After four years of college basketball, I had a handful of highlight moments under my belt.
Dunked on a couple guys. A 20-point game or two. Some double-figure rebound games. Made some three pointers. Stuff that, shown on video, would make me look good to anyone who hadn’t been present when those moments happened.
Problem: none of it was on video.
My college years were 2000-04, when, to have footage of yourself doing anything, you needed a camcorder and blank VHS tapes, and someone who knew how to work the equipment. For a majority of my college games, no film existed: no one had filmed the games at all. The few games that had been recorded, one of my coaches had given away the master videos to players as gifts.
All of this led to one truth: as a college grad who wanted to play pro basketball, I had no collateral.
I understood, inherently, that to get a professional basketball team to sign me to a contract, I needed to have something that proved that I could play at the professional level. On top of the fact that I had no game film, I’d also played Division 3 basketball, where most of the athletes don’t even think about going pro. So even if I had had film, it may not have impressed anyone who mattered.
I needed to get some proof.
A year removed from college graduation, I attended an exposure camp (picture a job fair, but for playing a sport— and we play games there, no just talking and hand-shaking) where I could showcase myself. There were lots of exposure camps in existence even back then. There was one thing about the one I attended that jumped out to me and got me there.
“All games are filmed, and you’ll receive a tape with all your games after the camp.”
The camp was held over two days just outside of Orlando, Florida. I played well at the camp, well enough that I’d done more for my professional basketball career over the 48 hours of the event than I’d done in 4 years of college.
I’ve said many times over how life is a performance-based business: the performers win and keep the business; the non-performers lose and go out of business.
The thing is, there are a lot of people on the outside looking in.
People who feel they could perform really well if they only had the opportunity to do so. For these people, performing isn’t the problem (yet) — the challenge is getting in the game in the first place.
And not just in sports. Every industry.
Here’s the solution, and this will always be the solution: PROOF.
To get an opportunity for yourself in anything, you need only one thing: proof that you can do it, and do it well. Get that proof and put it on display, and opportunity will come find you.
Absent that proof, you’ll be opportunity-starved for life.
I got an agent — which led to a pro basketball contract — off of the proof shown on that exposure camp VHS tape.
People who ask me to coach, consult or speak for their companies come to me based on one thing only: proof that I can deliver.
Every referral you get in your business is based on the proof that you can deliver.
If you want your chance to perform, you need proof that you’re worthy of a chance. Don’t talk until you have it.
For Your Game
- There’s no excuse for not having proof these days. Everyone has a full-service media kit in their pockets (maybe in your hand right now). Think and figure it out.
- Record labels, book publishers, Netflix/Amazon, and everyone else no longer “discovers” talent. They snatch up talent that has already discovered itself and made itself known to an audience of people. Less risk for the company and a smarter investment.
- Get proof of everything you do well. Testimonials (on video, which can be transcribed to text) are great. Appearances on other people’s platforms (even if they’re not so well known, either) show that you’re good in the eyes of others. Help people for free if you have to, in exchange for proof of your skill. Whatever you do, GET THE PROOF.
- Unproven people will be left to die.