A leadership lesson I learned from basketball

Basketball Leadership

You cannot lead effectively if you worry about yourself

This week I was playing a game of full-court basketball with my father. Unlike my Co-founder Jun Loayza, I am not good at basketball because I never really trained in the basics of dribbling, manuevering, and strategies. As a result, everytime I am point guard, I don’t do it very well.

This struck me as a bit unusual. Wikipedia explains the point guard position as, “The point guard, also known as the “1”, is the team’s floor general and the best ballhandler on the team. In football terminology, the point guard is a basketball team’s “quarterback.” The point guard is essentially the team’s captain, and his job is to make his teammates better and to hand out assists.”

Growing up, my talents have usually been around strategizing, analyzing, coordinating, and bringing out the potentials of people. I led and coached a state champion chess team, and I’m usually the calm guy who is more emotionally stable in tough situations. In essense, I seem to be built to be a good point guard.

But I’m just not a good point guard.

Why? It’s because I suck at basketball so much that I end up worrying about my own stuff.

I’m alway afraid that someone will steal my ball. I’m thinking about dribbling instead of doing it naturally. I’m thinking about “what should I do next? What should I do next?”

As a result, I am unable to 100% focus on my teammates, which is what a leader should do.

If you are a leader, you should:

1. Make sure you know/do your stuff well enough that you don’t have to constantly be pinned down by your own stuff
2. You must put the team before all your personal welfare. You must elevate from taking care of yourself to taking care of the people you are leading. Leadership requires sacrifice (and followers sacrifice for great leaders too)
3. You must seize every opportunity to bring the best out of people. Your job is not to be the shark that shines in your ecosystem but to be the ocean that contains and nurtures all the sharks that will shine for you.

4 Steps to Master Lifestyle Gamification


Lifestyle Gamification is simply treating your life as if it were a game, and you are a hardcore player who is trying to be the best at the game.

Hardcore players spend hours everyday trying to improve their abilities and beat the game. When they are not playing, they are reading strategy guides, going to online forums, and constantly thinking about how to make their game stronger.

Most people agree that the Lifestyle Gamification philosophy (concept of playing your way to success) sounds appealing, but they have no idea where to start. This post will explain to you how to begin your quest of greatness and fulfillment.

Each step isn’t very easy (especially when it deals with understanding yourself better), but nor is playing a game the first time eh?)

Step 1: Determine the Game you are playing

First and foremost, in anything, you need to figure out what kind of game you are playing.

What are your life goals, what are you passionate about, and what do you want to achieve? Are you playing a game where you try to make an impact in this world by utilizing your skills and resources around you to solve world problems? Are you playing a game on reaching the top of your organization in the shortest amount of time, trying to accumulate as much money(points) as possible, or picking up as many girls as you can?

You have to think very carefully about what you care about and what accomplishments would make your life meaningful. Choose a game that you feel is worth it and when at the end of the day (or your life), you would feel good because you had accomplished meaningful things and had beaten the game with a high score.
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Learn to Trust the Authority of Experts

(Viddler Screwed Old Users by deleting all their videos, so no video here 🙁 )

Learn to trust the authority of expert

Often times, there would be more experienced people trying to give you advice. However, it is so easy to dismiss it and say “No, that’s not the way. This person doesn’t understand our business.” However, after being on the side of the more “experienced” person, I realized how sometimes it is very straight forward for the expert, and clients or mentees just can’t see their work from a third person perspective while being too attached to what they already have. After that, I have fully learned to trust the people who have more experience and expertise in a field that I haven’t been a lot of time in.

Imagine talking to yourself ten years later. I’m sure the you ten years later will tell you that you are doing lots of things incorrectly. I’m also sure you will listen because you believe that person has more experience than you right now and will tell you what is correct. Now the expert is somewhat like the you ten years later in the narrow field that he is expert about. Why would you not listen to his experience over your speculation?

Trusting the authority of experts is actually a skill that requires some heart to learn too. Try to learn that today.

Experience vs Drive: what’s more important?

Serial Entrepreneurs are favored by everyone because of their experiences and record

A lot of people talk about how important it is to have experienced entrepreneurs who have successful exits to run a startup. I definitely agree. You would not bet money on a guy who’s playing a video game for the first time ever. If he has beaten a similar game before, he has much better odds. After all, everyone of us would be better than ourselves right now 10 years later.

Unproven Entrepreneurs tend to have more drive and work more crazy hours

However, experienced entrepreneurs who have successful exits in the past may also lose their drive compared to the first time they try. After all, they now have a comfortable life and it’s subconsciously it is fine if they lose. First time entrepreneurs don’t have that luxury and have a much stronger drive just because they might be living on their savings. They have to succeed. They are also looking to prove themselves while the successful entrepreneur has already proven himself successful.

Find good mixes of both

I think a good combo would be one founder with successful startups in the past, and another founder who is unproven but has the drive to push everything over his limit. Obviously successful entrepreneurs are difficult to find, so another good combo might be people who have failed 1-2 startups. They have the experience of what works and what doesn’t work, they spend a couple years developing relationships, and they still have the eagerness and drive to push themselves to the limits. The fact that they could fail a few times and get back to it shows their commitment.

If you are a successful entrepreneur who has strong exits in the past, make sure you don’t lose your drive. Always push yourself to the max regardless of how comfortable your backup is like. After all, you are there to make a bigger impact and create a new legacy.

Brainstorming: Red Flags and Light Bulbs

At Future Delivery, we often come up with a lot of innovative and creative ideas. But sometimes there are just too many “good” and “cool” ideas, and it is hard to find the best one that we should do. After all, our resources are limited, and ideas are always the sweetest and most brilliant at the beginning. How do you find the idea that not just sounds cool at the beginning but is resource efficient and has the most sustaining value. To maneuver through all the cool and creative ideas, here’s a systematic approach on picking out the most valuable ideas.

Have the Calm Before the Brainstorm

A good brainstorming session must start with the right mentality and attitude. If you go into a discussion with a large bias or some personal issues with your teammates, it won’t be very fruitful. The first step is to really make sure the whole team has the same goal: to find the best solution. With that in mind, no one should take anything in this brainstorming session personal. Make sure you are thinking as objectively as possible, and that you are in good terms with all your teammates. That’s when you can really play the game well.

Don’t fall in love with your Ideas. Fall in love with your Teammates

I cannot stress this enough. When you are brainstorming, you should throw out every idea that you have, but you must be willing to have all of them overthrown. The fact is that for everything you come up with, you might be right, or you might be wrong. No one knows. If more than one person you truly trust thinks you are wrong, then the odds of you being right decreases dramatically. Yes, you might think that you are the only genius among a bunch of idiots, but that’s why working with people you can respect and trust is so essential. Always surround yourself with people you can respect or you will never be happy in life.

My co-founder Jun and I are very good at trying to destroy each other’s ideas, but we’re even more accepting to becoming convinced that our own ideas are trash. Being open to be proven wrong is EXTREMELY important because it makes people feel that disagreeing with you is fun. When I point out the flaws in Jun’s thinking, he fights back with more arguments, and once I nail him down by proving his comeback futile, he just says “meh…..:(” and gets over it. However, I’ve worked with people who start to feel that they are personally attacked and their ideas are not taken seriously. Come on, if I don’t take your ideas seriously, I wouldn’t even bother arguing with it.

Continue reading Brainstorming: Red Flags and Light Bulbs