Extra Points: Toronto Raptors President’s Bold Moves Paid Off — and Business Owners Should Take Note


Christopher Schobert
Director of Communications
May 31, 2019
minutes to read

Pointman’s Extra Points series highlights lessons in leadership inspired by today’s headlines.

TAKEAWAY: Sometimes calculated moves pay off in a big way — just ask Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri.

OK, show of hands. Who predicted the Toronto Raptors would earn a trip to the NBA Finals this year?

If your hand is raised, congrats — you had more faith than most of the basketball world. After all, following 2018’s playoff loss (AGAIN) to Cleveland, Raptors president Masai Ujiri embarked on a series of moves best described as very, very risky.

The former player, scout and GM began by firing head coach Dwayne Casey — fresh off a franchise-best 59-win season — and promoting assistant Nick Nurse. (Ironically, Casey was named Coach of the Year after his firing.) Two months later, Ujiri made an even more shocking move. He traded four time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, the face of the franchise, to the Spurs for oft-injured forward Kawhi Leonard.

It’s worth noting that Leonard, a former NBA Finals MVP, was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season.

The response to the moves was, well, mixed. Consider a few of the headlines from last July: “Making sense of Masai Ujiri’s cold-blooded summer” was one. Or, my favorite, “Red flag Kawhi Leonard trade will be career-defining for Masai Ujiri.”

“At some point you have to do something different,” Ujiri said following the Leonard trade.

For Ujiri, doing something different involved taking a series of calculated risks. But more than that, his moves required taking measure of the team’s direction — and his own plan.

For Ujiri, doing something different involved taking a series of calculated risks. But more than that, his moves required taking measure of the team’s direction — and his own plan. Why was Ujiri so confident?

  • He believed in his ultimate goal.
  • He believed in his team.
  • He believed in himself.

“Put it on me,” Ujiri told reporters after the Leonard trade, pledging his belief “in this city, this country, this team.”

The result was a Conference Finals victory over the Bucks and the first NBA Finals appearance in Toronto’s 24-year history. Leonard, in particular, proved to be a game changer. And even if the Raptors end up losing to the mighty Warriors, or Leonard signs elsewhere, there is no denying that Ujiri showed real leadership and tremendous ambition.

Business owners know all about risk — and the importance of self-belief. If you are not confident in your plan and decisive in your actions, failure is likely. But sometimes calculated moves pay off in a big way.

Looking again at the Raptors example, Ujiri knew all about Leonard’s upside, as well as Nurse’s capabilities as a coach. He believed in their talents and they came through.

Members of Pointman’s field service management software for contractors decided to work with us because they believed in themselves, their people and their goals. With Pointman’s team of expert analysts and coaches by their side, our members have the industry knowledge, dedicated support and necessary tools in place to make their vision a reality.

Interested in taking a calculated move to grow your business? Explore the only software that also includes personalized business coaching, a team of analysts to monitor your data and a community of peers offering industry advice.

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

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