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Leadership Guidelines

In this transcript, Clay Clark (US SBA Entrepreneur of the Year) discusses with David Robinson (2-time NBA Champion & co-founder of $250 million Admiral Capital Group) customer service training and leadership guidelines on Thrive15.com!

Clay:    I know with my entertainment company, when we would DJ weddings, if you can imagine the nightmare. I would hire you to DJ for us and you have no experience. That was the pre-requisite. I'm teaching you how to run the sound and the lights. A lot of people are afraid of public speaking. Now you have to announce, "Ladies and gentlemen, up next, the cake!" You have to get people dancing and creating this fun atmosphere. I would tell the guys, I'm haunting myself, I used to tell the guys, "Just be funny. Dave, just go be funny!"

David:    (laughs) That's not an easy thing to necessarily do. Here's my jokes. Here's how you get people in. The more structure you can give them, the better. When we brought guys into our team, especially free agents into our team, we would give them every detail on what they needed to do.

Clay:    Almost too much.

David:    Too much, really. Your role is going to be confined. We've got talent. We've got people who are doing the main things. We just need you to do this. I know you can do more than rebound. Bruce Bowen came into our team, was a great scorer in high school. We know you can score, but that's not what we need for you to do right now. Over time, Bruce became a big-time scorer for us and he hit big shots for us. Initially we gave him a lot of structure and we refined what his job was, so that he could gain confidence and then build into becoming a bigger key for our team.\

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Clay:    If you're watching this right now and you don't have structure, don't feel bad. I just want to make sure you hear me because I had five years before I even wrote down what songs worked. People started working for me later down the road, they said, "Well, you play 'Brick House,' and after that you play 'Play That Funky Music.' Then you want to play some 'Billie Jean' because that just kind of flows it together. Then 'Rapper's Delight' will beatmatch right with 'Billie Jean.'" 

    Then it was easy, almost paint-by-numbers. At first I would tell guys, "Be funny, Dave. Just be funny." It's a good thing you didn't apply for a DJ job back during that period of time.

David:    I would have struggled for a little bit. I would have had to come up with my own plan. I think if you know what your company, your organization, is about, it is great just to lay down some guidelines. People love guidelines. It's like children. They love rules because it helps them to know if they're going to break the rules, that's a conscious decision. "I'm going to break the rules. I'm going to go out and break it." (laughs) At least they know where the rule is.

Clay:    Should everybody watching this, every small business owner, should we make a handbook for our staff? Is this what we should do right now to make structure? What should we do?

David:    Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You can start off with a skeleton at first. Fill in the holes. Don't be afraid to give too much guidance. I would say it really helps people when they come in. I would make it as detailed as you possibly could. Walk people through. Treat them like a child when they first come in until they prove themselves, and then give them some more leeway. Certainly, anything you can give them helps when they come in.

Clay:    Principal number three, and this is one that I'm excited to ask you about. I have been thinking about this one. It's called "High Expectations." David, you had a 1320, is that real? A score of 1320 on your SAT.

David:    On my SAT, yes.

Clay:    And you played the saxophone.

David:    I tried. It was ugly (laughs), but yeah, I still blow on it.

Clay:    You apparently could hit a baseball either way, like ambidextrous. Left or right.

David:    Yeah, both hands, yes.

Clay:    Then you won two gold medals.

David:    Yes.

Clay:    You had a bronze. We don't talk about the bronze too much.

David:    No, I like the bronze. 

Clay:    You like the bronze?

David:    It was a great experience. It's the Olympics. It was my first Olympics. It was a phenomenal experience. I mean, do you want to win the gold? Absolutely. We hadn't lost a gold medal, except for the controversial 1972 team. It was a little bit embarrassing to be that team that didn't win the gold, but at the same time it was an Olympic experience and it was phenomenal being a part of that Olympics. It was a learning experience.

Clay:    You've had two NBA Championships. When you say "high expectations," I maybe am watching this going, "Oh no. Oh no. He's going to want me to win a gold medal or a bronze, or he's going to-," but when you say, "high expectations," just give me some real talk. If I'm on the other end of this camera here, and I'm a small business owner, when you say "high expectations," what does that mean?

David:    I think you have to reach beyond what you think you're capable of. If you can accomplish it. If you think that, "Next week I can have such-and-such and such done," then it's probably too low. You need to dream a little bit. You need to set your expectations high, but you also have to be prepared for failure. That's a part of growth process. That's where most people fail. They struggle when they don't reach those expectations. "I didn't get the gold medal. I'm a failure." That's ridiculous.


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