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Now David is not just an ex-NBA Hall of Famer, he actually has his own Admiral Capital Fund and started his own school, the Carver Academy. He knows a little bit about leadership. And today in this managmenet training video, he's going to be talking about why the best leaders are the best learners. David's going to be explaining why if you are someone who is in a leadership role or a management role, why it is so important that you are also a great learner, that you can continue getting your skills better so that people that are following can gain from that knowledge.
At Thrive, we believe that knowledge without application is meaningless. So unless you actually learn something todayin this management training and apply it to your life or your business, today's lesson is going to be more meaningless than an outdoor pool in the state of Alaska.
-Super Dave Robinson. How are you, sir?
-Hey. How are you, Clay?
-I'm doing excellent, doing excellent. We are talking about leadership, and specifically how the best leaders tend to be the best learners. Now I really am excited to talk to you about this, because after you retired from the NBA, you actually went back to college. Why did you do that?
-Because I felt like I needed to prepare myself for the business world. I feel like when you're starting all over, there needs to be a common thread somewhere in there. And if you're going to be a leader of an organization, a leader of a group of men, it is always nice to have a good, solid base of wisdom and understanding. So yeah, I think it was important for me go back to school and begin to get on the right foot.
-What did you study? What did you go back to study?
-Administration. I wanted to know how businesses work and what it was like to run a business. So I studied organizational development.
-A lot of people who are watching this-- there's a lot of business owners watching this, or people who want to start businesses. And one thing that I know I was guilty of saying early on in my career is, I'm too busy marketing to learn anything. I'm too busy putting out fires to learn anything new. I mean, I'm trying to just grow this business. I don't have time to learn. But if you were talking directly to, let's say, the 19-year-old version of myself, where I'm saying, I'm too busy working to learn, what would you say about the importance of learning?
-I would say there's things like Thrive now that you can study in your own free time, and practical things that will move you forward. Going back to school and getting a Master's degree is not an option for everyone. That was something I actually had the opportunity to do, so I chose to do it. I felt like it would give me credibility, as well as wisdom and knowledge. But sometimes we've got our feet on the ground. Sometimes we're working, and we're right in the middle of our building, whatever it is. So we don't always have time to stop and gather.
But the subject we're speaking about is the best leaders are the best learners. And that has to be true. Because leaders have to operate with a larger group, larger sum of information. You have to sort through the information that's given to you from all directions. Can you imagine what the President reads on a day to day basis? How do you assimilate that type of information? So the higher you climb up the food chain, the more you're going to have to learn. So you need to be a good learner at that level.
-I have found that without a doubt, every time I meet a CEO of a company, I find that if they're not voracious readers, they're voracious learners. They're always checking out a case study or watching something on a business show, or they're always talking to other entrepreneurs and asking them how they did it. And one might say on the outside, well, you're already the CEO, why are you trying to learn? Or people would say, well, Dave, you already started this successful school, why are you going back to school, or why are you learning, or why are you constantly-- is it a hunger inside you that makes you always want to learn more, or is it just out of necessity, or what is it that drives you to continue to learn year after year?
-Because I'm driving the bus. You can sit in row 27 and not worry about where we're going. I can't afford to do that. I need to know the roads. And so you know, I have to navigate the changes in the future. There's all types of things. I'm signing contracts and I'm doing things that I need to have a base of information, as the leader. And so I have to swallow a bigger chunk of information. And my responsibility is a little bit different from the guy sitting in the 27th row. So almost by necessity, a leader must be voracious in learning his craft, in setting the tone, setting the example. Inevitably, you have very smart people, very talented people following you. You need to have something to offer them.
-You won two NBA championships and you played for a awesome coach. Coach Popovich is one of the best.
-He's a true master of his-- he's kind of like a Yoda of coaching. I mean, this guy knows--
-He's my Yoda.
-He was your Yoda. Now he is a guy who, from what I've read-- and again, I don't know him first person-- but I've read, he sounds a guy who's always adding something new, every year just adding 1% better here, 2% better here, always kind of never content for 20 years that the Spurs as an organization have been successful. But this guy, Coach Popovich, he is relentless about being the best coach he can be. How did he demonstrate his commitment to learning and teaching on a daily basis?
-He was relentless. We, as players, saw him constantly breaking down film, working at a relentless pace. And we saw him mature as a person. We saw him, when he first came in, learning how to manage people, learning the craft of being a coach at the NBA level, where at the college level, you're a little bit more of a teacher, but at the pro level, you're a little bit more of a manager. So he was learning how to manage personalities and bring those things together so that the team could reach its peak.
And we saw him become a master at that. So we saw him growing and evolving at a tremendous pace. And I think now, the whole world sees how he's grown and that he is at the top of his game. So I think he's a great example to look at when you talk about someone who has taken learning to another level in sharpening his leadership graph.
-I just love his tenacity about becoming the best coach. Because he's already won four championships. And 2014 might be his best year as a coach. And he's learning how to manage more and more effectively every year. It just seems like he's the best, but he's wanting to get better.
-We should never be satisfied. We reach a nice level, but we're not done. We're always growing. We're always stretching. And especially when we're responsible for other people, we should take that very seriously. Because those people are growing, those people are stretching. And we need to recognize that we're guiding them. And I think setting that example is critical.
-If I'm a business owner right now, and I'm talking to you, and I'm saying, I just don't have time. We're struggling so much financially right now. I just don't have the time to learn, let's say, search engine optimization or management or sales or whatever the area is that I'm struggling in. What would you say to me if I'm somebody who just kind of is refusing to learn or doesn't seem to have a big interest in learning, but I'm the head of a company.
-I would say, take six months. Get your company in order. And after that, get on the learning bandwagon. If you can't get your company in order in six months, then you probably have problems too big to fix your company. So, you may need another leader in there. But you need to get yourself to a place where you do have time. Because it should be a priority in your life. Maybe you're right. Maybe right now you don't. Maybe your wife is having a baby. Maybe the business requires something. I don't know. But you might be right. Now is not the right time. But this should be a priority for you in the long term. At some point, you need to be extending your learning. And you need to show a passion for learning so that the ones that are working for you can see that.
-You read the Bible, is it every day?
-So you read it every day. You're a guy who people who know you say, well, he's high integrity. He is a guy who cares about people. He's a guy who does things the right way. These are the things that you hear about David Robinson, when you hear about you. But yet you read every day. When you read, what are you hoping to find in there? And why do you keep learning? It seems like you ar--
-What could you find it that book?
-I'm just wondering, why is it that you keep learning if you already seem to know these things. What's the deal?
-Now, that's a great question. I don't know them. That's the problem. My emotions and my flesh takeover. And I'm searching for truth. We have a tendency to tell ourselves that we're right, and we're not right. And we all need a mirror. We all need something to look into to see when there's a smudge on our face, when we haven't combed our hair. And that's what the Bible is for me. It's a mirror. It's an opportunity to look and say, you know, is my thinking right? Is my heart right? Am I being the person I'm supposed to be? Is my perspective right? Am I upset over something that I shouldn't be upset over? So, the Bible gives me that type of perspective. And that allows me to stay on an even keel and grow in the other areas. So, to me, it's my mirror in the morning.
-Do you have a set time that you like to do this every day?
-I like to do it early as I can. When I first get up. And I'm an early riser. I was a Navy guy. So, 5 or 6 o'clock is not unusual for me. But I like to spend 10, 15 minutes where I can just meditate. And it might only be one little paragraph. It might be on line. But you take a proverb: train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he's old, he will not depart from it. It might be one line. But if you spend a few minutes meditating on that. That will give you some peace about your own children.
I'm spending all this time with them. I'm so frustrated. And they won't do what I say! Well, the thing says, train them up in the way that they should go, and relax! And they will not depart from it. And in the end, they'll remember. And so many a days that has calmed my nerves. Allowed me to move on to the next things of the day.
-I will say this is an action step. If you're watching this, and you're struggling to find time to learn-- one of my mentors told me years ago. He says, Clay, you're very ambitious. You have five kids. So, if you're going to grow your company, you're going to have to learn. You're going to have to do it. And so I recommend that you do it before anybody else wakes up. So, even though I wasn't a Navy guy and didn't have-- I said I wasn't a morning guy is what I told him. He said, well, you'll probably either be a guy who doesn't have a very happy wife, or you won't be ambitious very long if you're not learning. So you're going to have to find a way I do it before she wakes up.
-And all of the sudden I realize it doesn't matter how I feel about it. I need to do it.
-And so I began scheduling time and saying, I'm just going to, no matter what, I'm going to get up every morning and just take 15 to 20 minutes and devote myself towards learning whatever I need to know. And I think it's fabulous how much improvement you can make in a year. If you think about it, if you just take 15 minutes a day for a year. Man, you can learn some powerful.
-Adds up to a lot of time. So, I think that's a great action step for most people. And it could be the morning. It could be the evening. It could be lunchtime. It could be a time when, he, I want to eat a little bit less anyway, so why don't I take 15 minutes of my lunch and just sit down and read something? So, yeah, I mean that's a great actually step for people to say, OK, I don't have a lot of time, but I will find it.
-Final question for you, David. You have this unbelievable passion for teaching people and for helping people learn. And I've noticed that when I encounter new information, I discover the possibilities. That I could actually be successful. I studied successful people. I realized that if I study these people and do what they do, I have a good chance of also being successful.
-Can you speak just a little bit about the magic that can happen when you learn new things and discover possibilities? And why you are so passionate about putting the learning experiences in front of kids?
-It's exciting. I see a light go off in their head, and all of a sudden they take my idea, and they turn it into something that I would have never thought about. So, to me, when you put a different mind to an idea, who knows what comes out of that? That's very exciting. And when I see these children-- we work with a lot of kids at Carber-- I see possibilities. I see the next guy that's going to get us to space. Or the next guy that's going to invent my next cell phone. The possibilities are endless.
To me, it's wonderful and it's exciting. And it's so different for us, even as we get older. Maybe we don't learn the language quite as quickly, but the things that we are passionate about, the things that we are good about, we can learn extremely quickly. And we can assimilate into our lives in a wonderful manner. So, we should keep pressing ourselves, and we should keep focusing on our strengths, and we should grow in those areas.
-David, I appreciate you for setting a great example of what it means to be a leader on the court, off the court. To be a guy who's passionate about learning. And now a guy who's passionate about teaching. I know you're a teacher at heart. And I just want to tell you, thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to learn a little bit from you.
-Well, thanks, Clay.
-And it just means the world to me. So thank you so much, sir.
-It's a blessing. Thank you, Clay.
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