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Volume 20 No. 46
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Vivek Ranadive, Golden State Warriors

"The 20th-century model of leadership is like a Sousa marching band. Everybody marches robotically to the beat of a single drum. The 21st-century leadership is more like jazz."


ou want to get the best
or the brightest. You want to give them a lot of freedom. You want to make them feel like they’re doing their own thing and they can occasionally improvise. And your job as a leader is to make it all come together as music. That’s the model of leadership that I subscribe to.

I give my direct reports a lot of freedom. I give them a long rope. But I’m also very engaged. I talk to them several times a day, every day.

In hiring, I look for raw IQ. I like to hire really smart people. I look for integrity. And I actually like to hire generalists rather than specialists.

Technology keeps changing so quickly that whatever you’re doing today will probably soon be obsolete. You need to be quick starting and learning new things. You need to be able to connect the dots. … Generalists are more able to do that.

One of the keys I’ve found when you’re talking to people about a position is that if you find your mind wandering, don’t hire them. They aren’t able to engage you.

My advice to young people who want to develop their career and get into sports business is to try to find a situation that you can learn a lot from people around you. And don’t worry about the way you start and how you start.

If you’re smart and you’re passionate and you’re surrounded by smart people, then you’ll learn a lot. They’ll recognize your talents and you’ll quickly get to do the kind of things that you want.

Focusing on money and salary is a short-term way of looking at an opportunity. You really have to take a longer-term view. If you look at it as a 30-, 40-, 50-year career, then you want to go where you’re surrounded by really smart people. And that’s going to open more opportunities.

I try to put a lot of wood behind a few arrows. Rather than have a hundred ideas, I try to have a few ideas that I get traction from.

I tend to read multiple books at the same time. I’m reading “No Easy Day,” about the SEAL raid of Bin Laden. I’m reading a book by a physics professor called “The Physics of the Impossible.” I’m also reading a book called “A Simple Act of Gratitude,” about a guy who had a tough life.

I like jazz, but I also like U2. I like the Black Eyed Peas. But I’m also curious about how the “Gangnam Style” dance became a new phenomenon overnight.

Arguably the Bay Area is one of the most creative and innovative areas on the planet today.

I think the common fallacy that a lot of people have is that the way to have innovation is to have pingpong tables and blah blah blah. Actually, that’s not true.

Oftentimes the best things in life happen when you get outside your comfort zone.

I had never touched a basketball in my life. I had never coached a basketball team and I had never actually coached girls. I was completely, uniquely, unqualified. What the experience of coaching my daughter’s basketball team taught me is to think outside the box. And if you work harder than anyone else, then you can succeed.

I was terrified at first. I showed up for the first day and I was in this gigantic gym. I looked around the gym and there were these 7-foot guys, ex-staff or Division I players who were the other coaches. They were going through drills and they were like twice my size.

I was already behind the eight ball because they had already picked the best of the draft, which I knew nothing about. I didn’t know what a draft was. I was left with the girls they didn’t want at all because they were troublemakers. And a couple of my girls never played. I put together a team that won every game.

I pressed the whole time. I also created a formula for the game. I converted it into a math formula. The formula short is that if you force five more turnovers, then you win.

Other coaches were furious. One of them said to meet me outside in the parking lot. They were furious because they picked the superior athletes with superior skills.

We as parents tend to often make the mistake when we say to our kids, “When I was a kid it was a lot harder. I had to walk barefoot in the snow to get to school every day.” What I always say is, don’t say that to your kids and don’t ever say that to your colleagues. When you say that, you’re telling your kids that no matter what they accomplish, their accomplishments will never be the same as yours.