What Jeremy Lin Can Teach Us about Business Success
If you have not heard about the Jeremy Lin story yet you are one of the very few people who have not. Lin’s is one of those fairytale stories that it sometimes seems can only happen in New York – a basketball playing Harvard graduate who would not let his NBA dreams die despite never having been awarded a basketball scholarship in college; being cut from two NBA teams in his first season as an undrafted player in the league; and then coming within two days of being cut by a third – the storied but struggling New York Knicks.
Within the space of a week all of that changed – and dramatically. Lin became not only the darling of New York Knicks fans riding high on a six game winning streak after a miserable start to the season but to underdogs all over the country. Linsanity has become a worldwide phenomenon, especially as Lin is a rare creature in the NBA world – an Asian American whose ‘got game’.
What can business owners learn from Lin though? Consider this:
Persistence Pays – Lin’s road to the NBA was not an easy one. Although he had great success as a high school basketball player in high school in Palo Alto, California he went to Harvard without a single penny in basketball scholarship funds. And although he showed great promise as a player there he went undrafted in 2010 and was then cut by two different NBA teams without getting much of a chance to play or to prove himself. He was only picked up by the Knicks in 2012 because rookie Iman Shumpert (another happy underdog story actually) picked up a knee injury.
Lin still got no real playing time though and was actually sent to the D League team, the Erie Bayhawks, along with friend and teammate Jerome Jordan. After a thrilling performance there that saw him score 28 points in a game and gave Pennsylvania NBA fans a glimpse of what he could do he was recalled to the big club but still did not have a guaranteed contract with the deadline approaching.
He had nowhere to live as he was sleeping on his brother’s couch (his brother is an NYU dental student) and he even lost that spot. The night before the game that changed his life (and the Knicks fortunes) he crashed on teammate Landry Fields’ couch instead.
When the press asked Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni what made him finally give Lin a chance in that game against the New Jersey Nets – the one in which he came off the bench and scored 25 points, five rebounds, and seven assists – he had one answer – because he kept asking me to.
Starting and growing a business can be just as tough as Lin’s road to the Garden was and it can be tempting to give up when one encounters those first few obstacles. Rather than do that though why not take a page out of the Linsanity playbook and reap the benefits of refusing to quit on an idea you really believe in.
Don’t give up too early as success could really just be around the corner!
Stay True to Your Vision – Jeremy Lin, out of uniform, looks nothing like a point guard. At 6’3” he’s not huge for a basketball player and he himself has joked that it was not until after his breakout game against the Nets that the MSG security guards stopped mistaking him for a parking valet (or perhaps team fitness trainer). He’s fairly quiet, very religious and the sudden stardom has not gone to his head. He is not at all what you would expect an NBA player to be like but it has not mattered as the fans – and the non NBA fans the world over – love him anyway.
That should be something that you keep in mind as you grow your business – stay true to yourself, your vision and your image and do not compromise your values, even to get ahead.
It’s All about Great Teamwork
Lin’s 38 points against the LA Lakers was great but Lin has done more than just score to change the Knicks fortunes. Because he has great “court vision” and he knows how to run the point he is also bringing out the best in his teammates. When Amare Stoudamire left the team on the Sunday – after Lin’s first game – to mourn his brother Hazell (who was killed in a car accident), back up center Jared Jeffries started in his place. (Jeffries had been taking a lot of heat and a lot of boos from the MSG faithful for his spotty play.)
With Lin running the point though Jeffries game was elevated to a level that has to be seen to be believed. With Lin on the team rookie guard Iman Shumpert was set free to play his game instead of trying to play a position he was not suited to. But his All Star teammate Carmelo Anthony has said that Jeremy Lin brought something even better to the Knicks – a pure enthusiasm for the game that was infectious. As an unknown he did not have to worry about what the media said, all he had to do was play and help his teammates play. And so far it’s been working like a charm.
Teamwork is an important part of business success too. Sure it’s nice to get individual glory but by working as a team you can elevate all of your members to perform at their highest potential and reach a higher common goal that no individual could ever reach alone. Maybe no one gets to be the only “star” but the eventual success of the business is worth a lot more than a minute in the spotlight!