Beyond Influential Podcast Episode #36

LeBron’s Move to the Lakers & What You Can Learn from Top Athletes on Personal Branding

July 4, 2018
top athletes

One of the biggest topics in the news cycle this week has been LeBron James and his decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers. I’ve been a LeBron fan since he entered the league and his decision to move to LA also has huge implications for the brand and business he is building off the court. He truly understands the value of his personal brand and leveraging it towards his goals.

So for this week, I thought I’d dive in and talk not only about LeBron’s brand, but also a few of the other great athlete brands I see out there.

Top Athletes mentioned include:
  • -LeBron James
  • -Michael Jordan
  • -Kobe Bryant
  • -Floyd Mayweather
  • -Connor McGregor
  • -Serena Williams
  • -The Rock (and more!)

If you like these episodes where I dissect brands, let me know!


[00:01:14] Hey everyone. This week, instead of an interview, I wanted to try something a little bit different. I personally spend a lot of time looking at who other people are consuming and just studying personal brands in general and dissecting how building those brands ladders to building business and influence in a variety of industries.

[00:01:32] The big news this week was LeBron James has moved to the Lakers. Now whether you’re a basketball fan or not, Lebron James is national news. A part of that has to do with his greatness on the court, but a lot of it has to do with the brand that he’s built off the court. Athletes are particularly interesting because they need to build their brand while they still have that attention, especially since the lifespan of an athlete is just not as long as most career tracks. But you also can’t, if you’re an athlete, just accept every deal under the sun.

It needs to be even more smart and more calculated and more strategic than a personal brand in pretty much any industry. And because personal brand success is such a formula, there are many lessons that can be applied to you and your personal brand. Seeing the mistakes that people make and seeing how people transition from sports and to other areas like entertainment or music or business is super helpful when it comes to thinking about how to not be pigeonholed in your industry or how to transition careers.

[00:02:31] At the end of the day they’re trying to do exactly what you’re trying to do: build brand, build businesses, make money, and leave a lasting legacy.

[00:02:39] So today I want to talk about some of the athletes who I’ve watched from a personal brand context and talk about what I see.

[00:02:46] Let’s start with LeBron James.

[00:07:23] Now if you’re not as nice a guy sometimes greatness can excuse that. If you build a brand around that and you are that good and sometimes it’s also the brand you built around it that can excuse it. So I have a few examples for that.

[00:07:39] One is actually a personal example from my childhood when I saw Michael Jordan play at a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, and I must have been around 7 years old, so actually let me give you some context on how I feel about Michael Jordan.

[00:10:48] Now Kobe Bryant falls closer to a Michael Jordan personality vibe than LeBron James vibe, and he’s way more of a lone wolf and way more serious.

[00:12:38] Someone who’s done kind of the bad guy thing the right way is Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

[00:13:19] He’s just such a provoking character and he knows how to get people to talk about him. He’s so great at promotions he’s one of the most lucrative pay per view attractions of all time at any sport and people enjoy running against him. I know I’ve personally paid for fights to root against him and his most recent fights especially the one with Conor McGregor was was a huge part of culture and a spectacle and that’s total credit to what he’s built. And the worst thing for a brand is for no one to care or for people to be apathetic. And a common theme and brand building is about attracting your tribe and repelling those you wouldn’t want to be a part of it.

[00:15:03] Mike Tyson is an awesome example of that because he completely reinvented his brand in the last decade with cameos and other smart media moves, and people seem to gloss over, or maybe some people don’t even know at this point, that he was convicted of rape and in jail in the 90s.

[00:15:43] Jumping off of that topic I have to mention Connor Gregor.

[00:16:42] I was trying to think of brands that never fully recovered after scandals, and Tiger Woods is the big one that comes to mind.

[00:18:01] When I think of who the strongest female athlete is from a brand perspective I think today it’s Serena Williams.

[00:18:39] I think the bottom line on branding with female athletes is that a strong brand is a strong brand and a woman can build a strong brand in any sport. I just really think that at the end of the day it’s athletes who can show they can either draw a crowd or convert will get paid. Historically it seems like the biggest names that do that have come out of tennis are Olympic sports but I honestly think that there is a really interesting thing happening in the UFC right now where female fights actually get a good amount of attention because they’re actually really competitive.

[00:19:11] And Ronda Rousey used that platform to go on to act and now be in the WWE.

[00:19:22] The last brand cover he might not even think of as an athlete anymore because he’s been so good at transitioning is Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

[00:19:44] All top brands follow a formula, and that’s something I called the 3 C’s, which are Clarity, Consistent content, and Community. Where brand issues are growth issues happen is when one of those C’s are off.

[00:19:55] To recap, clarity is knowing who you are, who your audience is, and what makes you unique, and making sure that messages is clear both internally for yourself and externally to the public.

[00:20:05] Consistent content is what it sounds like, but it needs to be aligned with that clarity.

[00:20:09] And then the Community-building through engagement and other means.

[00:21:31] I really hope you guys liked this episode. It will be fun to see who in the sports world starts leveraging that attention to create opportunities for lasting influence. And if you enjoyed this episode or have any personal branding questions to answer on future episodes, please let me know by leaving me an iTunes review or replying to an email from my email list.


For those who don’t know, I’ve been hot on building brand on LinkedIn for pretty much every industry. If you haven’t been on LinkedIn in a while or if you just haven’t updated your profile, I created a free checklist to make sure you’re up to date and answering the right questions with your LinkedIn bio. You can get it at

If you’d like your questions answered on a future episode, the next round will be sourced from my email list & from iTunes reviews. If you haven’t already, head to to sign up for my email list OR you can leave me a review on iTunes and include your question.

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