Celtics vs. Lakers. Bird vs. Magic. These were big rivalries in the 80’s. As a boy I knew nothing of the Cold War going on at the time, but I surely knew the date of the next showdown between these two teams.
Growing up I was a huge Larry Bird and Boston Celtics fan – some may even say an obsessive. My third grade teacher had to pull me aside to tell me that I could no longer incorporate the Celtics into my creative writing stories, I had to find another muse.
With that as background I share with you my experience meeting Magic Johnson last week and listening to him talk about his success, both in his personal and business life.
We’ve all heard of Magic’s achievements on the basketball court.
- NCAA champion and Final Four Most Outstanding Player (’79)
- 5x NBA champion
- 3x NBA Finals Most Valuable Player
- 3x NBA Most Valuable Player
- 12x NBA All-Star
- 17,000+ career points, 10,000+ career assists
- Basketball Hall of Fame member
- Olympic gold medalist as a member of the Dream Team
Perhaps less known are his exploits in business, but they are impressive. Magic is the CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), and has owned 125 Starbucks stores (subsequently sold back to Starbucks at a significant profit), movie theatres, commercial real estate, Sodexho Magic (providing food services to Disney), the LA Lakers, and the LA Dodgers.
Magic said that to engage in a business opportunity it must benefit him, his partners, and the community.
It is the last component – bettering the community – that is his primary goal. As Magic stated, personal success is making others successful. He brought his businesses – the Starbucks and movie theatres – into inner city areas that others shunned. He gave those community members services and products they desired but to which they didn’t have access. This brought jobs and money into communities that desperately needed them.
Much of Magic’s success, both on and off the court, is due to surrounding himself with trustworthy and successful people and team members. A business or team cannot succeed if that success is contingent on any one person. Partnering with individuals who are not committed or worthy of trust will bring down any venture.
I left the experience a bigger Magic fan (but still a notch below Larry.)
Lance and Magic Johnson at the TD Ameritrade 2015 National LINC Conference in Diego, CA. January 30, 2015