This past weekend was a big one for New York City and basketball, as the NBA All-Star game and related events kicked off in the Big Apple. With all the excitement came one of my biggest entrepreneurial heros: Lebron James.
James didn’t come to mind for me as someone from whom I needed to take advice about entrepreneurship until I saw him take his brand back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was gutsy because to become the two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat, he had to leave his hometown to join the team.
Then what did he do to celebrate Heat championship win No. 2? He returned to the Cavaliers’ roster.
How could a man who had his jersey burned on the streets and had letters drafted by the team’s owner (read here), go back to a place where he was public enemy No. 1? How could a man, a business man, a highly paid and now highly decorated business man go back to something like that? I’ll tell you how. By being a boss! And as such here are the three biggest reasons James has made my entrepreneur all-star team.
1. He knows the power of forgiveness: We as entrepreneurs take a lot of guff. Recently, someone ran my name through the muck and mire. They apologized, but I still felt some type of way about working for them.
James infamously apologized for the way he left Cleveland for Miami, and Cavaliers owner David Blatt also reportedly penned an apology about negative remarks he made in the aftermath of the star player’s departure.
My guess is, James is just a business man at heart. This was a mutually beneficial win for both sides. Putting on your big boy jersey in James’s case made sense, and so does continuing a professional working relationship after a mistake was made against an entrepreneur by a client or peer.
2. He knows how to expand his brand and reach through collaboration with greats. What led James to leave Cleveland in the first place was that they weren’t building a team around him to get things done. This was really more of a compliment than anything else. The Cavs thought he could carry the whole team on his own.
What James went to Miami and was able to prove is that he’s a movement by himself, but a force when he’s got a crew. There are supposed to be five members on the court at all times. Yes, there are teams that supposedly do it with one really great star and very little support, however, in this case, James knew he needed people around him to make him better. I believe the management at the Cavaliers knew this, but, man-oh-man has James proven his point. If Cleveland really wants a championship they are going to have to bring some people to the court to help James and the franchise get that ring.
As an entrepreneur —and just by nature of who I am—that lesson resonates. No matter how good you are, you need a team. I’m not talking just people to push around paperwork and get you coffee, but a highly functioning, intelligent group of people who compliment you and will help you get the job done.
3. He has long vision and knows his long game. Just this past weekend I relearned the game of chess. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d remembered. Nope. No strategy yet, but I do have this laser sense of what needs to be done to get my opponent to play better. Ding! James did the same thing. I really think this was his plan all along. He said he wanted to win a championship in his hometown, and what if that was always his angle or intention? Cleveland has never built a championship team so they didn’t know what they were doing. (Sorry C-Town. I know…I know…but let’s be real here.)
James had to leave his beloved team behind and show them he knew what he needed to elevate his game and increase or solidify the Cavaliers as a championship-level team. Are we so busy chasing money or accolades that we forget to look at the long game for our businesses? If you’ve never been an entrepreneur you may not know how to build your team or really see how sacrifice (if you can call living in Miami, making fists full of money, and all that hardware on his fingers sacrifice) for the greater good.
James may be mostly known and revered as an NBA baller, but he is also a businessman—an all-star on and off the court.
Ella Rucker is the co-founder of Weekend Startup School and director of operations for #MentorMonday with Paul C. Brunson, both of which serve minority entrepreneurs. Ella has made her living for the past three years working as a writer, editor and content producer with some of the most successful personalities, brands, and blogs. She has also written an eguide for Blogalicious entitled Tick Tock Goes The Blog Clock: The What, Why and How Of Creating 365 Days Of Content TODAY.
Ella tweets at @ellalaverne and blogs at BestBlogContent.com.