Seattle’s startup scene masters Beast Mode, could use a little Richard Sherman swagger

Richard Sherman celebrates after an interception. Photo via RichardSherman25.com

Richard Sherman celebrates after an interception. Photo via RichardSherman25.com

Seattle is not a city of showboaters or salesmen. It’s historically a stoic place, one of humble underpinnings where actions speak louder than words.

That’s why cornerback Richard Sherman’s off-the-charts defensive play and subsequent comments in the NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers rattled our psyche a bit.

Here was a man who not only made the play of the game, an amazing tipped pass to oncoming teammate Malcolm Smith, but had the gall to rub it into the face of the opponent and then talk with wide-eyed emotion about it.

Seattle didn’t know what to do with Sherman. Embrace, laugh, shrug or condemn?

Loud outbursts of grandiosity aren’t our style, and they certainly don’t play into the age-old stereotype of “Seattle nice.” We don’t talk about what we do here. We just do it, oftentimes in an offbeat style.

In other words, Seattle is more Russell Wilson — the low-key, humble and crafty QB of the Seahawks — than the motor-mouth of Sherman. Or, perhaps, even closer to the mysterious Marshawn Lynch who had this to say when cornered by Deion Sanders for a rare interview Tuesday during the Super Bowl’s “Media Day.”

“I am just about that action, boss. That’s what it is. I ain’t never say no talking win me nothing. Yep, been like that since I was little. Was raised like that. You want something, you go get it. Ain’t no need to talk about it.”

beastmode111

Seattle is more “Beast Mode” than Richard Sherman

Oh, yeah. That’s the traditional Seattle style — an ethos that has spawned some big ideas. And, personally, I love it.

But maybe, just maybe a few Sherman-esque outbursts is what this city needs, especially the burgeoning startup community.

A spark. A fire. Raw emotion.

I’ve had countless conversations in recent months with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists talking about Seattle and where it is headed. The discussion goes something like this: “We’ve got so many amazing things happening here, but no one really knows it. We need to raise our profile.”

That’s easier said, than done. Raising one’s profile — and in this case altering it — comes with risks. And it’s not for everyone.

But you’ve got to ask yourself: Would Muhammad Ali have risen to the prominence that he did without swagger?

New York gets attention because it thinks — and talks — big. Startup champions such as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and venture capitalist Fred Wilson aren’t afraid to lead with personality.

Making something amazing — a knockout; an interception; an app; or a piece of software — and then talking big about it should not be frowned upon.

It’s not something we do particularly well in Seattle. But maybe Sherman can help lead the way, challenging our entrepreneurs to not only do something great, but to do it with personality and panache.

We’ve got the Beast Mode-style down pretty well in Seattle. Now, imagine if we added just a touch of the swagger of the Legion of Boom?

Related13 lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Richard Sherman

  • http://brandbuddee.com/ Andy Karuza

    Entrepreneurialism needs to be popularized and promoted for how exciting it really is. I called the Seahawks rise to greatness years ago because I saw the way the team was being managed and put together. As a marketer, it’s no wonder to me why everybody is caught up with the Seahawks fever and not just in Seattle. It gives people something to believe in. There’s a lot of exciting things happening in this city around sports, startups and fashion — we’re developing a big city mentality. Action is important, but swagger also plays a role in it. Swagger inspires people, it makes them want to be a part of something, it makes people want to believe. By getting people excited about the startup community, it will only increase innovation and attract greater talent to the area. The Seahawks will continue to attract talent for years now, because everybody wants to be a part of that program. We can do the same here in Seattle for our entrepreneur community.

    • http://brandbuddee.com/ Andy Karuza

      Speaking as somebody that’s involved with a variety of communities including the sports scene, nightlife scene, fashion scene, tech startup scene and corporate scene.

    • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

      Much harder to succeed in high-growth technology-fueled entrepreneurship than sports. No comparison.

      • http://brandbuddee.com/ Andy Karuza

        Depends on your resources. Some athletes are born gifted, others create themselves like Richard Sherman. He used to be a lanky, unathletic kid. Some entrepreneurs are born gifted, others create themselves or find much needed help along the way. In fact, it may be harder to become a professional athlete than run a successful company. The pool of people launching businesses is much smaller than people that grow up competing in sports like Football. Now, they’re different fields, but it’s very hard to succeed nonetheless. You can prove me wrong if you walk on to an NFL team in the next two years. I’ll give you two full years to train.

        • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

          Richard Sherman jumps higher than Vince Carter. He’s nearly the fastest guy in the NFL. He’s also six three.

          Come up with something better than that, bro.

          #kakaw

          • http://brandbuddee.com/ Andy Karuza

            Yeah, now ha. Have you read his back story or did you just hear about him after the NFC championship game? Read: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/sports/football/seahawks-richard-sherman-is-much-more-than-just-talk.html?_r=0

            But, that’s besides the point. The point is that sports are glamourous so a lot more people participate, thus a smaller percentage of people actually make it. So…if entrepreneurship was more glamorous or appealing, you’d get a higher amount of participation, better innovation and it would ultimately become harder to be a success.

          • Mark Monroe

            Apparently that haven’t met Mark Monroe! Oh wait I’m here! I am the true Richard Sherman of the Seattle Startup Scene in every aspect. I’m going to be the best damn Entrepreneur this city has seen. Guaranteed!

          • http://brandbuddee.com/ Andy Karuza

            Time to start smack talking some of these other entrepreneurs, maybe a little rivalry will heat things up?

          • Mark Monroe

            Come on who is even fit to be my rival? If the Seattle freeze is there MO than can’t dance with the kid. Their steps just ain’t right yet. Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk.

          • balls187

            Uh, he was a lanky kid without a lot of physical “gifts.” He made himself into what he is. He wasn’t a born athlete.

            Insert Hardwork vs Talent quote.

  • http://timandjeni.com/ Timothy Ellis

    But maybe, just maybe a few Sherman-esque outbursts is what this city needs, especially the burgeoning startup community.

    A spark. A fire. Raw emotion.

    Two words: Glenn Kelman

    • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

      Glenn is world class for many reasons. My favorite is that he’s honest and unafraid to ruffle feathers.

      Also he’s independent of influence from the local motherships.

  • Scott Moore

    You’ve put your finger on something very true about the Seattle tech scene. We’re generally much more Wilson/Lynch than Sherman. Then again, we do have T-Mobile and it’s CEO John Legere. He’s the Richard Sherman of NW tech and gotta say, I enjoy his off-beat antics and competitive grit.

    • johnhcook

      Love that. Yes, John Legere is the Richard Sherman of Seattle tech. I think we have our next commentary! :)

      • http://timandjeni.com/ Timothy Ellis

        I do like Legere. However, Bellevue != Seattle. Also T-Mobile is definitely not a startup.

    • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

      Kindness isn’t weakness or meakness. Russ is a warrior on the field and a brilliant young entrepreneur off it.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

    Entrepreneurs mirror the thinking of their investors.

    Want more brash, change the world type of entrepreneurs?

    Idea 1: investors, Techstars, etc. should finance them.
    Idea 2: Write more articles about VCs and angels looking to finance them.
    Idea 3: Celebrate talented folks who jump from the local motherships into the startup jungle.
    Idea 4: Destroy the MVP talk. Incremental innovation without an underlying thesis that can change industries and locations are features.
    Idea 4: Celebrate risk. Celebrate different. Socially reward change the world thinking.
    Idea 5: More investors needed who are unafraid to fail.
    Idea 6: More 20+ year old hacker entrepreneurs needed. They tend to be fearless.

    Entrepreneurship has to be cooler than working at Amazon and Microsoft.

    • http://brandbuddee.com/ Andy Karuza

      I agree with idea 1, 3, 4.2, 5 and 6

  • OptimusDiaz

    Pretty awesome article. I’ll admit, I’ve got more of the Lynch mantra. It’s funny, I feel like I’ve meet multiple folks who would fit the “Sherman” you’re looking for. I think it’s just a matter of them finding the right time to make noise and not nonsense, so they’re silent until the time is right. For example, I work closely with Mark Monroe, CEO of MyUnfold, and he definitely talks AND walks. Maybe the point is that there needs to be more like that.

  • Nick

    :)

  • Lloyd A Ball

    Yes! We need some of that Sherm Swag to infect our entrepreneurs. GeekWire is the voice of our tech scene so talk that talk baby! Seattle has some of world’s most talented people yet it doesn’t get the respect it deserves… That said, a chip on our shoulder is good for us. It makes us build things like championship organizations.