Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life (#332)

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“I’ve always had this theory that, if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll always get what you want.” — George Raveling

Coach George Raveling (@GeorgeRaveling) is an 80-year-old living legend and Nike’s former Director of International Basketball. Coach Raveling was the first African American head basketball coach in the PAC-8 (now PAC-12), and he is often referred to as the “Human Google.”

Coach Raveling has held head coaching jobs at Washington State, The University of Iowa, and USC. Following a prolific basketball coaching career, he joined Nike at the request of Phil Knight, where he played an integral role in signing a reluctant Michael Jordan. He’s also been inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

In this episode we cover a lot of things including how he came to possess the original copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, how his practice team ended up beating the 1984 US Olympic Dream Team in basketball, and much, much more!

I hope you’ll emerge from this conversation walking on air as I did!

Enjoy!

#332: Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life
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Want to hear a podcast featuring mutual friend Ryan Holiday? — In this episode, we discuss the “big three” Stoics, how Stoicism applies to the modern world, and how to improve your decision-making when stakes are high (stream below or right-click here to download):


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with George Raveling:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn

SHOW NOTES

  • It’s hard to know where to begin interviewing someone who’s lived as many lifetimes in one as Coach Raveling, so let’s find out how he came to possess Martin Luther King Jr.’s original “I Have a Dream” speech. [06:57]
  • Three men George considers his indirect mentors. [23:33]
  • A surprising fact about MLK that George didn’t discover until just recently. [25:13]
  • How has Dr. King inspired George and helped him make tough decisions and sacrifices throughout his life? [26:21]
  • To young George, his grandmother was as infallible as the Pope. How did he come to be in her care at age 12 and wind up going to Catholic school in Pennsylvania? [30:36]
  • What Grandma taught George and his brother about social graces — particularly how to treat women. [35:00]
  • How a remarkable nun encouraged George to be special and face life with a positive attitude. [37:48]
  • Why did George participate in every sport available in high school, and what made him gravitate toward basketball? [39:38]
  • An approach by a Hall of Fame coach and learning the meaning of the word “scholarship.” [42:24]
  • How did Grandma take the news about George’s scholarship offer? [44:56]
  • George talks about his rare collection of racist books, figurines, and postcards from the 19th and 20th centuries and why he keeps them on display in his home. [47:15]
  • What else does George collect? [51:12]
  • George looks upon relationships as a privilege and he always tries to be of service to his friends. [52:17]
  • Most of George’s best friendships started by mistake. Here’s an example that led him to seek out more associations with young people — and an examination of what this teaches George. [54:15]
  • Relationships as a “we” mentality, not a “me” mentality. [56:28]
  • George talks about the sometimes quirky scope of his voracious reading habit and its origins. [57:07]
  • What’s George’s search and discovery routine for deciding whether or not to buy a book when he’s at the store? [1:01:13]
  • Learning new lessons and discovering favorite authors at age 80. [1:03:37]
  • George proves you’re never too old to become a mastermind (even if it sends you to bed with headaches). [1:06:10]
  • What are the books George rereads and gives most often as gifts (and why does he call Tools of Titans his “China” book? [1:07:55]
  • We go over the books George brought as gifts for me and why he chose them. [1:11:11]
  • As note-taking fanatics, George and I compare notes about…notes. [1:18:35]
  • How George segments the information he takes in to avoid being overwhelmed and ensuring it sticks. [1:20:50]
  • What George does when he gets bored with reading on a long trip. [1:22:16]
  • No blank page ever goes to waste. Here are a few more secrets future archaeologists might use to decode our notes. [1:23:25]
  • What gets discovered on the second read of a favorite book. [1:26:07]
  • George’s notes get transferred to journals — which he has dating back to 1972. [1:27:01]
  • What George likes to ask himself at the end of every day. [1:28:35]
  • Why George feels it’s important to practice random acts of kindness. [1:30:15]
  • A motivational Bob Knight quote and winning gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. [1:32:19]
  • On leading the college practice team that beat the Dream Team during a scrimmage before the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. [1:35:23]
  • Three coaches that have had the most impact on George. [1:39:30]
  • How Bob Knight pushed George to write the first book on rebounds. [1:42:20]
  • George owes everyone who saw something in him along the way that he didn’t see in himself a debt of gratitude. [1:44:18]
  • While most people look forward to retiring by age 60, George’s most productive years so far didn’t begin until then. [1:45:25]
  • George talks us through his history with Nike and the job offer that seemed like a prank phone call. [1:46:52]
  • A story about visiting China in the late ’70s — when Beijing was still called Peking and westerners might as well have been from the moon. [1:50:05]
  • How much influence did George have on initially reluctant and self-professed “adidas guy” Michael Jordan signing to Nike? [1:52:59]
  • What does George mean when he says the most important conversation is the one you have with yourself? [1:57:55]
  • The only two choices George has when he gets out of bed in the morning, the number of things he limits himself to accomplishing in a day, and how he keeps office teamwork tight. [2:00:54]
  • A personal audit once per week. [2:03:18]
  • What George believes to be the biggest farce that’s ever been predicated on us. [2:03:55]
  • What is George most excited about working on these days? [2:04:31]
  • What would George’s billboard say? [2:05:32]
  • George’s challenge to the audience. [2:07:05]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:08:06]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Posted on: August 9, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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26 comments on “Coach George Raveling — A Legend on Sports, Business, and The Great Game of Life (#332)

  1. Interesting episode.

    Just a heads up.. his quote “I’ve always had this theory that, if you help enough people get what they want, you’ll always get what you want.” is almost exactly what Zig Ziglar said many years ago… “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

    Not sure if that counts as a theory, or someone passing on another’s words as their own.

    Like

  2. I think you asked the least amount of questions in any Podcast! Truly an Amazing Journey and Person. Great Interview…. as always.
    I always love your “what book do you gift and why”
    The Jordan story was telling, how to never give Up on an opportunity. His favorite coaches and why also. Lefty, if you have never heard of him, was one of the greatest coaches in my generation. GBU

    Like

  3. Hey Tim,

    Your an inspirational guy but how about thinking about and commenting on the state of our shared planet ? You have a huge amount of influence why not use it towards this largest of problems that everyone seems to be skirting. It’s very nice to have a nice lifestyle but sooner than later if the planet is fucked that stuff won’t mean too much. I hope to see you include this issue on your podcasts and on your blog, you more than most people could actually have a impact on the state of our collective consciousness, all the best Tim.

    Like

  4. Comment for 8/10 Five Bullet Friday. Love the quote- going to give it a try. I’m also a Will & Ariel Durant fan. I’ve got the complete Story of Civilization set.

    Like

  5. Hello Mr. Ferriss, a while back you recommended a CBD Oil in one of your 5-Bullet Friday emails. I have tried to find it on your website, but can’t. Could you re-post that? I’m looking for a quality oil.

    Thanks

    Like

  6. I finished the Tribe of Mentors and found it to be a great read and a good source to learn the role that mentoring plays in growth and development. You might like my new book on mentoring where I outline some key principles about mentoring and then include a list of mentoring relationships from all walks of life. Here’s a link to the book: http://goo.gl/IsJvWr

    Liked by 2 people

  7. One of my personal favorite episodes. I particularly liked the reason why Coach Raveling began and continues to read so many books.

    Thank you for the interview,
    Reece Guyon

    Like

  8. Thanks Tim, favourite quote must be “grandmother was as infallible as the Pope”… very recignizable… Sure miss my grandmother and her grace too…

    Like

  9. Great episode!! I’d love to see more episodes with older guests….so much wisdom to be unpacked from great lives before it is to late. Keep up the good work and thanks again for all your work Tim.

    Like

  10. Great episode. Easily one of my favorites. A truly remarkable man. I learned a lot of things from him and have already incorporated some of his practices into my routines.
    I even used his experience in obtaining Dr. King’s speech as a teaching moment at work; Never be afraid to ask. You have no idea how great the answer could be.

    Like

  11. This is an episode I enjoyed deeply. It reminded me of the system of notes and marking I had and had forgotten to use.
    Lately, you are interviewing very interesting people. Bravo!

    Like

  12. What an excellent podcast….definitely makes my top 5. I have recommended it already to two friends, who listen on and off. The questions really opened up the discussion and it was enlightening on many levels. I liked the fact it was back to you interviewing great people talking about their personal drivers and exploring their achievements, (rather than promoting stuff). The motivation for reading and staying young, love that.

    Great job, never would have known anything about him.

    It brightened up my commute this morning and energised my day..thanks Tim.

    Like

  13. Dear Coach and Tim,

    It is 02:40 in the morning in Warsaw, Poland and you guys were keeping me awake listening your podcasts.

    It is one of the best, I’ve listened so far.

    Coach is very open, sincere and humble, it would be a miss not hearing that. The way he talks and explains is so pure so it has a big impact.

    I’ll connect with him through LinkedIn.:) I hope our roads will cross somewhere:)

    Congrats to you Tim and Ryan,one more time, to bring him in. The way you lead interview with respect he deserves is perfect and make him open up so nicely.

    Best regards

    MOE

    Like

  14. Thank you George (and Tim)! Loved hearing about the wisdom from your Grandmother; especially the story that got you reading, how the slave owners hid their money in the books.

    Like

  15. I couldn’t learn much from this podcast.

    I recently heard Kai Fu Lee say that people should take mentorship from people only 5 years older than them.

    I couldn’t relate much to this podcast.

    The Michael Jordan story about Nike was a good one though.

    Like

  16. An interesting fellow, great talker and storyteller, with a good story to tell.
    I have below zero interest in Basketball, or was it Baseball, I’d go out of my way to avoid it taking my attention, and really wasn’t expecting to like this anywhere near as much as I did.
    I downloaded it anyway, being as how it is what it is, and I’m mighty pleased I did.
    I’d love to hear more from him.

    Like

  17. Had the pleasure of meeting this great humble man and received a gift of three books. They Cleared The Lane , The WORD OF THE LORD IS UPON MEt , the righteous performance of Dr Martin Luthur King and the lives of 100 People who impacted the World .This was an awesome indept interview. He is so genuine. I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast. May he enjoy many more years in good health

    Like

  18. This conversation is firmly in my top podcast list easily up there with Jamie Foxx, Stewart Brand et al. Thank you for allowing Coach Rav to plough his own furrow on this.

    Like

  19. Tim,
    Thank you for bringing Coach Raveling to your podcast.

    As a 15 year old I attended the WSU Cougar Cage Camp which was run by Raveling. It was a week long basketball camp, but in reality it was more of a LIFE camp. I attended Washington State when Raveling was there, whenever he gave a talk on campus I made sure to attend.

    Until he talked about it in your podcast, I didn’t realize that Raveling had been a mentor to me my whole life, although we never met personally. He was one of the true influences in my life. I bought his motivational speech from basketball camp, on cassette, and listened to it over and over in high school.

    I have never heard a speech or interview with Coach Raveling where I didn’t leave fascinated and motivated.

    I would love it if you would follow up with more interviews with Coach Raveling.

    Thanks,
    Greg

    Like

  20. Great Podcast. It’s interesting how both George Raveling and Jamie Foxx (‘Workout routines, success habits, and untold Hollywood stories’ episode) mention that their grandmas had a profound influence on their life.

    Like