What I Learned from Shaq

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

I’m a very lucky man. 

I have been blessed with myriad opportunities from an early age, with parents who took an active interest in my education and who always pushed me to be my best.

In fact, my mother did so in a very shrewd way. For example, say I came home from school with a 97% on a test. My mother would look at the result, pause contemplatively, and then say, “Well, Jim, that means there’s room for improvement.” 

Now, you might think this is a bit harsh, but it actually was the epitome of love. You see, love is expecting the best out of someone, including yourself, in every situation. It is also holding yourself up to the highest standards, or the term that I often use, and that serves as the closing thought in every one of my publications, and that is to act “in the name of the best within us.” 

But why am I bringing up this blend of history and personal philosophy? Well, because both really are at the animating core of my work, not just here in “The Deep Woods,” but in all my investment advisory newsletters. And, this is particularly true of my labor-of-love project, the Way of the Renaissance Man lifestyle website and podcast.

Today, I am proud to present the kickoff episode of Season Four of the podcast, and this week’s guest is by far the most famous individual I’ve had on the show.

Indeed, all I must do is to you his abbreviated first name and you’ll know exactly who it is… “Shaq.”

That’s right, on the new episode of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast, I speak with basketball legend, entrepreneur, actor, musician, corporate spokesman and investor Shaquille O’Neal. 

Now, when you grow up in Los Angeles like I did, the Lakers are practically a religion even if you don’t closely follow sports. So, as you might imagine, speaking with one of the high priests of the Lakers for the kickoff episode of Season 4 was a true delight. 

In this conversation with Shaq, we were joined by The Alkaline Water Company Chairman Aaron Keay. Now, as you may recall, Alkaline88 water is the only brand of water that I endorse, and it’s also the brand that Shaq represents.

Now, in this episode, you’ll learn how Shaq decides what business projects to get into, and just how intimately he’s involved in the details of his business ventures. As Shaq says, “he’s not just a pretty face” when it comes to business. In fact, he’s extremely hands on.

Plus, you’ll learn all about Shaq’s influences and mentors, including his main mentor since age 18, both on the court and in business, fellow Laker priest and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Interestingly, I share an anecdote about when I first met Shaq and Magic some three decades ago, even before Shaq was in the NBA. 

If you’ve always wanted to peek into the mind of a legendary athlete, as well as an extremely successful businessman, then I invite you to listen to the Season Four premiere episode of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast with Shaquille O’Neal

Finally, it’s hard to believe that we are already on Season Four of the Way of the Renaissance Man podcast. It seems like just yesterday we published the very first episode of the show, which featured tax cut warrior Grover Norquist. Yet that first episode was almost exactly three years ago to the day.

Yes, we’ve come a long way in our journey to help each other discover the tools needed to better focus our minds, integrate our thoughts with actions and live the lives we really want.

So, to all of those involved in making the podcast possible, and to all the fantastic guests I’ve been privileged to speak with, and most of all, to you, the podcast listener, I want to thank you for allowing my labor of love to be part of your life. May we continue sharing that love for years to come. 


Hip Hop Freewill

You can get with this, or you can get with that

You can get with this, or you can get with that

You can get with this, or you can get with that

I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at 

–Black Sheep, “The Choice Is Yours

The early 1990s hip hop hit “The Choice Is Yours” is a classic in the rap genre, and the song is best-known for its understatedly profound hook, “You can get with this, or you can get with that.” What’s so profound about this lyric? Well, it speaks directly to the issue of freewill. You see, in today’s public intellectual circles, there seems to be a consensus that humans don’t really have freewill. Rather, the thinking is that we are just products of our prior inputs, and those inputs are just a product of their prior inputs — and that this causal chain of events can just get traced back all the way to the beginning of time.

Now, while the wider issue of freewill, determinism and the deep questions such as these are eminently interesting to me, from a real-world perspective, the fact is that we all know that we do have choices. We can either “get with this” or we can “get with that.” And no form of philosophic conjecture can alter that reality, no matter how elegantly the argument might be constructed.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

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