How Warriors CEO & Owner Joe Lacob Builds a Winning Culture

Relentlessly pursuing excellence.

That’s how Joe Lacob defined the culture of the Golden State Warriors when speaking to LinkedIn employees today.

Lacob’s visit was a part of the LinkedIn Speaker Series where leaders and thinkers share inspiring ideas with our more than 10,000 employees.

As owner and CEO of the Warriors, Lacob said that his role is to set clear goals for what the organization should accomplish, then hire amazing people who can help him reach those goals.

I loved Lacob’s candor. He spoke from the heart and answered questions directly. His responses weren’t always politically correct, but he was genuine. It was refreshing to hear someone of his caliber speak in such a way.

Lacob’s commitment and passion for winning was palpable throughout the 60 minutes he shared with us. At one point he was asked why the Warriors signed Kevin Durant when they had just finished a record 73-win season. Lacob was quick to respond that his goal is not to just be good, or even great. He wants the Warriors to be the absolute best.

To be the best, you have to be 100% committed to improvement. In Lacob’s words, you must relentlessly pursue excellence in all you do. Those are his expectations for himself and for the entire Warriors organization.

And those are the expectations we should have of ourselves. Whether we’re an NBA all-star, an executive, a college student, a parent, or a minimum-wage worker. We can all commit to continuous improvement. We can all relentlessly pursue excellence.


Self Doubt vs. Idea Doubt: Which one’s holding you back?

A few weeks ago I heard Adam Grant speak about his new book, Originals, where he teaches how to originate new ideas, policies, and practices without risking it all.

At one point he spoke on the topic of doubt, and my ears immediately perked up. I’ve faced doubt throughout my life. Am I smart enough? Can I overcome my obstacles? Am I even on the right career path? I’ve asked myself these questions many times.

Grant took the subject deeper, discussing two kinds of doubt: self doubt and idea doubt.

Self doubt is a lack of confidence in yourself and your abilities. When you have self doubt, you constantly feel like you’re not good enough. You don’t know if you have what it takes.

Idea doubt is different. Those with idea doubt are confident in themselves, but they don’t know if a specific project or idea is going to work. They believe it’s just a matter of time until they find something that clicks.

If you have self doubt, you’re far less likely to try new ideas and experiment. And as Grant teaches, “The people who succeed the most are the people who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most.”

Where self doubt is crippling, idea doubt can motivate and propel you. A healthy amount of idea doubt may give you the energy to try new things, fail, and keep iterating. Self doubt may prevent you from even trying.

Which kind of doubt is holding you back?

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Joel Peterson on Building High Trust Organizations

Chairman of JetBlue. Former CEO at Trammell Crow. Founder of Peterson Partners. Professor at Stanford Business School. Joel Peterson is a very impressive individual.

So when someone of his pedigree tells you that the most important ingredient in a business’s success is trust, you listen. In Joel’s words:

In firms where people trust their leaders and colleagues trust one another, there’s more innovation and better business outcomes. Mistrust and politics are expensive, time-consuming and dispiriting. When a company has a reputation for fair dealing, its costs drop: trust cuts the time spent second-guessing, worrying, and lawyering. Trust strengthens every part of any deal: its durability, its potential profitability, and its flexibility. Like most things, business works better when the energy spent on doubt, fear and suspicion are reduced.

A few years ago, Joel was in the process of buying a Manhattan condo. He and the other party agreed to the deal by handshake, but before the paperwork was signed, the other man went silent. Two weeks later he emerged, demanding that if Joel didn’t increase the offer by 20%, there was no deal.

This man, who is now one of the leading candidates for President of the United States, had spent the previous two weeks shopping the deal.

But in Joel’s opinion, this is an exception. He believes that the vast majority of people respond well to being trusted. Joel tells the story of how early in his career, he made a deal with a savvy and experienced investor.

As papers were being drawn up, I received a call from him. “I don’t think you meant to set things up the way you did,” he said, referring to a part of the deal that was in his favor. He proceeded to explain to me how the provision could have left my firm in a bind. He was right, and saved me from a bad mistake. From this, we went on to do over a hundred financings together over several decades. Our level of mutual trust became so great that he’d wire money before the papers were complete. Later, I had a chance to sort through some troubled assets for him to ensure that he recovered his investment capital. I didn’t need to, but I never forgot how he’d saved me as a young entrepreneur.

Building genuine trust is a long-term investment. Cutting corners may lead to quick victories in the interim, but organizations and individuals who do the right thing win in the long-term.

Take it from someone who’s served on the Board of 35 companies, acquired well over 100 more, and led some of the most successful companies of the last few decades.