Startup Lessons From The Greatest: Mariano Rivera

Startup Lessons From The Greatest: Mariano Rivera


mariano rivera

With the holidays providing some downtime and the New York sports teams performing at a comical level, I have had a lot more time to reflect on lessons in leadership and execution that can be found in sports and that are applicable to entrepreneurship.   A look at recently retired Yankee closer Mariana Rivera’s storied career presents some simple but very easy lessons that are extremely relevant to startups.

1.    Pivot

When recruited by the Yankee scouts in his native Panama, Mariano was an average shortstop – a far cry from where his talents truly lay. Mariano was then tested as a starting pitcher, then went back into relief, and then stuck to the closing role full time, and is now widely known as being “the greatest closer of all time.”

2.    Find your niche, do it well and repeat it.

Mariano built a career on his special pitch called “the cutter,” which is a fastball that increases in velocity as it thrown.   It took a little while for him to develop this pitch, which then never left his repertoire.  Similarly, startups need to figure out where their product/service offering fit in the grand scheme of things, figure out what they do well, and then do it well over and over again.

3.    Adapt, but don’t lose sight of the mission.

Mariano’s rise to stardom is a success story that we all like to admire.  He left his small village in Panama without speaking a word of English to become one of the highest paid players in baseball, and probably the highest paid, based on billable work hour.

Throughout this process, Mariano never lost touch with his roots, still maintains a close connection to his native Panama through numerous benevolent ventures, and even speaks publicly in his native tongue, despite the fact that he is now fluent in English, in order to maintain a close tie to his early fans, or in the case of startups “early adopters”.  While you may be pivoting from here to there, there should be a greater value proposition that you started your venture with, and that should always be a driving force. If you launched to make a better widget, make sure you are still making that better widget and adapting the ways in which you make that better widget.

4.    Maintain a laser-like focus.

Entrepreneurs need to remain focused on the big picture while handling the daily operational rigors.  This requires being ruthless with your time, as in this day and age, there is always some distraction being throwing at you. From an economic textbook perspective, look at the opportunity cost of your time.  Time is the one commodity that no one is getting back, unless the guys at Google really do figure out the fountain of youth.

While we may never see Mariano pitch again, the lessons of his career can easily be applied to your startup, life, and ventures perpetually. That’s the thing about legends: they tend to live on.

Image credit: dsovercash

About the author: Reza Chowdhury

Recognized as a global thought leader in the startup ecosystem, Reza Chowdhury offers more than 15 years experience in emerging technology, which he brings to AlleyWatch as CEO and Founder. Through the course of his career, Reza has had the privilege of working to drive businesses from conception to eventual exit by deploying the acumen gained in his previous roles. His latest professional endeavors have allowed him to work very closely with thriving global technology and startup ecosystem.

Reza is also the founder of New York Startup Lab, which brings technology and knowledge based solutions to the entrepreneurial community with a specific focus on early stage companies. He began his career as securities trader on Wall Street.

Reza is often a featured international speaker, moderator, and judge at numerous events on technology and global entrepreneurship and was a featured presenter at the first Facebook Developer Garage in NYC. Both Reza and the companies he has been involved with have received accolades and recognition from prominent organizations including the fbFund. Reza was has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in NYC Tech by TechWeek on several occasions and is a NYC Venture Fellow, a world-class, year-long fellowship program designed to help high-potential entrepreneurs scale their ventures.

Reza is also an advisor to SD Asia and Dublin Globe, two organizations that are fostering the growth of local entrepreneurial ecosystems as well as an Mentor to the Grameenphone Accelerator.

Reza holds an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Georgetown University and completed his bachelors in Economics at the University at Albany. Reza has also completed certification programs in Private Equity and Venture Capital at Oxford University as well as International Business at New York University.

If you are interested in having Reza Chowdhury speak or moderate at one of your events, please send an email with the details of your event. If you contact us at this email for any reason other than what’s stated above, your correspondence will invariably be deleted.

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