A franchise doesn't become the most successful in American sports history by always sticking to the status quo.
The New York Yankees -- winners of 27 World Series championships -- are always looking for ways to improve the organization and keep an edge on the competition.
For the second year in a row as part of the Yankees' Mental Conditioning program headed by Chad Bohling, Shenbaum recently spent 90 minutes conducting a communications session with the entire Yankees roster and coaching staff, some front office employees and select minor league players at the Yankees Spring Training home in Tampa.
Having worked with superstar athletes like Carmelo Anthony, Sidney Crosby, Eli Manning and Alex Ovechkin, Olympic gold medalists, D-I collegiate athletic programs and Fortune 500 companies, Shenbaum has experience with the best of the best. Still, getting the chance to help the New York Yankees -- recently ranked as the world's No. 3 most valuable sports franchise -- presented an entirely new experience.
"This is such an incredibly unique clubhouse because there are so many high profile, elite athletes representing the most recognizable brand in all of sports," Shenbaum said. "The fact that the Yankees organization exposes the team to game on's unique communication training, and that the players and staff were so supportive and willing to step outside their comfort zones is a true testament to how they achieve success on and off the field."
This year, Shenbaum focused on three key elements -- "Buy In", "Utilizing Appropriate Humor" and "Creating Trust and Respect in the Locker Room" -- that could best help the team during the grind of a 162-game season.
âThe work Steve does with us doesn't seem like âwork' at all to this team - and the positive message of communication with humor and honesty is so important in a long season and a vigorous clubhouse," said Manager Joe Girardi. "I speak for my players and coaches when I say that we look forward every year to Steve's spring training sessions to jump start our road towards achieving a championship together.â
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Brian Cashman, echoed Girardi's sentiments.
"Each year we benefit so much from Steve's skill in teaching us how to communicate with each other in a meaningful way," Cashman said. "And each year, the feedback from the clubhouse is tremendous, as players and coaches appreciate the humor with which he delivers his message.â
A classically trained actor and comedian, Shenbaum used several communication and improvisational exercises to reinforce the three themes of the session.
"The players were totally focused and supportive during the session," Shenbaum said. "They had every right to be cynical but instead, they put their egos aside and went outside of their comfort zone to make the session a tremendous success.
"The result was a ton of laughter, defenses being lowered and great discussion with leaders such as A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher stepping up, laughing with each other instead of at each other, taking risks and setting a positive example for the younger players to participate."
And it didn't hurt that they won that evening's game against the Orioles 9-0, so clearly improvisation leads to shutouts.