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A Baseball Player as an Entrepreneurial Role Model

by: Geoff Ficke

Watching the Chicago White Sox win the World Series for the first time since 1917, I was struck again how wondrous this beautiful sport still can be. The purest American game, baseball teaches so many of the values we appreciate in all areas of life. Hard work, doing the little things, hustle, overcoming adversity and never quitting are lessons we learn playing Little League baseball.

My firm specializes in small business development and boot strapping entrepreneurs. The virtues we see in every baseball game are directly applicable to success or failure for inventors and companies. The Chicago White Sox, and one player in particular, are wonderful endorsements for the baseball/success ethos. Scott Podsednik is the poster boy for every virtue essential to positive entrepreneurial achievement.

It Took Nine Long Years

Scott Podsednik was born and raised in tiny West, TX. West is a hamlet, founded, and still principally inhabited by Czech immigrants. No great sports traditions here. As a 150-pound outfielder, Mr. Podsednik was drafted and played minor league baseball for nine, very long, frustrating years. Every year in spring training, Mr. Podsednik would be returned to the minor league camp, traded from team to team and generally stuck with the label “not a prospect”.

Several times he considered giving up and seeking another calling. Nevertheless, he knew, believed in his heart, that given a chance he would be a success at the Major League level. Three years ago an injury opened a spot on the Milwaukee Brewers. The team took a chance on Scott Podsednik, believing he would be a back-up player until the injured star returned. This was the chance he dreamed about since Little League in West, TX. He never looked back.

Rookie Record Breaker

As a 29-year old rookie, Scott Podsednik hit over .300, scored over 100 runs and stole over 50 bases. He played the game with drive, hustle, smarts and courage. Mr. Podsedniks value has rapidly escalated and during the off-season he was traded to the White Sox for power hitting Carlos Lee. The White Sox had not won the World Series in 88 years. Hitting in the key leadoff spot, stealing bases and playing sparkling outfield defense, Scott Podsednik is the emotional leader of the new champions.

A Model for Entrepreneurs as Well

Scott Podsednik heard the dreaded word “NO” for years. Every business start-up, inventor or entrepreneur faces the same hurdle at various points in time. Mr. Podsednik did not like hearing the cursed word, but it did not deter him from seeking and attaining his goals. It is the same for every successful entrepreneur. “NO” has to be handled as a temporary roadblock, not a final, death knell for opportunity.

Success is very seldom linear. Setbacks, stumbles, mistakes happen, will happen and must be handled as challenges, not disasters. Thomas Edison performed over 1000 experiments before perfecting the electric light bulb.

That is a lot of “NO”! He never thought of stopping his pursuit of success, and no successful entrepreneur ever let NO stop the drive to succeed.

The Chicago White Sox are champions because they did the little things better than any team in baseball. A team with virtually no stars vanquished other squads with more All-Stars and much higher payrolls. This is a template that every inventor can use as a positive example. Creativity, effort, diligence and determination can overcome almost any obstacle. Scott Podsednik and the Sox are real world models we can all admire and emulate.