Episode 42

Raise Your Content Game

with Alan Stein Jr.

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In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Alan Stein Jr, a speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Alan talks about how the greater quality of our content output starts with how we are growing as individuals. From raising to sustaining your content game, this episode is one you don’t want to miss.

Highlights from the conversation:

  • Alan’s background and career journey (8:14)
  • Refining your gift as a storyteller (18:30)
  • What Alan is doing today (23:03)
  • Exciting content trends (31:04)
  • A little anecdote about Kobe’s work ethic (33:55)

 

Links & Resources:

 

Keep up with Alan:

  • The main hub: https://alansteinjr.com/
  • Alan’s auxiliary site: https://strongerteam.com/
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alansteinjr/?hl=en

 

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Transcription

Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 0:06
On this episode, we’re joined by speaker, author, and entrepreneur Alan Stein Jr. Alan has been a performance coach for over a decade. He spent the initial part of his career working with athletes and training basketball players in both their skill and mental development. Having worked with All-Star caliber players like Kevin Durant and Victor Oladipo, Alan has had a unique perspective into the mindset of top athletic performers. Now he continues to share that perspective with top performers in and out of athletics. As a speaker and author of two books, Alan helps professionals raise and sustain their games. We discuss all of this plus some unique interactions Alan has had with some of the most famous athletes in the world and what he’s learned along the way. I can’t wait for you to hear this one. Let’s dive in with Alan Stein Jr.

Intro 1:00
Put that content down. Content. The close is over. What’s your name? Content. That’s my name. You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. Content Is for Closers.

Adam Vazquez 1:23
Alright, we’re back with yet another episode of Content Is for Closers. We are recording this intro. The day after the NBA finals have concluded and it’s an appropriate time to do so in light of today’s guest, Carlton, you heard my conversation with Alan Stein. What were your takeaways from it?

Carlton Riffel 1:38
The audience is going to find out a little bit and how not into sports I am. I have a feeling I know the answer to this, but just tell me what happened last night because I can’t tell you, that’s for sure.

Adam Vazquez 1:54
Yes. Okay. Fair enough. So the Warriors played the Celtics in the finals. And thank God, the Steph Curry, and no, no, they did not. Thank goodness, that would not I would not be here. I wouldn’t be here. It’d be a tough day for me if they did. So yeah, Steph and the crew pulled it out over the Celtics. But it was interesting because Alan, I said this in the intro, but Alan was a skills trainer and a coach for NBA players for many, many years and had these really unique interactions with Kobe Bryant. Sort of the theme of this finals was everyone trying to relate their experience or identify as having been super, super close with Kobe. And it’s just this very bizarre, sort of, it’s not verge, it’s like relationship signaling or something like that. So it was this really weird kind of sub thing that was going on in the background of the actual finals. But Alan knew him, coached with him at a camp. And we talked a little bit about that, because of his experience going from basketball coach to what he’s doing now, which is kind of giving motivational speeches, obviously, but also teaching and leading when it comes to content marketing and growth for companies.

Yeah, that’s great. Thank you for filling me in. I appreciate that. Now I know what’s going on. When it comes to content, I think a lot of people think that they have super deep industry expertise in whatever it is you’re talking about. And one of the things that I thought was interesting with what he talked about was, he made this pivot in his career, he changed kind of from being in it like boots on the ground, in the gym, basically doing the training himself to, I guess what he would call like, career speaking or taking a totally different position. And so he talked about how he did that. And I thought that was a great lesson for not just people that are changing their career, but think thinking about content as a way of simplifying what you know and connecting what you know to make new content. He asked the people that are new in that space, what are the problems that you deal with? So we started with the problem. And then he, he basically takes those problems and he hears and breaks down? Well, he has experience with and what he knows, and then kind of lets him overlap. So I thought that was great. And then also just the idea that coaching a lot, and a lot of ways is content. Like when we put out content, we are our coaching or we are helping people understand, and helping people learn what it is, whatever it is we’re publishing content about. So just some interesting takeaways from that analogy.

Carlton Riffel 3:22
I’ll be honest, this is the thing I struggle with the most as a creative person. I’ve listened to this conversation now back a couple of times (we recorded this a while ago) and it’s something I just need to continue to improve on because I can create something if I’m given the topic or if I’m given whatever the points that I need to create around this why serve Chris’s work so well. But what he did to your point is so impressive, like, he was able to take skills that he had in one area, and then just identify the problem identify the stories that needed to be told over here without necessarily having a ton of— He wasn’t a salesperson for 15 years or something like that, or he wasn’t a leadership coach for 50. I mean, that’s what he’s doing now. But that’s just so impressive to me to be able to speak into that and to be able to offer real value without necessarily just having done it yourself. I think there’s like a huge lesson there for creators that we can learn from in terms of identifying and then telling those stories.

Yeah, absolutely. Speaking of strength conditioning, did you ever do a lot of that grown-up like plyometrics? Or? Yeah, all that stuff getting ready for basketball? I, when he was talking about that, it made me think of some of my eager basketball days when I was an air alert. Yeah, yeah. All of the different contraptions that they had the East Bay magazine, looking through that and trying—

Adam Vazquez 6:04
Those shoes that had like no heels.

Carlton Riffel 6:06
Yes, yeah. Yeah.

Adam Vazquez 6:08
I don’t know how any of that works.

Carlton Riffel 6:09
We’re taking it back. Actually, speaking of those shoes, I at one point was too poor to buy those and wanted to increase my vertical, to get to be able to dunk. So I took an old basketball shoes, and I cut them in half. And I like stacked cardboard in the middle. And then like screwed up, I somehow found like a way to screw them too. Or Wow, another shoe like junk basketball shoes. And so they look like Frankenstein cheese.

Adam Vazquez 6:36
Did it work?

Carlton Riffel 6:38
Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I had a better vertical.

Adam Vazquez 6:42
Nice. I dunked volleyball. And that was the… I really dunked volleyball. I one time did the one arm and then at the end put the other arm on real quick. And that was probably the closest basketball dunk but she got the shoes. I had the shoes. I needed years. I needed your vision, but anyway. Yeah, great conversation with Alan. And I think everyone will learn a lot from it. Anything to add before we get to it?

Carlton Riffel 7:12
That’s good, man. We’ll let them enjoy the episode.

Adam Vazquez 7:26
All right, we are back on Content Is for Closers. A very, very special guest here, Alan Stein Jr. Alan, thank you so much for joining the show.

Alan Stein Jr. 7:34
Absolutely. My pleasure. It’s awesome to be with you.

Adam Vazquez 7:37
This has been something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I think I mentioned even when I reached out I heard you speak once when I was working at VaynerMedia. And then I’ve heard you obviously on a number of different shows, some shows Mickey cloud, he’s been on the show to Coach Tony Miller, a bunch of different people. And yeah, it’s just great to get you and to have you on here. So I think we could start a bunch of different places. But basketball is my favorite sport. Grew up wanting to be wanted to be on the floor had some biological challenges with that, as a pro, but I would just be curious, before we get into all the content and everything like that, how did you fall in love with the game?

Alan Stein Jr. 8:12
Basketball was my first identifiable passion. I remember vividly falling in love with the game at five years old when my parents signed me up for my first recreation basketball team. I’m so proud of the fact that here 40 plus years later, basketball is still a major pillar of my life. And I’m incredibly thankful and grateful that I’ve had that red thread throughout every area of my life. I mean, I’ve been a part of the game from several different vantage points. Now, the first third of which was as a player and had an opportunity to play all the way up through college and played at Elon down in North Carolina. And then I spent the next segment of my life just over 15 years as a basketball performance coach, helping players improve their athleticism and bulletproof their bodies against injury, Injury. And now in this next third, where I’m most connected to the game, outside of still being a fan, as I’m the father of three children that all play youth basketball. So I’ve seen the game from a lot of different vantage points. And a good portion of the work I do now, corporate keynote speaking and writing comes through the lens of someone that loves basketball and is learned most of the life lessons through the game and through other players and coaches, and I now translate those so folks can apply those same strategies to business in life. So basketball is has been a dear love of mine for four decades now and I’m so thankful.

Adam Vazquez 9:34
Awesome. Yeah. So let’s get into the evolution because you see a lot of people who play maybe through college or maybe play a little bit in pros and go into coaching go into being an analyst or something and you did some of that, like you just described, but then you have this pivot that is different from most people who are following that journey and have gone into performance, or I don’t know what you call it. You call it performance speaking or coaching. But how did that happen? How that evolution take place?

Alan Stein Jr. 9:59
Sure. If I had to pinpoint the best advice I’ve ever been given it was when I was young, someone told me that you need to find what it is that you love. And you can define what it is that you’re naturally pretty good at. And then you need to find where those two things intersect. The intersection between your passion and your talents is going to be your strength zone. And the more time you can invest in your strength zone, not only will you perform at a higher level, but you’ll also be more fulfilled in the process. And, and I’ve always taken that advice to heart. And as we’ve already mentioned for the first third of my life, that intersection was as a basketball player, I love the game of basketball, I was at least good enough to play in high school in college. So we could say I had some natural talent, and that’s where they intersected. But I knew that I didn’t have the talent to play basketball after college. And, and towards the latter part of high school. And throughout my college career, I started to develop an equal love for performance training, which at the time was just called strength and conditioning. It’s now got a much more comprehensive title when we talk performance, basically training, strength, training, conditioning, Plyometrics, running all of that kind of stuff, I was fascinated by that. And I took a lot of personal pride as a player and being in the best shape that I was capable of, and maximizing my somewhat limited genetic potential as well. But getting the most out of myself that I could. So when the writing was on the wall, that I was not going to be a professional player, I figured, well, what could be better than combining my original love of basketball with my newfound love of performance training, and that would still meet the criteria of something I love. And something I was fairly good at. Both of my parents were elementary educators so I’ve had modeled for me the importance of being able to clearly articulate and communicate of being able to teach and to coach and to pour into others. So I’ve had some natural talent in that area as well. So I figured what could be better than combining performance training, basketball. And that was what I decided to do. So I made that leap. And one of the cool parts about that intersection and our strength zone is it will constantly mature and change as we gain more life experience. As we get older, we will uncover new passions, and we will develop new skills and talents. So five years ago, I decided to move that point of intersection away from the basketball training space and put it in the corporate keynote speaking space and the writing space. And to answer your question, I still very much consider myself a performance coach, I just no longer coach basketball players on how to run faster and jump higher. I now coach executives, managers, folks in the business world entrepreneurs on how they can improve their businesses and build winning team. So I still consider what I do at my core to be the same. What’s really changed is the audience and the nuanced way at which I do that.

Adam Vazquez 12:54
Yeah, we’ve been talking a lot about that intersection of interest and talent are interested in skill. And so I think it’s clear that your ability and your interest in those things, but specifically, I’d be curious as a content creator, how did you evolve? Because it’s still pretty different, what you’re doing now and the level of success that you have now from being in the gym coaching athletes that way to the boardroom and doing similar things? But how did you tell that story in a way that allowed people to trust you and invite you into the board room?

Alan Stein Jr. 13:29
Well, a couple things come to mind. I’m so glad you went in this direction. This is going to be really fun to talk about. Right in the at the height of my basketball training career, I was working to camp for the NBA, it was called the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp where several current and former NBA players and coaches would bring in the top 100 high school players in the United States for a camp to show them what it would take for them to eventually make it to the NBA basically teach them what it would take to be a pro. And they brought in a guest speaker and his name is Walter bond. And if you Google him now, he’s an incredibly renowned, internationally renowned corporate keynote speaker, but a former basketball player, and he came in and he talked to us this group, which you’re talking about a group of alpha males, a group of the best 100 high school players, and current and former NBA players and coaches. And he talked to us for about 45 minutes. And I just remember being mesmerized by his storytelling ability. He got this group, we were laughing, we were crying, we were thinking, I mean, he took us on an emotional journey, like nothing I had ever experienced in that 45 minutes. And I remember sitting there and vividly thinking, like, I love what I’m doing. I love basketball performance training. I don’t want to leave the gym. But man, I want to do that one day, like what that guy just did was pretty awesome. And just kind of planted this seed. Well, fast forward 10 years after that. I started to find myself getting burnt out on being a basketball performance coach, I found myself less fascinated with improving strength conditioning, fitness, explosion, and so forth, and found myself much more fascinated by the tenants of leadership, accountability, communication, collaboration, building culture. So I decided to make that pivot over and thought, now’s the time for that seed that was planted 10 years prior, it’s time to water that bad boy and let it bloom. And now’s the time to make that change. And with that, I very much understood that while at the core, I was going to be doing something similar, that the nuance the difference, what you just brought up. So insightfully was definitely different there, there are massive differences between the way you talk to a team in a locker room and the way you talk to a team in a boardroom. Because of my reverence, for coaching, I made sure that I got some coaches to help me with that transition. I got a speaking coach, I got a writing coach. I’m a big believer in the power of coaching. So I also recognized at that time, I had never had a corporate job in my entire life. So here, I was about to enter a space that I had never actually been in myself. And that was one of my major strengths in the basketball world was I was a performance coach, who was a former player, I understood how players talked, I understood how they walked, I understood what was important to them. And I was able to use that to my advantage. Now I was going to be doing the exact opposite, I was going to be entering a space where I had no name recognition, no credibility, and no experience. So I had to start from the ground up. And I basically went back to being a rookie, which I loved, I fully embraced, I liked diving into something that was new for me and challenging for me, and slowly started to build up and learn the corporate culture and corporate space, learn how I could take the principles and the strategies that I had pulled for basketball, and figuring out how to translate them and apply them to the corporate world. But I didn’t go to go into it thinking I already knew everything. I went into it with a massive dose of humility and leaned on a lot of people that were in the corporate space, that cared enough about me, and were kind enough to share some things with me to help me really package my message in a way that would be meaningful and memorable to them. So I basically took a couple steps back to relay the foundation of this new career. And I’ve just been laying bricks ever since trying to build the rest of this house.

Adam Vazquez 17:21
That’s awesome. I could totally see where— The good news is, everyone wants to relate to sports, or everyone would almost prefer to be talking about sports a lot of times than whatever it is they’re talking about, so I can see how— And you worked with the highest people that you just mentioned (the NBA camp, etc.) so I’m sure all those stories were really, really interesting. Your experience reminds me of my own when Gary Vee was coming Chattanooga to, to open the office, he gave a speech, essentially about like how you entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, something like this. And I had a similar realization of, I don’t, I don’t know how I don’t know what but I want to work. I want to learn how to work like him. And I want to work with this guy. And it’s crazy how those moments can extend and really change the path for the rest of your career. I’d be curious, maybe it was the coaching or maybe it’s something a tool or something, but was there anything particularly helpful in helping you refine your gift as a storyteller as you were making that transition?

Alan Stein Jr. 18:21
Sure. Before I answer that, let me take one step back and paint a little bit more of a vivid picture in the transition. So the very first thing I did when I decided to make this leap, first of all, I had to come to grips with the fact that I was approaching burnout in something that I had been doing all in for the previous 15 years. And that took some humility and vulnerability just to simply acknowledge that because several people were like, man, you, you’ve been working so hard to build up your name and your brand in this space. Why would you ever leave this? And my answer to that was, it’s no longer filling my bucket and idle, I don’t want to fake it. I have too much reverence and respect for the players I serve for the coaches I work with. And for the game of basketball at large. I just don’t feel that it’s ethical to just mail it in to put on a fake clown mask and just tap dance every day, I knew that it was no longer filling my bucket. And I needed to find something that would reignite my energy. So because of my respect and reverence for players coaches in the game, it was the only decision in my mind. And then once I decided to make that pivot, I reached out to about a dozen friends, that we’re all working in the corporate space. Fom a variety of different industries at a variety of different levels. Some of them some pretty high up execs down to lower positions on the org chart. And I just started asking them, what were the biggest pain points they were experiencing in business and in the corporate world? What were their biggest challenges? What were the things that if they could wave a magic wand to fix what would they want to fix? And I started to collect that data, and then I would cross reference that with the areas that I believed I had something worthy to share—and these are very vague terms but—leadership, communication, culture. And I started to see that there was a massive amount of overlap. And I got incredibly optimistic that the things that I believe that I could share a value, were in perfect alignment with what a lot of these folks needed. So I knew there was a need, it wasn’t like I just took a running jump off of the roof of the house and didn’t look to see if there was any water in the pool. I made sure there was water in the pool first. And then once I did that, then I reached out to those 12 folks again, and said, this is something I’m going to start pursuing, I understand the power of repetition, I need to start honing my content, my delivery and my message, can I come speak to your team for free. I don’t need anything, the only thing I need is your permission to allow me to film myself. So I can go back and watch it and get better at my craft. And most of them gave me an opportunity to which I’ll be forever indebted and appreciative. So I got the chance to start getting some reps. And once I started doing that, and this was all for free, by the way, once I started doing that, then I hired a speaking coach to help me break down the film, and to improve the organization of my content to improve my delivery, and certainly to improve my ability to tell stories. I just started kind of building it from there and slowly got to a point where I felt that what I had was worthy of charging the fee, which was just a few months in, I started at a pretty low fee point. Once I felt like I was overdelivering the value, versus what I was charging, then I would slowly increase my fees. And that was kind of how I built it brick by brick. But to answer your question more pointedly, repetition, the more I would be on stage telling stories, the more I could get a feel for what was working and it was kind of a dance with the audience. And then I certainly hired a coach who could tell me, hey, here’s kind of the structure of the most meaningful and sticky stories, here’s ways you can change the way you’ve been currently telling it to hopefully make it more impactful, and just work from there. So yeah, it’s been a fun journey. And I’m not anywhere close to being done on that journey. I still fill my talks and break them down and watch them, I still get competent coaching to help me with things, and I don’t plan for that to stop.

Adam Vazquez 22:19
Wow, that takes so much self-awareness and humility to go from something that you’re great at and realize, like you said, it’s not filling up your bucket, you can’t give it back everything that you wanted to give to it. And I would imagine fear, there had to be some fear there to leave what you knew for kind of the unknown, that’s awesome that you were able to do that. And I love the analogy of reps. Or that not even the analogy, the reality of you taking it and doing it just like you would a game film or whatever else.

So that sort of brings us to today and I see behind you, you’ve got your book, Raise Your Game, so maybe just tell us like, what are you doing today? And kind of how has this all congealed in the offering that you’ve put together?

Alan Stein Jr. 23:03
I still consider the primary part of my business is keynote speaking. The vast majority of my focus goes into being on stage and delivering impactful and meaningful and captivating performances that they give folks actionable strategies to put into place. I don’t consider myself a “motivational speaker.” Certainly, I’d like to believe there is an inspiring and motivational component to what it is that I’m delivering only because I’m sharing stuff that I’m passionate about. But I understand how quickly motivation fades and wears off. I want to be a practitioner and a tactician, and want to be able to give people tangible things that they can follow and implement. Because ultimately, I’m in the business of helping people change behavior, change their habits, change their mindset, the way that they view things. And I realized that no matter how good I get at my craft, I’m not changing anybody’s life in a 60-minute keynote. At best, I can plant some seeds the same way Walter bond planted a seed with me 15 years ago, I can plant some seeds, but ultimately, I want to arm folks with tools that they can use, and then take the baton moving forward. Then if they can do that, and I or someone else can help hold them accountable to that behavior change, or mine shift, then they’ll start to see an improvement in their life. So to me, that’s the most important. And I’ve also found that I enjoy writing, I just put up my second book. So my first book, Raise Your Game, came out in early 2019. And the follow-up to that, Sustain Your Game, just came out a couple of weeks ago at the time of this recording. And I’ve actually enjoyed that process as well. I liked the process of writing, because it helps me get clarity on my message and on my content and helps me get organized in what it is that I’m trying to share. And it’s also just another tool that can be used to help others. The vast majority of the world is never going to see me speak but hopefully more of them can have an opportunity to access one of my books or take some of those teachings, and it’s also a reinforcement tool. So if you found the stuff that I shared from stage to be helpful, then you might want the book to help reinforce that and increase the chance that you’re going to start implementing it. So most of what I do at present is speaking and writing, and then certainly putting out content on social, to supplement all of that. It’s just another medium to try and share the message. And I’m incredibly grateful for what it is that I get to do for a living and really, really love it.

Adam Vazquez 25:28
Very cool. We’ll obviously link both of your books down in the show notes below. Just out of curiosity, have you found any social activation or any content particularly helpful in getting your books out?

Alan Stein Jr. 25:42
Most of it has just been kind of a grassroots, back-of-the-trunk coach, and that part I’m okay with. There are really two portions of the book writing process. The most obvious is just writing the best book that you’re capable of doing the research and putting pen to paper and doing the best that you can to put something meaningful together. And that takes you all the way up until launch, which is kind of like the birth of a child, as any parent will tell you, and I am one. The day those little rascals are born, that’s when your real work starts, and that’s very easy for me to say as a man because I’ve never had to actually give birth, but now it’s actually time to raise that child. And it’s the same thing with the book. It took about 18 months from conception to launch, and then the day the book comes out, well, that’s when my real work starts, which is to try to get the book in the hands of as many people as possible and, and I don’t want to do that in a pushy or a salesy way, I believe in the message of the book. And I believe that it will help people and I’m always trying to find the audience that will be most aligned with it, and just simply make it available and share it. And I found podcasts, the major social platforms, blogging. There’s a variety of different things. And I tried to use a little bit of all of that, to put that out in the world. And I’m certainly a huge fan and practitioner of Gary Vee, his approach and the way that he disseminates content on social media, the way that he has most things videoed and then he can transcribe that and break that down into articles. And I understand he has earned the right to have a massive team to help him with that I’m not quite there yet. My team is much smaller than Gary’s, but I do follow that formula. And I think one of the most important parts is something I learned from a mentor of mine many years ago. And that is success leaves clues. And you’re a fool if you don’t follow them, so I don’t have any aspirations to be Gary Vee or do many of the things that he’s doing. But he has laid down a framework and a template on how you can magnify your message and bring your stuff to light. And I’ve certainly followed that, because he’s, he’s an absolute genius when it comes to that. And I find that following his stuff has been incredibly helpful. And really, I enjoy him, and I enjoy the content he puts out. So I’m heavily biased. But yeah, I mean, he’s someone that knows more about how to put stuff out on social than I do. So I’m gonna follow the footprints that he leaves.

Adam Vazquez 28:13
Oh, 100%. I say it all the time. Our business wouldn’t exist without him. We follow his framework 100% and apply it to the people that we work with. Have you played basketball with him yet?

Alan Stein Jr. 28:22
No, I have not. So I had a chance to have him on. I had a previous podcast at the time, it was called the pure sweat basketball show. And he was gracious enough to let me come up to his office in New York and have 30 minutes of his uninterrupted time and was on my show and we were supposed to play basketball this morning but he had a family obligation pop up last minute, so I didn’t get a chance to actually play with him, but certainly enjoyed the time that we spent together. And I heard he has a relentless competitor on the court, even if he’s not the most exceptional basketball player of all time.

Adam Vazquez 28:57
Yes. And he’s very fun to play with, especially—

Alan Stein Jr. 29:02
I bet he’s a great teammate.

Adam Vazquez 29:03
Yeah. We’ve played on in games that we had no business being in based on the talent and he’s just fun because he’s got that relentless will. So it’s always fun to play with somebody like that.

Alan Stein Jr. 29:15
I was just gonna say, what I find very interesting is another mantra that I do my best to live by. And I think Gary epitomizes this to the highest level is that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, that that we should all be in the business of lighting other people’s candles and a big pillar of the work that I do is about self-awareness. And a big pillar of everything that I’ve learned about self-awareness has been through Gary and I try and be a steward of the message and take things that I learned whether it’s from him, or Adam Grant or Simon Sinek or, or any of the other folks that put out massive amounts of very innovative and original content. I’m constantly soaking that stuff up and then trying to find way to make sure that it’s authentic to me and my message, and then simply pay that message forward. And nothing makes me feel better than when somebody reads, watches, or listens to something that I’ve put out in the world. And they believe it’s worthy of paying that forward to someone else, too. I love that. So I just think, the more we can all kind of unite together to continue to put out good stuff into the world that is going to help people, the better off we’ll be.

Adam Vazquez 30:27
Yeah, and your evangelism, for lack of a better word, is going to be contextualized to your experiences. And so it’s going to be different than the way that someone who doesn’t have your experiences would share that message or distribute and so it’s going to reach a whole different set of people. So it’s a beautiful thing that way, I have two last questions for you. The first is just around, what content has you excited? And then I have to ask you about a basketball story that I’ve heard you share before, but I just would be curious, what has you most excited about right now? It could be your book that you just released or it could be a keynote you have coming out, a series you’re starting, just what are you excited about?

Alan Stein Jr. 31:04
Well, I’m definitely excited about the launch of the book, which was a couple of weeks ago. I’m a big believer that the quality of your inputs determines the quality of your output. And anytime that I want to raise my game (pun very well intended) at any area of my life, the very first thing I do is I go back to what am I reading, watching, and listening to? And what do I need to level up on the input side to get me to level up my mindset, my perspective, my philosophy? So I am constantly on the search for new things that I can feed my brain with. I don’t read physical books as often as I used to, but I devour podcasts. I only listen to podcasts when I’m in the car. And I do a lot of long-distance running. So I listen to easily, I don’t know, eight to 10 hours per week of podcasts. And I’m devouring that. And I listen to people like Gary that I’m already familiar with, just because I want to hear what they’ve got going on. But I also use that as a time to explore people that I’ve never heard of before. And might even be people that I know have a point of view that contradicts my own life perspective. Because I don’t want to just insulate myself with people that agree with me. And with mindsets that I already have. I want things that push back on that, that challenge my point of view, things that get me to stretch. And the beautiful part of that is two things, one of two things are going to result, I’m going to either have a stronger conviction for what I believe in, or I’m actually going to learn and grow and change something and adopt the new philosophy and integrate that into my life. So I am always devouring podcasts. So that’s what I’m excited as far as kind of the input side. And then yes, the output side, very proud of the new book. Looking forward to several more months of getting that in the hands of as many people as I can. And I’m also equally excited to get back on physical stages at in-person events, having been sidelined for almost 18 months doing. Boy, it feels great to be in a room full of people again, and I’m very thankful for that. And I’m really grateful that I had an opportunity to get so many reps in the virtual world and still work on the speaking craft and do that during that interim. Because when I started stepping on stage again, I felt like I had never left like it felt comfortable. It wasn’t rusty. I didn’t have to relearn how to ride the bike. I just started pedaling and away I went.

Adam Vazquez 33:29
Yeah, for sure. My last question for you, I heard in I think it was one of your reels maybe and I just have to ask you because we just saw the anniversary of Kobe passing just a couple of days ago and I saw the video you were talking about your experience working at his camp. It was a little anecdote that spoke to the legend, the myth of his work ethic and I just wondered if you’d share it as we wrap up here?

Alan Stein Jr. 33:55
I probably won’t do the story as much justice. So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll give you the cliff notes version and the major lesson but then I encourage folks to go over to my YouTube channel or website and check it out. But back in 2007, I had a chance to work the first ever Kobe Bryant skills Academy and I got a chance to watch Kobe do one of his private workouts really early one morning. And I remember as a young coach, being really surprised that he was doing really basic drills. I mean, the first 20 minutes he didn’t even have a ball in his hand. He was just doing different footwork patterns and pivoting drills. And I just remember being so surprised at the simplicity of what he was doing. I expected at that time, he was the best player on the planet. I was expecting there to be a little bit more sizzle with the state. He’d be doing some flashy, sexy drills, and he didn’t and that surprised me. So later that day at camp, I asked him and literally said verbatim Kobe, you’re the best player in the world. Why are you doing such basic drills? And he gave me that million-dollar smile and a very friendly wink but he said with a very serious tone, “Why do you think I’m the best player in the world? Because I never get bored with the basics.”

I’ve told that story 1,000s of times and it still makes the hairs on my neck stand up because it was such an impactful moment. It might not be for your listeners, that might be something they considered obvious. But for me, it’s when I realized that just because something is basic, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Those two words are often used interchangeably, but they’re not synonyms. They don’t mean the same thing. Just because something’s basic, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. If it was easy, everyone else would be doing it. We live in a world that often unconsciously tells us, it’s okay to skip steps. Tells us we should always be looking for a shortcut or a hack or an easier way. It tells us we should constantly be chasing what’s new, and what’s flashy, and what’s shiny, and what’s sexy. And a major pillar of my work is getting folks to understand that doing those things is a huge mistake. And that’s because the basics work. They always have and they always will. That’s across all industries. That’s personally and professionally. That’s individually and organizationally. The basics work. The heart of my work is getting folks to crystallize have great clarity on what the basics are that they need to focus on what are the fundamentals that you need to work towards mastery of during the unseen hours, to get really, really, really good at whatever domain you’re trying to improve. And it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to improve as a podcast host and prove as a spouse or a parent, or improve as the CEO of a massive organization, what are the fundamental building blocks that will allow you to achieve excellence in that area? And then make sure you’re working on those things every single day. And I know I take that to heart as a speaker, as an author, and as a father.

Adam Vazquez 36:54
Well, Alan, thank you so much. That’s so great. I think that’s a great point to wrap it. We really appreciate you coming on. And I know you said before, I don’t know if the listeners like I’m jacked up just sitting here listening, I need to go run or something outside just to let off some of his energy. Would love to see you in person sometime and see one of your speaking engagements. But for those who are interested in the book, interested in just keeping up with what you’re doing, what’s the best place for them to check you out?

Alan Stein Jr. 37:19
Well, the main hub is AlanSteinJr.com. I have an auxiliary site, strongerteam.com, which has a bunch of other offerings. I’m very easily found on social @AlanSteinJr. And if anyone’s interested in either book, just search Raise Your Game or Sustain Your Game on Amazon or Audible or wherever you get your books and audiobooks. Always love keeping the conversation going, so if someone wants to shoot me a DM on Instagram, I’m really good about getting back to folks. And yeah, this was a lot of fun. Man, I appreciate you making my job easy. I would love to have an opportunity to be on stage one day and for you and I to connect.

Adam Vazquez 37:54
That’d be great. Hopefully we’ll get connected to you soon. Thanks.

Alan Stein Jr. 37:56
So you’re welcome. Thank you.

Carlton Riffel 37:59
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