Lessons in Entrepreneurship from "The Captain"
We can learn a lot from the storied career of Derek Jeter about life both on and off the field. He was a true example of consistency staying with the same team for 20 years. He was a true philanthropist working with countless organizations to better the lives of those around him. An all around great example of an person. While all of that is amazing, we can also learn quite a bit more about being Founder and starting a business from the way Jeter carried himself during his career.
- 1. BE FANATICAL: The New York Times recently reported that when Jeter takes his cleats off for the last time as a Major League Baseball player he will have taking over 340,000 swings of the bat. That means that he cared so much about getting his swing right that he practiced every chance he got. He forced himself to separate himself from those around him by getting better. Jeter was fanatical about his swing and you have to be about starting a business. I once sat with an entrepreneur who was starting a cupcake business. She spent everyday for a year practicing recipes in order to get it just right. Like Jeter you have to find what separates you from your competition and practice it over and over in order to get it right. Do not be afraid to change or alter the model if it isn’t working. Jeter has said that over his 20 years he made minor changes to his swing in order to stay relevant as a consistent hitter. You have to do the same to stay relevant as a business.
- 2. BE AUTHENTIC: Jeter never acted like anything or anyone other than Derek Jeter. He wasn’t flashy, he did not blast his life in the public eye and when he wanted something he went out and got it. Think about that as you start your business. A great founder starts successful businesses and a successful business is ran by a great leader. Jeter was a great leader. They are authentic at all times. Your co-founders and first employees should see the same person they do in the office as your family does at home. Number 2 commanded respect because he was authentic in everything he did. Do the same for your business. No one cares if you have a million dollar idea if you are an unatuhentic.
- 3. BE HUMBLE: Jeter made it 20 years with the same team in the MLB because he was humble. Yea, he stayed for the most part healthy but I will argue he stayed focused because he was humble. Try to count on one hand the times you remember a Jeter outburst. Hard, Right? As you embark on your business stay humble. Remember to thank those mentors and supporters from the days when you had nothing but your name and an idea. Jeter was humble because Jeter was about his family, fans and the Yankees. He put others before him. When you start your business you need to be about your customers, employees and supporters.
If you can implement these three things you are well on your way to being a successful founder and the by-product will be a great business. Also thank Jeter for me if you see him walking around NYC.