Tom Brady

Business leaders can learn a lot from studying Tom Brady. Whether you’re a Brady fan or not (and whether you care about sports or not), you can take a page out of Brady’s playbook and replicate his secrets to success in your own life and career.

Dr. Myles Spar, Chief Medical Officer of Vault Health, is an integrative health specialist and has served as a medical consultant to professional sports leagues— educating players, coaches, and trainers on best practices and preventative measures.

“Any person – of any age, shape, or fitness level – can apply Tom Brady’s principles in their pursuit of health, wellness, success, and peak performance,” says Dr. Spar.

To illustrate this, he has taken the key principles of Brady’s health regimen and adapted them into actionable tips to help small business owners achieve optimal success and performance at any age. Here are his tips:

1. Eat Nutritious, Well-Balanced Meals and Snacks. 

Tom Brady micromanages everything that goes into his body. Every calorie, every ingredient, and right down to the time he eats his meals. He’s heavy on vegetables and lean protein and stays away from alcohol, caffeine, dairy, and sugar.

Dr. Spar says: “For small business owners, and anyone with a full-time career, it’s important to eat well-balanced meals and snacks that will provide your body with all the energy, nutrients, vitamins, and sustenance needed to operate at peak performance throughout the entire day.” Think about what you’re eating, and when. Sweat the details. If you’re making changes, make one small change today and another small change next week. They start to add up, but they have to be sustainable.

Remember garbage calories in, garbage training out. “And for those who need extra help shedding body fat or gaining muscle mass, Vault has affordable, easily accessible personalized treatment plans and supplements to help you get the results you desire,” says Dr. Spar.

2. Treat sleep like the priority it is. 

Brady’s in bed at 8:30 pm every night. He knows quality sleep can improve reaction time, increase overall health, increase focus and accuracy, and prevent mental errors. He naps. He solves a series of brain puzzles before bed to destimulate his brain, allowing him to get to sleep by 9 p.m. and wake up without an alarm.

What’s the lesson to be learned here for small business owners? “Get enough sleep!” exclaims Dr. Spar. “Besides the above-mentioned sleep benefits, research has proven getting enough sleep is not only vital to career success, but it also improves your immune system, boosts your mood, enhances memory recall, and reduces stress.”

3. Achieve work-life balance.

Tom Brady is maniacal about football, to the exclusion of almost everything except family, at least according to journalists who have spent a lot of time with him. It’s balance — but a balance between only two things. “He would be the first to tell you that there is no more or less to his reality right now than the sport of football and his family,” wrote Ben Court of Men’s Health, after spending days with Brady in the Bahamas. “Whenever Brady talks about his family, which he does easily and without prompting, he comes to life, waving those long arms and breaking into laughter as he describes how each of his kids delights him.”

Let’s face it: The phrase ‘work-life balance’ loses all meaning once you become an entrepreneur, but it shouldn’t. Instead of balance, small business owners report more success when they aim for a healthy equilibrium between a demanding career and a vital personal life. Assuming you can put the two on an even scale, though, is deceiving. Whether you’re a solopreneur or employ 25 workers, the pull of business demands is ever-present.

To be successful in both arenas doesn’t mean you have equal hours at home and in the office, it means you have found a rhythm that fulfills both sides. Just like you need a business plan to keep things on track and moving forward, you need one for your personal life too. Don’t worry that calendaring things like “lunch” or “quality time with my partner” seems unromantic or disingenuous. Because ultimately, it is both romantic and genuine saying, “You mean so much to me that I made this space on my calendar for you.”

Freedom is a big reason why you start your business in the first place. So, if you can’t take a vacation, you probably don’t have the success (freedom/time/money) you were seeking when you started the business. Design your business so that you can get away. “Through strategy, leadership, and automation—which I refer to as the three pillars of small business success—you can absolutely take vacations. And your business will actually prosper in your absence,” says Dr. Spar.

4. Set quantifiable goals.

It’s one thing to say you want to be the greatest quarterback of all time. It’s another entirely to say you want to be playing at age 45, and you want to win more Super Bowls than anyone else. When he started with the Bucs this year, he was quoted saying he wanted to “elevate” the team–quantifiably, by winning at least one Super Bowl with them.

In terms of your small business, think about what you want to achieve and try to set goals that are ‘S.M.A.R.T., which is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

5. Display extreme dedication.

Beyond his on-the-field performance and his longevity, Brady is known for his intense, idiosyncratic preparation: long hours, extreme diet, and the unusual fitness routine he and his trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero have developed. Beyond that, Brady recognizes that he has less natural talent than many pro quarterbacks, and so he has to make it up somewhere: “The only thing that I know,” he explained, “is to go out there and work at it. … I’m not buying into any hype or potential. I’m into work.”

In the business world, this translates to having enough sheer willpower and doing whatever it takes to become successful. It’s important to remember to work smarter, not harder, though,” says Dr. Spar. “If there are parts of your business operation that are better suited to be outsourced, look into your options for taking the task out-of-house. And if there’s a part of your business that you hate handling, perhaps accounting, look into hiring a part-time accountant to take it off your plate so you can focus on what you do best, and what will ultimately make your company the most successful.”

6. Believe it will happen.

This was intentionally saved for last. It’s not sufficient on its own, but without it, none of Tom Brady’s success would have happened. Decades ago when Tom Brady was cut from the high school varsity football team, when he had to fight for playing time in college, when he watched 198 other players get picked ahead of him in the NFL draft— he still seems to have believed it would all work out. Brady never underestimates the importance of having faith in himself and his abilities, and it’s part of the reason he’s continued to play at such a high caliber for so many years.

In the same vein, small to medium-sized business owners have to believe success will happen. Even when things are tough, the worst thing an entrepreneur can do is to lose faith in their business plan or brand.

Dr. Myles Spar, MD, is a leading authority in men’s integrative health and the Chief Medical Officer at Vault Health. Committed to empowering people to achieve their goals through greater wellbeing, he is an author, teacher, TEDx speaker, and a frequent contributor to Men’s Journal, the L.A. Times, and the Dr. Oz. show, among others.

Tom Brady stock photo by Debby Wong/Shutterstock