Born in Utah, Lance Allred is the NBA’s first legally deaf player. With 75-80% hearing loss, he’s been on an adventure his whole life. Allred grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon polygamist commune, but his family broke away from the church a few years later.   

He didn’t have a normal childhood like many others. In the 8th grade, he played basketball for the very first time. Quickly picking up the game and having a major growth spurt, many colleges tried to recruit him. He then wrapped up his college career as the third-best rebounder in the nation behind Paul Milsap and Andrew Bogut.  

In 2005, Allred turned professional. After some stints in Europe and the NBA Development League, he finally made it to the NBA. In March 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers signed him and he made his NBA debut. He finished his professional basketball career playing overseas in Japan and Mexico. 

Today, he is retired from basketball but has begun a new journey. An inspirational speaker, author, and TEDx star, Allred has penned three books. Gathering all his experience as a deaf person and former professional basketball player, he shares with the world his thoughts on leadership, perseverance, and grit.


Here are 10 things I’ve learned from an NBA player


  1. Two types of failure
    The first type of failure covers stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking a risk. Whereas the latter is you staying in your safe bubble. You don’t dare to step outside nor do you dare to make any mistakes. You choose to stay inside and be mediocre.

    Failure is something that should be seen with a positive light. It’s acceptable to fail if you’re willing to learn from it. As a huge part of success, you will often see many greats and entrepreneurs who are brave enough to fail many times before they make it. If you’re not willing to get out of your bubble, there will be no changes in your life and everything will be stagnant.

    Allred has faced so many challenges in his life. Despite his hearing disability, he wanted to do more with his life. It started with his pure determination as a kid. He put his hearing aids on, went for speech therapy classes, and learned how to read people’s lips.

  2. Live in the present 
    Every person has memories of the past. You might have failed before or missed a game-winning shot. If you keep replaying those memories, you won’t be able to move on. All these negative thoughts will just make you worry even more about something you can’t change. What matters is what is happening now. In life, you’ll be given the chance to do something over again. If you get that opportunity, try to make the best of it. As a result, you’ll live a happier and more fulfilling life.

  3. The balance between masculinity and femininity
    It’s good to have a balance between masculinity and femininity. If you’re masculine, you know when to be aggressive, when to attack. At the same time, you also know when to be feminine. This means that you know when to delegate and share responsibilities.
    Allred refers to Michael Jordan as an example. In the Netflix documentary, ‘The Last Dance’, you get to relive the greatest moments of Jordan’s prolific NBA career. He was the go-to guy that loved to take the winning shot. Everyone thought he was going to take all the last shots. However, there were some crucial moments when he chose to trust his teammates. With the score leveled, a few seconds left on the clock, and the opposition heavily guarding him, he chose to pass the ball. His feminine side knew it was the best decision to delegate. And the result was a victory.

  4. Own up to your mistakes 
    As humans, we make a lot of mistakes. It’s inevitable. But when we do make mistakes, we should own up to them. Based on his experience, Allred says that 90% of people operate in fear, whereas 10% operate in trust. Many fear that they will lose their jobs or appear weak if they admit to their mistakes. But in all fairness, taking accountability and trying to rectify the situation is definitely the better path. It might be embarrassing and painful, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s about being responsible and becoming a better person. You’ll earn respect as well.

  5. Social media followers don’t matter
    We live in a superficial world where people are constantly competing. We’re so engrossed with the number of followers our competitors have, we resort to buying them. Keep in mind that it’s not about the quantity, it’s quality.

    Influencing is not hard to do. Trust your message and content. Keep an eye out for authenticity. You can do this by checking that comments are real and do not only consist of emojis. Because these days, many influencers use engagement pods. These pods have worked a way around the system. The influencers get updated when there’s new content by someone from within the group, prompting them to engage with that new post. Not authentic at all.

  6. The essence of leadership
    Leadership is not a game of power or ego. It’s not about being the main guy. A true leader doesn’t care about self-glory. He or she doesn’t need followers for validation. 
    A good leader is someone who is willing to give you feedback and vice versa. Someone who would take the time and effort to sit down with you 1 on 1 and figure out how to take things to the next level. Winning a match or winning in life is about being transparent and caring about each other.

  7. Perseverance
    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, perseverance is defined as a “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”. No matter how big or small your goals are, you must work hard to achieve them.

    It took Allred 10 years to live his dream of being an NBA player. Most rookies enter the NBA in their early twenties, but at 27, he was finally called up to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
    The long training hours and years of playing in the European and NBA Development league paid off.

  8. There are no shortcuts
    You may often hear people say they want to be millionaires by the age of 30 and so on. But not everyone has what it takes to reach for the stars. You’ll need a ton of discipline and routines to forge your path to success. It’s not going to be handed to you.
    When you finally achieve your goals, you’ll be able to look back on your journey and realize where you could have taken shortcuts. But these learning lessons only come after you’ve walked down that path. The ability to work hard is the greatest talent of all. It is too often that recruiters only search for talent. Little do they know that it is a long road to success requiring a combination of multiple factors.

  9. How to captivate your audience
    After many years of playing professional basketball, Allred embarked on a new career path. As a motivational speaker, he shares that the audience remembers what they feel, not what they hear.
    When planning your content, always think about what your audience wants to experience.

    People are tired of perfectly polished presentations. They don’t want to hear cliche phrases or other people’s quotes. Share your authentic human journey. Keep it real.

  10. Adapt to new situations
    Given recent circumstances, you learn there are some things you have no control over. No one was ready for the pandemic. But instead of moping around and victimizing yourself, you have to accept the situation and be present. Think about your next move.

    Right before coronavirus struck the world, Allred had released his most recent book and he had plans to promote it around the country. Like many others, his plans were ruined, but he decided to digest all the chaos in the world and find the cracks. Seeing opportunity in things, he has brought his thoughts to digital platforms. He has also developed online courses and started to do 1-on-1 coaching as well.


Here is a man who has been through some rough times. Learning basketball later than most kids and with a disability, he persevered and never backed down. A lot of hard work, discipline, and sacrifices were made to make it to the NBA. And although it took him a decade, which is longer than most rookies, he never stopped chasing his dream.

Giving up has never been an option. On many occasions, life has dealt him a bad hand, but he has always accepted the situation and found ways to figure things out. Through his many life experiences, he has gained insight and perspective on how we humans should be living our lives.




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An essential part of your journey will also be deciding on your brand name. One of the most common challenges many startups face in the beginning is how to create a BRAND NAME that stands out.

We live in such a competitive world. So you might think that all the good names have been taken. But don’t worry. If you’re still trying to figure the name out, let’s think of some ways we can come up with one!

Here are some ideas you can use to brainstorm:

Use Your Own Name

Customers like to know that there is a real person behind a business. It immediately offers personal credibility. 

It’s a common practice among businesses in the fashion industry. I’ve also noticed that many firms use their own names as well.

Here are some reasons why it’s a good idea to use your own name:

  • Leverages on your reputation
  • Establishes trust and credibility
  • Your own name is unique and different from others
  • Demonstrates passion and commitment

If you think your name sounds nice, go ahead and try it. You could use your family name on its own, your full name, or even a nickname. 

And if you have partners in the business, you can combine the names of the owners. Just make sure that the name isn’t too long. Keep it simple at 1 or 2 words. 

Some notable examples: Versace (fashion), Kate Spade (fashion), Deloitte (accounting firm). 

Form Acronyms

Short, simple, and easy to remember. But the question is should you abbreviate your brand name or not. 

There are so many famous brands around us that have taken this path. It’s easy to pronounce and it’s usually only 2-3 letters. You form the acronym by taking the first letter of each word.   

Some notable examples: H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), IBM (International Business Machines), CNN (Cable News Network)

Although it sounds like an uncomplicated way to come up with a name, you should stay away from forming a long abbreviation. For example, TIAA-CREF (stands for Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund). 

It is way too long. Try to say it out loud. Does it sound nice? It honestly doesn’t even sound like you’re speaking English. 

Other things to note are some pitfalls of using an acronym as your brand name:

  • Not unique
  • SEO challenges
  • Doesn’t explain what you do


Self-explanatory Names

The best thing about this type of name is that once someone reads it, they instantly know what the business is about. 

These names have been around for ages. They are effective in terms of brand positioning. Customers don’t have to think twice to identify the products and/or services. 

To form this type of name for your brand, think about the main products and/or services of the company. What are the interesting highlights?

And don’t forget the rule of thumb is to always avoid long names. 

Self-explanatory names are great because of what is being communicated. However, there are also some disadvantages to take note of:

  • Lacks creativity
  • Poses limitations

Depending on the industry you’re in, such a name could sound quite boring and generic. Besides, there may be limitations on what your company is all about. 

For example, let’s take a look at Burger King. It has the word burger in its name so anyone who reads it knows what it serves. The focus is on burgers and therefore, their brand identity and product offerings might only be limited to this item. 

Whenever someone says Burger King, burgers automatically pop up in one’s head. In the future, if they would like to branch out to other areas, they may face challenges and difficulties. It won’t be easy to change the perception that has been strongly tied to their name.  

  Some notable self-explanatory names:, Paypal, General Motors. 

Take a Word from the Dictionary

Browse through the dictionary and choose a word that is relevant to your business. It is quite similar to self-explanatory names, but it comes with a twist. 

When customers read the brand name, they will understand the meaning of the word, but it doesn’t give the answer away. Often companies choose this direction to illustrate an interesting connection or to be symbolic. 

According to Wikipedia, Tinder is a geosocial networking and online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other profiles based on their photos, a small bio, and common interests. Once two users have “matched,” they can exchange messages. 

But what does the word
‘Tinder’ actually mean? 

Well the Merriam-Webster dictionary states that ‘Tinder’ can be defined as ‘a very flammable substance adaptable for use as kindling’.

Originally, Tinder was named Matchbox, but the founders decided to go down a different lane. The reason being that this dating app starts the sparks. The app is used to metaphorically start a fire when it comes to romantic relationships. 

Some notable brand names taken from the dictionary: Polo, Slack, Telegram

Combine Words

Spice it up by using more than one word. Create some sort of pun. The dictionary can come in handy once again. This time you can take 2 words. Join both words together and make sure to remove the space between them. 

There will be a stronger emphasis on the first word. And another thing I often notice is that some brands capitalize the second word as well such as
YouTube. But it doesn’t mean that you have to.

Another thing you can also try is to take parts of words and join them together. For example, Microsoft (microcomputer + software). 

Some notable combination names: Facebook, WordPress, Airbnb

Invent Your Own Name

Want to be original and create something unheard of? Just make sure that it’s catchy.

It might prove to be very challenging to find the perfect name so why not just invent one. Perhaps the most unique of all names, these fabrications often sound very distinctive. 

It’s highly advantageous that these names stand out. Trademarking will not be an issue. However, let’s also take note of the downfalls. One of the challenges is that there is no definition assigned to the word. The marketing department might have to spend a lot of bucks and time to develop meaning around the brand name. 

In many cases, the brand becomes a hit and the dictionary inducts the invented word into its vocabulary. For example, you will see that Skype is now a word in the dictionary. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, Skype is a brand name for an application for communicating with other people over the internet using voice or video calls.  

Examples: Skype, Xerox, Kodak

Use an Animal

Don’t want to be so straightforward with the name? Use an animal to symbolize certain qualities of the brand. 

Animal symbolism has long existed. Idioms have often been associated with animals to describe similarities. I’m sure you’ve heard of ‘strong as an ox’, ‘tall as a giraffe’, and ‘quick as a fox’. 

To this day, the Native American people believe that every individual has their very own spirit animal. 

The same can be applied to brand names. Attributing animal-like characteristics to your products is also another way to go. A common practice for car companies is the use of animals such as horses and fast cats. These animals illustrate speed.

It is a very simple approach that can be seen in the world’s top brands. Often accompanying the name would be the animal used in the design of the logo.   

Examples: Jaguar, Dove, Puma

Take a Word from Another Language

Foreign always sounds exotic. It’s not something you typically hear.

The strategy of using a foreign word is to create a foreign perception in the minds of its customers. Just imagine when a person hears the name, there won’t be any meaning attached to it.

Let’s zoom in on Hulu. An American subscription video-on-demand service, the name derives from the Mandarin language. 

According to the Hulu blog: “In Mandarin, Hulu has two interesting meanings, each highly relevant to our mission. The primary meaning interested us because it is used in an ancient Chinese proverb that describes the Hulu as the holder of precious things. It literally translates to “gourd,” and in ancient times, the Hulu was hollowed out and used to hold precious things. The secondary meaning is interactive recording. We saw both definitions as appropriate bookends and highly relevant to the mission of Hulu.”

After going through a long list of names, the team finally settled on Hulu. It was short, fun, easy to pronounce, and didn’t have a meaning in the English language. 

Examples: Häagen-Dazs, Hulu, Alibaba

It’s always a good idea to have a few names to choose from. Here are some key factors that should be taken into consideration before you finally settle on that one name:

  • Easy to say and pronounce
  • Easy to remember
  • Domain availability
  • Trademark availability
  • Stands out from the competition
  • No negative connotations (including when translated into the language of a foreign market) 
  • No limitations (allows you to add new services and/or products in the future)

Once you’ve chosen your name, make sure that it can be trademarked or copyrighted. And always remember to keep it simple!


Congratulations on reaching the end! Did you enjoy reading about the different ways of generating a brand name?

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You’ve completed your business plan and now you’re trying to get the right people in the team.

Be patient as it’s going to take a lot of time and deliberation.

Critical to every organization, the team will play a big part in paving the way to success. A ton of responsibilities and tasks will be put on the plates of team members. So you’re going to have to decide very carefully. 

Who do you want in your team?   

Keep in mind that building your own startup is going to be very challenging and difficult. And you’re going to need all the help you can get. With a tight budget and very few people in your team, every member will definitely serve more than 1 role. 

We’ve broken it down to these 7 roles:

The Dreamer

In normal terminology, this position is usually referred to as the CEO (Chief Executive Officer). This is the person who had the big idea in the first place. He or she drives the passion within the team. 

As the leader of the team, one of the main objectives is to ensure that everyone stays motivated and doesn’t wander off the path. There will be constant reminders and meetings led by the CEO about why everyone is there in the first place. 

When times are bad or when outsiders believe that the company is a total failure, the CEO proudly continues to carry the baton. He or she always believes in their idea and never gives up. Often charismatic and a people’s person, others are willing to follow in his or her direction.   

Let’s take a look at some of the roles and responsibilities:

  • Setting corporate culture
  • Leading change and motivating employees
  • Management of the company’s physical and financial resources
  • Supervision of the company’s operations

Compared to the other roles, the CEO oversees many departments within the organization and does not only focus on one area. The job description, as well as, requirements will vary depending on the business and size of the company.  

Required Experience: 

  • Masters degree in business administration, management or a relevant field
  • Has managed teams
  • Has dealt with media and public relations

Some notable startup CEOs: Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), Travis Kalanick (Uber), Evan Spiegel (Snapchat).

The Accountant

While the CEO takes care of the overall leadership of the startup, ‘the Accountant’ handles all the financial aspects of the company. Otherwise dubbed as the CFO (Chief Financial Officer), he or she is in charge of the financial situation and direction. 

The CFO provides accurate and timely analyses of budgets, forecasts, trends, and P&L statements. 

The roles and responsibilities involve, but are not limited to:

  • Financial recording and reporting
  • Preparation of budgets, forecasts, and analyses
  • Developing financial and tax strategies

Required Experience:

  • Masters Degree in Finance, Law or Accounting
  • CPA certification is a plus
  • Has worked with e-commerce payment solutions

Some notable startup CFOs: Anthony Noto (Twitter), Sarah Friar (Square), Ajay Vashee (Dropbox)

The Salesperson

Also known as the CSO (Chief Sales Officer), this role has everything to do with hustling. The main objective of the CSO is to sell the product that the team has developed. In doing so, he or she will manage the sales team as well as develop all sales-related strategies. 

The CSO not only pursues all the leads and potential customers but also builds and maintains relationships with all the key people. 

Among the most important roles, the ‘salesperson’ will stop at nothing until the idea sells and reaps profits. Here are some of the roles and responsibilities:

  • Providing leadership and direction for the overall sales strategy
  • Monitoring sales channels and services
  • Analyzing the business, performance as well as competition
  • Establishing and maintaining long term relationships with key customers, potential customers, and strategic partners

If you’re looking to hire or team up with a CSO, watch out for some of these requirements:

  • Master’s Degree in Sales, Marketing, Advertising, Finance, or any other business-related field
  • Previous work experience in a high-level sales position in a fast-paced and dynamic business environment
  • Excellent communication, analytical, interpersonal and leadership skills

You may have come across this role before as the Chief Revenue Officer or VP of Sales. 

Some notable startup CSOs: Hunter Madeley (Hubspot), Luke Massery (OYO), Jason Marr (Sonarworks)

The Marketeer

Labeled as ‘The Marketeer’, the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is in charge of marketing, advertising, brand identity. He or she presents the company in the best way possible. This person crafts the story and mission statement. 

Often possessing tremendous leadership and communication skills, the CMO has to be innovative in creating marketing strategies. The aim here is to build the brand in order to have a positive impact on sales, awareness, perception, and other brand-related factors. 

Some roles and responsibilities of ‘The Marketeer’ cover:

  • Leading and supervising the marketing department
  • Initiating and implementing marketing strategies
  • Focusing on online and offline initiatives
  • Storytelling


  • Master’s degree in business, marketing or a related technical field
  • Successful track record in building brand awareness
  • Able to use marketing software
  • Possesses a good understanding of marketing analytics

From company to company, the name of the position varies, but the roles and responsibilities remain the same. The CMO is often referred to as the Chief Brand Officer as well as the VP of Marketing.  

Some notable startup CMOs: Kelly Bennet (Netflix), Seth Farbman (Spotify), Melissa Waters (Lyft).

The Artist

The creative person in the group, ‘The Artist’ is often referred to as the CCO (Chief Creative Officer) or Creative Director. Involved with the development of artistic aspects, the job description covers the creation of materials that can help promote the company’s products and/or brand. 

This role entails designing the app, website, and all the branding elements – all the work related to creativity and visuals.

Required Skills:

  • Strong creative talents
  • Able to manifest vision through digital and print media
  • Ensures visuals, messaging, interactive designs are on point

Required Experience: 

  • Master’s degree in business, visual arts or graphic design
  • Previous experience as a digital media specialist, copywriter, media production  

Some notable startup CCOs: Toke Nygaard (Zendesk), Bruce Campbell (Salesforce), Lee Mincy (Optimizely)

The Techie

Responsible for the development of information technology and information systems, ‘the Techie’ or also known as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) builds the product from the ground up. After building the product, systems are put in place to ensure smooth operation. All new technologies are often taken into account to provide better efficiency. 

The role includes the management of business technologies, infrastructure services, digital development, site, and software development, just to name a few. 

Required Skills:

  • Superior computer skills
  • Deep understanding of software technologies
  • Comprehensive knowledge of data management and processing

Required Experience:

  • Master’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology or any related field
  • Has worked in a senior engineering position

Some notable startup CTOs: Daniel Sturman (Roblox), Robin Ducot (Survey Monkey), Venu Venugopal (Udemy)

The Facilitator

This person oversees all operations, finances, legal, recruitment. Also known as the COO (Chief Operating Officer), he or she covers all the factors that keep the company’s engines running. 

A COO would expect to see these types of roles on a day-to-day basis:

  • Supervising daily operations
  • Reporting to the CEO about significant events
  • Conveying company policy and regulations to employees
  • Encouraging expansion and tapping into international markets  

Required Experience: 

  • Masters Degree in management, business or a relevant field
  • Vast work experience and knowledge of different industries

Some notable startup COOs: David Sangster (Nutanix), Emilie Choi (Coinbase), Scott Keane (Bitly)

The 7 roles mentioned above are key and detrimental to the success and failure of the startup. The roles, responsibilities and required experience may vary from organization to organization.

What about other roles?

Apart from the 7 roles, there are also other roles in the organization that you may have to think about. These other roles may range from assistance all the way to coding. 

Let’s take a look at how to deal with the hiring of other roles. There are several factors that must be taken into consideration. For example, you might have to budget wisely and be cost-efficient when it comes to hiring.  

In today’s digitally connected world, you can easily find skill and talent. When you need a specific job to be done, simply connect to the Internet and find a suitable candidate.

When it comes to accountability and tracking, use Time Doctor. You’ll receive screenshots and the exact time that was spent on each task. You’ll be able to monitor the productivity of your entire team.

For more info, visit Time Doctor

All in all, startups typically have these crucial roles at the core of the team. The general roles and responsibilities in all startups are basically the same. As for other roles, many startups resort to outsourcing, to cut costs where possible. 

It won’t be a piece of cake to assemble your team, but selecting the right members will certainly pay off. 



Congratulations on reaching the end! Did you like these last tips on hiring, as well as our blog post?

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