cunningham talks about how innovative communication strategies have made a difference in her veterinary career - and beyond. And check this video to see if the goat has anything to say...

McCalley C.

DvM Candidate and Pitch Champion, Texas A&M


"I was so focused on the technology side ...After talking with Chris Westfall, it was really amazing to see how to connect with the public" Now Alfredo uses his words - and his work- to help the public. Find out how new skills helped him to meet the President of Mexico.

Alfredo C
PhD Candidate, Entrepreneur, Inventor


Cara Collins, Senior Director of Development

Texas A&M Foundation

March 21, 2019

Howdy Chris,


Your time with AGEC 425 students this past week was beyond valuable … thank you!! 


I speak not only for our students, but for myself in saying that you really opened our eyes to a new way of thinking and acting. To illustrate this, I wanted to follow up with you on how the “pitch” to senior leadership at the A&M Foundation went on Tuesday. I was given five-minutes to give an update and present the proposal for their approval. Just for fun, I used the word you provided, Legacy, along with the written proposal that was submitted for approval. 


The outcome of the pitch was this …


  1. Great engagement including smiles, and head nods in agreement throughout the pitch.
  2. Positive dialogue was created with the reference to the 3 little pig story, and the use of the rhetorical questions that seemed to “hit home” for them.
  3. At the end of the five-minutes the response was “tell me more,” and a little over an hour later we wrapped up.
  4. In our dialogue, we all agreed to adopt the term/stage “inspire” vs. “steward”, and with that we had unanimous approval from senior leadership to adopt the new model and move forward with the training program.
  5. What happened at the end, that I absolutely did not expect, was that our President walked me out of the room and said, “You’re glowing, whatever you’re doing keep it up. Great work today and thank you for all you do for our organization.” WOW!


Chris, please understand that I don’t share any of this to “brag” on me, I share it to say THANK YOU! If it weren’t for the time you invested in our students on Monday, I can assure you that this is NOT the approach I would have taken in my time with leadership, and I am willing to bet, the outcome would NOT have been this positive. So thank you for your leadership, expertise, and willingness to share it with us! 


Cara Collins '08

Senior Director of Development



Why Video and Live Coaching Is the Key to Student Athlete Success

Every student athlete watches game films of some kind. From the pool to the court to the field, video is a great way to athletes to improve performance. Why? Because you see yourself - and your competition - in new ways. From an understanding of how others play the game, you discover your own opportunities. And, quite frankly, you see what's working - and what's not!

That's why the 360° Leadership Accelerator uses a combination of video instruction and live coaching. Not only is video a familiar platform, it can reaching students on summer break, or at any hour of the day, to create new insights and new opportunities. 

But there's no substitute for the kind of transformational coaching that can take place in person. That's why the pilot program for A&M is so critical - demonstrating new ideas as well as allowing students the opportunity to implement powerful skills. The live workshop isn't a class, or a lecture, but an interactive experiential learning opportunity - delivered by an internationally-recognized transformative coach, author and entrepreneur.

Creating real impact - in a game, or in your career - requires the opportunity to see things for yourself.  Beyond research and the rules of the game, experiential learning gets students engaged and enrolled in powerful ways.  Memorization and rote repetition aren't the end goal - rather, a synthesis of knowledge and critical thinking skills that's demonstrated, in action, by the students. The experiential workshop is empowering, insightful and impactful - providing an environment that synthesizes the learning experiences, and provides firsthand access to creativity, innovation and more.

This experiential learning program has been presented in various forms to students involved in multiple McFerrin programs over the last few years. Doesn't it make sense to offer student athletes an experiential learning opportunity that goes beyond the classroom? 

With guided coaching from Chris Westfall, students will see and experience the soft skills that are missing. The skills that CEOs say that they want (according to a watershed survey by PWC) and that students crave. The video below will tell you more: 

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