Ask smart people lots of questions.
That's what Maverick Carter, the longtime friend and business manager of basketball superstar LeBron James, would tell his 22-year-old self.
"I always tell young people: When you meet someone successful, ask them as many questions as you can," said Carter, who is now 34, in an interview with CNBC. "Because there's nothing more successful people love — nothing more — than talking about their successes, and you can learn a lot in that."
To be sure, Carter, who grew up with James in Akron, Ohio, is successful in his own right. He's handled the business negotiations for King James off the court, most recently securing a $1 billion deal for James with Nike. Carter and James met when Carter was 8 and James was just 5. They have been officially working together for more than a decade.
Asking successful people questions has two benefits, said Carter: You learn from them, and you also ingratiate yourself to them.
"I use that in every single facet of my life, every single day," he said. "When you ask people questions about what they've done, not only do you get knowledge, but they like you because people like to be asked questions about what they've done and talk to someone who's interested in them."
Carter learned to be curious from his father. "In my day-to-day life, I did learn to be passionately curious from my dad and always search and have a hunger for knowledge and want to understand why things work the way they do," he said.
He is also inspired by an Albert Einstein quote that he keeps top of mind. "I once read a quote from Albert Einstein, who most people consider probably the smartest human being to ever walk the earth, and it said, 'I have no special talent, I'm only passionately curious.'"
Carter, who runs the media company SpringHill Entertainment and is executive producing the CNBC reality business show "Cleveland Hustles" with James, said he is particularly curious about the media and content space right now.
"I turn to people who've been successful running networks, building production companies, building music companies, and people who have done it, and I ask them about their successes," he said. "And you will see them light up and give you all the information you need."