EJ Carrion: International Speaker & EntrepreneurWhen I was kid all I wanted to do was play professional basketball. I loved basketball and it still plays an important role of in my life today. From playing ball I learned leadership, teamwork, and hard work. I also met my high school sweetheart (who I am still with to this day) and my business partner, who both play a huge part in my success today.My dream of becoming a professional basketball player ended once I stopped growing in ninth grade at five feet and six inches short. By my senior year, everyone I grew up with began to grow without me. I became the only kid practicing his free throws while everyone else was dunking. They would get in line and show off their hops to wow our teammates and coaches. In the games, the most talked about plays were of the kid who had the sickest dunk. It was never the kid who made ninety percent of his free throws, took a charge, or led the team in assists.
EJ Carrion: International Speaker & EntrepreneurWhen I was kid all I wanted to do was play professional basketball. I loved basketball and it still plays an important role of in my life today. From playing ball I learned leadership, teamwork, and hard work. I also met my high school sweetheart (who I am still with to this day) and my business partner, who both play a huge part in my success today.My dream of becoming a professional basketball player ended once I stopped growing in ninth grade at five feet and six inches short. By my senior year, everyone I grew up with began to grow without me. I became the only kid practicing his free throws while everyone else was dunking. They would get in line and show off their hops to wow our teammates and coaches. In the games, the most talked about plays were of the kid who had the sickest dunk. It was never the kid who made ninety percent of his free throws, took a charge, or led the team in assists.Even today the NBA’s greatest players are those who can dunk the basketball. You have Lebron James, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Howard who get paid millions of dollars to excite the audience with their phenomenal athletic ability and poster rising dunks. At the end of each dunk, the noise from the slam makes a big boom and is topped off with a rattle from the rim, shock-a-laka. The crowd goes wild and that noise is a sign that something amazing just happened.As a player, I hated this noise not because I did not like it when it happened but because I knew I could never do it myself. The sound was something I could not get away from. Even my old NBA Jams video game screamed Boom shock-a-laka after every amazing dunk. One summer, I made a commitment that I was going to increase my vertical and by doing so make the varsity basketball team.One hot Texas summer day I was doing calf raises in the gym, which I always did before leg extensions. In the summer, I was usually the only guy but this particular day something special happened. The varsity coach walked in and saw me in the gym. He said, “Every day I hear these weights going up and down and I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re wasting your time.” I did not know what to say so I stuttered, “Ca-ca-ca-coach I know you may not see my talent but if you give me a chance I could make the team.”“No son. I’m not worried about that. With enough hard work and practice everyone has a shot to make the team. I am just saying, you are working on the wrong things,” he said.In my mind I got excited because he told me I had chance even though it may be a slim one. He continued talking, “No offense, but your chances of dunking are slim. You need to focus on your strengths. You have good handles, defense, and an extremely fast first step. If you focus on making these traits varsity-ready, you would have a chance because that is what our team needs.”After hearing this, I got even more excited and completely shifted my mindset and goals for the summer. With enthusiasm I said, “Thanks coach! I really appreciate the feedback and look forward to next year.”He left saying, “Good luck son. Keep up the good work.”At the beginning of the season that year I did not make the varsity basketball team, but by district I became the starting point guard. That was my junior year and in my senior year I led the area in assists. I played the most minutes on the team and averaged less than two points per game. I never shot the ball because like coach said, I needed to focus on my strengths.In one season, I went from junior varsity third string backup to starting point guard on the varsity team. It was the first time I felt like I accomplished something great. The Boom Shock-a-laka Effect is when something amazing happens. I define doing something amazing as it being the most pivotal climactic part of the day or game. As entrepreneurs, we need to identify amazement and try to figure how can we get our team and company to do work at this level on a regular basis.As an entrepreneur you have probably read about young people taking companies public or getting millions in funding, so you probably do not think much of this story. This is not my greatest accomplishment compared to some of my professional success like becoming a #1 Amazon bestselling author, nationally recognized motivational speaker, and owner of a social venture company that grew to six figures in 10 months all before my 23rd birthday. But this one breakthrough is what turned my life around.In the entrepreneurial space, I believe that amazement has its place and sometimes we feel like it is around us rather than within us. We see the Instagrams and the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world so we don’t always see what we do as amazing. You have tech start-ups from Silicon Valley getting 60 million dollars in funding and friends or role models getting national media attention. All of these things are amazing and examples of the Boom shock-a-laka Effect, but like my coach said, we have to focus on our strengths and know our role. When we do not follow our strengths, we end up following the crowd and making bad business decisions.In order to make amazing things happen for you and your company, you have to focus on what you are good at and what you can provide to society. It is similar to my role as point guard who facilitates the trajectory of the ball to the flashy players pulling slam-dunks. I had a purpose on the team and I became good at my role. Now, my role is being a change maker in the education space and helping increase students’ chances of success.As a young entrepreneur, your Boom Shock-a-laka Effect lies in your strengths. Your natural talent and the skills you enjoy sharpening will play an intricate piece to you making amazing things happen in your company and society. For instance, Steve Jobs would not have been a recognized leader if he would have tried to pursue a career in rapping. What if Michael Phelps tried to be a jockey in the Kentucky Derby or Ellen DeGeneres tried to be a drug lord? The same people who have made amazing things happen could have easily been a laughable piece of society. A good example of this is when William Hong tried out for American Idol. He was so bad that it was humorously enjoyable. He is one of a few people who made a living being bad at something. Find your strengths and what you enjoy to do because the path to entrepreneurship success is hard.Once you know your passion and strengths, find your role in society. Answering these two questions will help you identify your role: 1. What value does your business create?When you know the value of your service or product, stay focused on amplifying that value. Your value is your strength and what continues to keep the Boom shock-a-laka Effect occurrence constant. The minute your customers stop seeing value in what you do, they begin to quit taking out their checkbooks and start looking for someone else to solve their problem. You need to give your customers the value they want, not what you think they need.2. What problem are you trying to solve?This question can be easily answered after figuring out what value you provide. They’re two reasons why people buy: to get away from pain and to get closer to pleasure. But the majority of transactions can be linked to pain. Find the problem in your industry and identify what problem you are solving that your competition can’t fulfill. There is always a gap between good and great and the big reason for this is that great companies have a clear understanding of the problem they are solving.I know this seems like a no-brainer but so many companies lose sight of these two things. The worst thing for any company or human being to do is to try to be something you are not. I believe that once you stay authentic and be comfortable playing your own game, you can become a business leader that makes a huge impact in the world. Now that you know what it takes to increase the Boom Shock-a-laka Effect in your company, go out there and posterize your competition!
* * * * *EJ Carrion is the co-author of top-selling book, Ignite Your Dreams: How to Build and Accelerate Your Life as a Top-Notch Student, and was the co-publisher of internationally recognized brand "Collegiate Performance Magazine," which featured celebrities like Tim Tebow and Dave Mirra. EJ is currently running a leadership training company for high school and college organizations and is also a co-founder of a tech start-up that helps people use their online network to enhance their lives away from the computer. EJ has already spoken to over 15,500 students in 11 states and has worked with organizations such as Teach For America, Management Leaders of Tomorrow, and facilitated seminars for the government. Always an entertainer, EJ likes to rap and has shared the stage with rappers like Savage, who produced a platinum single titled "Let Me See Your Hips Swing." One of EJ's rap songs was even used by ESPN College Game Day.