retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Though we are currently in the midst of the shortest and arguably coldest and bleakest month of the year there are unmistakable signs that spring and summer are coming. This week, at assorted locations in Arizona and Florida, the first major league baseball players will start training for the new season.

Now trust me, there are parallels in this for business even if you don’t - unlike Kevin and me - see this moment as possibly one of the most important in the year. In countless ways, baseball faces the same challenges and opportunities that confront most businesses these days.

The 2019 season begins with looming clouds of labor strife and worries that the languid pace of the game - one of its main attractions, for some of us - is increasingly irrelevant for people growing up in a world of fast-paced, action filled options. So baseball is examining how to evolve its rules to adapt to the new era without losing grey heads like your MNB team.

But what makes the start of the season so special is possibility. In February, March and April we all believe our teams can win that this will be the year. (To be honest, we MNB fans of the New York Mets co-mingle our optimism with time-honored expectations of catastrophe.)

Since last October’s World Series championship most teams (apologies to Miami fans) have been scouring ways to somehow best the Boston Red Sox, currently the gold standard of the league. The Sox’s eternal rival - AKA, Satan’s spawn - the New York Yankees are spending more money to build a team that will bury the Bostonians.

Heck, even the Mets tried to improve during the off-season. It’s a reminder that to compete we always must looks for ways to improve and to adapt to the new challenges of the day. Many teams this year are adding players for specific reasons that matter, they believe, most to baseball in 2019.

In truth, baseball teams have an advantage that other businesses lack. Even teams in the midst of lousy seasons are in no danger or going out of business. Yet the need to constantly update to stay competitive and relevant is something we all need consider. More than ever, baseball teams are driven by data based thinking, which might insult the memory of Babe Ruth. Then again, no player today could get by with the Babe’s famous lack of conditioning. In order for an individual player to stay in the league he needs to be better prepared than ever. (Another lesson for business today. Preparation matters.)

The other great aspect about baseball is the number of wonderful movies about the game with countless great lessons for life and business. Consider two MNB favorites: Bull Durham and A League of Their Own.

The former has a wonderful scene reminding us of the chasm that divides good and great performance. In today’s business climate, awareness of that chasm is more important than ever.

And A League of Their Own reminds us that success and greatness never come easily and that we only succeed when we do that which other find too hard. Both of those lessons are worth considering and sharing again and again.

Baseball also reminds us that even the best lose regularly. That striking out and errors are part of the game and that we learn from mistakes to become better and win more often.

Oh and apparently there’s no crying in baseball.

Then again, Kevin and I are fans of the Mets. Tears, we’re used to.

Play Ball!

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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