Everybody loves a "humble beginnings" story, especially if it features a billionaire who now runs one of the world's wealthiest and most pristine sports organizations. Because as cliche as these stories are, they always provide and highlight the hope that anyone can make it, as long as they persevere and outsmart their way to achieve their dreams.
The story of Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob isn't any different, but the way he went about it is.
Selling peanuts on the streets to make ends meet.
Lacob, who spent a lot of his youth in the tough and mean streets of New Bedford, Massachusetts, had to make a living to survive life as an unprivileged kid. In order to support his college tuition, the now billionaire used to depend on the money he made by selling peanuts on the streets.
Lacob still recalls chanting, "Peanuts! Peanuts here! Get your peanuts, peanuts, peanuts!" with a wide grin at the grounds of the Anaheim Stadium.
"I sold peanuts for seven years," Lacob told novelist Ethan Sherwood Strauss in his book "The Victory Machine: The Making and Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty." "Those days you had to sell. You walked the aisles, you threw the peanut bags and you kept the quarters," Lacob added.
But unlike many successful billionaires and businessmen, Lacob admitted that he never looks back at the scenes of his childhood. He feels that his life growing up was so crappy, and his neighborhood was so unpleasant that he'd rather leave it all in the past and move on to greener pastures. This is why Lacob built a mentality of always looking forward and being all about the future and what's next.
".. the idea of going back to my hometown, which was crappy growing up, nothing great, not the nicest place in my mind. Not to say anything negative about that city, but I've only been back twice since 1969, once to show my kids and once to show my ex-wife. That's it. I have no interest in going and I don't want to be near it," Lacob said.
The mentality of a billionaire
The reason Lacob probably has the mentality of always looking ahead is that he never wants to go through what he did in the past. He was determined and aggressive in buying the Golden State Warriors from the previous owner Chris Cohen back in 2010.
But the pursuit of buying the franchise wasn't an easy task for Lacob, who had to go up against an already established entrepreneur and billionaire, Larry Ellison. So together with his partner Peter Guber, Lacob knew they couldn't outbid Ellison, but they also understood how to outsmart and outwork him in their quest to own the Warriors.
So what the duo of Lacob and Guber did was wager an "exploding offer" to Cohen — a tactic deployed by numerous NBA general managers and owners. The exploding offer is when a buyer applies the "take this offer now or it goes away forever" scheme to pressure the seller into giving in to the demand right away — a clear depiction of Lacob's "always looking ahead" mindset.
Lacob's strategy eventually worked, and with more strategic negotiating, he succeeded in buying the Golden State Warriors for $450 million. Cohen initially offered the franchise for $440 million. Lacob then responded by offering $450 million just as long as there was a signed purchase agreement within 72 hours — something that usually takes months to produce, but Lacob couldn't take the risk of Ellison outbidding him, so he had to press on.
After three days in between negotiations, Lacob finally secured the Golden State Warriors and is now considered one of the wealthiest sports owners in the world. He went from selling peanuts on the streets of New Bedford, Massachusetts, to now going over the NBA luxury tax to solidify one of the greatest dynasties in basketball history.
This all started with Lacob's mentality of never looking in the past, and always looking ahead to claim what's his.