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Stepping Out

In this transcript, 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) how to start where you are with what you have on, one of the best business schools in Michigan!

David Robinson:    Clay, good to see you.

Clay Clark:    Hey, I appreciate you letting me be here with you. This view’s outstanding.

David Robinson:    It’s a beautiful place. Beautiful setting.

Clay Clark:    Well hey, I, today we’re here to talk about the whole thing, the whole concept of start-up and really start where you are with what you have. David, after you retired after 14 years in the NBA, you made the transition from athlete to entrepreneur; which a lot of athletes don’t do very well. Unfortunately.

David Robinson:    Unfortunately.

Clay Clark:    You started the Carver Academy and now you’ve started a successful capital equity fund there and it seems as though you’ve transitioned pretty smoothly, or at least on the outside it looks like you’ve transitioned pretty smoothly from the …

David Robinson:    Okay.

Clay Clark:    … from the athletics to the more of the entrepreneurial endeavors. What made you believe that you would have the skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur?

David Robinson:    Well, I think I’ve always been able to translate things from area to the other, so I translate my faith into my life. I translate my basketball into my business. I think there’s always correlation, when you learn lessons a lot of those lessons cross lines. To be competitive at the highest level you need to be resilient. You need to be creative. You need to be disciplines. You need to be focused. There’s a lot of things that I think work in all arenas and I just try to find those areas that I can bring to the … I can bring things to the table. I may not be the smartest real estate guy out there, but I can find smart real estate guys. But, there are things that I bring and I try to take advantage of those.

Clay Clark:    You have a confidence, but you’re not conceited. Maybe a lot of people watching this they’ve always wanted to start a business, but they feel like I just don’t have what ti takes.

David Robinson:    Yeah. It’s terrifying. It is.

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Clay Clark:    Is it terrifying?

David Robinson:    Oh, it’s terrifying. I mean anything, doing … I did a lot of stuff with Carver, with the charity stuff. Starting a foundation, building a school is a terrifying prospect. I’ve had guys since come to me saying I’d like to build a school, and I thought uuh. I don’t know man. I don’t know if that’s what you want to do; so it’s, yeah it’s terrifying. Going into a business world where there are a lot of very, very smart people out there is a little bit scary. But you have to have confidence in who you are and you know what you bring to the table. Because you may not be the smartest person, but that’s okay.

    But as long as you have the passion and the purpose and you get the smart people around you you can still accomplish anything you want to.

Clay Clark:    Did you ever feel like you would maybe mess up your checkbook and mess up the life of kids, through your school?

David Robinson:    No.

Clay Clark:    Did you ever feel like, man if this doesn’t go well, I’m going to spend a lot of money and I could potentially mess with the lives of a lot of kids if the education’s not very good. Did you ever worry like that?

David Robinson:    I can deal with messing up my checkbook. Messing with these kids lives is not acceptable.

Clay Clark:    Okay.

David Robinson:    Yeah, I mean I just felt like I needed to get the right people in place and get the right expertise, because it’s out there. And it’s the same with anything. If you’re going to start a new business get the right expertise. You have to know what you’re doing.  If I’m going to be an educator I have to be a good educator. The reason I’m starting the school is because I think I can do it better than the school that already exists.

    I just need to put the right expertise together. I have to make myself an expert so that we can produce what I think we can produce. That was the key, knowing that ti thought we could do it better. I thought we could take some of these kids who weren’t getting an opportunity and I thought we could point them in their direction and make them become the next leaders of this generation.

    That was my passion and the reason you’re starting your business because you have that passion. And so you need to understand that that can carry you a long ways.

Clay Clark:    I love this quote that you said, and I know that you’re not a super big fan of me quoting you but, you had a good notable quote here. You said, “I don’t care what your background is. I don’t care where you come from. You can’t tell me that you’ve had a worse situation than George Washington Carver had as a kid.”

David Robinson:    Sure.

Clay Clark:    “You have all the tools you need. God has given you everything you need. Start where you are. Use what you have and never be satisfied. Keep pressing.”

David Robinson:    Half of that quote is stolen from Carver.

Clay Clark:    Okay, so it was like a juxtaposition there.

David Robinson:    Yeah, no. I mean that’s where I got a lot of my impetus from. I’m living, I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, right? George Washington Carver went through the whole coming out of slavery and a situation where he didn’t have as much opportunity as I had. But he carried the torch for me, so that now I can have a great job. I can have an influence. We have a black president. But, without a guy like George Washington Carver this could not have happened.  So I take those those things, I try to learn from the past.


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