Ep. 46: Neville Johnson - The Legendary John Wooden, Success, and Wisdom


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My guest on this week’s episode doesn’t get awestruck very easily. Neville Johnson is a Hollywood lawyer in California, USA. He has represented a number of celebrities, artists, actors, and writers, particularly against the bullying tactics of large companies over royalties. His clients have included the Beatles, amongst other.

However, there is one individual with whom Neville has worked that left a huge impression on him. That person is the late and legendary UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) basketball coach John Wooden. Neville wrote two books about Coach Wooden and spent a considerable amount of time with him, former players, family members and colleagues. Neville’s first book is an authorised biography of John Wooden while the second is a book of some of Wooden’s most profound sayings.

John Wooden was one of the most successful coaches in the history of any sport. His teams won 10 national championships in the span of 12 years, included seven in a raw. At one point, his teams did not lose a game in three years. Wooden’s former players include Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton.

Counterintuitively, Wooden never talked about winning. To Wooden, winning was the by-product of the process of hard work and diligent practice he instilled in his teams. In fact, he was more than a basketball coach. John Wooden was a teacher, psychologist, philosopher, poet and purveyor of timeless wisdom.

Neville and I discuss some of that wisdom on this fabulous episode. We cover:

  • What is was like working with John on the two books;
  • Wooden’s famous Pyramid of Success;
  • How Wooden had an influence on Neville’s own work as a lawyer;
  • Success versus winning;
  • Some of Neville’s areas of legal expertise, particularly privacy law;
  • Neville’s other books;
  • Neville’s music
  • Much more!

Show notes:

Neville’s authorised biography of John Wooden The John Wooden Pyramid of Success: The Ultimate Guide to Life, Leadership, Friendship and Love

Neville’s book Woodenisms: The Wisdom and Sayings of Coach John Wooden

John Wooden’s great Ted Talk The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding

Neville’s poetry book What Took You So Long


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