Leveraging Talent Advantages During Disrupted Change


In his book 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business, Earvin “Magic” Johnson notes how he developed his entrepreneurial spirit, took advantage of business opportunities, and used his economic power as a force for social change.

As a megastar with the Los Angele Lakers in the 80’s, Magic soon established himself as one of the best to ever play in the NBA.  Unlike other super-athletes who failed to make the transition from superdom after their prime, Magic used his athletic platform to give him access to some of the most successful business leaders in the world.

Loaded with the internal business drive he inherited from his father, Magic began to use his athletic instincts to his advantage in the business world.  Magic found power in building on his core strengths, not being consumed with his weaknesses:  “Rarely can you turn a weakness into a strength. Greatness is achieved by building on strengths and managing your weaknesses so they do not matter.”

Sadly, many professionals are also succumbed by their weaknesses too.  Rev. Joe Tolbert, a dynamic motivational speaker, warns about how culture influences our personal perceptions:  “The world teaches us to focus on weaknesses rather than strengths.” Given the tremendous financial turbulence in the world, today’s leaders need to focus on their talent management if they are to survive.  In this blog, I will examine the concept of talent management.

Talent management is a critical asset for high-performing organizations in a global economy. In fact, finding the best talent and retaining the best people in a business will eventually overtake many other advantages such as technology and capital.  Talent power will rule the future economy.

Talent management is defined as the process through which employers anticipate and meet their needs of human capital.  Yet, employees cannot dismiss talent management as only an employer’s duty.

Since the post-World War II era, workers have enjoyed a lifetime employment model where workers were assured of financial stability.  That is not the case today where younger workers can expect to change jobs frequently.


Peter Cappelli, author of Talent on Demand, outlines the dangers of poor talent management. In the past, with a good economy, American businesses could afford to mismanage their talent pool.  Today’s businesses often are short-sided and do not want to develop internal talent; instead, they are depending on others for their talent.

Cappelli explains, “Relying on outside hiring seems to fly in the face of the imperative that organizations should be engaged in knowledge management practices that capture and organize what they know about their operations to improve performance.”  However, these failures in managing this talent pool are often negative.  For example, having too many employees leads to layoffs and restructuring, while having to too few talented people leads to talent shortages.

John Wiedmer, Robert Wiedemer, and Cindy Spitzer, authors of America’s Bubble Economy, wisely forecasted the bursting of America’s bubble in 2008 while other economists were predicting economic fortune for all.  In fact, the authors now predict that an even bigger financial cliff is ahead for the world.  However, they advocate the importance of talent management: “The fall of America’s Bubble Economy will shake up many industries, drive businesses into bankruptcy, derail countless careers, and force dramatic numbers of workers into temporary unemployment.  It will also create thousands of successful companies that don’t currently exist, lead all sorts of people to rethink their life’s work, and make many entrepreneurs and investors fabulously wealthy.”

Most firms would prefer to invest in technology and automation to reduce their labor cost or outsource their labor needs abroad to obtain cheaper resources.  In the case of talent management, these short-term gains can be fatal.  Cappelli further argues for strengthening talent management in organizations: “Growing competition in product markets further weakens the traditional talent management model by sharply increasing the uncertainty associated with planning.”  Therefore, talent management becomes a vital component of corporate strategies for businesses that desire sustainable growth.

Discuss the concepts of talent management for today’s businesses.

© 2013 by Daryl D. Green

Entrepreneurial Sustainability: Building New Markets

Ervin “Magic” Johnson was perhaps one of the greatest NBA players from my generation.  Watching the Lakers battle the Celtics became an American obsession.  Johnson, who was the floor general for the L.A. Lakers (aka “Showtime”), always performed well in big games.  His list of athletic accomplishments could fill a phone book. 

Yet, it’s Johnson’s off-the-court behavior that is a benchmark for individuals who search for sustainability in business.  Being a visionary and a doer, Johnson found opportunities in underserved areas where most traditional businesses would not pursue. 

Johnson explains, “I am grateful for my experience as an athlete. Yet the rewards of my entrepreneurial endeavors have been even more fulfilling. I’ve learned that creating jobs and providing goods and services to urban communities beats even five NBA championships.” In fact, he has used his economic power to leverage economic development in urban depressed areas. Therefore, he has become a social change agent.

In his book, 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business, Johnson explains how he developed his entrepreneurial mindset. The book provides practical advice on starting, financing, marketing, growing a business, and capitalizing on market opportunities.  Clearly, Johnson went against the grain and showed that lucrative markets are not all abroad. Like Johnson, today’s businesses will need to explore more market opportunities. Entrepreneurs inject creativity and innovation for greater profitability. In fact, they seize market problems and turn them into opportunities.

Robert Hisrich, Michael Peters, and Dean Shepherd, authors of Entrepreneurship, argue that while business owners take risks on new markets, entrepreneurs understand how to exploit these risks to their advantage.  They note, “Though many individuals have creative new ideas, few can bring their ideas to the market and create new venture. Yet entrepreneurship and the actual entrepreneurial decisions have resulted in several million new businesses being started throughout the world.”

Social media platforms such as Youtube.com may be the next frontier for entrepreneurs.  For example, Facebook now seeks to capture more of the small business market.  With 750 million users, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that 9 million of the nation’s 30 million small businesses are using Facebook to communicate with their customers.  Sandberg explains, “I think every small business should…be using Facebook. We’re not going to stop until all of them are using it to grow their businesses.”

Currently, small businesses use free Facebook pages to communicate with their customers. However, Sandberg argues that Facebook services can offer more to small businesses: “Facebook takes word-of-mouth marketing and makes it work at scale.” 

Facebook will launch a plan to attract more small business advertisement by offering a free $50 advertising credit to approximately 200,000 small businesses.  Like Magic Johnson and Facebook, today’s managers need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and search for new market opportunities.

Describe a potential entrepreneurial opportunity for you over the next five years.  How will you be able to sustain any success given market forces (i.e. Porter’s Five Competitor Forces)? 

 © 2011 by Daryl D. Green                                    

[1] “Facebook wants to be big among small businesses” by Jefferson Graham