In the final general session of Magento Imagine yesterday, Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined us as the keynote speaker. While he started out on stage, he didn’t stay there long. He engaged and entertained attendees as he walked through the audience telling his story. And standing at 6’9”, you couldn’t miss him! His stories about how he transitioned from the basketball court to the boardroom were inspirational.
One of the biggest takeaways from this session is that Johnson claimed he’s more successful now than he ever was in athletics. He is not only a basketball player but also a visionary, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
Johnson used his big-picture strategy and a little charm in many chapters of his life, including his transition from playing on a losing team in high school to securing a position at Michigan State University and then eventually making it to the L.A. Lakers. While many athletes possess a narrow view of their life in professional sports, Johnson knew he needed to look beyond the short period of time as a NBA player. He saved more money than most athletes and transitioned savings after retirement into a multi-billion dollar business.
The keys to his success took an approach from his years in competitive sports, combined with strong business acumen. Johnson noted that it took discipline, a competitive spirit, preparation, and attention to detail to drive his business forward. As CEO of his companies, he has:
- Approached C-level executives who hold Lakers season tickets to learn their secrets to success so that he could invest in one of his greatest passions – revitalizing urban America
- Successfully built 125 Starbucks stores in urban centers which outpaced the suburban Starbucks stores
- Created a team that owns the Dodgers, and engaged them in owning a successful insurance company
- Started a food service company, working hard to over deliver for his customers, which resulted in winning accounts like Disney, American and Delta Airlines clubs, and more
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I’m sure that his business prowess doesn’t stop there, and he has more up his sleeve in the future. But business is only one of his passions. He also established the Magic Johnson foundation, which provides scholarships to 125 financially needy students who have excelled in their academics.
He left the crowd of 2,000 last night with a few tips for success:
- Understand your customer and take care of them
- Over deliver on your promises to your customers
- Perform a SWOT analysis on you and your business for continual improvement
As we prepare for the future of commerce, he said we have to take these tips to heart. We’re preparing to lead the industry in new and innovative ways. This is a unique opportunity to change the way customers experience our brand and support our customers in the best ways possible. And at the same time, continue critically evaluating our businesses by knowing our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and striving for continuous improvement.