5 Business Lessons from the Wrestling Mat

Adam Velasquez draws on the trials and triumphs of his high school wrestling career to move his path forward at Zions Bank.

Nicola McIntosh Mar 28, 2019

“It’s not where you start — it’s how you finish.”

That adage has guided Adam Velasquez in both his personal and professional life.

As a 5’11” 140-pound freshman with zero wresting experience, he started his wrestling career with a 3-9 record — and finished three years later in the finals of the Idaho State High School Wrestling Championships.

adam velasquez of zions bank

“I went from being the worst wrestler in the room to four years later competing in the A1 state finals walking through Holt Arena in the parade of champions,” Velasquez says. “That literally changed my life. It made me a confident person.”

When he started his banking career, he was — in his own words — “the most inexperienced guy in the room.” But he hopes to finish at the top of his profession by applying the lessons he learned in wrestling to his banking career.

Here are five lessons from wrestling that Velasquez says he applies to his daily tasks as an Executive Banking relationship manager at Zions Bank’s Pocatello Yellowstone branch.

Business Lesson 1: Accountability

Unlike other sports, wrestlers don’t have their teammates on the mat helping them win the match, and likewise they have no one to blame if they lose.

“Wrestling teaches that accountability and responsibility,” he says. “Very much with what I’m doing today, a lot of it is on me. I can’t wait for people to bring me deals or wait for customers to come to me. If I’m not successful, it’s on me.”

men wrestling
Velasquez attempts to pin his opponent at a match during his senior year in 1999.

Business Lesson 2: Coachability

“Most wrestling coaches know when to push the buttons of their kids to get the results they’re looking for from them. There have been plenty of times when I was held accountable by my wrestling coach,” Velasquez says. “As a result, I can receive critical feedback at work without taking offense, pick up my flag and run with it.”

Business Lesson 3: Discipline and patience

“When I was wrestling I had to be very patient, because I was the low guy on the totem pole at one point. I had to be disciplined to work through the frustrations,” he says. “That has helped me in my current career because I don’t have unrealistic expectations and I know I’m not going to immediately be the best. I know I need to put in the work, put in the practice, apply what I’ve learned from others, and the results will slowly trickle in.”

two men standing at a wrestling meet
Velasquez and his brother, Jacob, recently officiated at the state tournament in Pocatello in February.
family posing for a photo
Velasquez with his family after his boys’ wrestling tournament.

Business Lesson 4: Confidence

Thanks to the confidence gained from his journey to the state finals, Velasquez says he began to envision a brighter future for himself. “It gave me the confidence that I can learn a new language, I can graduate college, I can marry my dream girl,” he explains. “I can take this position in the banking industry that is very demanding, but I can do it.”

Business Lesson 5: Effort

Velasquez didn’t become a state finalist overnight. He modeled himself after successful wrestlers. He attended every practice. He improved his strength and stamina by running and lifting weights.

The same effort is required for success at work. “Anybody can fill the desk, but what you do in the desk really makes the difference and that’s what sets you apart from the other bankers,” Velasquez says. “I’m the one going to the after hours, calling on businesses, doing things that require extra effort. It takes time away from my family, but the effort pays off.”

Wrestling icon Dan Gable once said: “After wrestling, everything else is easy.” While life in banking is not always easy, Velasquez believes he manages to work through the hard times due to the life lessons he gained while competing in the sport of wrestling. 

Zions Bank’s Executive Banking team provides concierge-style services to clients of emerging wealth. To learn how an Executive Banking relationship manager like Adam can help you achieve your financial goals, visit your local Zions Bank branch.

Nicola McIntosh is Social Media Manager for Zions Bank.

Share This Article With Your Community