What entrepreneurs can learn from Peyton Manning


Peyton Manning’s career with the Colts ended today – and though I’ve never been a fan of the Colts, I always admired Manning’s professionalism and positive attitude.

As an example, when Manning was a rookie, a reporter asked him what he was going to do with all the money he was just awarded in his contract, to which Manning said, “Earn it”.  <– bad ass

As for his perspective on playing football: Manning said that he tried to remember that we are not promised tomorrow, that it can all be taken away at any time.  He said that he tried never to take anything for granted and to appreciate each day.

To me, this situation with Manning offers a lot for entrepreneurs to learn from:

1) How to handle yourself in a tough situation with grace and class (see Peyton Manning’s goodbye speech where he thanks Colts owner Jim Irsay despite all the awkwardness of the final months of his Colts career)

2) How to appreciate all the positive in a situation: recognize the incredible opportunities you’ve had to follow your dreams, even if things don’t necessarily all work exactly as you had planned

3) Recognize that you are not guaranteed anything as a startup founder, early employee, or CEO.  You have to earn it every day, and guard your integrity and reputation fiercely even after you are gone. Manning didn’t want to burn any bridges on the way out. He went out with his head held up high and he thanked everyone in such a gracious fashion

4) Appreciate and celebrate past accomplishments, but realize that the reality of the business world is that the models of the future do not necessariy fit in the containers of the past (via @rishad)

Reaction to Manning getting released was swift and wide ranging: One comment that I found interesting was from the Detroit Lions’ Chris Harris on Twitter: “Peyton’s release puts things in perspective…….if Peyton can get released, WE ALL CAN GET RELEASED!!!!!” 

I try to constantly remind myself that I as CEO can be fired at any time by a company’s board. Anyone can be fired – that’s what we sign up for.  I try to keep this in mind because really, it’s about not letting yourself get complacent about your place in the world.  If we are not moving forward, then we’re not really moving. Manning is moving on – I wish him well as he moves forward.


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