• Podcast

Episode 105 — Jason Hehir — Leading and Documenting Winning Teams

Business and sports aren’t so different. Both require a coach or a leader, dedicated team members, and a common interest and goal that everyone’s working toward.

Jason Hehir, director of the iconic docu-series The Last Dance — which chronicled Michael Jordan’s legendary life in the NBA and beyond — got a firsthand look at just how similar the two are. Not only did he get to hear icons tell their stories of leadership, success, and failure, but he got to live those experiences himself.

In this episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Jason and Michael sit down to discuss:

  • Going from being brand new to being the leader — and the complications that arise from it
  • The importance of having a healthy fear of failure
  • Why finding your own voice is the best thing you can do for yourself

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Spotify.

Show Notes:

Building your dream team. “The ideal person you want on your team is someone who has a fear of failure. There are certain unteachable things, and that’s one of them. You can’t teach someone to want to pick up the person next to you and want to deliver because if you don’t, the person next to you will be burdened with what you didn’t do. You want a team member that you want to spend time with and go get a beer with after work. It’s important to find like-minded people who share your passions and have their own creative voice.”

Leaders are not perfect. “Everyone has a role, and it’s the team leader’s job to put people in the right place in order to succeed and to let them know exactly what’s expected of them. I wasn’t always good at that because I didn’t always have bosses who were good at that — they were more under the impression that a good employee was one that you didn’t have to direct. I think that’s bullsh*t. It’s not fair, and though I was lucky enough to make it through by improvising, a leader owes it to anyone to let them know what to do, when to do it, and other basic parameters to follow.”

Before Jordan, there was André. “I think one of the most emotional parts of [the André the Giant documentary] was knowing the fact that no matter who you are, you have a mom who adores you. To Andre’s mom, that was her little boy, despite how gigantic he was. All she really wanted was for him to be comfortable and safe. She had this chair built specially for him so that he could sit with their family at the dinner table. So when people say the documentary was sad, I hope they mean that it was heartfelt, because that’s how I saw it while filming.”

A never-ending learning experience. “There are no shortcuts. That comes with learning your trade, learning by mistake, and finding your voice. Filming The Last Dance was my last opportunity to delegate, coach, and put people in the right position. One of my greatest shortcomings was my lack of patience, and though it did teach me how to edit film, it isn’t a great quality to have. I’m sure that rubbed editors in training the wrong way. It made me a better leader in the long run, which is what helped make The Last Dance so successful.”

An uphill battle. “[Michael] Jordan’s people came to me after reading my 14-page outline for The Last Dance and said, ‘Do you think this can be just the footage from 1998, with no interviews, just footage?’ I told them no. That’s when I thought this documentary wasn’t going to happen, because if I said yes to them, I knew that couldn’t happen. As badly as I wanted the job, it didn’t look promising. I knew we needed current interviews to make the story work, and it needed to be about more than just the 1998 Chicago Bulls season.”

Dances with MJ. “If and when this first meeting with Michael Jordan took place, will he think I’m a kiss-a** for wearing Jordans? Will he be offended if I’m not? I didn’t know what kind of guy he was. So I decided to go agnostic and wore the only suit I owned and paired it with dress shoes and knew he couldn’t get mad at what I was wearing.”

Right time, right place. “I am acutely aware of why The Last Dance took hold culturally the way it did, because we were all so starved for original entertainment and sports. At the moment, we literally had a captive audience since people were stuck in their homes. I’m very proud of the way it was made and proud of our entire team for bringing it together. I also understand that it had an exponentially larger footprint than I think any of us could have imagined.”

Getting the job done. “I almost never get feedback from the leads in my documentaries, and that’s okay because my job isn’t to be their lifelong friend. If it happens, that’s great, but it usually occurs more with people behind the scenes than the icons themselves. Getting the opportunity to tell their story is an honor in and of itself.”

What does it mean to be a game changer? “Being a game changer means finding your own voice and inspiring others to do the same.”

RESOURCES & REFERENCES

NBC
André the Giant (documentary)
The Last Dance (documentary)
NBA
Michael Jordan
Jordan (brand)
ESPN
Netflix
Jalen Rose

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