The 35U began with a vision to inspire the leaders of tomorrow by telling them about the leaders of today. With millions of people involved in government, education, business and community service across the country, it sometimes may be hard for the 35U to connect to leaders individually simply due to an age barrier. The 35U to us is any young adult from the ages of 18-35 in this country. These individuals have a voice – they can vote, serve, and most importantly, they can make a difference for future generations.

Today’s Q&A feature is Mike Kaufman, Founder and CEO of Better Bounce. Better Bounce is an international basketball lifestyle brand that specializes in making workout programs to help athletes improve their vertical leap, overall athleticism and give them what they need to be successful on the basketball court. Better Bounce has users in the  United States, Israel, India, Africa, Indonesia, Brazil and Australia. Mike is dedicated to making a huge impact in the community as a sports entrepreneur. After graduating from Lesley University with a business management and psychology degree, Kaufman pursued professional basketball overseas. He played two seasons in the Israeli National Basketball League for Maccabi Hod Hasharon and Elizur Ashkelon. After fulfilling his dream of playing professional basketball he came back to the US to pursue other endeavors. Since moving to New York City, Mike has had special opportunities. He has played several games with the Harlem Wizards, participated in dunk shows/contests, featured in two Google commercials, and ESPN. We caught up with Mike to find out what leadership means to him and what advice he would give to future entrepreneurs.

Why did you choose this career path?

After playing professional basketball overseas I knew I wanted to keep basketball involved in my career but I also knew I didn’t want to coach. Most athletes who don’twant to coach end up in media so I thought this was the good next step for me. I’ve always had a creative side and I started editing videos in high school when I made my highlight tape to send to college coaches to try to get me recruited. Since then, I’ve developed technical skills in content creation specializing in basketball related content.
Fortunately for me, basketball has become super popular and social media platforms (especially Instagram) have given creators a platform to create and grow their own brands and audience. I always just loved playing basketball and making compelling content related to basketball and now I am able to do this for a living. It’s really a dream come true. It’s cliche to say but I wouldn’t say I chose my career path; I think my career chose me.

Who inspired you to get involved?

I’ve always been inspired by the power of video producing and film making to make us feel a certain emotion. My dad always had a love for movies and we would always go to the theatre when I was growing up. Now I consume most of my news and content through videos on a daily basis. I focus more on short-form videos but I do aspire to make more longer form pieces in the future. Growing up, I would obsess over the slow motion replays of a LeBron James dunk on television and the production side of capturing these amazing athletes. I would always tape the dunk contest and watch it over an over again studying the artistry of the dunks. Basketball is beautiful to me and I want to capture it and tell stories through videos. Basketball is really unique because there is so much culture that comes with it. It is really more than a sport.

How do you define a leader?

A leader is someone who is willing to do things that most people aren’t. A leader is proactive, not reactive. A leader is someone willing to out work their peers in every facet. Someone who is comfortable giving commands but knows especially when to listen to those working with him/her. A leader is someone who is able to adapt and keep a group together during times of adversity.

What projects are you currently involved with in the community that engages the next generation of leaders?

Currently, I’m super active on Instagram trying to help young basketball players and athletes reach their athletic goals and dreams. I’m posting motivational, instructional and inspirational content and answering hundreds of messages on a daily basis. It’s easy for me to speak to the next generation because they can relate to me and my experiences. I’ve really created a online community and I take pride in being able to make my influence.

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders who want to get involved?

My advice for the next generation leaders is to not be afraid to fail or put yourself out there. Instead of being passive and trying to make the perfect decisions go out and try a lot of different things. Just KEEP DOING and eventually things will fall into place.