Things I learned from Bill and Not For Profit Investing

10 Things I Learned from Bill Walton: The Not-for-Profit Investor and Board Member Who was much More Than Just a Tall Tale

As the former CEO of Fund Our Community, I had the unique pleasure of working with a legend, both in stature and in spirit—Bill Walton. He was a man who did it all: from scoring baskets and winning NCAA and NBA Championships to scoring big for charities like Wounded Warriors.

The first time I met Bill was at a Wounded Warriors event at Cavallo Point Lodge in Marin California. He was presented with the highest “normal” bicycle I had ever seen and went out of his way to thank the builder of the bike, the company and the people who designed and built it for him. He didn’t need to do that, but that was the kind of good guy he was.

Bill had serious charisma, a great smile and an infectious quest for knowledge as well as giving it back. Yes, he was a physical giant. But I personally believe he was under appreciated for all of the charity work he did, the not for profits he supported and the investments he made in so many communities. That is how I will remember him. He wanted to make a difference and he did.   

So, without further acclaim (and please pardon the Archer like puns), here are the top 10 slam-dunk lessons I learned from the man himself:

1. Height Isn’t Everything, But It Sure Helps When You’re Raising the Bar – Bill taught us that setting high goals is like going for that high rebound; it might seem out of reach at first, but with enough jump (effort / ambition), you’ll grab it with hard work and perseverance.

2. The Best Defense Is a Good Offense – In the startup world, like on the court, you’ve got to be proactive. Bill’s strategy? Always be on the offensive, whether it’s pushing for innovation or pushing for a cause. Don’t wait for something to happen. Make it happen.

3. Passing Is Not Just a Play, It’s a Philosophy – Sharing success, like a good basketball pass, creates opportunities for others to score. Bill was all about the assist, how can I help my teammates succeed?

4. You Can’t Score If You Don’t Shoot – Bill’s investment in Fund Our Community (our startup) was a shot worth taking. He was a firm believer that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and in business, that means every opportunity is worth evaluating.

5. Rebounds Are Just Opportunities in Disguise – Missed a shot? No problem. Every setback is a chance to grab the ball back, gather yourself and go for another shot. No business succeeds 100% of the time. It’s what you do after the “ball” drops that differentiates the winners.

6. Footwork Matters – Whether it’s pivoting in the paint or pivoting your startups business model, nimble footwork can save the day. Bills history of foot surgeries notwithstanding, he was a big believer in changing things up if it wasn’t working.

7. Charity Work Is the Real MVP – Bill’s dedication to causes like Wounded Warriors showed us that the most valuable plays are made off the court, making a difference in the lives of others. Every time I spoke with him, it was tell me where you’re at, what you need and what I can do to help. He was focused on giving back and applied his resources accordingly.

8. Keep Your Eye on the Ball, But Also on the Horizon – Vision is everything. You need to see the whole court to develop the best strategy. Keeping your eyes open to where your NFP business translates into affecting the bigger picture both in business and philanthropy.

9. A Good Teammate Lifts You Up—Literally – Standing next to Bill, I felt taller and I know the people around him did as well. His support elevated everyone around him, proving that a good team member is a force multiplier.

10. The Game Never Ends – Just like his many stories, his passion for life and charity work reminds us that there’s always another quarter to play, another mountain to climb, and another community to uplift.

So, there you have it. A Few lessons I learned from a man who was as comfortable in the boardroom as was amazing on the boards. Thanks, Bill, for being the ultimate teammate and for showing us that the game of giving back is the most rewarding one to play.

You will be remembered!

Tags: #NFP #Notforprofit #charity #Woundedwarriorproject #dogood #giveback #lifelessons #NBA #NCAA #BillWalton #business #success #successtips #life

David is an investor and executive director at Sentia AI, a next generation AI sales enablement technology company and Salesforce partner. Dave’s passion for helping people with their AI, sales, marketing, business strategy, startup growth and strategic planning has taken him across the globe and spans numerous industries. You can follow him on Twitter LinkedIn or Sentia AI.
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