A Night With Magic Johnson

Have you ever written to a celebrity, completely forgot you did so, and then have a letter arrive from the famous person way after the fact? If you were born prior to electronic communication you might have. The feeling of receiving something that you value but long lost hope that it would ever arrive is pretty cool.

A more modern example of this happened to me last week. On Tuesday night I was notified that I had won a retweet contest on Twitter from a week ago. Now, in the social media sphere, waiting one week to hear the results of a contest is analogous to waiting one year for a letter from a famous person.

Needless to say, I had completely forgot about the contest.

On September 7, I had retweeted a tweet from the @SpokaneHoopfest account. Thinking it was a long shot, I didn’t think I would be the lucky winner. But there I was last Tuesday night looking at a Twitter DM informing me I had won two tickets to see Magic Johnson speak the following evening. I worked fast to twist Sidney’s arm to go with me and to secure childcare (big thanks to my brother). A spur of the moment date night with my wife was organized!

This is the @SpokaneHoopfest tweet that I retweeted to win the two tickets.

The Association of Washington Business is the state’s premiere business association. This year, the organization was holding its annual Policy Summit in Spokane at the Davenport Grand. The AWB managed to bring in Magic for its big dinner keynote. If the association had never partnered with Hoopfest on the Twitter giveaway I probably would have never even known that Magic Johnson was going to be in town!

After I finished work on Wednesday, I slipped on a tie and jacket while Sid dazzled in a knockout dress. We drove to the Davenport Grand and were greeted by extremely friendly AWB representatives who gave us our name tags and some delicious peanut brittle.

Sid and I on our way to the AWB Policy Summit keynote address at the Davenport Grand.

Sidney and I had a table all to ourselves. This was nice because if you are familiar with conference dining, it can be a little inconvenient and awkward passing bread baskets and wine bottles around the table with strangers. To just be at the table with Sid made the date night a little more romantic.

We listened to addresses from the Spokane mayor and our area’s power company CEO before the headliner took the stage. As Magic Johnson emerged from behind the curtain I noticed his mile-wide smile while Sidney noticed his “huge hands.”

Magic Johnson on the stage at the AWB Policy Summit (photo courtesy of Brian Mittge/AWB).

But once he started speaking, our attention shifted from his appearance to his intelligence. With unmistakable intuition and an unbreakable competitive spirit, it became easy to see why he has led such a successful life. Confident and personable, Magic used his many experiences, perfect memory, and humor to engage and relate with the crowd.

It was a well-balanced keynote. He discussed at length both his basketball career and his business empire. When it came to his time on the hardwood, he told stories about Larry Bird, the 1992 Dream Team, Jud Heathcote, turning down a Nike shoe deal, and playing against the Seattle SuperSonics. These musings were all very entertaining and of relevance to a sports fan like myself, but I think I might have enjoyed it even more when he talked business.

Magic Johnson talked about both his basketball career and his business career (photo courtesy of Brian Mittge/AWB).

Magic talked about being turned down constantly when he was trying to get into the industry. He stressed the importance of mentors. He highlighted his successes with Starbucks. He chatted about work/life balance and how he tries to take time for himself in the morning. He mentioned a lucrative deal he has with Disney. He related the business opportunities in urban America.

But what Mr. Johnson drilled home most of all was the need to support minority-owned businesses and empower minority professionals looking to begin and advance their careers. He reminded us in the room that many of us have been taken care of and now it is our responsibility to take care of others.

Honestly, it was so relaxing to just sit back with a glass of wine and listen to Magic talk. Sidney and I thoroughly enjoyed his address. After we took advantage of the dessert reception we exited the Davenport right as Magic was getting into his motorcade. We enthusiastically waved him off as he disappeared down the Spokane streets.

Thanks to my hot date for accompanying me to the AWB Policy Summit keynote dinner!

Sidney and I would like to extend our gratitude to Brian Mittge and Paulette Beadling for making sure we had a memorable time on Wednesday evening. What a joy to attend! To all my readers, never be afraid to tap that retweet button. Don’t Blink.

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