Shaquille O’Neal inspired and awed as he gave advice about how to excel in business and in life and spoke about his involvement in the community Wednesday.
He spoke in front of about 1,400 people at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex for the annual Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce event, Voices of Vision, which brings nationally recognized visionaries to the area.
O’Neal said you’ve got to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. For him, these people make up a panel that keeps him in check and includes his mother, his uncle Jerome and Dale Brown, who is a Minot, North Dakota native and O’Neal’s former head coach at Louisiana State University (LSU).
His father was also on the panel before passing away.
“The panel, they keep me in line,” he said. Whenever he makes a questionable business or personal decision, someone on the panel will call him and tell him what he needs to do to right the wrong.
According to O’Neal, the panel is largely responsible for creating and molding the character that is “Shaq.”
He admitted that his moral code leads his business decision-making and thinks it played a key role in his financial success. He said he only endorses brands he believes in.
During his time in the NBA, an angry mother confronted O’Neal after a game about his shoe prices. “I can’t repeat what she said because there are children here,” O’Neal joked.
Because of this, he backed out of a $40 million deal with Reebok and created his own, more affordable, brand that has sold 220 million pairs of shoes since 1996.
Education is a focal point for the former NBA superstar. O’Neal has a bachelor’s degree from LSU, earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix — he’ll remind you that those classes were taken in-person and not online — and a Ph.D. from Barry University in Miami, Florida.
“My proudest moment was when I went to a parent-teacher conference and this teacher who didn’t know much about sports recognized me as Dr. O’Neal.”
He tells his six children, “If you don’t get two degrees, you ain’t getting none of my cheese. I do not believe in nepotism.”
O’Neal also believes giving back to the community breeds success.
One year his mother called asking for some money. She wanted to buy kids at the local Boys and Girls Club Christmas gifts. O’Neal told her he’d take care of it, and take care of it he did.
O’Neal and his two uncles rented U-Haul trucks, completely wiped out the nearest Walmart and brought the toys to the kids.
“We call that Shaq-a Claus,” he said and has done it every year since.
He also educates children about internet crimes and the dangers of the do’s and don’ts of what they should be sharing online.
O’Neal will run for sheriff in 2020, but plans to stay out of politics. He said it takes politicians too long to get things done.
Previous Voices of Vision speakers include former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired NFL quarterback Joe Theismann and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
O’Neal is a four-time NBA Champion, 15-time All-Star and three-time Finals MVP.