By Ben Wilmoth | Senior Business Planning Consultant
In 4th grade, I started playing football and learned early on what it’s like to be a part of a team.
As a kid, I liked to joke around a lot, so my parents were looking to get me into whatever activity that would keep me from getting into trouble. My mom tells me stories of when I would stack pillows in the living room and pretend the stack was a running back. And in an attempt to stop the stuffed running back from scoring imaginary touchdowns, I would continuously tackle it as if I were starting for the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve always wanted to play and it just came natural.
Add a couple of years and more than a couple of pounds, and I found my fit as an offensive lineman. And as I grew, so did my desire to compete. To be a successful competitor, it meant I had to learn how to be disciplined, fundamentally sound and coachable. Through the variety of ups and downs playing football competitively provides, I had acquired all of these skills and more. Most importantly, I learned how to be a contributing member of a successful and productive team, which would help establish a foundation that would support me in my future career.
Today, I’m on a whole new team with and although I’ve switched from reading defenses to reading user requirements, the passion is still there. As a matter of fact, many of the skills I used in football are apparent in my role as a Senior Business Planning Consultant at Akili.
Just like an offensive lineman, you have to be accountable for your role, but also be cognizant of the roles of your teammates. You have to be decent at making changes on the fly (both literally and metaphorically).
You have to be quick to adapt.
The core of how we implement projects at Akili is based around being agile. It’s about keeping everything in control and taking frequent status checks. It’s also about being transparent and understanding that if what you are presenting to the client does not meet the mark, you need to pivot immediately.
In football, the offensive line doesn’t get all of the glory. As an old offensive line coach once told me, “Your job is to finish your block and get out of the way.” Being an offensive linemen is not a glorified role. In fact, the general premise is that if you are being noticed, you are making mistakes. Similar to Akili, our main goal is to make our sponsors and clients look good. This means that in the end, we’re not always the one who receives the credit.
For us, that’s OK because our greatest sources of pride come from successful implementations and continued business. We perform until the expectations of our clients have been exceeded and at Akili, that’s what truly matters.