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Dave Checketts on Ambition, Passion and "Difficult People" (Knowledge@Wharton)

image Few sports executives have the breadth and depth of experience as Dave Checketts. After earning a Brigham Young MBA, he landed at Bain as a management consultant where he once worked on a project for a client who was interested in purchasing the Boston Celtics. That didn’t pan out, but he met NBA executive David Stern who helped recruit him into the league and at the age of 28 Checketts became the youngest NBA CEO.

Checketts, who is the founder and chairman of SCP (Sports Capital Partners) Worldwide, was recently a guest Wharton Leadership Lecturer and you can read about it on the Knowledge@Wharton website.  (Sports Executive Dave Checketts on Ambition, Passion and ‘Difficult People’)

Checketts tells an entertaining story about a tense encounter with then NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani  (a “difficult” person) and leaves us with a few other interesting insights about leadership.

About ambition:

“People have called it ambition, but I have a different view. I don’t see it as ambitious as much as getting in a position to make a difference.”

About talent, character and the opportunities presented in times of change:

“The world loves talent, but it pays off on character…. As a leader, it becomes your challenge to be able to identify people who at a certain point in time rise to the occasion.” This is a great time for leaders to emerge, “the opportunities for you are going to be incredible. If you’re looking for perhaps a real safe opportunity, steady salary, great job — those may be harder to find, but the opportunities for people who are entrepreneurial will be there.”

About sports impact on society. (His lecture was the day after the Philadelphia Philly’s victory in the 2008 World Series.)

“Isn’t it amazing that in sports you have the ability as a business to move a community?” he asked. Creating passion is why you should get into sports, or any business, “because if you get into it for any other reason, including creating wealth, it’s very difficult. You can earn a good living certainly, but people have lost a lot of money in sports. [Given] what you saw last night, whether the owners of the Phillies are going to make money or not almost doesn’t matter to them today, I can guarantee you that.”

You can read the entire Knowledge@Wharton article here.

About the author

Peter A. Mello, Founder/Editor Founder of Weekly Leader and Sea-Fever Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and strategic communications consultancy. Previously, CEO of an international nonprofit organization and COO of a national insurance/risk management services firm. Peter has been leading people and managing organizations for over 30 years, writes a leadership column for MarineNews magazine and blogs about maritime culture at Sea-Fever. Follow him on Twitter.

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