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Cover image for Lessons from #TheLastDance... applied on Tech

Lessons from #TheLastDance... applied on Tech

marianorenteria profile image Mariano Rentería ・5 min read

I just love good story telling, I think some people put story telling in the same bucket as communication, but for me a good book, a good movie, a good documentary, has to have a have a story that I enjoy, and that's what happened to me with the The Last Dance documentary.

This post is not going to be about the truth or the lies in the documentary, or if the documentary makes someone look good or evil at the public opinion, the results and the facts already happened, and there is no spoiler on saying that Michael Jordan is no longer playing with the Chicago Bulls.

But this documentary caused some reflections on me that I just want to share, and that I think that can be brought into the tech industry...

Teams are really important

I think along the documentary the main discussion item is that everything is achieved by the team, the team has a special connection and everyone is trying to win, that pushes them, and is their "north star" all the time.

The team knows how important each one is, when someone needs something, the team respects and adapt.

I think sometimes in Tech we are not good team players, and tend to believe that individuals can accomplish things by themselves, we admire all these successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, etc. but we don't realize that behind them, there is a team that makes possible everything that they envision.

Get respect by working hard, and demonstrating

I think across of the documentary you can see him being a prick sometimes, but he always worked hard on the court, he was the one trying to run faster, the one deciding to resume trainings right after losing a championship.

In Tech, in my personal experience, most of the people earn the respect of others by working hard, and not really sharing how much their work, but how much effort they are putting in a project or a task to make the company or team look good.

Life balance or life-work integration

Some of the controversy on Michael's Jordan persona is about him gambling, playing golf, spending time doing stuff different than playing basketball, the pressure of the media, and even some fans is that he is being paid to play and he should stick to that.

In Tech, people build their personas on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and they only post work stuff, how much they code, how much they contribute to a repo, but don't really share when they feel happy, sad, spend time with friends or family, etc, which causes that they generate a false expectation of reality, about how should a successful life look like. Is important to keep in mind that we are all humans, and that experiences should be what really matter.

Diversity is needed for success

In the documentary you can easily see how this team was very diverse, from skin color, to state they are from, wealth, even a different country or legue like Toni Kukoc. But definetely the one that standed out was Dennis Rodman who had this different persona, but that the team understood that his contributions were key for them.

In one of the chapters he just disapears and goes to Las Vegas, party, etc. in the meantime the team receives the heat of the press when they are being asked about their teammate, and Michael Jordan has to go there an pick him up, he apologizes, and trains hard to catch up, and they basically win. Again, I think everyone in the team had that "north star" very clear.

In Tech, is very common to see teams without diversity, mainly formed by men, or people of the same university, state, country, etc... I think with the amount of engineers in the world we don't really have a valid excuse to not have diversity in our teams, beginning by the inclusion of more women, and people from different regions, this will definitely bring in more ideas and a more inclusive product.

Learn to be humble

I remember when I was kid, and I used to play basketball (during school recess), people fight to pretend to be Scottie Pippen or Michael Jordan, and discussions happened to define who was the best. I was not really closing them that close to form my own opinion, but watching the show, its clear that what the Chicago Bulls achieve is a team effort, and Scottie, was the humble, but steady player in that team, he did caused controversies, but was mainly focused on playing and just doing what he likes.

His salary is a big part of the discussion, he expresses it as if he was comfortable with the amount of money he was making, and that because of humble background that would be enough for him.

The consequence of all of that makes him a humble participant, but with a name in history and in the team.

In Tech, is important that you focus on your game, on your work, staying humble but giving results will be something that the team will recognize and will give you growth, because people will talk about that a lot. And that will build you a good reputation that will eventually make you grow, or at least leave a mark on everyone.

Management Support

In the documentary they touch a lot the image of the owner (Jerry Reinsdorf), the manager (Jerry Krause), and the coach (Phil Jackson), and even though they are sometimes pictured as the bad guys, or heartless, and even get hated by the audience; they are really part of the success of this team, part of the success of Michael Jordan on building the team, etc.

When the press pushes the management, about taking hard actions over some of the bad behavior of some players, they hold the pressure and let the team play, focus and stride.

In Tech, the success really comes when management is aligned, when the owner's vision, the manager vision, and the lead/coach vision are aligned, the success of the team is easier to achieve, everyone needs to do their job, and do it in the best way.

Apologize

During the documentary there are several times when the team members make mistakes, from Jordan, to Pippen, to Rodman, etc. And they always apologize, this may seem not needed in a team with so much excellence, used to be at the top, but apologizes shall always be given, they nurture the team, and improve the cohesion of the team.

The Tech industry tends to be an industry that even though has all these phrases around failure, to encourage you, the reality is that failure is not really appreciated in a lot of teams, if you fail, you may be consider a bad apple, someone not capable.

The Tech team members shall put their egos down, and apologize when needed, this will nurture the team culture, and will keep the team cohesive towards goals, and through lessons learned.

Never give up

On the documentary its easy to see the team having ups and downs, having to play so many games during a season, its easy to lose focus, or get down if results don't seem to be what you are expecting. You may also lose your super star, because he needs personal time, or something else.

But keeping the mind up, not giving up, giving the ball to the least expected player, in the most important play, when only seconds are left, is just a good example of, keep trying, and don't give up.

I feel in Tech, is easy to give up, honestly the environment is not that "dreamy" as all this blog posts publish, as Twitter makes it look, etc. but you just have to stay put, and never give up, prepare yourself for the next phase, and keep trying inside and outside of your job, that's the beauty of Tech.

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marianorenteria profile

Mariano Rentería

@marianorenteria

I blog in spanglish... Programmer, futbol fan, avid reader, former chilango, neo queretano, very mexican; Director of Engineering at medtrainer.com, I've a podcast @chilemoleytech

Discussion

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Awesome and thanks for sharing this analysis. I think recently most engineers started sharing about their salaries and some people were like wow seems people are underpaid. I think the reason why people most of work is to inspire others to work more on the skills than other parts of the lives they enjoy most. I love how Ben Nadle(bennadel.com/) introduces most people he meets on his blog posts. Maybe something we could do as well

 

Oliver thanks for the comment on the blog, I agree with you people that like their work are the ones that really strive at it, and they will cause impact there or in any other place. I would love to hang out more with you, have a great day!

 

Sure, that would be great. I currently reside in Ghana but there is something I had been planning to launch soon so we could get more developers/engineers not living in Ghana to explore and spend some time with the local developer ecosystem.

Sure, count me in, I would love to help in any way, I live in México.

 

Jerry Krause is "the bad guy" because we tend to love that there is a bad guy in every story. In the end, that guy was in charge of the finances and the entire Bulls institution as a whole, and he bet on all of those players that in the end created the legendary Bulls.

He might not have been the most loveable member of the team, but he delivered results, and that sounds just like Jordan if you ask me...

 

Thanks for the comment, I agree, the story puts him in that position if you don't try to make your own opinion.