LPresident of the Boston Celtics Rich Gotham’s name alludes to the grandeur of Batman, but Mr. Gotham remains humble about both his name and his distinguished career. As a 2016 featured Life Portrait Speaker, Mr. Gotham delivered inspiring words to the Montrose student body on December 6th. He shared insights from his life experience and his career with the Celtics while encouraging students to remain motivated during their time in high school.
At the beginning of his speech, Mr. Gotham said that he remains driven by his family and noted, “I’m very careful not to confuse a title with success.” Mr. Gotham explained his upbringing in Milford and lack of guidance or plans for the future at Milford High School. Ultimately, he decided to attend Providence College, despite the potential financial stress. Mr. Gotham endured trying times during his college years as his parents divorced, and he lost his brother in a tragic car accident. He explained to the students that he drew inspiration from the grief, and he worked three demanding jobs at a department store, restaurant, and gas station in order to afford tuition at Providence College. After Mr. Gotham reached out to Brother Kevin for guidance during this stressful period, Providence College aided him through his financial struggles. Remaining grateful even today, Mr. Gotham now serves on the board of trustees at Providence College.
After graduating from Providence, Mr. Gotham graduated immersed himself in a career as an executive within the online media and Internet technology industry. After 15 years, he took time away from his career to be with his young family; and, during that time, he received the call from the owner of the Celtics franchise offering him his prestigious position as president. This job combined his passion for basketball with his leadership gifts.
Starting in 2007, Mr. Gotham accepted the position and focused on promoting a more positive culture for service both within the Celtics organization and throughout the community. He refuses to tolerate “culture killers” in the Celtics community. The 17 time championship basketball team centered their fierce passion for basketball around what Mr. Gotham believes to be the cornerstones of success: maximum effort, accountability, grit, gratitude, self-awareness and self-improvement. He shared a mantra which Celtics coach Brad Stevens often ingrains in the players, “You can’t start winning until you stop losing.” Relating the paradox to students’ personal lives, Mr. Gotham indicated distractions such as excessive use of social media or texting often undermine one’s success.
Mr. Gotham encouraged students to reflect on life as a series of decisions and prompted them to ask, “Am I measuring up to my own standards?” He also delved into the importance of recognizing one’s own privilege, and he described how the Celtics team cultivates character through charity work, such as Step Up Your Game for at-risk middle school students or the Make a Wish Foundation. He believes the team becomes better basketball players through becoming better people.
Mr. Gotham ultimately presented a challenge to the students to perform to their own standards rather than expectations set by others, to be culture-builders in the community, to work hard no matter the struggle, and to servie others. Thank you, Mr. Gotham, for sharing your inspirational stories and wisdom!