Coaching for Change - Making the Pandemic Pivot with Maurice Taylor of Prodigy Basketball Transcription - John Laurito

Coaching for Change – Making the Pandemic Pivot with Maurice Taylor of Prodigy Basketball Transcription


Summary: Join us this week as we sit down with Maurice “Mo” Taylor where we discuss new beginnings, overcoming obstacles, and how to lead yourself before you are able to lead other people. 

John (Intro):I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak onstages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader

John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader related to leading yourself and of course, leading others. I’m your host, John Laurito, and I am extremely excited about this episode. Today we have a guest on here that I have been thinking about having on the show for so long. And we just made this happen. This is Mo Taylor, who is one of my favorite people. I’ve gotten a chance to know him over the last few years as being, in my opinion, the single best coach my son has ever had. My son has been obsessed with basketball for a good portion of his life. And for those of you who are athletes out there, you know the difference a coach makes. And wow, this guy is the cream of the crop. So, Mo, welcome to the show. 

Maurice: Hey, John, thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here. Yeah, looking forward to it. 

John: You got it, man. I’m looking forward to talking all kinds of stuff and getting into leadership and how you lead teams and all that kind of stuff because you do such a great job of it. But why don’t we start just with your story? I’d love to kind of take it back to how you got to where you are right now and for the audience, that most of which don’t know you like I do, I think would be helpful for them, too, to hear your story. 

John: So, why don’t you start off with your story? 

Maurice: I’m Mo Taylor, I’m from Philadelphia, originally Westchester, Pennsylvania. I came up here when I was younger. I love the game of basketball, I was terrible at it at first, and through time and effort and really good coaches and really good people around me, I developed a skill and I used it ultimately to play in college. I went to Wentworth, had a very good career, had some beautiful children, and they wanted me to coach them, at one point. We took them to a program that we thought would be a good program for them. And they came back to me, said, “We’re not learning anything. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing here. What do I do, Daddy?” So they said, “Can you coach me?” And as a dad, you’re like, I don’t know, I don’t really know if that’s a good idea. But I did it. It was a lot of learning curves, a lot of improvement areas I have to make. One of the main things I knew as a leader is, you understand a service. A lot of people don’t understand that when you see a leader, they think they assume the guy is somebody barking orders, telling you what to do all the time. But also

being able to listen was one of the things I learned as a leader because you don’t realize you have a lot of experiences, what you have to meet people where they’re at. And that was a hard thing for me to do because you say, “I want you to be here and want to be here”, but they’re not there yet. So what do you do with those people who aren’t there yet? And I use that as a transition from not just basketball, but life because as a product manager is what I do in my other side job. 

Maurice: As a product manager, you got to lead people as well and guide them and follow the train of thought that everybody wants to be on the same page. But again, you may have an understanding of what you want to do, but where are they at? Can you get them to where you want them to be? And put it puts them through those difficult challenges when they’re like, “OK, well, you know, I see what you’re saying”, but they have every excuse not to do it the way you need them to do it. So as a leader, you have to find them where they’re at and then lift them up and push them through that uncomfortable experience. 

John: So listening in is a big skill that you need, that you feel that you’ve developed. Did you always have that, or did you have to develop it? 

Maurice: Yeah, I would say it had to be developed. Because you’re listening, but sometimes also being empathetic, like empathetically listening and then understanding. OK, I hear you’re I hear what you’re saying, but this is what we still have to get done. Mm-hmm. So. Yeah, yeah. 

John: So when you started coaching, which that’s kind of a cool way to get into it, your kids ask you to do it. Were you, I mean, how do you feel about it? Were you good at it? Did you like it at first? Was it tough? 

Maurice: Technically, from a technical standpoint, I was actually, I was the technical staff, but it’s more than just the X’s and O’s and conditioning and training, it’s now about leading people, and a lot of times people understand that. When you say leading people, you’ve got to give them something to follow, like what are they going to follow? I’m just going to tell them to do X, Y and Z. But why should they do that? And then you have to like, you have to have a standard of credibility. So I learned quickly that I was deficient in a lot of different areas. So what I did is I literally built relationships with the coaches in the area. I would go to each college, call them up and say, “Hey, Coach, is it OK if I come in and just pick your brain about things that you’re looking for, things that you expect kids to be able to do by the time they get to you?” And I would go and watch their practices, I would go and listen to them. I would interview them. And they were very receptive to it. And so I built a lot of good relationships to it. 

John: It’s interesting. So how much did you learn through that? Was that, is that a big part of your coaching and your leadership style is what you learn from other people? 

Maurice: Absolutely. I mean, the coach needs to be coached sometimes too. You’re always learning this is not an “I know everything. I learned everything. And I don’t need to learn anything.” While you are constantly learning, people are constantly changing the dynamics. As you see every year, there’s something that you need to learn. You need to know better. And if you’re not on top of it, you’ll lose sight of what’s going on, and then you lose perspective of how to reach kids.

John: Yeah. Do you think most people know that? 

John: Do most people realize that, OK, you’ve got to be even as good, the better you get that you still need coaching and maybe it’s a different type of coaching. Do you think most people understand that or most people don’t? 

Maurice: That’s a good question. I mean, I look out at some of the coaches that I see going on now and some do and some don’t. So it’s like, “How much do you like? What are you really doing it for? Why am I doing this?” So when I took this on, I said there were three things I want to be able to do. 

Maurice: I want to be able to get kids in school. I want to take those kids that weren’t, that weren’t able to get the attention maybe on their varsity or JV or whatever team they were on. Somebody didn’t believe in them. And you just need one person to believe when you say, “Look, you can do it. I believe in what you’re going to do.” And then you push. Like you push them beyond that comfort level. And I think that’s the challenge all the time. Can you do that and still keep them engaged and still keep them willing, willing to try? 

Maurice: But because that’s as a coach, there’s a fine line, you can either push them to a point of breaking or you can push them to a point of greatness. So that’s that’s the line that you have to learn. 

John: And so that’s one of the things I just admire about you so much. I mean, you’ve got this great balance between the people side and the empathetic side. This is at least what I observed, the relationship side. But, man, you were tough. I mean, you were tough on these guys. Nick was playing with you. It was like, you know, it was there were times where it was like, you know, yeah, yeah. You push these guys significantly outside their comfort zone. And you know what? It worked. But how do you know where that line is? How do you know when you’ve put somebody too far or they need to be pushed more? 

Well, I mean, if they’re like so, you know, you’ve pushed too far. If they could shut down, if they shut down is too far. So like they’re they’re going to tell you, going to show you whether it’s too much. And that’s what you have to back off the pedal and say, “OK, let’s let’s take a step back, and let’s take some baby steps to this.” Yeah. And then, like, you have to engage with them. You have to again, the listening aspect, you have to listen and listen to what they’re telling me, what and when they’re not responding they’re telling you something. 

John: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You know, and everybody’s different. I mean, some people like that really, you know, kind of an in-your-face style of leadership. Some people really thrive with that. 

John: Other people, they just do. They shut down. So are you looking for a certain type of person when you’re building a team? Are you looking for somebody that really does respond well or are you just looking for talent and then adapting your leadership style to the players that you have? 

I’m looking for character first because, I mean, you know, they don’t have any character in the difficult times and that’s not something that they have. It’s going to be very difficult to do anything else because, at the end of the day, your talent can only take you so far if you’re a

horrible individual. Nobody’s gonna want to work with you anyway, as in anything. So I think I’m looking at character first. Then I look at do you really want the willingness to show up to be engaged every day all the time? And then lastly, your talent, I mean, your talent. I can teach you how to shoot a jump shot. There’s a lot more difficult to teach you how to be a good person. 

John: So tell me let’s talk a little bit more about the character piece. How do you, what do you look for? What are the things, what are examples of what you’re talking about, and why that makes such a big difference? 

Maurice: Let me tell you just on Nick, for example, I mean, your son, when he came to me, another coach called me on behalf of him. Terrelle, a good friend of mine, said, “Hey, look, I got this kid, Nick Laurito, we need your help. He’s a really good kid. He wants to get better.” And he always showed up. He was the first one in the gym, the last one out. You asked him 

to run through a wall, he’s running through the wall, but he’s also engaged. It wasn’t like it was just me always talking to him. He would come in and say, “Hey, Coach, I don’t understand what you meant. What do you mean by that? Could you walk me through it?” So when you have a player like that, that’s when we have that back and forth and you feel comfortable enough to have that conversation? I think that it’s easier to coach when you have those kids who are just like, “Oh, this is too hard why are you playing?” It creates an energy and a culture that you don’t want to have. So I try to put that stuff in the blood immediately. So I push them really hard to see where they’re at. Yeah, because if I push it through something, if I put you in an incredible situation and you quit, I know what you are now. Yeah. So I push you into an uncomfortable situation, you go, “Hey, let’s do this, let’s go together.” And that’s sort of where your son was in. 

John: So how do you handle that? So you’ve got a lot of leaders that are listening that might be dealing, whether they’re a coach of a team or CEO of a company or a teacher or whatever, that they’re dealing with a team and or an organization where they’ve got one or two people that are like you said, they may be having a negative impact on the people or the characters. Not that there. How do you deal with them, that type of person, when they’re already on the team and it’s not a matter of selecting them to be on there, but you’ve already got them? 

Maurice: So, I mean, that’s sometimes it’s an unfortunate reality sometimes to let people go, but other times I think you give everybody a chance to see it like this. Obviously, they feel that they feel a certain way because for certain reason, maybe you came in after a certain leader was a certain way and your style is different from what they were, what their style was. You want to sit them down and just walk through them. Be like, “You know, I know there is a couple of areas that we’re struggling in. Could you walk me through, like, is there something that I’m doing that you’re not understanding? Is there something I need to do better?” So you kind of take the ownership as a leader. You take ownership of it and see how they respond to it. But if you have that conversation, if there’s still that tension and they’re still not getting things done and producing, you have to have that uncomfortable conversation sometimes. 

John: Yeah. So. So one of the things I loved about you, too, it wasn’t like, you know, if the guys were playing like crap, I mean, it was easy to be, to come down on somebody and be

really tough. But I mean, there were times where these guys kicked ass. I mean, they might have won by 20 points or 30 points. And I remember I think there was a game where you had them because they didn’t play to the level. And I’d love to get your perspective on it. 

John: This was my take, because then you knew they didn’t play to the level that they could. You had them running. You had them doing drills after the game. And I don’t know if you remember that, maybe it was. But I remember it vividly. And it was like, wait a sec. These guys won by like 30 points. And you’re like, you know, you’re just you had them, you know, running and stuff. Talk about that. What’s your philosophy on that? 

Maurice: Because it’s a mindset. Just because you’re better like you’re supposed to do certain things against certain teams, like if you’re if you’re better than somebody else in a certain area, yes, you should win. But there is a certain style in which you do win. So when I saw them playing down to competition, in a sense they weren’t really, they weren’t sharing the basketball or going one on one, they were outside of our general-purpose and how we do things. 

Maurice: And I’m like, that’s not what we do here. So when there’s showboating and you’re like, he’s going to rub it in other teams, I don’t like it. I don’t like stuff like that. When you’re just taking shots that you’re never going to shoot in reality. Like, I’m never going to do that. And you’re taking those shots, that tells me that you’re not focused. You’re not engaged. You’re not conducting something like I’m never looking down. I’m looking up. So if you’re doing that against those guys, then why aren’t you doing that against the guys? That’s how I look at it. Yeah. Like we’re going to do that there and do it there. Like you have all this confidence here against these guys. Where’s the confidence go when you have to challenge somebody, who’s just like you, are a little bit better? Yeah, that’s the struggle. A lot of kids, they see all those highlights. They want the fanfare, but they don’t like a lot of the work that goes with it. 

John: Yeah, well, I love that, you know, and I think I see a lot of leaders that they’re lowering their standards or lowering the standards of the organization a drop because they rationalize that, OK, there’s some kind of success. Maybe the organization, you know, maybe it is a sports team and they won, but they still didn’t play to the standards that they should. Or it’s an organization that maybe they’re growing by five to 10 percent a year. They’ve had an up year. 

John: And because of that, they’re letting their standards, the complacent, the complacency creeps in. Exactly. 

John: They’re not pushing themselves. So what does that look like? I mean, to a leader that might be listening to this being like, “You know what? You know, that’s right. That’s me. I’ve kind of become complacent.” What would be your advice? How do they turn that around and kind of change that mindset in their organization? 

Maurice: I would say constantly learning, I mean, challenge yourself. Have those uncomfortable conversations ask people, how is my leadership? What can I be doing better? A lot of times people don’t ask those questions. They don’t ask, what am I doing wrong? What can I do better? Where am I? Where are my gaps in my leadership? Because once you ask those questions, you may not like the responses, but you have to ask those

questions and that’s how you get better. Yeah. And I just say ask the people know you the best, they’ll tell you the truth. 

John: So let me ask you. I know I’m going all over the place. 

John: So you’ve coached so much and you’ve obviously had great seasons, great games, great teams, great players. You’ve had some bad and every coach goes through that. Are there times where you feel like because I think a leader, this is really helpful for all leaders, 

are times where maybe you feel like, OK, you weren’t at your A game and maybe made bad decisions or whatever that might have impacted the game or the result? And you feel like it was partly on you or do you feel like, you know, that doesn’t happen too much. 

Maurice: Well, I always feel like it’s always on me. That’s just the reality of the situation. Good, bad, or indifferent. It’s always on the. People came to the program because they wanted excellence, and if I’m not delivering that, if I’m having an off day, it’s unacceptable. As far as I’m concerned, you guys came here for a certain reason, to do something a certain way. So I need to be consistent. I need to be purposeful. And with everything that I say, challenge the kids with and I have to be prepared like, I mean, if I’m not, I’m going out there and I’m not prepared. So we had to have a game. 

We first started to fall back up. I’ll tell you this one story. And my kids were all there, teams that were playing overseas were here at the Washington game. And we lost that. We were up by 20, lost by 15. It was a bad loss. So they were all sitting in the pizza shop. And I go, So what do you think of the game? You’re like, you don’t really want to know, but what you 

think of the game. And he says to me, “That’s the worst coaching I’ve ever seen. I know that’s not who you are.” And I go, “What do you mean?” He goes, “You’re doing more yelling than coaching.” And I said, “Well, how do you figure that?” He says “Where was the teaching? Like, you lost sight of what you were teaching.” And I said “You’re right.” 

Maurice: So now, again, this I’m saying like you have to take those uncomfortable conversations and you have to turn them into something. So I could have let it fold up there. I think we have to get better. So I took it as a challenge to coach more and gain coaching. I have to understand, like, all these kids don’t come from the same background that we came from. I was spoiled because I had kids that knew that like they’ve been with me for a while. They could play at a certain level. I knew what I was getting from them. I could just go through the motions like we’re on cruise control. Again, that complacency creeps in. So you get complacent and you forget that you still have to coach everyone. And I was one of my challenges to correct this year. 

John: That’s awesome. That’s great. And there are a few takeaways I get from that. One is that you probably wouldn’t have gotten that feedback had you not asked for it and prompted it. Right. 

John: I mean, it’s you know, it’s tough feedback for somebody to give to somebody, but, you know, kudos to him. They give it to you, but more so to you to ask for it. So I think that’s one of my takeaways is, you know, a lot of leaders are not asking for feedback enough. Hey, what did you think, you know, whatever I ran that meeting? How was the meeting? Was it effective? Did you leave there better than you came in or was it a waste of time? You know, there are people that’ll be honest with you. You just need to solicit that feedback sometimes.

But the second thing that makes me think about it is just the whole emotion. I mean, it’s hard to not get emotional when you’re watching a game and whether you’re a spectator or player or coach, how does that play into it? I mean, that might have been a situation where emotions caused you to yell and be angry and not coach or teach as much. What’s your take on that? Like, how important is it to pull out the emotions or do the emotions actually help you lead better? 

John: I think there’s a time you have to, again, this is knowing your players. 

Maurice: You also, like if you’re if I’m an employer or I’m leading the team, I need to know my people. I need to know the cadence that they go back, like what’s going to motivate them and push them to success. And I think you have to get to read. You have to know when to do that. You have to know what not to do. I thought, you know, what I did wasn’t effective. We lost by 15 in the game where we won it by 20. So you have to recognize, OK, that was not an effective use of that emotion. So you have to be aware of it. You can’t play a sport and not have any emotions in Boston. You can’t do anything without any energy. So I think it is necessary to read the situation, to navigate it. And when they need those moments where you got to go to rah, rah, rah, you do it. You need those moments. We got to win. Some guys like you do it. But again, you have to read the situation. You know, the people that you’re with, like how to motivate them. 

John: That’s great. I like that a lot. 

John: Questions I get a lot are around, and I think a lot of leaders get very caught up with it, I’m interested in your take on this, of what people think and what they think of them, meaning as the leader and what they think of their decisions and everything. 

John: How much do you think a leader should be concerned or should they not be concerned with what other people think? 

Maurice: Well, I mean, to a certain degree, obviously, if there is a stakeholder in what you’re doing or client, you literally, you have to listen to what their perspective is. But again, you need to know what your vision is. If you don’t have a vision then you can be swayed any which way from Sunday. But if you have a vision and you’re saying is this in line with the vision of what I’m trying to do is or is this deviating from that vision? 

Maurice: So, again, you can listen to it and they like as a leader, you have to put it, OK, is this necessary or is it not? So that’s that’s your decision making power. But again, if it’s a stakeholder and they want something a certain way, you’re trying to deliver something to them, then obviously you have to take into perspective. But again, it was not a legal way to do something or, you know, engineering-wise, it’s not going to be a solid, firm thing to do, then obviously, you can’t do that. It’s going to be a health risk or something like that. No, don’t do it. Yeah, but I think you need to have your vision. You need to be clear about what that vision is. Communicate it, articulate it, and then execute it. So those are the things that I look at. 

John: Yeah. I respect the fact that you were not, you stuck to your beliefs and your principles and your way of coaching and leading even at times where, you know, people I

mean, you were not afraid to call people out, not only players, but there were some times where I think parents almost were not. 

John: Were going against the philosophy or the principles of your team, you know. 

John: I remember one situation, one parent pulling them out in the middle of the tournament because they whatever and it wasn’t really a good reason you called them out in the middle of it. I mean, the group and it was needed. It had to happen and it should. And I think everybody felt a sense of pride after you did that because, hey, we’ve got high standards and we’re protecting these. 

John: So I admire that. I see a lot of leaders where it’s too easy. 

John: It’s too easy for them to drop those standards when they’re challenged on them. When they have outside influences that are kind of, you know, tugging, whether it’s people in their organization or outside of the organization that are kind of trying to lead them in a different direction. But you’re a guy that sticks by that and just, hey, put the stake in the ground. Here’s who we are. Here’s what we’re going to do. What’s your thought on that? I mean, is that how you feel? 

Maurice: I mean, I kind of have this conversation every year. And there are three things that I tell everybody that we’re that going to want to live by. 

I said my role as a director and as a coach leader and for my program and my vision for my program is there are three things that we follow. We go program first. Is it in the best interest of what the program needs to do? Then it goes team, are these things that we’re doing and constructive and going to be productive for our team? And then lastly, what are the individual things I need to make sure are getting done for each player and each member of the team. So it’s in that order. It doesn’t deviate. 

Maurice: So if they don’t like that, if they want to do the reverse and to say I want to be, I mean, I need to get all my stuff done first and then I’ll figure out what the program needs, and I’ll figure out what the team needs. It’s not going to be a good fit. 

Maurice: Yeah. And so that’s why, that’s that’s where I stand by. Yeah. 

John: So another great question I think I get a lot of times, there’s a lot of leaders that don’t necessarily know how to lead eight players, their best people. And I see a lot of leaders and you can almost read their minds. You can see what’s happening. You know, candidly, I’ve been in this situation sometimes in leading organizations. You’ve got some people that are really top-shelf. They’re really, really good. They’re very talented. And they’re almost the type of people who, whether you’re there or not, they are going to figure out how to succeed and be great. And I see a lot of leaders that don’t know how to lead that person. So what they do is they don’t lead them. 

John: They just pull back and they just, as they describe it or rationalize that, hey, I’m just going to do the best thing I can do for this person, stay out of their way. What’s your philosophy? You know, how do you lead those top people to that eight player and what does it look like?

Maurice: I mean, you still have to have those conversations, so if you’re leading an eight player, they have a standard now. They’re kind of like, which is the line? Your vision is in line with the standards of what you’re doing and what you’re trying to do. So each year you have whatever goals you set prior to those goals. We’re saying we’re going to go work in the hotel industry. We’re going hard at the hotel industry when to sell, sell, sell to them. And then you go out and you go to a pharmaceutical company. You got the job. 

Maurice: But is that what we’re trying to do? What is the vision we’re trying to build for our company and our brand? So again, even though you’re a top performer and you’re doing great things, is it in line with what we’re trying to do? So, again, at the end of the day, they can’t be devoid of what we’re doing. You have to be in line with it. And if it’s not in line, it’s a separation. It’s a deviation. So now you’re going to, at some point is going to be a problem. So if you leave the company and you have that claim that now you’re going to service, that we don’t have a person to fill it, we’re in trouble. So that’s how that’s how I look at it. So, yeah, you can. You can, you’re going to do the wrong thing. But it’s not in line with what the program is. You have to tell them it’s okay. Look, this is what we’re doing. You can still say, “Hey, look, I love what you’re doing. I love the ingenuity of it. Well, did you think about all these factors after? Because a lot of times people just do stuff and they’re not thinking about how it affects the other people that are involved?” And that’s a great point. 

John: Yeah, we sometimes have blind spots and we don’t see that stuff. And even the best players, the best people, top talented leaders, and people in any organization, they’re not always going to see. They have the perspective that the leader has. So sometimes it’s that outside influence, outside perspective is incredibly valuable. You know, I also think about just the fact that you know, there’s a lot of people that ultimately, you know, I look at a runner, I mean, if a top elite runner is running a race and they’re running against, you know, high school athletes, OK, you know, they might crush it, but that’s still not if they’re capable of running a six-minute mile and they’re running a seven and a half, and that’s enough to beat their competitors. 

John: They’re not being led to really become the best version of themselves. If they’ve got the capability to run a six-minute mile pace, then that coach or that leader’s responsibility ultimately is to help them get to that potential. So I think a lot of leaders are kind of scratching their heads. They’re like, well, I don’t know,how do you know when somebody has the potential to really be top notch? I mean, how do you know when somebody’s got the potential to, you know, make it to the NBA, you know? And how do you keep pushing them and pushing them Or hey, maybe they don’t have the potential. What’s your thought on how you actually size up someone’s potential? 

Maurice: That’s a tough one. It’s a good question. That ultimately does a lot of conversations with experience. I would say it’s all a gamble anyway. You’re really looking at it because you’re saying if all things, align stars align, nothing happens. And you’re going to play at an elite level or be an elite level. You need to have no injuries. Then these be like, you want to go to a certain school, will do a certain thing. How do you compare to those kids that they recruit? Like, what do you look like? Are you similar to size and skill to those players? Do you have the mindset to withstand all the stuff that you’re going to be hit with? I mean, there’s a lot of people who don’t understand scholarship level. It’s business. It’s a big business. And a lot of people think that they’re walking in like the other fanfare. I play for

Duke. I played for Arizona. It’s the best place in the world. Great. But it’s a business and you’re there for a job. They’re not giving you two hundred fifty thousand dollars, a thousand dollars on sneakers and uniforms, all of fancy stuff. Yeah, that’s great. But there’s a lot of work to go to for that. And if you’re not if you’re not comparable to play at those levels, to be at those levels, you don’t look like what they used to. They bring in or do you need to ask yourself, is this a realistic goal? But as far as potential, that’s some of the best. Some of the coach and that’s some of the person. So, again, how much you’re really willing to put in is going to be a lot of roadblocks. The universe has a funny way to challenge you. So, for instance, like this year I was going to have well, sixteen, seventeen. I was like, oh, I have all these grandiose goals. 

Maurice: The universe is like OK, we’re going to throw a pandemic in the middle of all this. See how bad you really want it. Yeah. So and again, we had opportunity like lost a lot of really good opportunities to play in some really high level tournaments. Like what do you do in those moments? The challenge now is do I push the forward through all that stuff? Do I it a roadblock and let it stop me from doing what I want to do? So what we invented, what we implemented this year is we just call it a pivot. So it’s the year of the pivot, the pandemic pivot. So if something happens, we’re going to pivot and do something else. So we couldn’t play in some tournaments. OK, we’ll make our own tournaments and force you out of it again, out of that comfort level. 

Maurice: I wasn’t standardly doing my own tournaments. I started doing my own stuff. So in an effort, because we couldn’t leave the state. So, you know, we couldn’t play in all the tournaments that they had here. They weren’t we weren’t allowed to. So I said we create our own little bubble and we’ll play as many teams as we can play around. 

John: I love that man, the pivot. I mean, the pandemic pivot and wow. I mean, you think about it all. Everybody, everybody has been affected in one way or the other. Their life has changed. It’s just a matter of what areas and how much. I mean, but everybody’s, you know, their way of working, running their business, their way of everything from sports and health and athletics to relationships to finances to everything has changed. So it’s the people. And I know and you probably do as well. The people that I talked to that are doing well. There’s a lot of people I talked to that say, you know what, 2020 is the best year I’ve ever had. 

John: Granted, it’s a horrible thing that’s happened, but it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and out of my norm so that now I’ve done different things that I definitely wouldn’t have done before. Other people have been paralyzed, you know, and they are now. That’s another, we’re paying a price. So. Right. The two words paralyzed or pivot. So do you find that, though do you find the people and sometimes you pivot and you make pivot the wrong way is how important is it just to realize that, hey, you know what? It’s not about making the right choice or it’s just a matter of making some choice? Is it more that and pivoting to something? Or is it because I see a lot of people kind of overthinking, like, OK, well, what do I do? I don’t know what to do. What is the right answer? What’s your thought on that? 

Maurice: You’ve got to make a decision. I’m at the point, I was at the point where, OK, this is what the challenge is and this is how we’re going to this is just put the energy into and say this is what we’re doing. You don’t ask a question. I’m a big proponent of you making a

statement. A lot of times in the games, guys were like, who got him? If you’re asking a question, that should be a statement. I got the ball. 

Maurice: Go cover somebody else, which is often in life to agree with, say, well, who’s doing what? 

Maurice: No, you’re doing this. If you recognize something or deficiency, you just say, “I got this, but I need support here.” I think when you take that approach, you say, “I’m going to take the lead, take the lead in it. And if I’m right, wrong or indifferent, I’m going to make a decision and I need you guys back it and we’re going to football. We’re going to play around it, whatever we want to do. But that’s the direction we’re going.” 

John: I love it, man. That might make us think that’s the golden nugget, man. I love that. That’s such a great piece of advice. Just listen. I got it. I’m going to take it. Here’s the support I need. I think that’s fantastic. Too many people sitting on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take charge. 

John: Or to make that decision or grab the ball or whatever. I love that. That’s awesome. 

Maurice: I mean, this is the year to live on the basketball analogy, survive in advance. I mean, that’s this. If you survive through this mess of a year, I mean, that’s great. But you want to advance now. What are the next steps now? What are my next steps? What do I do? I would do my takeaways, what I learned, what was I not prepared for, what I need to be prepared for when this ever happens again. Yeah, something similar to it. 

John: So you know what? And sometimes you have to know, I’m wired like you were. It’s like, you know, I want to, I’m constantly trying to succeed. And it’s about accomplishment and advancement in this and that. But sometimes you gotta realize, listen, the goal is just to weather the storm. I mean, there’s a lot of people out there that are like, you know, we’ve all dealt with really tough times. And sometimes it’s like that boat in the middle of a storm. I mean, you know, they’re just trying to stay afloat and fight the waves and the craziness. And then once the storm passes, it’s nice and calm and serene and sunny out. And sometimes you just gotta make it through that. And that’s, I think, a lot of people’s perspective. And that helps just to know. Listen, the storm’s temporary. It will go away. 

Maurice: One of the things that we try to do here is like with Prodigy is we want to say service, like you want to be of service to somebody else. So while we’re going through our things, understand someone else going through theirs, it’s probably even worse than you. So I try to make sure I reach out to the parents and the players and see how they’re doing regularly because at the end of the day, we try to create a community of people that care about one another. 

Maurice: So not just basketball. I really generally care about all the families in the program. I care about the kids. I want to see them. I want to see them succeed not as a client, but as a people. I call them my extended family. Your extended family this morning. I mean, we’re going through some serious situations, you know, along with just a friend or a client or a person that I know we’re actually aligned at to certain things. So I take it seriously and I take the service seriously when I’m working with the kids. Yeah, well, I think later you do that.

John: I’ve seen that firsthand. Nick felt that and saw that firsthand. I mean, there were a lot of times you spent with him and long conversations and it wasn’t necessarily about basketball. 

John: Sometimes it was about other stuff and it was about life. So I know he valued that and appreciated that. You and I were talking before about gratitude. And I love obviously, that’s so critical, I think especially now. But talk to us a little bit about that. Your perspective on being grateful. 

Maurice: I mean, if you’re not grateful now, I don’t know if you like, you know, knock on wood, I’ve been nobody. My family suffered any serious illness. I have, you know, health and in good fortune around me, I mean, I have really good people. 

Maurice: I’m able to do something that I really love and enjoy, which is teach the game of basketball. And we’ve done it during a time where a lot of people can’t say that. Like people have lost people dear to them. They had a serious illness or they’ve had a debilitating financial situation where they lost their job, lost their house, maybe even lost a loved one and a spouse that they had at one point. What I say right now is this time reveals really what you are like, really, really reveals, like what you’re really all about. Do you care about just you or you care about the people around you? And if you can’t really care and be empathetic for what’s going on around you, I think that’s just a heartless situation to live in. And if you look around, you just have things, then that’s a problem. It’s about yeah, right now you’re going to like those around you. Like is it just me and my big old house and all my fancy cars and all my fancy stuff? I don’t really have anybody else to share with me. You can’t go anywhere. Yeah. So like who am I sharing my life with and what am I sharing to the world? If I left today, what was my memory going to be? What are they going to say about what did, what I do? So I take that the heart every day and I try to be grateful for the opportunities. I get something with each every day, each and every day. 

John: Well, I love that perspective. And you just think about, you know, in what you’re doing, how many lives you’re impacting and and, you know, candidly and probably many more ways and more significant than you even realize, because I remember, you know, coaches in my career, in my life that had a really significant impact. And recently I reconnected with a couple of my coaches recently from back in high school. I haven’t talked to them in, whatever it is, 30 years. And they had a big impact. They taught me about leadership. They taught me about life. They helped me do things I never would have been able to do. 

John: And I don’t know if they realized it or they did it intentionally. But it came from a point of they cared. They really, truly cared about me, not just us winning the game, you know. And that’s, I think, the big difference. 

Maurice: And as you get older, like I’m still very close to my high school coaches too. They’re both alive gratefully, Frances McGrail, Frank McGrail and Jim McGrath who was one of the top lawyers up here. They like even today like we still stay in contact. And they touched my life in a way that I think if I did not have them in high school, I think I probably would have been a hot mess. But I also had like, you know, in college, I went with some of the best coaches and best people I’ve ever met. Howard Shane, Chris Bartley who’s at WPI now, Jeff Corrigan, those coaches, they weren’t just involved basketball-wise. They were involved. Like we do some outside of basketball, which it would do so much success. They

were so adamant about you being something more than what you were. And they didn’t have to do that. They really didn’t. They were all really, really good coaches. They just say, we’re going to be, we’re going to coach you guys and you gotta do what? You don’t do it. But they were engaged with us outside of, like, real-life stuff. Things were happening. My car broke down a couple of times. They would help me out. It was just, it was just crazy. I mean, they did a lot of good things for me as a man to grow. 

John: Some of them, you know, it becomes part of how you live life, not just play the game. You know, I remember, you know, Joe Pinator was my high school, one of my high school baseball coaches. I played baseball and he just taught us a lot about living life. I mean, we would sprint on and off the field like and I was a pitcher. So I would literally I mean, if I didn’t sprint from the mound to the dugout after the inning, I mean, literally was like, you don’t see that. I mean, it was just this mentality and we would dive headfirst into first base. So you hit a routine ground ball in the infield and it wasn’t like you run it out and run through the bag. Like every normal baseball player. We dove headfirst in the first play at first base. You don’t see that. I mean, parents were like, what are you doing there? You kidding? And we were like, I don’t know. Coach told us we’re going to dive into first base. But I will tell you, it just bred this mentality of you just play to win and you just, part of it is and believe me, the other teams would be like, oh, my God, what these guys are willing to dove into first base? Like, what are they? These guys are animals. So it was a little bit of the intimidation thing, but wow, it built our confidence and it made us feel invincible. So I don’t know if that was his design or intent, but it was. And it really, truly spilled over to a lot of ways that I live life. His sayings, you know, you gotta want it, you know, total hustle. You know, these are things that he used to routinely say. So, you know, I’m a big believer that those are shaping moments in your life. 

John: And they sometimes, whether you’re a coach or a leader in any organization, it might just be a 30-second interaction that you have with somebody that 30 years from now that 30-second interaction is going to be in their head. They’re going to remember it and it will have shaped their life. And I think that’s the power that all leaders have. And wow, you know, you’ve done such a great job and using that power and influence to impact people positively. So from me to you. Thank you. Because you had a big impact on my son. 

Maurice: Thank you. Thank you for that. I appreciate it. 

John: Yeah, you got it. So what else? I know we’re running short of time. I’d love to talk to you more, but I’d love to hear just to have you share a little bit about your outreach program and maybe some things, maybe ways people can get in touch with you and what you’re doing working on right now. 

Maurice: So if you ever want to reach me, the first thing I’ll give you is to go to It has all my contact information right on there. It has the things that we’re working on. We are trying to build our outreach program right now with science and math programs, tutoring services at a premium. 

Maurice: So when I first started this, one of the things is that I reached out to my former boss, and he was like, my wife did this for a long time with tenacity, you know, some of the things that you’re doing are great. But we really think you need to have an educational portion of what you’re doing. And I said, “You know what? That’s exactly right.” So he gave me something like, he literally gave me a blueprint on what to do, how to line it up and to

navigate that world. And I said, well, no, I wanna stay in the sciences and math. I mean, the STEM stuff was really where everything is going right now. And I want to kind of keep it in that vein. And I think a lot of times kids don’t really know how much they’re really involved in that, you know, science, math, and engineering. That’s huge. That’s everything that we do. So I want to make sure that the kids are getting that portion. So it’s again, it’s still in its infancy stages. It will probably be promoted within the next couple of months. But, you know, keep an eye on and we will make sure that this is something that is expanding into the community. 

John: That’s fantastic. Well, we’ll put all that in the show notes also so people can have the link down there as well. But I think that’s tremendous. That’s a fantastic way to even provide even more of an impact. So thank you. 

Maurice: We have really good coaches for Prodigy Basketball. Like, again, we stand by making sure that you are getting what you need. We try to make sure that they’re getting development, coach you hard. We really, really, really care about the kids and the families that are with us. 

John: Fantastic program. That’s number one. Yeah. 

John: All right, well, Mo, this has been awesome, man, I wish we could spend a lot more time and we’re at the end of our time here today. I hope you come back sometime in the future. But you’ve got a lot of people, I’m sure, that have been really intrigued by all the stuff you’ve been talking about, about leadership and creating a winning culture and a winning team. Any last thoughts you want to leave the audience with? 

Maurice: Well, I think there are several points that we really need as leaders, we need to think about. The first one, that would be leadership is a service position. We have to understand that there. Where we need to provide service to those who are working, with those who are we’ve been entrusted with. So if we don’t first have that mindset that we’re in for service and that’s not trying to get something from somebody, I think you’re going to struggle leading anybody. So that’s the first thing. We want to add value to those people who are in our care to a certain degree. I think it’s also as a leader, you need to continue your education. I mean, you need to grow and your knowledge base of any discipline that you’re in, you need to understand what you’re working with. And again, this is always going back. I want to add value to those people. So if I’m working with anyone, basketball or anything else, I want to make sure I know what the industry is telling me I need to be working on. Am I up to date with the new technologies? 

Maurice:Business side, that would be a SWOT. So I’m doing a SWOT analysis. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, all that stuff. So what am I, what are some of your strengths in an industry that my company weaknesses internally that I’m dealing with? Well, there’s a conflict between teammates and this conflict between a group of people and a group. Are there new technologies that came out that I’m not aware of? So there are things that as a leader, you need to be ahead of the curve. A lot of times you plan to forecast what I think will be decision making. You can have some level standards when you’re making decisions, because if you don’t have those standards, you’re going to be pulled in every which way, in every direction. And people are going to find it hard to follow you because they’re saying, OK, well, what are we really trying to do here? And again, it goes back to my

philosophy where I come to basketball. I have the three points I program team. And then whatever you need individually is something that we work on last. Because, again, if you focus on the first two, it’s easier to channel and find, OK, now, how do I fit this person into what we’re doing for the top two? It’s a little easier for me that way. And then proper time 

management, one of my biggest, one of the best books I’ve ever read was Stephen Covey, and that was with Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Great book, and the four quadrants of time management. 

Maurice: And that was an eye-opening experience for me because I wasn’t doing those things. I wasn’t saying, is this urgent and important right now? Do we need to address it right now? I was getting distracted by emails and things of that nature. And as leaders, sometimes it happens. Someone comes knocking on your door, hey, the sky is falling, Chicken Little kind of effect. And you get caught into that. And we have to really try to manage our time weekly and believe that the only basis to make sure we’re focusing on things that are most important. And that’s what would be enthusiastic, I mean, a lot of people, a lot of times your energy dictates how people respond. So we’re not there to be rah-rah guys all the time, but you want to show that you’re engaged, that you’re aware of what’s going on in your group, you’re aware what’s going on within your team, and you have a sort of empathy for those people who are struggling. And you’re not just out there, do it my way or the highway kind of thing, but you do as you say, hey, look where you are right now. And again, the whole meeting, the person with trying to get them up to speed to make sure that their number one, comfortable number two, that they’re going to be successful because I’ll do my thing as a leader. That’s your job to make sure that you’re doing your best to make sure everybody’s successful and what they’re trying to do. And then take care of your health. I mean, a lot of times we get so busy and we’re running around, we’re doing all things and we forget to eat, we get to take care of ourselves properly, exercise things of that nature. So, I mean, if you don’t have the strength to do the things that you need to do and again, to service the service of those who are in your care is very difficult, is very, very difficult to manage, because sometimes you don’t need a lot of energy to do a lot of different things that are going on. 

Maurice: So I say take care of your health and take care of what you’re doing, how you’re eating and what you’re focused on. And then lastly, I would have to say I have unshakable confidence, I think a lot of times your confidence can be shaken when you have like, you know, you have a challenge. You may fail at something, something to go the way you look at it. And then you say, well, am I really doing this the right way? Sometimes you want to scrap the whole thing. Sometimes you may have to. But in most cases, I think it’s just, you know, it’s a roadblock and you’re going have to get around it, to get over it, and get through it. But again, it doesn’t necessarily to scrap the whole plan, you need to be focused and say this is the vision. This is where I see myself going. So I see the team going and we’re going to stick the one, stick to it. And once you start finding a little success, you can get that momentum going it’s pretty easy. It’s pretty straight forward. For instance, a pandemic like, you know, could have destroyed what I’m trying to rebuild. So, again, you have to have that vision. You have to say, OK, what do I need to do to pivot to keep moving forward? And those would be the areas where I think you really need to focus on that have worked for me. 

John: I love it, man. Those are fantastic points that you bring up and a great way to close out this episode because I think what this comes down to, everything you said there has to

do with leading yourself. I think people oftentimes forget when they’re in any kind of position to influence other people. It starts with leading yourself. And if you can effectively lead yourself, it is so much more impactful. Your leadership is so much more powerful. You have that much more reach and impact the people around you. And that’s ultimately what this comes down to, whether you’re talking about decision making, time management, enthusiasm, confidence, all of those have to ultimately do with how you lead yourself so great, great words of wisdom to leave the group with. 

Maurice: I appreciate the time, John, I mean, this has been wonderful, I’m looking forward to your success. I’m looking forward to when you bring the big dogs on and get Oprah and all the other guests on now. Looking forward to it. So this is a wonderful, great platform. 

John: Well, you’re all part of me getting there. I appreciate you coming on and sharing your wisdom because I’ve had the utmost and always have had the utmost respect for you. Seeing you in action and the things that you’ve done with Nick and the other guys on the team and the other people in the span, of your sphere of influence. Very impressive. And I appreciate you and what you’re doing. 

Maurice: I appreciate what you guys are doing. I’m not saying this lightly. I love all you guys. You guys are family. And I’m glad you guys are all doing well. That’s great to hear. 

John: Well, thanks, my man. Excellent. What we’ve been here. Another great episode today with Mo Taylor, who is one of the most impactful leaders that I know and just done a tremendous job in many areas of life, certainly in the basketball and life arena. So thanks again for tuning in today. Hope you found this beneficial and valuable. I appreciate your comments. I appreciate you sharing. I appreciate all the things that you’re doing to be a steady and consistent participant of our show here and our episodes. If you have any ideas and thoughts of future episodes, please don’t hesitate to let me know and go down below and give a five-star review. Of course, your comments are appreciated. 

John: And again, thanks for your time today. And Mo, thanks for joining us. 

John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at Once again, that’s Thanks! Lead on!

laurito group




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Is your organization growing faster than you?

Lead a larger organization more confidently with these 5 essential skills.