This past Sunday's game was one for the record books, in almost every way imaginable. It was the first overtime Super Bowl. The first comeback of more than 10 points. The first quarterback to ever win five rings. All in all, if you went to bed early, you missed out on what will perhaps go down as one of the most electrifying games in sports history.
But, although the game was a nail-biter to the very end, what struck me the most was what the Patriots represented - not as a football team, but as a business. To that end, here are three lessons in entrepreneurship from Tom Brady's 5th Super Bowl win:
1. Rely on strategy, not emotion
There was no denying that the Falcons came out with their wings outstretched and ready for action. You could see their passion and feel their self-confidence, and they had every right to feel the way they did.
But, by comparison, the Patriots seemed largely flat in the passion department, and at times it seemed like none of the players cared about the game at all. Instead, there was a methodical nature to their sixty minutes of game time, as if they had already written out the plan and were nonchalantly connecting the dots. Series after series, they didn't get depressed or disappointed or fired up; they simply kept trotting onto the field and executing the plan.
And, in the end, their methodical strategy paid off as Atlanta ultimately couldn't sustain its riotous war-cry for five quarters. By comparison, it's been tough to sustain a high spirit through my company's ups and downs, but now I, too, have learned that slow-and-steady can be a better way to achieve success in the long-run.
2. Persist through all odds
Even I, a diehard Patriots fan having grown up on Boston's south shore, said the game was over in the 3rd quarter. I admit it: I lost faith.
But, the Patriots never did. When asked if there was panic in the locker room at halftime, most of the Patriots interviewed didn't even understand the question. Instead, they shook their heads with incredulity that someone would even think to panic when Tom Brady is at the helm. Tom himself said, "you know, half time I'd say we weren't down at all." In Tom's last two Super Bowl wins, the game has come down to the last few seconds, proving that we must persist until the absolute and bitter end if we expect to win.
Similarly, it breaks my heart whenever I hear an entrepreneur beginning to waver as times get tough. Those instances remind me that entrepreneurship isn't for everyone; it takes an enormous amount of tenacity to persist even when it seems like there's simply no hope.
3. Win or lose, do it with grace
The most interesting part of Super Bowl 51 was that even anti-Patriots sports writers were hoping for the moment when Roger Goodell would have to fork over the Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. And while Robert Kraft took his shot at Goodell by alluding to what had "transpired over the last two years," Tom took the high road at every turn, smiling and shaking the commissioner's hand for good measure. We've seen from his consistent behavior that Tom would have taken that very same road, even if he had lost to Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
The high road is the road he's paved for almost two decades as he's built his reputation - not as a football player, but as a human being. Love him or hate him - and most fall neatly into one of those two categories - Tom's grace is a compelling trait for a brilliant leader. Warren Buffett agrees, as he's famously said, "We can afford to lose money - even a lot of money. But we can't afford to lose reputation - even a shred of reputation."
Sure, the Patriots are a football team. But they're also a thriving business franchise that has increased in value by a whopping 633%, while the average franchise value has only increased by 453%. Thus, under the leadership of Brady and his greatest-of-all-time coach, the Patriots have shown us three essential business lessons about what it takes to sustain a high level of achievement. As an entrepreneur, it's reassuring to know that success comes down to the simple pillars of strategy, persistence and reputation.
Of course, it also helps to maintain an unwavering belief in achieving the impossible - just like 5-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Tom Brady.