NBA All-Star Michael Redd: Don’t Confuse A Moment Of Failure With Being A Failure

In this edition of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Michael Redd applies the lessons he learned from basketball to business as the founder of Twenty-Two Ventures, an angel investment company that has mentored and invested in 85 technology and media companies around the world.

In a post-game interview, Olympic gold medalist and former NBA All-Star Michael Redd was asked by a reporter how he felt about his failure after he missed the game-winning shot. His response took everybody by surprise.

“Did I really fail?”  

“What do you mean?” the reporter countered.

“Well, I have the opportunity to be an NBA player,” Redd began. “I have the opportunity to be a starter in the NBA. I won the trust of my coaches and teammates to have the basketball at the end of the game. I actually got the ball where I wanted to shoot it, and I was able to shoot the basketball. Did I really fail?”

Had he wanted to drive the point home, he might have mentioned that in addition to playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, he was a member of one of the greatest collections of talent ever assembled in basketball as a member of the Team USA squad—with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James—that won gold at the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008.

But he’d made his point. In basketball, life, and business, “you will make some shots. You will miss some shots,” noted Redd. “There may be a moment of failure, but that does not equate to you being a failure.” The sooner we can naturalize that broader perspective into our identity, argued Redd, the more successful we can be.

In this podcast, aspiring business leaders and investors alike will find lessons through powerful storytelling that includes:

3:00 How Team USA went from a collection of talent to a band of brothers.

10:30 Why understanding character builds culture.

12:00 Why your most important investment is in a leader rather than a product.

14:00 Why autonomy is superior to empowerment.

16:00 How your physical and emotional fatigue will show up in your business.

17:30 The real problem with the “lone genius” syndrome in tech startups.

20:30 Mentoring can also teach you what you do NOT want to do.

22:30 How to change your perspective of failure.

31:00 How to exude what you expect.

Redd once scored 57 points in a professional basketball game, but the number Redd is most proud of is the 85 companies Twenty-Two Ventures has invested in and mentored. As a mentor, Redd leverages an athlete’s deep knowledge of controlling the controllables. 

“Whether we know it or not, we exude what we expect,” he offered. “If you are spiritually, physically, or emotionally fatigued, it will show in your business.” To illustrate, he tells the story of getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get in some pre-practice training one morning during his time on Team USA.

“I figured I’d get in there early and lead by example for the younger guys,” recalled Redd. “I get to the gym, and Kobe Bryant is already there, working hard, drenched in sweat. All he cared about was winning. I looked at him and shook my head. ‘”Where have you been?’ Kobe asked.”

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.

Over the last 30 years, longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated and 11-time New York Times Best-Selling Author Don Yaeger has been blessed to interview the greatest winners of our generation. He has made a second career as a keynote speaker and executive coach, discerning habits of high performance to teach teams how to reach their full potential.