Coach George Raveling on This Unique Moment in Time, How to Practice Self-Leadership, Navigating Difficult Conversations, and Much More (#438)

Photo by Jared Polin

“My hope is that we will be who we say we are. All of us.” — Coach George Raveling

Coach George Raveling (@GeorgeRaveling) is an 82-year-old living legend and Nike’s former Director of International Basketball. Coach Raveling was the first African-American head basketball coach in the PAC-8 (now PAC-12). On August 28, 1963, at age 26, while volunteering as security at the March on Washington, Raveling would humbly become the guardian of what we have come to know as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Coach Raveling has held head coaching positions at Washington State, the University of Iowa, and USC. Following a prolific basketball coaching career, he joined Nike at the request of Phil Knight, where he played an integral role in signing a reluctant Michael Jordan. He’s also been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Coach George Raveling made his first appearance on the podcast in 2018, and for me, it was one of the most impactful interviews I’ve done, and I came out of it walking on air.

We covered a lot of ground in that first interview, including how Coach Raveling came to own the original copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, how his practice team ended up beating the 1984 US Olympic Dream Team in basketball, how he helped convince Michael Jordan to sign with Nike, and much more. I strongly urge you to listen to that conversation about Coach’s life, philosophies, and lessons learned.

I invited George back on the podcast to hear his thoughts on everything that is happening right now. These are difficult and uncertain times for millions of people, and my heart goes out to each and every person navigating the depths of sadness, anger, and fear.

As you’ll hear in today’s episode, Coach Raveling has great hope. He’s seen many changes in his lifetime, and we can all strive to be the positive change agents that he implores us to be.

Please enjoy this timely—and timeless—conversation with Coach George Raveling.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear Coach Raveling’s first time on the show? — Listen to our conversation in which we discussed how he came to possess the original copy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, how his practice team ended up beating the 1984 US Olympic Dream Team in basketball, and much, much more!


  • Connect with George Raveling:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn


Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added as soon as possible. 

  • George kicks off our conversation with a prayer for George Floyd and the countless others who have suffered during these times of social change.
  • George shares the “stop strategy” he goes through — as a successful, 82-year-old black man in modern America — every time he’s pulled over by the police.
  • A challenge to all of us (George includes himself here): to try to better understand one another beyond our surface impressions.
  • Why does George collect historically racist paraphernalia?
  • Having honest conversations — including when they’re with ourselves, and what George believes are two of the most important words in the English language right now.
  • Why do so many of us actively avoid engaging in difficult conversations that might escalate into emotional debates? George admits he isn’t immune to this phenomenon, but he has some ideas.
  • Present when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his historic I Have a Dream speech (and in possession of the actual copy read by Dr. King), what are some of the differences and commonalities that George sees between then and now?
  • Group leadership versus self-leadership for crafting a better future, and the question George asks himself every day. (Here’s a bonus question to ask yourself: disqualifying corporate executives, who do you consider to be the five best leaders in the world today?)
  • As a voracious reader, what books does George (aka The Human Google) recommend for helping to develop the qualities of self-leadership and self-discipline, as well as for understanding social system inequities?
  • What would George say to people right now who are feeling consumed by anger — or powerless — at the moment?
  • What has George found exploring his outer limits — thinking outside of the box paradigm entirely — to look like, and what 21st-century skills does he cultivate in order to stay relevant (and not a relic) at age 82?
  • Advice — and a pledge — for people who feel a need to do something, but are unsure of what that something might be.
  • The difference between a statement and a message, and why George has grown weary of corporate and organizational speak.
  • Sometimes it takes someone else to say “I believe in you” before you really start to believe in yourself.
  • Advice for parents who are trying to raise their kids to be as empowered and self-enabled as possible.
  • What George hopes might emerge from these turbulent times.
  • Parting thoughts and a closing prayer.


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 500 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions.

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