Former Georgia Bulldog to NFL Tight End
Arthur Lynch holds a BA in History from the University of Georgia where he minored in political science. His college career included the peer-appointed position of Team Captain for the Georgia Bulldogs football team, and worked with several on-campus charities such as UGA Relay For Life and Extra Special People – Special Olympics. Lynch was the 155th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, chosen by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round. He is currently building his career in business and finance.
Where did your passion for football come from?
Football has played such an important role in my life. Despite not playing until high school I can say with confidence that it was a driving force for me since I was a kid. However, one person is responsible for introducing me to the game, and ultimately the reason why I fell in love with football and that is my grandfather, Carlin Lynch. For 40 years he coached at the high school level, winning over 200 games, multiple state championships, and undefeated seasons.
The success of his teams earned him a legendary status both in my hometown of Dartmouth, MA, where he coached at Dartmouth High School, but also throughout the landscape of Massachusetts Football. However, anyone who knew him would tell you that it wasn’t his abilities as a football coach, it was his ability to connect with people on a deeper level and being a positive influence on them at such a critical time in their lives whether that was on the field or in the classroom. Some of my earliest memories of my grandfather are visiting him in his office and attending his practice or watching his games. The stage was set for how I wanted football to play a role in my life. I was his first grandson and I was born with a different last name – Arthur Fontaine.
We were always close and playing football as I saw it, was a way for us to connect on a deeper level but also an avenue for me to make him proud and fulfill his growing legacy as a football icon. Naturally, he didn’t care whether I played or not, but his love of the game was passed down to me and I felt that I owed it to him to give everything I had to the game that gave so much to him. Our bond strengthen when I was 14. My father left the family and he filled that void immediately. It coincided at the time with my career as a football player and the strengthening of our bond intensified.
After my mother decided to take back her maiden name, I felt very strongly about doing the same. I began going by Arthur Lynch-Fontaine until I turned 18 when I legally changed my name to Arthur Lynch. I did so in support of my mother but also as a tribute to my grandfather as he was the most influential person in my life and introduced me to a game that gave me so much support and confidence during a time in my life when I was struggling mentally and emotionally. I owe a lot to the game of football but I owe more to my grandfather, who not only introduced me to the game but had such a profound impact on my life and still does today despite no longer being with us.
What brought you to the field of private equity post-athletics?
After football, I took a job at a technology startup company, Catchpoint Systems, in Boston, MA. I knew very little about technology and business but knew I had to start somewhere. I realized if I wanted to succeed in business I would need to expand my network beyond football and start putting myself out there professionally. A friend of mine, Brian Strachan, a former student-athlete at Brown University where he played football, worked at a Private Equity firm called Providence Equity.
I started learning about their firm, the types of investments they made, and their partners. Brian had found early success and after learning about his industry I started developing a serious interest in wanting to transition from technology to finance. With no background in investing, I knew that I’d have to go out and find an opportunity to make that transition.
With the help of Brian, now a Founder and Managing Partner at Wynsum Partners, I was introduced to a firm called Greater Sum Ventures, a Growth Equity Firm founded in 2015 by Ross Croley, a tech entrepreneur. I met with the founders and their team. They were looking for young, hard-working, individuals who had unconventional backgrounds similar to it’s founders Jon Ellison, Bill Nix, Lisa Stinnett, and Ross. After several interviews, I was offered a job and took a role on the Healthcare team, where I worked under on of their Vice Presidents, Louis Roberts.
We quickly built up a rapport and I was able to learn a lot about healthcare, how they evaluated potential companies, how to approach CEOs and Founders, and how to close deals and successfully oversee the acquisition of a company. It was an invaluable experience and one I will cherish for a lifetime. I owe a lot to GSV and I’m grateful to all of them as individuals and as a team.
What does a typical day look like for you as a former professional athlete?
One thing that I loved and quite frankly miss about being a professional athlete is the strict structure of the days and the mental and physical discipline it requires on a day-to-day basis. I didn’t realize how much I would miss it until several years later when I really started to implement a similar structure in my personal and professional life.
Each day I wake up at 4:30 am and the first thing I do is make my bed prior to making coffee with a French Press – I like this specific process of brewing coffee as part of my routine. I turn on CNBC and read The Boston Globe and New York Times Deal Book while I finish my coffee. I follow that with a run or workout which typically lasts 30-40 minutes. After the workout, I shower, change, and head to work, where I try to walk into the office at the same time each day which is around 8:00 am. This allows me to answer any emails that were sent overnight and also send out emails I have scheduled before calls/meetings begin.
I am most productive when my schedule is strict. I practice intermittent fasting and only eat one meal a day, which is dinner w/ a snack around 4:00 PM. I cook dinner and typically end my day watching a show or movie before going to bed to do it all over again. When I first started working in the private sector I was less disciplined with my diet and workout regimen and found that my work would sometimes suffer. It took some trial and error but I’d rather live a life that optimizes my professional skill set but forces me to make sacrifices socially than live a life with a more robust social calendar. To me, I get pleasure through structure just as I did in college and the NFL.
Name the top two or three lessons you learned from your experience as a football player.
One of the most important lessons I learned in football was from my offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo, while at the University of Georgia. All season long, he would say repeatedly that we must “control the control-ables.” He would elaborate by explaining in football – like in life – there will be things that happen that are beyond your or anyone else’s control. In order to limit the impact of those uncontrollable forces, it was up to us as individuals and as a team to remain hyperfocused on the things we can control, which is your mental and physical preparation, studying, diet, training, and doing the little things right on a day to day basis, in order to ready yourself for that week’s opponent.
He’d remind us that we can’t control the weather, our opponent, what people in the media say, what our girlfriends or families want us to say or do, but we can control our attitude, our effort, and our mental and physical preparation. It always resonated with me and I’ve found that it’s been incredibly helpful in both my personal and professional life. At times, I find myself preaching Mike Bobo’s words to friends, family, and co-workers alike when they are down or in need of a pep talk.
The second lesson I can accredit to my grandfather. It’s a simple one that everyone in the world who has watched a Rocky movie knows. In football, like in life, you’re going to get knocked down and no matter how hard you were hit, you’ve got to get back up and keep moving forward. It’s a simple concept, but so many people fail to adhere to the core principle. I like to say that adversity breeds character.
Nothing worth doing or achieving comes easy and I’ve yet to meet a very successful person in sports or business, who has never failed in their career. The one thing I loved about football is that failure is imminent, but when you fail, you fail as a team, and when you win, you win as a team. This is why I also believe it’s the greatest game in the world because it’s the ultimate team sport. In order to win you have to have personal accountability, but also hold your teammates accountable.
What is something you do regularly that you recommend to other athletes?
It sounds childish and incredibly simple but one thing I recommend to any athlete—and really to all people who want to be successful—and that is making your bed. There’s a great commencement address by Admiral McRaven, a former Navy Seal, who talks about making his bed. He talked about the stresses that came with becoming a Navy Seal and then ultimately serving as one. He saw it as a task; one of many you will have each day.
You realize that each day will bring about new challenges and those challenges may come with success and failure, but no matter how hard your day was and how many failures it may have brought, you will always come home to a made bed which is a reminder that you did something right that day. You successfully completed a task and no matter what tomorrow brings you can start your day successfully completing a task. I adopted this habit shortly after college, when a roommate of mine, a former Marine, shared with me the Admiral’s speech. There hasn’t been a day since where I didn’t make my bed. It significantly changed my life and how I view the world. In short, make your bed.
Name a necessary skill that is crucial to be successful as an athlete.
The number one skill set that’s crucial to becoming a successful athlete is time management. Fortunately, competitive sports force this on you from an early age but a lot of people either don’t adhere to those lessons or aren’t willing to make the sacrifices to acquire the skill. Understanding time management and how to prioritize your time appropriately will allow you to flourish athletically and academically.
For example, in college, you will be forced to balance a full course load with 20-30 hours allotted to your sport, plus any social life you might want to have. Block out time on the weekends to front-load your schoolwork. It may force you to sacrifice some events on the social calendar, but if you go into Monday morning with your assignments done, you can focus on your sport. If you have a test later in the week, you can now spend your free time studying instead of catching up on other work. For example, during the season, we would play our games on Saturday. I would spend my Sunday mornings with family, who flew in from Massachusetts. My roommates and I went to breakfast at The Mayflower, our favorite diner in Athens, GA. It was a great mental reset before I had to get to work. The Main Library on campus opened at 2:00 PM on Sundays, so I would be there when it opened. I’d stay there till dinner or late into the night to make sure I completed all the work that was due that week. I started this routine in 2012 and sure enough my performance both in the classroom and on the football field improved dramatically.
The only way you’re able to achieve success in the classroom and on the field is through making productive use of your time. If you don’t go to the library on the weekends, then you may be forced to skip a class to study for a test or be late for a workout/practice, and next thing you know, you’re in trouble with your coach, counselor, and your grades and performance suffer. Perfecting the craft of time management will lead to growth and maturity in all three phases of your health: mental, physical, and emotional. I am a happier person and more successful person when my days and weeks are laid out in front of me and I learned this skill while in college.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Focus on doing the little things really well i.e. school, training, time management, etc. I was so worried about the larger picture that I failed to realize early on that long-term success comes from focusing on the present and maximizing your time each and every day.
It’s easy to get distracted and caught up in today’s world but if you stay true to who you are and focus on small improvements and perfecting your craft, you will look up 5/10/15 years from now and realize you’ve achieved all the things you’d set out to. In contrast, if you remain hyper-focused on trying to achieve 10 years of success in the present, it will be impossible to remain present in that moment and ultimately veer off that path toward the long-term success you seek.
The goal is to try to get 1% better in every phase of your life each day. If you do that then those little improvements will compound over time and last a lifetime.
What motivates you to continue doing what you do?
My grandfather used to tell me each day is an opportunity to grow mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. He believed growth in those areas would bring about success in both your personal and professional life. For a long time, I forgot about that message and now more than ever, I wake up each day not worrying about tomorrow but looking at the day ahead as an opportunity for growth. How can I get better today? How can I improve on what I did yesterday to right my wrongs and avoid any missteps I may have experienced?
Life is a continuous learning experience. No one is perfect but we all have the capacity to both change and improve. Minor improvements each day lead to significantly larger improvements over time, which ultimately brings success. What keeps me going is+
the pursuit of excellence and that pursuit comes with personal growth each and every day. We can’t achieve that excellence if we aren’t willing to learn and grow simultaneously. Something my grandfather mastered and hopefully at the end of my life, I can say the same.