What Sports Can Teach You About Running a Business

When a team has virtually no chance of winning, it becomes a great indicator of who the best players are. Who's still launching himself out of the batter's box, scrapping his way to first? Who's still diving for balls? Who's still getting dirty?

Those are the committed players, who realize that consistency over time equals credibility. The ones who know that to be successful know that you must give your all, regardless of the game’s score. The most successful athletes I know say, ''play the game, not the score.''

Derek Jeter is a perfect example. The former Yankee captain played hard during every inning, day in and day out, over the entire season, every season. You could never tell what the score is from Derek's body language during a given game. Even in the last game of the season, you wouldn't know if the Yankees were headed to the playoffs or if they were in last place in the American League East.

Entrepreneurs, employees -- everyone -- should perform the same way.

When you walk into your office, can you tell whether it's nine in the morning or six at night? Is it the beginning of a promising quarter -- or is it the end of a bad month? Are employees' stock options riding a promising wave, or slogging through a trough? None of these factors should matter. A valuable employee will look like a valuable employee no matter the situation and circumstances. Consistency over time equals credibility.

Too many salespeople misunderstand the unique importance of consistency. They have a big sales day, and to celebrate, they buy themselves a big lunch. Then, they leave work early because they feel they've earned it.

The days when you have a big sale -- when you're riding a big wave -- are the ideal days to go for a second big sale, and possibly a third. In my experience, the best time to make more money is when you're already in the process of making money. It's like a batter on a hitting streak. He doesn't want to take a day off. He wants to ride that wave as long as he can.

Playing the score and not the game is also unwise on an intrapersonal level. Do as much as you can, for as many people as you can, as often as you can, without expecting anything in return. Don't worry about what you're getting back. Don't worry about how many dollars that person is going to equal for you. Being generous without keeping score strengthens your spirit, keeps you focused on the people who make your business what it is, and helps breed success.

I've always operated under this principle with the media. Back in the 1990s, when I was starting Steiner, the sports marketing industry was in its infancy. Even the journalists who were covering it didn't know too much about it. Whenever a reporter called me for a quote, guidance on a story, or to connect with the right person, I went out of my way to help.

I built a reputation as the guy who could get players on the phone with journalists -- which made their lives a heck of a lot easier. I'd do whatever I could to help. And you can be sure that I wasn't getting much in return. But I was accumulating credibility.

I became such a trusted source that my name, and in turn, my company and brand, ended up in the media quite often. In the first 16 years of Steiner Sports, I didn't spend more than $150,000 on advertising, promotion, and PR combined.

When you play the game, and not the score, you usually end up scoring more as a result.

Check out CollectibleXchange and The Steiner Agency.


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