7 Pearls of Wisdom from Marshawn Lynch for Startups & Entrepreneurs

July 2, 2016


Sports and business have a lot of parallels between one another. When we are shuffling off to work in the morning, we might not fancy ourselves as a superstar athlete, but we are a lot closer to our favorite sports players than we may think. After all, we are both a part of a team that competes against others, we both have to deal with wins and loses, and, perhaps most importantly, we both go to work each day with the unwavering belief and drive to be successful and do whatever it takes to win.

Arguably, no professional athlete understood the relationship between business and the gridiron more than former Seattle Seahawks running back and Super Bowl XLVIII champion, Marshawn Lynch. His “get far quick, fast” mentality and “Beast Mode” attitude towards playing captivated football fans during his career, especially during the Seahawks run to Super Bowl Champion glory, in 2013.

Throughout his playing career, Lynch gave some great interviews, both on the field and off. Many of these talks were home to some truly inspiring pearls of wisdom that expressed the drive, determination and the attitude that anyone needs to succeed, whether they are a football star or budding entrepreneur.

Here are 7 times that Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch showed the world why we should all be going Beast Mode when running our companies.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #1: “Just be about that action, boss…You want something, you go get it; ain’t no need to talk about it.”

This is all about hard work and dedication. “I ain’t never seen no talking win me nothing.” Sometimes we talk a bigger game than our performance shows. It is easy to talk about where our company is headed and what strategies we plan to do. In other words, It is one thing to plan and an entirely different animal to put your head down and work to achieve all of the objectives of that plan.

While planning is vital to success, Marshawn understood that the only way to get anything done is to “be about that action” and go out and do it. If you want to talk about your plans, talk about them when you have put in the hard work and made them come to fruition; talk about them when you are standing in the end zone with a touchdown.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #2: “Thrift Mode”

Not only were Marshawn Lynch’s words powerful, but so have his actions been. Many professional athletes make poor investments and spend too lavishly, without planning for the future. As a result, a surprising number of these pro athletes eventually file for bankruptcy down the road. Lynch, on the other hand, has done the opposite.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport was the first to coin the name “Thrift Mode,” as a play on Beast Mode, in response to the news that, throughout his playing career, Marshawn did not touch a single cent of his actual playing money. Instead, he was very safe and got by on money from his endorsements.

When everyone was blowing money, Lynch was being careful, calculative and most of all, frugal. Saving money is always important; it is the lifeblood of any company. If you are too cavalier with it and your burn rate is too high, then you will not have enough to make it through the second half and continue barreling through the competition’s defensive line like Marshawn.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #3: “If you just run through somebody’s face, a lot of people aren’t going to be able to take that over and over and over and over and over….and over and over (etc.)”

There is not much up to debate about what Marshawn Lynch’s game plan was or what his secret to success was. He ran the ball; he ran the ball “over and over and over and over and over.” This Lynch-ism hints at two key things that any entrepreneurs should take to heart.

The first: resiliency. If you keep pushing and pushing and pushing, then eventually something is going to give and you are going to force your way through whatever is in your way, whether it is the defense, the competition or another kind of impediment (sometimes the thing that is in our way the most is ourselves).

The second takeaway is especially important for new, startup companies: focus on being good at one thing. Too many companies try and do everything at once. While they may offer more, they do so at a lower quality. Just focus on one thing, one strategy and then do it over and over and over again. Do it so much that you are the very best at it. Then, you can run through the face of any competitor trying to do the same thing, but without the same level of focus as you.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #4: “I’m thankful.”

In one of his more famous postgame, locker-room interviews, Marshawn Lynch replied to every reporter’s question with simply, “I’m thankful.” This was a common tactic of Marshawn because he loathed interviews (refer to Marshawn Lynch-ism #1: “Just be about that action, boss… You want something, you go get it; ain’t no need to talk about it”). However, there is an argument to be made that this is not Marshawn being defiant to the NFL’s rules dictating that a player has to talk to the media, but rather Marshawn being humble and focused.

Rather than getting bogged down in these postgame questions, Lynch chose to subtly express how he was thankful for the opportunity, for the position, for his career, for his teammates and so on. CEOs, entrepreneurs, small business owners and the likes are highly susceptible to being bogged down in their own questions, or the questions of shareholders. “Why are profits not higher?” “Why is the competition outperforming us?” ”Why am I not more successful?”

These are all valid and important questions that have to be addressed. But, don’t forget to take a step back, from time to time, and be thankful for the situation you are in. You have the opportunity to do something really, really special with your life; an opportunity to work for your own company, start something out of nothing and create a business the way you have always dreamed.

Be thankful, be humble and remember where you came from.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #5: “I feel like on that field, there’s no reason why I can’t run through you. I know I’m going to get got, but I’m going to get mine more than I get got, though.”

Running a company, without ever facing a failure or a downturn, is impossible; businesses have valleys and peaks, ups and downs. What separates a good CEO or entrepreneur from a great one is the ability to bounce back from failures and continue marching down the field. It is vital to have the unwavering belief that you and your team will make things work.

Some of the greatest moments in sports history have been a result of a comeback. When it is late in the game, you are down on the scoreboard and it seems all but lost, it is up to you, and you alone, to have the tenacity to rally your team with that unshakeable belief that victory is possible —that victory is within reach.

Every once in awhile, you may “get got”. But remember, even two steps up and one step back is still progress. Determination is never more important than when you are in a valley and need to climb out. So, make that comeback and get that W.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #6: “They’re going to have to stop all of us. You feel me? I’m a piece to it, but we’ve got some dogs.”

While it was no secret that Marshawn was one of the leading forces on the Seattle Seahawks, he understood that every cog was important to making the machine run. He knew he could rely on his teammates, if he was being shut down. After all, isn’t that the point of teammates?

Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, we forget how vital our staff is. We try and put more on our plate because of the inclination that we know better and perform better than our own employees. This is a great strategy towards devaluing the team and thereby lowering employee retention rates and overall satisfaction.

It is not easy to put our trust in others, especially when it comes to your baby, your company, but as a CEO it is important to believe in your team to get the job down. Ultimately, it will be them that will carry the company through its hardest times.

Marshawn Lynch-ism #7: “I don’t know what’s in store for me. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Arguably, focus was the cornerstone of Marshawn Lynch’s success. He focused on a singular course of action, he focused on the game and not the noise and he focused on today. Tomorrow can bring anything and speculating on the possibilities of tomorrow is as fruitless as talking about a plan that you never act upon.

If you spend too much time thinking about tomorrow, you will miss the opportunities of today Moreover, you won’t have the time or ability to maximize today’s chances to their fullest. Some of the opportunities of today include resting, relaxing and recharging those batteries. Too often do we torment ourselves with the unknowns of tomorrow.

A week before his Super Bowl XLVIII glory, Marshawn explained just how he would prepare for the Big Game, “Just kick back. Game time, though, I’ll be there.” Instead of worrying about tomorrow, maximize today. After all, there’s nothing you can do about tomorrow, except kick back and wait for it to come.


Wait, what are you still doing here? Didn’t Marshawn Lynch teach you anything? Be thankful for the advice, turn on that Thrift Mode and go be about that action, boss. In no time at all, you and your team will be running through the competition’s face, while making the most out of today’s opportunities and getting more than you get got.

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