Tamika Catchings and Joe Fairless

JF1072: Overcoming Bullying, Major Injuries, and how to Conquer ANYTHING That Gets in Your Way – With Former WNBA Superstar Tamika Catchings

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She’s a leader among leaders – as president of the WNBA Players Association she honed her leadership skills and now uses those skills in her life outside of basketball. From being a role model for the kids, to owning a tea shop, Tamika was kind enough to share her amazing story with us on the Best Ever Show, and all listeners can learn from what she has to say. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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Tamika Catchings Background:
-One of the top players in WNBA history, professional career 16 seasons with Indiana Fever
-Ten-time WNBA All-Star, five-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, seven-time All-WNBA
-First Team selection and has four Olympic gold medals with Team USA
-In 2004, created the Catch the Stars Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides fitness, literacy and mentoring programs for youth.
-First recipient of ESPN’s Humanitarian Award in 2015
-2016 released her autobiography, “Catch A Star,” which is a New York Times best seller.
-2017 announces she is a game analyst for Women’s Basketball Games on SEC Network.
-Purchased tea shop, Tea’s Me Cafe from the previous owners of Indianapolis that she had been frequenting while playing for the Indiana Fever.
-April 2017 named the Director of Player Programs and Franchise Development for Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
-Say hi to her at tamikacatchings.com
-Based in Indianapolis, Indiana


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TRANSCRIPTION

Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. We’ve spoken to Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank, Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Emmitt Smith, hall of fame football player, and I am so pleased and grateful to say we’re gonna be talking to Tamika Catchings, WNBA star and now — well, I mean, always has been an entrepreneur, and now working on some entrepreneurial endeavors. How are you doing, Tamika?

Tamika Catchings: I’m doing great, Joe. How about you?

Joe Fairless: I am doing great as well. Best Ever listeners, holy cow if you don’t know Tamika… Just look at her Wikipedia page; I was blown away by your accomplishments, so here’s some highlights, and then we’ll get into our conversation.

First ever quintuple-double – I had to quintuply double-check that, but that was actually a real thing, and in case you’re wondering what the heck is a quintuple-double, it’s 25 points, 18 rebounds, 11 assists, 10 steals and 10 blocks… So double digits in five categories.

She is a former NBA star, she just recently hung up the sneakers and her number has been retired with Indiana Fever. She was the president of the WNBA Players Association from 2012 to 2016, and four of the things that stood out to me – she is one of only nine women to win a championship in college, WNBA and also an Olympic gold medal. She’s a New York Times best-selling author, the book called Catch a Star, which I will be purchasing immediately after our conversation.

She is the first recipient of ESPN’s humanitarian award, and I’m out of breath at this point, because I’m not as in shape as you are. So with that being said, if you wanna give the Best Ever listeners just a little bit more about your background and your current focus, and then we’ll go from there.

Tamika Catchings: My father actually played in the NBA for 11 years, so I was kind of born into the NBA family. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Los Angeles Clippers, so needless to say we’ve moved around a lot, but basketball has always kind of been in the framework of our lives. I was born with a hearing problem and a speech problem, so for me growing up, because of my impairment, I got bullied a lot, so really that was before it became so important in my life and just really everything.

Seventh grade I made my first goal I was gonna be in the NBA, follow my dad’s footsteps. WNBA came my freshman year in college, so I changed from wanting to be in the NBA to the WNBA, and I got drafted; Indiana Fever had an opportunity to play here for the last 15 years, and now currently my role is with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, I’m the director of player programs and franchise development. So a lot going on that basketball side, and then like you said, I wrote a book last year that came out; the paperback is actually about to come out at the beginning of August, and then I bought a tea shop called Tea’s Me Cafe Indy, here in Indianapolis, that hopefully we’ll look to franchise in the next couple of years… So a lot going on, but a lot of great things.

Last but not least, my foundation, the Catch The Stars foundation. We focus on boys and girls, ages 7-18, and providing programming around fitness literacy and mentoring.

Joe Fairless: I want to talk about the different ventures that you have, like the tea shop and the foundation, but before we get into that, when I was doing research prior to our conversation, I saw that your senior year at Tennessee you have ACL injury. Then you got drafted, and you had to sit out your first year in the WNBA. You finally made it to your goal, you’re in the WNBA, and now you’ve gotta sit for a year, and I’m gonna ask this question because this is so analogous to what all entrepreneurs come across, right? We know what our goal is, we think we’ve reached it, and then all of a sudden there’s a huge challenge in front of us. What was your mindset during that year? Because you ended up being the rookie of the year your next year when you actually played… So what was your mindset that year when you were injured?

Tamika Catchings: At first it was my senior year in college, so having the injury and knowing that I wasn’t gonna be able to finish up my senior year, I was just super disappointed. But one thing that I’ve always been is faith-oriented. My faith is what got me through early on, and even as I got drafted and eventually got here to Indiana — but I think really having a great supporting cast, having a great team around me helped to keep me positive, keep me motivated. I knew I wanted to get back to the court, I knew I wanted to be successful, so from that aspect, knowing that I was gonna have to work hard, ten times harder than I had to before… But I was willing to go the extra mile and I love a challenge. So that was kind of my mindset.

[unintelligible [00:07:42].27] Martin Luther King Jr. died, the draft was in April, and then I got cleared late June, early July to run. Actually, I was running straight away, something in my knee popped again, and I flew back home because at that point I had trouble with the team in Houston, back when we had the Houston team. I came back, had surgery the next day after that; first part I did my ACL, the second one I did my meniscus, so I had to go back, do another surgery until at least I was like “Okay, now I know I’m not coming back this year for sure, but I least I have a brand new knee.”

After that setback – the second setback – I was like “Alright, let’s just focus on being ready for next year, being ready for the next season. I have 12 months literally to prepare myself”, so I kind of shifted my focus away from “I really wanna try to get back this year and play, even if it’s just for a little bit”, shifting it to being prepared for the next year and however many more years I would have to play.

Joe Fairless: The first thing you mentioned was being faith oriented, and then the second thing was having a supporting cast… Digging in a little bit deeper with the faith oriented and a supporting cast, what’s the voice in your head saying from the faith oriented part? Is it that everything happens for a reason, or what are you saying to yourself?

Tamika Catchings: I can do all things [unintelligible [00:09:03].22] Literally, that’s probably my saying in everything – it’s just being focused on not my strength, but His strength through me. I can overcome anything, whether it’s a physical ailment or something even mentally I’m struggling with, or even in this new role and the challenges that it presents… Just knowing that He has me here for a reason, and not necessarily that it’s for me, but it’s really to ultimately give glory to Him in everything I do.

Joe Fairless: And as far as the supporting cast goes, who was up there helping you and what was their specific role? Maybe it wasn’t as official as a role, but what were they providing you?

Tamika Catchings: Well, my family is a huge piece. My mom and dad actually got divorced when I was in the 7th grade, so now I always lived with my mom, but my dad was always present in my life, too. So my family has been a big piece, but I would say if I had to pick one person – my sister. She was playing overseas; she’s 21 months older than me. I’m the baby for my mom and dad… And literally, when I tore my ACL, she was playing overseas. We’re not twins, even though people think we’re twins, but while she was playing overseas I got hurt. She got all these e-mails. It was in text messages back then; there wasn’t Facetime and all that, so she got all these e-mails just asking if I was okay, and then she found out I tore my ACL. She literally stopped her playing career, moved back to Knoxville, Tennessee, stayed with me until I finished my senior year, helped me out to do all my stuff, just get me [unintelligible [00:10:32].19] finishing school and all that good stuff. Then when I got drafted to Indiana, she moved to Indiana with me, and we’ve literally been together since then.

She’s married now with two boys, but we’re only ten minutes apart, so… We came in together, and we’re still together. And then my brother lives right up the street in St. Louis. He comes over a lot too, but the three of us are really close.

Joe Fairless: President of the WNBA Players Association for four years – how I interpret that is you’re a leader among leaders. How do you become a leader among leaders?

Tamika Catchings: Well, actually I got the role in 2004.

Joe Fairless: Oh, shoot! The Wikipedia is way off. [laughter] 2004 to when?

Tamika Catchings: Until last year, 2016.

Joe Fairless: Oh, my gosh… Wow.

Tamika Catchings: A long time.

Joe Fairless: You can’t trust the internet. [laughter]

Tamika Catchings: Yeah, it’s funny because from a leadership standpoint, when I got voted to be president, I was like freaked out, because I knew about the Players Association, but I hadn’t really been involved and engaged in it.

The players vote for their president, so they all voted me, and I was like “This is like some kind of joke, or something. I can’t lead this group.” But it took a little bit of time for me to get comfortable and get to the point where I felt “Okay, I can really do something and I can really start to take charge.” But from a respect standpoint, I think the coolest thing is knowing that the players vote you in, and that they look at you as their leader and they put you kind of not on a pedestal, but they put you in that role where they’re willing to follow you.

I always say 2004 was the first year I really saw a leader on the court in Dawn Staley, that showed me what leadership was about, and how to carry yourself and how to put people in the right position and how to allow your team around you to be successful. She taught me a lot just by watching her that one year, and then of course even over the next few years following that I had to kind of get my own leadership pattern (I guess you can say), and I learned that I have a voice, and not necessarily like “Just follow me. Everybody just follow me. Whatever I do, just do what I do.” What I learned really fast is not everybody can do that. Some people, you actually have to communicate and use words and tell them what you want, you can’t just show them. Then some people need a little bit of both, and some people you can just show them… So just being able to learn the different types of being able to communicate, but also the different types of being able to lead.

Joe Fairless: This is gonna be a tough question, but if you had to guess what the women would say who are voting for you to be the president of the Players Association, what would you guess they’d describe you as?

Tamika Catchings: Oh… Passionate, determined, a go-getter, and somebody that when you think of all the dirty work that needs to be done, and the behind the scenes stuff, somebody that’s willing to put in the time and the sacrifice for that. I think even as a basketball player, there’s so many things behind the scenes that you have to do… So really preparing yourself as a player to get ready for the game, to get ready for practice, and it’s almost the same thing, but it’s a thankless job… Being the president of the union is a thankless job, but it’s a job that somebody has to do. But if you’ve got somebody in that role, you want them to be committed to the lead, you want them to be passionate, dedicated, willing to sacrifice and willing to do the dirty work to make things happen.

Joe Fairless: Yeah, I imagine it is, as you said, a thankless job, and it’s a commitment above and beyond what you’re already doing… Holy cow, you had a lot of stuff going on. Looking back on it, what would be a specific benefit that you received as a result of being in that position?

Tamika Catchings: Being able to lead, being able to make a decision, and being able to — as a president, you can’t just focus on one group of players; you’re not just focusing on the superstars. You’re focusing on the stars of the team, but you’re also focusing on the rookies that are coming and you’re focusing on the players that are transitioning from a rookie contract to a veteran contract, and all the stuff in between.

“What do the players want? What do the players need? What’s more important?”, being able to prioritize… There’s a lot of things that you learn from a leadership standpoint, but even ultimately being able to communicate. I think that that has always been my struggle, because I got made fun of when I was younger.

I didn’t really like to talk to people, I never really liked to direct. As a leader, you have to learn how to talk to people, you have to learn how to do it and ask people to do certain things that maybe they might not want to, being able to communicate it effectively, but even being able to find the benefits, not only for what we need done, but for the particular player that we might need something done, and know how to get them engaged. There was a lot of trial and error, but it was fun.

Joe Fairless: How are you applying the skills you learned there to your current role now?

Tamika Catchings: Well, in everything that I do… It applies in every single role. When I look at the leadership qualities that I learned from being the Players Association president, being around Dawn and learning her leadership style and trying to figure out what my leadership style is and what kind of leader I wanted to be known for… But now I think that being able to put that in the roles that I’m in with Pace Sports & Entertainment, and the respect level that a lot of the players have – they see all this stuff that I do, and a lot of people have always been like, “Oh, that’s just [unintelligible [00:16:12].13]” But now from this role I’m like, “Look, it could be you, too.” You’ve gotta figure out what you’re passionate about while you’re playing. I just happen to be passionate about kids, I happen to be passionate about leadership.

Having to be passionate about impacting people and trying to help them figure out and find the best of them – all of that stuff plays into every single aspect of my life now.

Joe Fairless: So as an entrepreneur, you have a couple things that I know of going on. One of them is the tea shop you’ve mentioned a couple times… Talk to us about that. You’re looking to franchise it. Can you give us the back-story and what you’re doing with it?

Tamika Catchings: Well, when I moved to Indianapolis, somebody randomly took me to this Tea’s Me cafe. This was about ten years ago, and they were like “Oh, I know you like tea. I’ve got this nice little spot. We can go and we’re gonna have lunch, have some tea” and I’m like “Oh, great!” So we went, and it really became one of my favorite places to go.

Last year right before the holidays I had a meeting there, and I was just like “Oh, my gosh, I love this place!” and the guy I was meeting was just kind of like “Well, you’d better come as many times as you can, because the owner is moving” and I was like “Well, just because he moves doesn’t mean — the shop’s not going anywhere, right?” Well, I come to find out they didn’t know what they were gonna do with it.

Long story short, I was just like “We’re gonna be finding somebody for you”, and I ended up asking my husband after a couple of weeks, like “Hey, do you think I can do it?” and he was like “Why not? Anything that you’re passionate about and you go so hard with everything you… You’d be great.” So here we are. I took over in February 2017; it’s been a little bit over six months.

The thing is going great. I love the atmosphere, but really when I started looking at why I would want a tea shop… I love to drink tea, but I can go anywhere and get tea, right? But what it became was the benefit that it would allow for the kids that come to our foundation… So really being able to use Touch The Stars as kind of a model that we’ll go in and we’ll hire some of our kids to come and work, and teach them about leadership, teach them about serving, looking people in the eye, what to wear to work, how to carry yourself… Just kind of teach them the basic fields that have kind of been lost a little bit. So being able to use that, and then we right now currently have our First Friday, and our First Friday is always Youth Friday. So we have kids that come out and they can do spoken word, they can draw, they can sing, they can dance, they can do comedy, whatever it is, but just really having a space for our young people to come and excel.

Joe Fairless: Wow. I love how you merged the worlds, you were able to combine two… With the conversation you mentioned between you and your husband when you asked him  “Do you think I should go for it?” and he was like “Hey, anything you’re passionate about, you go all in” – that made me think of what is something that you’re passionate about that you went all in on, and that flopped? It didn’t go well. No gold medal, no trophies, you didn’t make money, whatever it was. What’s something?

Tamika Catchings: I’ll probably go back to the sports analogy. When you come in and every single year you come into a season, and we have media day, and what happens at media day? All media shows up and everybody has all these microphones, and I get cornered in a corner and all these mics are in front of me, and just like “Is this the year you’re gonna win a championship?” So I think about from 2001 – really 2002, when I started playing – all the way to 2009, when we made it to the finals and we lost in game 5 to Phoenix, but we didn’t win a championship until 2012… But from 2002 to 2012, every single year, literally, it was the same conversation. After the 2009 season I just expected 2010 to be like this great year, and “We made it all the way, we made it this far… All we needed was maybe five more minutes to win the game, so next year is gonna be the best year ever”, and it wasn’t. Not at all. We ended up losing in the first round, and I just remember the off-season after 2009, going into 2010, I was in the gym non-stop, getting ready. “2010 is gonna be the year, we’re gonna win the championship. It’s gonna be great”, and just going all in, workouts just kind of over the top a little bit… That’s how I am, over the top.

But we get to New York – New York was our first round – and it’s game three, so we needed to win, but we lost, and I just remember I was devastated. That was probably one of the moments that I really thought like “Maybe I don’t wanna play anymore. Maybe this is it. I’m tired of working so hard and committing myself to the Lord and working hard and trying to do everything just perfect, and then this is the outcome.” I’m mad, I’m lonely, I’m by myself, and everybody’s so concerned about going out and going to parties, but we’ve just lost, they should be upset; they’re not mad, they should be like me. There’s all this anger, so I just remember, literally, “I don’t wanna play basketball.”

We had a USA basketball training, and I just told [unintelligible [00:21:21].23] at that point in time, I was like “Look, Kelly, I don’t wanna play basketball. I really am struggling with getting back in the gym.” I wanted to go and play for the USA team, do the world championship, but my body hurt, I’m frustrated, I don’t know if I can go on, and she was just like “You know what? Take a week, a week and a half, get yourself together, do whatever you need to do, and then we’ll talk when you come back.”

So I did, and I came back, and I was fine; I ended up going with the USA team, but it was in that moment, probably one of the only moments that I’ve had where I really was just like “I’m done. I don’t wanna play anymore.” You overcome.

Joe Fairless: Yeah. What was the thought in that week, week and a half? Where did the thought change?

Tamika Catchings: I didn’t wanna be a quitter. I made a commitment that I was going with the USA team, so I didn’t wanna be one of those people that are like “I lose, and I’m a sore loser. I don’t wanna come and play because we lost.” That was kind of something that I did think about, but then also I truly loved to play basketball and loved the game. When I thought about the opportunity of going to the next level and going to play with the world championship team, not a lot of players get that opportunity. I didn’t wanna miss out on that just because I’m in the moment right now super upset, super frustrated about not winning.

Joe Fairless: You said you’re over the top on stuff… Will you describe or elaborate on that from a daily basis, how that comes to life?

Tamika Catchings: Well, I like things done a certain way. I’m a big planner, so I [unintelligible [00:22:59].23] that I am somebody that on Sundays prepares for the whole week. Sundays I pretty much know what outfit I’m gonna wear every single day. If I’ve got different events, my outfits are kind of lined up, so I know every day what I’m wearing, and what I have to do today, what I have to focus on. That’s why I can only do one week at a time.

So I’m over the top as far as from a planning aspect… But even like just getting stuff done. I like to be on top of what I have to do and what needs to get done, and just being able to focus on every single detail. I think that’s the best way to be.

Joe Fairless: What’s it like to be around you when your Monday plans change and the outfit you had planned for is no longer relevant?

Tamika Catchings: Well, that just happened to me. They told me I was going to a black tie event, so I went out of town with my gown, and my shoes, and I had like three different shoes that I had to choose from whichever dress that I wore. Then when I got there, I just happened to come up on a pitch and I’m like, “Okay, this doesn’t look like a black tie event.” So I went back and they were like “Oh, you know, it’s just cocktail attire.” So I’m like “Okay, well I don’t have a cocktail attire dress”, so I’m running around New York City trying to find the perfect dress to wear at the cocktail because, oh yeah, by the way, I’m a presenter and I don’t know what award I’m presenting, and I don’t even know who I’m presenting to… [laughter]

So yeah, it happens, but I kind of like took it with a grain of salt. At least I get a brand new dress, and something cute. I got a dress, I got to the awards show, and plenty of time, and I figured out “You know what? It doesn’t have to be perfect.” It’s fine.

Joe Fairless: Have you always been that way, where it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s fine? Or has that come with age and experience? [laughs]

Tamika Catchings: Age and maturity. You get mature.

Joe Fairless: Yeah. If you had that mentality of “It doesn’t always have to be perfect” when you were starting out, do you think you would have been just as successful?

Tamika Catchings: No, because I think that being able to operate on that level with it, you demand a level of excellence… For my college coach, Pat Summitt, that was something that every day she demanded us to be excellent. Not compared to the person next to us, but our own sense of excellence and success. I think that being driven by her, and then by the time I got to the pro too, I think even for me, my drive actually started from when I was that little girl getting bullied, and wanting to be successful and wanting to fit in. I was driven to do whatever it took to be normal.

Then you think of the people that have come in your life, and then of course Pat, and then getting here with the Fever… But I don’t think that if I had that that I would be in the position that I’m in right now, and definitely all the opportunities that have come. Because even over time, one thing that I’ve also changed — during basketball, I just focused on my game and nothing else. I would do our foundation and I would do other stuff, but everything was predicated on my schedule with basketball, and then it kind of started transitioning when I started saying “Okay, I’m about to retire.”

Things started transitioning where basketball wasn’t necessarily the number one things. Other things were starting to kind of creep in, but I think that if I didn’t have that direction early on in my career, I wouldn’t have played as long as I did, and I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had, but then also now just opportunities, why I’m being willing to try new things… Whereas before I was like, “No, I don’t wanna do that. No, I don’t wanna do that. No, I’ve just gotta do this. This is all I have to focus on right now”, where now I’m like “Okay, well maybe I’ll try that. Okay, that sounds cool. I’ll try that” and really being open to more opportunity.

Joe Fairless: With the notoriety you have, and especially in Indianapolis, I’m sure you get a lot of opportunities presented to you. How do you qualify or disqualify those opportunities?

Tamika Catchings: It’s tough now, especially because you retire and then everybody’s like “Oh, you’ve got all this free time. You should be able to do this and this and this” and it’s like “No, I can’t.” Some of it I’m going doing stuff [unintelligible [00:27:07].22] and for the NBA and the WNBA, and then I’m doing stuff for Pacers Sports & Entertainment, and then I’m doing stuff for my tea shop, and then I’m doing stuff for our foundation. And oh, by the way, a big part of your job is relationship, and building relationship with the players. You’re going and bouncing around and doing all this stuff, but losing the big piece of what you’re supposed to be focused on, so… There’s a lot of moving parts, and I’m still trying to figure out how everything fits together. But from the appearance aspect and from trying to figure out and from trying to figure out what it is that I’m willing to support and that I’m willing to be at, a lot of it is just kind of timing available, then also not trying to wear yourself thin.

Joe Fairless: The question I ask all the guests is the following, and I want to kind of position it based on your skillset and what you’ve done, so I’m gonna tweak it slightly… What is the best advice ever you have for listeners who want to achieve at a high level?

Tamika Catchings: Well, the best advice my dad gave me when I was younger is you pick your friends, don’t let your friends pick you. How does that correlate to where we are now? Well, for so many of us, we wanna fit in. When you look at fitting in, you look at people flocking around you because of the success you have, or because you have this or you have that, and as professional athletes, you’ve got money, so I’m trying to be around you, I’m trying to go where you go, I’m trying to attach myself to you. But I learned early – I was in junior high when my dad said that, and I remember looking at my dad like “Yeah, [unintelligible [00:28:38].06] know what you’re talking about.”

Then as I got older, I realized when I had a good game, I’d have a whole entourage of people with me; then I’d have a bad game and I’d have my two or three people with me. Then I’d have another good game and I’d have an entourage, and I figured out, I’m like “God, I thought they were my friends, but they only come around when I’m doing really, really well, and all the cameras are around and all these people are around and everybody wants my attention, that’s when they’re there. But when I’m by myself and I have a bad game and I need somebody to maybe give me a couple words of encouragement, they’re nowhere to be found, even at this level.”

As you climb the ladders of success, there’s people that see what you’re doing and it’s like “How do I attach myself to you?” You start looking at what types of qualities do you want in a friend, or do you need a friend? Do you need a friend or do you need an associate? And really trying to pick and choose.

For me now, I have my core group of friends, and I don’t really need more friends, but I also look at myself in the role that I’m at right now… I can open doors for so many young ladies that are wanting to [unintelligible [00:29:46].18] wanting to be in this role, wanting to be around basketball, wanting to try to figure out a life for them, I can still open the door for them, but I’m very careful with who I let around me and in my circle, because one person, one bad egg can ruin all the rest of the eggs. I’m just being very conscious of — my circle is tight, but my circle is also tight with people that are successful, and that know what it takes to be successful.

Joe Fairless: So many life lessons and insights… I’ve been taking notes along the way, and at the very end I’ll mention some of the things that stood out to me. We usually do a lightning round, so are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Tamika Catchings: Uh-oh… I don’t know…

Joe Fairless: [laughs] Oh, baloney, you’re ready for anything I could throw at you times 50. [laughter] Alright, first though, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [[00:30:38].24] to [[00:31:39].01]

Joe Fairless: Okay, here’s a question… This is from a co-host who is on the show with me on Fridays; I was talking to him about our interview, and he went to Ohio state… A really big, strong guy, good at crossfit, and he’s like “You know, I was thinking one day if I would just work out a lot – this was when he was in college – I bet I could try out for the football team, but then I thought those student athletes, I don’t know how they balance the sport plus getting passing grades, let alone good grades, plus actually being a teenager in college.” And he said “I would love for you to ask her about how the heck she was able to balance that.” So how did you do that?

Tamika Catchings: Well, my mom set the stage and the standard when I was young. If we didn’t make A’s and B’s, we couldn’t play sport. So I was really learning early that I wanted to play sports, so I had to make good grades. Then when you get to college, as an athlete, yeah, you wanna experience all the different things that are going on, you wanna be a teenager, but for most of us, we have study hall, we have a lot of times that are specific to doing work. We have two of those that are available, so there’s a lot of services that are around for you to kind of tap into. Pat has a 100% graduation rate… So all of her players have graduated, and you don’t wanna be that one that one that doesn’t graduate. I think the discipline even comes from your other players, though. The discipline that they had as seniors…

First, when you come in and you’re watching the juniors and the seniors, and they’re taking it serious, so you automatically kind of get into that flow and that routine of what they’re doing, and kind of [unintelligible [00:33:26].28] to yourself a little bit because not all the time do we have classes at the same time. I think just being disciplined, being able to prioritize… You know you’ve got practice at this time, you know you have classes at this time, where do you fit in your homework hours and where do you make sure that you’re getting the work done?

Pat doesn’t play that either. She wasn’t gonna let us play if we didn’t make good grades, so being very strategic in how you’re gonna get everything done. I had a boyfriend in college, so I had to spend time with him too, and try to fit in that. I mean, not necessarily going to parties and stuff, but having somewhat of a social life. You just learn how to prioritize and what’s the most important and how you can fit it in.

Joe Fairless: And on the opposite end of the spectrum from where our conversation has been, what’s the worst advice you’ve either been given or heard?

Tamika Catchings: Oh, my… Honestly, I don’t know, because I’m sure if it wasn’t good, I probably was just like “Okay…”, and you’re giving the crazy face and you walk away, right?

Joe Fairless: [laughs] How about this – what’s a common mistake you see other people make, whether it’s other WNBA people, or whether it’s young people, whatever?

Tamika Catchings: Going back to the basketball world, people go to the gym, right? “Oh, I wanna be in the WNBA” or “I wanna be successful” or “If I’m in the WNBA, I wanna be successful”, but they just go to the gym, and going to the gym and going to work on your game are two different things. Anybody can go to the gym, and when you’re in the gym you shouldn’t have court shots, and shooting shots that you know you don’t shoot in the game. But then if you’re working on your game, you’re thinking about the shots that you take in the game, and you’re putting those shots in as you’re in the gym.

I think a lot of times it’s like “Oh, you know, if you work hard, if you go to the gym, you’re gonna be great.” I don’t agree with that. If you work hard on the thing that you know that you need to work on, and you’re very conscious of the mistake that you’ve been making in the game during practice, and you’re working on those, then yes, you can be great. But you don’t go to the gym and come out great.

Joe Fairless: Wow. Life lesson, that’s for sure. How can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on, and to help do whatever you want them to do? [laughter] Because I’m in! You tell me what you want me to do, I’ll do it! This has been an incredible conversation.

Tamika Catchings: Yeah, our foundation is CatchTheStars.org. We have three different websites. CatchTheStars.org is the foundation. For the tea shop it’s teasmeindy.com. I do own a franchise, so the indie part of it is in Indy, and then wherever we go, we’ll change out the Indy. So teasmeindy.com, CatchTheStars.org, and then my personal one is TamikaCatchings.com.

Joe Fairless: This is a personal question for me… So Theo, the guy who I mentioned, he is like 6’3″, I’m 5’11”. He has very good basketball skills, I do not. We play one-on-one; I have not beat him. I’ve googled how to beat someone who’s taller than you in basketball, but I still haven’t beat him. Any tips?

Tamika Catchings: Oh, man… Practice.

Joe Fairless: I do, I practice more than him.

Tamika Catchings: You’ve gotta pull him out. You might be quicker than him, right? So you’ve gotta use your quickness; you’ve gotta pull him out. But you’ve gotta have a jump shot, too. If you don’t shoot and you pull him out, he’s probably gonna stay down by the basket because he knows you can’t shoot.

Joe Fairless: Yeah.

Tamika Catchings: If you get your jump shot, then he has to guard you, and then when you pull him out and give him a little shot fake, go around him… You’ve gotta be creative, because if he is taller than you… And you’ve gotta be fast. So work on your lateral quickness, work on your speed, work on your jump shots… There’s just a lot of stuff that you have to work on, but it’s okay… [laughter] I believe in you, I believe in you!

Joe Fairless: I’m a piece of clay that we can mold, yes… There’s a lot I need to work on. Okay, well I’m gonna work on my jump shot, because when I first started playing him I wasn’t jumping and shooting; he was [unintelligible [00:37:30].18] so now I actually jump and shoot.

Okay, well thank you so much for being on the show. What an incredible conversation… Life lessons along the way, from “pick your friend, don’t let your friend pick you”, and I love how you mentioned you open the door for people, but you’re careful for who you let around you. So it’s not that you’re closed off from helping others, but it’s just the people you spend the majority of your time with, that’s who you’re really selective with. Then what you mentioned earlier – it’s not about the reps, it’s about the quality reps, and working on the specific things that lead to success, and then how should we handle the challenges that come up, and how you have done it… 1) Being faith oriented, having the self-talk that you mentioned earlier. 2) The supporting cast, and then 3) Your mentality; you said you just love a challenge. So many other things – how to be a leader among leaders…

I highly recommend the Best Ever listeners to go relisten to this one. Tamika, thank you for being on the show, thanks for sharing your advice and your story, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Tamika Catchings: Thank you, Joe. Thanks for having me.

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