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3 Keys to Successfully Transitioning from Baseball to Business

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

By Luke Melms

While many late round draft picks don’t make it to the big leagues, there are underdog stories just like Coastal Carolina who won the 2016 College World Series despite the odds being stacked against them. Baseball having a minor league system allows more players to play professionally and chase their dream than any other sport.

With the college season hitting the homestretch in May, many are using the last of their four years of eligibility and will find themselves turning the page to the next chapter in life that doesn’t involve playing baseball.

According to HSBaseballWeb.net, only 1 in 10 NCAA baseball players will play affiliated professional baseball. In addition, the only players drafted to historically have over a 50% chance of making it to the big leagues are those selected in the first round according to an article by Bleacher Report. The percentages quickly drop with each round.

While making it to the big leagues can fulfill a dream, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee filling up a bank account enough to walk away from the game never needing to work again. According to a study done in the last decade, the average MLB rookie will have a career between 5-6 years. Obviously, averages don’t tell the full story. For every player that makes it a decade or more, there are plenty who only play a handful of years.

No matter how you look at it, the window of opportunity to play and be paid at the highest level is short while life extends far beyond it. As the great line from Moneyball says:

“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game. We just don’t know when that’s going to be. Some of us are told at 18. Some of us are told at 40, but we’re all told.”

After experiencing this transition myself and having conversations about this reality between many current and former college, minor league and MLB players, I created Baseball and Business to help current players leverage the window of opportunity while they are on the field and to assist former players in the transition from baseball to business.

Baseball and Business helps current and former pro and college baseball players learn how to leverage their experiences on the baseball field to become pros in business. Those still playing learn how to maximize the window as an active player while those who’ve already crossed to the other side learn how to position themselves for long term success in business.

Baseball and Business is designed to help bridge the gap between the baseball field and the business field by bringing like-minded people together that understand your unique circumstances. No different from baseball, nothing great can be accomplished alone in business.

Playing on a baseball team contains a clearly defined purpose by playing a specific position on the field and working together as a team to complement one another. Once playing is in the rear view mirror, there can be a challenge in finding as clear of a purpose and path careerwise moving forward. This is a large part of why this network was created.

As there are multiple ways to win a baseball game, there is no cookie cutter way to successfully make the transition into business. On the baseball field, I was left handed, fast and knew I didn’t exactly have much hope for height based on my DNA. I used these circumstances and strengths to naturally find a home in centerfield going into high school after playing first base up to that point.

Despite being able to play the position well, I knew I would be competing against others who were over six feet tall at the next level. If I insisted on staying on the infield, I would have gotten very cozy with the bench and certainly wouldn’t have played in college. By using my strengths and complementing those with teammates who had different strengths many feats were accomplished.

My experiences playing baseball built a foundation for the rest of life. The lessons you’ve learned from baseball can never be taken away from you.

These are three steps I’ve found important to putting the odds in your favor when making the transition from baseball to business:

  1. Make a list of your strengths…Build your career around what you are good at. Mark Zuckerberg is a Clayton Kershaw type in business. The reality though is that not everyone is built to be an ace or startup founder. Would you rather have an ERA of 2.50 out of the bullpen or an ERA of 9.00 as a starter? Know your strengths and go all in on them.
  2. Ask others what your weaknesses are…We all have egos and are have blind spots as a result. Ask five people close enough to you that will be honest about what they think your weaknesses are. See what consistently pops up in their responses. Don’t waste time trying to become someone you aren’t and avoid having weaknesses be involved in the major aspects of your day to day responsibilities.
  3. Find the right teammates to surround yourself around…Whether it is winning a baseball game or winning on the business field, the only way to be successful is by not going at it alone. Certain baseball teams win consistently because they have the right leadership that knows how to build cohesiveness with talent. A great example of this currently in baseball is Joe Maddon and the Cubs. Seek out partnering with the right people, company and culture.

The mission of Baseball and Business is to help current and former baseball players leverage the lessons learned from baseball into business so they can win for their most important team, their family. Baseball and Business is dedicated to those set on achieving as much in business as baseball.

If you are a current or former college, minor league or MLB player, I invite you to get plugged into the community. A good starting point is to follow the Baseball and Business social media pages on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You’ll see all our content along with updates on live events. I hope to see you there!

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