While he may be known to most as a star basketball player, Earvin ”Magic” Johnson’s earliest aspirations had him aiming not for the backboard, but the boardroom.
Johnson revealed that his earliest role models were black businessmen in his hometown, with Rev. Al Sharpton on Advancing the Dream: Live from the Apollo, Friday.
“Oh, I want to be like them,” he said. “So I got bold one day, and I said ‘Look, I want to be like you guys, and will you give me a job and will you mentor me?’”
They said yes, offering him a job cleaning their seven-floor office building.
“I would go clean the first six floors, but on the seventh floor, that’s where the CEO’s office was, so I would bust in and I would pretend like I was the CEO, and I would put my feet up on the desk,” he said.
For him, that role-playing turned into a reality, as Johnson took his NBA earnings and endorsements and used the money to launch Magic Johnson Enterprises, worth an estimated $700 million.
“I grew up poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams,” he said.
Johnson also believes that those who achieve success in the black community have a duty to help foster an environment of success for the next generation too.
“We got to still understand that we got to understand money, build wealth and pass this on to our kids, and then also go into the community that we live in and own our business and then put our people to work. That’s what I’ve been about my whole career.”