Steve Shenbaum is a nationally recognized expert on communication, leadership, character development and media training. He’s worked with athletes like Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and hockey greats Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and consulted for teams and organizations like the New York Yankees and the University of Kentucky.

Shenbaum is president and co-founder of Game On, a firm specialized in communication, leadership, resiliency and team-building training.

Earlier this month, Shenbaum, a Northwestern graduate, returned to his alma mater earlier this month to speak with Medill Sports students. Juliana Sherry and DeForest Mapp took a few minutes to reflect on their experience hearing from and interacting with Shenbaum.

What were you expecting to learn from Steve before he arrived?

JS: I honestly wasn’t sure what I would learn from him. I knew he had worked with teams and team-building, so I was excited to see what he would be able to teach us about listening and working together.

DM: Knowing just a little about how J.A. Adande’ cares about students, I trusted he was bringing someone who would share tools useful for on air work in news. So, I was open but not too sure about what was to happen.

How would you describe the experience of listening to Steve and interacting with him?

JS: Steve made me feel so empowered, particularly when I got to interact with him in front of the group. I felt instantly comfortable and, in a situation where normally I would be nervous to perform in front of class, I was at ease and easily performed the activity.

DM: In listening to Steve, I could tell that he really cares about people and how people connect with others.

What were a few of the lessons/ideas you learned from him?

JS: He taught us how to have 3, 5 and 7 days. Some days are more laidback, some are full of energy when we’re large and in-charge, and some fall in-between those two. He also emphasized throughout that we should never create a character and act as anyone but ourselves. We are attractive and have high level skills that we should use to draw people to us. It was information that was incredibly genuine and he had us all convinced immediately.

DM: Steve reaffirms that it’s okay just to be yourself. And as a result, he creates a safe space allowing you to be who you are. I am enough.

What would you say the highlight of the Steve’s presentation was?

JS: The highlight for me was getting to go up in front of the class and perform an activity with him. Going into the presentation, I hadn’t expected to be called up, but getting to experience first-hand one of the principles he was teaching helped to cement the lesson in my mind and kept me engaged throughout the rest of the presentation.

DM: My highlight was found in our exercise. I had to listen for the last word and then the last letter of that word in a back-and-forth conversation. I then had to begin my next sentence with a word that began with his last letter. It forced me to be a very active listener. My responses were a bit comical but appropriate. It’s amazing how the mind works when we take time to hear someone.

How do you think you’ll be able to implement anything Steve talked about into your daily life?

JS: The lesson I want to start implementing immediately is the 3, 5 and 7 days. While I think my life does tend to fall into line with this a lot already, I do find that most days are when I am hyped up at a 7-level, which, while empowering, is draining. He explained there can be a balance and should be because no one can be at a level 7 all the time, even when we might want to.

DM: Like Steve, I have an acting background. It allows me to be present in moments. I can tell Steve is very much in touch with how he feels. Some view this as a liability, but I see it as a valuable asset. As J.A. said in introducing Steve, “Life is a stage.” And if you’re not winning on stage, you’re not winning in life.