LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anybody who has ever worked for a family business knows it is hard to juggle the competing issues of work life versus family life.
But when your family business is as high profile as professional basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers — one of the winningest championship teams of all time — the job can be even more challenging. Add in that you are dating the team’s coach, and it gets even more complicated.
Welcome to the world of Jeanie Buss and her memoir “Laker Girl,” which is currently in bookstores.
Buss is executive vice president of business operations for the Lakers, one of the world’s best known sports franchises. She is the daughter of team owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, and sister to executive vice president of player personnel, Jim Buss. As important, she is the girlfriend of coach Phil Jackson.
She calls juggling her personal and her business life one of the most challenging issues she faces, day-to-day.
“My dad is very clear about family time being family time and not letting business encroach on that. And if there is a serious business issue, we make an appointment, sit down and have a meeting and keep it separate,” Buss told Reuters.
“Anybody who’s in a family business will agree that it’s really hard to keep boundaries, yet it’s really important to keep the sanity of the family,” she said.
Buss is, perhaps, the biggest Laker booster of them all, and it comes across in “Laker Girl.” Readers gain insight into the team during its championship season of 2009-2010, as well as into Buss’s life with Jackson and her career in business.
During the last season, Buss wrote in a daily journal and her thoughts on the team’s ups-and-downs over roughly eight months provide a timeline for “Laker Girl.”
She said that one question she is often asked is what it’s like to be a woman working in such a storied sports franchise, and by writing in journal form she could “share in real time, the highs and the lows” of working for the team.
Interspersed between the journal entries are chapters on her father’s start in southern California real estate, in which he amassed the fortune he used to purchase the Lakers in 1979.
Buss also shares her own work experiences with readers, starting out as a 19 year-old promoter of World Team Tennis matches in the late 1970s and moving on to her work with the Lakers, helping market the team and sell merchandise associated with it and its players, including Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
When asked what the Laker brand stands for, she is quick to reply. “In one word, I would say winning.
“My dad...he’s an American story. He is a self-made man who used education to pull himself out of a poor childhood,” Buss said. “He built an empire, but all the time being a fan. For him, he runs the team as a family and its fans like to win.”
“Laker Girl” offers readers some basic business tips as Buss relates experiences about being a highly-placed executive in a male-dominated business.
“You’ve got to stay true to yourself,” Buss said. “You have to have discipline and know your stuff and if people try to dismiss you, that’s their loss.
“Know what you’re good at, what your talents are, and hone those skills. That is what will help you succeed,” she said.
And, of course, she addresses the inevitable: whether Jackson will ever pop the marriage question.
Hint: the final answer is on the last page.
Editing by Jill Serjeant