What I Learned About Business from the 2019 World Series

My dream employee is a Nats baseball player!

I’m a pretty new baseball fan, but I’m learning. Here are some things I learned: 

One player can bring a joyous spirit to a team that spreads and turns work into play.

Gerardo Parra reminded us that baseball is a game. He brought the spirit of the Baby Shark, along with the dancing and hugging that made staying in the fight, even against the odds, fun.

The great players forget the org chart and go where they’re needed.

I learned about baseball’s org chart. There are starting pitchers in the dugout and relief pitchers in the bullpen. That’s the way it’s drawn, but it’s not the way the Nats’ played it.

There’s no ego in baseball – at least for the 2019 Nationals team.

The Nats have three ACE starting pitchers, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. Aces’ jobs aren’t in the bullpen, but all three of these men went in as relievers 6 times in the postseason games. They aimed to keep their team in the fight, and they had the skill to make it happen, so they did what they needed to do. The bullpen was where they were needed, so that’s where they went.

Nats are passionate about winning and go above and beyond.

In the middle of the series, Max Scherzer woke up unable to move because of a neck injury. Four days later he was back, with the help of a cortisone shot, and pitched five innings of the final game. Then Corbin, who had relieved 3 times in the postseason, came in, pitched three game-changing innings, and won the game.

Nats celebrate and value each other. “1 to 25!”

These players were a team – from the aces, to the weak bullpen, to the old veterans (42 is old?), to the baby Nats from the Dominican Republic who lit up the outfield. They were a unit in which the stronger players stepped in for the weaker players without diminishing those players. They weren’t all stars but they were all included in the win.

With the Nationals as my model, I set about to list the requirements for my dream employees.

Wondering if I’m the only employer in the D.C. area who’s looking for baseball players, I researched job requirements posted by other top businesses in the D.C. area. I found out I’m not! We are all looking for the employee who –

  • Will love our team and be committed to the team’s success
  • Will go where you’re needed and do what you need to do, without letting ego stop you
  • Will bring a spirit of fun and joy to the team, dance, hug, and celebrate victories, no matter how small
  • Will collaborate with other team members, including those in other departments
  • Will set clear ambitious goals, anticipate obstacles, persevere, and be accountable for your team’s success
  • Will constantly evaluate, seek feedback, train, and never settle in your quest to improve, grow, and develop
  • Will jump whole-heartedly into a task necessary for your team’s success, even if, “it’s not your job
  • Will thrive in a fast-paced, competitive team environment
  • Has a drive to exceed performance goals and refuses to accept limits others might impose
  • Has a smiling face, engaging personality, and passion
  • Desires to achieve important things and will do what it takes to achieve them

As I look at the Nats compared to some of the other D.C. sports teams, I learned my most important lesson.

To have a winning team, you have to deserve them.

  • You have to build a club where those players will want to play. 
  • You have to respect them.
  • You have to be there for them, believe in them, and show them that you value them.
  • When the task is daunting and the outlook is bleak, you have to encourage them to, “Stay in the fight,” as Dave Martinez did for the Nats. Even when the world was bashing him, and calling for his head, he didn’t react to the world. He just kept his mind on building up his team.
  • You have to trust them, and sometimes get out of their way and let them figure it out.
  • You have to have your heart in the team and in the game as much as they do, and show it, as Mr. Lerner did when he said,

Now you can call me Grandpa Shark.”

November 13, 2019