You are here

What my sport taught me: Teamworks Founder & CEO Zach Maurides

By Zach Maurides as told to Alexis Bussey

Zach Maurides played football at Duke. Photo: Duke University

At an early age, football taught me what it meant to set ambitious, long-term goals and then take the day-to-day steps to see them come to fruition.

I started playing in grade school, but it wasn’t until at least a decade later that I became a collegiate-level athlete. I may not have known immediately, but I was developing hard skills which became transferrable to my professional career and, ultimately, the world of business. Football taught me the grind.

In college, I played for four offensive coordinators, three position coaches and two head coaches. It was an incredible experience because I was exposed to different leaders and leadership styles, and from that, I started to figure out what parts fit with who I was becoming as a young entrepreneur.

When I launched my startup company, Teamworks, as a Duke student-athlete, I was tasked with creating the energy. I’ve always been a big, loud guy, and I’ve never really tamped that down. I think that’s part of my personality that developed from football — it has a culture. It was up to me to pinpoint the elements that could work well in a business environment, then lead my team like a coach as opposed to a boss.

Teamworks Founder & CEO Zach Maurides

I love that word: coach. A coach’s job is to take the people they’re responsible for and grow them by helping them achieve their potential, as opposed to a manager, who manipulates his or her employees into doing whatever the business needs them to do. At Teamworks, we try to take on that team structure not just in name but in actual essence and embed it into everything we do. Our culture of teamwork comes from understanding how to work together to set ambitious goals, break them down to daily objectives then daily actions to see our plans through.

Up until the moment my business launched, I’d spent close to 15 years trying to become the best at my sport. Part of my experience as an athlete is that I had to deal with injuries. In sports, sometimes you’re physically developing your body and then you have some bad luck. My sport taught me how to be comfortable while dealing with the frustration of taking a step backward to go forward.

That happens a lot in business — the unexpected. The things you can’t control.

Our mission at Teamworks — to engage and empower athletes — remains unchanged in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. And one of the things we can control is to remain focused on serving athletes. That’s why we opened our platform for free to athletic teams and departments that need to stay connected while remote but also ensure athletes are staying physically and mentally well.

Athletes, as they always have, will be key in leading us out of this crisis. Although athletes were training to win championships, the skills we’ve learned through sport — resilience, leadership, adaptability — are vital in this situation. Throughout history, society has turned to athletes to inspire and unite, and this has been no different. While we don’t know exactly when sports will be back, I know that around the world, we’ll see athletes at the heart of motivating and unifying their communities — because that’s what sports taught us.