Shaq Credits His Business Acumen to This Book

Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq. The Big Aristotle. Diesel. Whichever of the dozen monikers the former NBA center went by during his 18-year career, the center will be remembered as one of the most dominant athletes to ever grace the court. It wasn’t just his game that made him a favorite of fans and teammates.

He has a larger-than-life personality to match his otherworldly frame. But beneath the beastly dunks and the goofy jokes, Shaq is a cunning businessman who puts a lot of time into managing his money wisely. In a recent interview, he credited one book for helping him understand how to become an entrepreneur. 

Shaquille O’Neal was one of the biggest NBA stars of his era

Seeing a 7-foot man do anything will make most crowds awestruck. But seeing a human giant with the combination of balletic footwork and uncompromising force that Shaq had at his peak had little precedent in the history of basketball. 

It was clear from the jump that Shaq was a special sort of talent. The man brought down the entire basket during a game by dunking too hard. He was 21 years old at the time. That’s Paul Bunyan stuff. After being drafted first in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, O’Neal’s earned him the Rookie of the Year award and established himself as a star of the future. 

He eventually departed for the Los Angeles Lakers and formed a brilliant, albeit fractious partnership with Kobe Bryant, winning three straight championships at the start of the 21st century. He won another title with the Miami Heat in 2006 before bouncing around the league until he retired in 2011. 

One book, in particular, shaped the way Shaq goes about his business ventures

Shaquille O'Neal laughing, turned to the side
Shaquille O’Neal | Nick Agro/Getty Images

Traditionally, big men in the NBA don’t become popular as brands because the success of someone who has to duck under every walkway isn’t as relatable to the masses. But Shaq’s personality is so magnetic that he breaks the mold for athletes who want to build their brands. 

O’Neal made it a point to develop his business acumen very early in his playing career. During an interview with GQ where he mostly talked about his diet and exercise routine, Shaq credited the book The Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business for changing his outlook after spending his first million dollars on cars and jewelry. 

It was given to him by the father of a friend from school who wanted to protect him from the common traps that leave many athletes broke when their careers are over. 

Shaq’s age and lack of experience with money led to some hilarious growing pains when he first looked at his finances. 

“The first name is FICA [Federal Insurance Contribution Act] for 250k, and I go off: “Yo man, who the f*** is FICA? I didn’t write no check for 250 for FICA” he recalled. “He started laughing. He said, “Shaq, I want you to read this book.” He said, “I know you left school early, but you’re about to come into a lot of money. This can help you.” It’s the Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business. So I get it, and I read it, and I said: “Let me try it.'” 

What did ‘The Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business’ teach Shaquille O’Neal?


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Each chapter of The Dummies’ Guide to Starting Your Own Business educates readers on a different aspect of growing a business and how to develop good habits in that space. Shaq took the advice to heart.

“The first thing I did was start a Subchapter S corporation, because now my family is on salary—I can get that money back. All these cell phones I’m buying? The dope man’s phones? We can get all that back during tax time. I was like, “Damn.” 

The second thing I did was I created an emblem. Jordan has Jumpman, ’cause that’s how he dunks. So when I dunk I used to keep my legs up like Dunk Man. Let me trademark it! That was the second thing I did.  

Then chapter three of the book talks about joint ventureships. And I always had that in mind like, “Damn, this is good.” So the way I do business is all about joint ventureships and trusts. For example, let’s just say I wanna start a magazine that competes with GQ. I’m looking for the top African-American writers. I’m not writing s***.”

You can’t question whether this has all worked out for Shaq. He’s been active in the stock market since the 90s, has ownership stakes in a number of companies, and has a list of endorsements that is longer than a CVS receipt. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Shaq currently makes $60 million a year and his net worth is $400 million.