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32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business Paperback – December 29, 2009
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About the Author
EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON—known worldwide for his talent on the basketball court—has an equally impressive career off the court. As the chairman and chief executive officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises, he has helped launch major business initiatives focused on revitalizing ethnically diverse urban communities by bringing brand-name businesses into them. He has been voted number one among organizations and individuals in representing the urban community, and is the celebrity most able to influence minority consumer purchasing.
For speaking engagements or to book Earvin “Magic” Johnson for your next corporate engagement, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Each of us can make a difference, even if it is one street corner at a time.
My father and other entrepreneurs in my hometown, Lansing, Michigan, were my first business role models and mentors. Later, I got to know major entertainment executives such as Joe Smith of Elektra/Asylum Records and Peter Guber of Sony Pictures because they had courtside Lakers tickets. When we socialized after games, they’d ask me about basketball—and I’d pick their brains about business.
Still, it was J. Bruce Llewellyn, one of the most successful black men in America, who sent me off with a mission on my journey from basketball player to businessman. The son of Jamaican immigrants, he built an empire that includes one of the nation’s largest Coca-Cola distributorships, a cable and broadcasting company, and Essence magazine.
When we met, I got right to the point.
“I want to be a businessman after basketball,” I told him. “I want to make a lot of money like you.”
Mr. Llewellyn let me babble on like that for several minutes before he cut me off with a wave of his hand.
“No, Magic,” he said; “if money is all you want, there willnever be enough of it and you will never be happy. You’ve got to be about more than that.”
He had my attention. What did he mean?
“You have the opportunity to be a leader who can do great things and change people’s lives for the better,” he said. “You can be a businessman who is also a catalyst for change.”
This great entrepreneur offered me more than I’d bargained for. Since high school, I’d sought out advice from every successful businessperson I’d met. This was the first person who had a bigger vision for me than I had for myself.
A catalyst for change?
That was a role I’d never imagined. I thought you had to be Nelson Mandela or the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., to change the world. I learned instead that each of us can make a difference, even if it is one street corner at a time.
I still saw myself as an athlete—a player who performed well on the basketball court and hopefully excited a few fans. I figured once my NBA days were over I’d fade from the public view and focus on building wealth and a family.
God has a way of telling you what you are supposed to be doing. He gets the message out one way or another until you finally pay attention.
That meeting with J. Bruce Llewellyn was a defining moment. He changed my perspective by challenging me to expand my goals as a person and as an entrepreneur.
A few weeks after my talk with him, God sent another messenger by the name of John Mack, who led the Urban League of Los Angeles for more than thirty-five years.
Mr. Mack asked me to join the Urban League. Then he too challenged me.
“You’ve got to become a leader in this community,” he said. “You need to get involved and learn how things work.”
Bruce Llewellyn and John Mack opened my eyes and my mind to a much bigger world.
I’d thought I was living large as a member of the Lakers. Yet once I immersed myself in business and joined the Urban League, I realized that an athlete’s life offers a very limited perspective.
Over time, I came to understand the vision others had for me. I made the next big step in my manhood when I heeded the advice of those two strong and committed leaders. They refocused my vision for my life, and I resolved to first make a difference in the world and let the money take care of itself.
To accomplish that mission, I went back to school in the classroom of the real world. I was lucky. I had access to brilliant men and women of all races who gave me guidance—from Black Enterprise publisher Earl Graves to Lakers owner Jerry Buss and Hollywood superagent Michael Ovitz.
Even with those great minds to guide me, I had a lot to learn. Certainly, I made mistakes, and I will share what I learned from them in the pages that follow. To stay true to my mission, I will share the story of my journey from basketball to boardroom while also providing guidance to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Before we begin, I encourage you, just as Mr. Llewellyn and Mr. Mack encouraged me, to think of yourself and your business as catalysts for positive change in your community. Make a difference, and making money will follow.
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I'm an entrepreneur (been 3-1/2 years since I left corporate america - yes!) who's been steadily growing my business and adding new client each year. Magic's book helped me understand why people buy from me and what makes me unique (brand). In the past, after a particularly positive sale (and also when managing accounts), I was in the habit of asking clients why they decided to do business with me. Their feedback defined "value" which I now understand, after reading Magic's book, defines my company's "brand".
Nowadays, I share my brand with prospects to help them identify a reason(s) to do business with me. I no longer have to be concerned about trying to be something I'm not. Thanks to Magic's stories and the lessons he's learned, I am more confident that what I bring to the table creates a competitive advantage for my company in the local marketplace here in southern New Hampshire.
And, let's not forget Magic's goal of "over-delivering"- as shared in his garbage truck story. It's amazing to think how his dad left an indelible impression on him (and now on me) with something as easy to understand as picking up trash on a winter day. Hugely inspiring. I get it and how that life lesson ties into my business each and everyday.
Thanks Magic for that and the remaining 31 lessons learned in the course of your many business ventures.
I now feel I too will become a champion in business.
Perry Spearman, Publisher
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but you must continue to educate yourself and stay current with your knowledge to operating a sustainable successful business. Some of the things Mr. Johnson mentioned I was already aware of, however many of the ways to be a Champion in Business provided me with I was not aware of, this book provided really great information that you can incorporate in the growth of your business. I would suggest that whatever your journey is to owing a business or currently an owner, I recommend you read this great book. I have read a lot of books and this has to be one of my favorites.
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