What I Learned Working for Michael Jordan
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?
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!
Have you ever worked for a celebrity? If you could work for a celebrity who would it be?