It’s Nothing Personal, It’s Just Business

April 5, 2009

For almost a decade, John Calipari led the Memphis Tigers Men’s Basketball team to multiple NCAA basketball tournaments, several Sweet 16’s, was named the Conference USA coach of the year four times and most recently was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year. With a resume like that, it makes you wonder why people now consider him a ‘traitor’ and ‘sellout’ after all that he’s done for the University of Memphis and its basketball program. While there are obviously two sides to every story, what happened between Memphis and John Calipari leaving for the University of Kentucky happens everywhere.

John Calipari saw an opportunity. Not just any opportunity, but the opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to coach one of the most revered college teams in the NCAA and one marked with tradition and full of history. When the University of Kentucky came calling, John Calipari packed his bags. In the perfect world, coaches would fall in love with their schools and never leave, but as everyone knows, nothing is perfect. The University of Kentucky gave John Calipari a chance at something he so desperately wanted: a Championship.

In the business world, most everyone can relate to John Calipari’s situation in one way or another. When a job opportunity comes your way that pays better and gives you a chance to put yourself in a better situation, instinct says you should take it. If that is the case, then what did John Calipari do wrong? He will make more money and with a bigger name school and John’s name on the Mens basketball program, getting recruits to come to Kentucky will be simple. From the business perspective, John made the right choice in leaving, but from the fans and others views, he is simply a ‘sellout.’

The reasons for John Calipari leaving makes sense from a business standpoint, but not from an emotional one. To all the Memphis fans that are now without their ‘coach,’ John leaving makes no sense. For nearly a decade he has built up the program and made it into a contender. All fan’s and spectators see are the numbers game. Even if John was making only a dollar more than he would have at Memphis, all they would see is that he doesn’t care about the relationships and work he did at Memphis and only about money. Similar to that, when an individual has been at a company for 10+ years and decides to leave for another company some people within the organization may feel that he is just motivated by money and doesn’t care about the ‘personal’ side of business. While there is obviously cause for disappointment and in some cases animosity, you have to remember that it is still a business. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, if you don’t bring the company value, you are gone. Remember that for companies, value is typically signified by a monetary value.

While it is entirely up to the individual in making the choice to leave or stay with their current employer, their choice shouldn’t be seen as a personal attack to others. The decision an individual makes is with respect to themselves and those most affected by it. A great example that I can think of is when Joe Torre left the New York Yankees and joined the Los Angeles Dodgers. When Torre left, people thought that he ‘sold out’ and didn’t care for the Yankees or New York. In actuality, Torre left because Yankee management wanted to go a different direction and Los Angeles was giving him an opportunity to coach. Still, people still think that Torre is a ‘traitor.’

So the question becomes: what are you going to do when a similar opportunity comes your way? Will you follow your emotions or will you go with logic. Whatever choice you choose, just remember that it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.


Photo by Shes Jack

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