Chris Paul has been an NBA all-star, Olympic gold medalist, and the holder of several basketball records. But more than anything, he’s been a student. “I always say I've learned everything I need to know in life, I learned from playing sports my entire life.”
Paul shared some of his learnings in a Talks at GS session with Goldman Sachs President and COO John Waldron. His first lesson: The value of communication.
“On and off the court, the biggest thing I always talk about is communication,” said Paul. “Because if we're playing basketball and a guy is cutting back door, I can't expect for you to know that. And that's what always happens: Whenever you see guys arguing during the court, most of the time it's like, ‘Yo, I thought you were going to do this.’”
Paul has taken that lesson of active communication to his work off the court, where he runs Ohh Dip!!!, a media-production company. “If you say it, then you know it,” he said. “You still might mess it up. But you still got a better chance of figuring it out. Same thing with business. If there's an issue with two people at work, I try to address it as best as possible head on. So, at some point, if you just have that hard conversation—which is not fun—you're going to move on and appreciate that you talked about it.”
Delegating is another skill Paul has learned from his time as a ballplayer, one he also brings to his other pursuits. It didn’t come easily. “There was a point in my career where I felt like I could just do about anything. Are we down 20 into the fourth? Okay, I'm going to add 26 in the fourth quarter,” he said. “But over all these years, you start realizing that you need other people.”
And that concept of teamwork, Paul said, is rooted in trust above all else. “You don't necessarily have to like everybody on your team,” he said. “But you do have to respect the person next to you and want them to win as badly as you want yourself to win.” That shared commitment, Paul says, is the key to victory. “When you're on a team you have to be able to look to the guy next to you and think, ‘Man, I don't want to let him down,’ And if he or she can have that feeling for you, that's what's going to make the team successful.”
This episode was recorded on June 20, 2023.