By William Thomas II
Last week, against all odds, the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to climb out of a 3 to 1 hole and bring home Cleveland’s first major sports championship in more than 50 years. The path wasn’t easy, and they were written off multiple times. They still found the will to win even when the world had counted them out. This is very similar to many of MORTAR’s entrepreneurs. Here are three main similarities I noticed:
1. Grit and determination. The Golden State Warriors had arguably the best team in basketball history, winning a record-setting 73 games in the regular season. Down 3-1, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced odds that that no team in NBA history had ever overcome. With extreme grit, perseverance, and determination, the Cavaliers fought back to overcome the odds. This is very similar to many of the entrepreneurs we work with at MORTAR. So many of the folks coming through MORTAR have constantly been told “no” and that they don’t have the background to make their idea a reality. Time and time again our students have pushed forward despite all the adversity.
2. Fail forward. LeBron James didn’t win a championship for Cleveland his first time in Cleveland. In fact, after he left Cleveland to go to Miami, many fans across the city burned his jersey. He left a city angered, but he didn’t fail backwards. He failed forward. He continued to learn, became a better leader, and returned to help win Cleveland the championship. The path isn’t straight for entrepreneurs. While many of MORTAR’s entrepreneurs have failed, they have consistently failed forward. By learning from their failures, they have continued to create a better product and business.
3. Can’t do it alone. While LeBron James was certainly a key reason the Cavaliers won, it wouldn’t have been possible without a great supporting team. Everyone on the team stepped up and played different roles throughout the Finals. Kyrie Irving was a key reason LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland, and it was evident how important his role was to help the team win. MORTAR entrepreneurs are tasked with building great teams and support systems. Sometimes that comes in the form of other entrepreneurs in their class, sometimes in the forms of quality mentorship from our organization and SCORE and sometimes in simply building a great business team.
The Cleveland Cavaliers inspired a city and many people across the world. At the same time, I have been inspired by MORTAR entrepreneurs. It’s powerful to watch the impact they are making in Cincinnati, and this is just the beginning. Here’s to many more “championships” for folks that have too often been overlooked and counted out.