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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 July 22, 2019

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

3. Address the reader directly if you can

It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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5. Tell the company what you can do for them

As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

7. Numbers are important — show proof

It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

Bonus Advice

When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

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Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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