NBA Hall of Fame basketball player turned successful entrepreneur, David Robinson teaches how to cast a vision, build team and inspire your workplace team.Sign Up to Watch
team building and managementtraining like codeacademy
-On Thrive, one of the things we really believe in-- all the Thrive mentors, all the millionaires, all the success stories, all the people who are Thrive mentors, are really firm believers in the importance of ongoing education and management training. How important is mentorship and ongoing education? Like the kind of practical training that Thrive provides or things like that? I mean, how important is ongoing education for somebody?
-Ongoing education is critical. Everyone needs to get better all the time. I mean, it's just the sports cliche you hear all the time. You know, I'm doing OK. There's a lot of areas I can improve.
Well, it's really true. [LAUGHS] In every circumstance, we can improve and we should improve. We don't forget what our strengths are. Yes, we stick to our strengths.
If I'm really good rebounder and I'm really good shot blocker, I need to do those things very well. I need to stay focused on those things. But that does not mean I cannot improve in my shot, in my free throw shooting, in my other areas of the game.
And the better that I am, the more value I add to the team. And consequently, the more personal rewards you're going to get.
So in a business and management training, it works the same way. You may have a certain value to your business today. But if you can add skills to that value, then you become a more indispensable person.
-Can you think of something that you learned while heading up Carver, or something that you have learned as it relates to the venture capital fund where you learned something new and you wrote it down and you rushed back to the office or rushed back to the school and you said, I cannot wait to apply that or to implement that? Can you think of something where you--
-Absolutely. I can think of 1,000 things at Carver. Because it was a new experience for me. I had not started a school. I had not done a nonprofit before.
CLAY CLARK: Yeah.
-So I was learning at a breakneck pace. And I got excited every year because I would come back to my head of school and I would say, this is what I want to teach these kids this year, this concept.
I remember one year, it was about hope. I wanted the kids to understand hope and the nature of hope, because that's what draws us forward, right? We have a hope. It is such a powerful thing in our lives.
And I wanted these kids to have hope. And so we designed programs around that to draw the kids forward into their lives.
And so I always get these little inspirations. [LAUGHS] And when I learn something, I do rush back to put it into place.
-How do you-- now this is the thing. And I want to hammer this 'cause I know that there's somebody watching us who has to hear this.
-Every single day-- I mean this, every day. Every day. I mean literally every day, even if I don't want to, I make myself listen to a self help audio, or I read a case study. I take 15 minutes every day. I have to do it.
Because sometimes it's a Saturday morning and I don't want to do it. But I get up and I'll take out a case study. I read these "Harvard Business Reviews." And I'll read it, and I don't want to read it.
-And I'm reading it. I seriously don't want to. It's usually before the kids wake up. It's six in the morning.
I'm reading and then I go, that's it! And all of a sudden, I find this new idea and I rush back to the office, we implement it, and it works.
What is your method for getting new ideas? Do you travel around and look at other schools? Do you read a lot? Do you just sit by the pond and marinate and ponder? Or what do you do?
-I don't think it's overly productive to sit around and marinate and ponder.
-If you keep looking in the same box, I don't think you're going to find a bunch of new things. I think what really the key is is that you get out.
CLAY CLARK: Get out.
-See your competition. See who's out there. See what the possibilities are. Sometimes your ideas are really limited by your experience.
When we were building a private school, I wasn't as open to the idea of a charter school until I got out and I started visiting charter schools. Then I saw a whole different picture. And how could we accomplish what we wanted to accomplish within the context of this picture? And that changed entirely what we were doing at Carver.
-With your venture capital fund from what I've read, you guys essentially add value to properties. So you have a lot of some hotels and you have some office buildings, where you go in and the property might be in good order. Maybe it's a B plus, but you somehow take it to an A plus or an A level. You increase what you can charge every month for rent and you increase the occupancy. You increase the value of the building.
-Increase the value.
-And so you just go look at other great buildings and you get some ideas and bring it back; is that how you do it?
-That's some of it. Yes. There are also some tried and true principles and some things that are pretty standard. If you buy a hotel you can rename it, find another title for the hotel. Or there's a lot of things that you can do to add value to it.
-At some point I want to make sure that you meet Lee Cockerell, because out at Disney World when I met him went out to Orlando to interview him, I was so amazed by-- for them all these things are so obvious that Disney World does.
And Disney World is such a magical place. I mean, you can't throw trash on the ground and not have it picked up within minutes. And he's like, oh well that's just-- and he has these systems. And that system had to come from somewhere. I think it's amazing how we can apply Disney World principles to real estate, or we could apply other schools ideas to your school.
-It's just exciting.
-It's very exciting.
-Now, the final point here as far as on team building is what do we do when our followers aren't going to follow. So they won't follow. We're trying to build this team spirit, and our followers won't follow. I'm sure on your team you occasionally have players that weren't willing to implement the game plan. What did coach Popovich do when a player wouldn't follow the game plan? What was sort of his move?
-Correction is always the initial response. You first want to make sure they understand what they're supposed to be doing. So that is a real key. When people don't follow, a lot of times it's because they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. But then once you make it clear what they're supposed to be doing, then they can be held accountable.
-Without throwing a specific player under the bus. Let's just pretend that player was last name Clark. OK? So let's just pretend somehow I ended up the luck in my wind with the Spurs. So I'm out there and he says, hey, you need to let's say rebound and run here on this play and I don't do it.
DAVID ROBINSON: Right.
-I know business owners that struggle, tend to not correct immediately. They tend to wait like a month later and they're giving your evaluation and they would say, Clark, you didn't run to the corner at the right time.
-Two weeks ago.
-Two weeks ago.
-In that game.
-And I'm like, what are you talking-- I don't even remember that moment. But it seems like when I watch the Spurs games and when I watch any great executive, they immediately-- as soon as it's a dead ball you're out. And they put him on the bench and we have that discussion. How did he deal with that, though? When somebody just immediately and even if they didn't know, it was an accident. How did he deal with it right in the moment?
-Even in basketball there are systems in place that you don't have to embarrass the person. You might bring them out of the game, but even if you brought them out of the game you never see the head coach necessarily yelling at him. Sends him to the bench, there's an assistant coach there waiting for him, who will correct him.
And so it's not an embarrassing thing. It's an instructional thing. They come back and so there's that immediate feedback, then they'll sit back into the game for another opportunity. We're not punishing you, we're bringing you out. Now if it's a pattern with him, we do keep you on the bench. But there's always that quick instruction, quick feedback, get them back into the game.
-So the assistant coach would actually give me correction.
-Absolutely. You will not see the head coach until the time out. You will not see the head coach turnaround even if he's extremely angry at that person. He will not turnaround and really say things to them. He'll send them back to the bench, the assistant coach will sit with them, give them instruction, and then they'll move forward.
-Coach Belichick, coach of the Patriots-- if you've got kicked off your team or you were of malcontent somewhere else, he'll bring you on the team, but you're going to play the Patriot way.
DAVID ROBINSON: Right.
-Now my understanding is that if you don't play the Patriot way, you're going to get to talk to him and it's going to be a very short conversation.
-You can do that if you have a strong culture. If you have already built the leadership team and you've built the expectations around your organization, you can bring in challenging people. And that way there's a clear in bounds and out of bounds for those challenging people. And it's easy to determine whether they can fit or not.
-So let's bring up Dennis Rodman for a second, because I would want--
-You brought him up. I didn't bring him up.
-OK. I'm watching the Spurs' games as a kid, and I remember he would take his shoes off and he would sit on the floor. Or he wasn't actually on the court, but almost on the court. And he would sit there and he would somehow kind of be-- his hair would be green, and he'd be sitting there and kind of just watching the game. And I wasn't really sure what was happening, but I knew that he was not happy about something.
And then I look on the court and I see you and I see different other players. Like Sean Elliot was a member of that team. And you see guy's that their hair's maybe not green and they're not sitting on the-- I don't remember you taking your shoes off a lot. I don't remember that.
So how did coach Popovich deal with that sort of personality there? Because Dennis was awesome in a lot of ways. He did a lot of fabulous things and contributed to your success. But what did he do? How did he deal with it?
-Papa wasn't coaching at the time. Popovich wasn't coaching there at the time. He was a general manager, I believe, at that time. So the coaching staff, you know, it's a hard deal. I mean, I think with those type of situations, you're not trying to change the personality of the person. His energy and enthusiasm, his individuality, was a very strong thing.
You know, one thing I learned with my children when they were small, was it didn't do me a whole lot of good to pit myself against them. I needed to shape their personality, not to break them. If your son is strong-willed, then you're not trying to make him a compliant child. The strong will is going to be a great talent, a great feature for that young man when he grows up.
You don't want him to stop being strong-willed. What you want him to do is understand and get on board with your program. And so that was what we tried to do with Dennis. We said we're not trying to change you, Dennis. We're trying to focus you to be a great addition to this team, as opposed to a distraction or a problem.
-So the action steps I'm hearing here is one, you never want to publicly criticize somebody if at all possible.
-I wouldn't say never. But certainly, it would be your last resort.
-Yeah, if you can correct someone privately, then that would be my preferred method of doing it. On occasion, you know if people are particularly disrespectful and disruptive, then I would say it might be appropriate to be public about your criticism.
-Is there anything that you really do at your organizations to galvanize people? Because I have never met somebody who's worked directly at Carver, yet. But you've been around long enough. How many years has Carver been around?
DAVID ROBINSON: 12 years.
-12 years. It's been around long enough where I remember being in the-- there's a magazine in San Antonio that wrote a feature piece about your school. And then there was a program I saw, and then on-- you've been around long enough where people can write reviews about you, they can write on right line feedback, there's been articles written about you.
And it seems like there is a team spirit. Like people are galvanized with this cause and the spirit. Part of the analogy-- but it's almost like you're shooting a BB at this battleship. We have a culture of people who are not being educated, they don't have mentorship, it could seem hopeless. But yet, you're giving people hope. And your employees are galvanized. They are pumped, they're excited about the cause. How do you do that?
-Showing them that they are making a difference. I think we have to-- number one, you have to have some results. You know? People get encouraged by results. When they can see that their efforts are bringing about some fruit. And so we think it's very important to reward those teachers, and to reward those students, and make sure that they understand that they're making a difference.
For our kids, you're right. Sometimes you feel like how am I going to change the world? What am I going to do? I don't have any resources, I'm just beginning to learn, I'm beginning this process. How will I go out there and make a change?
And we get them to understand that number one, they were created uniquely. They have been given talents, they have everything they need for success. Another quote by George Washington Carver, which I love. It says, "you have two arms, two legs, everything you need for success." And that's the truth. Or even if you don't have that, you have life, you have breath.
So I think the key is to understand that we are capable of impacting, just even the people around us. And who knows how that ripple effects the rest of the world.
-As I build a team, people buy into me, don't they? If I own a business and I'm watching this-- I mean people, if they don't like me, or they don't buy into me, and they don't agree with me or the way I present myself, I can't grow a company.
-Absolutely. You can draw people in or you can push people back. There been organizations that I wanted to get involved with because I liked the idea of the organization, but then I met the people involved with it and I decided not to get involved. So you can be a positive force for your company or a negative force. And as a leader, you certainly want to focus on being one that draws people in.
Send us your email address, and our team of elite minds will get right on it.