Nik Caner-Medley is a 34 year old 203cm forward from Portland, Maine that is playing in his 13th professional season and fourth with Movistar Estudiantes Madrid. He has spent a good majority of his professional career in Spain having played for teams like Gran Canaria, Sevillia, Valencia and Malaga. He also got valuable experience in countries like Germany, Israel, France and Kazakhstan. He played his college ball at Maryland(NCAA) from 2002-2006. germanhoops.com interviewed him once before about basketball, but this time this interview focuses on his exemplary off court work. This interview is beneficial for any professional player that wants to flourish economically next to the court.
Miles Schmidt-Scheuber first covered Nik Caner-Medley in his rookie season in 2006-2007 in Germany with the Artland Dragons and their paths crossed again in 2016 as Monaco played in Frankfurt in a Basketball Champions league game with this post game interview.
Nik thanks for talking to germanhoops.com It´s October and you’re an American living in Madrid, Spain. Do you take a few minutes to reflect each day just how blessed and lucky you have been able to play the game you love for so long?
*I have been extremely blessed to play a majority of my career in Spain and in some amazing cities (Valencia, Malaga, Las Palmas, Sevilla, Madrid). Spain is a second home to me, especially Madrid. I love the culture here and the ACB is such a well run league with good teams from top to bottom. It’s truly been an honor to play 8 seasons in the ACB, 4 of which have been with Estudiantes.
You’re now in your 13th professional season and are turning 35 years old on October 20th. You have played for 12 organizations and in five countries overseas and seen very much. You’re a very busy guy as your off court endeavors show. How much longer do you still want to play and how would you classify your body now at age 34, going on 35?
*The most important thing I have learned over the last 12 seasons is how to take care of my body. Last season I had some very unfortunate losses in my family and it was a bad year for me on the court, I was not myself and not healthy, but this summer I combined all of things I have learned about nutrition and training and it’s been amazing because I feel the best I have felt since I was 29 or 30. I am 100kg (215lbs) and this is the lightest I have been since I was in high school and it has had a huge impact on my movement and energy. I think I will have one of my best seasons of my career and as long as I feel this good I will continue to play. Im still very passionate about the game.
Fraport Skyliners Quantez Robertson turns 34 in December and still plays like a 25 year old. He probably will play many more years until his engine is totally broken. Is it difficult keeping the enthusiasm to keep playing at times. What motivates you to keep playing more?
*I don’t play for the money, I never have, and I actually make more money off the court at this stage in my career but I love this game and I don’t take for granted that this is the last few years I can ever play professional basketball. When I sit back and think about that it actually makes me more motivated than I have ever been. I understand how fortunate I am to play at a high level and I thank god every single day when I wake up for giving me this opportunity.
This is your eighth season in Spain as you have played more than half your career in Spain. Has Spain become like a second home for you and if you got an amazing opportunity after your playing career to coach or be involved with an organization would it be something you could imagine doing?
*One of the things I have learned over the past 8-10 years with some of my off the court endeavors is never say never. Do I think I will coach or be involved in an organization here in Spain, no, but you never know. I have a lot of respect for all of the teams and coaches here in Spain but my passion is playing the game and although I will miss my lifestyle here in Europe when I’m done playing, I have spent a majority of my adult life here and look forward to getting back to the states.
This is your fourth season playing for Movistar Estudiantes Madrid. What kind of experience has it been being second fiddle to Real Madrid? What has been an amazing experience you have had in Madrid dealing with the famous Real Madrid organization.
*Estudiantes has great tradition and great fans. I am passionate and loyal about this club because they gave me an opportunity to play here when I was 26 and 27 and those seasons helped launch my career to the next level. That is why I came back here last year and signed a 2 year contract because I wanted to come back to a place I consider a second home. Real Madrid has consistently been one of the top clubs in Europe and its been fun to be here to see guys like Luka Doncic play. Coach Laso is one of the best coaches I’ve seen in my time in Europe as well. The best part about being in the same city is playing in the derby, we beat Real Madrid in 09/10 season and it is a great memory. The fans are always great for the derby!
Our last and only interview was in December 2016 when you were playing with Monaco. Basketball for me is usually the main dish on the menu, but there are also other important dishes on the menu that are important. In this interview we will focus less on basketball, but more on a positive topic that you have been doing now for 10 years. You have been a business man for a decade and doing very well. Please talk a little about when was the deciding moment where you decided to get involved with making money other than with basketball.
*Basketball is always my top priority, it is always the main dish, but to follow that analogy I found that I enjoy building business ventures as a desert. I am obsessed with using all of my time to the best of my ability. I don’t play games, video games, none of that, Im either improving my body at the gym or sharpening my mind at home. I read a lot and love to study successful business leaders and what their paths were. My parents are both teachers, my mom is a guidance counselor so she has always given me great advice on things to build my character, and my Dad is an economics professor and has always challenged me to think outside of the box and push myself.
One always hears the hard luck stories of athletes especially from the NBA and even other sport´s that lose all their money soon after they retired. Was there one hard luck story that really hit you over the years or something that helped inspire you a bit not like you say not spend your time at the beach, but rather doing valuable work in the gym and office?
*When I was 24 I was broke. Had no money. I was owed money from a team I played on the previous season but had spent all of the money I had made the first 2 seasons as a pro on dumb things. Vacations, designer clothes, not saving money. I think a lot of players experience this early in their career, waiting for the next pay check but have no money in their account. I was ashamed. My parents are very frugal so I didn’t want to tell them, I definitely didn’t want to tell my friends, and this was a wake up call for me. It was a turning point in my lifestyle and priorities. I remember making a video of myself talking about how I felt in that moment, that summer, and basically talking to myself in the future and telling myself to never be in this situation again and make good decisions to remind myself what I felt like at that time. After that for the last 9-10 years I have been on a mission on and off the court.
You made 2 million dollars in your two years from 2014-2016 playing for BC Astana (Kazakhstan-D1) and put it to good work. Not every guy is making that kind of money in Europe. Is it realistic for the normal basketball joe to invest and be successful like you have, with a lot less income, while they are still playing?
*I started to really invest and dedicate myself to learning and building a portfolio for myself when I was 25, and my Dad advised me to break all my checks in 1/3 (thirds). It doesn’t matter how much you make you can follow this model. 1/3 goes to paying your bills, 1/3 you invest into something or you save in cash account for a rainy day, and the other 1/3 is for living your life. Some people say 50% for bills, 20% save or invest, and 30% to live your life. It really depends on what your bills are but either way the key is the discipline to educate yourself on what to invest in and saving your money. The key for me was research and reading, and educating myself on ways to invest. I recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad as a good starter book for anyone to read to learn some general concepts and first steps you can take.
What is really exemplary in your case is that you aren´t only helping yourself by making money while still playing, but also giving back to the community and trying help that way. Lebron James is another guy that has helped in the community especially at home in Akron giving back to kids, but he is also taking advantage of Los Angeles where he is playing now. How much of a role model has he been for you in the last years as you have continued to go your route with your business endeavors?
*Lebron has always been an athlete that has impressed me off the court. We are similar in that we have both spent a lot of time off the court with business endeavors and he seems to be very pro active with his finances. He has invested in a few very successful companies and the examples he has set with his charitable acts has been incredible. It is great to see him using his platform in such a positive way, I hope more and more athletes continue to come forward and use their voice and influence for such positive things.
It is no secret that one mostly hears about the hard luck stories like Rick Mahorn, Shawn Kemp, Vin Baker of Antoine Walker as guys who hit rock bottom, but one doesn´t hear enough about guys that have done good. Do you feel like people often want to read more about hard luck than good luck, as the media obviously knows how to make stories that people want to hear?
*I’m not big into social media personally but the best thing about Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook is they give athletes the ability to build their own narrative. For example, Lebron created Uninterrupted which gives athletes the ability to be their own media and put out the content that they want the public to pay attention to. The days of the media having full control over athletes reputations are in the past and I think that’s awesome. The more the media and athletes share positive experiences and upbeat stories, the better the impact can be. Bad news creates negative energy and in my opinion it’s a lot more productive to focus on the great things that people are doing.
You started investing in companies in 2008 and went into Real estate in 2009. You Own equity and/or shares in over 15 different companies ranging from start ups to publicly traded companies. Does involving yourself more and more with companies and having ownership, as you continue to heighten your portfolio, in a way, comparable to having that enthusiasm and drive to win on the court?
*The disciplines I have learned as an athlete, and the character it takes to win, it all transfers into business. A lot of basketball players have the characteristics to be successful as entrepreneurs and investors but they have never explored the options or don’t know where to start. I started by investing in other companies because I wanted to learn how to build a business and study the process before I went all in on starting my own company. Around this same time I started to invest in real estate which gave me some great experiences of how much work it takes to manage properties. Its’ a relatively complicated process to buy a building but it’s a whole new challenge to manage it and make a profit. Over the last 9-10 years I took things one step at a time and placed a huge premium on reading and learning from the experiences of people with 20-30+ years of experience. With the internet you can learn anything you want you just having to be willing to put in the time and dedication and as an athlete I learned those principles at a young age.
How important has your experiences in various places in Europe been for helping you with your business endeavors. This season Estudiantes has two Americans and have 9 other players from other countries. How important have the various cultures with places/players/fans been for your business work in the last 10 years?
*I am the sole owner of two businesses, along with numerous other companies and endeavors that I’m an investor in, as you mentioned previously, and one of the biggest challenges that comes along with that is managing my staff and their various agendas back in the States, from over here in Europe. Communication is the key, as well as very close attention to detail. Living in countries where I don’t speak the language, and communicating with people from different cultures, has grown my skill set in terms of understanding people, in order to better communicate. Just like with a basketball team, everyone in an office or business has personal goals and agendas. The key as a CEO or business owner is balancing those personalities and agendas while keeping the overall goals in sight. Everyone wants to make more money and be the star, but at the end of the day if the team doesn’t win or the business doesn’t grow, nobody wins. My time here in Europe has taught me patience, and also made me a better listener, because in order to communicate well in other countries you need to really listen and be aware. All of these things have made me a better leader as a business owner and more aware as an investor.
You started Medley Properties Development in 2013 which is a Real Estate Development Business. How have you been able to get this project successful and running despite being in Europe for 8-9 months? What input do you have while you are in Europe?
*After I invested in Real Estate for 4 or 5 years I had done a bunch of renovations on my properties and built relationships with a lot of contractors and sub contractors and saw an opportunity to build my own company. My business partner in Medley Properties Development has been in construction for over 15 years and he is a General Contractor and manages the crews we have on each project. I also have a project manager and team of contractors who work very well together which makes managing the company from Europe easier. One of the things that makes me most passionate about business development is the team building element. The same way that you need a strong locker room of high character guys to win in basketball, it is similar with the team that you assemble to execute in business. I am very hands on day to day and on an average day I spend 5-6 hours on the phone, email and organizing daily and weekly agendas for my staff, as well as being very detail oriented with our accounting. If you don’t know your numbers then you don’t know your business. Just like if you don’t know the plays in basketball you won’t be on the court. Along with being at the gym sometimes 4-5 hours a day when we have 2 practices, my days are very busy. I usually wake up at 5am which gives me more time to get things done. The one rule I never break, under any circumstance, is I never do business on game day, when it’s game day my staff knows I am unavailable.
Another very interesting project has been Cloudport Business MultiSpace, which you started in 2016. You got the idea seeing a place that had co-working and business services. This idea wasn´t new in Portland, Maine as there are other establishments that are similar. It was stated in an article “Cloudport isn´t an elitist or exclusionary place. It has plans to open up its meeting spaces for free to community and non-profit groups that need a place to put on their impactful events.” How has the Cloudport MultiSpace project developed further in the last two years?
*I’m very passionate and proud of Cloudport. Its a very dynamic business model which as you mentioned is not completely unique but I trademarked the MultiSpace concept and have created an all inclusive business and lifestyle center. It includes private offices for businesses and entrepreneurs, board and conference rooms for corporate and individual meetings, event space for social events, free beer on tap, wine fridges and free soft drinks, spa room, yoga and fitness classes, 24/7 memberships, private work desks, all of which take place in an open space where hundreds of people co exist together and network. It has created a business community of over 75 different businesses under one roof. It’s been so fun to build this business and I have developed so many exciting relationships throughout the process. You would never believe where I got the idea for bringing this space to Portland Maine, where my wife and I and family live… Astana Kazakhstan! Another example of the benefits of traveling the world. I was in a mall in Astana and was trying to find the bathroom and came across (on the top floor where I thought the food court was) a 50,000 sq ft huge business center that had most of the things I brought to Cloudport. As soon as I got home that day I called the now manager of Cloudport, who also manages some properties I own, and told him “Josh I just found the next big project” and the next day I started the business plan.
You have always played with top clubs and been around guys that have given you positive guidance and values. What advice would you give to those guys that don´t necessarily come from the background that you came from, and didn´t necessarily play for top organizations, and in turn haven’t had the financial opportunities you’ve had to be successful with their earnings, while still playing ball?
*I have played with and against some great vets during my career that taught me a lot about being a professional. Larry Lewis, Sitapha Savane, Jim Moran, Tyrone Ellis, all guys who showed me what being a high character pro is all about. The discipline, the sacrifice, as well as the positive attitude that it takes to be successful. The best advice I can give any younger players, at any level, is check your ego at the door and go into every day with a humble and optimistic approach. There will always be 100 things that you can complain about but if you focus on what you can control and put your heart and soul into the game it will always pay you back. Whether you make 50k a year or 1Mil, if you dedicate yourself to the game you will build strong character that will give you a lot of opportunities when your career is over. As athletes, business leaders will always appreciate our backgrounds, and if you make the right decisions and do things the right way it will open up a lot of doors.
Even if you hadn´t invested in the last 10 years you would have done well simply because your family kept you grounded and put the word frugal into your head. You once stated that You don’t need to have five cars, you don’t need to have three houses, you don’t need to have 20 diamond chains. What advice do you give to guys coming from poor backgrounds not to be caught up in buying everything in sight once they get money, not believing in everything their so called business manager says, and not having an entourage wherever they go, so they won´t be broke one day?
*I made some of those mistake when I first became a pro and I learned fast. It’s not easy to make good financial decisions when your are young and get money for the first time. It is also important to treat yourself sometimes, when you work really hard sometimes you have to buy yourself something nice, but the key is moderation! You don’t need 5 watches and 50 pairs of shoes, its excessive, and you will regret it at some point, I guarantee it. You always think that next check is coming… until its not!
The best advice I can give is learn for yourself. Challenge yourself to not always rely on these “financial advisers” to make all your decisions for you. They are going to do whatever makes them the most money with your money, and a lot of the times that means taking risks you don’t need to take. Instead of spending 7 hours a day on Netflix, get on Youtube and watch advice from Warren Buffett or Jack Ma. Take control of your financial situation by educating yourself about what successful people do with their money, you can find everything you need to know on Google!
What is the next step for Nik caner Medley in the business world? You are set to generate upwards of 2 million dollars with just your off the court business endeavors. Are there any new projects in the pipeline that you could talk about?
*This is going to be a very busy and successful year. Generating a few million dollars in revenues is exciting, but only half the battle, and I’m far from satisfied. The key to sustainable growth is building the bottom line with strategic marginal decisions. I’m learning everyday new ways to grow the bottom line across my portfolio, and just like in my basketball career, I’m always looking for ways to get better. Although unlike my basketball career, I’m still in the early stages of a long career in business, and I plan on being one of the most impactful basketball players turned entrepreneurs of all time.
Im going to dream big, because.. why not?
How would you like the fans and community to remember Nik Caner Medley when you are retired and you are sitting back looking back at your life?
*The most important thing to me is to be remembered as a good person. The only reason I’m passionate about making money is because I want to be able to afford the ability to make a difference in my community and be an example for young people on what to do if they have financial means. I know I am going to make a lot of money in my life because I have a deal with the man upstairs that the more good fortune he bestows upon me, the more I will give back and help the less fortunate. As a basketball player I want to be remembered as a fighter, and overall someone who worked very hard and always stayed positive.
Thanks Nik for the chat.