2004 was a reminder that someone’s loss is often someone else’s gain.
(The following is adapted from my new book, You Gotta Have Balls.)
In the fall of 2004, my company Steiner Sports was on the cusp of officially launching Yankees-Steiner Collectibles, our exclusive memorabilia deal with the fabled team from the Bronx. We were entrenched in the Yankees. And that October, when they were one out away from winning Game 4 of the American League Championship and sweeping the Red Sox to reach the World Series, I was thinking big. I assumed they would go on and win the Series; with the electricity of another NY championship, we were going to make a killing. Yankees-Steiner was going to hit the ground running, and we were never going to look back!
So when the Red Sox proceeded to come back from 0-3 to rip the pennant away from the Yanks, I was crushed. I know it was painful for every Yankees fan, but I had the added despair of fearing that the biggest deal I had ever made was going to go up in smoke.
It was a historical collapse, the only time a team had ever come back from 0-3, and the Yankees were the victims. What Yankees fan would want to memorialize that? If they all felt as bad as I did, none of them would!
Were we going to make a single dollar?
Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t counting on the Yankees winning the World Series every year to sustain Yankees-Steiner. But this was about as bad a start to a new business venture as I could imagine.
The Yankees had taken a huge chance on us. We spent two full years negotiating Yankees-Steiner. I had been living and breathing it. It was a dream come true. I never wanted to wake up; I wanted to show the Yankees the money. Now I feared I’d be showing them the losses.
I went into a little coma for a week.
By the time the Red Sox were up 3-0 against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, I had mostly come to. But I was still a bit depressed, and sluggish. The whole office was. We were a sorry bunch of salespeople.
A staff usually reflects the demeanor of its manager.
Then, in anticipation of Game 4 of the World Series, and the baseball season coming to a merciful end, I had a realization that would have made my mother proud.
As bad as it was for Yankees fans that October, it was the best thing that had ever happened to Red Sox fans. Those people suffered from baseball misery for decades; with the Red Sox finally beating the Yankees, about to win the championship, I could only imagine the kind of joy Sox fans were feeling.
When your world gets dark, it’s very tough to step back and say, “Wait a minute, there could be a light on in another room.” It might be the toughest What Else challenge in life. But if you can find that other light, it will help you climb out of your hole.
So I did the only thing I could think of. I got my ass up to Boston, and I started shaping up the Red Sox-Steiner partnership.
No matter how bad things seem, there’s always some good hidden in your situation. Try to view it from an opposite vantage point, and you’ll find it.
The Steiner team stepped up. We went crazy. We worked 24/7, midnight shifts, to sign as many Sox players as possible. We went full throttle, and ended up cornering the whole market. It was a proud moment for all of us.
Sure enough, that fall turned out to be a huge success. That year is still the best sales year we’ve ever had…thanks to the loyal and hungry Red Sox fans!
What about you? Do you look for the opportunities in your “failures”? Do you know how to turn your “losses” into wins?
Buy my book, You Gotta Have Balls, and check out the rest of the stories. here.