It started as a concept on a whiteboard in Pete Carroll’s office, but “Win Forever” has gone far beyond a simple catch phrase. It’s become a process — a lifestyle, even.
Perhaps no one embodies this reality more than USC Annenberg alum Yogi Roth, M.S. Journalism, ‘06. Except, in his case, it might be more appropriately stated as “win forever … at everything.”
“I’ve always felt the opposite when someone said ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’” Roth said. “I define myself as someone trying to live life and compete at everything at an uncommon level while trying to be at peace at all times.”
Peace, however, is a relative term for a man who’s worked alongside renowned high performance psychologist Dr. Mike Gervais to invent the term “adventure-preneur” to describe himself.
“Being an entrepreneur by itself wasn’t complete because I love adventure, I always have,” Roth said. “I’m the guy who is going to race to the high dive and jump off just because it’s awesome. I’m seeking adventure all the time.”
The adventure-preneurial spirit has manifested itself in Roth in a number of ways, as he’s gone from a University of Pittsburgh student-athlete to a Los Angeles-based sports media and performance Renaissance man. A key turning point in his journey, though, was his indoctrination into the Trojan family. Strangely, his introduction to USC actually came at Pitt, where he met the man who would become his best friend — Brennan Carroll, son of then-head USC football coach Pete Carroll. As a friend generally does, Yogi met Brennan’s parents and immediately connected with Pete When his playing career ended, Yogi began working in sports broadcasting in Pittsburgh, and just as he was delving into this new passion of on-air storytelling, his best friend’s dad came calling with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“Pete wanted to bring me out here to work with his coaching staff, but I was only going to come if I could go to school as well,” Roth said. “[USC] Annenberg has a national reputation, and I was excited about the opportunity to study there while coaching.” He is quick to point out, though, that academics and athletics always went hand-in-hand not just for him but also for the rest of Carroll’s staff. “We had lot of other grad assistants pursuing Master’s degrees as well, because we all understood the power of USC,” Roth said. “More and more, we realized that we were able to take what we learned in every class and apply it to coaching.”
Roth hit the ground running immediately with his first journalism class, which would become foundational far beyond his time at USC Annenberg. This class, which was taught by current Director of the School of Communication Sarah Banet-Weiser, introduced a theme that would continue to define him throughout his life and career: storytelling. He made it a point not to waste a minute of his time — in the classroom, on the field or even in the office, where he often spent entire nights sleeping on the couch after late night meetings discussing football, philosophy and life in general with his boss and mentor. It was at one of those late night meetings that including scribbling concepts onto a whiteboard around one, central idea: win forever.
“We started writing ideas around ‘win forever,’ and we came up with about 10-15 of them, ranging from a book, a peace rally, a website, anything,” Roth said. “When all was said and done, we did write a book. We did have the rally in LA. We did launch a website, and it all went really well.” Doing well has translated to a multi-faceted effort that included Roth, with encouragement from Banet-Weiser, co-writing a New York Times best-seller and working with Gervais on developing a mindset training program to aid organizations in optimizing performance. Roth served as the first “head coach” of the Win Forever program. Though he’s moved on and now fills his schedule with more broadcast positions and other ventures, he remains a strict adherent to the philosophy still frequently serves as a speaker — often times speaking with student groups when he’s on the road covering football games. But his heart remains at USC and, specifically, USC Annenberg.
“When I had graduated but was still at SC coaching, I had a lot of opportunities to explore other options, but I never wanted to leave,” Roth said. “One thing I loved about the school and, specifically, about my program, was that not a minute of my time was wasted.” “At no point was I studying theories for the sake of studying theories,” he continued. “I couldn’t be more proud of the program because it allowed me to take my classwork and apply it to real life.”
Real life entails his usual broadcasting schedule of college football and basketball, but the adventure-preneur is at it again, as he has produced his first documentary “Life in a Walk,” which explores the relationships between parents and children, inspired by his own experience. “Everything about the USC experience was paternal for me,” Roth said. “It’s a big part of this documentary, which is really about getting reconnected to the things that matter but that we often bypass when we’re busy cranking in school or in our careers.” The film is scheduled to premiere April 25 at the Newport Beach Film Festival, and Roth is definitely planning to screen it on the USC campus. For now, though, he looks forward to the future but maintains a sense of levity in the present. “We get to paint our lives any way we want,” he said. “I want to have as much fun as I can."