No matter what area of life you are dealing with, it is good to be open to learning more from positive people.
Many people go through college to establish the foundation for their careers. Post-graduates focus on using their new-found knowledge to structure their career path. Many times, graduates make the decision to take a different path altogether. As a graduate in accounting, Mike Kotch began his career in the same field but found his passion was in coaching swimming.
Mike Kotch earned his Bachelor’s of Science degree in accounting in 1998 from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He began his career in public accounting with a small public accounting firm in Boston. He spent the next five years in this position. Upon being contacted by his college coach from Bentley, he was offered a position as an assistant swim coach for the University. He swiftly seized the opportunity. From 2002 to 2008, he returned to his Alma mater as an Assistant Coach of the swim team and simultaneously earned his MBA.
In 2008 Mike Kotch was offered a position as head coach and director of aquatics at Regis College, in Weston, Massachusetts. He served in this role until 2011 when he was afforded the opportunity to become the head swim coach at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I grew up with athletic siblings. In fact, my sister swam through college and my brother turned out to be an accomplished cyclist. Having swum and played baseball through college myself, I just always loved being on the go and being around teammates who fortunately doubled as friends. Once I started working, I found that I I was constantly craving the desire to be back around athletes. I had always kept in touch with my swim coach from college, and when I was offered an opportunity to work as an assistant coach at Bentley, I jumped at the chance.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It has been quite different going from coaching to being a dad, but it is so awesome to be able to put my own kids first for a change. My wife calls me the “Manny”. I am enjoying every bit of my time with my girls; Taylor and April. We wake up, start cracking jokes and getting ready for school. After they are off to school in the mornings, I typically get the “honey do” list out of the way and then get into the gym. I try to make sure I am taking time to be active every day; especially now in the winter. It is back to full-on dad mode after school with homework and sports. I wish I could say I became a better cook, but I have really only gotten better at following recipes. I’m not ready to make things off the top of my head just yet!
How do you bring ideas to life?
In order to bring ideas to life, I think I have always been pretty good at just being able to start something and trying to take the next step. I don’t worry about the results too much. I think being older and having coached long enough, I recognize that all ideas may not work out exactly the way you intend, but the failures probably teach me more than the successes do. In bringing ideas to life, If the idea comes to fruition, I can continue working and reworking it in order to try and perfect the result.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that excites me right now is that I have the opportunity to I watch my girls grow more consistently and I can play a more integral part of their lives. Coaching takes so much time away from them, and I often missed out on many of those little firsts that happen along their journey of life. I’ll never forget the first kindergarten parent-teacher conference I went to and I had to fight back tears when I saw how much Taylor had grown in just a few months of structured learning. The writing, the drawing, it was amazing to see the changes. Up until that point, I think I was always so focused on helping my team that I overlooked what was going on with my own kids. It helped that my wife was so great at holding down the fort during the season, but at that point I promised myself that I would find a way to find a better work-life balance.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a neat freak. I run a very tight ship when it comes to cleanliness. Being home with two children keeps me very busy in terms of keeping the house clean and tidy. I can tell you where any item is in the house, and especially what my desk looks like. It sounds morbid, but some of the best advice I got when I worked in accounting was that someone would need to be able to step right in and finish an assignment should something ever happen to me on the way to/from work. I was always organized, but that idea just helped me raise my organization game!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would tell younger Mike Kotch to relax and enjoy life a bit more. I think I took it too personally when I couldn’t help an athlete reach their goals. I’d certainly tell younger Mike Kotch to have more confidence in going after things he set out to do and not worry about the results. I was seeing it in the kids I coach and now it makes sense too as I look back at myself. I was always thinking “what if this doesn’t work out?” instead of just taking pride in taking a risk.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I honestly can’t think of anything that I am on the opposite end of the spectrum with everyone. I’m not really into politics which helps! I like to really keep it simple. I spend time with my family and I keep a close circle of friends. I guess you could say I’m certainly not the most interesting person alive.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I would tell everyone to find the time to exercise. I have added it to my routine and it’s worked out miraculously. I was never a person that could push away from my desk very easily, but now that I have found better work-life balance, it was made a world of difference. Exercise impacts my outlook, my productivity, my mood. I think better, and interestingly enough, I am able to be more creative and think “better” while I am working out. I can’t even tell you how many times the light bulb has gone off during a workout and I think the change of venue and getting away from the desk makes a big difference in that.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think I have been smart enough to know that I will never know enough. As a coach, I had to learn about each individual student. I carry that idea through in all things. A great strategy in life is to surround yourself with good people. No matter what area of life you are dealing with, it is good to be open to learning more from positive people, but don’t completely shut out the negative people. There is always data to be processed whether that glass is half empty or half full!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I think age, maturity and experience has allowed me to almost crave failure now. And boy, do I fail a lot! I think when I was a young coach, for example, I was so scared to fail because of the negative impact it might have on another person. Now, understanding that failure gets you places is something that tried to pass along to the athletes so that they could maybe get a step ahead in life among their peers.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would love to see some type of data exchange set up for student-athletes where they can ask questions of each other, share experiences, and learn as early as possible in their career. Right now, there is all types of coaching exchanges set up where we can learn from each other, and I just think that goes to show you how critical it is to be open to failure. As I mentioned earlier, I crave failure and am willing to learn from it and I wish we could find a way to encourage young athletes to be more willing to go for it and not worry about results. I think they would be able to improve their confidence faster which in a vacuum could lead to faster swimming. In life, I would certainly hope that the life skills they acquire through college athletics would prepare them to be more dynamic coming out of college. I guess I am just trying to say I wish I could speed up an athletes willingness to experience setbacks and see them as positives instead of crippling experiences.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The first check I ever wrote when I graduated from college was ironically for $100 and it was to get my place on the New England Patriots season ticket holder waiting list. This was back in 1998. Now, fresh off their sixth Super Bowl title, I couldn’t have imagined I would have been able to see the continued success they’ve had over the last twenty seasons. It took me until 2012 until I could see them play first hand, but it has been worth the wait. Might I add, the Pats haven’t missed an AFC championship since I got my tickets!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We have a financial software that my wife and I use to allow us to budget, spend prudently, and save well. I have two girls that I can’t wait to walk down the aisle and I want to be able to give them the wedding of their dreams.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I understand it is isolated to swimming, but I would recommend either of the Swim Coaching Bibles (volume 1 or 2) by Dick Hannula and Nort Thornton. It provides great understanding and insight into training mechanics and more.
What is your favorite quote?
“One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interest”. I actually got this in a fortune cookie about the time I got the job at Brandeis, and it really inspired me to remain true to a positive idea or passion, even if it was unpopular.
● Speak with Clarity and Intention.
● No matter what area of life you are dealing with, it is good to be open to learning more from positive people.
● Relax and enjoying life.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.