Former Duke Athlete & Binary Cap Partner Justin Caldbeck on Sports & Entrepreneurship


Every game has rules and though rules can change slightly, if one can see the pattern that connects them, they can prepare for almost any situation in any game.  Using a sports analogy here is apt because many of the rules mentioned above (the unwritten ones that one must observe when engaging with others in the corporate world) apply to both the business world and the competitive sports one. In fact, there are a few basic principles can be used in just about every interaction to guarantee success.

Be Respectful to Everyone

No matter if you are talking to the President of the United States or the clerk at the local gas station, one should look the person you are speaking to squarely in the eye and shake their hand confidently, according to Caldbeck. If you teach yourself to never feel less than any person, than you will in turn never look down on any person as less than you. It’s important to maintain a threshold of basic decency and respect with everyone you meet, so that when situations get heated and one is more inclined to act disrespectfully, you can hold your esteem more gracefully than most. Remember, there is always someone watching. A good player will find themselves halted in their tracks if they are out of favor with the referee. Making sure to stay on the official’s good side is essential to effectively competing in, and ultimately winning, the game.

Be Sure of Yourself

To have no fear is to be insane, but one of the greatest tricks a man can learn is to convince the world around him that he has no fear, no trepidations, and no hesitations, according to Caldbeck. Fearlessness, especially in the combat of the playing field or the corporate board room, can sometimes be even more powerful an attribute to possess than actual talent. Fearlessness can be felt by those in the immediate surroundings and has the ability to influence others to your way of thinking. Remember, the most impactful player on the field is not the one with the most skill, but rather the one with the most commanding presence. If you’re lucky, your confidence will take you as far as those with more skill but less assuredness.

Be Positive

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” To Caldbeck, this means surrounding himself with positivity, multiplying it, and then spreading that positivity outward in all directions. There is never a wrong moment for positivity. Projects do not get thrown off track by someone’s positive attitude, while the same cannot be said for instances where negative attitudes take over and control the momentum of a project. Simply put, when people feel good they produce better work. When players on a team act with ease of mind, they will also act with ease of motion. Quality feelings put out quality results.

Be Different

In a competition like business one must stand out. The sheer mass of competition is too large for anyone insignificant or forgettable to rise from the middle of the pack. Only those providing the zeitgeist with something different will stand out from the crowd. Think of buzz words to help you, they exist for a reason. New, fresh, extra, crazy, extreme; if you can’t think of an exciting way to present what you are selling, then it probably is not worth buying. Of course, it isn’t enough to just be different, one must be good, too. But when one is different and good at what they do, they will see that their new way of doing things intrigues and excites the public and the competition. Soon the whole world is watching because they’re wondering how you do it. The longer you can keep the illusion intact, the more success and profit you will see.

Be Prepared

Time spent planning is never time wasted. A good blueprint is the first step in every great structure. Possessing raw talent will only get you so far. Ultimately, it’s a person’s ability to use their talent while adapting to the world around them that creates the best results, and there is no better way to be adaptive and flexible to one’s surroundings than to be adequately prepared. As Caldbeck said before, the rules of the game change ever so slightly with each new match, so you must do everything you can to figure out what those rules are before the game begins! A strategy is an essential part of every winning team; to think otherwise is simply asinine.

Be Mindful

Always keep eyes on the clock. As the zero hour of any project approaches, stress increases and so do mistakes The best way to combat this is to get work done ahead of time – be on top of the clock waiting for your opponent’s next move. Unfortunately, that can’t always happen and frequently we are faced with a last moment race against the clock. When this is the case, we can still be mindful by paying attention to where help is needed most and then providing our assistance. Mindfulness, like positivity, isn’t something that can be turned off and on as the situation calls for it, but rather a way of living that permeates through the essence of everything one does. Practicing mindfulness increases awareness, both of self and of others, which is essential to teamwork. The best players know the entire playbook front to back. This doesn’t come from simply studying, but from an increased awareness that allows for a better perspective of the overall system.

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