Keith Cowing

Keith Cowing

Product guy. Entrepreneur.
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Why Tom Brady Would be a Great Startup CEO

November 23, 2009

I just watched the Patriots put on a solid performance against the Jets. It reminded me why Tom Brady would make a great startup CEO. I’m thankful that he’s playing football instead of running a business. But I think he’d excel at that as well. Here’s why:

He’s Calm Under Pressure: There’s a reason why Mark Sanchez threw four interceptions while Tom Brady went 28 for 41 without a single pick. Sanchez was jittery in the pocket and let the blitz force bad decisions. Tom Brady stayed poised and faced the pressure without losing his rhythm. Just like football, startup life is chaotic and stressful. It’s the unshakable CEO’s who come out with great companies.

He’s Resilient: Brady is coming back from an injury last year and a painful loss last week. But every time he gets hit, he jumps back to his feet and battles again. That’s the same dogged persistence you’ll find in successful entrepreneurs.

His Team Believes in Him: Every week Brady earns credibility and respect from his teammates. There is no question who the leader is. No matter the pressure, his players look him in the eye and know that he’ll pull the team together. That’s the quality of a great quarterback as well as a great CEO.

He Takes Responsibility: Last week Belichick took some heat for his 4th down call. But Brady wouldn’t pass the blame. He said it was the right call and they simply didn’t pull it off. He would never use his teammates or coaches as an escape goat. Startup CEO’s who take responsibility for failures build loyalty among their troops.

He Gets the Ball to the Right Player: Brady knows his strengths, his weaknesses, and his team. He doesn’t try to run for 100 yards or shoot for the highlight reel. He just gets the ball to the right person at the right time. That’s the secret to the Patriots’ offense. That’s also the secret to running a business. The CEO is not a micromanager, but an enabler. The CEO is a quarterback who builds a team, commands the huddle, and gets the ball to the right person to finish the play.

He Executes: In Summary, Brady gets the job done. He isn’t physically imposing or intimidating, even on a high school field. But he’s got a laser focus, a great arm, a tremendous work ethic, and the rare ability to rally a team of athletes. His calm demeanor makes him seem approachable and humble. Yet opponents fear his execution, decisionmaking, and ferocious competitive spirit.

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