NFL legend Steve Young spent Thursday morning at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit doing what he does best — chucking footballs for distance.
The former BYU quarterback spoke in the mid-morning presentation of the yearly tech event. Upon stepping out on stage, Young tossed three footballs out into the crowd, one of which went to a woman who correctly guessed the first professional football team he played on (the Los Angeles Express).
The woman didn't catch the ball on the first two attempts but secured it on the third.
While speaking at Silicon Slopes, Young opened up about why it’s important to push past the struggles you face in life — and why events in your life that look negative can actually be turned into positives.
Young said he started at BYU as the eighth string quarterback on the depth chart. Upset that he wasn’t getting playing time, he called his dad and said he wanted to leave the team.
“I want to quit. That’s it,” he said.
His dad said, “You can quit, but you can’t come home.”
This taught Young the lesson that people need mentors in their life, or at least people who can talk you out of making bad decisions.
“We all need mentors and people around us to stop us from doing really stupid things,” Young said.
He added, “We all need all kinds of mentorship." Some mentors are strict while others are more patient, he said.
For Young, his family members are his mentors, too.
“I have 150 angels in my life. And my mom and dad are at the top of the list,” he said.
Young said he learned another valuable lesson about seeing negative events as positives while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
When he finally replaced Joe Montana in 1991, fans hounded Young for not winning many games. Everywhere he went, he said, controversy and criticism followed.
“Everything I did wrong I’d hear from every human being,” he said.
Young said he would hear a lot of people saying that he wasn’t “Joe.” He wondered whether he should leave the team and quit football altogether.
But — as Young spoke about before — Young ran into Stephen Covey on an airplane ride by chance. Covey explained that Young was set up for success better than anyone else he knew. He could learn from Montana and improve himself to be the best quarterback in the league.
“It was as if a switch went on,” he said.
He said Utah and Silicon Slopes are set up for a similar scenario. So many successful companies in the area have created a strong atmosphere for more companies to succeed, he said.
“This is our moment. This is our Utah moment. This is our Silicon Slopes moment,” he said.
Young said he continues to follow that piece of advice even today. It’s a model, he said, all business leaders should adopt.
If you do that, he said, "Suddenly you can solve anything."