In this transcript, business coach Clay Clark (US SBA Entrepreneur of the Year) discusses with David Robinson (NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and founder of the $300 million Admiral Capital Fund) the process of becoming an effective leader and business coach on Thrive15.com!
Business Coach Clay Clark: David Robinson, how are you, sir?
David Robinson: Clay, good to see you today, mister business coach.
Clay Clark: Hey, you too. We’re here today talking about the process of becoming an effective leader. I say an effective leader. I think a lot of people, we’re the boss of the company, there’s 10 people that work with us. We’re kind of by default the leader, but maybe no one’s following us. Maybe they’re tolerating us, so we want to become an effective leader.
David Robinson: That happens too often.
Clay Clark: David, do you believe that effective leadership can be learned?
David Robinson: Oh, absolutely. There’s no question. Most of us are thrown into leadership positions by default, but that doesn’t mean we’re effective. I do believe that most of us can become effective if we learn certain strategies. We all have different talents, we all have different strengths. If you are perceptive, you understand what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, you can certainly become effective.
Clay Clark: Here’s an example I think of somebody who became an effective leader and business coach. You went to college and you were 6 ft. 6 in your freshman year?
David Robinson: About 6’7″ and a half or so, yeah. As a business coach, your estimations are quite accurate.
Clay Clark: 6’7″ and a half your freshman year of college there at the Naval Academy. You grew to be 7 ft 1 by, what, the end of your sophomore year?
David Robinson: Yeah. I was 6’7″ and a half the day I reported, about 172 pounds. By the time I was into my sophomore year, I was 7 ft and 235. I had gained 60 pounds in the first 2 years I was there.
Clay Clark: So you’re now … All of a sudden you went from a guy who was a good athlete, I think admittedly you had said in high school you were okay.
David Robinson: I was just okay.
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Clay Clark: You were in high school 6 ft 5? What, 6 ft 6 player your junior and senior year?
David Robinson: Right. 6’4″ by my junior year and then about 6’7″ my senior year.
Clay Clark: And you were good, but you weren’t like the best in the world?
David Robinson: Right. I had some college coaches actually come and watch me play and say that they didn’t think I was good enough to play division 1 basketball.
Clay Clark: So then you get to the Naval Academy. I think there’s a long history of players who had gone from the Naval Academy to the pros. There’s you and then there’s you and then I think it’s pretty much you, right?
You’re there and all of a sudden you become the superstar. I think your senior year, what’d you score? 28 points a game your senior year in college?
David Robinson: Something like that, mister business coach.
Clay Clark: It was a lot. You didn’t count, but I was looking it up. So you were scoring a lot of points. All of a sudden, you went from one of the guys to the guy. Now you get drafted and you’re supposed to be the chosen one who’s going to save the Spurs or fix the team or help.
David Robinson: Perfect example of someone who was thrust into leadership. I had no choice on that one.
Clay Clark: Okay. Let’s talk about it. When the other Spurs start showing up, they’ve been there for a few years. You’re the new guy and they start showing up for practice. What was that like, trying to learn to be a leader on the pro level?
David Robinson: Very difficult. I guess I would imagine for many business guys who come to a new company and you’re supposed to be taking over a vice president job or something. I imagine it’s pretty much the same thing. You’re walking in a little bit cold. There are some more veteran people there who know the system, who know the league. Yet I’m expected to come in and help guide the ship. Very challenging. Absolutely.
I think the thing is is you have to understand kind of your own skills and your own talents. I think part of it was I had a fairly decent sense of who I was and I knew that I couldn’t lead in a way that wasn’t comfortable to me. I didn’t try to be something that I wasn’t.
I just came in and there was a certain culture here in the team. I said, well, that’s not a culture that I’m comfortable in and I think we need to build around a new culture.
Clay Clark: Did you actually address the music situation in the locker room? Did you ever say that? Do you remember talking about that?
David Robinson: Yeah, many times.
Clay Clark: Really?
David Robinson: Yeah. I addressed a lot of things. I mean I was probably a little bit obnoxious in some of the things I did. I talked to my coach about saying a bad word or two. I’d say, “I don’t mind you yelling at me. You’re just telling me what I need to do. You don’t need to say a bad word to me.”
Those are things that just … I was a little bit … I wasn’t afraid of anything. I just felt like I want to be what you need me to be but I can’t be something that I’m not. My whole thing was either you accept me, you want me or you don’t. Or you want somebody else. I tried to bring my talents to the table where I could be most helpful for the team.