March 15, 2012
Hometown Star Builds Business
Posted by David Zaring

I think that this profile of Harrison Barnes, North Carolina basketball star and would-be brand manager, is meant to critique the idea that a 20-year-old might talk about his future with reference to the idioms that a CEO probably uses when talking to a stock analyst.  Barnes obviously wants a sneaker deal, but he'd probably take something with Indonesian Airways, and I suppose one of the takeaways from the profile is that those kinds of desires just aren't very old school.

But, given that I share a home town with Barnes, I'd like to remphasize the refreshing nature of his ambitions.  If you'd like to get into Wharton's MBA program, it is excellent to have served time at a name brand financial intermediary or consultancy.  But it is also excellent to have tried to build a business on your own.  Harrison Barnes seems to want to build his own business, and if his focus at age 20 is somewhat terrifying, his instincts are not atypical.  My school looks for people like Barnes, and the only strange thing about his profile was that he really isn't going to have to be a smart businessman if he wants to earn dynastic wealth.  That will come from the basketball alone.  The fact that Barnes wants to do more than just play for a high salary makes me think that Gordon should be rooting for North Carolina as much as he intends to root for his alma mater.

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