Gregg Popovich

Supported by Greenhaven Road Capital, finding value off the beaten path.

Update 2/11/28


From NBA on Instagram.

Original post

No panaceas. Before his thirty-minute talk, Popovich said, “I don’t have any secret plays. It’s about organization, discipline, and relationships with your players.”

Magic wand solutions are lies. Brent Beshore said the biggest secret about business is that there is no secret. Instead, “do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.”  Ben Horowitz wrote to use lots of lead bullets rather than search for a silver bullet. The only panacea is a lot of hard work, and that’s not really a panacea at all.

The only panacea is a lot of hard work, and that’s not really a panacea at all.

No egos. The San Antonio Spurs are known for their success and their culture. Both come from limited egos.

“The fiber of your team is the beginning of everything that you do. We want players who have gotten over themselves.”

“When you amass enough character on your team you can handle someone that might be a little off the mark in one-way shape or form because he follows the example.”

That applies to the coaches too.

“I don’t care where an idea comes from. You have to be comfortable enough in your own skin to realize that an idea can come from anywhere

Alton Brown said that he tries to be around people smarter than him so he has to “fight to keep up with the brilliance of everyone else.”

Marc Andreessen said:

“Naturally as we go through life we accrue beliefs about how the world works, beliefs about causes and effects and beliefs about patterns that we’ve seen. I try as hard as I can to be as ruthless as possible in shedding the old beliefs and leaving them behind. They are so rarely predictive of something new.”

Ego is deceit, humility is honesty.

Soft spots. Popovich blames ESPN for the state of basketball. It’s too many three-pointers and dunks. “It’s like the carnival,” said Popovich. Even though he hates it, “I’m not stupid.”

Popovich has a soft spot for another form of basketball. That’s what he’d like to coach. But soft spots are bad ideas in competitive fields.

Meb Faber has a soft spot for betting against dividend stocks. However, “I can’t imagine a less popular fund than going on CNBC and saying ‘We’re going to avoid dividend stocks.’ My god, people will just run for the hills.”

Daryl Morey had a soft spot for big guys who play tough. Scott Fearon had a soft spot for HoJo hotels.

Soft spots are places where the world you want diverges from the world that is.


Argue well. “R.C. Buford and I can tell each other what we think and then go have a beer together and not worry about it.”

Good organizations have this kind of culture. Ken Burns has it when he makes movies. Phil Jackson had it when he coached. Jeff Bezos had it during the early days of Amazon.

Mohnish Pabrai said that Charlie Munger suggested he do this in their first meeting. “He told me that it’s very important for an investor to have people to talk to,” and “When God tells you to do something, you do it. What you do by talking to people, not on your payroll is you get rid of vested interest and conflicts.”

Decentralized commend. Popovich said he’ll call timeouts and talk with the coaches first. This lets the players have a moment. Sometimes they don’t even need him.

Decentralized command works because the participants understand a situation best. Alex Blumberg runs Gimlet this way. Charles Koch runs Koch Industries this way too. Melanie Whelan said that SoulCycle aims for this too, telling their staff:

“Here’s the format for the class but you’re free to lead it how ever you’re inspired. What’s meaningful in Seattle is different from what’s meaningful in Coral Gables.”

Finite and infinite games. Popovich has no goals. “My goals are basic and general.”

“It’s ingrained in those guys that it’s a journey and the joy is in the process. The joy isn’t the final culmination but the journey is what you’re proud of.”

“The goal for us has been to be the best prepared and healthiest team we can be by playoff time.”

It’s hard to win a game with a finish line. Life is about more than basketball says, Popovich. Life is about answering the essential question.


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