Magic Johnson Shares 5 Lessons on Manufacturing Success

The NBA legend explains the thought process he uses on and off the court to find a way to win.


9 min read

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My friend Joel Marion, founder of BioTrust Nutrition business, launched a new program, $100 Million Mastermind Experience, where he brings together entrepreneurs and influencers who’ve generated 100 million dollars, views or followers to teach members of the group the “insider secrets” they need to rapidly scale their business. I invested and it was one of the best investments I ever made. 

I could write a small book about all the life-changing lessons I’ve learned inside of the Mastermind but today, I want to share five of the most powerful and unexpected success lessons I learned from Magic Johnson

Related: 8 Success Lessons From the Richest Person on the Planet

I’ve attended hundreds of events, Masterminds, and seminars over the past 20-years, but I have never seen a presentation as powerful and actionable as the one he gave. And today, I want to pass on some of the wisdom I learned from him to help you break through to your first 7-figures and build the life and business of your dreams. 

1. Know thy market

When Magic retired from professional sports and began his entrepreneurial journey, the first step he took was becoming intimately familiar with his market and buyers. 

He didn’t worry about his offer or his sales funnels or his Facebook ads — he focused all of his time, attention, and energy learning everything he could about the people he wanted to serve. Specifically, American minorities. 

Throughout his research, he discovered that this wildly underserved market had more than $1.3 trillion in spending power and love going to movies. And so, he made his first investment in a movie theater and mall that was operating at 50% capacity. 

Magic set to work improving the mall to make it more appealing to his target audience and within a matter of months, the theater was operating at 100% capacity. He and his investors made millions of dollars before eventually selling their investment to AMC.

As an entrepreneur, knowing your market and buyer isn’t just a good idea — it’s a mandatory prescription for success. Challenge yourself to double down on your market research. How well do you know your target audience…their pain points, fears, desires, hobbies, and lifestyles? 

Remember, when you know your customers better than they do themselves, your business will grow faster than you ever thought possible. 

Related: 15 Success Secrets From Female Founders With $1 Billion Companies

2. Plug into stillness to think bigger

Magic has three rituals he uses to think bigger and keep himself open to new opportunities: 

The first is waking up at 4 a.m. and spending 30-60 minutes “thinkitating” (thinking mediation) on the treadmill. 

The second is retreating to his house in Laguna Beach, after a long week of flying across the country to attend board meetings and give presentations, to get down to the water’s edge, slow down, and reflect. 

And the third is taking the entire month of August off every year to travel to Europe and experience different cultures. 

These three rituals help Magic see through the chaos in his life and unlock creative business ideas like the deal he made with Starbucks

Magic made a deal with Howard Schultz to become the first “outside owner” of a Starbucks location. 

Magic put locations in urban areas, changed the menu and atmosphere to cater to his market, and soon, his stores were making more per customer ($4.89) than the Starbucks-owned suburban locations ($4.59).

How did he do it?

“We don’t like scones,” Magic told our Mastermind, referring to his minority status as an African American. “We don’t even know what scones are. We like peach cobbler. So we took the scones out and put peach cobbler in. We removed all the things we didn’t like.”

Magic then asked a middle-aged white member of the Mastermind to stand up.

“What’s your name, sir?” Magic asked.

“Gary,” answered my friend Gary Watson.

“What’s your favorite musical group?” Magic asked.

“I’m old school,” Gary replied, “It’s Aerosmith.”

“Well…We took Aerosmith out!” Magic said with a big mischievous smile on his face.

The room burst out laughing. Clearly Magic had done that gag before. But it proved the position of knowing your market to capture maximum profits. 

Related: 18 Destructive Habits Holding You Back From Success

Now here’s the thing. Magic never would have had this opportunity without “unplugging” from the madness and plugging into stillness so he could think bigger. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to let life get away from us. To spend every waking minute putting out fires, managing our teams, and working in our business. 

But your biggest insights and breakthroughs often come when you step away from the chaos and find time for stillness and introspection. 

Challenge yourself to consciously make time to unplug. Get away from your business and the demands of daily life and make time for quiet introspection. I promise you’ll be amazed by the insights you discover. 

3. Run with the best

Magic’s mentor, Dr. Jerry Buss, the former owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, advised Magic to get the best accountant, money manager, and lawyer he could afford. “If you believe you’re the best, always run with the best,” Magic said. “Because if you don’t, you’re gonna end up paying for it and come back to get them anyway!”

He went on to say something I resonate with: “If you want to stay on top of your game, you have to stay on top of your relationships.”

After sharing this lesson, Dennis Rodman, another Mastermind attendee, asked Magic to tell the story of how Dr. Buss came to be Magic’s mentor.

In 1984, after the Lakers had won two championships in Magic’s first three years on the team, Dr. Buss wanted to get Magic to commit to the Lakers for the rest of his career. He offered Johnson an unprecedented 25-year contract worth $1 million per year.

Magic accepted – on one condition. He required Dr. Buss to be his business mentor. Over the next two decades, Dr. Buss taught Magic all about business, finances, investing, and networking.

Later, Magic made another extraordinary move. He asked Dr. Buss for access to the phone number of every season ticket holder who sat in the first two rows of the arena. Magic called 150 wealthy basketball fans and asked them to lunch.

Guess how many said no? None, of course. From those 150 lunches, Magic met seven more millionaires and billionaires that became his mentors.

Big Lesson: Get a mentor (or 7)… and if you can get paid to get a mentor, even better!

4. Always over-prepare and get there early

Magic was scheduled to speak to our group at 12:30 p.m. He arrived at 11:30 a.m. and watched us play basketball with Rodman, Matt Barnes, and a few other stars (that was the “Experience” part of our $100 Million Mastermind Experience).

This wasn’t just a one-time thing; it’s Magic’s m.o. 

He explained to us later, “I once had a meeting with Michael Ovitz, the most powerful man in Hollywood. I arrived at 1 o’clock for a 2 o’clock meeting. I’m always early and always prepared.”

Magic also made the news for showing up an hour early to meet with Lebron James and convince him to join the Lakers as soon as his contract with the Cavaliers was up. Magic knocked on James’s door at 9:01 p.m., literally the very minute he became a free agent. 

Magic’s preparation and promptness led him to success then and has many times after. Imagine what his habit of preparing and showing up early says to the people he’s meeting with and how at ease he feels by not being in a rush. 

Related: Richard Branson’s 8 Keys to Happiness and Success

5. Losing is not an option 

“My daughter plays college basketball,” Magic said, “And she’s a point guard. One day my wife told me to go play 1-on-1 with my daughter.”

“I said, ‘Honey, you know me.’ But she just told me to go play. When your wife asks you to do something twice, you don’t argue. So we went out to the court. The game went to 10. I let my daughter get to 9… and then… I crushed her.”

Now, as heartless as it might seem to “crush” your child in a game of basketball, this story reveals an important part of Magic’s mindset that is responsible for his success: Losing simply isn’t an option for him. 

“That’s just who I am. I am the most competitive person you know, and I will not lose.”

This isn’t just Magic’s mantra in basketball; it’s his life motto. He’s had his share of hardship, but he doesn’t let it knock him down.

When asked what he would do if everything were taken away from him, Magic said, “I’d wake up tomorrow, and I’d figure something out. Winners win. Winners always win.”

Apply this mindset to your own life. Never give up. Never settle. And never allow the circumstances in your life to defeat you. 

Either find a way or make one. Because there is always a way if you’re resilient, persistent, and resourceful enough. 

 

 

 

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