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Svitek Blog: The Importance of Execution


We are only on Day 3, but with what I've learned it feels much longer. It is definitely an intensive program as we start our first class at 8:30 a.m. and finish up around 10 p.m. At that point, we head back to our dorm rooms to review the case studies for the next day (or if you're lucky like me, to sit down to write a blog post for your team's website).

Every class is divided up into 90-minute segments with 15-minute breaks. It feels a little like being back in college but this time — being around a bunch of other football players — the temptation to strike up a conversation with a cute girl nearby is not as great. Besides, since I'm not in the classroom much nowadays and the course material is about what I'm genuinely interested in, it's much easier to pay attention during the extended school days.

In case you're wondering how this compares to a day in training camp, the long days are familiar, but then again our professors generally do not yell, my joints feel great and John Abraham isn't breathing down my neck. But I still would not trade the hot and humid mid-summer days in Flowery Branch for anything!

The focus of the Kellogg program is "high-growth entrepreneurship" and so far we have already covered the gamut of issues facing startup and growing companies. It was interesting to get into some of the technical issues involved in the various options businesses have for raising money from angel investors, private equity funds and venture capital investors.

We discussed the pros and cons of equity versus debt financing. We also dissected the importance of reading balance sheets, the income statement, and cash flow statements. Professor Derrick Collins described the importance of figuring out the internal rate of return (IRR) to measure the true profitability of an investment with respect to time — as well as the need to calculate EBITDA to measure the true value of a company. These are all now much more familiar terms for me, not that I will be listening for Matt Ryan to be calling them out at the line of scrimmage anytime soon.

Every one of our professors harped on us — continuously — throughout the day that when it comes to starting a business, "it is not the idea, but the execution that matters." Having this type of instruction is crucial for anyone thinking of going into business. By learning the practical lessons of past business successes and failures we can increase our business acumen. When we get our chance to execute a business strategy we can avoid making costly mistakes.

And even with this simple concept in business, I see the parallels with the operations of a football team. Sometimes it is not the most talented teams that win, but the ones that execute the game plan the best. Whether it is me executing my technique in order for better pass protection or whether I am following the right steps to developing a profitable business, I will need to execute for the rest of my life!

After dinner we break up into teams (you may know these as study groups) of four and continue our discussions, but this time with MBA students at Kellogg. I think they volunteered for this! It was great to get their perspectives as this is their league and they know the rules better than we do. Last night's topic was working on developing a business plan. I am still struggling on deciding on a big business idea, so please help me out. You can tweet me any ideas! I promise to give you equity of the company. Please... and thank you!

A few more days here at Kellogg and it has already been time well spent. It is a rare day that I can honestly say that I have increased my human capital!

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