Legends in Business Q&A
NBA.com recently interviewed Dominique Wilkins to learn about some of his highlights and challenges both on the court and in the business world.
1) As the most celebrated player to ever put on a Hawks uniform, you are now a part owner and the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Hawks, and responsible for various management functions within the organization’s basketball and business areas. In this position, you are responsible for advising the board of managers and senior management team on basketball-related issues, working as a strong voice in the community, and serving as a member of the executive committee and the Hawks’ Free Agent Acquisition Committee. How did your career on the court prepare you for the operations side of the business?
The things I’ve done on court added structure and balance. I think it goes hand in hand because if you discipline yourself on the floor, as you become an older player or a more seasoned individual, it adds structure in your life. When you have that kind of structure on the floor, you end up playing better. I think it carries right over into the business world if you choose to go that way. What I have done is found something that I felt was my niche and that I enjoy. A lot of times people stray away from what they’re good at. I feel that I am good in basketball, so why not take that and continue that in the business side of basketball? So it became an easier transition for me.
2) Recognizing that some of the best business ideas and solutions come when people involved in a business are different from each other and represent the diverse nature of society, how are you able to cultivate these idea and solutions from your own staff?
I think the ideas come from leading by example, doing the things that you expect your teammates or your employees to do as a unit. You are only as good as your team. When you lead by example, you get good productivity out of your workers.
3) As a partner in a mortgage company, Exclusive Metro Mortgage, you are in a very competitive market environment. What characteristics do you look for in your staff members to sustain and compete at this level?
In the mortgage business you need to have All-Star people working for you. You need people who will produce, people who are hungry, who are trying to live that good life. And I think when you find those people, you will find people who will close more loans for you. In our company, we push our people to do their best. We push people to not only be satisfied with closing one or two loans per month, but we have them set goals. Maybe our goal is ten. We may not reach that goal, but if you do half of that per month, then you’ve done more than your job. You can’t be satisfied with just mediocrity. If you are satisfied with that, that is what you are going to get.
4) Who have been the most significant role models or mentors off the court and how would you guide others to identifying role models and mentors?
Well the biggest role model for me off the court, and he is one of my colleagues, is Dr. J. He is a guy who I patterned my whole life after for many, many years. I still look at him as a big brother-type of figure. I think you have to start with someone who is positive. A lot of times kids are led astray. They look at some of the role models that we have out here, but sometimes they’re not the best role models. A lot of times I think the kids think disrespect is respect and they get mislead. You have to pick somebody that is positive, somebody who the public can identify with, who they trust and feel comfortable around. But I think role models also start in the home with your parents.
5) You are very involved in non-profit organizations including Juvenile Diabetes and Hypertension. As a result of your involvement, what do you feel you have gained or learned?
You learn how to be sensitive to others. I am diabetic. I have people in my family with high potential. My dad died of diabetes. I have a personal connection with these chronic diseases, so it’s easier for me to be involved in charities and fundraisers because I have seen the hardship that it causes and some of the pain it causes in families. This is something that I am more than happy to be a part of.