Magic Johnson the Learn-it-All

Magic Johnson at Choice Hotels Annual Conference

Magic Johnson at Choice Hotels Annual Conference

Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is one of the greatest basketball players in history. His career achievements on the court include three National Basketball Association MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, and twelve All-Star games, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson was a member of the Olympic basketball “Dream Team” that won the gold medal in 1992. The NBA voted him one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time and he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

Since retirement, Magic has become a successful corporate leader. He purchased 125 Starbucks stores and was a part owner in the LA Lakers and the LA Dodgers baseball team. He is a successful real estate developer and an investor in financial services, food services and insurance businesses.

Many professional athletes fail in the business world, so I wondered what made Magic Johnson different. If you guessed a competitive spirit, you’d only be half right. Magic Johnson is also a “Learn-it-All.”

The phrase, coined by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, means you have a growth mindset. Magic told us how his first enterprise failed, but from that he learned how to listen to his customers. A growth mindset meant that Magic focused on opportunities to improve. Disappointment was learning.

Magic realized early on that easy problems don’t provide valuable learning. It is the difficult problems that should be sought after. It is the exposure to these difficult problems that allows us to grow. In turn, it is this growth that gives us the confidence to believe in our capabilities. We create a positive feedback loop that can expand and enrich our lives.

It was a gift to hear Magic Johnson speak. At the end of his presentation, Magic gave us one last gift. He presented each of us with the book, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.. I plan on reading this to learn how to fulfill my potential. Then maybe someday Magic Johnson will want to be my hospitality partner too.

Bret Wirta