How to be like greatest American quarterback Tom Brady in your office
Image: Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Tom Brady — New England Patriots quarterback, committed vegan, teflon scandal shunner — is, let’s be clear, the ultimate professional.
ESPN Magazine published a long piece on Thursday about how Brady, who’s currently chasing his fifth Superbowl championship ring, is definitely human — despite his perfectly chiseled jaw line, his mostly tomato and fruit-free diet, and superman-like statistics.
The piece details that even though his life is marred by controversies — think Deflategate, gossip items about his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and seemingly endorsing Donald Trump for president — Brady has finally opened up to the press this season to reveal who the man, the myth, and the legend really is.
(Though, he hasn’t opened up too much: he didn’t seem to grant an on-the-record interview to ESPN, considering all of the Brady soundbites in the story are from interviews with other outlets.)
The story is filled with instructive gems, like a quote from one of Brady’s former NFL teammates who was granted anonymity just to say: “If you can’t look at what Brady’s done and appreciate and embrace who he is, then you’re missing what’s great about America.”
This is intriguing. If nothing else, we want to learn everything we can from the greatest American living.
But the real takeaway here is that human Tom Brady is a truly great career idol. You might have different career aspirations — and hey, you’ll likely never rake in $8 million a year for your ability to throw a ball — but you’d be making a mistake not to look to football’s golden boy for career advice.
Introducing the Tom Brady career advice guide, consisting entirely of quotes from the ESPN Magazine story, which will totally help you score
on the in your field.
Lesson #1: Find something that you truly love to do.
You’re never going to find success if you’re spending long hours at a job that doesn’t make you roar like Tom Brady during a Sunday night football game.
Tom Brady loves what he does so much that it’s physically impossible for any other human — including every other football player in America — to love football more passionately than Tom Brady.
“Here is what you need to understand: There is not a guy in the National Football League who loves football more than Tom Brady,” [Patriots wide receiver Matthew] Slater says. “And it’s not just that he loves going out on Sundays; he loves preparation, he loves taking care of his body, he loves meetings, he loves film, coaching other guys. He loves every bit of it. And that’s what drives him to be great.”
Tom Brady loves football so much that he actually vocalizes like the most noble animal on earth, ESPN reveals.
“As the referees huddled and eventually declared that Brady had not scored a touchdown, the quarterback jogged to the sideline, his temper close to a boil. The crowd, energized by what had just transpired, began chanting his name. Brady put his arm around New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and began roaring and shaking McDaniels’ neck like an agitated lion. He wanted New England to challenge the call.”
So, remember. If you do not love what you do as much as Tom Brady loves football — if you are not ready to roar about it — do something else.
Lesson #2: Find a job that makes you — and only you — happy.
Surely your parents, your significant other, or your boss might have their own plans about where you should end up, career-wise. But ultimately, the only thing that matters is that you find something that makes you — above everyone else — happy. And then find the way that you can get there. It’s a lesson Brady displays loud and clear, through a Jay Z verse no less, each week.
“Several years ago, long before the Deflategate investigation and his fourth Super Bowl victory, Brady made it part of his pregame ritual to run onto the field for warm-ups while Jay Z’s ‘Public Service Announcement’ blares from the speakers inside Gillette Stadium…Brady insists ‘Public Service Announcement’ has no grander meaning. Jay Z is just an artist he enjoys. But it’s natural to listen to the lyrics and wonder if the song’s interlude doesn’t resonate, now, on a deeper level.
Before I finish, let me just say
I did not come here to show out
Did not come here to impress you
Because to tell you the truth, when I leave here, I’m gone
And I do not care what you think about me.”
Tom Brady, in other words, DGAF. If you cannot accept yourself as the ultimate arbiter of what is good and right for your career, take a deep look inside and try to trust your instincts as much as Tom Brady does.
Lesson #3: Work hard to be the best.
If you want to get ahead in your career, work harder than everyone else. Like Tom Brady does. End of story.
“That’s why he obsesses over the simple fundamentals of playing catch, drilling for hours and hours in the offseason with guys like [Patriots’ wide receiver Julian] Edelman and former teammate Wes Welker on stuff as basic as ball position and splits.”
Have you absolutely mastered every single part of your job? Can you format a spreadsheet to the point of mystical perfection? Can you code like the Archangel Gabriel is watching over your keyboard? Is your mastery of words flawless enough that Shakespeare and Austen are your only equals? No? NO? Then work out every single skill until no one surpasses you.
Lesson #4: And keep working hard until you’ve actually accomplished your goals.
And even when you think you can’t work any harder, work harder. Be the maniacal competitor Tom Brady is — the gladiator Tom Brady believes you can be.
Case-in-point: Just when it seemed that the Patriots were poised to win the big game in the final minutes of last year’s Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks, Brady pushed harder until the clock had officially run down.
“The Patriots had to take the field and kneel down to make it official. After the first kneel, the Seahawks called a timeout. The Patriots would need to execute things one more time to officially put a bow on the victory. Several players began to hug, soaking up the enormity of the moment. When Brady saw this, he went bonkers, yanking his teammates back into the huddle, demanding they maintain their focus for one last play. He was taking nothing for granted. He didn’t care what anyone thought. He was going to be a maniacal competitor right to the very end.”
At your job, do you want to succeed? Then never give up. Tom Brady would never give up, so why should you?
Lesson #5: Stay self-aware about your weaknesses.
The only way you’ll truly improve is if you drop the ego and are honest with yourself about your flaws. No word on the size of Brady’s ego, but hegenuinely acknowledges that, despite his skill on the field, his flawless diet, his rapport with his teammates, his strong jaw and ideal looks and his supermodel wife, he isn’t perfect.
“What Ryan and others have never seemed to grasp, one of Brady’s former teammates explains, is that Brady has always been smart enough to accept that it’s impossible to know everything. That’s why he’s the best postseason quarterback of all time.”
Get that? Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL and he is not a know-it-all. When mapping your career, you shouldn’t be either.
Lesson #6: Present yourself well.
If you’re heading in for a job interview or a big board room presentation, it’s important to command the room. And no one knows how to do that better than Tom Brady, who apparently has more in common with John F. Kennedy than calling Boston home.
“Even when he is dressed in a lumpy Patriots sweatshirt and stocking cap, standing before a wall of cameras, Tom Brady manages to look regal. He is so guarded, so calm and Kennedy-esque as he listens, nods and then gracefully says nothing.”
Tom Brady, in other words, is a born aristocrat. When facing down career challenges and obstacles, pull yourself up to your greatest height, gather your dignity and respect, and — most importantly — stop talking. Listen more. Pay attention. Give off an air of regal attentiveness, as Tom Brady does.
Lesson #7: Don’t overthink it.
Overthinking and overanalyzing will only lead to disaster. Trust your skills and intuition. Brady knows all too well that thinking too hard will only strain his brain and hurt his game.
“A player can study film and look at 10,000 formations on an iPad for as many hours as the eyes and the brain will allow. But ultimately, the human mind is not a computer. Overthinking in tense moments, trying to decode a defense like it’s a sudoku puzzle, is the perfect recipe for hesitation and panic.”
Tom Brady collects information, but once that’s done, he doesn’t analyze it to death. Being the best —moving forward through the scrum of humanity — means developing good instincts. Tom Brady lets his instincts take over, and so should you.
Lesson #8: Make allies at work.
Tom Brady isn’t just technically skilled. He has social skills. Most people who made it to the top didn’t do it alone. So it’s important to find people at work to have in your corner (even better if your biggest work ally is the one with the office in the corner.)
It’s an art Brady has mastered well, since he’s apparently everyone’s favorite ridiculously handsome face to see hanging around the Patriots’ front office.
But since you’re not Tom Brady, you’ll probably have to try harder to make friends at work. ESPN describes how Brady puts people at ease.
“He refers to people as ‘babe’ and ‘bud’ when he wants them to feel comfortable. He remembers faces around the office, but not every name.”
This can work for you too. Be friendly, be accessible, and at least smile in recognition. People will think more kindly of you the next time you roar.
Lesson #9: Hire good people, and trust them to get the job done.
Say you’re a manager, or you’re just tasked with working with a group of colleagues on a big project. Don’t put all of the burden on yourself — instead, surround yourself with good, competent people, and trust that they’ll pick up their share of the slack.
“What Brady gets is that he’s the only guy who understands exactly what’s going on down on the field. So when [Patriots’ offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels calls a certain play, Brady is thinking: ‘I know exactly why he called that play. I know exactly what my read is on this.’ Brady’s genius is that he understands delegation. He trusts the people around him.”
Tom Brady is not a micromanager. He trains people well, gets communication down, then sets them free to do their best work. This will probably work for you too.
Lesson #10: Don’t let haters get to you.
Tom Brady has haters. Boy, does he have haters. There are at least hundreds of thousands of men around the country who, given the chance, would punch him in the face. Tom Brady is not alone in this. Anyone who seeks success is bound to have haters who will try to get in your way. But you can’t let them faze you. Keep doing your thing.
“Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, looking on from a few yards away, mocked Brady with a celebration of his own, punching the air and bobbing his head. Brady glanced at Kelce, acknowledging he had seen the gesture, but jogged away in a manner suggesting that lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep.”
Tom Brady doesn’t sweat small-time haters. He can burn people with a look. Learn to do that and not only will you have fewer damning, ranting emails to your credit, you will also save yourself a lot of time.
Lesson #11: Keep tabs on the competition.
Not all haters are small-time. Some of those haters might be competing with you for a big promotion. Let your rivals inspire you. Let them encourage you to be better.
For Brady, the only thing that stands in between him and the title of NFL golden boy is Denver Broncos legend and sometimes better-than-average Saturday Night Life host Peyton Manning. And though Brady sent some off-color emails that made fun of Manning’s age, Brady knows he needs to get better than Manning.
“What was more interesting about the texts, though, was the private acknowledgement from Brady that he, too, looks at Manning the way most of us do: as the comparative measuring stick of his career.”
Know how your competition is, and make sure they’re worthy of you. Only then will you be able to imitate even a portion of Tom Brady’s success.
Lesson #12: Find your zen.
Even if that criticism does get to you — even Tom Brady has emotions — it’s important to find a way to calm yourself down. Stress can easily derail success, so channel your inner zen master.
“He has always prided himself on his ability to achieve some version of Zen before he walks into news conferences, armor against any annoying question that might otherwise get under his skin. He has told friends, privately, that nothing offends him, that one of his favorite books is ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz, and it has taught him not to take anything personally.”
(In case you were wondering, the four agreements in Ruiz’s book are: 1) Be impeccable with your word, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Don’t make assumptions, and 4) Always do your best.)
Tom Brady is not always zen — see above, where Tom Brady is not perfect — but he is always trying to be zen. You should be too.
Lesson #13: Support the people who’ve helped you get to success.
Once you’re at the top, don’t burn your bridges — you never know when you might need someone’s help again. Brady stands behind those who have helped him become the dominant football player he is today. Like when his best friend, business parter, and so-called ‘business guru’ came under fire for allegedly pretending to be a doctor and making unsubstantiated claims about his health products, Brady proudly and passionately defended his pal to Boston radio hosts.
“”In the 10 or 11 years we’ve been working together, he has never been wrong,” Brady said. “I had doctors with the highest and best education in our country tell us — tell me — that I wouldn’t be able to play football again. That I would need multiple surgeries on my knee from my staph infection. That I would need a new ACL, a new MCL, that I wouldn’t be able to play with my kids when I’m older. Of course, I go back the next year and we win comeback player of the year. I follow the next season, and we win the MVP of the year. I’ve chosen a different approach, and that approach works for me…I wouldn’t be playing today if it wasn’t for what he’s been able to accomplish with me.”
Remember where you came from and always dance with the people who brung you.
But note that Tom Brady also refers to himself as “we,” like a royal prince. In this alone, don’t be like Tom Brady. It’s an advanced social maneuver and you’ll only end up hurting yourself.
Lesson #14: Hang in there and keep company with the best.
Tom Brady knows: your career will inevitably come with some stresses. But don’t let them defeat you. Stay strong, and you will prevail. It’s an important piece of advice that career coach Brady is more than willing to share with those less fortunate than him.
“In 2012, when JPMorgan Chase lost $6.2 billion through a series of bad investments, Vanity Fair reported that the bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, received a surprise phone call from Brady, with the quarterback telling him to ‘hang in there’ and that even Super Bowl champs have bad days. The two had never met.”
An important addendum: Tom Brady does not consider anyone beneath his coaching and advice. Note that Tom Brady has absolutely no problem calling the billionaire head of the nation’s strongest bank and bonding with him. Tom Brady knows that true excellence is a very special club — that game recognize game — and he strengthens those bonds when he can.
Lesson #15: Savor your success.
There’s nothing worse than getting to the top and not enjoying it. Tom Brady enjoys stoicism, but he does not deny himself joy. To be like Tom Brady, carve out time to celebrate and revel in your success, preferably with the ones you love.
“Some moments, though, he cannot help but pause to savor. After the Patriots knocked off the Chiefs, Brady sat on a stool in front of his locker and peeled off his pads, pausing several times to ruffle the hair of his two sons, Jack, 8, and Benjamin, 6, who were making a rare appearance at the stadium.
When he stood up with a towel, preparing to head to the showers, Jack shot his father a look of concern.
“Dad, how did you get that blood on there?” he asked.
Above Brady’s heavily taped right ankle was a small, red scrape.
“Just from playing football, bud,” Brady said, grinning as he walked away.”
Tom Brady knows you have to have time for family — and he also knows there is no progress without pain. Those two lessons from Tom Brady could be very valuable to you as you plan out your career.
And there you have it: keys to career success from the man, the myth, the legend himself. Next time you face an obstacle at work, just ask: What Would Tom Brady Do?
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