5 Powerful lessons for Start-ups from Tom Brady  

5 Powerful lessons for Start-ups

Sunday night’s stunning victory by the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons was a real nail biter. At the end of the first half, I had been ready to call it quits and avoid the pain of watching my favorite hometown team get destroyed by Atlanta. Atlanta was ahead 21-3.

I missed Lady Gaga because I was sure the Pats were going to lose. My daughter however was the true fan and refused to leave the couch. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the score was 28-9. It was only in the beginning of the fourth quarter that I began to hear cheers coming out of the living room and I started to wonder if I had written off the team, my team, too fast.

And indeed I had. In the fourth quarter, Tom Brady executed phenomenal passing when he got the ball to Danny Amendola followed by a 2 point conversion to James White to bring the score to 28-20. Then Brady tied the game when he passed to James White for a touchdown pass and followed with a 2-point conversion from Danny Amendola. The first overtime ever and Patriots teammate James White ran for the deciding touchdown.

The emotional rollercoaster of this game made me think that there are some real and powerful lessons for startups that can be gleaned from the phenomenal play shown by Tom Brady and his teammates. For us in particular at OnPage, I think there are a lot of useful take home lessons about grit and persistence.

5 Lessons for Startups

  1. Stay Cool but Don’t Relax
  2. Don’t Let Failure Get in the Way of Success
  3. Believe in the Impossible
  4. Never Give Up
  5. Maintain Your Humility

Lesson 1: Stay Cool but Don’t Relax

This is actually a lesson that pertains to both Brady and Matt Ryan.

Alex Mack of Atlanta said, “You’ve got to be able to finish, and it’s an unfortunate lesson to have to learn.” Atlanta practically had the game in hand. But, they got tired and couldn’t maintain their focus after the 3rd quarter.  Atlanta just couldn’t finish what they started. They relaxed the pressure on New England and lost their edge. And that was just the opening that New England needed.

At the same time, Brady and the Patriots could have let their dismal performance through the first half bring them down and let them think that they didn’t deserve to win the Superbowl. But, Brady didn’t lose his cool or his focus. As teammate Danny Amendola said, “He was the same as he always is: cool, calm and collected.” With that focus and persistence, the Pats were able to overcome what seemed like an insurmountable lead by Atlanta.

Lesson 2: Don’t let failure get in the way of success

One of the reasons Brady was able to keep his team focused was by telling them to keep their mind in the game. ‘Keep fighting’ he told his teammates. The Pat’s failure to get momentum going on the field during the first half could have stopped them from feeling like they had a chance of winning. Their first four drives included a sack of Tom Brady and a fumble.

However, the Pats just kept up the pressure on the Atlanta defense. The Pats stayed focused on their goal and didn’t let the Falcon’s interception of Brady’s throw stop them from staying focused and on course.

Lesson 3: Believe in the impossible

Some thought that since there had never been a team that won after being down by more than 10 points during the Superbowl, the Patriots couldn’t win after they were at 21-3 after the first half. Some also thought that since there had never been an overtime in a Superbowl game, there couldn’t be an overtime in this game.

But ‘never before’ doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. It just means it hasn’t happened yet.

Brady and team showed that the latter was true. It just hadn’t happened yet. Brady and company’s amazing focus and determination were second to none Sunday night. They just kept on believing in themselves and in their ability to win.

Lesson 4: NEVER Give UP

Which brings me to the fourth of the lessons for startups. NEVER GIVE UP. Simply put, the Pats never gave up. They didn’t give up when they were down by 18 points at the half. They didn’t give up when they had to make up 19 points in the 4th quarter. They didn’t give up in overtime. They persisted and persisted and never gave up until they won.

Lesson 5: Maintain your humility

This last lesson isn’t one that doesn’t get discussed enough in lessons on start-ups. There’s a fair amount of braggadocio in sports and in the start-up world. Brady never speaks as one who believes he deserves all the credit or as if he is the GOAT. Instead, he always credits his team and his coaches and hard work. He never credits his own brilliance or superior strength. Instead, he maintains his humility.

For start-ups, humility is an important ingredient. Humility is what allows start-up leaders to realize that just because they have seen some success, they are never done learning.  Startups always need to be ready to take criticism, change and move forward.


Start-ups don’t have a Super Bowl to prove their success. Instead, success is shown through growing the business, being acquired or going public or some combination of those three. We hope you enjoyed these lessons for startups from Brady and company.