What I Learned Working for Michael Jordan

Rockstar Finance

One of the highlights of my life was being able to meet Michael Jordan.  I grew up playing basketball my whole life and for me, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.  He won 6 NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, 5 MVP Awards, 10 Scoring titles, and far too many awards and accolades to even list .  Michael Jordan is not only known on the court, but off the court as well,  he has a number of businesses with Nike’s Jordan Brand, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, and even becoming the majority owner of the now Charlotte Hornets.  The man has made millions on and off the court and apparently now is a billionaire; so to say something can be learned from his financial and life successes from the great Michael Jordan I think would be an understatement.  But you are all probably wondering come on you never worked for Michael Jordan you are not some big executive at Nike or work at his steakhouse, what’s really going on here?
As some of you may know Michael Jordan is an avid golfer and a member at many golf courses across the country including a few in the Chicago area.  During college every summer I worked at one of those golf courses.  I was a caddie each summer, probably one of the best jobs I have ever had.  If you have ever seen the classic movie Caddyshack you know a little bit about being a caddie.  For those of you who have not seen the greatest golf movie of all time, a caddie essentially carries the golf bag for the golfer.  As you become more experienced and have been around the golf course and the golfer you give advice on yardage, club selection, local knowledge about the course itself, and in some cases even a psychologist.  Our golf course like many is expensive to join and maintain, so there are many successful business owners, CEO’s, lawyers, and executives.  I have had the privilege to be around some of the richest men in Chicago, while working on my tan and saving up to pay for my college tuition.  Throughout my four summers I worked during college, I have seen MJ, his well known nickname, pull up and hit the links a couple dozen times, but to be able to caddie for MJ you have to pay your dues, show up every day, and get a little lucky.

This is the first lesson I learned, if you want a great opportunity you have to work for it.

I mentioned seeing MJ a couple dozen times, not caddying for him a couple dozen times.  I certainly was jealous to hear another caddie out there with the greatest NBA player of all-time, but I knew that my opportunity would come.  I couldn’t show up 1 day a week and tell my boss(caddie master, I love that title), let me know if MJ shows up today and I’ll take his bag.  I showed up every day worked very hard, knew the course well, and waited my turn.  Well that big day finally came.

I was first on the list because I hustled in at 5:45 am to do so, not your typical college kid summer of hanging out at the pool working on his tan, waking up at noon due to the hung-over from the night before.  My boss let me know that I would be caddying for Jordan that morning as he was scheduled to be on the books.  It would be me and another caddie, since Jordan likes to race around the golf course usually playing 36 holes it’s better to have 2 guys if possible.  Since there would be 2 of us, I would be splitting any tips or money that came my way, but I didn’t really care, it was Michael Jordan, I was pumped and a little nervous at the same time.  I mean this guy hits game winning jump shots for breakfast.

We were called up as Jordan had arrived and like usual he had an entourage of people.  From everything that I heard that day, the entourage were his boys from Atlanta, so I assumed they were either his golf buddies, old friends from growing up, or guys he works with, but honestly I wasn’t to concerned, I was in awe of the famous #23 Michael Jordan.  Standing on the tee warming up, he looked every bit of his 6’6″ recorded height and stood there and took in every single moment.  They could have been talking about political science, making millions, or just about anything because I was memorized, I didn’t think this would really happen.  I did hear one thing quite clearly though, “$10,000 for the first birdie”.  I wasn’t sure if Jordan was messing around with these guys or what because Jordan had been talking trash the whole time on the tee box.  Our group  went off and I was acting as a fore-caddie, this is where you don’t carry the bag but rather go out in front to spot the ball, give yardage, grab clubs, and even wash the golf ball from when MJ tosses it your way(I technically was playing catch with MJ!).  It was pretty funny the first 2 holes nobody said a word, until finally someone sank a birdie and Jordan made a comment about how he was worried nobody was going to talk the whole round, since there was a few extra dollars on the line.

If you are going to do something for money you better take it seriously.

Now I’m not sure if MJ was messing with these guys, but based on his gambling history it’s a pretty safe assumption that it was the real deal.  Michael took this bet seriously just like he did when he was on the basketball court and many other ventures as MJ has proven success with money on the line as this article explains his new billionaire status.   I have a regular 9-5, investment real estate, my own business on eBay, and even this shiny new blog and all of them have money on the line.  I take them serious, while I don’t make a dime off this blog, I plan to some day, that’s why I take every venture and opportunity serious.

What a great day at the golf course, I couldn’t have imagined it any better.  I was running around the course watching Michael Jordan hit the ball a mile while working on that caddie tan everyone so admires(very similar to a farmer tan).  I even had Jordan ask me for some advice on one of his putts.  Since it was a big putt I gave him my advice, this was 26 holes in, so I had been waiting for my opportunity.

Be ready for every moment, it will come when you least expect it.

We had already went through a full 18 holes and were almost half way through our 2nd round and Jordan had not asked any of us for advice on his putts, he knew the greens and from what I had seen is a very good putter.  So I was ready, I was always looking over many of his putts to see if he needed help and just to see where I would hit certain putts just in case he asked.  So I was ready, I was prepared, I gave him my advice on where to hit the putt.  I would love to say he made the putt, we high-fived, chest bumped, bought me a Gatorade, and gave me the Maserati he drove up in.  He missed the putt and immediately one of the guys asked if I gave the right read, Jordan could have blamed me, I mean I was just some college kid running around with a big grin on his face for the past 4 hours.  Jordan didn’t flinch, he said no it was him, he missed the putt.  I may have shed a tear if he blamed me for missing the putt, but instead he took total responsibility.

Take responsibility for your actions, financial and personal.

I cannot remember one time during his career where during an interview he said that it was Pippen’s fault for not making a shot or Phil Jackson should have coached better that game, he took responsibility.  Remember it’s not the credit card company, the bad market, or any other excuse that’s out there, you are responsible.

There is a point during the round when you know you are done, it’s like when you are at work and see that it’s 4:00 with only an hour to go, it’s an easy ride to get home from here.  I was on that hole, I had a jump in my step, literally.  You know your day is almost over, you are done and in this case ready to get paid for hard days work, with your child-hood idol.  Then it happened, I watched every single ball off the tee and like the many before, watched Jordan hit and even tracked his ball a little closer, but in this case there was a hill and it when it went over the hill, despite the 100’s of golf balls that have went over that same corner, the golf ball disappeared.  I’m talking like a squirrel grabbed the ball and took it into his tree because he wanted a Jordan logo souvenir golf ball disappeared.  I was scared to death, I was blowing it right there, we must have looked for what felt like 30 minutes and absolutely nothing, I can’t imagine what ever happened to that golf ball.

Never relax even when you are on the home stretch.

Reread the paragraph above, you will see it.  I was on the easy ride to get home, something in me relaxed a little, I may have thought I was paying close attention to my surroundings but the truth is if this were the 1st or 2nd hole I would have had such a laser focus I would not have lost the ball, I wouldn’t have been thinking about pay-day or the great memory of my day caddying for Michael Jordan.  I know it’s easy to start coasting in your professional life, personal side business, and even blog.  Don’t relax, make sure you are still using that laser focus when you started, when you were excited just to be there.

We had completed all 36 holes and the only thing left was to get paid from the man himself.  Some people may ask for autographs and all of that, but that’s not what I’m about, I already had the lasting memory of just being able to spend the day with Michael Jordan and get paid for it.  Now not surprisingly my actual name is Steven, hence the Even Steven Money.  A few people use my last name or some variation of it, but only my Grandfather and Michael Jordan have ever called me “Stevie”.  Jordan called me over “Hey Stevie I got something for you”, I walked over and Jordan  said  “Stevie thanks for doing a great job today” and handed me money for my day of hard work with the greatest basketball player of all time.  It was a fitting close to a unique day, one that I have enjoyed telling and I hope you have enjoyed reading.  I doubt Michael Jordan will ever read this, but if he ever does,  I want to say thank you for one of the best days of my life, we will have to do it again some time!


Photo courtesy of golf.com

Photo courtesy of golf.com




Have you ever worked for a celebrity?  If you could work for a celebrity who would it be?


61 Responses to “What I Learned Working for Michael Jordan

  • I have to say that is a pretty great story caddying for MJ. There is no question about his work ethic and time he puts in to perfect everything he does. Whether on the court or in business. It’s true that anything a person does should be done seriously and we should take responsibilities equally for our successes and failures alike. It is rare to see athletes venture beyond their respective sport into flourishing businesses. All too often we hear about celebs/athletes with millions declaring bankruptcy or selling their awards in pawn shops. It’s always nice to hear when success can continue off the court/field/whatever. Thanks for sharing your story.
    DivHut recently posted…Dividends From The GraveMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks for reading, he has done pretty well for himself. I know the celebrity status certainly doesn’t hurt your business model but a winner is a winner and Jordan proves with is successes.

  • WOW Even Steven, what an awesome post! I was a crazy big Jordan fan, and have fond memories of staying up late watching all of those NBA final games he played in, so of course I’m in awe of your experience 🙂

    There’s some really fantastic lessons you’ve highlighted here – avoiding ‘coasting’ and working hard for your opportunities resonated with me especially. Without sharing the full story, you could tell people how you caddied for MJ and they might think ‘oh how lucky you are!’ (which I’m still thinking!) but the point is you wanted the opportunity and did everything in your power to make it happen. What an amazing experience.

    Great stuff Even Steven!
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…Incorporating the benefits of property into your share investment planMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks Jason. Yeah it was an experience I won’t forget any time soon. At the time I probably wasn’t thinking about coasting, but it sure all makes sense to me now. I was a big Charles Barkley fan so I remember those finals and many others oh to well.

  • Michael Jordan is just the greatest basketball player ever… the end.

    He’s also a great example to other athletes, not just on his work ethic but on how to handle money. A lot of athletes make millions of dollars and then go broke as soon as they stop playing.
    Aldo @ MDN recently posted…Spent: Looking For Change (Documentary)My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      There is a 30 for 30 documentary on this subject it’s absolutely crazy how young athletes handle their money it’s very similar to lottery winners. It’s a news story when athletes live below their means. I read an article on a young rookie who wasn’t even touching his salary, but rather living off the endorsements. Reminded me of living off the dividends rather than your lump sum, but that’s news in today’s world.

  • Nice!!! I would $hit my pants! Haha…

    But how much did you get paid?? Did he tip well?? Telllllll us!
    J. Money recently posted…The 5 Biggest Purchases of My LifeMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      LOL J Money you are to funny! Let’s just say it was one of my best days as a caddie:)

  • Steven,

    Great story there. I’m extremely jealous you got to hang out with MJ for the round. How cool!!

    I got to see MJ play at his last game at the Palace against the Pistons. I was only about 10 rows up near the far goal and it was awesome. I’ll never forget that game. I couldn’t have been more than maybe 20-30 feet away when MJ popped a fadeaway 3-pointer at one point. The standing ovation he got was off the charts; lasted about 10 minutes.

    Best wishes!
    Dividend Mantra recently posted…A Multistage Rocket Model For A Dividend Growth Stock PortfolioMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      That’s great to be able to see Jordan live and in person for a game, it’s one of the things I will probably regret that I never went to a game. That sounds like a pretty cool moment with the standing ovation.

  • EvenSteven,
    Great story. That was funny about the lost ball, but after 36 holes you’re bound to have something go wrong! I was at an outdoor night club once and Jordan and Barkley were there together. Jordan was sitting at the bar with a halo of bodyguards while everyone was crowding near him. A friend of mine tried to buy him a drink, but the bartender said no and that he was simply drinking orange juice. Barkley on the other had was walking all around the place and dancing on the bar with a bunch of girls!
    Retire Before Dad recently posted…Investment Income Update – June 15th 2014My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      That’s the best Jordan and Barkley together. I’m guessing Barkley is a guy you want to party with, Jordan probably you want to go gambling or golfing with.

  • That’s pretty neat! I have heard/read that he is super competitive and a gambler, so none of that surprises me at all.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Fun Ways We’re Saving Money This SummerMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      There is a reason he won 6 NBA titles, he is a winner and ultra competitive to say the least.

  • Thanks for the story. Reading about you losing the ball was the best part. The lesson hit home for me: It doesn’t matter what you’ve done so far…keep your eye on the ball.

    Entertaining read.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks Free to Pursue glad you like it, absolutely horrifying to lose that golf ball! Hey Mike you know the reason I’m running around here and your paying me to do so, yeah I totally messed up hope your cool with that……Keep your eye on the ball!

  • Oh man I hated Michael Jordan growing up…I was a New York Knicks Fan…but I had respect for the man and he is the greatest. I know the stories about how he was cut from his high school team and worked hard to get on the team. Pretty awesome story about meeting MJ and great lessons there.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…If it’s too good to be true…My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      If I lived in NY I probably wouldn’t have like Jordan very much either, dropping 55 in the playoffs, dunking on Ewing, great rivalry though. I loved basketball so it was fun to watch the Knicks and John Starks, Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley.

  • Love your point about taking it seriously. I treated my blog like a business for a solid 9 months before I made any real money off of it. That has gotten me to where I am now.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…How Much Do You Need to Live In New York City?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Treat your blog like a hobby, becomes a hobby. Treat your blog like a business, becomes a business.

  • We all want to know…was he a good tipper?!

    Great story, Steven. You cracked me up with the line about playing catch with MJ.
    Broke Millennial recently posted…Perhaps I Should Move to Germany?My Profile

  • Very cool! Thanks for sharing your experience. I love the parallels you draw between your awesome day and personal finance. Well done!

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks Kendal it was fun to relive the day again!

  • Steven, what an awesome story!! Thanks for sharing. I love what you said about if you want a great opportunity, you have to work for it. You just didn’t sit around, waiting to be chosen to caddy for MJ. You worked at being a great caddy and made yourself stand out. Great job! And by the way, Caddyshack is indeed the best golf movie ever. 🙂
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…When is it Okay to Break the Rules?My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks Laurie really appreciate it. I might just throw in Caddyshack this weekend I’m overdue to watch that movie.

  • This is such a great story, I’m not surprised to hear that he’s competitive but considerate. I remember growing up that my cousin idolized him, he really was the champion. What a great experience! Closest thing I’ve ever had to a celebrity encounter was riding the subway next to Rachel McAdams….didn’t get any business or life tips from her though!
    Charlotte recently posted…On My RadarMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Riding with Rachel McAdams is pretty cool, I’m not sure I would have chatted her up about business or life tips either!

  • Wow, Michael Jordan is truly an inspiration! That is a great opportunity of you to work with him. 🙂 The lessons should be remembered always.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks Marie, it’s an opportunity I will always remember, that’s for sure.

  • That was a great story. Could you tell us how much the greatest player of all time gave you? 🙂
    Mark Ross @ Money Saving Dude recently posted…The Truth Behind The Buy and Hold StrategyMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      That’s a great question Money Savings Dude….A great question I’m not going to answer though:) I look at it this way, let’s say it was $100 or $1000, in my mind I feel like I have assigned a monetary value to working for MJ, when it meant so much more than that. I certainly understand wanting to know but this one is between me and Jordan and my wife of course.

  • Great share, Steven! I’m glad you got your chance to caddie for him and that he called you Stevie! One of my fondest memories of meeting a celebrity is meeting Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and this was many many years before he spend the year in the space station. He was so genuine and was teasing me because we both shared the same birth year and were turning 40 that year. Then as luck would have it, they were staying at the same hotel. We walked into the lobby and I saw him talking to some people and thought hey, I know that guy, but I couldn’t immediately place him. It was him who recognized me from meeting me earlier in the day. Crazy. Once a PR man, always a PR man.
    debs@debtdebs recently posted…Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your FinancesMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      That’s really cool to meet an astronaut, it certainly makes the experience that much better when he is down to earth and real.

  • That is absolutely AWESOME you got to work for him. I hope he tipped well!
    Michelle recently posted…Getting Through: Money SistersMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      I went away with a smile on my face, so I have to say yes he did pay me well!

  • Wow, 10k on a birdie…that’s nuts! I never worked for a celeb, but when I was boxing, Zab Judah came to my gym because he had a fight in town. He was very humble, no huge entourage, no attention everyone, I’m here, nothing. He was focused on training and very passionate about perfection. It was also neat to talk to a celeb! I didn’t even know who he was for more than an hour…I was just training with the guy!
    Josh R @ CNA Finance recently posted…Sunburn, Curling Irons & Financial JustificationMy Profile

  • That is such a cool story. I like the fact that you can draw financial lessons from such a cool day with MJ.
    Cash Cow Couple recently posted…Your best anti-frugality arguments debunked!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      2 years ago

      Thanks CCC, it was an experience I won’t soon forget, it was more than just earning a few extra dollars that day.

  • Great story! Working for the greatest basketball player of all time would be a big joy. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story to us.
    Hannah @ Wise Dollar recently posted…Success Equals Hard WorkMy Profile

  • Michael Jordan has been the number one player not only is basketball but in all the sports. And after reading this blog, the respect for him in my heart has become more. Nice post!

  • Cool story here “Stevie” ;).. Nah in all seriousness it’s great to hear the lessons you took from this 🙂
    I’ve not personally worked for or with a celebrity although I’d love to work with some Aussie cricketers or even someone like Warren Buffet (call me a little geeky) 😉

  • EvenStevenMoney
    2 years ago

    Thanks for mentioning my article I really appreciate it!

  • EvenStevenMoney
    2 years ago

    Thanks again Money Saving Dude for mentioning the article!

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