FROM NBA TO MBA: WHY KOBE BRYANT SHOULD RUN YOUR COMPANY

April 13, 2016

 

Many people have speculated what Kobe Bryant will do next after basketball. Some have said that he should try TV as a color commentator like a lot of former players do. However, I don't think Bryant has the personality for it or that he would even want to do it. He could try his hand at coaching, and I think he would be great at it. On the other hand, the Kobe Bryant I know would want a bigger challenge than that. Based on his addiction of always wanting to improve his craft and insane work ethic, I have always been of the opinion Mr. Bryant should bless us in the business world with his talents. Man, do I love being right. Back 2014, probably anticipating trading his sneakers for wing tips, started Kobe Inc, a branding company. Now there are many fans of the #BlackMamba that may be confused by this move but for those of us that are entrepreneurs that have been watching him the past 20 seasons we saw attributes that were easily transferable to the business world. The enigma that is Kobe "Bean" Bryant has many layers but in this piece I just want to highlight a few characteristics that would make him a great leader in the C-Suite.

 

Willingness To Do The Small Things
 

When you are in business, you have to be willing to do the things that are not glamorous. Yes that spreadsheet will not win you any awards but it has to be done in order to aid your company in being solvent. Kobe Bryant understands this. Does he have to do wind sprints until he pukes? Does he have to make 400 shots before he leaves practice? The answer to both is no. However, he knows that every moment he is not getting better the competition is gaining on him. This attribute will serve him well in the business world. I imagine him late nights in his office reading reports or waking up at 3 am to see what is happening in Beijing. His willingness to win will serve him immensely as he transitions more and more into the business world.

 

Courage To Take The Shot
 

Entrepreneurship and risk go hand and hand. You simply cannot avoid it. The goal is to make calculated risks so that you improve your chances of success or if it does go south allows you to come back faster than if you hadn't. Kobe knows about risk all too well. When it comes to game winning shot attempts he doesn't let the moment consume him. He understands that he has to take the shot no matter if it goes in or not. Remember, taking the last shot is not an action but a mentality. If it goes in, great. If it doesn't, then he figures out what to do next time so that it does. It works the same way in business. Winning in business does not happen the moment you win accolades or market share. It's done in improving your process, professional development and planning. There's another attribute that's transferrable. (in my play by play voice) "Kobe, for the win.........count it"!

 

Uses Other People’s Methods
 

All during his career he was deemed a copycat or trying to be like Michael Jordan. Now, Kobe would tell you that he only wanted to be himself but if he did emulate Jordan's game what's wrong with that? Why would you not model your game and work ethic after arguably the greatest player to play the game. In business we do it all the time. We see a process, model, or system that we can put in our company and implement it. I have friends that are entrepreneurs and I steal from them all the time. It doesn't have to be something major just a tidbit here and there with my own spin on it. Kobe got things from not only Jordan but many others. How many times did we see video of him in the summers on Sportscenter? Whether it was learning the "Dream Shake" with Hakeem Olajuwon or trying to replicate Dirk Nowitzki's turnaround jumper with the knee up to help push the defender away from your shot, he has always looked for ways to improve. Also, he has never shied away from taking advice from anyone.....even a 10yr-old girl. So maybe you frowned upon this during his career but in the business world, we embrace it. So there goes another box the #BlackMamba apparently checks off.

 
Ability To Play Through Adversity
 

It takes a certain level of focus and mental toughness to continue to play through an injury. It's a whole other level to do it when you are considered one of the greatest in your craft with nothing else to prove and still shoot free throws. This easily relates to business. The money will not always be made. Customers will not always understand your product. You will take your lumps in the business world. However, we always tell you that your passion gets you through the hard times. Kobe Bryant will excel when it comes to this part of being an entrepreneur. You may say that he has a lot of money so he can bare to take more risks and that may be true. Money helps but entrepreneurs but are not driven by it. It's simply a by-product of it. His passion, undying need to compete and need to get better is what he will rely on to be a great entrepreneur. So if you think money will fuel his success then consider yourself scored on by his fadeaway jumper in the form of his business demolishing yours.

 

Can Adjust His Game
 

All great entrepreneurs have the ability to pivot and adjust to maintain a level of success or even to get better. When Bryant first came into “The Association”, he was like a jack rabbit running past defenders and willing to dunk on anyone with two legs. However, we know father time is undefeated and so with that he had to change his game. Running and jumping turned into spacing, angles, footwork, and working more on your mid-range game. With him always looking for whatever edge he can find, I wouldn’t be shocked if we learn later that he cut his afro he had in the early years to reduce wind resistance. Industries and markets change all the time, and it takes the smart business owner to change either with, if not before the change occurs. It takes forward thinking and the willingness to prepare for it. Bryant's willingness to do this in his game will allow him to carry that trait over into the business world and be successful.

 

One More Thing....
 

The greatness of Kobe Bryant extends far beyond himself. On whatever team he is on, he demands excellence from everyone else on his team. Organizational culture is essential to your success if you plan to stick around in business. If only one person is trying to be great the organization will not go far and that person will more than likely leave to go to another company........or maybe even start one and become your competitor. Bryant would demand that everyone in his organization to be great in their roles and will make it his mission to aid in them in the process like he did with the Lakers for 20 seasons. He understands the importance of teamwork. Kobe Bryant not a team player you say? Then, explain why he is the only player in NBA history to have 30,000+ points and 6,000+ assists.

 

What’s The Bottom Line?

Kobe "Bean" Bryant is poised to dominate the business world just like he did the NBA. The preparation, focus, and drive he had in basketball are easily relatable to the world of entrepreneurship. I cannot wait for Kobe Inc to IPO and see him open the a trading session one day. Bryant has made an impression on this OWL for years and to think now that I can flip from ESPN to CNBC and still cheer for him is awesome. So, look out business world because the #BlackMamba is coming, and he is poised to strike. #MambaOut #AnOwlInYourCorner

 

 

 

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