Tag Archives: michael jordan

What do Apple, the Chicago Bulls and Oprah have in common?

An unspoken contract between their team members.

The Chicago Bulls of 1995-1996 were perhaps one of the best teams to ever play the game (to this date); the Bulls franchise won 6 NBA titles in the 1990s. They had fifteen players in their roster, but Michael Jordan was their indisputable superstar. After each game, journalists and fans chased after him in the Bulls’ locker room at United Center, his teammates were largely left alone.

That said, they were critical to his, and the team’s, success. It was Scottie Pippen who gave MJ the best assists and Dennis Rodman who got 2x more rebounds than Jordan. And of course Steve Kerr emerged as a 3-point specialist; in fact he owns the best 3-point percentage in NBA history at .454.

The Oprah Winfrey Show had a production team of a few hundred people. They worked tirelessly for 25 years and produced the highest-rated talk show in American TV history. Although they were the “best team in TV”, the world idolized Oprah; after all the show had her name. Without her team though, Oprah would not have been able to invite 28,000 guests and entertain ~350 audience members per show from 1986 till 2011.

Apple is the world’s most valuable brand and its iconic founder, Steve Jobs, is universally perceived as the creative genius behind building the world’s first mainstream home computer, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and dozens more products.

But if it had not been for Woz, the Apple I and Apple II may have never been born. After all, Steve didn’t ever code at Apple. When Jobs came back to run Apple in the mid ‘90s, he considered Jony Ive to be his spiritual partner. It was Sir Jonathan who led the industrial design work for the iMac and the iPod products, whicpaved the wave for Apple’s rebirth as a consumer electronics and multimedia company with a market cap of hundreds of billions of dollars. Apple was also capable of hiring and retaining many tens of thousands of loyal employees worldwide, a well oiled machine.

So how can superstars and rookies collaborate harmoniously with each other on a team? Superstars have big egos and limited time to waste. Rookies have little experience and limited vision. But harmonious collaboration is possible, as was the case with the Chicago Bulls, The Oprah Show and has been the case at Apple for 16+ years.

In all sorts of winning teams, there is an “unspoken contract” between the superstars (or senior team members) and the rookies (or junior team members):

a. The junior folks are in it for the learning, the attribution and the opportunity to score huge wins early on in their career.

b. The senior folks are in it for executing their vision, the financial rewards and the power that comes with leading an organization. In some rare instances, superstars are in it for building their legacy and changing the world.

Whenever there is a breach of contract, the team dynamics get messed up; sometimes permanently. In some instances, junior folks have unrealistic expectations and feel that because they are doing all the *real* work, they are entitled to receive all the credit and are guaranteed future promotions. Junior team members normally excel whenever they work hard, have strong intellectual curiosity, take new initiatives and are prepared to learn from their mistakes.

In some other instances, senior folks who are in a weak position (internally) have to take all the credit for themselves and legitimately the junior folks feel disappointed. Surprisingly, yet frequently, some of the senior folks can simply be assholes to those supporting them.

Superstars have to drive the vision, inspire their teammates and most importantly lead by example. Steve Jobs, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography, was the most proud of Apple itself, which Jobs considered his greatest creation, a place where imagination was nurtured, applied, and executed in ways so creative that it became the most valuable company on earth.”

When Oprah Winfrey moved to LA to launch OWN she took 50 of her production staff with, employees who had spent most of their career in Chicago. I am sure that they received a ton of exciting job opportunities closer to home, yet decided to stay loyal and follow their long-time leader.

Toni Kukoc was one of Europe’s best basketball players in the late 80s and early 90s; he led a team that won the prestigious Euroleague title three times in a row. But he decided to become a small fish in a large pond when he transferred to the Chicago Bulls in 1993 in order to play with Air Michael.

Unfortunately for Toni, Jordan retired temporarily in 1993, but then came back in 1995 to lead the Bulls in their second three-peat while Toni was still there. Kukoc was always coming from the bench, but was consistently the team’s third scorer after MJ and Pippen.

Michael Jordan, recognizing Pippen’s work and unselfishness, famously said: “Scottie Pippen, he’s my guy. I love him like a brother. He pushed me to be the best basketball player every day in practice. And I pushed him to be the best Scottie Pippen he could be.” Not a surprise that when the Chicago Bulls decided to retire Scottie Pippen’s No. 33 jersey, they hang it next to Jordan’s legendary No. 23.

Written by

Early Stage VC | Entrepreneur at heart. @bonatsos

Published January 9, 2014

The Risk Not Taken

I took this photo

I took this photo

For the first three years of Bonobos, I lived with $3,000 in the bank, a $3,000 apartment, and $150,000 of debt. During that time — 2007 to 2010 — I was only a month away from being out of cash. I was paying myself, initially, $70,000. This is plenty of money in most places, but in NYC it can fly you pretty close to the trees on just rent and alcohol.

Sometimes I wouldn’t watch my cash balance relative to my next payroll direct deposit. As a result I’d occassionally become illiquid. With financial weapons of mass destruction like credit cards readily available to most anyone with a pulse, normally this is no big deal.

Other times it is.

I’m at dinner on a first date in the East Village. It’s a new place — for me — and I discover half through the meal the sneaky Cash Only sign on the wall. I excuse myself from my date somewhat awkwardly to go to an ATM. After much HAL-like deliberation, it expressly does not make the dispensing cash noise. Instead it starts printing a receipt — always bad news — which contains two of the most dreaded words on the planet:

Insufficient Funds

The feeling of rejection by ATM is always a bad one. With a cash-only date in progress it became in fact one of the most sickening feelings you can experience.

I knew that I was running thin, but someone else possibly discovering this financial fact moved my balance sheet from a mostly private matter to semi-public shame.

I felt like a fraud.

Here is this poor woman — pun intended — around the corner at dinner who mistakenly thought I was financially viable as a human, and I’m in front of an ATM which is reminding me that I am not.

Let her pay? Nope. Way too much pride for that.

At the same time I was running a cash flow negative company which was ninety days from being out of cash. There was no venture capital belief in the company in the early years, so I raised eight million dollars over four angel rounds from over one hundred angel investors to keep us afloat.

The amount of financial stress was extraordinary. To be thirty days away from being unable to pay rent personally and ninety days away from lights out professionally for three years takes its toll.

My company had insufficient funds, and so did I.

Why would anyone put themselves under that much pressure?

The Decision Elf

That personal debt stemmed from a decision I made in 2003. Four years later, in 2007, I faced a second decision. It was a related one.

Given what’s become of my life, I literally cannot imagine it without having made the two decisions I did. But neither decision was a no-brainer at all at the time.

I’ve found that I don’t make decisions. Instead they come to me like a visitor does to your doorstep.

Here I am! I’m the Decision.

The Decision doesn’t always come when you want it to. Sometimes it shows up annoying early, when you’re still setting the table for dinner and the turkey’s still in the oven. Other times the Decision comes rudely late and spoils the evening by not being there for the surprise.

For me, the Second Decision came to me right when I needed it. When the Decision elf showed up, I was in the shower, and he looked familiar.

“Have I seen you before?” I asked the Decision elf.

“You don’t remember me?” he smiled back. Before I could reply, he was gone. I was left standing in the shower, dumbfounded.

If you can’t decide what to do, get on the road. You won’t find the answer. It will find you.


Someone once told me:

The hardest part of a long-distance relationship is when the long-distance ends. That’s when the real relationship begins.

I laughed at this, humoring the conveyor of the wisdom with a polite chuckle. I secretly knew him to be wrong. Our love was too strong for that.

Snow fell on a spring day in March. I walked across Oz Park, tear-caked eyes.

He was right.

The First Decision

The next day I walked into the offices of Bain, my then employer. Do you want to move to San Salvador? You’ll be living there for the next six months.

“It has the highest murder rate in the western hemisphere,” said my dad.

“You don’t really speak Spanish,” said the voice in my head.

I looked at the Decision elf. He winked at me.

“The risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken,” he said.

Do you want to move to San Salvador?

“Yes I do,” I said.

And just like that, the First Decision was made.

Had I made it, or did it make me?

San Salvador

The six months I spent in El Salvador were the most impactful of my life. Living in a country where — in 2003 — the nominal GDP per capita was $2,503 quickly woke me up to how much privilege and standard of living I enjoyed in the developed world.

It reminded me of what my history professor Peter Hayes once said in college:

Live somewhere else, on the terms of the people who live there, for six months. It will change your life.

Though I’m the son of an immigrant who herself grew up in constant fear of not having money, her hard work and provision insulated me from the reality which shaped her.

What a strange thing multi-generational struggle is. One generation’s work and sacrifice creates over-confidence and perhaps hubris in the next.

I was working for an airline, and the travel on that airline was free if there was an open seat. I spent my weekends in Roatan, San Pedro, Antigua, Guatemala City, Havana, and San Jose. Fried chicken was often put in the overhead compartments of the planes.

I stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental and ordered fajitas as room service. I went to a nightclub called Code three nights a week and learned to close the night to Timbiriche.

I was only doing half of what Peter Hayes had asked me to do.


Once in Cuba, I met a man precisely my age. Let’s call him Luis. We were both 23. It was a favorite age for me as it coincides my favorite number, the number worn by childhood idols Ryne Sandberg and Michael Jordan. A Blink-182 song was popular at the time: nobody likes you when you’re 23.

I don’t remember what Luis and I spoke about exactly. I do remember him asking me if I’d send him shoes. I do remember feeling that it was mostly being lucky, not good, that led to his asking me for shoes and not the other way around.

I lost his address. I didn’t know how to ship to Cuba. I wondered if I’d get in trouble with the government. The shoes never got sent.

There are a lot of good excuses for not helping someone.

Travel doesn’t shape you so much as the people you meet along the way shape you. While living and traveling in Central America, I became friends with a couple of South Africans who approached life differently than I did.

For me travel was a novelty; for them it was a way of life. From observing them I came to the self-assessment that I had been living my life wrong. I had the ability to go just about wherever I wanted, and yet I had lived the first quarter century of my life more or less tethered to Chicago.

Two South Africans in particular, Matt Bresler and Dave Eadie, inspired me to change. Four years later they’d both wire money into Bonobos as angel investors without really knowing a thing about the company.

I wanted to be like them. Imitation, it turns out, is a great engine for personal growth. I decided to travel as much as I could. Over the next four years, squeezed between another job and two years in business school, I went to thirty countries. Over the past decade, I think the number is closer to fifty.

The number doesn’t count; I quit the tally when my accomplishment orientation to travel thankfully evaporated.

We did this place, we did that place. Really? You did it, and now it’s done?

What does count is a perspective on what wealth really is that set into my bones. Wealth is the substance in you, it’s the people that care for you and that you care for, it is experiences had and perspective acquired.


When I went to Joburg the summer after living in San Salvador, Dave Eadie shepherded me everywhere:a great sleeping bag set-up on his hometown floor, karaoke with all his friends, nights out at the Nite Fever, a chauffered drop-off on the way to his beloved field hockey match for me to take in a solo, biltong-filled viewing of the Lions-Sharks rugby.

Dave in his life took the risk of traveling first and then the risk of quitting a job he grew tired of second. He was an inspiration when it comes to avoiding the risk not taken.

He is also a past tense person, because he’s gone. Unfathomably we lost Dave in 2011.

Too bright a light to go out at thirty-five, and yet on he went.

He was too alive to die, and yet that’s not how it works.

Is it too much to say that Dave changed my life, and that in that way he lives on? That the way in which we influence and change others — when we can — is the only way to stay alive?

Kalaw to Inle Lake

Two years later, on a trek in Burma, my cousin and I stayed with a family. The father was a doctoral engineer relegated to plowing due to the lack of opportunity in the country. Let’s call him Sing.

The night we stayed with him Sing slaughtered a goat so that we could eat in style. We slept above cows. The palpable closeness of Sing’s family was a reminder of what we sometimes lose in the developed world as we move away from tribal, extended-family living into suburban-cloistered, nuclear-family living. Everything else about their lives was a reminder of what we do have.

The developing world gives you this gift of realizing you have everything you need. It provides an opposing force, also a gift, but harder to detect and even more of a gut-punch upon discovery: it reveals you may be lacking some things you could have or perhaps once had but which you have not chosen.

During two months in Southeast Asia I traveled on twenty-five dollars a day including lodging. My only possessions were books, a small backpack, and a camera. I realized that everything I needed to be happy was already inside me.

An open heart finds friends almost anywhere it goes.

I spent every dollar I had on travel and adventure and ended up in the financial hole.

It is a paradox.

The risk is not in doing something that feels risky. The risk is in not doing something that feels risky.

Very little is obvious in the research on human decision-making and happiness. Very few things are proven. One thing that is proven is this: the only regrets octogenarians have are for the risks not taken.

Here’s why:

If the risk taken does pan out, it is good. But if it doesn’t — and here’s the key thing — we find a way to justify the risk taken as learning.

Gretzky knew this:

You miss one-hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.

North of Kisumu

It’s now 2007 and I’m in southwestern Kenya, near the city where Obama’s father was born. I’m with the cofounder of Kiva, Jessica Jackley, and she has organized home visits for us with local entrepreneurs.

I stay with Stanley and his family. He runs a small grocery store, and has two kids not unlike the ones you see in the photo snapped above. My mandate was to do MBA analysis to help him with his grocery store.

There is nothing to do; it is very well run.

The mornings are spent in an outhouse which doubles as a shower. A normally cold bucket of water to wash is a heated one for me, their guest. I dump it over my head, and watch my soap co-mingle with a lot more as it rolls down the drain.

Chickens walk the yard, Stanley’s children are smiling at their guest from far away lands, the feeling of family bonds is strong, and the sense of future prospects dim. After dinner Stanley’s wife tells me how when people die, the grieving scream for the dead. They scream in anguish. She wants to know if I do the same.

I don’t know how to answer. It is four years before Dave will die. It seemed impossible at the time. When he left, I didn’t scream at all. I went numb in the cab on the way to a charity event in Manhattan. I went through the motions. I told myself I was fine. The next day I cried a lot and bought a piece of art with a thousand faces on it.


A week after returning from Kenya, I turn on the shower at my palatial second year share house. Called the White House, it looks like the Tony Montana could be doing lines off the glass kitchen table.

My bathroom is on the ground floor, and set off from a backyard entrance with hedges where the original Bonobos e-commerce photography was shot. The shower has two heads, impossibly good-feeling after dumping water over my head just a week earlier in the outhouse. That’s when it hits me.

The Second Decision

Should I take a job or start a company?

It’s my second year of business school, and I’ve been agonizing. The job offer is good, it’s with a venture capital firm. It’s more money than anyone in my family has ever made. Recently my parents tell me they never had more than $12,000 in the bank from when my older sister was born until I graduated college.

I’ve got $150,000 of debt and growing, the job offer is for more than that. Meanwhile my own start-up idea of building a platform for reading and writing is floundering.

This is a no-brainer, right?

And yet something tugs at the soul. I want to build something. I want to create something. That’s why I came to school. From my experiences on the road, I know I don’t need much. My housemate has developed these better-fitting pants and they are selling like hot-cakes. One of my most influential professors tells me that if it were him, he’d take the VC job. Ironically a few months later he’d become our first angel investor. As the warmth of the shower hits me — the sheer engineered heat and luxury of it all washing over me — the answer shows up.

I’m in 94027, the wealthiest zip code in the country, I’ve just come from one of the poorest places in the world, and the Decision elf is back.

“Have I seen you before?” I asked him.

“You don’t remember me?” he smiled back. Before I could reply, he was gone. I was left standing in the shower, dumbfounded.

“Come back!” I implored.

He returns right away.

“Haven’t I taught you anything?” he said, smiling.

“What do you mean?” I wondered.

That’s when I realize: it was the same Decision elf I had met in 2003, he was just wearing new clothes. I had to smile. I already knew what to do. It was a different question and a different life moment, but it was the same Decision. He didn’t need to say it again; his words from four years earlier rang in my ears:

The risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken.

I realized that I had defined risk the wrong way twice. The first time was thinking it was risky to travel abroad in the developing world, and yet what a risk it would have been not to have done so. The second time I had been thinking risk was not taking a steady job. No — I realized — risk is not having access to food, healthcare, and education. Risk is what is facing Stanley’s children, it is not what is facing me.

It turns out there is risk in taking the steady job. The risk is generally not financial.

It is spiritual.

It is the risk of the door not opened. It is the risk of the risk not taken.

Palo Alto

The day after the Decision Elf visited me in the shower I saw a close friend at Stanford. I informed him of my decision — against an intimidating financial backdrop — to start a company instead of taking the job. I’ll never forget what he said because it rang true to the moment:

You’ll never starve, and you’ll always have a place to sleep. Worst comes to worst, you can always stay on our couch.

It was a passing comment, but it stayed with me. There is protection for you in this world if you make it known that you need it.

I stayed on that couch many times.

Lake Tahoe

I met my parents for a graduation trip to Tahoe not long after to tell them I was not taking the steady job. Instead I was cashing in my last remaining asset, a 401K, and becoming a founder. My debt would increase, not decrease.

I was going to prove that the world had changed — that you could now build a brand online. We were going to take Brian’s pants and sell them online. We were going to prove that the internet was going to become the core medium for story-telling, for delivering great service, and for transacting goods: that it was the future of how brands would be built.

I failed to wow my parents with start-up speak, about how we were going to “bundle” great-fitting clothes with a better experience of buying those clothes through an online-driven model, how we were going to “disrupt” the industry.

They supported me with confident smiles and measured encouragement nevertheless. My mom, an Indian immigrant who has now been in the US for four decades, had never been to Lake Tahoe. My dad, a US history teacher, had not been there since he was courting my mom.

I didn’t consider then that while they had not taken the risk I was taking, they had taken other kinds. Don’t ask your parents what to do. Instead inform them of your plans, and ask them what risks they took at your age.

For my mom, coming to the US at 19. That elf showed up when her father got sick. For both of them, a cross-cultural marriage long before it was accepted, let alone in vogue. My dad wrote to my grandmother, asking her permission — translated into Punjabi. My grandmother gave her approval; luckily so did my mom.

It is a funny thing about life: we honor the sacrifices of our forebears not by doing precisely what they would choose for us at that moment, but by following the spirit of them wanting us to be happy. We do not do the bidding they would prescribe for us a generation away, but instead by doing what they might choose for themselves if they were our age. If they’ve done well by us and we by them, perhaps we accomplish more each generation as we go.

My parents and I circled the lake by car, content with California’s beauty from behind the wheel.

The risk you are thinking of is scary, but here’s the good news:

You’ll figure it out.

Like that date-night in front of the ATM: it turns out you can charge a credit card for cash.

If you have something you want to do, it might later feel — with some luck — that the universe conspired to enable you to do it. That’s certainly how I feel.

So what are you waiting for? Your eighty-year old self asks nothing of you but this.

Andy Dunn is founder and CEO of Bonobos and founder of Red Swan.

twitter: @dunn

Further Reading

The Architects of Empathy

 — My grandmother was born in what is now Pakistan ninety years ago.

Written by

I am @dunn. I love cilantro but understand the people that hate it. Founder and CEO @Bonobos Inc. www.bonobos.com and Founder @redswanventures www.redswan.vc.

Updated November 8, 2013


Charles Barkley … Black People Don’t Play Beer Pong!

Charles Barkley

Black People Don’t Play Beer Pong!!!!

11/19/2013 6:27 AM PST

Michael Jordan‘s blackness should have prevented him from playing beer bong at a hotel in Florida earlier this month … so says Charles Barkley.

First off, Barkley rules — this guy is awesome.

Sir Charles was leaving La Vecchia Cucina in Santa Monica last night — where he spent his Monday evening watching basketball — when we brought up MJ’s beer pong match at the Ritz in Florida. Check out the exchange:

Charles: “Black people don’t play beer pong.”
Pap: “Jordan did!”
Charles: “That don’t make it right!”

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2013/11/19/charles-barkley-beer-pong-black-people-blake-griffin/#ixzz2laWRdknY


Dennis Rodman plans N. Korea return !!! (QUICK READ)

Source ESPN!


Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


NEW YORK — Dennis Rodman is going back to North Korea yet again, and this time he plans to bring a team of former NBA players with him.

Days after returning from his second trip to visit Kim Jong Un — in which he said he became the first foreigner to hold the leader’s newborn daughter — Rodman announced plans Monday to stage two exhibition games in North Korea in January.

The first will be Jan. 8 — Kim’s birthday — with another to follow two days later.

Rodman’s friendship with the autocratic leader has been criticized — and led to a couple of testy exchanges during his Manhattan news conference. But Rodman insists Kim is a good person and wants to have better relations with the United States, and that he’s the one who can help make it happen with his plan for “basketball diplomacy.”

“Why North Korea? It’ll open doors,” Rodman said.

Touting his friendship with Kim and taunting President Barack Obama for not talking with him, Rodman said he will return to North Korea for a week in December to help select local players for the games. He hopes to have stars such as Karl Malone and former Chicago Bullsteammate Scottie Pippen.

Michael Jordan, he won’t do it, because he’s Michael Jordan,” Rodman said.



Ericsson to buy Microsoft IPTV business

The exterior of Ericsson's headquarters are seen in Stockholm

(Reuters) – Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson struck a deal on Monday to buy Microsoft Corp’s Mediaroom IPTV business, which makes software used by phone companies to deliver television over the Internet, making it the world’s leader in a growing business.

The sale marks the end of Microsoft’s two-decade effort to put itself at the front of a technology shift toward internet television that did not materialize the way it expected. The world’s biggest software company said it will now focus its TV ambitions on its popular Xbox game console, which is a vehicle for all types of entertainment.

Ericsson said it expected to close the deal for the business, which employs more than 400 people worldwide, during the second half of 2013. It did not disclose a purchase price, though a company official provided a ballpark figure.

“This deal is within range where we previously bought a company called Optimi for $99 million and where we also bought LG Nortel for $234 million,” said Ove Anebygd, Vice President and Head of TV at Ericsson. “So this is somewhere in between the two.”

Ericsson said the deal would make the company, already the world’s biggest mobile networks maker, the leading provider of IPTV with a 25 percent market share. Microsoft said the Mediaroom platform was offered by more than 40 operators and powered 22 million set-top boxes around the world.


Internet protocol television (IPTV) uses the same technology that powers the Internet to transmit multimedia content over telecom and cable networks. Ericsson wants to cater to phone companies that are competing with cable, satellite and web-based media providers.

The Mediaroom platform is the TV technology used by television service providers such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Swisscom, Ericsson said.

“This makes a nice strategic fit, but it is hard to estimate the impact on key figures since they are providing no financial information,” Alandsbanken analyst Lars Soderfjall said.

With competition from Chinese network providers stiff over the last few years, Ericsson has focused increasingly on services, such as managing networks for operators, and on software, where it has more of a competitive advantage.

It is a leading player in solutions that enable operators to charge for online services and as part of its shift from hardware-based products has also built up a presence in IPTV, a position underpinned by acquisitions such as that of video technology firm Tandberg Television in 2007.

“This completes Ericsson’s IPTV offer, with … Mediaroom nicely rounding up the Tandberg TV assets,” said Alexander Peterc, analyst at Exane BNParibas.

Ericsson said the global IPTV market was estimated to reach 76 million subscribers in 2013 with revenues of $32 billion, growing to 105 million subscribers and $45 billion in 2015.

Ericsson said the deal was subject to customary regulatory approvals and that the business would be integrated into its Support Solutions unit.


Microsoft entered the IPTV business in the mid-1990s. It never became a major source of revenue for the Seattle-based software maker as most growth in internet TV has come from widely available ‘over the top’ services like Netflix Inc and Hulu rather than internet TV supplied by phone companies.

The head of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business said Monday’s deal allowed his company to “commit 100 percent of its focus on consumer TV strategy with Xbox.”

From its beginnings at the turn of the century as an upstart rival to Sony Corp and Nintendo Co, Microsoft’s Xbox has grown into the United States’ best selling game center, with 76 million now in use around the world. Xbox owners can now buy TV programs, films and music through Microsoft’s own store, or access content through Netflix and other suppliers.

Microsoft even set up its own studio last year to create original TV content, although it said on Monday it wants to “partner” with film studios, music labels, TV networks and content aggregators to expand offerings on the Xbox.

(Additional reporting by Oskar von Bahr and Simon Johnson in Stockholm, Leila Abboud in Paris and Bill Rigby in Seattle; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford and Andrew Hay)