(Golf) Lessons for Founders


Xconomy National — 

I am fairly certain that I have yet to peak as a golfer, and equally confident that I never will.

As I’m on the verge of ignoring the golfing gods (and worshipping the startup gods) for yet another full summer, my confidence in the previous statement is growing. To appease the golfing gods, I used some time-tested golf maxims to convey the lessons (read boulders) that the startup gods have recently thrown at me.

My body is here, but my mind has teed off. (Unknown)

From the age of 10, when I first started playing golf, until I left for college, I spent the majority of my waking moments on a golf course or thinking about golf. If you are a founder, the best question you can ask yourself is: “Do I feel this way about my business?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have a chance to succeed. If not, I would start looking for your next move.

I don’t exaggerate—I just remember big. (Chi Chi Rodriguez)

Chi Chi was best known for waving his putter like a sword in celebration of every putt he made. He was one of the best showmen the game has ever known. As a result, he always had a huge gallery. Why? Because Chi Chi knew how to celebrate his accomplishments in an endearing way.

Knowing how to tout your company’s exploits in an endearing way is a vital challenge for entrepreneurs. We have all met the founders who have the world conquered. Nothing is a problem. They are “going to crush it.” When I meet founders like this, I immediately move to suspicion. I become more of an adversary than a fan. Conversely, there are those founders who we all root for. Their passion, like Chi Chi’s, is evident. Rather than trying to ram their success down your throat, they implicitly ask you to see how neat their product or service is. They build a fan base.

When I die, bury me on a golf course so my husband will visit. (Unknown)

I went to Summit Series in May, an unbelievable event, and had a chance to hear Mark Cuban and Ted Leonsis speak on balancing relationships with startups. I left thinking that both men are super impressive and equally insightful.

Mark Cuban stated, and perhaps the quote’s author would agree, that there is no room in a founder’s life for a relationship when launching a business. Ted Leonsis respectfully … Next Page »

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Matt Shapiro is the Author and Founder of the Entrepreneur’s Census (www.bit.ly/entrecensus) and the Chief Executive Officer of Tooble, a new educational software venture. Contact: matt.shapiro@yale.edu. Follow: @entrecensus Follow @

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8 responses to “(Golf) Lessons for Founders”

  1. Kris says:

    I agree with these comments and enjoyed this article. Is there a way to have a start-up and retain a scratch handicap at the same time? Please comment.

  2. Bob CrimminsBob Crimmins says:

    Well done… Nice par.

  3. Kris,
    I am sure to be “preaching to the choir”, but short game is probably the best thing to focus on if time is short. I read a great book by Stan Utley a few years back. Dr. Bob Rotella also has some good ones. Best of luck!

  4. Bob,
    Better than my usual score :). Sean at TechStars and Mark at Startup Weekend were both very helpful with the Entrepreneur’s Census. Two great organizations! Shoot me an email if you ever have time for a chat. matt.shapiro@yale.edu.

  5. Jordan says:


    Nice parallels. You really captured the whole experience from the many lows to the one high and what it’s like to take a relationship through the entire experience.

  6. Thanks Jordan!
    Let’s chat again soon.

  7. Jason says:

    Well done. Few more additions……As my high school golf coach used to tell me “Swing hard in case you hit it ” and you can always equate any success with “Drive for show…….etc”
    Talk soon.