How close to the surface are your failures?

Tuesday night I guest lectured to an advertising campaigns class at Marquette University taught by Erin Napier. I talked about creative thinking and the creative process. I talked about my advertising career path, from college student to Copywriter to Creative Director to Chief Creative Officer. I talked about Entrepreneurship. I shared my experience as Founder & CEO of  The Weaponry. And I told them about the time me and Danica Patrick filled a Motorhome with 1.2 million ping pong balls.

Q & A

I showed samples of the creative work I have created, and then I asked if anyone had questions. This is one of the first questions I was asked:

‘What was you greatest career failure, and what did you learn from it?’

Now I am all about learning from your failures. And I am all about turning lemons into  lemonade, like Ralph Lemonader. But I didn’t have an answer for this question.

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This is the class I spoke to at Marquette University. And everyone is still awake. I consider that a win.

It’s not that I haven’t made mistakes in my career. I certainly have. But what I recognized when trying to access my colossal mistakes file, was that I don’t hold my failures close. They are not raw and ready to be examined. I am not dwelling on them, stewing over them of kicking myself because of them. I’m not like that super pale dude from The Da Vinci Code, who was torturing himself with his power slinky. I quickly learn my lesson and move on, better than before.

Maximizer

When I read Tom Rath’s Strength Finders, and took the test in the book (which I recommend you do), it told me that I am a raging Maximizer. Which means I have no interest in analyzing things that went wrong in the past. I simply focus on what we can do from here.

My Biggest Failure Answer

The best answer I could give that Marquette student was that I was pretty sure I don’t know what my biggest mistake was. It was likely something I didn’t do, rather than something I did do. It was probably some path I didn’t take, or some Monty Hall door I didn’t open. I’ll never know where that would have taken me. And I’m not losing any sleep over it. #Zzzzzzz

Learn & Move On

Our failures should be like touching a hot stove. We should do it once, recognize the mistake quickly, file the lesson away, and move on. No dwelling or hand wringing. We just learn our lessons, and get back to life. #BackToReality.

Key Takeaway

Learn from your failures and keep going. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t rank your greatest failures of all time. Instead, focus on your successes. Know what works for you. Remember what you did right. Repeat the positive actions. And pass that knowledge along for others to learn from too.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

How Joe Chapman went from professional basketball player to successful entrepreneur.

If you want to be successful in life it is important to surround yourself with other successful people. People who work hard, hold themselves to high standards and are continuously learning and growing. People like my friend Joe Chapman.

Joe is the Founder of Chapman Basketball Academy. CBA is a training academy in Milwaukee and Chicago for athletes of all ages and abilities who are dedicated to improving their basketball skills. Which makes Joe Chapman the poster boy for turning your passion into your profession.

The $2 Million Shot

I knew from the first time I saw Joe in action that he really knew how to coach basketball. Tonight, people across America will see. Because as a side project Joe decided to coach his fellow Marquette University alum in The Basketball Tournament.  TBT is a prestigious, 64-team basketball tournament with an eye-popping $2-million, winner-take-all prize. It works just like March Madness, only the players are no longer in college. And there is no March.

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Joe Chapman coaching his Golden Eagle team on their way to the TBT Championship.

Tonight Joe will be coaching his team in the championship game in Chicago for a chance at the $2 million prize. You can catch the game on ESPN at 9pm ET. You can catch my Joe Chapman story below.

Starting My Own Business

I started my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry in 2016 in Atlanta. A couple of former clients approached me about starting my own business. I jumped at the chance like Carl Lewis. About that same time in Milwaukee, Joe Chapman was also becoming an accidental entrepreneur.

The Cliff Notes On Joe Chapman

Joe grew up on the south side of Chicago and took to basketball at an early age. While he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he had something even more valuable. He had natural talent and a strong drive to continuously improve himself. Joe soaked up the lessons from his youth and high school coaches. He learned that basketball is a team game, and experienced great team success, winning an Illinois State Championship at Bloom High School.

Marquette University

Joe also experienced great individual success, and was named a McDonald’s All-American his senior year. He went on to play college basketball for Marquette University where he was part of the storied Tom Crean-coached team that reached the Final Four in 2003. That team included a bumper crop of basketball standouts including Dwayne Wade, Steve Novak and Travis Diener.

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Joe drawing up a big play at a big moment.

Professional Career

After graduating from Marquette with a degree in Communications & Media, Chapman played professional basketball overseas for 11 years. As a result, he accumulated basketball coaching techniques from all over the world. Which turned Joe into a walking encyclopedia of basketball knowledge. (For the younger readers, an encyclopedia is like Wikipedia in book form). Perhaps even more valuable, the language barrier he faced with many of his overseas teammates forced Joe to become fluent in universal, non-verbal forms of communication, feedback and motivation.

The Spark

In 2016 while back in Milwaukee during his summer offseason, Joe was approached by fellow Marquette alum, Kim Marotta and fellow Marquette basketball alum, Corey Wolf, about putting his library of basketball coaching knowledge to use coaching some very talented high schoolers in Mequon, Wisconsin. What started as private lessons soon expanded to group lessons packed with aspiring young basketball players.

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Two of Joes first players. Amanda Hooks (l) is now playing at Carroll University and Chloe Marotta (r) became the #1 ranked player in Wisconsin and now plays at Marquette.

The Decision

The demand for Joe’s time and expertise was so great that he was forced to make a difficult decision: go back to Europe in the fall for the next basketball season as planned, or fully commit to coaching and training the next generation of basketball stars. After much deliberation with his wife Carolyn, Joe decided to transition from playing basketball professionally to coaching, teaching and inspiring others through the game of basketball.

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CBA Is Born

Joe soon had a name for his new adventure. Chapman Basketball Academy. And it was successful from the very start. CBA attracted high profile high school basketball players in Wisconsin who wanted to take their game to the next level.

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Joe working with dedicated athletes on a Saturday night.

Joe’s ability to develop basketball players began attracting a younger and broader audience. CBA began rapidly expanding through word of mouth, and the sound of dribbling throughout gyms on Milwaukee’s North Shore.

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Joe encouraging his athletes to push themselves to reach the next level.

CBA meets The Weaponry

Joe and I crossed paths when he was approached about coaching the Homestead Basketball Club’s 6th grade girls basketball team. My family and I had recently moved to Mequon Wisconsin, and my daughter Ava was on that team.

I quickly saw just how talented Joe was. But as I got more exposure to CBA I couldn’t help but notice areas where my team at The Weaponry could help Joe polish and promote his business.

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Joe coaching his HBC team to a championship. They got trophies, not $2 million.

Coaching The Coach

Following HBC and AAU team practices, after CBA training sessions and while traveling for tournaments, Joe and I spent a lot of time talking about how we could better market Chapman Basketball Academy.  I found that Joe was as coachable and open to learning as any client I have ever worked with. Which I expect is the reason he soaked up so much basketball knowledge in Europe, South America and Asia.

 

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Joe and I before the CBA Brand Makeover.

Working with Joe and his wife Carolyn, The Weaponry did a complete rebranding of the Chapman Basketball Academy.  We created foundational elements like new logos, and tight brand standards. Knowing that business cards should be a critical part of CBA marketing, we created a series of 10 different business card designs, each intended to start a different conversation with coaches, athletes and parents.

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One of the new logos The Weaponry created for CBA.

We created portable standup banners that Joe could set up at any gym CBA coached at to instantly brand the space as Chapman Basketball Academy. We created logo and gear designs for the stable of AAU teams under the CBA banner. We explored advertising and sponsorship opportunities. As well as unique collaborations and co-branded experiences with other high profile coaches and athletes.

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Joe and athlete Kamorea Arnold who already has 10 Division I scholarship offers before entering high school.

Joining The Board

A year ago Joe invited me to join the CBA board of directors, and I gladly accepted. I am proud to help him achieve his lofty vision through both marketing efforts, and as a close and trusted advisor.

Watching The Coach In Action

I typically get to watch Joe coaching a couple of times each week. It is fun to watch him work with the youth of Milwaukee, including my daughter Ava and son Magnus. But tonight it will be exciting to watch Joe coaching on national TV, with my kids on the couch next to me.

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Joe at a CBA clinic in Chicago, with another of the new CBA logos.

Key Takeaway

I hope we get to see Joe and his Golden Eagles team grab the $2-million prize tonight. But Joe has already won. By making it to the TBT championship game he has taught all the boys and girls Joe coaches across Wisconsin and Chicago that the techniques, teamwork and attitude that he emphasizes every day works at every level. And not just in basketball. But in everything you do in life.

Good Luck Joe! We’ll be cheering for you from Milwaukee!