About a month ago I attended QuickBooks Connect, a conference in San Jose put on by accounting software maker Intuit. The final keynote address was by none other than Shaquille O’Neal, the 7-foot 325-pound basketball star who went from playing in the NBA to getting his MBA. Now an entrepreneur and investor with a net worth of US$400 million, Shaq had some valuable advice about money and business that is worth sharing with kids and adults alike:\nBe authentic. O’Neal will only endorse products he uses and believes in — he even turned down sponsorships with Wheaties three times because he didn’t like the cereal. “I’m a Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops kind of guy. I’ve never eaten Wheaties in my life,” he said. That’s why he decided to represent Fruity Pebbles instead.\nThere are no shortcuts. Shaq worked hard for his considerable wealth, not only in the NBA but also in school — earning a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Education in human resource development. He has the same expectations for his son, now in college, telling him: “Listen son. We’re not rich. I am. You still need to go to school and work hard.” \nLaughter pays. It not only relieves stress and makes you feel good, it’s also good business. “My best form of marketing is to make people laugh,” he told the crowd, who he continually had in stitches. “I want to do something funny and make you remember it.” \nRely on your team. When Shaq opened his investment offices, he hired a staff of 30 who collectively decide what to invest in. “I have a team of people smarter than me because I know the importance of teamwork,” he said. “No one person can win a championship alone. Listen to your teammates, don’t always do things based on money and learn from your mistakes.”\nInvest in game changers. “If you invest in something that will change people’s lives, it’ll probably be a good investment,” says O’Neal. Case in point: he was an early investor in a little search engine called Google.\nGive back. When he was a kid, Shaq got an unexpected gift — a basketball autographed by Dr. J. He never forgot that moment and, when he hit it big, he went to his local Toys“R”Us in Orlando, Florida, to buy and distribute toys to local underprivileged children on Christmas morning. He now has a more formal arrangement with the company, in which U.S. customers can buy a toy online from the Great Big Shaq-A-Claus Wish List and have it sent directly to the Toys for Tots charity for distribution.\nBe thankful. A little appreciation goes a long way. And, as Shaq says, it could always be worse. “I learned not to complain a long time ago. I’m always thankful, always respectful. I just want to set a good example for my children — for all kids — and be remembered as a nice guy.\nKeep the conversation going\nWhat’s the best business or financial advice you ever received? Post a comment below.\nDisclaimer\nThe views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.