Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams

Williams, Pat - Extreme Dreams

Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we are going to talk to a top 10% performer who has had a lifetime of helping others be in the top 10%. Pat Williams, the Sr. VP and Co-founder of The NBA Finals Team, The Orlando Magic. He’s the author of the book, Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams.

Being a basketball fan as I am, it’s been a phenomenal basketball season especially for the Orlando Magic. They had an incredible playoff run beating the 76ers, last years champs, The Boston Celtics, and the League champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers who had the best record in the NBA.

We’ll hear from Pat about the enthusiasm and how that came about as far as the team, but it was a fabulous, fabulous run.

Since 1968 he has been affiliated with NBA teams in Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, including the 1983 World champion’s, the 76ers, and now Orlando, which he co-founded in 1986 and helped lead to the NBA finals in ’95 and also 2009. Pat was named one of the 50 Most Influential People in NBA History by a National publication. He has worked with some of the key pros that we know. He traded for Pete Maravich, he traded for Julius Irving, Moses Malone, Penny Hardaway. He drafted Charles Barkley, kind of one of my favorite basketball characters, Shaquille O’Neal, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Tony, Darrel Dawkins.

He is also, you may not know this, a motivational speaker. He has addressed thousands of executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies and national associations to universities and non-profits. Clients have included Allstate, American Express, Cisco, Cocoa Cola, Disney, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Price Waterhouse, Tyson Foods, just to name a few.

He is the author of fifty-four books, so Pat, that is amazing. We’ll hear about that. The list includes one of the latest titles, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball. He also hosts three weekly radio shows.

Pat, welcome to the show!

Pat Williams: Nice to be on with both of you. I appreciate the introduction and glad we can visit today.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Yah, this is going to be great! I’ll just mention a couple of other things and then we will jump right into it. One of the other things I noticed is that you have run 50 marathons, so you are an incredible athlete yourself, just to have that many marathons. You are married and have a wife Ruth, and you are the parents of 19 children, 14 which are adopted from four different nations, and have four kids of your own.

Pat welcome to the call and we are really excited to jump into this.

Pat Williams: Well, I am too. I love to talk about leadership and I’m excited about my book, Extreme Dreams Depend on Teams, and we have a lot to cover.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Pat, we always love to start our show asking our guests, who have been, and this is a tough one for you I’m sure, the most influential people in your life and especially in your role as a leader.

Pat Williams: Well, I had very unique parents growing up in Wilmington, Delaware. My dad was a high school coach and a teacher before he got into the insurance business. My mother, I guess we would call a statewide activist. I saw leadership modeled in the area of mental retardation when my youngest sister was born, to impact the state of Delaware for mental health issues.

I remember through the whole civil rights movement, my parents were very much involved, very active in the Democratic Party through the days of Truman and Adlai Stevenson and John F. Kennedy. I mean, I saw all of this leadership principles. I saw it right in front of me on a daily basis. I didn’t fully grasp it, but as I look back now, I had all of that being modeled in front of me.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s a great background, especially hearing your excitement about sports, that your dad was a high school coach. I know just from reading the start of the book and your bio, you started playing baseball. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about that and then how did you make that transition, because then most of you career has been basketball.

Pat Williams: My dad took me to my first major league baseball game on June 15, 1947. I was seven years old, Shibe Park in Philadelphia, 21st and Lehigh. The Philadelphia A’s and the Cleveland Indians in a Sunday afternoon double header. I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was absolutely captured and riveted by the sights and the sounds and the smell of baseball, and the color. Everything was green. The grass, the seats, the walls, that day is as fresh in my mind as it was yesterday.

I knew right then; I woke up the next morning absolutely captured by a dream. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a ball player. So I started setting goals as a youngster through school and then on to college where I played at Wake Forest. I went into these organizations out of college and spent two years as a minor league catcher and five helping run minor league teams for the Phillies.

Then 41 years ago this summer, I got a phone call out of the clear blue sky at the ballpark in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where I was GMing the Phillies Farm Club and it was Jack Ramsey, who was about to become the coach of the 76ers, and also the GM, and asked me to come and help run the front office. I had never thought about pro basketball as a career at all, but I took the job and here we are 41 years later with stops in Chicago, Atlanta, back to Philadelphia, and the last 23 years in Orlando with the Orlando Magic.

So that covers a lot of turf, Relly, in a brief period, but that is how it all started for me.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So, just say a word, how did Jack Ramsey know about you, because I think your career and it sounds like that one telephone call, and whatever that association with him was, opened up the rest of your career?

Pat Williams: Well I walked out to the ballpark that July day in 1968 and there was a phone message on a pink slip of paper to return a call to a Jack Ramsey in Inglewood, California. I had heard of that name. He was a longtime coach at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia, a very prominent basketball personality. Sure enough it was Jack Ramsey and he was in Inglewood completing a trade that was going to send Wilt Chamberlin to the Lakers and Jack told me he was going to take over the coaching duties. I had never met him until I flew to Philadelphia for the interviewing process.

Sometime later I did as Jack how he knew about me. All he ever said was there was a lot more known about you in Philadelphia than you thought. The only answer I could give to that is that I ran the Phillies farm club from ’65 to ’68 in Spartanburg. We had some wonderful successes, lots of promotional activity, and we drew a lot of people and started to get some ballplayers ready to come to Philadelphia. The Philly media had given me some coverage, this young farmhand down in Spartanburg. So I think that is what Jack meant.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Philly is a very small city where information travels fast. So now I know how you got from playing baseball to basketball.

Pat Williams: Yep. It was a very sudden transition. I packed everything up at the end of that ’68 baseball season and drove to Philadelphia and here I am. I still haven’t unpacked yet, Cathy.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I know Relly wants to talk more about the basketball, but I want to ask you; so how did we get from basketball to this fabulous book called Extreme Dreams Depend on Dreams?

Pat Williams: Cathy, I’ve always had an interest in the written and the spoken word. I debated coming out of college; did I want a career in administrative end of baseball or did I want to go into broadcasting. While I was in high school and college, and then grad school, I wrote for the school papers. So I’ve always had a fascination with the written and spoken word.

As the years have gone on I have had these writing opportunities. It’s certainly a sideline. I can’t make a living writing and selling books, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to express myself. My fields that I’m focused on are leadership, teamwork, and personal improvement and maximum living. Those are the three areas, really, where I’m writing specifically. Writing about people who have mastered those fields and that’s the same with my corporate speaking—leadership, teamwork and living to your full potential—so that is really where I’m focused.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Pat, I was saying I’m so impressed; Cathy and I have both written numerous book, but you have written 54 books! In your intro in Extreme Dreams, you basically say that every book you want to write should be 1000 pages, but that people tell you to stop. So maybe that’s how you got 54 books. Maybe you can talk a little bit about your writing.

Pat Williams: Well, I wrote my first one, an autobiography, that came out 35 years ago. I was in my mid-30’s at the time so there was not a lot of autobiographical material to write about. I had a good experience with that, but it certainly it was not a hot button.

I think the whole speaking and writing world exploded for me when I moved to Orlando. We moved down there in 1986 to help start the Magic up as an expansion team. Orlando is, along with Vegas, the convention capital of the world. So you’ve got meeting going on all of the time.

I started to get some speaking opportunities and then you’ve got to craft a speech. In other words, If you are speaking in corporate America, you had better have it pinned down and nail it and know what you are talking about, and have something of value for the corporate world.

So as I began to prepare speeches, then the thought always was, you know, this might turn into a book. So I released two books in the mid-90s. One was about Walt Disney’s Five Secrets of Success. I had gotten “Disneyized” by the way, when I got to Orlando. Go for the Magic came out in ’95, and then in ’97 I wrote a book called The Magic of Teamwork. I think those two books, with Thomas Nelson Publishers, really kind of launched my writing career.

You can listen to the complete, fascinating discussion, above, without commercial.



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