Gian Paul Gonzalez never thought he’d find himself whisked into the New York Giants facility in 2011, facing a team with high expectations but coming off a season-opening loss.
After shaking hands with 6-foot 9-inch, 310-pound defensive end Chris Canty, he was even more nervous.
“I shook his hands and it felt like his fingers went midway up my arm, and he said, ‘You better tell us something good,’” says Gonzalez, who gave the ED (Filene) Talk to CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference attendees Sunday.
Gonzalez, who teaches ninth-grade history and runs the Hope + Future Youth Center in New Jersey, thought he didn’t say anything meaningful to the team. But over the coming months he watched as his pregame speech to go "all in" inspired the team to an NFC East title, and later a victory in Super Bowl XLVI.
Since that Super Bowl run, Gonzalez has spoken to other organizations, professional sports teams, and even the FBI about the importance of going “all in.”
“Being ‘all in’ is a personal choice that each of us make to commit and give everything every day,” Gonzalez says. “Nobody can do it for us.”
Gian Paul Gonzalez on the CUNA News Podcast
Credit unions play a part in his inspirational story as well, he says.
Gonzalez recalls when the crime in his neighborhood led his mom to decide the family needed to move to someplace safer. Banks turned down their request for a loan to do so, but a credit union came through.
“You guys [credit unions] get it. People come to you like kids visit my youth center,” he says. “They don’t come to a place. They come to a person.”
Gonzalez cautions that although his call to go "all in" has fostered success within organizations, winning doesn't show the true impact.
“The test of being 'all in' isn't whether you win,” he said. “You only know if you're 'all in' after a loss or a bad quarter or a bad year. Do people still show up early and stay late? That's the true test."
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