A couple weeks ago I happened to tune into the Mike and Mike in the Morning show on ESPN Radio while in route to a networking breakfast. Jalen Rose, retired NBA basketball player and sports commentator was a guest on the show to discuss where LeBron James will end up if he decides to opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But that was not the most interesting segment of the show to me. The most interesting part of the program was when the conversation shifted to William Wesley (a.k.a. World Wide Wes) and the influence he could have on the decision regarding LeBron James’ basketball future. I’m a big NBA basketball fan, but have to admit I had never heard of Mr. Wesley and neither had the radio show co-host Mike Golic, much to his chagrin, as he would discover a little later in the broadcast.
As I learned during the conversation, Mr. Wesley is widely touted as one of the most prominent figures in the sports and entertainment industry today, and received the nickname ‘World Wide Wes’ from Jalen Rose several years ago. I later discovered a 2007 GQ magazine article about Mr. Wesley titled “Is This the Most Powerful Man in Sports? That said, In the NBA, all roads lead to one man, whom you’ve probably never heard of: William Wesley – a.k.a. World Wide Wes – the most connected, most discreet, most influential man on and off the court …”
Mr. Wesley hails from New Jersey and Mike Golic played professional football right down the road with the Philadelphia Eagles (1987-1992). As the conversation about World Wide Wes continued Mr. Golic said, “If this guy is so influential, how come I’ve never heard of him and I played football in Philadelphia for five years?” World Wide Wes was listening to the program and almost on cue; he sent a text message to Jalen Rose during the live broadcast. His message said, “Tell Mike Golic that I was with Jerome Brown, a close friend of Mr. Golic and former Philadelphia Eagles star, and we picked him up at the airport when he first came to Philadelphia.”
World Wide Wes was able to recall the restaurant they ate at some 20+ years ago, what Mike Golic ordered for dinner, and that he liked extra sauce on his ribs. Needless to say, Golic was stunned, but could still recall little about the dinner meeting with Mr. Wesley or World Wide Wes himself. Mr. Wesley declined to join the trio live on the radio show when asked, which only added to his aura as one of the most connected, discreet and influential people in sports today.
Are you the ‘World Wide Wes’ of your industry? Do you have his keen ability to not only connect with the Michael Jordan’s and Jay-Z’s of your world on a close personal level, but also work behind the scenes with key people within your industry to help drive decisions and affect change? Besides his incredible recall abilities, Mr. Wesley appears to have an extraordinary capacity for building strong relationships with people at all levels within his industry and the influence to bring them together to make things happen.
In business as in everything else in life, making a difference isn’t necessarily about titles, power and authority, it’s about helping people get what they want. And it’s about connecting them to people who can facilitate those types of “win-win” scenarios. You don’t have to be the Chairman of the Board, or World Wide Wes to make a difference, just be there to provide guidance and support to those who could use your help the most.
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