In this transcript, Clay Clark (US SBA Entrepreneur of the Year) talks with David Robinson (NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and founder of the $300 million Admiral Capital Fund) about starting where you are with what you have on Thrive15.com, one of the most affordable business schools in Michigan!
David: There was an article that was written in GQ magazine by one of the guys named Noah Davis and it said that; this was in 2012, April 2nd. It said that somewhere between sixty to eighty percent of all of the athletes in the NBA and NFL go bankrupt within five years of retirement. A lot of these guys are starting businesses. They get out of the pros and they’re immediately like, “I’m gonna take five million dollars and open up my own custom car company.” Or, “I’m going to start my own race team.” Or, “I’m going to open up my own tee-shirt line.”
Clay: I decided to give mine … That was not a good business plan either.
David: Did you ever worry that you would spend all … In theory, it cost you money every day to be open.
Clay: Yes, it did.
David: Did you ever worry that you would spend all of your money that you’d worked so hard to earn and that you would just; you’d end up being another one of those statistics? Did that ever go through your mind, like, “Man, I’m putting a lot of money here into this and the bottom line, I’m going to what it needs …”
Clay: It definitely worried me. When you put yourself at risk like this not only do you have to support the project, but you’re also at risk of people suing you or you making some mistakes or whatever. There’s always a risk, yes. But that’s what we do, right? We put our faith behind our risk, faith being the substance of what you hope for. That was what I had. I had faith. It was the substance of what I was hoping for and that’s what drove me on.
David: Napoleon Hill defines intelligence as the ability to find the answers that you need without; or basically to get what you want without violating the rights of others. As I think about you, I think of somebody who’s very intelligent. You ran into constant concerns, issues, roadblocks every day while building the school, but how did you find the answers to your questions? What was your process like? I’ll just give an example. Do you remember when it became hard to buy all of the land?
Clay: Absolutely. Once we started acquiring land that we needed to build our campus, a few of those properties became particularly difficult to acquire because people found that their broken down house was now all of a sudden valuable to someone. Yes, there were issues at every point and there were challenges, there’s no question.
I always tell people my faith was a big key to all of this because I always trusted that God was going to put us in the position where we could be successful. I would sit down and I spent a lot of my time just praying and just saying, “Okay, Lord, you have to bring this together. I have some resources. I know I can do some things, but the big things you have to do.”
At the end of the day really that’s our strength. That is our massive strength. I can talk to my wife until I’m blue in the face but that doesn’t mean she’s going to do anything I just asked her to do, but it just seems like when I pray she comes around in a beautiful way that is; it’s something I can’t control.
It’s hard to explain to people, but that’s where my strength is. Everything that I’ve been able to accomplish, whether it’s on the basketball court or whether it’s in my family or whether it’s in this city, has come from that trust, that faith. That would be my number one suggestion. If you really want to accomplish something great, something bigger than what your hands could do, trust God. Just believe that He’s going to help you accomplish your goals, but also the diligence comes into play.
Do what you can do. Put yourself in the position where you can be successful. That means if you have to work, work. If you have to be the one that raises the money, you go raise the money. If you have to be the one that spends the night and does what needs to be done; cuts the yard, cut the yard. There’s certain things that need to fall into place.
My faith is a big part of me being able to accomplish anything.
David: Do you believe that God walks with you?
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Clay: Absolutely. There’s no question. I’ve tried to mess things up many times, so I believe that. Absolutely. There’s no question that He is watching my back. I could see even when I was dating my wife, I tried to mess that up many times. Here we are twenty-two years later and somehow she still loves me.
David: I kind of imagine how you view your relationship with God is like; I’m going back to Star Wars because I know that you at least respect Star Wars.
Clay: That was one of my childhood inspirations.
David: You know how Luke sometimes he could kind of like gaze into space and he would talk and all of a sudden Obi-Wan Kenobi would like appear, the hologram, you know?
Clay: I have on Obi-Wan Kenobi.
David: It seems like that that’s how your relationship with God is though. It seems like whenever you don’t know what to do, that’s what you do.
Clay: I have a Bible. To me that’s my blueprint. That’s my instruction manual. If I’m working my VCR, I’d be stupid to just sit there and push buttons. I don’t know how to work that thing. I have to go to the manual and figure it out.
My life is the same way. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. How do I love my wife? I don’t know. I know how to love myself. I certainly know how to take care of number one. I don’t know how to take care of her.
The Bible just gives me good daily instruction on everything, on wisdom; what should I do with money? Should I put myself in debt or should I … These basic things that just put me in a position where I can be successful.