Career Advice
November 4, 2015

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Lessons on Working for a Startup

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Lessons on Working for a Startup

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the world's most talented and outspoken footballers. He speaks his mind at all times and remains unruffled by the controversy it generates. With such a focus on achieving greatness, a number of his quotes also contain lessons that can be applied to working at a startup.

“What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”

The lesson: Do what others can't.Competition is fierce in the startup world, so it's important to stand out.[embed][/embed]


The lesson: Do things your own way. And do them well.Zlatan was asked whether his playing style is Swedish or Yugoslavian, due to the nationality of his parents. This was his answer. 'Disrupting' is a popular buzzword in startups, so don't stick to established methods.

“I can play in 11 positions because a good player can play anywhere on the pitch.”

The lesson: Be flexible.In startups, especially early-stage ones, it is important to be able to take on different responsibilities as and when it's needed.

“You bought a Ferrari but you drive it like a Fiat.”

The lesson: Make the most of your resources.Zlatan thought his talents weren't being made full use of at Barcelona. At a startup, resources can often be minimal, so it is vital to get the most out of what you do have in terms of budget and manpower.

“It was the fault of David Trezeguet, who made me do one drink of vodka after another. I slept in the bathtub. Now I hold my vodka much better.”

The lesson: Learn from your mistakes.Here Zlatan responds to reports of 'excessive behaviour' after Juve's 2005 title win. Nobody's perfect. It's ok. Own up to the mistake and learn from it to do better next time.

“I’m like Muhammed Ali. When he said he would knock someone out in the fourth round, he did it.”

The lesson: Deliver on your promises.If you say you are going to do something, do it. In a small startup team, everyone has to be absolutely reliable.

“We're looking for an apartment. If we don't find anything, then I'll probably just buy the hotel.”

The lesson: Look for alternative solutions.At a startup, you need to get creative with your solutions. If something doesn't work, you will need to find a way around it.

“One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch.”

The lesson: Make yourself indispensable.There is no room for dead weight at a startup. Be awesome at what you do and provide demonstrable value to the team.

“Absolutely not. I have ordered a plane. It is much faster.”

The lesson: Do things faster in order to exceed expectations.This was Zlatan's answer when faced with rumours he had bought a Porsche. Things move quickly in the startup world and it is critical to be a first mover. Get there before the competition.

“I'm number one. I really feel that way. If you think you are the second best, it's the end.”

The lesson: Be the best at what you do.In a highly competitive world, you have to be able to fight off all comers. Make sure your startup is unbeatable.

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