True confessions, I’m a huge Warrior fan.  And I’m passionate about fashion and the changing landscape of retail.  In light of our recent Game 7 win, let’s think about what we can learn from the Warriors’ success:


1. Hire a great coach.

Steve Kerr is extraordinary. He’s one of those leaders who builds a group out of individuals. He’s honest, open, and admits to not having all the answers. But there is no doubt he’s in charge, believes in his team, and has passion for what he’s doing. We need leaders in our industry who can confidently navigate us to the right mix of products that engages our customers. We need hands-on leaders, who incorporate listening and collaboration into leadership.  

2. Have more than one superstar

The Warriors have four. Not prima donnas, but superstars who worked hard to get there, and work hard every day.  They set a great example for the team. Every brand needs a passionate, dedicated team that is willing to do the work to make every decision the best possible decision for the brand at that time.  During my time in retail in both NYC and San Francisco, I have been lucky enough to work on teams that have a few superstars. It was a huge help to me as I learned and honed my skills to have someone to look up to, to model myself after, and to be inspired by.

3. Build a strong support team

Owner Joe Lacobs was never happy with ex-coach Mark Jackson due to his unwillingness to hire top assistants. This has not been a problem for Steve Kerr. He hired Ron Adams, a defensive expert with 20 years’ experience, and Alvin Gentry, a former head coach with 25 years’ experience, to run the offense. Make sure you have a best in class marketing VP, head merchant, sourcing director, and CFO.  Then you can trust them to work together and lead their teams. I’ve rarely seen a brand where all these teams are strong at the same time. It’s critical that they are.

4. Make sure your team has a range of ages/generations

The Warriors range in age from 22 – 37. The organization has 30-year veterans like Jim Barnett, a fantastic TV analyst, and Steve Nash, a Player Development Specialist, who has been with the team for 3 years, and everything in between.  A study from Malcolm Gladwell reported that the best possible outcomes happen when companies have a mix of experienced and new, fresh voices. I believe this is equally true in our industry.

May 10, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; NBA former player Steve Nash (left) and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (right) pose with the NBA Most Valuable Player trophies at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

5. Continuous improvement

The Warriors, both as a team and as individuals are willing to make game day decisions. Defenses must be adjusted, and offenses may need to go with who has the hot hand. This is critical for brands as well.  The siloed set ups many brands currently live with don’t allow them to shift when the customers’ preferences shift, resulting in a department full of plaid shirts when ½ that investment should have been shifted to another category. Find a way to create that flexibility that sends you out onto the floor with the best strategy for that moment in time.

6. Community Involvement

Community involvement is a big part of who the Warriors are off the field,  but perhaps more importantly, it impacts how their fans think about them and creates a brand that is unique and special. Customers today care about who you are as a brand, and want to know that you stand for something meaningful.  Find your way to contribute, and make it part of your story.


Hopefully, the Warriors will go on to win it all against the Cavs in the next few weeks.  But whether they do or don’t, we can be inspired by what makes them great and use it to inspire us to create our own winning teams.  

– Joan Maxwell, senior advisor to MakerSights

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