A company’s mission and objectives are heavily reliant on the organization’s culture. Working in an environment that lacks culture and a strong work ethic results in inefficient and unproductive work. An organization that follows a set culture and routine has focused and driven employees who perform well and produce top-notch work. Similar is the case with Gabe’s Academy. Gabe Jaramillo is a world-renowned tennis coach. He has developed eleven of the world’s No.1-ranked players and 27 top 10 players. Gabe has coached all of them in his Academy with extreme professionalism and expertise to make them reach where they are today.
One of the questions that people ask Gabe the most is how he created a sports academy in a small town in Florida that is recognized worldwide today. Gabe answers this by saying, “I invite you now to travel with me inside the most well-known tennis academy in the world, The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. Today it an IMG, a tennis powerhouse. It became a hotbed, exactly as the dictionary defines, ‘a place that fosters rapid growth’ and built from the ground up. From this seed we planted, many other high-performance institutions sprouted up in the surrounding area, making Florida one of the best-known destinations for Tennis Champions. Hotbeds are the origin of clusters of excellence.”
A good team always leads to success. Businesses thrive when it has dedicated people who contribute by giving in their best and providing innovative ideas. Gabe’s team consisted of the legendary Nick Bollettieri. The lethal combination of his expertise and Gabe’s vision created an academy that trained future tennis stars. Gabe states, “We were dreamers. Nick was a great leader and a driving force. We were the first ones to show up for work every day and the last ones to leave. Nick was also a terrific motivator, which is a crucial ingredient for a coach. He had charisma, and the players loved him as well as his loyal staff. The place was run like a family, we worked weekends at his house where he had a clay court, but after practice, the team would get together to cook the most delicious steaks on the grill. Sitting outside around a giant wooden table, the entire team, coaches, and players had the best time telling jokes and talking about tennis over dinner. Our goal was to make Champions, we worked seven days a week, sixteen hours a day, and it was implicit that to achieve our dreams and those of our players, we had to maintain a culture of hard work, dedication, and efficiency. It was our philosophy and battle horse from the start.”
“I was the Director of the Academy, and Nick gave me the freedom to innovate. He understood that my background was that of an Olympic Swimming Family and recognized that sports had been in my veins since I was born. I had the ambition and drive to take it to the next level. I knew the game, my ideas were innovative, and he was not afraid to try something new, experiment, or make mistakes. From the beginning, we emphasized creating and maintaining first-class staff. Nobody was under contract if they worked for us. They were there because they wanted to be and because they were passionate. We all worked together not only to produce Champions but to make sure all of our students reached their full potential.”
“I understood from the start that leading with culture was among the most essential and vital ingredients of a High-Performance environment. Culture lives in shared behaviors, values, and beliefs. We did not have any written rules, in the sense that our rules didn’t need to be written on paper. They were, however, engraved on our souls. Driven by excellence. It was our collective mindset and that of the entire organization, from assistants, office managers, drivers, coaches, parents, and athletes. It was a hotbed for making champions, and everybody knew it.”
Thinking big motivates the mind to work harder than before. And this is exactly what they did at the Academy. Gabe shares, “We walked, talked, dressed, and worked like Champions. This was the norm and the expectation of every coach and every student. We recruited and scouted the best talent from around the world. We encouraged and demanded hard work, discipline, and constant creativity. Those unwritten rules, trust, high goals, readiness, and fun were our foundation. The powerful stories we created set us apart; some real, some imagined, and others that, over time, became myths as they were told and retold. That’s the magic of the culture that made us a powerhouse. The number of star players that came out of our Academy was a dream come true, and that feat will never be repeated.”
Champions Are Made in Clusters
Hard work, dedication, and consistency; three are the key to success. Gabe and Nick, with their persistence and drive to create a new world champion, created an academy of perfection. In a short time, their Academy becomes the center for producing champions, a place where people wanted to be a part of. He says, “In the blink of an eye, the Academy’s success elevated our location to become a cluster to make professional players. New Academies were born and died every day. But people knew and hoped that success could be contagious next to such a powerful training institution. As if through the years, we saw many projects that flourished and others that did not. Out of nowhere, from a dream, from a single place, it gave rise to the birth and formation of one of the most respected and admired clusters worldwide. Florida today is like Florence of the renaissance past, at least in the tennis world.“