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Episode 058 – Orlando Magic Co-Founder and VP Pat Williams

Posted on Jul 20, 2017 by in Podcast Episode | 0 comments

Pat shares his wisdom on the topics of leadership, parenting and how to accomplish your goals by prioritizing them!

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Hey everyone and welcome to the All-Star Leader Podcast, where together we learn about leadership from the best and brightest, and keep it fun by connecting it to our passion for sports!

I’m your host Daniel Hare, and today we have with us a giant in the sports and leadership space. I could probably fill an entire episode with just his introduction, but instead I’ll be brief now and let you hear more of his bio throughout the interview.

Pat Williams is the co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, author of more than 100 books, a former GM for several NBA franchises, the father of 19 children (14 adopted), a U.S. Army veteran and former professional baseball player, and much more if you can believe it!

In 2015 he authored 21 Great Leaders: Learn Their Lessons, Improve Your Influence, and we’re going to dive into that one today. His most recent work was released in January titled The Success Intersection: What Happens When Your Talent Meets Your Passion.

This is Pat Williams; hey Pat thanks so much for coming on the show!

Interview Questions:

  1. Before we get too deep into the substance of your incredible contributions to the topic of leadership, after briefly letting our audience know who you are and what you’ve done, I have to ask whether you’ve found an extra 12 hours in the day the rest of us weren’t aware of, and if not, how do you manage to successfully take on all that you do both in your work and personal life?
    1. Prioritizing and self-discipline
    2. Sleep 8 hours; 16 hours left and you can get a lot done if you don’t watch TV, play golf or fish
    3. Stay closely focused on those things of vital importance: (for him) reading, writing and speaking, family
    4. Many distractions, so self-discipline is the key; saying no to things that are good but not great; learn to say no
  2. I want to spend much of our time on your book 21 Great Leaders (Affiliate Link).
    1. First, this book is framed around what you call the seven sides of leadership, which are Vision, Communication, People Skills, Character, Competence, Boldness, and A Serving Heart. We’ll get into each specifically in a moment, but how did you come to identify those seven, and what would have been the eighth (i.e. who missed the cut?!)?
      1. As he began to read and study great leaders, it was amazing how there were seven ingredients/qualities that the great leaders possessed (Lincoln, Washington, MLK…)
      2. This is the centerpiece of his writing and speaking
      3. Underneath those seven, there are sub-points, but he addresses them as part of the seven
    2. Let’s talk about Vision. Here you profile Walt Disney, Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs. I was struck by how you described Nelson Mandela’s unwavering commitment to his vision of a unified South Africa, and yet at the same time his flexibility and even willingness to change his mind on (my words) “the how.” The example you gave was his views on economic policy. Could you talk about vision and what it means to hold true to it while maintaining flexibility on how we get there?
      1. Every great leader is driven and moved and held firm by a vision
      2. The vision keeps them going
      3. During the eight years of the revolutionary war, George Washington had a vision of a new nation independent of Great Britain
      4. Lincoln’s vision: one nation
      5. Churchill’s vision: a world free of Nazi tyranny
      6. MLK: world where we are judged by the character in our heart and not the color of our skin
      7. This drives them and doesn’t let them quit
      8. Walt Disney another great example; he had a vision of another theme park in the eastern U.S.; didn’t live to see it but his vision made it happen
      9. “He saw it; that’s why it’s here.”
      10. Encourages leaders to think hard about the vision
    3. Sticking with Vision, you talk about the vision of Steve Jobs which vaulted him to the all-time leader he was, but at the same time how he was hampered by his lack of the other sides of leadership in the way he treated people. What should we learn from someone like a Steve Jobs?
      1. No question he was a visionary
      2. Also no question he could be rough on people
      3. All in all he could imagine things that were not there; he had flaws/faults, but our world has been changed by his vision
      4. He had weak areas in other leadership sides, but his vision was so big that he belonged in the group.
    4. Moving on to People Skills, I thought the peak into how Sam Walton led his company was inspiring. Can you share about his management by walking around style and the importance of how he interacted with his employees?
      1. He was just a regular guy with a store
      2. But he had big goals and dreams
      3. He would go out and visit competing stores and bring back the good ideas and implement them
      4. “Communicate as much as you can with your associates; the more you communicate, the more they understand; the more they understand the more they care; once they care there is no stopping them.” – Sam Walton
      5. “Amazing what people can accomplish when they feel good about themselves.” – Sam Walton
      6. They still try to emulate what Sam wanted done in the early days; it’s harder now with how large the company is.
    5. When discussing the fourth side of leadership, Character, you featured George Washington. In today’s political climate, I find it refreshing and hopeful to consider his rise to the presidency and how he comported himself while in office. What should we take away from Washington when evaluating and working on our own character?
      1. When looking at the two most important periods in the country’s history (Revolutionary War and Civil War), it’s a gift from God that we had Washington and Lincoln – men of great character. They weren’t flawless, but they were of humble spirit, honest, had integrity.
      2. Washington was a farmer at heart; but his nation needed him
      3. He was always out among the troops
      4. He would have been content to go back to the farm after the war, but the nation called again
      5. He could have continued another eighth years, but he was done.
      6. He set the precedent for what an American president should be
      7. Incredible how books keep coming out about Washington; just study him for a year and go visit Mount Vernon and you’ll be inspired. Listeners you were challenged
    6. Sticking with military leaders, Dwight Eisenhower was an example of the fifth side of leadership, Competence. Encouraging was the story of how he was essentially undervalued/used while working under General Douglas MacAurther, but worked hard to learn his craft before then rapidly moving up the ranks under Army Chief of Staff George Marshall. Speak if you could to those of us who might be feeling like Eisenhower must have during those years?
      1. Eisenhower knew he had skill/talent and that he should be moving at a faster clip
      2. He respected MacAurther, but was frustrated as well
      3. Promoted and moved into key role of overseeing the war in Europe (though Marshall should have had that role, but FDR couldn’t let Marshall leave his side during that time).
      4. George Marshall was a humble giant to allow Eisenhower to flourish
    7. The final side of leadership you discuss is A Serving Heart. What I was reminded of in this section was how serving others is not weak nor is it for the faint of heart. Mother Teresa displayed boldness, shrewdness and tenacity that we might not immediately think of when we hear her name. Can you talk about why adopting a serving mindset is so important, and how Mother Teresa paired it with such strength?
      1. The mindset of a serving hearted leader: it’s not about me, it’s about you; it’s not about building my resume, it’s about building yours; it’s not about my success, it’s about the success of the company/organization; that’s how a serving hearted leader thinks.
      2. Jesus, Ghandi, Wilberforce, MLK, Billy Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Wooden all led with this mindset
      3. This is a leadership quality we all can practice
      4. All seven sides need to be there:
        1. “Seven things one must do to be a leader right and true: have vision that is strong and clear, communicate so they can here, have people skills based in love, and character that’s far in love, the competence to solve and teach, and boldness that has fearless reach, a serving heart that stands close by, to help, assist and edify.”
      5. Something that struck me from the book was how many of these great leaders had experiences or people in their lives as very young children, which made an impression on them that led to their eventual greatness. Bill Gates’ opportunity to learn computing through the foresight and donations of the Lakeside Mothers Club is just one example. How should we as parents and citizens think about our responsibility to inspire and empower our children?
        1. We do have an enormous impact on our children
        2. Must constantly invest in them and get them ready
        3. Book: Coaching Your Kids To Be Leaders (Affiliate Link) – adults are investing in the lives of youngsters getting them ready for a life to leadership. This will change the way you parent, coach and teach.
        4. Every leader we write about had a key person at some step along the way that was a big influence on them.
        5. Is it true there is a poem that ties the seven sides of leadership together? Would you mind sharing it with us?
  3. In response to the question what is the secret of success, you said “When your greatest talent intersects with your strongest passion, you’ve discovered your sweet spot in life.” That really is the jumping off point for your latest book The Success Intersection: What Happens When Your Talent Meets Your Passion (Affiliate Link). Tell us what we can expect to learn about our talents and passions in this book.
    1. We’re all asked, what’s your secret of success? Pat says when your greatest talent intersects with your greatest passion, you have found your sweet spot in life. That’s where you want to stay; that’s where you want to get your education.
    2. The younger in life you can figure this out the better.
  4. My final question before we end our time with rapid fire: I am a husband and father of three kids 5, 3 and 2. Your best advice for success at home?
    1. Your kids need your time; need you to be involved in their life
    2. Must find the right balance between love and discipline: too much discipline you’ll crush them; all love/no discipline and the kids will run wild
    3. Very early you have to break their will without breaking their spirit. They have to know they are not running the show and are not in charge.
    4. A child running around without an unbroken will is an absolute nightmare; but not their spirit. A kid’s spirit is what makes them unique special and creative.
    5. They must also follow teaches, coaches, authority and not think they are running the place
    6. At 18 they leave: we’re preparing them for an independent life. They are going to college, the military or working. They are not going to stay at home, play video games and live off mom/dad. He stressed this to his kids early on. (Don’t spring this on them during their senior year; start at age five with what happens out of school).
    7. One of his boys came to him at 25 and said he wanted to live at home and save money; Pat said it’s a great idea and he wants to find someone to pick up his rent as well; so it was a no. That was the last kid to ask that.
  5. Rapid Fire Questions (one word/phrase answers)
    1. Name one trait or characteristic you want to see in a colleague.
      1. Honesty
    2. What habit has been key to your success?
      1. Self-discipline
    3. Most important app or productivity tool?
      1. (Real) books
    4. Resource recommendation (book, podcast, etc.)
      1. Lincoln’s Lieutenants; Revolution of Robert Kennedy; Coach Bruce Aryan’s The Quarterback Whisperer; The Streak
      2. He tries to finish one book a day
      3. Thanks Jeff Brown from the Read to Lead Podcast for connecting Pat and me!
    5. One bit of parting advice for our audience?
      1. Read an hour a day from a book your interested in
      2. Do this for a year and that’s 52 books you’ll read
      3. After 10 years, that’s 520 books. If you read the right five books in any one subject, you’ll be considered a world leading authority in that subject. So you can be an authority in over 100 subjects if you do this.
  6. Where can people go to access your books, and where can they connect with you (social media, etc.)?
    2. @orlandomagicpat
    4. 21 Great Leaders: Learn Their Lessons, Improve Your Influence (Affiliate Link)
    5. The Success Intersection: What Happens When Your Talent Meets Your Passion (Affiliate Link)
    6. Pat’s Amazon Author Page

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Group – music
    1. More here.
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite – voice over


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