Praise for Walk with a Humble Swagger

This book has great stories that translate Mike’s lessons from the basketball court to the business world. As a student of our industry, I read everything I can about advertising. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mike offers the sharpest commentary in our game.”

- Dooley Tombras, President of Tombras, 2024 AdAge Independent Agency of the Year

“Michael Palma is widely known as a basketball coach turned advertising recruiter. But to me, he is first and foremost a fan. A fan of the people he coached and the people he worked with; those who he worked tirelessly to help them find their way through their careers and ultimately the world. He certainly helped me with wisdom and love that went way beyond the job description of recruiter. He was one of my very first fans in the world of advertising, and I remain a fan of his to this day.”

— Alex Bogusky, Crispin, Porter & Bogusky

"Michael was a pleasure to watch. He was skilled, tough, and competitive. He was a winner. Forty years later, we remain in contact and share the life lessons we both learned in high school at St. Agnes. Many of those lessons are in this book. I was blessed to be around such great basketball as a kid, and it was an education in hard work, discipline and competition." 

— Billy Donovan, Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and two-time National Champion Coach at Florida 

For most people  recruiting is a synonym for selling. The recruiter's job, in sports or business, is the act of convincing. Mike’s not that kind of recruiter, probably because he was a much sought-after basketball recruit himself in his teens. Mike’s not a seller, he’s a teacher. His job is to give you the information and then let you make your own decision. He is authentic, honest, not a salesperson at all. He’s the real deal.”

— Steve Connelly, Founder, Connelly Partners

I’ve worked with Michael for more than 30 years. It’s a relationship based on trust. Any time we have an important position to fill, there is only one person I would trust with the assignment. He gets our agency. He gets our business. And, because he’s a competitive SOB he won’t give up. I’m certain that comes from his time on the court.”

— Curtis Zimmerman, Founder, The Zimmerman Agency

“GSD&M was just beginning to make a name for itself when a monotone voice on the other end of the phone introduced itself with 'Hello, Guy, this is Mike Palma.' It was the first of more calls than I can count over the next several years, as Mike played an instrumental role in staffing my creative department, and GSD&M grew from a small regional shop into a national player — winning new business and awards in every significant competition along the way. Mike’s ability to recognize and recruit top-caliber talent was a significant reason why. As a result, he not only became indispensable to me as an ECD, he became a trusted confidante and friend.”

— Guy Bommarito, Executive Creative Director, GSD&M

“Michael has built a career taking the lessons from some of America’s most legendary coaching minds and has used them to build an astonishingly successful career in the corporate world for both himself and his clients. Hard work, perseverance, knowing exactly what to say and when to say it. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the C-suite or coaching your kid’s basketball team. The stories and lessons Palma shares in this book are universal and a must-read for everyone.”

— Eric Kallman, Founder, Erich & Kallman

“Michael was a great player at St. Agnes High School on Long Island. I attended rival Holy Trinity HS. The Agnes/Trinity rivalry was as intense as the Carolina/Duke rivalry I had the pleasure of being a part of as a player and coach. Fast forward 45 years. Mike and I connected on a monthly business webinar I was conducting. Mike was a regular participant often offering valuable insight. Some of those insights are detailed in this book, “Walk With a Humble Swagger.” My respect for him soared as he demonstrated great wisdom and compassion. I am forever a Mike Palma fan. A man I hated, I now greatly admire.”

— Matt Doherty, former head coach at Notre Dame and North Carolina

“I first met Mike when he was a high school senior, almost 49 years ago. When I saw him again, I was a high school senior and visited Wake Forest where he was a player.  Who knew that two years later we would be teammates and friends for over 46 years.  This book is a great read and I would expect nothing less from my friend and teammate for life: Mike Palma!

— Jeff Ruland, two-time NBA All-Star Washington Bullets

“As a young copywriter at a red-hot small agency, I got a call that changed my life. A guy named Michael Palma wanted to talk about an opportunity — selling me on an agency called Leonard/Monahan to replace this guy named David Lubars who recently left. In truth, I knew exactly who they were. I was just a copywriter, not a creative director; but this job was to be a partner and CD of the whole thing, skipping over 5-10 years of career. Michael, with his eye for up and coming talent, somehow sold them on seeing me. Then he walked us all through the process of hiring a completely green but enormously ambitious creative person into a new level of career at one of the best small agencies in the country. I owe a lot to that first phone call and all his calls thereafter. I thank Michael every day for making it.”

— David Baldwin, Founder, Baldwin&

"Michael's incredible height has no ceiling when it comes to basketball and advertising — two of my favorite passions. It is no wonder that he found a home in both of them as well. The lives that he has impacted both on and off the court are a testament to his character and unbridled passion to making great things happen. Our conversations throughout the years have always left me feeling inspired about our business and the untapped potential of it all. He always makes you feel like you are part of something so much bigger. This book is a treasure trove of industry knowledge, truth and empathy."

— David Angelo, Founder and Creative Chairman of David&Goliath

"When I arrived at Holy Cross, 'Coach Palms' was an assistant coach who could still really play, and regularly beat my ass in full court one-on-ones. But he would then spend hours with me, critically breaking down my game, and detail what I had to do to actually be successful. These weren’t “rah rah try harder” BS speeches, they were intricate perspectives as to what I actually had to change, develop and refine to be an impact player. He instilled in me a mentality of “Fuck it, you’re as good or better as any of these guys you are playing against.” Yep, it’s that humble swagger that I most appreciate, and Palms’ success and aperture while impressive, is a reflection of a work ethic and unique insight that make our hoops/biz community a more vibrant cosmos!”

— Jim McCaffrey, former Holy Cross player and Member of New England Basketball Hall of Fame

"Mike's journey reminds me of the very significant role athletics can play in someone's life. His transition from a young Iona player when I first met him to a successful executive showcases the skills that can be linked between two different career paths. Walk with a Humble Swagger illustrates a great life lesson, told eloquently by Mike."

— Linda Bruno, President of Bruno Sports Enterprises and Former Commissioner of the Atlantic 10 Conference

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Excerpt from the introduction

I thought about publishing this book about ten years ago. But it felt premature and undercooked. I felt like I was too young to release a collection of essays like this. It’s like wearing a bow tie. You have to be old to wear a bow tie, or you’ll look like a dork. Business books are that way for me.

Walk With a Humble Swagger is allegorical. The journey itself is both literal and a metaphor.

This is a different kind of book. There are lots of basketball books written by and about coaches and players much better than I ever was. Of all those, I was most influenced by Life On the Run by Bill Bradley.

And there are a lot of advertising books about the industry and New Business. I was greatly influenced by Cleve Langton’s New Business Lessons from Madison Avenue.

Safe to say, neither of those books are Bildungsromans.

But there are no hybrid basketball/advertising books. Until now.