What did we did take away from the book launch of “Slam-Dunk Success: Leading from Every Position on Life’s Court” co-authored by Bryon Scott, former three-time NBA champion and Charlie Norris, CEO of FreshPet? How did this unlikely friendship bring this project to fruition? All good questions which were addressed at the Equinox at 160 Columbus Avenue in New York City by host Michael Strahan, former Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants along with Scott and Norris.
The Equinox was symbolic as the choice to hold this event as this was where Byron Scott and Charlie Norris, initially unaware of each other happened to work out at. But once they took a deeper look, they realized that they shared leadership commonalities. Norris himself admitted his Boston Celtic roots and anti-Laker feelings of which Scott was a card-carrying member. “Being up on the second level of the Equinox in Los Angeles, Byron was on the first level strutting his stuff, had his earphones on,” Norris said, “What really impressed me was he had time for people. That is the sign of a great leader. I wanted to get to know more about this person.”
Scott in turn was left flabbergasted by the fact that Norris took over water bottle company, Sparkling Water, a 250 million dollar company and sold it for 1.1 billion. “That number got my attention,” Scott admitted.
These two built on their unlikely friendship, building further respect by inviting each other into their respective worlds as they learned that they shared similar leadership qualities. Scott, who was coaching the Los Angeles Lakers, worked out with Norris at the Laker facility and was invited to view the process. “What clinched the deal was when Scott invited me to sit down in coaches meetings, player film sessions, general workouts with players and all of a sudden I saw what kind of leader he was in his profession.”
Norris in turn did the same inviting him to view his company process. “Scott went to bank and board meetings and with FreshPet he went out with salespeople doing dinners with buyers from supermarket chains and I thought, Lord, we really have so much in common.”
So the idea for the book grew out of an idea to compare lists of what each thought were leadership skills they shared. The third co-writer, John Warech shaped the ideas into 15 points which became the foundation of the book. But instead of a generic fact list he dug for something more. “He transcended and lined up each element but he also told us to be honest, be real, show your emotion, don’t just give us fact, how did it work or didn’t work and how did you feel about it. Our friendship became more with total honesty,” Norris said.
Honesty with oneself, not being afraid to fail, It has served Bryon throughout his life. He had to learn later in life about failure because in his playing life he never experienced it winning on every level up to the NBA. But coaching was another thing altogether. “I learned I am a pretty tough cookie. When I got into coaching I realized you can’t win every year,” Scott said, “I didn’t understand why those I coached didn’t approach the game the same way I did.”
Scott had to re-invent himself to get through. “I had to adapt and get better, to accept the fact I was not going to be perfect and not win every single game. When people fail they go into a shell. They don’t want to fail again. They are not willing to step out and take risks like Charlie Norris did. “As a leader you have to take hits, show your organization you are behind it 100% and I can’t tell you how much it positively impacted the way to it was run from that day forward,” Norris added.
So what did these two men hope readers get out of “Slam-Dunk Success”? Well you will have to read the book, but Norris and Scott left these closing thoughts. “As a leader you have to take changes and not limit yourself and lead by example,” Scott said, “You have to get to the head and heart of all your people. If there is nothing for them, they will not embrace it as individuals,” Norris added.
Strahan in addition to getting to the major points smoothly left with a great impression as did all who attended. “At the end of the day it’s about perseverance and teamwork and you two making people feel valuable.” That is as good a reason as any to read this book.
Luis Vazquez (@Cyberj2000)