In Celebration of National Poetry Month
the poet by Richard Jaffe collection
My guest today is Richard Jaffe, co-owner of the NBA's Phoenix Suns as well. He is also a philanthropist and poet.
JB: Welcome to OpEdNews, Richard. Your first book of poetry, Inner Peace & Happiness: Reflections to Grow Your Soul, was recently released. When we think of business and basketball, poetry does not immediately spring to mind. How did you get interested in the first place?
RJ: Thank you, Joan! I grew up playing basketball, I have been selling and interested in business since I was 13 years old, but poetry came to me a little later in life. When I was in my mid twenties, I met a young lady who I cared for very much. We captured something very special but, after a year, our love ran out of time. An empty space crept between us and suddenly she broke off the relationship. She said it hurt too much to even talk to me. Without an avenue to express my feelings, I sat down and just started writing. I wrote my first poem "Right There" hoping to win her heart back but she still wouldn't take my calls. I continued to write to express my emotions and share my feelings with those I love.
at Suns game, Winter 2012 by Richard Jaffe collection
Richard, Ann, Charly and Maxi
JB: Writing is a great way to connect with others and ourselves. I use it myself. But poetry has often been associated with the artsy-fartsy crowd and has had far less cachet. Were you worried that your reputation would suffer if people knew about your secret vice?
RJ: I never considered my poetry a vice but rather a special way to express myself. I have never worried what other people think. I have always written for myself, though I made it a habit of sharing what I wrote with whoever inspired it.
JB: Good for you. Can you tell us about the values that guide you and inspire your poetry?
RJ: First, let me talk about my values. My values are the same whether in business or life. The five values I try to live by are these:
1. Exceed customer expectations- In order to achieve this, I need to be very clear on what their expectations are, whether they are my business customer, wife, or kids. I always strive to communicate openly and clearly so we share the same goals, then, give them more than they expect. Disappointment is always the gap in expectations! Find a way to be early, go the extra mile and do the things not asked for or expected!
2. Live up to all commitments - This is the most difficult one. When I say I am going to do something, I need to do it on time or renegotiate before it's due. If I know I can't deliver something that I committed to do, I always try to talk about it before the committed time, then set a new delivery time. When I tell my kids I will be at their soccer game, they don't care how much work I have. I need to be there or not commit in the first place. When we deliver on all our commitments to our customers, they will not only stick with us in tough times, but they will come find us when they move from one company to another. Very few people live up to all their commitments! In our family we have a rule, No BBDs (Bigger Better Deals). Be careful what we commit to but then do everything necessary to deliver on those commitments.
3. Be the best- That means we don't compare ourselves to the past or compare ourselves to the competition. Rather, we compare ourselves to the opportunity at hand. We don't wait for our bosses or parents to raise the bar on us; rather, we raise the bar on ourselves.
4. Do the right thing- I believe that we all have an internal mechanism that lets us know right from wrong. We have a gut feeling and we know when we are not doing the right thing. Sometimes, doing the right thing does not appear to be in our own best interest. I implore all our employees to do what is best for the company and it will in the end be good for them. The same holds true for myself and our family. Do the right thing time and again and we will all be rewarded in the end.
5. Treat everyone with care and respect- This is the most important value! We must treat everyone from the president to the janitor, from the impaired child to the super athlete, with the same, kind consideration we all deserve. There is never a place to raise our voices or talk down to anyone regardless of the situation or their status. We need to treat everyone as if their heart is breaking, because maybe it just may be.
These are the five values I have instilled in my companies, my family and my life. Regarding my poetry, I try to live my life laughing, loving and caring. Through the relationships I am able to build with myself and others, I write about emotions I share and feel during my journey through life. One of my favorite quotes says: "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." I go through life caring and sharing with people and then write about how it makes me feel and the lessons I learn about happiness and inner peace.