Five Things I Learned From Magic Johnson About Success In Business

Last Month I got invited to check out the Distinguished Speakers LA seminar where Magic Johnson was speaking about success.

Distinguished Speakers Series is a seminar of motivational speakers. You pay an initial fee and get the opportunity to enjoy speakers that are world leaders, Pulitzer Prize winners, best-selling authors, explorers and celebrated personalities speak over several evenings. They’ve had some of the greats speak, from Maya Angelou to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it’s a series where you get amazing access to them all.  It’s based in California and is for the person who wants to continually be inspired and learn.

I went to the event to see Magic Johnson speak and it had an amazing high-end feel to it. It was held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium (But they have other locations like Redondo Beach and Thousand Oaks) and it was everything I’d hope it be.11091385_875735425837428_4676361835502395397_n

The actual seminar began  in the auditorium and it felt like I was at a beautiful play, except it was Magic Johnson speaking telling me how to win at life. The speech ended with a question and answer with Magic. It was a wonderful night that left me feeling inspired wanting more.

So, I had to share a few things that I learned from Magic that night.


Here are 5 things I learned from Magic Johnson about success in business:


  1. Get a mentor

Many people when achieving a goal have trouble proving their rightful place and Magic Johnson was no different, “Trying to convince people that I could go from the basketball court to the boardroom was very difficult,” he said.

But what did Magic do different to achieve the success he has today? Knowing that he knew nothing about business, he did what any person who wants to succeed does… he found someone who did.

“That’s what I’m all about. Making sure that I know and have as much information as possible and then I can make the best decision possible. And so I’m not afraid to ask for help and I’m not afraid to know and understand what I do know and what I don’t know. A lot of people get caught into their ego and they want to say that they know it when they really don’t. So what I do, what my secret sauce of success that I hire people who are smarter than myself. And I listen to them,” he explained.

  1. Find opportunities where no one is looking and take them  

There is always an opportunity and the best ones are often right in front of your face for the taking. You just can’t be afraid to take them. Magic tells a story of his story of how he got his shot of being MVP.

He recalls, “The greatest part of my rookie season was when Kareem sprained his ’85. Kareem sprains his ankle in game five and sometimes they said that Larry Bird was better than me and at some moment you gotta take advantage of the opportunity that is before you. The opportunity was to prove to people that I was a really good basketball player so when Kareem sprained his ankle I had to step up and help lead us to a victory but when I got to the airport all my team mates heads were down and I said what’s wrong, didn’t you hear the news Kareem can’t play. We’re gonna win anyway. “

Magic saw an opportunity where others saw defeat. The other players thought they would never win without Kareem and “their heads were down” they felt they would loose without them. Magic did not see that. He saw an opportunity for him to step up to the plate, it was finally open for him. He took that opportunity to prove himself as a rookie without fear and they won. This catapulted Magic to success. There is always an opportunity to be had. Look where no one is looking.

  1. Believe in yourself

 Magic found an opportunity to take Kareem’s broken ankle to a chance for him to prove he had what it took to be the best. He believed in himself and positioned others to do the same. That day they were going to play the game with Kareem out Magic knew he had to change his teams mindset, he explains that day, “We’re gonna win this game despite Kareem so Kareem used to sit in the first seat in the plane so I asked the stewardess can I go on the plane first? She said yeah, so I sat in Kareem’s seat. And as every Laker came by I said, “Never fear, Magic is here!” So they started laughing immediately. I had four hours to work on their mindset and their attitude that we could still win this game without Kareem because if you don’t believe in yourself who’s gonna believe in you? Everybody had said that there was gonna be a game 7. Gonna show up and not really play because we didn’t think we could win the game. We get to Philadelphia and we beat Philadelphia on their home court. I became the first rookie in NBA history to win Most Valuable Player in the NBA Finals.”

Not only did Magic take an opportunity to be successful but he also understood that he and his teammates had to believe in their selves too. The power of mind makes all the difference and Magic is proof of that.

“If you don’t believe in yourself who’s gonna believe in you?” – Magic Johnson


  1. It’s okay to fail

Yes, even the most successful people fail. But Magic Johnson explains, every time you fail is an opportunity to learn how to do something better next time.

“In 1984 I failed for the first time in my life in a championship. I had never failed never before. We were up and we should have won. We won the first game in Boston and we had a chance to win the second game in Boston and I made a critical mistake to lose that game and a long story short, we won game 7 in Boston. I found out too, that I wasn’t good enough. As good as I thought I was, I wasn’t so I had to go back to the drawing board and work on my game. Some times are going to come in your life where you don’t want to have to go to work and get better and so I went all summer but I worked on my game everyday for hours to get better God blessed me with a chance of playing them again in ’85 and we ended up beating Larry Bird and the Celtics, I played much better. This is what I want you to understand, there was a game we lost in over time, well we played them again in 87 the same situation is before me. We’re down 1 in Boston, same play, give the ball to Kareem, I say I’m not giving it to Kareem this time. I’m not going to let the clock run out so this time , so I went and shot the sky hood and we ended up beating the Celtics. You can correct mistakes that you made you can correct them. I corrected the mistakes I made in 84 but I made sure that it did not happen in 85 and 87,” he said.

  1. If you want be the best always have an exit strategy

You have to always know when to leave a business. Even if it’s something you love you always have to have a strategy to leave. For example when he owned the Lakers he knew he was going to have to sell them, “Kobe was getting older and I said well, Kobe wont last too much longer the value is high it’s time to sell.”

Magic explains, “When we get into a business we want to make sure that we become the best because if you become the best at it then somebody is gonna knock on your door and say you wanna sell? I’m an investor that is very aggressive but I’m also a realist at the same time and this the key for me, always have an exist strategy. Very important, I’m building something for 3 to 5 years to be put in a position to be sold. And that’s why I’m successful.”


This event was totally what I’m about and what I always say. I had been thinking about wanting to go to a seminar like this and felt stuck. I didn’t know where to look or where to find something like this in Los Angles. It felt like an act of destiny that they reached out and found me. I don’t want others to feel stuck looking for a speaking event to go to. Hopefully you see this article and it gives you an idea of an awesome speakers series you can attend in Southern California. You are who you surround yourself by!

If you want to sign up for a Distinguished Speakers Series check out their website here. And Click this link for a question and answer about the owners and more information.

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