Entrepreneurship: The real team sport

Armstrong Williams | 2/20/2020, 2:34 p.m.
In a recent episode of SportsCenter, discussing the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant, sportscaster Stephen A. Smith related a ...
Armstrong Williams

Bryant also used a core principle from his playing career when it came to the venture fund he co-founded with Jeff Stibel. Stibel, an MIT-trained businessman and entrepreneur, had started several successful businesses early in his career and was just as much a “pro” at business as Bryant was at basketball. While on the court, Bryant always recruited teammates who could complement his skills, and who were as maniacal as he about putting work into training and practice. In Stibel, he found such a partner in the business arena. They went on to found Bryant-Stibel & Co., a venture company with a portfolio of over $2 billion in assets.

How did they combine their strengths? Obviously, Bryant was able to leverage his celebrity and relationships with top media companies and Hollywood to gain early access to investment opportunities. He was no silent partner in the venture, as he explained: “My biggest strength is in storytelling for brands.” Stibel added: “Kobe’s sport was basketball; my sport is business. We’re leveraging our partners in areas where they’re better than anyone. Being able to take what they do best—the hard work, the dedication, the ability to create winning teams—and morph that into lessons that entrepreneurs learn is invaluable.”

In making a successful transition from basketball expert to business novice, Bryant relied upon some of the traits that made him so successful on the court: hard work, attention to detail, and surrounding himself with teammates who were just as focused on their craft. But he also was conscientious enough to know that he would have to learn new skills to win at the game of business. Ultimately, Bryant became a successful entrepreneur by hewing closely to Warren Buffet’s famous advice: “You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate [investments] within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.”

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”