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4 Entrepreneurial Lessons You Can Learn From Michael Jordan

4 Entrepreneurial Lessons You Can Learn From Michael Jordan

When most people think about Michael Jordan, they consider the athlete. After all, we’re talking about the best basketball player to ever play the game. He finished his career with six NBA championships, five MVP awards, 11 All-Star nominations, two Olympic gold medals, and a long list of other worthy accomplishments. On top of that, Jordan took a shot at playing professional baseball at the age of 31. He played in 127 games for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League before deciding to transition back to basketball. That’s not something any athlete can just decide to do. Yet, Jordan did it and never missed a beat.

But when you start to look past all the athletic accolades, championship rings, trophies, and stats, you realize that Michael Jordan is much more than a superior athlete — he’s a polarizing businessman. Forbes estimates his net worth somewhere north of $1 billion, thanks to his part ownership in the Charlotte Hornets and lucrative marketing deals that bring in more than $100 million annually from global brands like Nike, Gatorade, and Hanes. Jordan also owns seven restaurants, a car dealership, and is involved with a handful of other ventures.

The takeaway? Jordan is more than one of the greatest athletes of all time – he’s one of the savviest businessmen of the twenty-first century. As an entrepreneur, there are plenty of lessons to be gleaned from his time on and off the court. Let’s take a look at a few of those:

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1. You Must Desire to be Great

“When you are around Michael enough, you realize very quickly that his rise to the top was far from coincidental,” said Andrew Walters, one of Jordan’s former business advisers. “I observed his leadership style, his quick mind, and his pure desire to be the best.”

There’s a common misconception that successful people stumble into greatness. While it may make for a good Hollywood story, this is rarely the truth. Successful people aim for greatness and do what it takes to get there. In Jordan’s case, he’s obviously been blessed with the talent to match his desire, but it’s the latter that fuels the former.

2. You Must Rebound from Failure

It’s a worn-out story, but is worth reiterating. Did you know that Michael Jordan was actually cut from his high school varsity basketball team the first time he tried out? That’s right, the coaches told him he wasn’t good enough to play high school basketball.

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In the NBA it wasn’t all success, either.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career,” Jordan once famously said. “I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

People who say Jordan has it all obviously haven’t watched closely enough. There have been times when he failed, failed again, and failed some more. However, at the end of the day, he always picks himself back up and learns from his mistakes. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to fail. You’ll probably fail more than once. Do you have the courage and tenacity to get back up and succeed?

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3. You Must Get the Fundamentals Down

As an entrepreneur, you have to identify the handful of skills that you need to succeed. Those skills will look different depending on the industry you work in, but you have to recognize them and master them before focusing on more complex, bigger-picture things.

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way,” Jordan warns people. “Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

4. You Must Stay on Guard

In your pursuit of success and greatness, people will try to bring you down. They may call you callous or greedy. You can’t let the noise drown you out. Sometimes you’re the only one that can protect yourself, so don’t be afraid to take a stand.

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Just recently, Jordan was forced to do so himself. After a supermarket used his name in an advertisement without his permission, Jordan decided that he couldn’t sit back and let people devalue his brand. He filed a lawsuit and was eventually awarded $8.9 million (which will ultimately be donated to local Chicago charities).

“He was compelled to send a message to the marketplace that he takes the protection of his identity seriously,” said Kevin Adler. It was a risky move that could have damaged his reputation with many, but it ultimately paid off. Jordan stood his guard and provided a lesson for entrepreneurs everywhere: Success doesn’t come by taking the easy route.

Featured photo credit: Jason H. Smith via flickr.com

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Schuyler Richardson

Content Writer

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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