For Len Green, life—like business—is about gaining the competitive edge.
As a highly successful entrepreneur and CPA, he has spent the bulk of his life finding and maintaining that competitive advantage. And, as a longtime Babson College professor, he has spent the past two decades instilling that same competitiveness into his entrepreneurship students. Even his popular, long-running class—the Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge—is a competition, pitting teams of students head to head with real-world challenges.
To succeed in such competitive environments, Green says, students need the physical and mental advantages that come from athletic activities.
Students, cast your submission for the official nickname of the Len Green Recreation and Athletics Complex. Four finalists will receive $100 in Babson Bucks, and the winner will receive an additional $500 cash prize. Vote now!
“I really believe that if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, athletics has got to be part of it in some way,” Green said, noting that could mean participating on a team, working out to stay mentally and physically sharp, or even analyzing and strategizing aspects of sports. “In business, you’ve got to be able to take calculated risks. What’s better for calculated risks than sports? And, what’s the strategy? If you don’t have a strategy in business, you can’t succeed. Where else can you practice gaining that skill?”
Green’s love of sports has led to his enduring financial support for Babson Athletics, including the cross country and track & field teams, women’s programs, and club sports, such as rugby and polo. Green’s passion culminated Thursday at a celebration to rename the Len Green Recreation and Athletics Complex, the College’s multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art facility that opened in 2019 for the athletics teams and for all students’ physical well-being.
“This is a place where the students who are fortunate enough to get in here can maximize the value of being at a first-class institution,” Green said, “and they can do all kinds of different things in that athletic center, which is really important, because then they can concentrate the rest of the time with a clear mind. That’s really what I’m doing it for.”
Celebration and Gratitude
Hundreds of Babson community members—alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, family, friends, and students, especially student-athletes—congregated at Lamere Plaza to celebrate Green, his career, and the renaming of the athletics complex.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was marked by gratitude for Green’s impact as a professor and athletics supporter. He was thanked for his longstanding commitment to Babson Athletics by a trio of speakers: Mike Lynch, the Pamela P. and Brian M. Barefoot Senior Director of Athletics and Athletics Advancement; Judy Blinstrub, the longtime women’s basketball coach; and Megan Bauman ’23, senior captain of the women’s basketball team.
“I really believe that if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, athletics has got to be part of it in some way.”
Len Green, Babson professor
President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, who first hired Green as an entrepreneurship professor, spoke about their relationship and Green’s importance to the Babson community.
“Len is really driven to add value to everything he does,” Spinelli said. “It is really with deep appreciation that we not only are grateful for the gift you’ve made that allows us to provide these kinds of facilities for our students for this generation and for many generations to come, but for lending his name and the inspiration of his teaching to this community that I think will last far beyond this building.”
The newly renamed building—previously the Babson Recreation and Athletics Complex, or “BRAC,” for short—now is in need of a new nickname. At Green’s suggestion, the College announced a competition, sponsored by the Babson Student Government Association and the Campus Life division, for students to help decide what they want to call the complex.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Green said as he took the stage in front of so many students and colleagues. He reminisced about his time at Babson, and thanked his wife of 63 years, Lois. And, he praised Babson’s students. “It is a true honor to teach here,” he said, concluding his remarks. “Nowhere are the students like you, nowhere.”
The Thrill of Victory
Green’s affinity for athletics traces to his high school and college years, when he played varsity sports. That’s also when he developed a fascination with analyzing games and developing strategy. He would watch game films, breaking down tactics and identifying trends. It’s a skill he still employs as a fan watching football and basketball games, not to mention as an entrepreneur.
“It translates into the real world. It really, really does,” Green said. “I get a great thrill out of that, because that’s a different part of my brain that is really working all the time. I just think that athletics teaches you the ups and downs, and it teaches you that your mind can go further than you think it can.”
Green remains physically active. He wakes at 5 o’clock every morning, and works out for an hour, then he catches up on email and meditates before going to the office. “I’m not saying it works for everybody, but it works for me,” he said. “When I’m walking or swimming, my mind is churning like a son of a gun.”
He also has completed six marathons with the encouragement and support of Russ Brennan, Babson’s longtime head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track & field programs. To help keep his mind engaged for 26.2 miles and push through the physical barriers, Brennan and members of the cross country team have joined Green to ask him questions and talk business while running.
“If I have a business problem, sometimes I work on it through the night,” Green said, “because I’ve pushed myself further than I think I should be able to only because of athletics. And, I like to win.”
Investing in Students
That competitive spirit has led to a career of winning. Green is a CPA, MBA, and entrepreneur-chairman and founder of The Green Group, a tax and financial services consulting firm. He has been an owner, advisor, and/or investor in more than a dozen businesses, including The Green Group; a commercial real estate firm; D.J. Stable, a thoroughbred racing stable; Streit’s Matzos Company; Automat Kitchen; Loop :45; Blue Buffalo dog and cat food; and SoBe beverages.
Last year, Green was inducted into Babson College’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs®. “That was special because I saw all the people who are in the entrepreneurial Hall of Fame,” said Green, taking his place alongside the likes of Ray Kroc, Richard Branson, and Sara Blakely, as well as Babson alumni such as Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98.
As a popular Babson professor, Green has taught and remains connected to more than 2,000 students. He focuses on real-world problems through case studies and connects students with entrepreneurs, many as guest speakers. His unique Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge course pits 10 teams of students, each with a handpicked CEO, in head-to-head competition. The individual team members must collaborate together, or risk being “fired,” while gaining advantages over their rivals. The current team standings are always present on the whiteboard.
“I just think that athletics teaches you the ups and downs, and it teaches you that your mind can go further than you think it can.”
Len Green, Babson professor
Green travels every week from his New Jersey home to the Babson campus for two days. In addition to teaching, he makes time to meet individually with each of his students twice a semester—in his office, over coffee, or a meal—to better understand their motivations and aspirations. Every year, Green has been invited for Q&A sessions at eTower, Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, and religious organizations. He has served as a mentor and inspiration to many students long after they have graduated.
It’s no surprise to learn that Green says his inspiration always has been Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach who is famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
That same competitive spirit continues to drive Green as an entrepreneur, educator, and philanthropist. And, it’s why he believes so strongly in investing in Babson’s athletic programs.
“That’s how you attract people who are out-of-the-box thinkers,” Green said. “Athletes are always trying to get that competitive edge. It’s not the money. It’s winning!”
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