Entrepreneur, VC, and NBA star, Spencer Dinwiddie, took some time to chat with host Michael Redd about his challenges along the journey to pro basketball, what it means to surround yourself with the right people, and being “… a tech guy with a jumper.”
Basketball is just the tip of the iceberg. Off the court, I build businesses that improve the lives of others and make the world a better place.” – Spencer Dinwiddie
An “unstoppable force,” both on and off the court, Spencer currently plays for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and played college basketball for the Colorado Buffaloes where he earned first-team all-conference honors in the Pac-12 as a sophomore in 2013.
His story of perseverance began after injuring his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and missing most of his junior year in college. He was determined to speed his recovery and was selected in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft.
During the 2016-2017 season, all-star weekend, he won the NBA skills challenge, and the following season was a top 5 passer and a top 5 isolation player. The day after scoring a career-high 39 points in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, he signed a three-year contract extension with the Nets.
Spencer has launched three businesses and partnered with a fourth that aim to accomplish his mission to give back to communities in need, including The Dinwiddie Family Foundation, Project DREAM, DREAM Fan Shares, and The Cred Partnership.
His mission is “… to build companies that create value in the world and that strive to make the lives of others better.”
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In this episode Michael and Spencer talked about:
- How resiliency and a no regret attitude are essential to success
- Why startups are not for the faint of heart
- When to bet on yourself and go for the broke on your own terms
- Why staying true to yourself, owning your differences, and chasing your passions leads to excellence
- How Spencer has been a trailblazer for empowering a generation of NBA players
- And more hot takes on the state of the world and business!
- Spencer Dinwiddie on LinkedIn
- Spencer Dinwiddie on Twitter
- Michael Redd on Instagram
Spencer Dinwiddie: Man he's a weird cryptocurrency kid or something like that, but I was true to myself, and I had fun with it. And I've also been blessed to make a bunch of different connections with people that have like minds, you know what I'm saying? In that type of space and things like that. So you just kind of got to go for it.
Michael Redd: Hey everybody, this is Michael Redd and welcome to the Betting On Yourself Podcast, where I interview successful entrepreneurs, athletes, and other top performers who rose to the top, took success into their own hands, and bet on themselves. Today I'm talking with my friend and NBA star, Spencer Dinwiddie. Spencer and I have a lot in common. He suffered an ACL injury his junior year in college while playing for the Colorado Buffaloes, but persevered and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2014 to eventually make his way to the Brooklyn Nets where he continues to be an unstoppable force, both on and off the court.
Michael Redd: There are so many instances where Spence has bet on himself and his career, from the court to developing his tennis shoe line. We talk about his journey, what it means to surround yourself with the right people, and how having a no regrets attitude with a resilient spirit are essential to achieving your longterm goals.
Michael Redd: Spence, man, thank you again, bud. Thank you again, man. Following your career, there's a lot that we got in common and I'm looking forward to getting into the conversation, including the ACL injury that I suffered and that you suffered in college. And you got a remarkable resume. I think your life, man, not even just your career, I think your life embodies this show and betting on yourself. And I've been a fan of yours and watched the rise of your career, both on the court and off the court. And it's very impressive and would love to collaborate with you on that beyond the show. But yeah man, just talk to me about what is betting on yourself, and how has that meant to you in your life?
Spencer Dinwiddie: Oh man. It's a foundational piece, really the whole journey if you look at it. Anytime this kind of concept comes up, I always have to go to my parents and how they raised me. You know what I mean? They always told me, you can do anything you want, you know what I mean? As long as you put in the requisite work, and you maintain a passion for it and a focus for it. You can be president, you can play in the NBA, you can do whatever. And so taking that mentality and applying it to things that I love is how I got here.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I mean, my final two college choices were Colorado and Harvard. Most of my extended family was like, "Hey, go to Harvard. You had a nice six figure job waiting for you when you graduate. You never have to worry about anything in your life because of the alumni network. It's the smart play. You're only the 150th best player in your high school class. Only McDonald's all Americans go to the league. Don't do it." And I said, "Hey guys, I'm going to the Pac-12. I'm going to approve all those West Coast schools wrong, and I'm going to go to league in two years." And it took me three, but got there nonetheless.
Michael Redd: That's phenomenal, man, because when I talk about you and I've been excited to talk to you, man, affirmation from the family, from your father, the two parent home really solidified your identity.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah.
Michael Redd: Which abled you to become versatile and diverse with your perspective on life and what you can accomplish. Does that make sense?
Spencer Dinwiddie: 1000%. I mean, that really is everything. My dad raised me on a foundation of respect. Like I told you, they told me that I could do anything in life. My mom told me to focus on school and to hopefully be compassionate. And so when you talk about being very academic focused early in life, trying to be compassionate and aware of other people's perspectives, like you said, to respect people in all walks of life, but to have a resiliency, I won't even say necessarily confidence, because confidence grows as you confirm your own hopes, dreams, beliefs. But to have a resiliency to believe that no matter what hardship comes my way, I'm going to be able to push through it because my dad told me I could, or my mom told me I could, is how you get through the early struggles.
Spencer Dinwiddie: You know what I mean? When you're seven or eight and you face adversity and your parents say, "Well, you got to work harder, but don't worry, we believe in you." Well, you're not going to think the other seven or eight year old that told you, you suck was right. You're going to think your parents are right. You know what I mean? And that instills that resiliency and that ability to bounce back from hardships, and also the work ethic to understand that I'm not just going to bounce back because I want to bounce back, I'm going to bounce back because I want to, but I'm also going to put that plan and that work behind it, that allows me to then succeed. So big credit to my parents.
Michael Redd: Absolutely, man. Was there a pivotal moment that stands out above the rest? And I know there's been a number of moments in your career and your life where you had to take a bet on yourself, but was it the decision to go to Colorado over Harvard? Was that a pivotal moment, or was there that moment when you tore your knee in college after having an incredible start to come back and say, "I want to continue my career."? So which of those moments or maybe before that?
Spencer Dinwiddie: I think the decision on college was a pivotal moment from the standpoint of them empowering me. Because I'm a 17 year old kid at the time. And they're like, "Hey, you know what ..." And my parents told me, they were like, "Look, do what you want. As long as you're prepared to live with whatever path you go down, then the decision is right for you." You know what I mean? And they would talk about not having regrets at the end of your life or later on in life. So they were like, "Hey, if you're going to go to Harvard and always regret that you never pushed yourself in the basketball field, then it's not right for you. And if you're going to go to Colorado and not make the NBA and always regret that you never went to Harvard, then it's not right for you." You know what I mean?
Spencer Dinwiddie: So they would present the perspectives of like, you have to stand on your decision and own that for the rest of your life. So that was pivotal in terms of empowering, and what also set the stage for the ACL decision. Still declaring for the draft even though I was hurting and wasn't going to be able to work out or anything like that. And you know what I'm saying? Like, hey, you'll probably slide to the second round instead of being lottery or near lottery. You already had that empowerment from three years prior, and now you're looking at your situation and there was no regrets there. I was ready and confident in what I could do, and I felt that I want to be in the NBA. I want to play. That was and is my dream.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I'm going to push myself to work harder, come back from this ACL injury, enter camp. You know what I mean? Beat these guys who are already established. I'm not going to take what to me was the safer route of like, all right, I'll do some college rehab and I'll probably ... even if I'm a step slow, I'll be able to beat these guys because I'm familiar with it and comfortable with it. It was about accomplishing that dream and being there and pushing yourself and saying, "Regardless, this isn't going to be an excuse, draft position or not. There is no excuse here. You make this happen."
Michael Redd: That's incredible, man. I mean, that fire and that passion, and actually I was reading your story and discovering your life, man. That passion to come back from the ACL, to make the decision to go to NBA came from being right at the 150th player in high school.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah. I was like 150 or like 148 or something like that. It was down there. I barely cracked the rivals.
Michael Redd: Wow. You strike me as the guy, man, that from that time on, failure is not an option. And I heard you mentioned about safety. I feel like safety can be overrated. The familiar route is safe, but you take the opposite route because you love the challenge, man, of overcoming.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah. I mean, I think most things in life that are worth having aren't gained through just being comfortable. Even the NBA and stuff like that, when people think that people just were blessed and just fell into the NBA and all this other stuff, to me I look at it as I did an internship from four years old to 20 years old. I did 16 years of unpaid internship to get to that place. You know I'm saying? That's the work that I put in. And I mean, so why would failure be an option for me? Why would I throw 16 years of work away when I'm right there? Why would I get to this point, and now believe that I'm not as good? That doesn't make any sense to me. If I got here, it's for a reason. If I can win in practice, then I can win in the game. You know what I mean?
Spencer Dinwiddie: And the more you adopt it ... I mean, you talk about affirmation and energy and what you put out there and believe, it's a self fulfilling prophecy. Part of the reason I am here, beyond my parents, it's just from the fact that every day I woke up ... Well, I dreamt about it, and I woke up and then I believe this is what's going to happen, and it's going to happen. There's not another option here, not from a necessity standpoint, but because this is how bad I want this. And so every ounce of energy is going to be driven towards accomplishing it. So how are you going to stop me if I'm applying every fiber of my being into something?
Michael Redd: It's so powerful to hear you say that, man, because we have a lot of listeners that listen to this show who are entrepreneurs as well. And we'll get into that portion of your life in a bit, but the whole notion of a plan B, and a contingency plan. Talk about that man, for a second.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I think there are areas where those are needed. You know what I mean? Like when you talk about an NBA player, for example, he's going to make the bulk of his money in a three to 15-year window. So putting some aside in terms of having savings for a rainy day or your base level, yeah, that's your plan B, that's your safety or whatever it is. I'm not saying blow all your money or do whatever, all that stuff. But in the sense of pursuing a passion or really going after something, and you mentioned startup lightly.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Startups aren't for the faint of heart. You have to be flexible, adaptable, you got to grind. You're going to be told no way more than you're going to be told yes, and that's coming from an NBA player. So having a startup when you're not an NBA player, you're going to get told no 10 times more. You know what I mean? So it's not for the faint of heart, and you have to have, like I said, that resiliency, that conviction and not really believe in a plan B. You have to be flexible and adaptable, but if you're trying to get to the goal, then you get to the goal, whichever route it takes. You know what I mean? So don't be so rigid that if you can't get there, that you're one path. But if there's a goal, there shouldn't be a plan B.
Michael Redd: Really inspirational because that carried you to being drafted in the second round, and your attitude was like, listen, I'm in. And now that I'm in, I'm going to make good on being in. And then you go through playing with the Pistons, and then you go to being traded to the Bulls, and then being waived and then be reassigned again to the G League and then being with the Bulls again and being waved again. And so I know your camp around you or friends or associates were saying like, "Man, this is ..." For you it was more like, this is part of the journey. This is the scenic route.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah. I mean, the crazy part is, and to this day, I still haven't lost one-on-one. And the reason why I bring that up is because that was one of the things that I actually clung to in the hardest moments and feeling like, man, maybe I won't really get that shot in the league. You know what I'm saying? I just got cut twice. I'm in the G League. They say the overseas offer is pretty lucrative. All that stuff to that effect and really having you weigh decisions on your life, because you have a family and you have other people that you want to provide for and do right by. So in going through that process and having that piece, that nugget, it was like, if I can beat these people and practice consistently, then I know I can get there. You know what I mean?
Spencer Dinwiddie: And so that's where some of that resiliency and confidence came from and understanding, like you said, the journey is the reward. And maybe this is because I grew up around old people or older people my whole life, but I've been blessed to take that perspective. The journey is the reward. You know what I mean? Why do people continue to try to get more championships than just one? If it was just about getting to one singular destination, then people would get there and stop. But the more you understand it, everyday waking up and putting the work in is the reward. The constant formation of your body and your mind and the reinforcing of that resiliency and confidence and the lessons you'll be able to give to your son and to the youth when you try to give back, all those things, that is the reward. That's what it is. And I'm saying, that's what this thing is about.
Michael Redd: Wow, man, you go from zero workouts for any team before the draft to being this star now. And I think what's more gratifying for you, if I'm reading our conversation and knowing you, it's the journey.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah.
Michael Redd: Tell me about cultivating that mindset every single day, the discipline to continue to have that mindset of greatness or to be elite no matter what. How about that? Tell me about that from a daily perspective for you.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Well, I spoke about growing up with old people, and them talking about the journey being the reward. And I also spoke about not having regrets later in life. So I think when you combine those concepts, those foundational type of concepts, that's why I work the way I do or try the things that I try, and expose myself to criticism or ridicule or whatever it is, because it brings me a piece. You know what I'm saying?
Spencer Dinwiddie: A lot of people try to find their piece from the world, or this person said I'm good and so it brings me that confidence or that piece or whatever it is. And don't get me wrong, it always feels good when people tell you you're good. So I'm not here saying that it never feels good because it definitely does. But honoring the journey and knowing that later in life, well I tried it. You know what I mean? And so there's no reason to regret. And also a lot of times on the other side of fear is that type of calmness in that space. We end up having so much anxiety or fear over something that probably won't even happen half the time. You know what I mean?
Spencer Dinwiddie: We think like, oh, if we do this, everybody will hate me. And in all actuality, the way the media cycle works out, oh, they got mad for 24 hours and then they forgot. You know what I mean? But we were so bound up. We were so afraid we didn't try it because we thought somebody would call us crazy, or man he's a weird cryptocurrency kid or something like that. But I was true to myself and I had fun with it. And I've also been blessed to make a bunch of different connections with people that have like minds, you know what I'm saying? In that type of space and things like that. So you just got to go for it.
Michael Redd: I love that, man. Being all in. I think you're a Renaissance man, and I don't just, in this interview want to quantify you to just being a ball player. It's what you do, but it's not who you are like we said earlier.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Appreciate it.
Michael Redd: But from a basketball perspective now, your career has taken off, man. I'm so proud of you watching you from a far because you do something that not too many people can do on the basketball court and that's score the basketball. And I personally have an appreciation for scoring.
Spencer Dinwiddie: As you should.
Michael Redd: Yes. So watching you, man, it makes me smile. I'll be in a second round, pick myself and going through what I had to go through to accomplish the things. And let me just say this to you, you will be a All-Star as well.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Appreciate you, man.
Michael Redd: You've already been a All-Star talent. It's going to come your way, man. Now that you're not in the bubble, and obviously for those who don't know, Spencer opted not to be playing in the NBA the rest of the season because he had tested positive for COVID-19 and opted not to play in the NBA, which makes sense. Do you miss it now, that is to start back up a little bit?
Spencer Dinwiddie: Oh, 1000%.
Michael Redd: Yeah.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I mean, for my specific case, it was actually a little bit unique just because of the timing and the fluctuation of the positive and negative tests and how long I had just been quarantined and just in the bed, essentially. The doctors actually were just like, "Hey, this doesn't really make much sense." You know what I mean? Like, "We respect you trying to fight and come back, but this doesn't really make much sense." So obviously I took the doctor's advice and play a long game, understanding where our team is at and all the other stuff. You try to operate with the best knowledge base possible.
Spencer Dinwiddie: We bet on ourselves, but you also have to listen to experts too. You always need good counsel. So I'm not going to go against doctors in terms of health stuff. With that being said, don't be scared. I'm pretty solid now so it's all good. But yeah, no, watching the games, it definitely makes you miss it. I mean, I don't know anybody that has lived and breathed the sport, you know what I'm saying, the way the NBA players have, and then when they see basketball on TV and can't be a part of it that there's not that itch. You know what I mean? I know you still have that itch, you know what I'm saying, at times, for sure. So that's just the way this thing rolls.
Michael Redd: It's a slight itch. You're right. It's a part of who we are, always. I'll be 41 in August and be retired eight years. But yeah, I mean, I got a court in my house and I still like my son and we still play a little bit as far as shooting, but it will always be there. You mentioned a point within that though, about mentorship and having people around you that is going to keep you sober-minded. Ain't there a thin line between being delusional and being a go getter?
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah, but I mean, they said Steve Jobs was delusional, they say Elon Musk is delusional half the time. Don't nobody that's tried to accomplish anything big hasn't been called something like that at one point in time, because what you're doing is outside the norm. And if it was inside the norm, more than likely one of the big companies like Amazon, Google, you know what I mean, would have done it already because why wouldn't they? They snatch up all the normal stuff as it is. So that's part of how it goes. But to your point of mentorship keeping you sober-minded, you always want to surround yourself with experts in their field. I use basketball as an example. If I was going to have somebody train my son and it was either the guy down the street or Michael Redd, I'm probably having Michael Redd do it. That's just how it goes.
Spencer Dinwiddie: And so in any industry, you're going to have those opportunities, especially when you're a high functioning person yourself, to be able to reach out to the CEO of Google or the CEO of Facebook, or whoever it is and say, "Look, I need help or mentorship or whatever in this area." And a lot of times guys don't want to humble themselves to do that, but you got to realize the same way they wouldn't tell you how to play basketball is the same way you can't go there and tell them how to run their company or run their tech space. You might have an idea that fits within their tech space, but soaking up the knowledge and getting some guidance, regardless of whether they're older or younger or whatever is always a smart route to go.
Michael Redd: Now, I had this conversation with Josh Childress, and you make up a great point because there is this thought that because I'm senior level in this particular space, that that would necessarily transition over to the next space. And what I discovered retiring from basketball and going into venture that I was junior level leaving a senior space. And humility is very, very critical in transitioning. For you, from a basketball standpoint and also from a business standpoint, who have been some of your mentors?
Spencer Dinwiddie: From a basketball standpoint, I'll say that in terms of like NBA mentors, Caron Butler is definitely one. He was big for me. Jeremy Lin was really big for me when I got to Brooklyn, for sure. On the venture side, a man by the name of Jason Mendelson out of Colorado, he's been a great help. In terms of names that people would probably know, I would say those guys have definitely helped. And obviously you have your parents, and my uncle is still my primary trainer to this day. And he played high school basketball at high level and had some D-One scholarships, things like that. Never made the league, but was good in his own right. Yeah. I mean, it comes in various forms and fashion, but I try to humble myself when I'm talking to these guys in the tech space, and I've been blessed to talk to just a lot of them.
Michael Redd: Yeah. The platform of the NBA has allowed us to have an incredible reach globally and to be able to meet anybody any time, which we're all blessed to be able to do that. You have a great quote, I'm just a tech guy with a jumper. That's a powerful, powerful quote because a lot of times when you're engaged in your career, you're not almost allowed ... I know when I played, you weren't almost allowed to think about other options and other things to get into. So for you to flip the script and say, "Hey, I'm not just a baller, but I'm a well-rounded person, human being." I think that's a powerful statement. I'm a tech guy with a jumper. Talk about that.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Well, what that meant to me was following the path of being misunderstood, and when I was talking about Bitcoin and likeness rights and contract tokenization and stuff of that nature, people were like, "Hey, you're not focused. You're not this, you're not that." And at first my response was obviously the typical rebuttal like, how could I be here and not be focused? How could I be here and not love the game? How could I go through what I've gone through in terms of the injury, in terms of second round pick, all the stuff that we've touched on previously, and me not be dedicated. You don't turn from that 150th person in your high school class to a 20 point game scorer in the league by not being focused, dedicated, working hard, all these other aspects.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I wasn't a number one pick. They didn't put marketing, hype machine, Nike, all this stuff behind me to where it was just guaranteed. I had to sit and wait my turn, wait for guys to get hurt, capitalize on opportunity, all these things. So at first it was that readiness to compete with these people rebutted because it was offensive really that they would even say that. And then it was like, you know what, own your difference. Why are you even wasting the time on it? And granted, I still engage on Twitter because I love the banter, but I wasn't necessarily locking in on some of that as much as I had in the past. I still say it and do it off the cuff and have a little bit of fun, and maybe people think I'm really mad or sad or whatever it is when I'm typically not. But owning what it is that you do.
Spencer Dinwiddie: And it's like, hey, look, if you all think that I'm not focused, at this point it kind of is what it is because I'm going to keep doing my startup. I'm going to keep talking about blockchain, contract tokenization, likeness, things like that, and how athletes can empower themselves. And then I'm also going to put 20 on your favorite team. So if you're going to be mad, then you just got to be mad.
Michael Redd: I absolutely love it. Distinction is what stands out. There's a lot of books, but a lot of books don't go New York Bestseller. So the distinction is what makes the difference. That has your innovative mindset. You can see when you play even. There's creativity within your game. I think that spills out into every compartment of your life, and it's been incredible to watch from a basketball standpoint, but that also led you to your own shoe.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah.
Michael Redd: Talk about that innovation. It was a pain point how it started, because no one sponsored you. Nobody wanted to take a bet on you, but you took a bet on yourself. Explain that.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Kind of same thing. And the funniest part about this is when I started this whole process, I wasn't even super solid in the league and people don't even know that because it takes ... You're probably going to have to do a good year's worth of groundwork to get to having a shoe. So if you see somebody that created their own shoe, whatever date it released go back 12, 18 months. And that's probably around when it started.
Spencer Dinwiddie: But basically with that being said, I used to draw shoes as a kid. I'm not a great artist overall, but for whatever reason, I can draw shoes a little bit. So it was a passion when I was a kid, nobody wanted to sign me. I had a little bit of money and depending upon which route you go and how much you're trying to spend on a shoe and all these other things, it doesn't have to be the most expensive project in the world. And it made me happy.
Spencer Dinwiddie: So I was like, one of the things that I wanted to do when I was a kid was play in the league in my own shoe. And obviously at the time I envisioned having a Nike sponsorship or whatever, but you get to the place where you're like, look, if I can draw it and I can create it and it can be technologically superior to theirs. Why don't you just do it? And excuse me for using the Nike tagline, but that's what happened. And I did it. And then obviously the years that I've played in my shoe have been my two best years. So call it luck, call it serendipitous or whatever, but I'm not going to slow down now.
Michael Redd: I call it betting on yourself, period. You are the secret to your success, man. And I think you are ahead of your time and what you're doing right now is needed for the time, as far as being an example to other athletes about leveraging your influence and your brand. I think historically athletes weren't cognizant of their brand and how to have it reach beyond the game. And so I think why you're playing, man, is such a powerful thing that you're doing, man, to continue to be versatile. Who inspired you from that standpoint to think about that?
Spencer Dinwiddie: Honestly, I can't pinpoint a single individual. Some of this is from foundation from my parents, some of this is from wants and dreams, some of this is from ... A lot of times I'll sit at the crib and if I'm not working or answering emails or something like that, I'll just be listening to podcasts about various topics. You know what I mean? Whether it'd be finance, global macro trends, blockchain I listen to a lot. Stuff like that. And those things inspire you because you can get a lot of knowledge from reading or listening to very smart people talk, and listening to Ted Talks or whatever. I mean, that's where that launch pad or that foundation of idea starts to flow because you're hearing all these people talk about their various experiences and you know your niche and what you can do and how you can leverage certain things.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I mean, and obviously with social media being what it is today, guys, at the end of the day, we are the asset. You know what I mean? And as long as the consumer continues to spend their money, we will have a job. You know what I mean? I think in the old times we got too caught up thinking all the value was in the NBA. And don't get me wrong, they are a great league. All the leagues are great. They have inherent value and they do provide a service and they do their part, but the fans spend money to be attached to the competition, the excellence, all that stuff. They're not inherently attached to the Nets logo as if it was a Picasso. That's not what it is.
Michael Redd: Correct.
Spencer Dinwiddie: You know what I mean? It's a representation of these men going to compete at the highest level and being excellent in their craft and being one of approximately 5,000 in the history of mankind to be able to do something like this. And then the even more elite of those typically possess some type of athletic capability that puts them ... they can run a four, five or a four, four, and they can jump 40 inches off the ground. Or their hand-eye coordination is so great that they can shoot a ball from 40 feet and put it in a little bitty hoop. Those are things that you just can't do. It's like the equivalent of the Colosseum in modern day, or shooting a bow and arrow back in the day. That's what this is, and that's why fans are tied to it. Fans are drawn to it. There's that fandom associated with it. And as long as you're using your lightness and leverage for good purposes, why shouldn't you drive it till the wheels fall off.
Spencer Dinwiddie: If you're making the fans happy, and they're the most key piece of the ecosystem because if they're having fun, we all have a job, why would you be limited in how you can do that?
Michael Redd: I think you're a trailblazer for your generation in that mindset, because the NBA is somewhat of a broker/glorified service provider.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah. You said it, not me.
Michael Redd: No, no, I'm out of the NBA now but you said it a little bit though, in a sense because ... And it's so powerful. And I want to put you on a spot, but you're absolutely right as far as leveraging. I would say leverage the platform of the NBA to do greater things, to go beyond.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah.
Michael Redd: And let me ask you this question because I don't want to get us in trouble, but the thing is, do the modern player, do they see themselves in that light or are you like sticking out? To me, I haven't heard too much or too many people with the intellectual capital that you have. They're the face of things, and they're intrigued with VC and venture and private equity and things of that nature, but the intellectual capital, because when you listen to Ted Talks and podcasts, you're gang filming, that's what you're doing.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Exactly.
Michael Redd: So tell me about the modern athlete, and the guys in the locker room, do they think like this?
Spencer Dinwiddie: I think it's somewhere in the middle. I think it's trending towards this direction, but it's not quite there yet. Like you said, before when it was, oh, I don't know about my finances. My financial advisor just does all that. I don't worry about it. Now you're starting to see people dip their toe in the VC, learn about companies, learn about maybe trends in the market. Oh, did we have a little recession level event because of COVID? Are we heading to a depression level event, you know what I'm saying, because of COVID. Or is COVID going to catch up to the market essentially and tank it especially with the presidential election coming up.
Spencer Dinwiddie: So there's a lot of different things that I think guys are starting to look at or maybe say, "Oh, over there, I might want to go over there," and like I said, "Dip my toe in the water." And I think one of the other reasons why I do what I do and do it in a public fashion and I'm outspoken about it is back to that regrets thing.
Michael Redd: Sure.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I wouldn't want to have been the guy that had all these ideas, knew they were good, maybe even capitalized on some behind the scenes, but did it so silently and so secretively that I was the only one that benefit. And then when somebody turns around and says, "Well, how'd you do it?" I say, "Well, this is how I did it, but if you don't move ultra silently, they're going to kill you." You know what I mean? I would want to take those arrows and take those bullets because if I stand up and say, "Hey, why can't fans help me decide where I go in for agency?" People at Nike do it, people at Adidas tell them where to go. People let their mom, their dad, their family, their agent, their business advisor for tax purposes, they let all types of people factor in their decisions, but the fans are most important, why can I let the fans help me?
Spencer Dinwiddie: I'm not saying like, let's circumvent the cap and I'll go there for a dollar. No, but if I have two offers on the table from legit teams, legit offers, and I'm really having trouble making the decision, if it's the Nets or the Knicks, or something like that. Just used them because they're in New York, obviously.
Michael Redd: Sure.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Why can't the fan of say, "Well, Spence, we think you should go to the Knicks or to the Nets or whatever it is." So that's the way I view it. And you take the bullets and everything, but what it will also do is it'll make that path easier for the next person that wants to do it. And as that momentum goes, then there's true player empowerment.
Michael Redd: So rich man, what you're sharing. So back to the Renaissance, back to the enigma, you create your own shoe, you're killing it on the court. And then you know what, I'm going to start my own VC. It's like, wow. All of what you've able to handle ... And so the idea of the venture piece, what was the motivation, where did that come from as far as starting your own venture firm?
Spencer Dinwiddie: So it was preparing for where I wanted to go. You know what I mean? So remember we talked about a lot of these things happen 18 months or so worth of planning, and then you finally figure it out. Well, the venture piece is more so ... Actually you heard about it first to have some of that marketing traction, but it's going to be something that continues to be built out and fleshed out over the coming months and time period. Because if you look at the way, very, very wealthy people move, and this is a secret and a trick that a lot of people don't know when they first get into VC, they actually create what are called family offices. You know what I mean? So it's literally like their family's wealth. And then they'll piggyback big time VC firms.
Spencer Dinwiddie: So now you don't have the carry or any of the fees associated with doing the diligence, embedding companies and all that stuff, because you might have a Sequoia of the world who is going to put people through an extremely stringent diligence process before they even invest in a company. But you as a family office can just say, "Hey, Sequoia, what are you doing? Oh, you're going to invest in those three companies. Well, I have enough capital to invest in two of them, so I'll just pick the two that I like the most." You know what I mean? And that's how you can get into venture in a safe, pragmatic way without outlaying too much capital in terms of really vetting all of the incoming deal flow, and you create that family office setting. Because if I am fortunate to get another contract at the level of the type of contract that would be requisite to my play, then I wouldn't want to be in a situation where I didn't have a family office.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I was having this conversation with a player the other day. And he was saying, "Should I partner with you to try to do a VC fund? Or should I listen to this guy or listen to this person?" And I gave them the exact same advice. I said, "Bro, you got a hundred plus million dollars. There's no reason to really partner with me, but I can take a fee and take a carry, but there's no reason to do that. Start your own family office. You are filthy rich, but piggyback, at least to start, give yourself a year, two year window where you're piggy-backing these big time VC companies and you're learning the game."
Spencer Dinwiddie: And then if you say, "Okay, their deals are too safe, I want a bigger risk profile." Then you hire somebody after you have a ton of portfolio companies after a year or two. You've kind of dipped your toe and you've kind of been learning. You've kind of been researching. Now, you hire some people that vet companies and are professionals in doing that. And then you open yourself up and say, the ex family office is open for deal flow. And then it's going to be a gold rush because you're still going to be playing in two years and you'll get pitched by everybody and their mama. And now your guys would just have to sort through, piece through, put together type of risk profile or target the markets that you're actually going after. And then there you go. You'll get exactly what you want in terms of a custom built VC fund.
Michael Redd: Empowerment brother. Empowerment is what I'm hearing and what you're doing is so powerful because everybody doesn't have access to that level of deal flow. As you know, there's maybe 1% of all African-Americans represented in venture.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah.
Michael Redd: Less than 1% of venture backed companies are investing into minority companies. So I hope I said that right. But anyhow-
Spencer Dinwiddie: It sounds right. It was a little number.
Michael Redd: ... you're creating an ecosystem, man. And I love the focus is to actually look at every opportunity in particularly African American startups. Talk about that.
Spencer Dinwiddie: The lay of the land, well it's sort of changed over the last two months for obvious reasons, given George Floyd and the nation, or really the globe kind of turning their attention to it. And I think that'll probably last maybe through the end of the year. You'll have a good little runtime where people are going to be really turning their attention to black founders, ethnic founders and the initiatives that they're trying to create. I'm proud of that though. I mean, it's just like anything really. Let me go after all the "racism" or whatever. I'm not as visceral in my reaction. I understand that everybody's not bad, but with that being said in the venture space and in private wealth and large wealth in general, it's a ghetto boys club.
Spencer Dinwiddie: A lot of this stuff is family money handed down, or you get the occasional rock star that rockets up the system because they created a company or sold a piece of technology or something. But it becomes an echo chamber. You know what I'm saying? And not even saying those people are bad, but if you're always in a room and all the people in the room look like you, you start to feel like all the people that are capable of being in that room look like you, it's just the way it works. You know what I mean? When we're playing basketball, and I'll use it for an example, because we are elite. We are the best at what we do. When we're in the NBA locker room, if we were to see a NBA team have 10 Caucasians, immediately we'd probably be like, all right, they can shoot and we're going to kill them. That would be how it is.
Spencer Dinwiddie: So it becomes almost an echo chamber of thoughts. So I don't want to condemn everybody. There are a lot of people that have poor views that I'm against. You know what I mean? And a lot of them do have a lot of money. That's part of the world we live in, but there's also a lot of people that get so siloed in their echo chamber that they start to think, like I said, the only people capable of being in the room are the people that look like them because that's all they ever see when that's not the case at all.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Because some of the most creative, most brilliant people just don't have the opportunity and the resources to get to that room. They can't break through that ceiling. They don't have that initial NBA badge or co-sign or logo that rockets them through that glass ceiling. And then they can sit at the room and at those tables and say, "Look, I have these really cool ideas. I may need some guidance, but I also not coming from a place of less than or poverty or whatever, because I have this also contract backing me that states I can sit here." You know what I mean?
Michael Redd: Yeah, man, you're hitting on a myriad of things. I want to ask your opinion about, obviously COVID has affected the NBA number of businesses around the world, but the racial injustice issues that have arisen, I wouldn't even say arisen, I think technology caught it on tape and film. But how the NBA has responded to that, your opinions on that. And can we do more?
Spencer Dinwiddie: I'll go COVID first, racial second. In terms of COVID I think everybody was caught off guard. I think the NBA did everything they possibly could. Who really plans for this? Even with the NBA having the pandemic clause in terms of money, they never planned for it in terms of resources, how are we going to play games? Where are we going to send people? Nobody did. Nobody saw this coming. Nobody saw it sweeping really the globe the way it did until it was already in process. So definitely a A+ from the NBA in terms of how they handled it, and also getting a safe return to play with there being no cases in the last, I think it was like what? Week or something like that in the bubble. So all credit to Adam Silver, they did that thing with that, did their job. And it's exciting to have basketball back.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Racial. This to me again, is extremely nuanced. I think because of the way everything happened, there were a lot of forced responses. People had to take a stand, pick which way they were going to go, whether they were comfortable with it or not. I think obviously the NBA sides with the players is one of the most forward thinking leagues in it. I mean, they have black lives matter on the court, et cetera. Allowing people to put names on the back of their jerseys, that can help facilitate some awareness. So I completely understand.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I also though, and maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think as a society we should look to capitalistic organizations for moral thought leadership. You want the NBA to be a business that provides the best game possible and makes the most money possible and does these things, but then you also want them to be the moral compass of the entertainment industry. That's a really hard place to be in because no matter which side of the moral compass you're on, and granted there is a right and wrong side, but you're always going to piss off 49% of the demographic. It's a mess of situation to be in when the NBA's sole focus quite honestly should be how best do we make money?
Spencer Dinwiddie: This is not about black, white, brown, anything. We're trying to put on the best game possible and make the fans as happy as possible because that's what drives our game. So I really think the NBA is in a tough position, quite honestly. As a society we should be looking inward for our moral compass, not so much looking at leagues. I mean, I would even rather look at your specific idols or mentors or look at LeBron James, I guess if that's your idol or whatever for some maybe moral guidance. Everybody's going to need that kind of person or whatever that helps them in life, even if it's from afar, but asking a capitalistic league to make that type of standing decision, that's tough in my eyes.
Michael Redd: I think you're bringing up some really, really hot tags brother, and it's been powerful, man. I got a couple more for you within that. I think, and I want to get your perspective on this. I'm appreciative of the symbolism. I think we've got to continue to push the needle on executive hires within the NBA and every professional league as far ...
Spencer Dinwiddie: I love this topic.
Michael Redd: Pushing the needle on executive level hires and ownership within those leagues because at the end of the day I appreciate all the symbolism and all of that, but at the end of the day, that's not really moving the needle in my perspective. And I want to hear your thoughts on this as far as wealth transferring to African ... So yeah, you know where I'm at. Go ahead.
Spencer Dinwiddie: No, there it is. That's 100% what it is.
Michael Redd: Okay.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I asked people about, or made a tweet about the debt, group economics, how pretty much banding together can have this massive just leadership and what happens and shaping world views because people don't want ethnic dollars just all of a sudden siphoned off from the global economy. That's going to hurt them a ton. So when you look at, once again, a capitalistic organization, the best way you can give back isn't what you're supposed to be good at. So if you're making money, and you're doing the best job possible to make this game as good as possible, why can't LeBron James negotiate his contract so that he has 1% of team ownership at the team that he's on. Why can't he do that? Why is he capped in what he can make in the sense of ...
Spencer Dinwiddie: Not that necessarily cap is terrible, because you want things to have a loose-ish framework. But we look at baseball and how people get all types of structurings of a contract. And why can't LeBron, if he's bringing in all these butts to the seats be like, "Hey, look, I only want to make 15 million a year, but I want 1% carry in the Lakers, that vest, when I retire." Or whatever is. You know what I'm saying?
Spencer Dinwiddie: So I think re-imagining how you unlock these boxes is much more impactful for the NBA to do than to put black lives matter on the court. Now, once again, like I said, they're walking a fine line, but I feel like they should be purely capitalistic. And then that means in the way that you support ethnic people in your lane is by facilitating some of that wealth transfer. You know what I mean? Facilitating some of that empowerment. Facilitating like, oh, if these players are truly special and bringing in X amount of dollars, like if LeBron James makes me $100 million a year, but I can only pay him 35, well, how are we going to make up for at least another 30? You know what mean? Because there's got to be a profit margin, but how can we get him up to 60, $70 million in value. And do it in a transparent manner as well.
Michael Redd: Next question I have for you, man, because you're such an inspiration. When I talk about what's next, what I'm hearing from you from this crypto play man, the tokenization of your earning potential, man. If you want to tap on that a little bit, I think it's an incredible innovative process.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah, no, I mean, personal tokenization to me really only limits you based upon your own imagination. And then that's the premise of my thought. I think that's the premise of where people are going. I don't want to divulge too much because my company goes really live, live in another six to eight weeks so we're really excited about that. Because it's been a long journey, probably been barking up this tree for 18 months or a year or something like that. But yeah, no, it's really exciting. I think it's a paradigm shift and I just love my first movers advantage right now, but it's an empowerment play for sure. So that's something that is going to be probably widely talked about in another two months or so.
Michael Redd: If you had to go back to your 16-year-old self, what would you advise him?
Spencer Dinwiddie: Yeah. Definitely I would say take a deep breath, you're going to be who you want to be. It won't be easy, but always make sure you keep the work first. And not the work in terms of the slang term. I mean, the dedication to the craft. You know what I mean? The dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, pursuit of learning. Watch your film, do all those things. I know at 16 how much like ... not like true anxiety because I know people really suffer from anxiety so I don't want to take it there and say a taboo word, but I just know how much pent up will I be able to do it I possessed. You know what I mean? I wanted to so bad that it was obviously all I thought about and I'll I dreamt about, but I just wanted it so bad.
Spencer Dinwiddie: And just that journey is the reward that you've known from when you were a kid, because that was a time period where ... adolescence, you're trying to grow and mature back into whatever man you're going to be, which typically has a lot of lessons from childhood, but at adolescent phase you're going through your own little rocky stuff. So that would be what it was about. Take a deep breath, keep the main thing, the main thing and you'll be who you wanted to be.
Michael Redd: I know you're a visionary. We went back, now I'm going to go forward. What do you see in the next 10 years for Spencer Dinwiddie?
Spencer Dinwiddie: 10 years. So at 27 I probably got seven, maybe eight more years plan. So I'll be freshly-ish retired. If my company does what it needs to do in the next three years, then that would be a very interesting conversation. Yeah. I mean, it's hard. I mean, the only thing I keep thinking of is just go be a dad. You know what I mean?
Michael Redd: Yeah.
Spencer Dinwiddie: I think one of the best honors is to be able to take care of your people and be able to be present and all that stuff. And I have a two year old son, so he'll be 12. He'll be really trying to figure out life at that point. So just be a dad.
Michael Redd: Best answer yet. A great honor and privilege my brother. It's been a honor, man. Thank you so much for taking the time. That hour went by like 10 minutes.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Quick. I know. It went quick.
Michael Redd: But we're sturdy like-minded men in a lot of things. And I just so I appreciate what you're doing, how you're trailblazing, how you're leading in so many areas and just continue success and everything, brother.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Thank you, man. I really appreciate it.
Michael Redd: Absolutely.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Really appreciate it.
Michael Redd: If that doesn't get you motivated, I don't know what does. What an amazing testament to staying true to yourself, owning your differences and chasing your passions with excellence. Spence continues to inspire me, and I hope he does the same for you. Thanks for listening to today's episode. To read the show's notes, know more about my work or connect with me, visit michaelredd.com. New episodes released every week on Monday so make sure to subscribe if you want to stay up-to-date. Until next time, I'm Michael Redd. And remember you are the secret to your success.
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