Using Kobe Bryant as a barometer for success in business is like using scratch tickets and Beanie Babies as a retirement plan. Sure one in every 3.6 million Blake Shelton fans with meth mouth might catch lighting in a bottle with the Princess Diana Bear and that ‘Win for Life’ they picked up on a late night Code Red run. But for every Skoal ring pocketed menthol addict who hits it big and packs up his double-wide and sister-wife for greener pastures, there are a Dolly-Parton-bra-size worth of souls that will die as wards of the state with only a set of Jimmie Johnson commemorative QVC plates to their name. Sad, but true.
Recently, a Tim Ferriss disciple with a LinkedIn account lauded Bryant for his business acumen as he recently launched his own VC fund. Tanner (no relation to Danny, for the record) humbly enlightens us on how we can all learn a lesson from Kobe. Call me a skeptic but I’d put my eggs in the Trump University basket before I took a page from the Wall Street Journal according to Kobe.
You’ve probably heard the old adage “never stop learning.” Welp, Kobe subscribes to the school of “never start learning” as he skipped college to go straight to the the Association. Sure, a lot of smart people who dropped out of or forewent college went on to be very successful, but most of them didn’t come from Lower Merion, a school best known for …. well, Kobe (and WebcamGate). And what is this telling the kids? How are millennials supposed to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to get a degree in a major with a median income of $27,000 if they don’t go to college? And how will Bernie Sanders bail us all out when he gets elected in 2020? Riddle me that, Kobe.
Furthermore, how is HR going to react when you start acting like Kobe in the office? Every time you go to Colorado for the VP of Custodial Services Summit you’re having “completely consensual intercourse with a female who is definitely 18.” It’ll take you longer to pass the HR sexual harassment training than it would take Ray Charles to pass a driving test. Maybe, just maybe, Kobe isn’t exactly the model of virtue of stock photo photographer’s dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, not every word of this piece is completely misleading and incoherently biased. Take for example, Tanner’s suggestion to never feel afraid to ask the dumb questions. A piece of advice handed down by dad joking middle management since the dawn of the Swingline stapler. Relatable, right? Of course Kobe cold calls Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Huffington. Your Rolodex is probably a who’s who of the local fast food franchising empires, that guy your dad knows who started a plumbing company and an atheist blogger who gained statewide fame in North Dakota. Advantage: Kobe.
But all is not lost from investment in reading this piece, there is one VERY, VERY valuable piece of advice: riding coattails. Kobe just so happens to share his namesake VC fund with Jeff Stibel, the youngest Fortune 500 CEO ever, an MIT Sloan Grad and overall nerdy white dude. Looks like Mr. Bryant found the Shaq to his Kobe of the business world. I bet if I teamed up with Warren Buffett my TD Ameritrade portfolio wouldn’t consist predominantly of chain restaurants that I recently fast-casually dined at … and I might even be in the black.
Listen, I’m not saying you shouldn’t take anything away from Kobe. You should definitely be incredibly selfish to the detriment of the team (especially when your skill is beginning to wane), always be an overly aggressive man-child, rock a beard that says I’m sponsored by Schick and relate to millennials, and most definitely bribe people when you fuck up.