What are you doing when the world is not watching you? The quest for a higher calling, greater success and enhanced productivity is a function of solid discipline and an unmatched desire to be the best you can be as an individual, team or organisation. BrandKnew courts Alan Stein Jr, champion performance coach and Author/Speaker to unravel what he prescribes are the tools and tips needed to reach the pinnacle.
Q: Could you tell us about your growing up years?
BK: I had a wonderful childhood. I had two very supportive parents that encouraged me to try a variety of different sports and activities. I did your conventional team sports – basketball, baseball, soccer, football – as well as some unconventional activities like martial arts, BMX biking and skateboarding. I also caught the entrepreneurial bug very early… sold baseball cards, mowed lawns, shoveled snow… any hustle I could find to earn some money.
Q: Do you want to share some of your childhood dreams and aspirations?
BK: My very early goal was to play in the NBA. But by the time I reached high school it was apparent to me that wasn’t in the cards 🙂 But I accepted that and knew that I still wanted to have a career in basketball… even if it wasn’t as a player!
Q: Was sports always a ‘ first love ‘ for you, especially basketball?
BK: Yes! It was my first identifiable passion. I fell in love with basketball around 5 or 6 years old… and at 43 years old… it is still a major pillar in my life!
Q: It could be obvious but could you deep dive on how being a sportsman brings in elements of discipline, goal setting & achieving, collaborating, working hard and taking the wins with the losses?
BK: It was once said by someone wiser than me… “Sport doesn’t build character… it reveals it.” Sports parallel life in so many ways. Sports emphasises the three primary ‘bilities’ – responsibility, accountability and coachability. Sports reinforce traits like grit, preparation and unselfishness. Sports expose the importance of effort and attitude, especially during the unseen hours. And sports teach you how to win graciously and lose gracefully.
Q: Would you encourage corporate executives and head honchos to pursue some sport from a productivity at work perspective? And if so, would that be an individual sport(say Golf/Tennis) or Team Sport(Basketball/Soccer)?
BK: I don’t believe folks need to participate in a sport to gain value from what the sport teaches. I recommend executives and business leaders follow coaching mantras like ‘It ain’t about me, it’s about you!’ and ‘Connect 1st. Coach 2nd.’ They need to have the mindset that they work for their people (not that their people work for them). In fact, the higher they are on the org chart… the more people they serve (not more people that serve them). I also suggest they focus on building quality relationships and connections with those on their team (colleagues/coworkers) and those that they serve (clients/customers). Lastly, they need to focus on role clarity (making sure everyone on the team knows, embraces and start in their role), accountability (holding someone accountable is not something you do to them, it’s something you do for them… and winning organizations have both vertical and horizontal accountability systems) and communication (become a world class active listener).
Q: What aligned you towards taking up coaching and what were your key take aways that you still value?
BK: I value relationships and take tremendous pride in ‘filling other people’s buckets.’ As a leader, I want to have a positive influence over other people’s beliefs and behaviours and help them achieve things they can’t do, or won’t do, on their own!
Q: We are in an attention deficit economy- always on, perennial distractions and what have you. In such an eco system, as a coach/mentor, what would your advise be to young hopefuls and to seasoned stalwarts?
BK: Learn to Live Present. Which means to learn how to ‘be where your feet are.’ Wherever your feet are, make sure that is where your head and your heart are as well. Attention is the #1 gift you can give another human being, so make sure to invest it in the right people and the right things. Giving your attention shows that you care. And caring matters. A lot.
Q: In the corporate speaking space, what are the glaring pain areas that you see and what you attribute those to?
BK: Almost every single issue or dysfunction in an organisation stems from some type of miscommunication. And miscommunication usually arises from low Emotional Intelligence. Traits like self-awareness, clarity, humility, compassion and empathy are a leader’s best tools for effective communication!
Q: Tell us the story behind how you got into writing and what has been your takeaways?
BK: I don’t consider myself a writer. I am coach… who just happened to write a book! But I had the humility to recognise I needed help. I needed a teammate that was strong in areas that I wasn’t. So I hired a co-author who helped give the book an organised structure. He helped me frame my stories, my lessons and my take-a-ways in a way that created the biggest impact. I am a voracious reader and know how many books have had a major impact on my life. I wanted to take my professional (and life) experiences and write something that (hopefully) added value to others and (hopefully) inspired them to take action.
Q: Can you share the inspiration behind your new book ‘ Raise Your Game ‘? Do articulate some of the challenges you faced when you were authoring it.
BK: I have been very fortunate in my life to have been able to work with, work for and work alongside many of basketball’s top players and coaches… and I felt an obligation and a duty to pay those lessons forward and share what I’ve learned with others. I’ve always believed that a ‘candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.’ I will be forever grateful for everything basketball has taught me… but for those lessons to really mean something… it is my duty to share them with others.
Q: 20 is the new 40. What advise would you have for people in terms of building their personal brand?
BK: For anyone looking to build their personal brand… I recommend they focus heavily on service. Find ways to add value to other people’s lives and do so consistently. Put high value on creating and forging quality relationships. You earn your reputation through your repetitions so make sure you put in deliberate practice on your craft every… single… day. If you do those things, your brand will grow organically and authentically.
Q: What makes Alan Stein go ‘ Wow, another day at work ‘ ?
BK: Every time I step on stage in front of an audience!
Q: What do you enjoy doing most; Coaching, Writing, Speaking?
BK: I love each of them for different reasons… just like my 3 children!
Q: Which are some the books that have inspired you in your career thus far and which are the ones that you look forward to reading?
Q: What does Alan Stein do in his spare time?
BK: Spend time with my kids, listening to podcasts, reading or watching stand-up comedy or documentaries on Netflix!
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