Glenn Tilley | Crain's Philadelphia

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Glenn Tilley


Based in Chester Springs, Pa., Defend Your Head is a sports safety company that aims to reduce football-related head trauma with its force reduction soft shell technology product, ProTech. The helmet covers are currently used by a number of NCAA Division I football programs, as well as various high school and youth leagues throughout the country.

The Mistake:

In my early days, I did not understand how important it was to have a purpose-filled environment, where everyone was working towards a common goal.

I once came in to lead a company that clearly didn’t have this type of environment, in that everyone was driven by different goals and objectives, so everything was disconnected.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience, and I ultimately realized that I needed to rewire the organization from the top down, to get everyone on the same page.

In football — in all team sports, really — people have to work together to support each other and battle out some tough times together.

The Lesson:

Building a unique company culture is very important. In football — in all team sports, really — people have to work together to support each other and battle out some tough times together. They are motivated and working together to achieve a common purpose. It’s the same way in business, and why it’s so important to have a culture where people are aligned in their purpose. It’s not necessarily saying “I’ve got to meet my sales goals every week,” for example, but more about knowing why you’re there and what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish, big picture. When everyone in the organization has a sense of why they’re there, things sort of fall into place because everyone is going to be working towards that goal, and thus more willing to take chances and risks, learn from their mistakes, and become better at what they do.

That’s what I’ve learned and what we’re doing now with our company, Defend Your Head, the purpose of which is so important, when it comes to today’s sports environment: To make football safer for our kids.

There are so many good things about the game of football that are cherished by the people here, many of whom previously had football careers. So everyone’s committed to giving back to the sport and making it safer. That’s what drives and influences the decisions we make every day.

Follow Defend Your Head on Twitter at @DefendYourHead.

Photo courtesy of Defend Your Head.

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