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Smart, Spoelstra promote “Culture of Champions”

by Smart Communications, Inc. | Aug 16, 2012
[15 August 2012] In line with its advocacy of promoting a ‘culture of champions’ among Filipinos through sports, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) recently spearheaded an Executive Coaching Talk featuring champion NBA Filipino-American head coach, Erik Spoelstra.

Left: Sports patron and PLDT and Smart Chairman Manny V. Pangilinan led the group of executives who attended Coach Spoelstra’s Executive Coaching Talk. Right: Smart’s Wireless Consumer Division Head Noel Lorenzana acknowledges Spoelstra’s support in Smart’s advocacy of promoting a “Culture of Champions”.

[15 August 2012] In line with its advocacy of promoting a ‘culture of champions’ among Filipinos through sports, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) recently spearheaded an Executive Coaching Talk featuring champion NBA Filipino-American head coach, Erik Spoelstra.

During the talk attended by both sports fans and executives from several local companies, Spoelstra who recently led the Miami Heat to win the 2012 NBA Finals, mentioned that one way of pushing the advocacy forward is to work with outreach programs to promote basketball from the grassroots.

The youngest coach in NBA history attributes his Filipino heritage as the reason for wanting to promote the sport in the Philippines. “This is my way of giving back. My heritage is important to me.

Together with the First Pacific Leadership Academy, Meralco, Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) Philex Mining Corporation (Philex), Smart-Araneta Coliseum and Smart-Araneta Corporation, Smart led the “coaching session” that also revealed how sports leadership and business leadership are closely intertwined.

“Through sports, business leadership can be mined in the aspects of commitment, passion, and honesty, as exemplified by Coach Spoelstra. When a leader aligns people towards a certain goal, we can truly create a ‘culture of champions’,” said Smart Wireless Consumer Division head Noel Lorenzana.

Spoelstra was the first Filipino-American and Asian to become head coach and win an NBA Championship. He was hired as video coordinator in 1997 and then over the years was promoted to assistant coach/video coordinator. A few more years passed and he became assistant coach/advance scout, director of scouting before ascending to head coach in 2008.

Through his experience in coaching, he shared his insights on coaching, teamwork, leadership and more with nearly 1,000 people in attendance at the Meralco Theater.

Importance of Teamwork

“During the hype of ‘Big Three’ (a nickname given to players Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Lebron James) I told the team at a summer league camp in 2010: ‘It’s about the Miami Heat – 15 players – not 3.’”, said Spoelstra.

“We made every team member commit to certain goals and sign it with a gold pen. It made it certain that we were traveling the same road – winning a championship,” the coach added.

Spoelstra’s journey with his Miami team was not without struggles. He recalled their losses in the past against the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks (among other teams) until they finally got their recent win.

“It's all about working around obstacles,” explained Coach Spo. “You can’t let others opinions bring you down. People would always say, ‘Oh why is he coaching? He looks like he’s 12’, or ‘He’s gonna get fired if he doesn’t win a championship’.”

Even with the Heat’s championship win this year, the heads kept talking, but it didn’t matter. Champions learn how to block the noise and “do their job. Period,” he said.

And if the noise was true? “Own up to it,” he simply replied. “Don't brush anything under the rug. Don't point fingers or do the blame game. A team is a family, and we're in this together.”

“It's not easy, but we've learned not to take it personally.”

On Leadership and Communications

On managing a team, he said, “The number one key of building a relationship is to be honest to your players. Don't skew the numbers or statistics. If they need the truth, level with them. They may not like it, but they’ll respect you because of it.”

According to him, honesty and integrity are vital to a ‘culture of champion.’ 

“Get to know your team more,” he said.

The culture of physical touch is also important according to Spoelstra. He shared that even a simple nudge on the shoulder affirmed his players were important to him.

Lastly, Spoelstra, addressing the executives in attendance also mentioned the importance of taking risks.

“Learn the most by failing. Don't be afraid to make mistakes,” he said citing the parallelism between sports, business and entrepreneurship.

Aside from Spoelstra, the session also featured 5-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Coach of the Year Coach Chot Reyes, and motivational speaker Francis Kong. [END]