Success is Learned Before it is Earned

MENTORSHIP / January 11th, 1970 at 7pm in New Orleans, my father (Ed Budde) pulled his sweaty, bloodstained Kansas City Chiefs football jersey off and handed it to me. As a 12 year old boy with hopes of following in my father’s footsteps, I would never forget the scene unfolding in front of me. Champagne sprayed, cigars were lit, laughter, tears and pride pulsated through the locker room celebration when a phone rang. Quarterback, (Super Bowl IV, MVP) Len Dawson, picked up the receiver and a hush fell across the locker room. “Thank you Mr. President,” he said as President Nixon congratulated the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs for their Super Bowl IV World Championship victory over the Minnesota Vikings. My father’s smiling eyes met mine. My mentor/father once again had brought me alongside him, to experience up-close and personal, the victory celebration after a challenging year of intense preparation, discipline, selfless team work and sacrifice, which led to this ultimate achievement.

Ed Budde Kansas City ChiefsEarly in the Chief’s 1969 season, it appeared adversity would get the best of this talented team as their star quarterback Len Dawson suffered a knee injury. Each Saturday, I would attend the Chief’s practice with my father. As I observed and listened, I quickly realized that the controversy that was in the newspaper about the future of the team was absent on the practice field. The mentorship of Chiefs Head Coach Hank Stram, united the talented Chiefs’ players, which included seven future Hall of Famers, helping them to remain focused on making the playoffs and improving as a team. There was no drama, just determination and professionalism. But the leadership on the field was not the only mentoring that was happening during that season. Each Saturday, on the car ride to and from the practice field, my father would talk to me. The theme of those conversations was simple: it doesn’t matter how you feel, you do the right thing. It’s team above self. Remain loyal and disciplined in adversity. Though the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs were known for their success, it was teamwork, not just talent, which got them there.

Many believe that you cannot mentor or demand selfless teamwork, discipline, accountability and strict adherence to tradition outside of the arenas of military, pro-sports, fire or police departments because in those arenas it is mandatory. I disagree and as evidence I present to you my experience with The Pasadena Tournament of Roses as a 2010 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Inductee.

Just like the 1969 Chiefs, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses organization, (including the president, committee chairmen, volunteers, and the community of Pasadena) is one of the Brad Budde and Don Hopffinest teams I have ever witnessed. This is a team that has stood the test of time. In 1890, the Pasadena Valley Hunt Club started The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade decorating horse drawn carriages. Today the Rose Parade has magnificent flower decorated floats, marching bands, and classic cars which are viewed around the world by millions. In 1902, the football game was added, in 1923 began the title “The Rose Bowl,” and by 1947 it became a sellout attraction, and finally, a BCS member hosting National Championship Games in 2002, 2006, and 2010 and again in 2014. With 36 committees, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses organizes everything from the Rose Parade, to the Hall of Fame, to the selection of the Rose Queen and Princesses. A legion of dedicated individuals spend years being mentored and lead by senior members all of whom bought into The Tournaments system of discipline, selfless teamwork, accountability and traditions.

In the Tournament of Roses just like the NFL, success is learned before it’s earned. All who participate in The Pasadena Tournament of Roses system are required to spend a minimum of two years training at each level starting at the bottom (“grunts” dressed in white suits). After they complete their assignment, they receive an objective written evaluation; only those with excellent evaluations will be given an opportunity to move up to the next level. Members work in each committee to ensure they understand the responsibilities; skills needed and have hands on experience. Next they earn chairmanship, and if successful after 25 years of excellence and selfless service you might be selected President of The Pasadena Tournament of Roses. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses requires Mandatory retirement at 65. During our four days with The Pasadena Tournament of Roses members, my wife Nicky and I discovered each individual was professional and yet, personal. This was not just an organization; this was a team, a family.

Brad Budde and David HopfDavid Hopf, our host, personified the character and traditions of the Tournament of Roses. As an 18 year member of The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, David, like myself, grew up dreaming of following in his father’s footsteps as a member of The Pasadena Tournament of Roses. He often accompanied his father, Don Hopf (a 30 year member), to Rose Tournament activities growing up. Dave’s first memories are helping his father return the magnificent floats after the parade ended and being allowed to ride on them. The tradition and teamwork was something that David wanted to be a part of, and when he turned 25, he too became a member. Over the last 18 years, Dave has done his two year stints in a variety of jobs, but this year, David was chosen to be one of three hosts for the 2010 Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Inductees.

Early each morning, sporting a great attitude and coffee, David arrived at our hotel, ready to escort our family to each event. A proactive problem solver he was equipped and prepared to solve any and all problems. Whether it was taking a short cut to pick up peanut butter crackers for my wife (type 1 diabetic) to make sure she would have food in case our schedule ran late or finding gloves for our daughter to wear the chilly morning of the Rose Parade or finding the quickest route from the parade route to the stadium, David improvised and anticipated our needs. No stress, just incredible time management. Also, with each event and experience, David took time to share the history of each aspect of Tournament of Roses and his personal experiences from his childhood at his father’s side to the present. The details that David shared allowed my family to not just enjoy this once in a lifetime experience but to appreciate the passion and purpose that drives each member. The professionalism with a personal touch is the signature of the Tournament of Roses members.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses leadership spends years mentoring at each level a character of selfless teamwork to instill professionalism with a personal touch. Like the victorious Kansas City Chiefs I grew up with who earned the World Championship Super Bowl title in 1970, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses has earned the respected coveted title of, “The Granddaddy of them All”

8 Replies to Success is Learned Before it is Earned

  1. Jeff Throop says:

    Thanks for the most kind words, again. What a great article. I will forward this on to those in the Tournament. You are very kind. Hope our paths cross again soon. Highest Regards, Jeff

    • Brad Budde says:


      Appreciate the comment.

      I will definately keep in touch.

      Your time as President of the Rose Tournament Commitee produced a superior team and great results.

      It was an honor to meet you and your family.


  2. Tom Baugh says:

    Thanks for sharing this. In a time of quick response and immediate gratification, it is encouraging to see that tradition and longevity remain a core value that provides a sense of gratitude that is not easily or quickly duplicated. We can only hope that the acts of long term commitment and selfless mentorship endure the tests of time for another generation or two. That is where we must take our cue as parents and mentors to retain those traditions with today’s impatient youth (not like we were ever impatient ;-)

    • Brad Budde says:

      Meeting your impressive and lovely daughter a few years ago at Christmas time during the Chiefs Ambassadors event showed me what a great father and man you are.

      I respect you and value our friendship.

      Your response meant alot.


  3. Suzie Dixon says:

    What a great article, as a teacher I can only wish that the parents and students will understand that success must be learned. False praise and taking the easy way out seem to be a practice today, rather than committment to learning and achieving skills. Thank you for spreading this message!

    • Brad Budde says:


      I enjoyed your “false-praise” comment!

      It reminds me of the difference between the type of person who uses a compliment versus those who affirm people.

      Sadly too many (teacher, coach, parent, manager) are fearful of confrontation….. and instead they freely give unearned compliments.

      “We can fool others but we can’t fool ourselves.”

      When we receive something (compliment) we don’t deserve it will effect us in a negative way.

      Suzie, we need more people like you!

      Those brave souls who will “learn to unlearn to become learned.”

      People who will “AFFIRM” others only when they EARN it.

      Men and women of objectivity.

      Keep up the “Good-Fight”


  4. barry hoeven says:

    Nice blog and website Brad. I think this will be a great tool for you to build your business for the future. Great stories and lesson’s as usual. Fight On! Barry

  5. Denise says:

    Congratulations Brad, on the great honor you earned being inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. Though your career was not as long as you would have preferred, your impact was impressive and you achieved greater success than most who played years longer. I am struck by the life long benefits playing this intense game afforded you. You are a man of courage, strength and integrity. I pray God give you favor to open doors of opportunity to take your life lessons to the public en-mass :) I know this has been a long journey for you and Nicky but nothing of quality is created over night.
    Stay the course my friend, you are God’s gift prepared for His world as provision for the perfect time. I look forward to watching as God furthers His purpose through you.
    Lots of love ~ Denise

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