We are reporting live from the SiriusDecisions Summit in Nashville! Today marks the first official day of the Summit, which we rang in with keynote speaker Magic Johnson. Arguably one of the best basketball players of all-time, Magic has found immense success off the court as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. It was so evident how his competitive and hardworking mentality has translated into business, and he had many entertaining, hilarious and helpful lessons for us in today’s opening keynote session.
1. Learn from your competitors. Magic half-joked about how much he hated Larry Bird, who was his opponent in the Celtics-Lakers rivalry of the 80s. But he also said how much he learned from Bird, and how much better of a player Bird helped Magic to become. These two are some of the most competitive athletes in history, so naturally they did anything and everything they could to gain a competitive advantage over each other. B2B companies should do the same thing; your competitors are essentially there to make you better. Learn from them, because if you work hard they will make you better in the long run.
2. Know your customer. Magic shared a story about one of his biggest business endeavors: bringing Starbucks shops to urban neighborhoods. Many doubted him, as Starbucks hadn’t performed well historically with urban, ethnic populations. But Magic understood who he was trying to sell to. “We don’t know what scones are. But we know sweet potato pie and peach cobbler,” Magic noted about his customers’ food preferences. Making those changes to the menu with that knowledge in mind helped to make those Starbucks shops successful when no one believed they would be. B2B companies need to have such a knowledge of their customers as well–what they like, dislike and most importantly, what they need the most. Tailoring your product to your customers priorities and preferences will give you a competitive advantage.
3. Know when to quit. Magic was a relentless basketball player, and that has translated into business as well. But he wasn’t too proud or competitive to know when to quit. Understanding that the Starbucks shops weren’t doing as well as he had wanted, he knew it was time to sell and ended up profiting from the deal. The same can go for sales reps in a way. Knowing when to quit on a deal doesn’t mean you’re giving up, it just means that there may be better opportunities to dedicate your time and effort to. Magic recognized this, and bought the LA Dodgers following the sale of his 105 Starbucks.
4. Run a SWOT on your company, but also on yourself. Assessing your companies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is a great way to gauge your performance and success. It also helps you identify areas of improvement or things that may need to change organizationally. But Magic also runs a SWOT on himself as an individual; he says it makes him a better leader. It is rewarding to see traits move from the weaknesses column to the strengths over time, and every leader should be improving in such a way over time.
5. Bring your A-game every day. One of the most resonating points Magic made was to bring the passion and fire to every single day. It’s so easy to go through the motions, especially in the workplace. Magic asked us all to think about whether we were bringing the same intensity and enthusiasm to work that we did when we first got our job, which can get more and more difficult the longer you’ve been in the workforce. But it’s imperative to adapt to new technologies, make your teammates better, and be sure that you’re working hard every day. Too many companies fail because they’re too stubborn to adapt to the market or new technologies, or because their employees aren’t bringing their A-game each day.
This was by far one of my favorite keynote sessions of all-time, and it really started off the Sirius Decisions Summit strong. Stay tuned for more fun and excitement over the next few days- Seismic is live-tweeting sessions and events, so be sure you’re following us on Twitter!