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'Doctor' Shaq's Rx for Business: Humor

Friday, 4 May 2012 | 2:39 PM ET

He won't be a doctor until Saturday but that's not stopping basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal from prescribing humor for today's business executive.

O'Neal told CNBC on Friday he talked to a lot of business executives for his doctoral thesis on "The Duality of Humor and Seriousness in Leadership Styles." Big names like former CEO Roger Enrico of Pepsico , Steve Jobs of Appleand Howard Schulz of Starbucks .

Shaquille O'Neal, PhD, Speaks on his Doctorate
NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal has four championships under his belt, and now will add the title "Doctor" to his name after 4 1/2 years of studying at Barry University in Miama, Florida, with CNBC's Scott Wapner.

O'Neal said he learned there is no one style of leadership, and executives "have to modulate between humor and being serious. ... You have to know when and how to use your humor."

One person who knows how to use humor is Mickey Arison, owner of the Miami Heat and CEO of Carnival , the cruise line. O'Neal got to know Arison when he played for the Heat as part of a 19-year National Basketball Association career that included the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. He retired from pro basketball last year.

"I'd say 90 percent of his style is humor," O'Neal said. "He's a fabulous leader."

O'Neal spent five years getting his doctorate from Barry University in Florida — he receives his sheepskin on Saturday — but he spent five seconds thinking about his picks for the NBA finals: Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs.

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