THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL
Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Memphis, TN | Business
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas visits with Chyna Love, 11, at MemphisAthleticMinistriesGrizzliesAthleticCenter during a reception Thursday night. On Friday, the former basketball star addessed the Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club.
Former basketball standout stresses teamwork and focus – both on and off the court
Closing out the first half of its 2010 season, Friday’s Lipscomb & Pitts Breakfast Club drew more than 300 local business leaders to the Memphis Botanic Garden for an early morning huddle touting the value of teamwork. Whether on the court or in business, recruiting key players lays the foundation for success, said keynote speaker Jay Bilas. And promoting team spirit helps secure it.
The former basketball player, attorney and Emmy-nominated sports analyst for ESPN said that the same principles he learned as a 6-foot- 8-inch college player under Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski apply to entrepreneurial endeavors. Fundamentals include strong leadership, sense of purpose and honest communication at all levels. Those practices, combined with clearly defined objectives and collective responsibility, create a winning atmosphere.
“Make sure that your team understands the difference between your goals and your destination,” Bilas said. “You can’t sustain yourself in a race if you’re thinking about the finish line when you’ve just stepped up to the starting line. Concentrate on what’s needed to complete the task at hand in order to achieve a larger goal.”
That advice scored points with University of Memphis men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner, a first-timer at the breakfast. “I think Jay’s points can be applied in a broader sense to Memphis and help us create a stronger community here,” Pastner said. “If we focus on what we need to improve and work together to address those issues, then there’s really nothing that can hold us back.”
Geoff Mack, a sales consultant with AT&T and a public-address announcer for the U of M women’s basketball team, agreed. “You can apply the lessons learned from team sports to life in the world that most of us live in,” Mack said. “The basics of fostering team spirit and striving for the same goal are universal.”
Bilas also advocated a strong work ethic, which he said he inherited from his dad. As the son of a small businessman and the first person in his family to graduate from college, Bilas credited his upbringing with preparing him for his career on the hardwood and in the courtroom. He shared part of that message with several dozen teens Thursday evening at a reception at the Memphis Athletic Ministries Grizzlies Athletic Center.
“My father taught me to treat everything I do as important and focus on what’s in front of me,” Bilas said. “You can’t get to the top of a ladder in one step, but you can certainly fall to the bottom with one misstep. The most important thing is getting to the top, so focus on the steps along the way that will help you get there.” – By James Dowd