- On November 4, 2014
Magic Johnson, 3-time NBA MVP, business entrepreneur, and motivational speaker was the opening keynote for the 2014 PMI Congress–North America in Phoenix. An odd choice, I thought, to motivate 2200 project managers usually focused more on risk, portfolios, milestones, and resource management.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Magic is a big man, with an impressive list of accomplishments both on and off the court, and a larger-than-life personality. He appreciates and shares his celebrity and gave ample opportunity for us to see him up close for photos. As celebrated as he is as a basketball great, his business accomplishments are even more impressive. He is confident and humble at the same time, and he has done as well–or even better–out of the sports arena as when he was in.
Here are ten leadership lessons I learned from Magic Johnson:
1. Know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, what motivates you and demotivates you, when you shine and when you need help. Magic was offered to go pro at 18 and knew he was not mature enough physically or mentally and declined the opportunity, attending school at Michigan State for two years instead.
2. Have strong self-regard. Believe in yourself, don’t be dissuaded by external factors. 1980 NBA finals against Philadelphia ’76ers when Kareem Abdul Jabbar was injured and the Lakers felt they didn’t have a chance without Kareem. Twenty-year-old rookie Magic turned their attitude around to a 4-2 series championship win on the 76ers home court.
3. Have humility. Acknowledge where you need to learn. Practice with the best so you can learn the right technique.
4. Take your game to the next level. Don’t be complacent with what you already know; seek out the next thing that will make a difference. For him, it was learning the jump shot. He was always known as the outside shooter.
5. Look for what you can do to make your teammates better. Partner with people who round you out and believe in your values
6. Show them you came to win; Work harder than anyone else. When he started as a rookie with the NBA, Magic arrived at practice three hours earlier than everyone else to show them he was serious about excelling in the game.
7. Understand your customers. When he partnered with Howard Schultz of Starbucks to bring Starbucks coffee shops to underserved areas, he got rid of the scones, and sold sweet potatoes pies because that’s what his customers knew.
8. Relentlessly Over-deliver. By going above and beyond on the Sedexo Magic food service contract with Disneyland, he won the much larger contract with Disney World.
9. Focus on the niches that need to be filled in the areas that are important to you. Magic’s niche is investing in businesses that serve and uplift underserved communities.
10.Social Responsibility–Give back to the community you deal with. This cements your value and their loyalty. Not only are you doing business with them, you are investing in where they live.
Count me as the newest Magic fan!