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Hey, what’s up?
Thanks for checking out my work. My name is Raj Shah, I’m an immigrant from India, a citizen of Chicago and a student of some games.
Finance, marketing, social entrepreneurship and a variety of part-time gigs sum up my professional background, which unofficially started at the age of 14. While I always had fun learning and dabbling in the work hands-on in these positions, I never loved them, unconditionally.
Basketball, though, was and still is, a different story. Meaning that even if I didn’t get paid a salary dabbling in it and learning from it, I can never feel it makes me go broke.
Basketball is a story that transcends winning and losing rings and trophies. It’s a story that reveals character(s) at every level: from playground to recreational to professional to retirement. An internationally-developing story more important than the sum of all its’ headlines and superstars. A story that that sports the most common and universal themes and motifs which endlessly cross over on the court and off the court. A story about thousands of ordinary characters playing lead roles in modern life today, connected by the internet web.
For the 15+ years I’ve lived in the Chicago land, basketball has been the one thing I’ve held onto most and longest. Grade school, high school and college days have come and gone. Partying, traveling and other social activities come and go in phases. I’ve never spent more than 3 years on a job or business project. It’s fun to get decent grades and graduate with degrees; it’s fun to blow money at bars and clubs with friends; it’s fun to date different people with an open mind; and, it’s fun to make decent money at a good job with good colleagues.
Still. If you have a short attention span like I do, you get bored quickly with things you don’t whole-heartedly love. Cheesy, I know, but hey, I’m an American and an Indian: cheese and butter run deep in my blood.
Basketball is a thing I can’t put down, no matter how hard I try, so I might as well jump in to it with everything I have.
At the end of the 2014 year, I unofficially gave up my middle manager job title in corporate America, and at the start of the 2015 year, I officially took a chance on Chicago Basketball. I took a full-time chance on a bunch of basketball-focused business ideas I had been trying to do “on the side” and falling short on since 2010. I took a chance on this modern basketball economy, hoping I’d find a way to make a living doing basketball work even though I’ve had no professional playing or teaching experience on my resume. Because I’ve played recreationally for over 15 years, and won a few fantasy basketball leagues and because I spend hours and hours reading basketball stuff on the web, I felt like a know-it-all and this gave me the confidence to think I could just go out there and succeed.
I don’t write this to talk about how cool my story is, or to package and offer success advice on why you too should jump in and take risk, or to preach the importance of following your passions.
I write this to tell you where I come from, and how my experience so far has humbled me in ways I couldn’t have predicted right before I took this leap. To share with you a real-life experience of starting a business full-time from the eyes of a basketball lover.
It’s been a blessing, i.e., a combination of both fun and difficult times, which combined altogether makes life more meaningful and more educational. If blessings are things that give you a chance to be grateful, this one’s afforded me many chances. A chance to see my family overseas.
A chance to see both the left coast and the right coast, including a trip to the basketball hall of fame, where I learned about Dr. James Naismith’s true purpose for masterminding this game.
A chance to build a few websites, to market them, and to snooze the ones that aren’t priority.
A chance to create my own structure and schedule and hold myself accountable to make every hour, every day, count. A chance to play near a dozen roles (writing, editing, designing, practicing, reading, networking, project managing, etc.) as a one-person company, while understanding there’s no such thing as a one-man team and that ideas and inspiration comes from all around.
A chance to read almost 3 dozen books on basketball, business and other subjects in-between on audio, electronic and hard copy formats. A chance to invest (blow) a ton of money into a business that up until now has had no real business model.
A chance to test my abilities, independently, and to improve the ones that are most crucial to my definition of success.
A chance to learn, to teach, to share, to inspire. A chance to take a stab at making art.
I’ve finally gained momentum and confidence as to exactly what I want to do with Chicago basketball. In doing so, I’d love to get your help.
Over the next month, the next 3 months, and the 6 to round out the year of 2015,