TEAM | 9 MIN READ
24 Business Lessons from Kobe Bryant
It can't be true. It can't be true. It can't be true.
These were the thoughts that went through my mind…like many others all across the globe on Sunday, January 26th.
The legend—both on the basketball court and rising in the business world—Kobe Bryant had tragically died.
His mindset, work ethic, and pursuit of greatness has been idolized by many around the world, including me.
Even though I never met him, he’s made a bigger impact on me than almost anyone else in my life… Following his example and principles has helped me to build several successful businesses.
So, here are the top 24 lessons I’ve learned from Kobe that I wanted to share with you:
1. Win in your mind first.
Kobe understood the importance of how mindset influences your ability to succeed. He had an unshakeable confidence…and believed throughout his career that he would be one of the all-time greats in his sport.
In order to win the battle of business, it starts with overcoming imposter syndrome and believing that you can be one of the best in your field. If you don’t, who will?
This is step one of eight in my new book, From 6 to 7 Figures, for a reason—it all starts here.
2. Outwork everyone.
Kobe backed up his belief in himself by working harder than anyone else. He was willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, and his gym workouts, often starting at 4 AM, became a legendary part of his character.
You have to be willing to put in the work and sacrifice it takes to achieve your goals. Get clear on what you want, then go outwork everyone around you to make it happen.
3. Check the ego at the door.
After experiencing early success during the 3-peat championship years, the general opinion is Kobe thought he wanted to prove that he could win without another legend Shaquille O’Neal…and drove him (and others) to leave the team.
He wouldn’t find the same success again until he learned how to be a leader later in his career, but I think if you’d ask Kobe now he would have told himself to check the ego and do what is best… which likely would have been creating likely the all-time best duo and keeping Shaq a Laker. They both know they could have won a lot of championships had they done so.
As a business owner, having a competitive drive is a good thing…until it messes with your ability to cooperate and lead your team. The team’s success is your success, and no one person can do it on their own.
One of my favorite books on this topic that I re-read every year is Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Definitely a must-read if you haven’t checked it out already.
4. Be yourself and own it.
Kobe’s personality was intense…which rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. However, he knew what he stood for, stuck to his values, and gained the respect from people all around the world as a result.
After trying to be some things he was not in his early career, he finally seemed to find himself and owned that intensity and all of the so-called bad traits about him.
Know who you are and what you believe in…and then act consistently with that. Happiness is so much about being happy with who you are. Your team, clients, friends, and family will respect you more for it.
5. Be a student of the game.
Kobe was famous for meticulously studying his greatest opponents (Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, etc.) to learn every single detail about their game…their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, etc. He was never too caught up in where he was, adding more skills to his repertoire every year during the off-season.
And even more, he studied the game from a young age, knowing the history, the rules, the ins-and-outs and nuances of the game that few knew. He was a student for sure.
Much like basketball, I also view business as a game. There are a ton of nuances, and what separates a good business from a great one is only a few tweaks. There is a formula to basketball success much like there is a formula for business success. Learn this, apply it, and become great.
Business moves fast, and as a result, you have to stay invested in your craft. Learn every chance you can get, and keep adding more skills to become a better entrepreneur.
6. Don't be afraid to recreate yourself. .
Part way through his career, Kobe cast aside his #8 jersey number and adopted #24. This had significant meaning, marking the coming-of-age of a new Kobe, one that evolved to become a greater person than his previous self.
You can change your identity at any given moment in time…and it’s completely within your power to become the person you want to be. So if your current self isn’t good enough to win at business, then do something about it!
7. Love the process, commit to the process.
Day in and day out, Kobe grinded through workout after workout, game after game. Whereas most relied on their god-given skills and talents, Kobe committed to the process of success. He was bringing it day-in and day-out, and that led to the longevity and success we all know.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon. Play the long game, commit to the process of becoming great and creating the big vision you have in mind, and you’ll be more at ease and making better decisions, chipping away at the business machine and life you want to build.
Most are too short-term focused that it’s those that commit to the process in the long run that will succeed the most.
8. Always keep the end goal in mind.
For Kobe, every season the end goal was the same—to win the championship. So he made sure that everything he did, whether it was a meal he had or a movie he watched, moved him closer to that ONE goal.
Always know your ultimate goal in your business, and make sure that everything you do as a company is driving you closer to that goal.
9. Don't be afraid of confrontation.
Kobe had high standards (to say the least).
He expected a lot of himself, and of others. So if others weren’t living up to that standard of what it was going to take (to achieve the goal of a championship), he would let them know!
He did what was necessary in order to lead his team towards success. And sometimes, that means confrontation.
Most business owners are afraid of confrontation. We don’t want people to leave our company, want to create a good culture, etc… which is all right.
However, do you think the greats are afraid of standing their ground and upholding standards that are necessary?
You must be ok with some difficult conversations or it’s going to be tough in business. So think where you need to take a stand, make some time, and have that conversation. You’ll likely make a major step towards the next level once you do.
10. Be known for something.
Kobe’s mentality, after he finally owned who he was, became widely known as the “Mamba Mentality,” and this turned into a brand that he could promote, with his ideas, values, and mission neatly encapsulated into two words. Now it’s legendary and will always be remembered by athletes and fans all across the world.
It’s important to make sure that your brand is memorable. Stand for something. Figure out what’s in your DNA and become the best in the world at that. For us, that’s systems.
It’s a busy world out there, so you must choose your spot, plant your flag, and be known for something. That’s the only way you’ll stand out from your competition.
11. Prepare for the marathon.
Kobe’s career lasted 20 years, in large part because he prepared for the marathon, taking care of his body, mind, injuries, diet, and making sure his health was in peak condition to last for a long career.
In addition, he was planning throughout the seasons for his body to be at it’s strongest late in the year for the playoff push. Where a lot get fatigued later in the year, Kobe prepared so that his legs and energy was ready for the most important part of the season: the playoffs.
Business is not defined by short bursts of energy…or how much you can get done in one day. It’s about putting in the work day after day so that it adds up over time.
So play the long game, take care of your health and your business, and do what is going to set you up for success down the line because the future will be here faster than you think!
12. Leave a legacy.
Kobe inspired countless millions around the world with his insane work ethic and championship-level basketball skills. But beyond that, he personally mentored elite athletes of different disciplines, was a Partner of the Mamba Academy, provided fatherly wisdom to his daughters, and did much more off the court.
Think about the legacy you want to leave behind and how you want to improve the world. Then carve out the time to do it.
13. Family first.
Spending time with family was an integral part of Kobe’s life. He loved his family, put them first before anything else, and played a huge role in instilling his values to his children.
Even with his insane work ethic and hours, he seemed to make family a top priority as well, and I respect that as much as anything. Family is everything.
Though business is a huge commitment and priority, you should never lose sight of what’s really important to you. Never forget that.
14. Be disciplined and stay consistent.
Being the greatest wasn’t like a faucet that Kobe turned on and off when he felt like it. He was all-in on his work and stayed disciplined night-in and night-out.
It can be easy to take a day off or cut corners, but once you do, it’s a slippery slope. So put in the system and habits to stay consistent and committed to being world-class at what you do.
15. If you're going to do it, be great at it.
Whatever Kobe chose to put his time and effort into, he was dedicated not only to doing it well, but to be one of the very best. A prime example is his Oscar and Emmy award-winning Short Film “Dear Basketball” that he worked on after his retirement from the NBA.
How you do one thing is how you do everything…so you can’t decide to take it easy in one arena of your life, and expect to excel at business. Devote yourself and commit fully to everything that you do.
16. Train like an athlete.
In the game of business, you need energy, focus, to reduce stress, etc.
So once Kobe retired, he didn’t put his athletic and workout career to an end. He kept it going.
As an entrepreneur, you need this. Great sleep, great diet, great fitness, and great health are essential to the success that you’re after.
I don’t go as hard as Kobe did, but I do a daily workout, take my diet and health extremely seriously, and this has shifted me from being an entrepreneur who burnt out having to call 911 not once but twice!… to being a business owner scaling a 7-figure business fast.
Take your health seriously, and treat yourself more like a professional athlete and your growth will go to the next level in business.
17. Pay attention to the details.
Kobe was meticulous, especially when his team lost. He spent hours upon hours rewatching tapes of previous games, analyzing what they could have done better and how to prepare for the next game.
In business, it can be a few seemingly small details that are the difference between a six, seven, and eight figure business. The little things, added up over time, give you a wildly different result depending on what you choose to focus on.
So yes, love speed and move fast, but pay attention to the details now as they’ll only amplify once your business is bigger.
18. Love the feeling of winning.
More than anything, Kobe hated to lose. He loved to win, and that drive provided the fuel for him to work harder than anyone else.
In business, it’s especially important to create a culture of winning in your company. If you don’t have momentum, simplify things down, get a clear plan, and drive that momentum again.
That’s where the fun and real growth is, so get there as much as possible.
19. Lead by example.
As Kobe matured through the years, he understood the importance of being an exceptional leader, and more specifically, one that led by example. He didn’t just talk about it, he backed it up with actions.
His commitment to excellence made his teammates and everyone around them better.
Remember, your team can see what you’re doing…even when you think they aren’t watching. So be the person that embodies the values, traits, and ethics that you demand out of your team.
20. Make the decision to be the best.
Before anything else, Kobe decided that he was going to be the best of all time, and he was going to do whatever it took to get there. No excuses.
This is the same mentality you need to have if you want to build a successful company. You choose exactly how far you want to go. It’s as simple as that.
Back what feels like a lifetime ago I interviewed a bunch of successful entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders. The journey to their wealth and success all started with a decision. A decision to be great and fix the situation they were in.
So if you haven’t yet, then stop going through the motions, get clear on what you want and commit to making that happen. The rest starts to become clear from there.
21. Take your business seriously.
Kobe wanted to make a lasting impact in the basketball world. In order to do that, he took his craft seriously (too seriously for many) and devoted himself to the ins and outs of the game.
If you treat your company like a hobby, then it’ll perform like one. You have to take your business seriously if you want to build a serious business. So go pro and do what it’s going to take to achieve the growth you know is possible.
22. Plan for the future.
Kobe always looked ahead to the future, so it’s no surprise that he was involved in multiple, big projects right after retirement. None of this happened by accident… Rather, it was the result of intentional, strategic planning.
In business, you need to plan ahead and anticipate the roadblocks, obstacles, and bottlenecks in order to move past them quickly.
You should do as I share in From 6 to 7 Figures, and have a specific strategy for the three buckets: the short-term, medium-term, and long-term. Do this, and execute based on those, and you’ll be on the fast path to market leader position.
23. Have the same energy outside of work.
Kobe put his all into his work…but he made sure to bring the Mamba Mentality to his personal life as well.
I know that business can consume a lot of your time, commitment, energy, and effort…but that’s not an excuse to not show up in other areas of your life. Your friends and family deserve your attention and presence. What’s it all worth to only go through the motions outside of business? This was a very inspirational message I got from a Kobe interview as I often didn’t follow this.
And last but not least, among so many lessons I’ve learned from the Black Mamba…
24. See in others what they don’t see in themselves.
As #24, Kobe helped his teammates become greater versions of themselves…nurturing them into championship-caliber players. Through his leadership, the Lakers went on to win two consecutive titles in ‘09 and ‘10.
As a business owner, it’s not enough to want your team to do better. You need to inspire and support them to grow… That’s what being a leader is about!
See in others the greatness you see, then give them the tools, infrastructure, systems, resources, and feedback to help them tap into that potential.
As soon as you do, your business will take off like a rocketship.
So, among all that I learned from Kobe, these are 24 business lessons that stand out.
It doesn’t matter what the actual pursuit is…
Whether it’s basketball or anything else, you have put your all into it, be the leader your team needs you to be, and do it with the Mamba Mentality.
That’s how you’ll succeed and build the scalable business you know you’re capable of.
To Kobe, for everything, thank you.
Ready to Double Your Business?
Even though I never met him, Kobe has helped shape me more than just about anyone. As a result, I dedicated my new book to him.