Sometimes, There Is An “I” In Team

How being a lifelong athlete has impacted my life and career.

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.
HalGatewood.com/ Unsplash
HalGatewood.com/ Unsplash

As a lifelong athlete, sports have always played a large role in my identity and outlook. In high school, my athletic identity was defined by my role as a soccer player. In college, my athletic identity was tied closely to being a distance runner. Both taught me two very distinct, but invaluable lessons that I still draw on today.

Running is an individual sport, with a small and varying dose of team. Soccer is mostly a team sport, where you win together and lose together. As a venture capitalist, I have observed that investing is generally an individual sport with a loose team construct, like running, but is infinitely more effective and rewarding when approached like soccer.  

What I learned from running was personal accountability and the complete absence of excuses. I ran mainly the 1,500 meter, the 3,000 meter, and cross-country. After the sound of the starting pistol, it was just me, alone on the track, until I crossed the finish line. Time is ruthlessly accurate and unforgiving, and I couldn’t deflect any attention or criticism elsewhere as long as I was running solo on the track. 

What I learned from soccer was a complete team orientation. It didn’t matter whether I had a particularly good or bad game. Instead what mattered was whether the team came together and delivered. 

Venture firms are a great mix of the individual and the team. Of course, your mileage may vary, and some firms will feel more team-oriented, while others may be more distributed. But no matter how team-oriented the culture is, most venture capital partnerships will defer to a point-person or a company-lead. The decision of whether or not to invest ultimately lands on one person who lays awake at night ruminating. 

If I take anything from the investing greats – the likes of the late David Swenson, Howard Marks –  when considering how to generate outstanding returns, it is this: It is easier to follow the general consensus and secure a big win. It is more difficult, but more rewarding, to make a decision contrary to popular opinion. My partner, Tom Loverro, achieved this with his investment in Coinbase in 2017, investing when he was non-consensus to the point of nausea the night prior to funding. It can be lonely, but I remind myself to embrace individuality and feel confident without the warmth of the huddle.   

And this may explain why I love my work — it combines the individual and the team. We are able to grow and support one another as a partnership, but within that, I have room to run my own race.

Originally published on LinkedIn.com

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Community//

    Chris Helwick: “Born-again athlete”

    by Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated
    Sade Greenridge, VIS Advocate | Photographer Alan Strack, Light-reel.com
    Community//

    Meet the New Team Encouraging Female Athletes to Raise Their Voices

    by Illana Raia
    Community//

    The sports doctor with a difference – An exclusive interview with athlete Dr Danica Bonello Spiteri

    by Diana Cruz
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.