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Perpsective, Seven Takeaways

7 Ways Michael Jordan’s Story Can Help You Win

I sat down with my oldest daughter, Savanah, to use our Apple Final Cut Pro editing program, to cut up an awesome MJ Documentary from the ESPN Sportcentury series. The one minute video snippets below, work in conjunction with these seven takeaways, to tell the story of MJ’s journey from scoring leader to team leader and six-time champion.

The State Of MJ: Pre-NBA Champion

I’ve learned from several CEOs and Leaders, much smarter than me, that leadership is the process of doing just that; letting go!

So how did Michael Jordan transform from a guy who couldn’t win in the playoffs to the best NBA player of all-time, who’s teams won six NBA Titles? What did it take for him to go from MJ the league’s top scorer to MJ the NBA Champ and G.O.A.T.?

1. Mentorship – MJ needed somebody who knew better than he did, and wasn’t afraid to tell him! You need a leader to lead you to become a leader.

I have to give my own personal shout out on this one. For me, that guy is Forrest Walden, my business partner and CEO at Iron Tribe.

Forrest has taught me countless ways to let go and become more than just a producer for our business, but instead, how to focus on leading the people on my team to be the best producers they can be for our team. And we have honest conversations regularly, which is integral to getting the feedback I need to continue being a best President for our company that I can be, and for me to give him that same feedback to be the best CEO he can be.

2. Transparency – You must open yourself to direct conversations. For MJ to truly know where he fell short, Phil Jackson couldn’t hold back. And, as you can imagine, Phil had a lot on the line. MJ was the franchise player for the Chicago Bulls. If Phil couldn’t get along with him, the Bulls would most likely choose MJ over him.

But Phil knew that if he didn’t tell MJ where he fell short and why the Bulls were losing, MJ may have kept playing the same way and never won a title – could you imagine that!?! Instead, Phil helped him get his head around this new offense and gradually gain belief in its philosophy.

3. Unselfishness – You will have to think about your team before yourself. It was a process, but Phil got MJ to continuously do this more and more, to the point that when he finally was in a defining moment in the 1991 NBA Finals against legend Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, MJ deferred to his team first and it resulted in the Bulls’ first NBA Title.

4. Trust: You Trust Them & They Trust You – You will learn to believe in your team. MJ trusted his teammates in specific moments that showed it was genuine, and this pulled everyone together in a way where they were operating as a true team that nobody else could stop.

Once they know you believe in them, your team will believe in you. MJ and the Bulls couldn’t get enough, and neither can any team that is clicking on all cylinders. This is a productive form of desire that will help you accomplish things that you could have never imagined without the people around you being there with you each step of the way.

5. Boldness – You cannot hold back on pushing your teammates in an honest and constructive manner, which challenges them to not only be the best they can be, but to deliver their production responsibility for the sake of the team. MJ is legendary on this topic, sometimes going as far as hitting teammates in the face, (which I don’t recommend).

6. Confidence – After they believe in you, your team will follow you anywhere! MJ’s team not only trusted that he would take them to victory, but they were confident enough to be ready to deliver in their specific role or function, when called upon to do so – just look at John Paxon’s big shots in the 1991 and 1993 championships. Could he have hit those without MJ becoming the leader he became? Would the Bulls even have been in that position without MJ’s leadership growth. I think not.

7. Dedication – Leaders like this, will do whatever it takes to keep getting better because they want more. The best leaders are the best versions of themselves every day. They are continuously better the day you see them, than they were the day before.

Jordan only became better with time, and ultimately MJ ended his career with a six NBA Titles in six tries. Kobe couldn’t do it. LeBron can’t do it (he’s already lost three NBA Finals), and I’m not sure anyone ever will repeat a feat of perfection like this again in all of sport.

Phil Jackson is quite the common denominator when it comes to leading teams. He went on to lead Kobe and the LA Lakers to five more NBA Titles, to add to his six titles as the head coach of Chicago and two titles as a player with the NY Knicks.

However, he couldn’t do it, and neither could MJ or Kobe, without the team. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. You can’t do big things without a great one.

And your team can’t be great, without you stepping up and being a great leader.

What are you waiting for?

—–Read Below For The Full Version Of This Blog Article—–

I recently attended a brand-wide conference for a business partner of mine, who happens to be the seasoned CEO of a large franchise chain, that has a 200+ unit footprint throughout the southeast United States.

As he got up in front of his franchise owners and operators, he began to talk about teamwork, and one his core analogies were the phases of Michael Jordan’s career. He did a good job relating MJ’s career phases to his franchisees, and I left intrigued to dig a little further on the topic.

Now if you know me just a little, you know I’m a huge sports fan and I pride myself on knowing every and any fact I can, regarding the history of each sport, who did what, what team won the championship each season, what player went to what school, records set, etc…

But most of my knowledge was acquired at a time where I didn’t understand what it took for these athletes and teams to actually accomplish what they did – I had limited perspective because I learned these facts as a teen with limited perspective on life, compared to the perspective I have now, as a husband, father, friend and president of a nationwide fitness franchise.

So, when I left the conference, I dove back in to Michael Jordan’s career, to explore and see what I could learn that I either had forgotten or might have never knew about in the first place.

If you like sports, you’re going to leave this article ready to run through a wall!

OK — so we all love Michael Jordan. And if you don’t think he’s the best ever, well; you’re just plain crazy. Sorry, but come on. Six NBA Finals. Six Titles. Six Finals MVPs. That is all that needs to be said.

Because of all of MJ’s championships, seldom do you hear talk of MJ’s first six seasons, each of which ended with a loss and a great deal of frustration.

Despite winning scoring titles early on, MJ couldn’t figure out how to garner the same success for his Chicago Bulls team, as he was experiencing for himself – for instance, he averaged an NBA-leading 37.1 points per game (ppg) in the 1986-87 season, but yet his team was swept 3-0 in the first round of the 1987 NBA Playoffs to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.

Keep in mind, since that 1986-87 season (almost 30 years ago), not one scoring champ has exceeded 37.1 ppg, with only two players getting within two points per game of this number; Kobe Bryant averaged 35.4 ppg to lead the NBA in scoring in the 2005-06 season and MJ averaged 35.0 ppg to lead the NBA in scoring in the 1987-88 season. Woah.

Basically, MJ was a great leader, as far as being the leading scorer. But that was about it.

As sensational as his individual talent was, MJ needed somebody to teach him how to engage his team to win games in a team sport that he happened to be approaching more as an individual.

This is something that anyone who has grown into any sort of leadership role, can relate to completely. Think about it. Most people are thrusted into a leadership role solely because they are great at doing something – they have talent. Not because they’ve displayed leadership capacity.

So naturally, the next move up in the organization chart, is for them to be a leader of a team, in a role where they are asked to influence other people to be the superstars that they had previously been in that same role. But it’s a totally different skill-set that they must learn to be as good of a leader as they were as a producer.

This same thing happens with business owners, who launch a business that requires them to play just about every role there is, from sales to marketing to product development to finance, and in between. These business owners successfully wear all these hats to prove the concept and grow their business. But then, the business owner who had the great idea and did everything to make it happen, now has to hire, develop and lead others to get their business to the next level.

MJ couldn’t play point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center and coach, all at once! He had to let go or else he’d never win.

I’ve had to go on a similar journey in my own career as an entrepreneur. I’ve struggled with finding the right people, trusting them, and ultimately; letting go so that they can fly as the superstars God’s intended them to be!

MJ’s story has seven core takeaways that I’ve had to learn in my own career as well.

I sat down with my oldest daughter, Savanah, to use our Apple Final Cut Pro editing program, to cut up an awesome MJ Documentary from the ESPN Sportcentury series. The one minute video snippets below, work in conjunction with these seven takeaways, to tell the story of MJ’s journey from scoring leader to team leader and six-time champion.

The State Of MJ: Pre-NBA Champion

I’ve learned from several CEOs and Leaders, much smarter than me, that leadership is the process of doing just that; letting go!

So how did MJ transform from a guy who couldn’t win in the playoffs to the best NBA player of all-time, who’s teams won six NBA Titles? What did it take for him to go from MJ the league’s top scorer to MJ the NBA Champ and G.O.A.T.?

1. Mentorship – MJ needed somebody who knew better than he did, and wasn’t afraid to tell him! You need a leader to lead you to become a leader.

I have to give my own personal shout out on this one. For me, that guy is Forrest Walden, my business partner and CEO at Iron Tribe.

Forrest has taught me countless ways to let go and become more than just a producer for our business, but instead, how to focus on leading the people on my team to be the best producers they can be for our team. And we have honest conversations regularly, which is integral to getting the feedback I need to continue being a best President for our company that I can be, and for me to give him that same feedback to be the best CEO he can be.

2. Transparency – You must open yourself to direct conversations. For MJ to truly know where he fell short, Phil Jackson couldn’t hold back. And, as you can imagine, Phil had a lot on the line. MJ was the franchise player for the Chicago Bulls. If Phil couldn’t get along with him, the Bulls would most likely choose MJ over him.

But Phil knew that if he didn’t tell MJ where he fell short and why the Bulls were losing, MJ may have kept playing the same way and never won a title – could you imagine that!?! Instead, Phil helped him get his head around this new offense and gradually gain belief in its philosophy.

3. Unselfishness – You will have to think about your team before yourself. It was a process, but Phil got MJ to continuously do this more and more, to the point that when he finally was in a defining moment in the 1991 NBA Finals against legend Magic Johnson and the LA Lakers, MJ deferred to his team first and it resulted in the Bulls’ first NBA Title.

4. Trust: You Trust Them & They Trust You – You will learn to believe in your team. MJ trusted his teammates in specific moments that showed it was genuine, and this pulled everyone together in a way where they were operating as a true team that nobody else could stop.

Once they know you believe in them, your team will believe in you. MJ and the Bulls couldn’t get enough, and neither can any team that is clicking on all cylinders. This is a productive form of desire that will help you accomplish things that you could have never imagined without the people around you being there with you each step of the way.

5. Boldness – You cannot hold back on pushing your teammates in an honest and constructive manner, which challenges them to not only be the best they can be, but to deliver their production responsibility for the sake of the team. MJ is legendary on this topic, sometimes going as far as hitting teammates in the face, (which I don’t recommend).

6. Confidence – After they believe in you, your team will follow you anywhere! MJ’s team not only trusted that he would take them to victory, but they were confident enough to be ready to deliver in their specific role or function, when called upon to do so – just look at John Paxon’s big shots in the 1991 and 1993 championships. Could he have hit those without MJ becoming the leader he became? Would the Bulls even have been in that position without MJ’s leadership growth. I think not.

7. Dedication – Leaders like this, will do whatever it takes to keep getting better because they want more. The best leaders are the best versions of themselves every day. They are continuously better the day you see them, than they were the day before.

Jordan only became better with time, and ultimately MJ ended his career with a six NBA Titles in six tries. Kobe couldn’t do it. LeBron can’t do it (he’s already lost three NBA Finals), and I’m not sure anyone ever will repeat a feat of perfection like this again in all of sport.

Phil Jackson is quite the common denominator when it comes to leading teams. He went on to lead Kobe and the LA Lakers to five more NBA Titles, to add to his six titles as the head coach of Chicago and two titles as a player with the NY Knicks.

However, he couldn’t do it, and neither could MJ or Kobe, without the team. That’s where it starts and that’s where it ends. You can’t do big things without a great one.

And your team can’t be great, without you stepping up and being a great leader.

What are you waiting for?

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Journal, Perpsective, Seven Takeaways

Failing To Succeed

In my Goal Setting Workshop that I hosted for 60 Iron Tribe athletes from our five local Birmingham gyms, I taught a formula to review the previous year to help set a plan for the best year ahead that you can envision.

Reviewing the previous year is where you have to begin, though. List at least five or more Accomplishments from the previous year and then list five or more Lessons Learned from the previous year.

The key is to ALWAYS start with Accomplishments and really take the time to name at least five – you’ll be amazed at what you’ve forgot you’ve done. From there, you’ve surely learned things in the previous year, that will only make you wiser for the year ahead.

So what are YOUR Accomplishments and Lessons Learned from 2014?

OK. I’ll start… Here are 7 of my Accomplishments and 7 of my Lessons Learned;

Accomplishments
  1. Completed 100 Day Strength Program
  2. Joined Aspire Movement Board / Began Mentoring Sixth Grade Boy
  3. 30+ Date Nights w. my wife Yazmin / 3 Concert Trips w. Yazmin (ALONE 🙂 )
  4. My 12 year old, Savanah, averaged 4 A’s & 1 B+ in fifth grade and continues this in sixth grade.
  5. Iron Tribe was Inc. 5000 #602
  6. Three Family Vacations (NY/Adirondacks + Charleston/Beach)
  7. Published my first book (No B.S. Brand Building) with Entrepreneur Press

*Reached 11 goals from 2014 (out of 31 = 35%)

Lessons Learned
  1. Being the leader (husband/father) of a wife with three kids is very hard – I am not above this.
  2. My time with my Iron Tribe brand, is most valuable if I lead then do, NOT do first.
  3. If I am poor steward of my gifts and/or money, I can undermine any of my successes.
  4. You cannot plan everything, nor can you equate all success on planned items – sometimes you have to let go.
  5. My faith is my only hope – when left alone and not pursuing Him daily, I am hopeless.
  6. Even when I think I am being a good leader of my house, I might not be doing so in the eyes of my wife and kids.
  7. I cannot afford to put myself in tempting environments where I am simply relying on my own self-control.

In this Goal Setting Workshop video, I share my entire Goal Setting Formula and The Fuel source for which you can stick with it.

This is the Goal Setting Exercise that goes along with the video, should you want to completely review 2014 and set your 2015 Annual Plan per the formula I taught – Click Here to Download – It contains a special bonus piece on The Fuel behind your Formula, which will help you stick with your plan for 2015!

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Business, Hustle, Seven Takeaways

The Networking Connector

You’ve heard it a million times; “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

So true. But what does that really mean for you and I anyways?

How can we live this out?

How can we focus on the things that will help us not only know lots of people, but know the “right” people in regard to whatever it is we are trying to accomplish with our lives?

And how can we leverage those relationships to be a blessing to others, while also experiencing the benefits of their network too?

Here’s what I’ve learned…

1. Take Diversified Initiative.

I say “diversified” initiative, because your presence in different places with different people, is really the first foundational step.

To fully diversify your initiatives as a networking connector, you must make sure you are spending your time in different geographical, socioeconomic and industrial environments.

He who can be more multidimensional; wins.

2. Be Memorable.

Presence is key. Your ability to make people feel your presence when you walk into a room, before you even speak, is the type of stuff that makes your memorable.

This comes from the swagger you walk with, the carefree smile you maintain and even your fashion, or confidence in it. Not everyone has these inclinations, though.

So you ability to say memorable things, but be your crutch instead. Start by asking a lot of questions to get people to talk about themselves. Then weave the things they are saying into things you’ve experienced or things that have happened in history, to establish not only your understanding of what they said, but your emotional relation to each thing they’re talking about.

3. Think Big.

The best visionaries can see things that most can’t. It causes them to make decisions 99% of us wouldn’t and take risks that most everyone wouldn’t take either.

You can follow the majority and look at each conversation you have with anyone at any time of day, as a chore OR you can live by my networking connector principles and really look at every single relationship as a step or connection that enhances your larger network.

To do the latter, you have to constantly think BIG and remind yourself that all of these conversations are all small pieces that work together to build a network that creates less and less degrees of separation between you and the people you need to know to accomplish your big hairy audacious goals (BHAGs).

4. Lever Your Network.

If you want to meet and connect with new people, you have got to make it a habit to connect new people to those who fit them well within your own network.

This isn’t a “get” game, it’s a “give and take” game.

The best part is that the people you are connecting your new acquaintance to, will appreciate this too. So much that they will usually reciprocate with new connections from you that you may not have even planned.

5. Borrow Their Network.

This step alone, is a 200-300 page book I’d like to write one day. Here’s the short story;

I grew up going to Christian Brothers Academy preparatory school for six years (CBA) in New York. While the athletics and academics were what drew me to go there, the biggest thing I attained at CBA was the ability to network and meet new friends.

Each of the 120+ kids per class in this school, were from different neighborhoods around our city of Syracuse. If we didn’t go to CBA, we would have went to one of the dozens of public schools with the rest of our childhood friends from our respective neighborhood.

So as I made friends at CBA, I would get invited to their neighborhoods, where I would meet their childhood friends that went to those public schools. By the time I graduated, I knew a core group of kids from each school district in the city, and I had more friends than I could have ever had if I went to a public school in the neighborhood where I grew up.

This story is a picture of how you need to approach networking in the United States and really, the world.

When I went to college in Ithaca, NY, I took the same approach, meeting kids from all over the country that were attending either Cornell University or Ithaca College. Then I moved to Alabama of all places, to play baseball at a small college  (University of Montevallo), but was living just outside a city in the center of the Southeast (Birmingham) and close to one of the biggest markets in the U.S. (Atlanta), where I began to meet people from all over this new region.

But what might be my most valuable lesson, has been in business, where I’ve meet young men and women who have gone to the best schools, are better networking connectors than me, and live in bigger cities than I.

Through these relationships, I’ve experienced some incredible networks of people. I’ve been able to meet the same amazing people they’ve been able to meet through their accomplishments of graduating from prestigious universities and/or building awesome companies, and I exchange my network with them as well.

This is the true “give and take” of “levering” your network while “borrowing” theirs.

6. Elevator Pitch.

People usually compartmentalize an elevator pitch as something just for business or sales. Not true.

I don’t know about you, but when I walk away from a conversation with somebody new, I have zero doubt if I won or lost. I know if it’s gone well and we’ll talk again, or if I was a babbling failure.

The idea of an elevator pitch came from the Madison Avenue days that we have become so familiar with from shows like Mad Men, where people took skyscraper elevators every day, only to have seconds to pitch somebody new in the elevator ride up their respective floor.

If you only had seconds to meet somebody new, what would you ask? What would you want to make sure they knew about you? What do you want them to think about you in leaving the conversation?

Figure this out. Write it down. Massage it. Get it into a less than 60 second pitch with some questions and comments built around it as customized ammunition. Memorize it. It’s the key to you walking away from new conversations feeling like you’ve had “a win”.

7. Systems & Habits.

Like everything else, you’ll have natural skills that will contribute to your ability to be a networking connector. However, to take these things and put them together, you have to have systems for each.

These steps are more about “the game” than the prep or follow up before and after it.

Thus, you must make sure you have solid preparation tactics, such as researching the people you know you’ll see at an event before you get there.

And your follow up game must be on point. Collecting contact info or using social media, in a way that allows you to follow up to remain fresh in the minds of those you’ve connected with, is so important.

The more you do all of this, the more it becomes habit. Then you can take your game to the next level and learn a new skill set. But first, get these things right and I guarantee you’ll develop a network that will reinforce that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and you’ll have met the who to accomplish things you could have never imagined.

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