John Collins’s 5-Step Guide to Crushing Your Career

Last summer, John Collins’ life changed forever when he was drafted into the NBA. Just a few months later, the 21-year-old athlete was breaking his own career records, starting in some of the season’s most important games, and joining the NBA All-Rookie Team. To say his professional career is off to a good start would be an understatement, but it hasn’t been without some challenges (an ankle injury which the player bounced back from, for one). We were seriously impressed with Collins’ style and integrity when we started working with him last year, but now we’re super fans.

During the NBA off-season and the style high season (a.k.a. fall), we sat down with Collins to find out what his secret sauce is. Here’s the player’s advice for anyone trying to crush it at work, based on his first standout season as a pro. (Don’t worry if you don’t have a multi-million dollar contract yourself—his takeaways are universal.)


1. Dive In (You’ll Be Just Fine)

“My senior year of high school is when I realized I had a shot at going pro. Even when I got to college, I still wasn’t sure if I would make it. I’ve matured so much over the last year—mentally, for one, living by myself for the first time ever, playing in the NBA. I’ve had a lot of responsibilities thrown at me at a young age. I didn’t realize everything I accomplished until after the year was over.”



 2. Set Goals—and Chip Away at Them Every Day

“My very first dunk was during practice one day in ninth grade. We were just doing lay-up lines at the beginning of practice, and I did it. I wasn’t able to dunk again for about a year. But I just went up, saw myself up high enough, and I dunked the ball. It was just pure adrenaline.

I was watching a video, actually, and it just said, keep jumping, keep trying, dunk. And I kept persisting and got there eventually. I think my muscles just trained themselves to jump that high, and I never stopped from there.”


     3. But Don’t Forget About the Big Picture, Either

“My first professional game was a life-changing moment. You’re looking at the arenas and the players that you’ve idolized for your whole life, and you get to throw on a jersey and play against them. It changed the way I looked at basketball.

My goal for myself this season is to further prove that I’m one of the elite players in the league. I think I’m going to play solid basketball, and I want to prove that I’m going up a tier.”



     4. Take Care of Your Body, Mind, and Spirit  

“People don’t really think about the life we have to live outside of basketball. We have to do our physical activity and then try to do low-energy activities outside the court so you can use all your energy on the court. That probably explains why I’m really chill.

A lot of the game is mental. More than I thought. Even if it’s just watching something or reading something, you got to be very cautious about how much energy you put into that because that drains your mental focus for the game.”



  5. Build a Wardrobe That Works as Hard as You Do

“My style has changed 180. There’s before I got into the NBA and after. That was the turning point. Once I got into the NBA, that gave me a platform and access to wear different stuff and have my own style. Express was the first brand to give me sort of a direction. You guys have really improved my suit game. Athletes tend to wear a lot of athletic gear. When it comes down to dressing up, I have that under my belt, too.

I’m also into Express jeans. Love the slim fit. This year we added a couple more rips, so I’m definitely feeling them. They make every outfit work. And the Performance shirts felt really nice and flexible, so I can move around in them. They almost feel like you’re wearing a hoodie or just a regular T-shirt—but they look real good.”