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The #1 Key to Going Pro in Business

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

By Luke Melms

This week the MLB draft is taking place. Many young men are being given the chance to go pro in baseball. Years of hard work are being well rewarded. Once contracts get signed, the journey through the minors awaits seeking to make the ultimate dream of playing in the big leagues come true.

Business doesn’t have a formal draft or clear path to making it to the big leagues per se. How can success be more assured in business you might ask? No different than baseball it takes consistent effort and patience for the investment of time to pay off.

The most valuable skill in business is the ability to build relationships. This skill will stand the test of time and any advancement of technology. It also develops a complementary skill with communication skills. Using LinkedIn, reaching out to alumni of the school you attended and connecting with local business professionals through a Chamber of Commerce or other business associations are just a few ways to get the ball rolling. While in the more immediate future it may not result in anything, long term building trust and rapport can open doors for endorsements or private business opportunities while playing or new career opportunities once playing eventually concludes.

Microwaving may be an option in the kitchen but doesn’t work in business. Relationships work like small ball. Playing station to station is how all relationships naturally progress. Personally, I have landed my last two jobs in large part because of relationships built over multiple years. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have to interview but had a lot going for me heading into those meetings.

This last week we received the email below from Chris Lubanski, the 5th overall pick in the 2003 draft by the Royals. He amassed over 100 HRs while being named to multiple All-Star teams on his ascent all the way to AAA. However, injuries put a damper on reaching his ultimate goal. He wrote…

I’m a former professional baseball player. I was drafted in the 1st round in 2003 and after a string of injuries decided to go back to school. I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania last year and have been working in finance since then. I currently work for Wells Fargo as an analyst in Philadelphia. I know the challenges facing young players from transitioning from the field to the office. I would love to hear more about the site and what you see Baseball and Business becoming down the road.

Photo Credit: SBNation

To those of us who like Chris are on the other side of playing, we get the chance to be pros every day in a different way. Regardless if your playing days are behind you or are still in front of you, I challenge you to focus on further developing one business relationship that already exists while creating a new one from scratch.

Chris’ email to me is a great example of how easy it is to network. The private LinkedIn group has an introduction thread going which can be a great way to find your one person while introducing yourself to the rest of the 450+ guys in the group. I’ve included a button below which will take you directly to the post to read through the other comments and to post your own.

The reason the community exists is to make it easier to connect with like-minded people while growing your network and career. What you know is certainly important but who you know will always determine what new opportunities can potentially arise.

Are You in the Right Position on the Business Field?

Friday, May 26th, 2017

By Luke Melms

Each year the Baseball Winter Meetings allows for teams and players to get deals done putting themselves in the best position heading into the upcoming season. As always, many players find themselves taking their talent to new cities.

Every offseason baseball players prepare themselves for a new season to embark on the journey of winning a World Series. What were your aspirations as 2016 wrapped up and felt the New Year providing new potential? Hopefully you’re happy with what you have accomplished in 2017 so far. Maybe you feel stuck or are just slightly unsatisfied though. If you want 2017 to provide a different result in some way, what changes are you going to make that will lead to being in a different place by the end of the year?

I had the chance to speak briefly with one of the greatest hitters of all time, Hall of Famer and Twins manager Paul Molitor at the 2016 Winter Meetings. It was during the 1992 Winter Meetings that he signed a three year contract to play in Toronto after spending the first 15 years of his career in Milwaukee. The Blue Jays were very aggressive once he became a free agent and were able to get a multi-year deal done with their eyes set on repeating as World Series champs in 1993.

Often being open minded to the potential for change can lead to new levels of success whether it be in baseball or business. 1993 is a great case study of this. After finishing atop the American League in hits during the regular season, Molitor stayed hot helping march the Blue Jays into the World Series by hitting nearly .400 to defeat the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS. He went on to hit an even .500 tying a World Series record en route to leading the Blue Jays to a World Series title and was named World Series MVP.

My college coach regularly said, “Little things become big things.” The more time has passed I’ve realized how true this is in every area of life. Just being open to doing something different can be the spark to new ideas and in turn new heights. If Paul Molitor was not open minded to the potential of playing outside of Milwaukee, he would have finished his career with no World Series title or World Series MVP.

Decide today to go all in on what it is you want to happen. Don’t rush by making an emotional decision that isn’t right long term but don’t be complacent at the same time. Maybe it means changing industries, making a pivot with comparable skill sets, going back to school, making a complete career change or like myself moving to a new city. Just take a swing and find out how far it can fly. You’ll look back on 2017 feeling no regret.

3 Daily Decisions in the Big Leagues of Business

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

By Luke Melms

While draft picks of other major sports go from amateur straight to the highest level, baseball has a more humbling journey. Often pitchers drafted out of high school or college have one or two pitches they are highly confident in. Coaches work with these players to ideally develop at least three pitches in their ascent from the minors to the big leagues.

A great example is Clayton Kershaw. No one has done it better in recent history. He has been named National League Cy Young winner three times. In addition, he claimed the 2014 National League MVP as a pitcher for the first time since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson in 1968.

I believe there are three decisions we make in business that coincide with Kershaw’s three best pitches. I share these thoughts with you from my experiences over the years of trying to hit these pitches while I played on the baseball field and how I’ve used these pitching parallels on the business field. Let’s begin by looking at what the fastball most aligns with in business.

  1. Will I work with what I have?A pitcher doesn’t need to cross a certain threshold velocity wise before making their MLB debut. A fastball for a few means a straight as a string pitch topping out in the triple digits. For others, it may mean an 88 mph pitch with some movement. Clayton Kershaw is in between typically pounding the catcher’s mitt at 93-94 mph.Every pitcher competes with a fastball. Going pro in baseball or business requires more than what is seen to the masses on gameday. This is why talent isn’t enough.Hustle is the one component each day that is a 100% in each person’s control and is the equalizer amongst many variables. Being undersized at 5’7″ in high school and college, I didn’t rely on the home run trot and instead focused on hustling around the bases to score runs.Pitchers often set up hitters with their ability to get ahead count using their fastball. The reason being is that it should be the most reliable pitch because it is the easiest to control. What the fastball is to pitching is what hustle is to business.
  2. What will I do when the unexpected strikes?All sports bring unexpected moves and moments. A good juke by a running back to avoid a tackle is the equivalent of a pitcher throwing a slider with hard, late breaking bite.What happens though even when a Clayton Kershaw slider flattens out? A different type of unexpected typically unfolds when a slider stays over the middle of the plate. Solid contact if not a home run usually is the fate of the pitch.A big moment took an unexpected turn for a former minor league baseball player turned quarterback in Super Bowl 49. The Seattle Seahawks didn’t draw up throwing an interception on the biggest play of the game but it happened.A fourth round pick by the Colorado Rockies, Wilson hit just .229 over two minor league seasons before deciding to return to college and use his final year of eligibility to play football.Despite leading the Wisconsin Badgers to a Rose Bowl appearance, he slipped to the third round and watched five other quarterbacks get their name called before him in the NFL draft. Many teams overlooked him for the job because of his sub six foot frame for the position.Because of how he chose to deal with the emotional let down of these unplanned events, these were just stepping stones to becoming a Super Bowl champion.The key to the second pitch in the business arsenal is the choice of deciding how to react when it comes to unexpected events. Anticipating both opportunities to arise out of nowhere and disappointments to occur is just part of playing the game. The only way to avoid this uncertainty is to sit in the stands.

    We can all choose to move on from the unexpected like Russell Wilson

  3. When will I show up?The big breaking ball in Kershaw’s left arm is what he loves to use to put hitters away with two strikes.The pitch separates him from being great to potentially one of the all time best at his current pace. If he only had his two other pitches to rely on, hitters could take a 50/50 guess on fast or faster each pitch. Instead, the 18-20 mph difference between his fastball and curveball always keeps hitters on their toes.The third pitch to apply in making business decisions isn’t a simple suggestion to show up early to an appointment or meeting.A resource I have found valuable is a morning routine that is a launch pad to the day. If you want a change of pace unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, I highly recommended checking out Miracle Morning routine caught so much fire it even led to a book being written that is an Amazon best seller titled The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM).Simply throwing a curveball itself isn’t a big deal no different than rolling out of bed is. The difference is in how it is executed. Being able to consistently throw a curveball for a strike regardless of whether or not the hitter swings makes or breaks the pitch.Clayton Kershaw wasn’t the king of the hill from day one but has continually worked hard in the offseason to make sure the previous year was a stepping stone to the next level. With all of his accomplishments, it is easy to wonder if there is anything left for him to improve on.

    The answer to that thought is a big yes.The main mountain yet to climb on his baseball resume is reaching the summit of a World Series.

    The new season is still young and is time for every player to help their team make it to the postseason. No matter where you are today in your business career, you can put yourself in position to be elite in whatever industry you call home.

    Unlike baseball though, the difference between the playing at minor league and major league level in business is not dependent on front office decisions. All three of these pitches described are simply decisions to make every day.

    Anyone in American business is already playing on the biggest stage. Just ask any of millions around the world that can only wish they could be here.

    Today is a reason to smile for baseball players and business people alike because it is another chance to answer the call to play ball not just in business but all areas of life.

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