From Skeptic to Believer


Between jobs and trying to understand his path going forward, Dan Leibovitz took a Myers-Briggs assessment. The results suggested that he liked the instant gratifi cation of a task completed and was comfortable working in silence. Leibovitz reflected on this, considering the details of his day-to-day life. He loved the feeling of a nicely mowed lawn or a neatly shoveled driveway, so the gratification of a task-completed part made sense. In college, Leibovitz often tucked himself into the furthest reaches of the library to study, and even as an adult, he’s never had a hard time losing himself in his work. So yes, he would agree that he was a man who had no trouble with quiet and solitude.

“But then it said that I should be a farmer,’’ says Leibovitz, a basketball lifer, with a chuckle. That was in 2012. Since then, Leibovitz, now the senior associate commissioner for men’s basketball at the Big East Conference, has encountered personality tests at various intersections of his career. He took another while working at the SEC Conference and listened to a University of Oklahoma professor discuss their value while pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership.

Leibovitz found that too many assessments are either inapplicable or incorrect, and too many organizations give the assessments but never put the results into actual practice.

Yet, Leibovitz remains a firm believer in their value and, having dug deep into what Profile offers, believes that their ability to streamline the process and create easily accessible and, above all else, accurate information separates it from other companies that provide similar services. “The purpose is to interact and use it to learn not just about yourself, but to understand the people you’re working with or talking to,’’ Leibovitz says. “When I heard what Profile was doing with coaches, I thought it sounded so much better. It’s less about theory and more about putting things into practice.’’

Leibovitz first encountered Profile and its CEO, Chad Brown, through his annual Final Four dinners with a group that bills itself as the Motley Crew. Leibovitz is from Philadelphia, a tight-knit, parochial city that includes a coaching fraternity that is even more tight-knit and parochial. Each year, a pack of coaches gathered for their dinners, slowly opening the invite list to select people outside the city limits. When the pandemic hit, and the dinners stopped, they resorted to Zoom calls, sharing stories, and offering coaching tips for hours to fill their idle time. Leibovitz eventually learned about Profile and Brown from these chats with the Motley Crew and their Zoom sessions. When the two finally met, Leibovitz, intrigued by his former experiences with assessments, was naturally intrigued.

He is a natural-born leader, so Leibovitz takes nothing at face value. Instead, he digs in. He did just that with Profile, not merely taking the assessment but asking Brown about its implementations. Soon, the two shared information - the Oklahoma professor recorded a video about assessments, and Leibovitz sent it to Brown. Leibovitz considered the obvious practical purposes that he, as a member of a conference office, could use it for - how it could help streamline the hiring practice and create better and more useful conversation within the office structure.

But he also considered his own assessment and how it could help him. In his current role, he’s oft en caught on the other side of the phone with a coach ticked off about officiating or a lousy scheduling break. There’s really not much Leibovitz can undo that’s already been done, and for a person who likes to accomplish tasks, that’s not always easy to accept. But Leibovitz also knows he’s a good connector - he arranges those Motley Crew dinners - and has focused on using that skill set when the problem solver in him can’t fix things. “Being genuine with people works,’’ he says. “Th ey understand that I’m doing the best I can. I’m being honest with them, so at least when we finish, they think, ‘OK, he has my back. He empathizes with me.’ That’s sometimes all you can do in this role. I’m not out here cutting lawns. There’s not always an immediate solution.’’

What really has Leibovitz’s curiosity piqued, though, is where Profile can go, particularly for student-athletes. There is the obvious - in the age of the transfer portal, it can create more meaningful relationships in what oft en feels more like speed dating. But Leibovitz sees ways that Profile can go deeper, particularly at the conference level.

Student-athlete wellness is at the top of every conference’s wish list. The Big East holds a forum each year to discuss it, and its athletes use the Calm app, which provides some feedback. At the SEC, Leibovitz read athletes’ surveys about what they were seeking. “But the term ‘wellness’ is so nebulous and wide-ranging,’’ he says. “We want to learn and address it in the best way that we can, but it’s not easy.’’

He points to the very real need for such understanding - the increasing pressures on college-aged students in general, but student-athletes in particular who have to balance their studies, their sport, and now, very often, their NIL deals. Reading about suicides among seemingly accomplished student-athletes gives Leibovitz real pause and considers that the crux of the wellness issue.

But getting at it is hard. People aren’t comfortable sharing their worries with strangers or being honest about their feelings. That’s where Leibovitz believes Profile might be able to provide some critical understanding.

If coaches and conference officers have a better handle on who their athletes are - not simply what they do or can accomplish - perhaps they’ll have more success connecting to them where they are. It is not, Leibovitz admits, a foolproof plan, but it could be an incredibly critical start. “You can never impact an entire set of symptoms,’’ he says, “but you can try to understand where a student-athlete is coming from.’’

As for why Profile over the countless other assessment programs out there? Well, that’s easy. Profile doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but they do believe in putting theory into practice to find them.