High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best
An interview with Alan Stein Jr. based on his book “Raise Your Game”
Performance coach Alan Stein Jr. in his book “Raise Your Game” teaches us how to use the same mindsets and habits as world class athletes to improve our productivity and leadership traits and achieve personal and professional success.
After spending almost 20 years in the basketball space, he decided to make the leap over to the corporate space to share all the lessons that he’d learned.
What high performers do or have done in the game of basketball, have very high utility and can transfer to any area of our life. They can transfer to our personal lives and business.
The things the elite players do are things that all of us can do. Their success is not because they were born with traits that we can’t emulate, but because they’re open and they’re coachable. They never get bored with the basics. They work on their craft relentlessly in pursuit of mastery during the unseen hours.
The book is divided into three parts. The first, is called ‘The player’, which is for the individual, the second is called “The coach”, which is for the leader, the person of authority, and the last is called “The team”, which is about the entire organization.
After you’ve read the book sit down and do a personal and professional self-assessment and start making out a plan for how you’re going to continue to work towards being the best version of yourself.
“When you read this book, regardless of where you are at the moment, don’t worry about that. Just worry about the direction that you’re heading. And as long as you’re facing an upward trajectory and you have a plan in place to improve incrementally day by day, that’s what’s most important. So, if you don’t like where you are right now, literally or figuratively, do your best to disregard that. Just focus on where you’re headed, not so much where you are.”
What inspired you to write this book?
Alan Stein Jr.:
For my entire adult life, I’ve been a very voracious reader and there’ve been so many books and so many authors that have had a profound impact on me, my life, my perspective, so I have a very strong admiration for books. And the thought that I could potentially write something that others found value in and that could help them and fill their bucket, it’s always just been kind of a a professional bucket list item, to be among that elusive group of people that can call themselves an author.
After spending almost 20 years in the basketball space, I decided to make the leap over to the corporate space to share all of the lessons that I’d learned. And I realized that when I got into the corporate space, I didn’t have any brand recognition or even much credibility since I’ve never had a corporate job. And I knew that writing a book would be a nice entry way into gaining credibility, sharing my message with a mass audience, and to really fine tune my content and my message and be able to show people, “Okay, this is what I’ll be able to offer your business or your team or your organization.”. … Read more
What is the big idea behind the book?
What high performers do or have done in the game of basketball, have very high utility and can transfer to any area of our life. So, they can transfer to our personal lives, they can transfer to business and entrepreneurship. They apply to us as individuals, but they also apply to us on an organizational and a collective level. And the most important takeaway or big idea is the fact that the things the elite players do are things that all of us can do. It has nothing to do … It’s not like they were born with traits that we can’t emulate. They’re open and they’re coachable. They never get bored with the basics. They work on their craft relentlessly in pursuit of mastery during the unseen hours.
So it’s all of these things that folks like you and I are absolutely open and welcome to being able to do ourselves. Let’s just take the never getting bored with the basics. So when you look at a game like basketball, the most foundational area of the game is footwork, how you move your feet determines your ability to shoot and pass and rebound and defend. It determines how fast you are and so forth.
What are a few examples of “corporate world” applications?
So elite level players that continue to work on their footwork to develop mastery and on their shooting mechanics are the best players to ever play the game. And the same thing applies to business. Regardless of what business you’re in, you have to look at the basics, the fundamentals. What is the footwork of your business?
And then make sure that that’s something that you never leave, that you’re always practicing and sharpening that sword. Then of course you can level up and you can build more advanced techniques, then you can build other stuff on top of it, but very similar to building a house, you have to have that strong foundation. And if you look at any company that’s been tried and true over time, it’s because they master the basics and the fundamentals, and they never leave them.
What is a key lesson that applies to sales?
I learned at a very early age, first of all, all of us are selling something. Even if you’re not a professional salesperson where you’re selling a product or a service, we’re all selling ideas, we’re selling our philosophies, our convictions. So, anyone that’s in any type of leadership position, you are selling something. And I learned very early in coaching and from some sales to professionals that have mentored me, that telling is not selling. That in order to truly be an elite sales professional, the gold is always going to be in the listening.
And if you can master your craft and get better at active listening, you’ll always sell at a much higher level. And so basically whenever you think you should be providing some type of answer or you should be telling them about your features and your benefits, you actually should be asking another insightful question. Because when it comes to sales, you’re really not selling something. Well, you should try to reframe it as you’re trying to solve something.
So someone has a problem or a challenge and what you’re selling them is a solution to that. And that solution may be your product, it may be your service, but the only way you know for sure that they are a good fit and that you have the right solution is by asking them insightful questions. And if you ask the right questions, you don’t ever have to convince anyone to buy anything from you. If you ask the right questions, they’ll ultimately convince themselves and that’s what a true sales professional does, is ask the right questions.
What are some key insights from the book?
They’re going to get a few things. One, they’re going to hear some pretty cool stories of not just NBA players and folks in sport, but I did a ton of research on the business side as well, and there are examples from Starbucks and Google and even some companies that folks haven’t heard of on how they’ve applied certain strategies to their business. But it’s also going to give you kind of a roadmap to the most important areas to being a good teammate, to being a good leader or coach and to create a winning culture.
So the book was divided into three parts. One, we call the player, which is for the individual, one we call the coach, which is for the leader, the person of authority, and then one we call the team, which is really the entire organization. And in each of those sections picked what I believe are the five most important characteristics and then tell some stories and some stats but have some tangible takeaways and key points at the end of each chapter, so that folks can actually make improvement in those areas.
What is a key takeaway from the book?
I would like for someone to do some deep reflection afterwards and really maybe even revisit chapter one, which was about self-awareness. And after you’ve devoured the book is to really sit down and take inventory over where you are personally and professionally, where you are as an individual, but also within an organization and start to plot out a plan and a roadmap for how you’re going to continue to work towards being the best version of yourself, which I do think is ultimately everyone’s goal, is to be the best versions of themselves.
And what I tell folks is, so when you read this book, regardless of where you are at the moment, don’t worry about that. Just worry about the direction that you’re heading. And as long as you’re facing an upward trajectory and you have a plan in place to improve incrementally day by day, that’s what’s most important. So, if you don’t like where you are right now, literally or figuratively, do your best to disregard that. Just focus on where you’re headed, not so much where you are.