I would love for you to come help us out

Oh, one more thing about Tom Brady. Plus how to retire early. (Or at least, how one guy did.) Also, as always, 7 other things worth your time.

Two brief things today. First, we had some really great comments on Friday’s newsletter about staying relevant and excelling as you get older, and I wanted to revisit the subject quickly.

You might recall, this was prompted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady musing that he hopes to avoid retiring from pro football until age 50. I wrote about how his style of play has changed over the years, adapting to how his body has changed as he grew a bit older—and lessons we might learn from that.

However, a reader, Paul B. Johnson, made a really good point in the comments:

“His real secret to success was he made sure he had great people around him to help him. His offensive lines have helped him avoid getting hit.”

This, in turn, reminded me of a cool statistic from last year’s Super Bowl, which Tampa won 31 to 9. And that stat led me to the realization that there’s another big, under-appreciated lesson about success in life.

It’s that there were four Tampa touchdowns in that championship game, scored by three different players (one scored twice). All three players had two big things in common:

First, like Brady, they were each in their first year playing for Tampa.

Second, and more to the point, each of them was recruited to the team by Brady himself. Here are the receipts:

  • Rob Gronkowski (two touchdowns) was previously Brady's teammate with the New England Patriots, and had already retired from the NFL. "It really was Tom" who brought him back, coach Bruce Arians explained. "I didn't even think it was a possibility ... And [Brady] was so adamant about it.”

  • Antonio Brown (one touchdown). Brady not only recruited him to the Bucs after Brown was cut by the Patriots and served a suspension—he invited Brown to live with his family. Again, Coach Arians: "Brady lobbied me [about Brown] back in, gosh, June, July, August.”

  • Leonard Fournette (Brady handed off to him for a rushing touchdown). He’d been cut by his previous team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Who was the first person to call him afterward? “Tom," Fournette said in an interview. "Tom hit me like, 'Man, I would love for you to come help us out.' [W]ho wouldn't want to play with Tom?"

To be clear, this is not how this normally works in pro sports. One player, even a star, doesn't usually carve out a side hustle as a general manager or director of personnel.

So the big lesson that I’m walking away with here is that setting yourself up for success isn’t just about adapting and growing and changing with the times. It’s also about making sure you surround yourself with great people who can help you excel.

People say that plenty, but I think it can sometimes come across as a bit passive—like, “find a place where great people are, and go join them.”

Here, though, it’s a far more active strategy—even a proactive one. Don’t just find great teammates. Go out and recruit them, one at a time if need be.

I’m not going to turn this newsletter into the Tom Brady Daily Chronicle. But I thought about this point a lot over the weekend, and frankly, if I didn’t make it now, when would I?

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And now for something completely different…

Speaking of retirement, I’ve got an Understandably Live interview coming up tomorrow that approaches all this from a very different perspective.

I’ll be talking with Grigory Lukin, a 35-year-old former financial analyst for Amazon who decided to retire this year rather than return to the office, after Amazon started calling people back.

Now, you might be wondering how a 35-year-old person quickly decides not only, “I’m not going back to my big corporate job,” but also: “Know what? I think I’ll retire.”

The short answer is a dedication to the Financial Independence, Retire Early movement. Actually, here’s how Lukin put it via email, when I had to reschedule the interview until tomorrow:

“One great advantage of quitting the rat race and enjoying early retirement (though, granted, it's lean-FIRE, not fat-FIRE) is that I have infinite free time. :)”

I know that most of the rest of us don’t have “infinite free time,” but if you want to check this out, I’ll be live streaming tomorrow starting at 1 p.m. ET.

No need to sign up ahead of time, you can just click any of the links below…

Watch on YouTube

Watch on LinkedIn

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7 other things worth your time

Thanks for reading, as always. Photo credit: Pixabay. I wrote about Brady’s recruiting efforts once before on Inc.com. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.