Getting Things Down To One Number
I have been hunting for a hobby for the last year or so. I still run, and I am running more these days, but this has been upgraded from “hobby” to “habit” because if I don’t run, I get irritable and progressively more unhealthy, which then turns into a spiral of shame and degradation. I’m no stranger to those feelings, but at least with running I have a direct and ultimately productive way to manage it. So - running, while necessary, cannot function as a hobby.
As of late February I have returned, with glee, to baseball. I’m not playing it, not really, although my 5 year old daughter and I had a catch for the first time ever last week, and she has taken to it well. I am watching baseball, though, and reading about it, and studying it, and listening to podcasts about it. I am a baseball fan every year but some years I am more into it than others. This year, I am way into it.
I have discovered a new sportswriter mancrush in Jared Carrabis, a kid from Boston who writes for Barstool Sports about the Red Sox. I don’t have much use for the rest of the site, but Jared sounds and tweets like every native Bostonian I knew when I lived there, and he has a solid baseball brain. He also makes up funny nicknames for players that they ultimately embrace, like Travis Shaw, a prospect-turned-everyday-player who wears the t-shirt proclaiming him to be the Mayor of Ding Dong City with pride.
All of this works for me on a very internet-y level and I can’t help but follow Jared’s efforts with interest. He's a little cynical and a lot romantic about baseball, and I identify with that.
I ran out of games to watch a few weeks ago and couldn’t sleep, so I watched Moneyball again. I then read the book and now I am thinking about watching the movie yet again. It is a peculiar tragic hero story and I am lying if I deny that I want to see parallels between Billy Beane and my own endeavors.
This includes the good stuff: being creative enough to do amazing things with few resources, rejecting traditional thinking and finding new productive avenues. Being brave. Being disciplined.
This also unquestionably includes the bad stuff: being riddled with anxiety and doubt, being emotionally invested in the wrong things and eating myself up internally as a result. And junk food. I think there are significant segments of the film that speak to the experience of being an entrepreneur.
For instance there’s this:
Sometimes I am Billy, and doing my best to be a good mentor to the staff. Sometimes that’s me listening to Scott or Jess or Joan or Diana tell me about a better way to do things. Sometimes that’s us educating a client about a plan or strategy. It’s nice! We’re all on the same team!
There’s also this:
And I think that’s the speech you want to hear from a prospective client who has sought you out because they recognize the good work you do. This is, specifically, a sentiment I dream about getting from a political client in Texas, because that is a tough space to crack in terms of putting new ideas into play. You were right, they say in the dream, and the last five years and your work has proven it again and again, and we’re ready to listen. We're ready to be brave and put down years of archaic thinking. We're ready to do something special.
The best part of my job is when clients we already have believe like Red Sox owner John Henry does in this clip, because they’ve seen it work, because it worked for them, because they embraced the process. It feels like magic, but it was a process. It worked because we focused not only on the results, but on the process, because the process is where the real success comes from in the long run.
Because it’s a process, right? You have to count the things that count. You have to properly value stuff that truly matters.
If you've seen the movie or you follow baseball at all, you know that Billy Beane still hasn't won a World Series with his different-thinking, innovative approach at the Oakland A's. They have had amazing seasons in which they way overperformed for a team from their market operating on their budget, but they still haven't won the last game of the season. So what's inspiring about that?