Feeling the Magic at ProMat 2017

Earvin “Magic” Johnson discusses basketball and business at the ProMat 2017 show in Chicago

April 28, 2017
by Michael Power

Earvin “Magic” Johnson answers questions during during his keynote address at the ProMat 2017 conference in Chicago.

CHICAGO—“Strategy is important in basketball, and it’s the same thing in business.”

That was one of the key messages from basketball star and businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson during his keynote address to attendees at the ProMat 2017 conference in Chicago in April. Johnson discussed both his basketball history and his post-sports career as a businessperson and entrepreneur to a packed room conference attendees.

During the presentation, Johnson discussed philanthropy, working with fellow basketball stars such as former Boston Celtics member Larry Bird and took questions from the audience.

Johnson told the audience that he always wanted to be a businessperson after his basketball career wrapped up. As he played in the NBA, he already began preparing himself to fill that role later, he said. “I didn’t wait until after my career,” Johnson noted. “I was doing it while I was playing with the Lakers.”

At first he had to come to terms with the fact that he didn’t know much about business, he said, adding that admitting to not knowing something can be difficult for athletes. At first, Johnson sought out mentors to help him acquire the knowledge necessary to pursue a second career in business. “I was taking them to dinner and picking their brains,” he said. “That’s where I got my start, and I just took it from there.”

For business, Johnson recommended audience members be as prepared as possible. As a basketball player, Johnson said he over-prepared. As a businessman, he does the same thing. “I want to be prepared going into meetings, I want to be prepared as a CEO, so I over-prepare all the time,” he said. “And then, the discipline side, when I’m looking at deals, I vet those deals in a disciplined manner. I want to make sure that it’s driving ROI.”