PRIDE

PrideAs John Maxwell writes, that when you think of the word pride, does it strike you as positive or negative? There are certainly many positive types of pride. It’s good to “take pride in our work.” We like it when someone tells us, “I’m proud of you.” And nearly everyone wants to live in a neighborhood where people display “pride of ownership.” All of these expressions communicate a positive kind of pride: dignity, respect and honor, traits that we all can embrace.

But pride isn’t always positive. Pride can also mean conceit, arrogance, or superiority. This kind of pride is based on self-centeredness, and it’s destructive.

Selfish pride is especially destructive to relationships. That’s because the opposite of loving others is not hating them but rather being self-centered. The great writer and apologist C.S. Lewis had this to say about pride:

“The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise…. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive, is competitive by its very nature, while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.”

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good looking, there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.

So how do we solve the problem of pride? I believe there are several steps we can take to counteract our tendency toward self-centeredness.

1. Recognize and Admit Your Pride.

C.S. Lewis said about acknowledging pride: “If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, you are very conceited indeed.” You will not solve a problem that you don’t know exists.

2. Express Your Gratitude.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” There is something about saying “thank you” that takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them back on the blessings we’ve received and the people who’ve blessed us.

3. Practice Servanthood.

A person who is truly great is always willing to be little. But pride fights against servanthood, because a proud person demands to be served. Serving others requires us to focus on their needs rather than our own, and this also reminds us of how we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

4. Laugh at Yourself.

There’s an old saying, “Blessed are they that laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be entertained.” Once you begin to look for the humor in your behavior and situation, you find it everywhere. Prideful people take themselves way too seriously. By laughing at yourself, you begin to see how absurd we can all be sometimes.

If your pride pushes you toward performing with excellence, doing your best, and finding joy in the accomplishments of others, it’s probably helping you become a better leader. But if there’s even a hint of competition or self-promotion in it, it’s probably having a negative effect on your relationships. That can hurt both your life and your leadership. If that’s true, do what I try to do: shift my focus onto others and follow the tips above.

SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIPS

PartnersMany of our clients are in business with partners. They include: husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, people who’ve been best friends since elementary school or associates who went into business because they happened to have their entrepreneurial moment together.

A successful partnership boils down to three things: communication, structure and the best person in the right job. Communication must be regular, open, non-assumptive, listening-based communication in order to maintain a foundation of respect and collaboration. Equally important is creating a mutually agreeable structure so that all partners understand their roles.  Lastly, is to identify the specific talents of the each partner and put them in the best position to leverage these talents.

Communication

Success lies in staying aligned and not falling into the non-communicative trap, is usually the first critical error that destroys partnerships. Communication continues to be one of the biggest obstacles for all business partners.

You probably ‘talk’ to your partner, however you might feel that you talk to them without address those critical issues, because you just don’t want to start a problem. But that doesn’t mean you’re communicating. True communication involves active listening; it’s about being open and non-assumptive. It’s essential that you hear your partner and understand his/her point of view on the business.

As partners, you should meet regularly with a clear agenda and defined objectives. If you have a board of directors, you include them. Either way, this regular meeting should be a coming together with the purpose of discussing vision, strategy, execution, implementation and plans.  From the ownership perspective, a regular meeting like this creates trust and unity. It also creates an environment to have deep discussions and sometimes confrontation in a safe environment with the partners and key persons involved. You emerge with a clear set of shared goals, values and direction for the company. This ownership meeting is a place to practice authentic regard for your partner and acknowledge each other’s contribution. Like most people partners need validation and appreciation and the best way to receive it is to create an environment to facilitate correct air of sharing and growing.

Structure, Structure, Structure

Next to lack of communication, the lack of structure is the second biggest obstacle facing business partners. By creating a structure this allows a regular venue to communicate as owners out of the business.  Furthermore, you define specific roles in the organizational structure so that you know who does what and who reports to whom.

The “owner” is not a position in an organization. Sure, you can get by with calling yourself that with your first or second employee, but as you grow — and particularly when you have a partner — getting organization and ownership clarity is critical. When you’ve defined responsibilities, each of you is freed to excel with purpose and direction.

You both can’t be CEO

Co-CEO’s just don’t work. But, there’s always an exception to the rule – but it is not recommended. It seldom works and you can avoid a lot of difficulty by accepting it. Someone has to take on the chief leadership role and the other partner or partners need to report to them to replicate the proper structure.  Do you have a formalized system to identify the ‘best’ person with the ‘best’ talents to assume the role of the CEO?

Being in a business partnership presents challenges, especially when you add the emotional aspects of a family or friend relationship business logic seems to evaporate from the conversation.  But if you share similar values and vision, if you meet regularly as owners, create a united leadership and have clarity and agreement in your organizational structure, you’ll have a very strong foundation from which to grow your business.

What is your Exit Strategy?

When does your Exit Planning start?  Answer: The day you start your business.

Attorneys practicing Business Law have large billable hours from unhappy business partnerships that fail to properly plan for selling, transitioning or exiting the partnership.  Statistics prove that the majority of businesses fail to survive past five years, so why not have an Exit Strategy plan in place to make allowances for this provision?

Have a plan or strategy in place for the “5-D’s” in Exit Planning:

  • Death
  • Disability
  • Divorce- Personal
  • Divorce- Business
  • Departure (or retirement)

It is also recommended that you sit down with your Financial Advisor, your Attorney, your CPA and your Business Coach annually. This annual review includes scrutiny of your:  Partnerships Agreement, Wills, Key Person Insurance, Buy-Sell Agreement, Exit Plan, Directors and Officers Insurance, Differed Compensation Plan, Long Term Disability, and Retirement Plan.

So, when was the last time you updated YOUR Plan, and make the provisions for “What If . . . .”

VISION, DON’T BE SHORT-SIDED

This is a perfect example of the ‘Art of Negotiations’.

In 2007, ABC/ESPN and TNT agreed to pay the National Basketball Association a combined $7.4 billion for the right to broadcast games on their television stations for eight years. Every month, the NBA takes this money and divvies it up by sending out 31 checks to team owners around the country (and one in Canada). But wait, there are only 30 NBA teams. Why is the NBA cutting 31 checks? That extra check goes to a pair of obscenely lucky brothers named Ozzie and Daniel Silna. Technically the brothers’ combined income was enough to make them the 7th highest paid people in the entire league last year. Together they earned roughly $2 million more in salary than superstars Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul and even LeBron James.

Daniel and Ozzie Silna

But there’s just one problem. Ozzie and Daniel Silna are not professional basketball players or current franchise owners. Neither of them have ever played a single minute in the NBA and, in fact, they are universally despised by executives at the NBA. So how are they earning so much money? Ozzie and Daniel Silna are the former owners of an American Basketball Association (ABA) team called the Spirits of St. Louis. Back when the ABA folded in 1976, the Silna brothers agreed to dissolve their team in exchange for what seemed like a meaningless concession involving a tiny percentage of future NBA broadcast revenues. At the time, no one ever could have ever imagined that this would accidentally turn out to be the greatest sports business deal of all time. A deal that the NBA woefully regrets every season to this day, and has made the Silna brothers, extraordinarily wealthy.

The NBA’s Big Regret

Ozzie and Daniel Silna were born in 1933 and 1944, respectively, to a pair of Latvian immigrants who had settled in New Jersey in the 1930s. Their father ran a small textile business which both brothers took over until the company was sold in the early 1960s. Soon after, Ozzie and Dan launched their own knitting business that eventually grew into one of the largest manufacturers of polyester just as disco fever swept the nation in the 1970s. Dan Silna, a lifelong basketball super fan, suggested that they use some of their newfound wealth to acquire an NBA franchise. They attempted to purchase the Detroit Pistons for $5 million, but their offer was rejected.

As strange as it sounds, at the time there were actually two professional basketball leagues operating in the United States, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the American Basketball Association (ABA). The ABA was founded in 1967 as an attempt to chip away at the NBA’s monopoly on professional basketball. And there was absolutely a time when the ABA posed a significant challenge to the NBA’s dominance. ABA owners started an all-out salary war by offering young players much larger contracts than their NBA counterparts could afford. The ABA also introduced exciting new concepts like the three-point line and the All Star Game dunk contest. Future NBA legends Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Connie Hawkins and Larry Brown all got their start in the ABA.

Julius Erving ABA Game

When the Silna brothers’ attempt to purchase an NBA franchise came up short, they did the next best thing and went shopping for an ABA team. In 1973 they stuck a deal to purchase the ABA’s struggling Carolina Cougars for $1 million. Almost immediately, the brothers decided to move the team to St. Louis where they hoped to reach a larger contingent of basketball fans. They poured $3 million of their own money into the newly named “Spirits of St. Louis” signing hot young players and upgrading the team’s facilities. They also hired a young announcer fresh out of Syracuse broadcasting school by the name of Bob Costas to do the team’s play-by-play commentary.

The 1974 Spirits of St. Louis

In their first season, The Spirits of St. Louis made the playoffs where they defeated the ABA defending champion New York Nets before losing to the eventual winning team, the Kentucky Colonels. Unfortunately, that was the high point for the Spirits. A year later in 1976, the American Basketball Association went belly up. As part of a dismantling agreement, the four most viable ABA teams would become full-fledged NBA franchises. Those four lucky teams were the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and New York Nets (today’s Brooklyn Nets). Of the three remaining ABA teams, the Virginia Squires went bankrupt before any financial compensation agreement could be made with the NBA. That left the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis. As part of the dismantling agreement, both teams needed to approve the merger for the deal to go through. The Kentucky Colonels’ owner (who was the president and largest shareholder of Kentucky Fried Chicken) accepted a $3.3 million buyout offer and then went on to successfully run for Governor. Having just poured their hearts and souls into their beloved Spirits, the Silna brothers were much more reluctant to accept a quick buyout and disappear from basketball forever. They did eventually agree to accept a $2.2 million lump sum in exchange for their former players who were successfully drafted into the NBA. But that wasn’t quite enough to make them satisfied.

At the time, NBA television viewership was barely a blip on the ratings radar. Even an NBA championship series would be shown on tape delay after the 11pm news. So, for NBA executives it seemed like a very meaningless and inconsequential concession to offer the Silnas a small percentage of “Visual Media” (television) revenues to make them go away. They didn’t even offer a small percentage of all NBA revenues, their offer was 1/7 of any revenues earned by the four ABA teams that were being absorbed. In other words, the Silna’s agreed to give up their ABA franchise in exchange for 1/7 of the television revenues generated by the Spurs, Nuggets, Nets and Pacers. And here’s the kicker: The 1/7th ownership stake would last in perpetuity. Meaning, forever, or as long as the NBA exists as an viable entity. Specifically the contract reads “The right to receive such revenues shall continue for as long as the NBA or its successors continues in its existence.” Their attorney who negotiated the deal, would get a 10% cut of the Silna’s royalties.

For the first years, between 1976 and 1978, the Silnas did not earn a dime from the NBA and the league looked like it had negotiated a brilliant deal. In 1979 however, the Silna’s received their first royalty check in the amount of $200,000. For the 1980-81 season, the Silnas earned $521,749. Then, between 1980 and 1995, the NBA’s popularity exploded thanks to players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and later Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. And with that explosion in popularity came several very large television contracts.

Magic and Jordan

The first mega contract that the NBA struck happened in 1997 when NBC and Turner agreed to pay $2.7 billion to broadcast games on television. Five years later, ABC/ESPN/TNT agreed to pay a combined $4.6 billion. In 2007, ABC/ESPN/TNT signed an eight year deal for $7.4 billion. Every time a new deal was stuck, the Silna brothers cashed in. During the 2010-2011 season, the Silna’s earned a royalty of $17.45 million. For 2011-12, they earned $18.5 million. For the most recent NBA season, 2012-2013, the Silna brother’s share of TV revenues was just over $19 million. In total, since that original 1976 agreement was stuck, Ozzie and Daniel Silna have earned a whopping $300 million in NBA television royalties. And if that’s not crazy enough, they are expecting to receive an additional $95 million over the next five years! But wait, it gets better…

Because the language in their original contract covers all “visual media” revenues, last year the Silna’s took the NBA to court over money earned from sources that were unimaginable back in 1976. For example, international broadcasts, internet rights and the NBA TV cable network. Recently, a Federal judge sided with the brothers and ruled that the NBA must pay them to cover incremental revenues from the last few years, and increase future royalties from now on! Oh, and by the way, in 1982 the NBA offered to buy the brothers out of their contract for $5 million paid over 5 years. The Silna’s rejected that offer and countered with $8 million over 8 years. The NBA declined.

By: Brian Warner

LIFE LESSONS FOR 2014

Sam Headshot cropped1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive (and don’t forget to Forgive Yourself)

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a “gift”

46. Lastly and one of my favorites, from Jim Valvano,“To me there are three things everyone should do EVERY day. Number one is LAUGH. Number two is THINK — spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to TEARS. If you LAUGH, THINK and CRY, THAT’S A HECK OF A DAY”