As the crowd dissipated from the basketball court from their New York City launch event for their book Slam-Dunk Success: Leading From Every Position on Life's Court, Byron Scott and Charles Norris answered the questions everyone asked them:
How did the two of you combine forces to write this book?
What makes this book different than others?
They seem an unlikely pair. Having written a book on leadership myself that's critical of the traditional approach of many leadership books, I was skeptical.
One of them, Charles, grew up a Celtics fan and worked his way from bagging groceries to become CEO and Chairman of the Board of several companies, selling or IPOing for billions of dollars.
The other, Byron, won three NBA championships with the Showtime Lakers, coached the New Jersey Nets to two NBA finals, and won Coach of the Year with the New Orleans Hornets.
These are just the beginnings of their differences.
While a mutual friend introduced them, what they shared as they spoke, that brought them together to create the book, was competition and their shared passion to compete--in the best sense of the word:
To discover and realize your potential as an individual and to elevate your teammates with theirs as individuals and a team.
Two competitors passionate to help people around them win
I could tell their shared passion because Byron and Charles were almost competing with each other to help me learn from their unique, complementary experiences.
I asked why so many great leaders emerged from sports, how to overcome fear, how to learn to trust teammates, and so on.
It dawned on me as they spoke: These men love winning, they've won at the highest levels, and they want me to win like they did.
Each answered each question, building on the other's answers, connecting it to leadership experiences at levels few will reach but we can all learn from.
Stories on the importance of knowing the state of the delivery truck drivers' uniforms as CEO to the towel guy in the locker room as the head coach.
Anecdotes on how the pain of losing seasons as a rookie built the resilience to take risks and overcome fear necessary to become a champion.
How to develop self confidence to invest personally with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line when your investors don't believe in you.
Few people reach such levels of competition, let alone to succeed at it, let alone to take the time to share it.
Two complementary sets of skills and experiences
Their passion to help others reach their potential answers the second question.
The book tells their stories of growth, challenge, anguish, triumph, and more, interspersed with other big names of other basketball legends and high-stakes brinksmanship.
The complementary starting points of sports arenas versus board rooms amid shared passions for leadership and teamwork make the book unique and valuable. After my personal interview, I found the book told the same stories I heard in person with the same passion and flair.
Each chapter covers a different aspect of leadership: fear, failure, teamwork, authority, winning, success, ego, mentoring, building, IPOing, and so on.
Within each chapter, each tells his stories, offering insights and contrasts, which single-author books can't match.
Teamwork, people, and friendship
Over and over, they returned to teamwork and people. Knowing your teammates intimately, valuing them, helping them improve, supporting them, watching their backs, working as teams. And the same about yourself, through experience and challenge.
Beyond talking about it, they lived it. Their friendship came through their words in person and on the page. The teamwork they talked about resulted in their friendship and book.
If you plan to live in life and work, not just watch from the sidelines, and expect diversity in your teams, you'll benefit from Slam-Dunk Success.