Expecting to Succeed
I used to be in awe of youth baseball teams that just “expected” to win, even if they were down a couple of runs late in the game. You look over into the other dugout, and there is no fear, no anxiety. Just quiet confidence that the outcome of the game is still to be determined and they will be there at the end.
The early puberty, “big kid” recruited teams usually freak out when they get behind. This is definitely true by the time they are 15-16 years old, because they have never learned what it takes to truly compete.
It is the hard-nosed, gritty baseball players that stand-out in these situations. They play all seven innings, and the third outs of innings getting harder and harder as the game goes on. Pretty much the definition of Gamers. That type of player and team is fun to watch. The game is always on.
Get This Off My Chest
So …. this past weekend, a 2017 Gamer told be about a “situation” at his high school where parents of other players and then the coaches of their high school team were criticizing the Gamers program saying that “the Gamers fees are so high to pay for the Cadillacs”.
I am sure that if this situation is happening there, it is happening other places … so it is going to be addressed since I am the one that drives a Cadillac (not Matt, Scott or Dave). There are ignorant people out there spreading lies and I am going to directly address it so Gamers players and parents understand the truth.
I went to engineering school, worked hard in the the oil industry in the Arctic Circle and the middle of the Gulf, went to Harvard Business School and for the past 25 years have worked by butt off in the business world. Between my business life and the Gamers, I work over 100 hours a week, every week. I work hard and am pretty good at what I do. So, I will drive whatever car I want to drive.
I take ZERO compensation from the Gamers program and have personally invested more money into the program than you can imagine — well more than one Escalade of money out of my family’s pocket into youth baseball. Most of this money went directly to support kids that would not otherwise play select, travel baseball. So, while others are trying every sly scheme possible to make money in youth baseball and then pointing to my car, I am taking nothing and investing in youth baseball.
Over 100% of the fees from the Gamers program go directly into baseball — coaching, instruction, practice, uniforms, games, etc…. Playing or practicing the actual game. It is over 100% of fees because corporate sponsors and others (including me) donate money to support the Gamers program mission. Our fees may be $2100-3000, BUT our kids all get >>$3000 worth of baseball.
Other programs that charge $2-3000 for baseball are delivering significantly less baseball and a lower quality experience, unless you define quality as less practice, poor instruction and lower expectations — which too many people buy into. It is funny to hear people use “less baseball” as a selling point for their program. Where does that money go then??
Less baseball = PROFIT. More baseball =INVESTMENT
Gamers fees go into baseball, not nice cars.
So, for the critics, feel free to criticize the Gamers for working too hard, for running too much, for setting expectations too high, or for making the game a big deal. If you want to criticize my car, I invite you to spend a month with me and try to keep up.
Email to 14u Gamers regarding 14u as a transition year in youth baseball.
14u Parents — please make sure that your son reads this email.
As I am transitioning away from the 14u team to the 15u team over the next week, I wanted to provide my perspective on the team and where we are going.
First, the difference between this team now versus January 1st is night and day. This is true both as individuals and as a team. I am proud of you. You are ahead of pace, though there is still a lot to work on. We are a very, very good 14u team. And, we are slowly transitioning from kids “who play baseball” to “baseball players”. We have a great schedule of baseball ahead of us. Coach Wheeler, Coach Rosen and Coach Mazzio will help you finish this work.
Given the direction, I am confident that we will be one the the top 14u teams in the region by late summer and will compete with the top teams in the country at East Cobb.
I think that 14u is the most important transition year in youth baseball. The field gets bigger, the game gets harder and, from this point forward, the expectations go up.
It is also an important transition year for young men. Moving from middle school to high school is a big transition in life, academically, socially and athletically. Most of you will have driving permits in 6-8 months! That is a whole different level of execution and focus, with real consequences.
Baseball is a great platform to help in this transition. As players struggle through success/failure, learning to play the game “right”, and deal with high expectations, they are learning important lessons that directly relate to their academic and social lives in the transition to high school.
It is not OK to make mistakes due to lack of effort or lack of focus. As you get older, you are going to be held accountable for these mistakes. It is a big part of growing up. Once you start holding yourself accountable for performing at your best (in sports, school, whatever…), you will end up in a great spot 4 years from now. That is an important inflection point for young men.
I once worked for a successful CEO whose most famous quote was “The long term is just a serious of short terms”. Success is built on execution, doing the little things right, and engaging with effort and passion, every day That is why I care so much about small things. I am sure that at times it seems nuts in the stands and in the dugout. But, small things matter and young men need to learn to care about them. That is how baseball players are molded, and it is a great foundation for success.
Coaches Rosen, Wheeler and Mazzio will continue to emphasize these points. I will help run practices and will be at as many games as possible when we are in the same city.
10,000 hour rule
Lessons from Waffle House — Part 3, Culture
Organizations, businesses, schools, teams — any group of people together for a period of time — develop a “culture”. It is hard to define exactly, but culture is how people act and interact when they are together. It is “how we do things” together.
The Waffle House culture is iconic, especially in the South. A 24×7 restaurant delivering “Good Food, Fast” in hundreds of locations is not easy. Waffle House’s culture is the foundation of its success. Here is a short video on the Waffle House culture.
Culture matters. It enables team members to hold themselves and each other accountable to a standard of expectations.
For the Gamers, our name embodies our culture. Wikipedia definition of a Gamer — “A player who plays particularly hard and is prone to making the right play at the right time, often in big games”. Gamers Play Big, and play hard.
Our specific style of play and expectations are written down and define our culture. We hold each other accountable to these expectations.
Waffle House Lessons – Part 2
The Waffle House kitchen, which is out in the open for everyone to see, is totally paperless and computerless. Everything is 100% based on spoken and visual cues. For, example if you ordered three scrambled eggs with bacon, hash browns with cheese and a waffle, the waitress stands at a specific spot on the floor of the kitchen as would say
“Pull bacon, drop covered, mark triple scrambled hold grits” — Click here for more details.
As the waitress yells the order, the grill operator 1. Pulls the meat for the order and puts it on grill, 2. drops hash browns on the grill and 3. marks a plate with visual cues for the rest of the order.
Here is what the visual cues look like:
The result is Good Food Fast, based entirely on spoken and visual cues. To work at Waffle House, you must memorize and execute under pressure these spoken and visual cues for the entire menu.
That is why only 1 in 80 employees make it through the first year. It is a different language and operating system.
To work at Waffle House, you need to be able to learn, apply that learning and execute under pressure.