What can we learn about entrepreneurship from Bill Belichick?
Welcome to the very first installment in my new series — “Legendary Lessons”.
In this series, I’m going to pull stories from the lives of legendary individuals and apply them to the world of entrepreneurship.
With the NFL playoffs underway right now, my first legendary lesson come from the life of New England Patriot coach Bill Belichick.
In 1975 Belichick was 23. He had just graduated from university and wanted to find a place in football. One of his college coaches, Herb Kenny, put in a good word with Ted Marchibroda, the head coach of the Baltimore Colts.
In his 2018 book, “Belichick,” Ian O’Connor recounts,
Herb Kenny recalls: “I called him and I said, ‘Ted, I’ve got a kid who’s really thorough and I think he’d be good for you.’ Ted said, ‘Coach, I don’t have anything, but I could use a person to break down film . . . I don’t have any money. I’ll try to do the best I can for him.’”
Bill Belichick interviewed with Marchibroda and told him he wanted to work 14, 16 hours a day, and that he’d do anything his boss asked of him. … Marchibroda thought the kid sounded sincere enough and took him up on it.
“I got three meals, a bed, and a lot of football,” Belichick said, “and that was all I really wanted at that time.”
And just like that, Bill Belichick had landed his first coaching job.
Belichick, for zero pay, chauffeured the coaches, helped with special teams, ran the scout team, endlessly worked the Xerox machine, and spent countless hours analyzing game film. He thought he had the best unpaid job in the world.
After a few weeks, the Colts general manager offered to pay him $25 a week, or $21.22 after taxes. Even in 1975, this was a minuscule amount.
What lesson can an entrepreneur learn from Bill Belichick’s first “coaching” job?
Do whatever you need to get your foot in the door. Want to open a hotel, take any job you can get in a hotel. Want to build a real estate empire, find a realtor to mentor. Want to work in sports, volunteer at every sporting event you can find. Then once you’re in, work your ass off.
Belichick saw these menial tasks as a blessing instead of a burden. He used this opportunity to listen and learn from those that were already doing what he wanted to do. In entrepreneurship, we often talk about the need for an apprenticeship period. A time to learn, develop your skills, and build a network before you take the big risk of starting your own business. Belichick understood this. He took $25 a week and worked 14 hours a day because he knew he had so much to learn. To their peril, too many entrepreneurs want to skip past this part and jump right into being a millionaire.
In 2021, at $12.5 million dollars per year, Bill Belichick was the highest-paid NFL Head Coach of all time. Slightly better than $25 per week.
Bill Belichick is absolutely a legend.
~~ Friends, thank you for reading