Leadership Edge with Al Harrington, former NBA player, and business mogul
Updated: Jan 5
I’ve had the pleasure of attending Collision From Home, top technology conference, and sitting down with Al Harrington.
Al Harrington is an American former professional basketball player. Selected in the 1998 NBA draft, Harrington played 16 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards. He also spent a short stint with the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Collision From Home
Times may be uncertain, but one thing remains true. There’s a simple power in people coming together.
Following in the spirit of Collision, Collision from Home attendees will participate from wherever they are in the world, live streaming talks from tech CEOs, international policymakers, and global cultural figures. They’ll chat and connect with each other through the bespoke Collision from Home app and they’ll engage with some of the world’s most influential companies and fastest-growing startups.
What legacy do you want to leave behind?
Great question! For me now, especially because of the new industry that I am in, I’m in a space where being a black owner is something that is very rare. One of the legacies that I want is to be one of the people or pioneers that used his company’s platform to elevate, uplift, empower, educate, and create opportunities for people of color. I really feel like the industry can provide generational wealth, which is something we definitely want as part of our community.
Our company, ViolaBrands, has committed over $500,000 to partner with, fund, and guide applicants through our Social Equity Program in Los Angeles.
At the end of the day, when people think of me, I want them to think about how Al Harrington changed the trajectory of their family and put them on the path to generational wealth. I would like to do that for 100 families, and hopefully turn those hundred into thousands, all of us educating and empowering and paying it forward for others.
You have a mission that you want to have 100 African American individuals to become millions through business. How do you see yourself doing that?
One is through education. We are still pioneers in this industry. We are in the very early, early days. There is a lot of opportunities, but we need to educate ourselves on all the different verticals that are in the space. We can own testing companies, trash removal companies, medial companies and packaging companies. There is so many different things where, when you give people of color the chance, we can find a way to make gold out of it.
What are the 3 things you wish someone told you before you got started in basketball and business, and why?
The only thing I wish someone would’ve told me to focus more on the finance side of my life and to focus on amassing generation wealth earlier on. If I had it all over again, I would want to learn how to truly make money (not just to save it), and perhaps invest in real estate. Otherwise, I don’t have any regrets. I’m a firm believer in God, and I do believe that everything that happened to me happened for a reason.
What is the mindset or set of core principles that helped you the most in your career, both in basketball and entrepreneurship?
Just hard work. People don’t know this about me, but I didn’t start playing basketball until I was a freshman in high school and ended up getting drafted out of high school. And the reason why was because of how hard I worked. Somebody told me early in my life about the 10,000 hours to become an expert. So that was one of the things I was in the quest for–trying to get up to 10,000 hours to become an expert in basketball. And I did that, and surpass that, and that’s why I was in the play successfully for 16 years. And I take that mindset into business and entrepreneurship at the end of the day. I’m late to the party, I’m late at knowing all the benefits, but nobody is going to outwork me in my company. That’s really one of the key values of our company. All of us–everyone on this team– will go out there and grind every single day as if we didn’t do anything the day before.
What is your advice for young people?
I firmly believe in finding what you are truly passionate about. And as soon as you find something that you are passionate about, you’ll never work a day in your life. If you could do that, then success will come your way, because you will put in the work that will be required for you to be successful.
What is the one thing you would like our readers to do?
If you have any interest in the space, read up on it and look at the laws in the states that we live in. Don’t believe the hype such as ‘the ship has sailed’ or ‘there is no way for you to participate’. There is a lot of opportunity out here for us. We just have to find a way and carve out our niche.
I always say to people, the reason why I was in the play for 16 years and the reason why I have been able to transition to entrepreneurship is because of the passion that I had for it. Essentially, I don’t work. I would actually do all of what I’m doing now for free. And for the first six years of my company, I did do it for free. So, I would encourage everyone to read and find out if you have a passion with the industry. And if you don’t, maybe you could look at investing in companies like mine. Investing in black-owned businesses is something that is very important, and a way that we can have an impact.
Originally published on Thrive Global