Athlete to CEO: The Drive to Succeed Never Stops

By Tom Ottaiano, CEO, Today’s Business

From Athlete to CEO.

From a young age, I learned what it meant to be disciplined. My first experience with any kind of sport was when I was five years old and my dad took me to karate five days a week. From there I branched out into sports such as wrestling and football. While I was a natural at wrestling, in order to make an impression on the gridiron I really had to give the sport all I had in me.

My work ethic as an athlete really paid off when I attended Hofstra University. Unlike many other student athletes, I wasn’t recruited by tons of schools while in high school. I walked on at Hofstra University and earned a scholarship after my first year. I played in over 43 Division 1 games and started in 36 as an offensive lineman. When it came to football, I had to work for it. I was never given anything and that is what drove me to push through and win games.

I always had the insatiable drive to succeed both on and off the field and I carried that into starting a business and running it as a CEO. I wouldn’t be in the position that I am today if I wasn’t an athlete first. There is an unmistakable interconnectedness between playing sports and having an entrepreneurial drive. According to CoachUp Nation, 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs were athletes at some point in their lives. That statistic speaks for itself. If you want to be a boss one day, embrace your inner athlete.

Teamwork Over Everything.

Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” He was absolutely right.

One of the greatest assets that a company can have is a great team, which is something that we have here at Today’s Business. Every single person plays an important role in every aspect of what we do here. Effective collaboration is what gets drives successful results.

When we started Today’s Business, we looked back at the best coaches we had and utilized aspects of their mentorship to cultivate a work environment that would motivate and inspire teamwork. We try to example all of our team meetings similar to how they were in football. There’s a reason we call ourselves the #TBTEAM.

Strategize Your Goals.

Preparation and execution in business is similar to the football field. Athletes have the innate ability to strategize whether they realize it or not. Strategy is ultimately the piece of the puzzle that’s going to help you achieve your goals.

I can attribute my ability to look at things from a wide perspective and make effective business decisions to my history as a smart player on the football field. Every play is different from the next and you need to be able to measure both offense and defense.

In order to start seeing success in your work and personal life, you have to know what play is next and how you’re going to execute. You can’t take the next step forward in your career if you don’t even know where you’re standing now.

Having the mindset of an athlete in the business world means assessing every angle of the game and determining what needs to be done now in order to get to the next level.

Get Motivated: You Have To Want It.

Before I would even set foot on the football field, I would visualize blocking for that game-winning touchdown. I would have the exact picture in my head of how every play was going to turn out. Whatever you’ve been training for or working towards, you have to have the attitude that you’re going to win. If you have the vision you’re going to achieve victory, it’s not a matter of “if.” It’s a matter of when.

The grind isn’t going to be fun. It isn’t going to be easy. But once you find that motivation, no one can get in your way. Now is the time to channel your inner athlete and start chasing down whatever it is that’s going to get you to that next level.

Get comfortable with competition and stop letting your fears get in the way. Just like on the field, success is not going to chase you. It’s your job to go get it.