Sunday, July 20, 2014

John Wooden's Most Important Lesson

Of all the coaches I respect and admire, John Wooden is easily at the top of that list. Coach Wooden won over eighty percent of his games as a college coach, and was a hell of a college player at Purdue University. The accomplishments that John Wooden achieved as a coach and player are remarkable, and he will forever be touted as one of the all-time greatest basketball figures. But Coach Wooden's ability to teach important life lessons may even be more profound than his success on the basketball court. I am such a huge fan of John Wooden's lessons that I decided to tack a poster of his much celebrated "Pyramid of Success" over my bed. Every morning, I read a quote from his pyramid to start my day off on a positive note.

Although Coach Wooden taught a myriad of memorable lessons, his most important one is arguably this:

Success is self-determined 

Through the various biographies, autobiographies, detailed accounts, articles, etc. I have read about Coach Wooden, the term "success" is mentioned quite frequently. Wooden even developed his own definition of the word. According to Coach Wooden, "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming." The words "self-satisfaction" and "best that you are capable of becoming" are key in this definition. Success is determined and defined by you, and nobody else.

In his incredible TED Talk, Coach Wooden mentions that even during his undefeated seasons at UCLA, some boosters did not consider them a success. They weren't considered a success because they didn't beat teams by the margins that were expected. UCLA was winning, just not by enough. In other words, outsiders were trying to define success for Coach Wooden and his team. But Coach Wooden, being the great leader that he is, constantly reminded his team that success is a self-determined attribute that often has nothing to do with how many games you win, or margin of victory.

We all have our own definitions of success. Some of us consider acing an exam a success. Some of us consider completing a big project at work a success. If you're an athlete, maybe achieving a certain goal you set before the season is your definition of success. Regardless of what you define success as, it should never be determined by someone else. You should never try to be better than somebody else, but rather strive to become all that you are capable of. This is just one of Coach Wooden's lessons that will stay with me for a lifetime.

(Side note: I would be remiss not to thank Seth Davis, and his incredible book "Wooden: A Coach's Life," for inspiring me to write this blog. Seth's book was easily the most detailed and thorough account of the numerous items I have read about Coach Wooden. I would highly recommend you reading it.)
peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable - See more at:
peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable - See more at:
peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable - See more at:
peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable - See more at:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Things I Learned about Business from the Co-Founder of Twitter

I am a huge fan of reading. In particular, I am a huge fan of reading about successful people, and how they went about accomplishing their goals. In order to achieve success, you have to know how it came about. The most recent success story I've chosen to learn about is Biz Stone, the Co-Founder of Twitter. In his book, "Things a Little Bird Told Me," Biz shares many valuable lessons during his struggle-filled road to starting and creating a billion dollar social media site. I am going to share two of those lessons in this post.

1. Creativity is a Renewable Resource 

"Be as creative as you like, as often as you like."

When deciding to start a business, or even adding on to an existing one, creativity is often the most valuable asset at your disposal. We don't have to scale or mark off creativity as an expense. It is a renewable resource that you are free to use at any time, with no risk involved. According to Biz, "...for any one business idea, there are an infinite number of approaches." Try to be as creative as you can with those approaches, and challenge yourself daily to think outside of the box.

2. Take Risks 

"Unless you are willing to accept the worst-case scenario, you can never expect to achieve the best-case scenario." 

There is obviously a huge risk involved when starting a business. In fact, Biz left behind a more than comfortable job at Google to work on a not-so-sure-thing audio company with his colleague and friend, Evan Williams. Although the audio company fell through, Biz took a chance, and a two-week long hackathon gave birth to Twitter. 

Biz also relates taking risks to a social convention almost all of us are familiar with: dating. What is the worst thing that can happen when you ask somebody out? They could say, "no thanks," and that would be the end of it. No harm. No foul. But would we ever get a "yes" if we never asked? We should treat taking risks in business the same way. What is the worst thing that could happen when deciding to plunge into the entrepreneurial world? Your business could fail, but it could also become bigger than you ever imagined. Biz didn't know what would happen when he left Google to pursue something that gave him more fulfillment. But his risk paid off, and he was willing to face the worst-case scenario in order to achieve an extraordinary outcome.

If you have a chance, I highly recommend reading this book, as it is filled with far more lessons than the few I have shared. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. 

 -Justin Wetherby