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Serena Williams, Quincy Jones Share Secrets of Success

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The stars were out early on Tuesday at the Inside ETFs conference taking place this week in Hollywood, Florida, with music legend Quincy Jones and tennis legend Serena Williams taking the stage in front of about 2,400 advisors and other guests.

Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, while Jones has received 28 Grammy awards.

The tennis star, 35, described the focus and discipline that have propelled her career, which now includes fashion and philanthropy as well as membership on several corporate boards.

How does she stay in top physical and mental form?

The professional athlete says she views staying fit — not winning tennis matches — as her main job. “You have more motivation to work harder if you break down what you really do and [define] what your job truly is,” Williams said.

She’s also had to make adjustments as she’s gotten older and moved into several decades of time on the court. “I’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years, so I try to reinvent exercises, and technology helps me,” she explained.

Over the years, Williams has found that she (like others) must dig deeper in her training, but has not been discouraged. “You get results,” she said.

When asked how much longer she’s likely to play, the tennis champion said, “I do not know, but I will know … when I get the feeling.”

Williams, who had her first child in September, is getting closer to the record number of Grand Slam singles titles won by Australian Margaret Court, which is 24. But she insists that focusing on winning 24 or even 25 titles is not helpful.

“Winning 18 was my first goal … and I over-pressured myself,” Williams said. “To me, it makes more sense to make [my] goal 30 and move beyond what is just in sight.”

By reaching for a higher goal, “You can learn from it. By not focusing on the short-term goal, … I can stay relaxed. When I realized this, I won four [events] in a row. Take one step back and then three steps forward,” she explained.

Music Legend

For Jones, 84, “The key is curiosity,” he said. “I wanted to try everything in my career and did so by taking chances. That’s what you have got to do.”

When asked why he’s spent his life making and creating music and other art, Jones said: “It’s got to be for love — not money, not fame.”

Jones said he loved working with music legends like Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson, but added that “Sinatra could be very tough” at times.

Still, “I learned everything from him,” Jones said, “about expressing life through music.”

Jones said he met future musical greats Jackson and Stevie Wonder when they were just 12 years old.

He also says that you cannot stop innovation or technology, so why fight it?

“It’s going to be there. I used a synthesizer for the first time to write and perform the theme for the TV show ‘Ironside’” back in 1967.

Experimenting has been essential to his success, and he doesn’t believe there’s been one “golden era” of music. “It’s just what you make it,” he explained.

For instance, he pushed Michael Jackson out of R&B. Did he worry about what to do next after his first hit record with the King of Pop?

“You can’t get concerned. You’ve got to be positive and see the light,” Jones explained. At the same time, “You’ve got to get it right, but it is not easy.”

He described his relationship with Jackson as one built on love, trust and respect: “Without that, it is not going to happen.”

Today, he supports dozens of young musicians. “I mentor artists who are amazingly talented,” Jones said. “One of them [former President Barack] Obama even calls ‘Baby Mozart.’”

— Check out 8 of the Worst Financial Blunders by Athletes on ThinkAdvisor.


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