Naples, Fla. — As Coach Ken Carter bounded off the stage during his motivational kickoff talk at the Plastics News Executive Forum, audience members half expected him to order them on the ground for pushups.
That's the kind of impact Carter can have. He made national news as a high school coach in California by turning around a losing basketball team at his alma mater, Richmond High School.
The school, where Carter was a star basketball player in the 1970s, was plagued by drugs and high unemployment when he took the coaching job in 1997. He required players and their parents to sign contracts pledging a minimum 2.3 GPA, perfect attendance and courtesy.
Carter made national news when he locked his undefeated basketball team out of the school gym to push them to improve their grades. Actor Samuel L. Jackson portrayed Carter in the 2005 movie "Coach Carter."
His message at the Executive Forum: "The Get-Tough Approach to Success."
"Winners do one thing: They win," Carter said. Complainers just complain.
"I can't stand people who stand around making excuses," he said. "Don't make no excuses, you gotta get it done.
"You got to be on the gas. You got to be ready to right this thing called life. You got to be ready to play," Carter said.
Integrity, being part of a team, is the best way to approach a job.
"The greatest thing about this life is you got to live it. Because you can't get out alive," Carter said.
He encouraged plastics executives to promote careers to employees, not just a job — which he quipped stands for "just over broke."
Carter runs the Coach Ken Carter Foundation to help minority youths. Finding young people is a major challenge facing the plastics industry.
Carter didn't order pushups, but he gave this advice: "Kids are one-third of our population, but they're 100 percent of our future."