This week the world suffered a tragic blow with the passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the other 7 people aboard the helicopter. We’re only now starting to see the impact Kobe had on so many people all over the world. In China, the impact has been just as powerful.
For us at Mailman he was adored. We began working with Kobe and his loyal team 5 years ago, it started with consulting on his digital strategy and quickly evolved to supporting his many aspirations in China. Kobe came in at an important part of our journey, we were still growing, building our mentality and striving for excellence. His trust gave us confidence to persist, continually do more and be a leader. Personally I was inspired to be the best. For Cate, his primary lead with us, was transformed. She, like me, yearned to be better, and Kobe was our muse.
In just the past 2 years he created and published 3 books, the first ‘The Wizenard Series: Training Camp’, the second ‘Legacy and the Queen’ and the third ‘Epoca: the Tree of Ecrof’- each with a view to inspire the younger generation to live their best selves. The foundation of his stories combining his love of sports and fantasy were unique. After 20 years in the NBA he was invigorated with his new calling and was likely to achieve similar success in the creative fields.
Kobe was a unique athlete to work with. Unlike many stars of his calibre he was personally across all projects. He took meticulous care in making decisions for his brand, who he partnered with and made decisive decisions when needed. When in China he made time to meet charitable causes, adoring fans, potential business associates and existing partners - it was always a packed schedule and he didn't miss a beat.
In China he was something else. The biggest sports icon in the mainland, he reigned supreme across China’s largest social network Weibo, beating out all international stars across the globe. Kobe personified Chinese values of family, work ethic and the success that comes with that. Each time he visited there were armies of fans, screaming and chanting ‘Kobe, Kobe’. There were equal numbers of men and women flocking to see him, Kobe had no limit - he was an icon for everyone.
A few years ago I joined Kobe at a private event in Hong Kong where he dazzled a room filled with Asia’s most influential entrepreneurs. The guests paid top dollar to experience an evening with him. They were all hugely successful; there were billionaires, family money and tycoons from across Asia. They were in awe of Kobe as he told story after story of his approach to the game of basketball and business.
Towards the end of the dinner I invited guests to sit with him at the table for a brief chat. Many guests were nervous when asked to join, some shied away, preferring to look from a distance. Others welcomed the invitation and sprang into action. Always respectful, he ensured everyone was greeted and heard. Following the dinner a line began as the guests requested selfies with their idol. I asked them if they could be patient as he gets through everyone, I’d never seen such patience in these people. So there they were, billionaires lining up for a selfie with Kobe Bryant. For those guys Kobe was the epitome of success the right way, he worked hard his entire life, put more hours in than most and was disciplined throughout his career. He wanted to be the greatest of all time. Nothing less. He was never lucky, he was never given anything, it was all hard work. His smile reflected true satisfaction in knowing that everything he’s now afforded was earned. Everyone in that room wanted that smile.
We thank you Kobe for inspiring us all to be better, on showing us love and devotion to your family and for giving us a playbook for success. May you rest in peace.