Seeing Magic Johnson speak was one of the highlights of my week in Nashville at the SiriusDecisions 2015 Summit a few weeks ago.
He was funny, engaging, and inspiring, and also had some sound business wisdom for the crowd of 3000 or so sales and marketing executives in attendance. Everyone knows Magic Johnson as one of the all-time NBA greats, but his business resume would seem to qualify him also as one of America’s top entrepreneurs.
He’s a true Unicorn, a rare individual who has reached the pinnacle in sport as well as in business. He spoke about how he made the transition, and how he started winning in business.
CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which reportedly has a net worth of $700 million
Part owner of the LA Dodgers, Major League Baseball team
Former minority owner of the LA Lakers, National Basketball Association team
Owner of Magic Theaters
Partner in the $500 million Yucaipa/Magic private equity fund
First franchisee of Starbucks ever, built a chain of 125 stores in urban locations, sold the chain back to Starbucks corporate
Co-owner of the Dayton Dragons (minor league baseball) and the LA Sparks (WNBA)
Founder, Magic Johnson Foundation
MAGIC’S KEYS TO WINNING
- Play to win, and work with Winners
- Know your customer – an example he cited was his knowledge of the “Urban customer”, and how he replacing scones w sweet potato pie at Starbucks, and adding more flavored drinks to the menu in order to cater to his customers
- Over-deliver – “the key to business success and the key to retention”
- Work with great partners
- Sell at the right time – Johnson sold his stake in Starbucks and the L.A. Lakers NBA team as valuations started to rise.
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS AND THOUGHTS
He does an annual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of all of his companies AND himself.
Magic’s All Time starting 5 lineup – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan and himself.
His number one, top rival on the court: Larry Bird
Mentors – Magic has a network of 20+ CEOs who mentor him. He built this network after retirement from basketball by obtaining a list of the Lakers’ VIP season ticket holders and cold calling them one by one.
His biggest failure – Magic 32 sporting goods stores, which failed after only one year.
Magic, on the handful of traits which makes him a success in business (he said he brought these skills he learned as an athlete to his business ventures) – desire to WIN, perfectionism, preparation, focus, discipline, professionalism, and his ability to motivate his team and those around him to reach their full potential.
I’ve never met Magic Johnson, nor have I seen him speak at this length, but here are my main impressions of him, garnered from his 50 minute talk:
Burning desire to WIN. He hates to lose – “underperforming is not winning the Championship”
Supremely confident – he KNOWS he’s going to win
His “game plan” is simple. He sticks to the basics (customer focus, over-delivering, good teams, good partners, etc.)
Coachable (he spoke extensively about soliciting and absorbing good advice from his network of 20 CEO “coaches”)
It was quite inspiring and refreshing to hear from an entertaining, motivational speaker who backs up his thoughts with relevant stories and sound business advice. Always a fan of him as a basketball player, I am now a fan of Magic Johnson as an entrepreneur.