TOL#008 How to talk about failure ft. The Greek Freak

May 03, 2023
ianka fleerackers, CEO branding, Thought Leadership, Personal branding,  Antetokounmpo, The Greek Freak, NBA playoffs 2023, postgame interview


Before April 26 2023, I never heard of Giannis Antetokounmpo. If you are a fan of basket ball, you might consider unsubscribing as you can not imagine someone NOT knowing about the best basketball player on the planet. 

The Greek Freak, as he is nicknamed by his fans, signed up for another 5 years at the Milwaukee Bucks for 187 million Euros. Yep. He is brand ambassador for Nike, a philanthropist, and is known for his thought-provoking postgame interviews. 

And after the 'shocking loss' of the Bucks in the NBA Playoffs, he will probably be known for giving the best failure speech in decades. 

That's how he got my attention, and the attention of millions of people who -like me- never heard of Giannis, the Greek Freak. 


And it all started with a question by a reporter named Eric:



Five things you can learn from the Failure speech of Giannis 
that will strengthen your personal brand


1/Think before you speak

The body language of Giannis didn't lie: he honestly showed he didn't like the reporter's question. But by shoving his hands through his hair, he also indicates that he is thinking about how to answer, and by rubbing his hands, Giannis tells us he is 'ready' to tackle the question with a plan. 

These very first seconds you see how:

  • congruency of body and mind creates authenticity
  • thinking before speaking is smart


2/ Say the name of the person you're talking to

Giannis immediately gives context to his upcoming unorthodox answer. He sets the scene by saying to the reporter: 'You have asked the same question last year, Eric'. 

This learns us two things:

  • By saying the name of the person you're talking to, you acknowledge them; you show you respect relationships. You also take charge.
  • By giving context to your answer, you avoid misunderstanding. 

3/ Reframe 'wrong' questions to give another perspective on things

A journalist uses the interview technique of framing questions to provoke a specific answer that can make a great headline. Framing is often used in critical situations.

Being alert and aware of framing puts you in the position to answer by reframing. When you reframe, you give a new perspective on the subject and thus prevent damage to your reputation.

This can be a game changer in how you are perceived because reframing shows you're intelligent, a fast thinker, and thought-provoking.


4/ Make it larger than life

Create a legacy with words. Stay away from the anecdotic level of a Q&A;

Two ways to do this:

  • Make it about them
  • Go for the metaphor.

How can your answer become a lesson for life?


5/ Do not make it personal

Make it about them, but do not make or take it personally. If you get too heated, calm yourself like Giannis did: pause, and say that you don't want to make it personal. Breath. Keep your voice soft and friendly, and go one. Show you're a leader.


By doing this, Giannis

1/ postgame interview went viral

2/ his sponsor Nike immediately created an ad to monetize the momentum

3/ is strengthening his personal brand beyond his achievements in basketball, which is great for his after-sports career.


What about your Failure Speech?

As a business leader or a business owner, you also experience failure. What can you learn from Giannis, to tackle the fear and reframe the failure into a failing forward story? 

Discover and learn how to set up your personal brand in a way it can tackle moments of failure with resilience.

I'm organising a Brand You One-Day-Intensive. You can participate and get started on your personal branding. Find out more here.