Shaquille O’Neal retired from professional basketball a decade ago, but he has been ever-present in public life.
It’s safe to say that if you turned the TV on right now, you might see Shaq on a commercial for Icy Hot, Epson printers or even The General auto insurance.
But the Hall of Fame basketball legend is also a business owner and investor. He owns a slew of Papa John’s pizza locations, as well as a few dozen fitness centers and other businesses that span food, consumer goods and tech. When I spoke with Shaq during two interviews, he said that smart business isn’t just about slapping your celebrity name on brands or doing one-time endorsements.
Instead he said that the smartest business is to invest in things that change people’s lives for the better. And he said he got that advice from Jeff Bezos.
“When I first started investing it was all for monetary purposes only. You could tell me anything and if it sounded good, I would invest, so I would lose almost every time,” Shaq said in October 2020, during our first of two interviews for Forbes.
After meeting Bezos and seeing him speak at CES, he said his mindset on everything business-related changed immediately.
“(Bezos) said that he invests in things that are going to change peoples’ lives. And I said, you know what, I’m gonna start doing that. And when I did that, every time I invest in something it works.”
Shaq: Hoops legend, community activist
The former Lakers, Heat and Cavs center is also known for his endless community service and philanthropy.
Most recently, Shaq teamed up with cereal maker Kellogg’s to launch a new product that benefits middle school sports programs in the six cities in which he played pro ball.
To promote the sports program called Mission Tiger, Shaq and Kellogg’s kicked off the release of Frosted Flakes with Crispy Cinnamon Basketballs cereal, with proceeds from the new morning treat going to the program’s improvements to the sports facilities and equipment for kids in various locations.
In Episode 20 of the podcast, I have a 10-minute chat with Shaquille O’Neal, in which the hoops legend and all-around nice guy talks business and helping the community.
He also talks about the real legacy he wants to leave behind, which has nothing do with being famous.
Read my most recent interview with Shaq at Forbes here.