Once upon a time I played a little baseball. Despite this rather innocuous beginning to my career, for the past 35 years I have been building startup software companies in The Valley. The surprising part is just how similar the two experiences are, especially around success and failure.
Hear me out.
Growing up in the Bay Area made it quite logical for one of my childhood baseball heroes to be Willie Mays. Willie once said, “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without 100% dedication, you won’t be able to do this.” Find me one accomplished Silicon Valley entrepreneur that isn’t just as dedicated to their idea and has not endured countless hours of criticism (primarily from VC’s) yet they have still prevailed. My point is this: the attributes that make someone successful are shared whether you are an entrepreneur, a baseball player or in any other field for that matter. You must be passionate and you must be “all in”!
Another significant similarity between baseball and The Valley is the value of a team. For years I have watched teams made up of some truly amazing athletes never win a championship. Even Willie Mays, arguably the greatest baseball player ever, won only one championship and that was at the beginning of his career. Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Ken Griffey Jr., other gifted athletes, never won championships. Yet in 2010, a hapless group of baseball castaways with a few extremely talented pitchers pulled it all together to win Baseball’s Championship for the San Francisco Giants.
What made that group different then the more talented teams that failed before them? It’s the team. A group of people that share a responsibility toward achieving a common goal is greater then a single person with a personal agenda every time. And that’s true in the Silicon Valley as well. Sales people generally do not write code. Engineers generally don’t sell. And none of these people want to count revenue and or market the products. It takes a village to be successful in The Valley, and the more focused each person is in achieving the common goal, the greater the success.
Baseball and The Valley have defined my life. Passion, dedication and team have made my life rewarding so far.
Now let’s play ball!
About the Author
As CEO of SOASTA, Tom brings more than 30 years of experience building early stage software companies, leading two companies to successful IPOs. Tom is a regular speaker at both cloud and testing events, and has become a leading advocate in using the cloud to empower individuals and accelerate changes in how applications are built, tested and deployed. Most recently, Tom served as President and CEO of Kenamea. Prior to Kenamea, he was CEO of Dorado Corp., a financial services software provider. Previous to Dorado, he was EVP of Sagent Technology through its 1999 IPO, entrepreneur-in-residence at Crosspoint Venture Partners, and held executive positions at Digitalk Corp., Knowledgeware (KWI) and Encore Financial Services. Tom also serves on several boards in the Silicon Valley.