Last summer, I went to basketball camp. Seriously. Sure, I’m 51 years old, but in my mind, I am still somewhere between 10 and 24 depending upon the day. I really did go to basketball camp, more appropriately referred to as the “Hoosier Fantasy Basketball Experience.”
When I was 10 years old, I went to the Bob Knight Basketball School at Indiana University, and I have been hooked ever since. When it came time to apply to college, I only applied to one place. Yes, Indiana University. I spent four great years there, never missed a home game and traveled to watch the IU basketball team play in NCAA tournament games and went on Big 10 road trips with friends.
In 2019, I learned there was going to be a fantasy camp for guys 30 years old (and older) that was being hosted by Victor Oladipo and IU. I asked my wife how much she loved me and told her I was going to spend a chunk of money to go to an adult basketball camp for old guys. She apparently really loved me… because I attended that year. I didn’t know anyone when I went, made a few new friends while there and vowed to do it again. The following year, I sent my money in. When COVID-19 put an end to that camp, I told them to keep my money because I was going whenever they started it up again. Finally, 2022 came around and the camp came back. I was so ready!
I remembered how competitive the first year of the camp was — and I also remembered how long the college basketball court was a few years prior. It felt like we were playing on a football field. So, I did what I would do for any remodeling project: I followed our P.L.A.N. acronym… Prepare, Lead, Adapt and No Surprises.
And I really prepared.
I still play basketball with talented young guys twice a week to stay young and because I love the game, I lifted a few weights for the first time since college — although you would never know by looking at me — and I would get up on Saturday mornings to run 6 miles. Was it a little over the top? Probably. But I would be playing in one of the most iconic basketball buildings in the world and I wanted to make the most of it. Who knows how many times I would get the opportunity before I simply can’t do it anymore? I also remembered how tired I was running up and down the floor during the first camp and I did not want to have that feeling again.
So why write this blog on my remodeling company’s website? I am struck by the correlation between my camp experience and how The Lifestyle Group treats its clients.
At least three times a week, I can be heard telling a potential client that they may think our product is the kitchen or bathroom that we create, but we believe that the product we’re really providing is the experience along the way. A lot of people can get to the end of a project and end up creating a decent kitchen or bathroom, but how many can do it where the relationships with the homeowners are great and the clients really come to love and trust the people that make it happen? That experience is harder to provide, which is why we focus on it. We want to earn all our clients’ projects for the rest of their lives.
I mention that because the experience I had at this camp, as a result of the efforts of the coaches and players of the Indiana basketball program, was unbelievable. They were thoroughly invested in this process from the time we arrived until the time we left. Did I have fun at the first camp? Absolutely! But this year was far different. Every person involved, from Coach Woodson and his staff to all the players, made this a top-five experience in my life. It reminded me of our employees who show up every day to make sure our clients have a memorable remodeling experience.
I think about the irony of a bunch of grown men looking up to and working to earn the respect of college basketball players who are younger than my own daughters. The camp brought together a group of 40 successful businesspeople from across the country who all shared a similar love for basketball and the tradition of IU basketball that I appreciate so much. I had great business conversations with incredible leaders in different industries and learned a lot through meeting these other people.
I am a lifelong learner and I always keep my eyes open for opportunities to observe and learn from others. I tell my kids that every business is just a different widget, and the key to success with any widget is how you interact with and treat people. We all like to be treated well and we tend to be loyal to others who go out of their way to create a positive experience for us.
Indiana University’s basketball program did that for me in the middle of August, especially Miller Kopp, Tamar Bates, Michael Shipp and Kaleb Banks. Those are young guys that have their whole lives ahead of them, but I would sincerely do whatever I could to help them in their future endeavors simply based on the experience they provided selflessly for me. There were others, including Eric Pankowski, Ward Roberts, Alex Land and the entire IU coaching staff, who went above and beyond giving us their time and energy. These guys might be a little older than the players, but they too did everything in their power to maximize the camp experience.
As a side note, it certainly didn’t diminish my camp memories that I hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating three pointer when we were down by 2 in the championship game while playing in ASSEMBLY HALL. Cutting down the nets while they played “One Shining Moment” and having Mike Woodson give me the tournament MVP trophy while wearing my championship t-shirt was also pretty cool.
I will always remember the reaction of the IU basketball team when the shot went in. I was dog piled and taken to the ground by my teammates and many of the IU basketball players, who went above and beyond for me one last time. As I went back and watched the video — yes, there’s video with over 36,000 views on social media — my favorite part was watching the reaction of each of the IU players. Right to that very last shot, they were engaged in the experience. Their weekend was about over; they didn’t have to rush the court like that, but their reaction was so authentic and it made it an absolutely incredible personal experience. A memory I will cherish for beyond a lifetime.
I can only hope our efforts with our remodeling clients leave them a fraction as happy as I was at the end of this camp experience. It truly was living out a childhood fantasy and left me feeling like an 11-year-old, wide-eyed kid being around my childhood heroes. It just so happens that my basketball heroes happen to be younger than my own children. Go IU!