Break out the Champagne! My favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles, just clinched the championship of the American League East Division for the first time in 17 years.
This team is a pleasure to watch because it reminds me of the successful Oriole teams of my childhood. For those teams, the watchword was the Oriole Way. At a time when the phrase corporate culture probably hadn’t been invented, the Orioles had a corporate culture — and it was encapsulated in the Oriole Way.
The Oriole Way can simply be defined as playing baseball the right way. The classic Oriole teams were built on stout pitching and strong defense. But mostly, they rarely beat themselves by making mistakes. Continue reading
This weekend marks the anniversary of the best baseball game I ever saw in person, at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium. It taught me some lessons about handling tough situations on the job.
After rallying to tie the score in the ninth inning, the Orioles had no one left to play catcher. So in the top of the tenth, they put utility infielder Lenn Sakata into the game at catcher — a position he’d never before played in the major leagues.
That’s Lesson 1: Be flexible. You never know what need might arise. When it does arise, strap on the catcher’s gear and perform with as much grace as you can muster. Who knows? It might turn out OK. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll know that gave it your best shot.
Toronto Blue Jays’ batter Barry Bonnell reached first base and, no doubt thinking it would be easy to steal second with the inexperienced Sakata behind the plate, took a big lead. Pitcher Tippy Martinez picked him off.
The next batter, Dave Collins, walked. He took a big lead off first base, and Martinez picked him off too.
Then Willie Upshaw singled. As he took his lead off first base the fans began chanting “pick him off.”
Which brings us to Lesson 2: Don’t be overconfident. Having seen two of his teammates get picked off and hearing the crowd chanting, why did Upshaw wander so far off first base? He must’ve been thinking It can’t happen to me.
A successful pickoff in baseball is fairly rare. Picking off three in one inning, as Martinez did, is extraordinary. And of course it’s a record that’ll never be broken.
In the bottom of the tenth, Sakata came to bat with two outs and two men on base. You can guess what happened. Sakata, who weighed 160 pounds soaking wet and who’d hit just one home run all season, hit a three-run homer to win the game.
I was already a baseball fan for life. That night, watching from the upper deck in Memorial Stadium, I became an Orioles fan for life.
And so Lesson 3: You never know who might be watching. The Orioles gained a fan that night. Your handling of a tough situation might gain you the respect and even the admiration of a client or colleague — which will pay off later on.
Use the comments area to tell me you might’ve learned from this story. Or just tell me about a good ballgame you’ve seen.
Originally published, with slightly different content, on the SDI blog, 24 August 2010
A summary of my remarks last night to the newest graduates of Duke’s Technical Communication certificate program:
A recent ranking had a twist: it listed the worst jobs along with the best. At the bottom of the list? Lumberjack. I find this strange, given that lumberjacks have their own song. Nevertheless, in spite of our not having a song, Tech Comm rates as a pretty good career.
I believe in building and cultivating a personal brand. By brand I mean the professional image or personality that you want to project. You build your personal brand, first and foremost, by building trust.
Leadership consultant Greg Hartle takes a slightly different tack, and I really like what he has to say. Continue reading
Jonathan Martin noticed a sudden influx of personal messages directed to his Twitter account. New York Times reporter that he is, he figured out pretty quickly what was happening. The message senders had him confused with another Jonathan Martin, offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, who was the subject of an exploding story about hazing in football locker rooms.
Martin (the journalist) reported that the messages ran the gamut from encouraging to insulting to profane. As a sports fan, he found the whole experience amusing. But it also provided a window into the free-wheeling nature of social media, especially into what one of his correspondents called keyboard courage: the tendency for people to say online what they’d never dream of saying to someone’s face. Especially to a 6-foot-5, 312-pound pro football player.
I’ve written and presented about personal branding: the importance of creating and cultivating a professional image or personality. So what happens when you carefully build a personal brand, only to have something come along that casts your name in a completely unexpected light? Continue reading