Cooper: Capozzi provides winning game plan

Rick Capozzi | 10/24/17

North Bergen native Rick Capozzi has always tried to apply the lessons he learned while playing athletics into his business career on Wall Street. As a respected public speaker, Capozzi decided to put those guidelines into a book, entitled “The Growth Mindset,” which recently became available from Wiley publishing. Capozzi is now a Franklin Lakes resident with two daughters in the Ramapo High School soccer program. He spent a few minutes chatting about the book and the values it espouses.

What inspired you to write this?

Capozzi: I have been an active keynote speaker throughout North America for years, and people have been asking me when I would write a book. After 34 years on Wall Street, I have met many great leaders and mentors who have taught me so much, and I feel that these lessons need to be shared in order to help others achieve success.

How long did it take?

Capozzi: About three years.

What was the hardest part?

Capozzi: Letting go, and having to do revisions on top of revisions. Like an oil painting, you always feel that one last brush stroke will make it better. You have to step back and say it’s done, or else you will never finish.

What was the most fun part?

Capozzi: Interviewing all of the people in the book. These are my friends and outstanding leaders. They are driven, humble, and they care deeply about the team. I’m intrigued by human behavior, so my curiosity helped make this process extremely rewarding. The secret is in asking the right questions. Ninety percent of getting the right answers is asking the right questions.

Where do you see the connection to sports?

Capozzi: Playing sports has had a major impact on my life and career. Playing football, wrestling, and running track gave me foundational life skills. Some of the coaches, such as Tony Tabbacchino, Ira Wolfe, and Vince Ascolese showed me the difference that a great coach can make in your life, how to be responsible and resilient, how to have mental toughness, how to be a good team player, and how to win (as well as how to lose and learn from your mistakes). However, the biggest and most important lesson has always been perseverance; keep fighting!

Did you draw on your own athletic experiences in writing this?

Capozzi: Yes, I talk about how important it is to be an effective coach in the corporate world, how to inspire your team, and how to lead by example. I also write about what it takes to get in the zone and operate at your very best. One of my mistakes as a young manager was trying to motivate the unmotivated. You can’t coach desire.

What’s one key leadership mistake that coaches/leaders make?

Capozzi: They believe that a title automatically makes them a leader, so they become arrogant. As a result, they stop learning and listening. Coaches often forget it’s not about them; it’s about the team.

What makes a great leader or coach?

Capozzi: Based on my experience coaching many top Wall Street executives, you need to have four key characteristics:

Be completely transparent.
Have a clear vision of the future.
Be competent.
Be inspiring. The best leaders and coaches know what buttons to push to motivate each athlete.

What do you think sports figures could learn from your book?

Capozzi: Anyone that reads the book will learn how to become a better leader, coach, communicator, and collaborator, and they will learn how to help people reach their full potential. I also write that in order to be an effective coach you should also be coached from time to time. Some coaches stop growing and evolving because they have low self-awareness.

Are you going to write something else?

Capozzi: I’m always posting on LinkedIn, and I write a blog that’s on my website for the Capozzi Advisory Group ( The next book is a few years away, and it will focus on helping young adults and college students achieve success after graduation as they start their lives and careers.

I interview a lot of kids who say they want to go into “business” in college? Does athletic competition help train them for the business world?

Capozzi: Absolutely. Sports help you learn about yourself before you walk into that first office. The emotional ups and downs that come with competing on the field translate over to the workplace. I see some coaches that truly get it and help the student athletes develop into a confident future leader, while others just scream and intimidate. The best coaches change their students’ lives. They influence and inspire these athletes beyond a W.

Check out The Growth Mindset on Amazon for even more insights that will drive your success.

This article was originally featured in The Bergen Record and was written by Darren Cooper. (@VarsityAces)


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