Baseball glove, ball and bat

Originally Published on LinkedIn in 2015 and adapted for now.

Baseball’s playoffs are nearby.

Stars have been made this season. Some were starting their careers and trapped in a system that leaves them in the control of their team for several years before they can test free agency and collect a big pay day and long term contract.

There are lessons we can learn from how baseball approaches paying its stars and midlevel performers that we can take into our lives.

1. Big market teams tend to pay more.

There are exceptions but teams from larger cities pay more for talent than small market teams. They can afford to make a mistake and often do. Money doesn’t guaranty their success but it can advantage them as long as they don’t overpay. Think big companies when you interview

2. Small market teams offer more opportunities to get a break.

While big market teams chase established stars, small market teams are likely to chase less experienced talent and offer them an opportunity. As you begin your career, early in a career, you may be better served by joining the smaller firm where you will have a real opportunity to learn and grow instead of being trapped in the systems bigger companies use to standardize performance.

3. Everyone can get a big payday!

Home run hitters in baseball are like business scions and celebrity fashion models. Everyone fixates on them because do striking things. Solid singles hitters get paid, too. As do great catchers, pitchers, shortstops, 3rd basemen, etc.. Everyone in the job market has the potential to earn a lot of money. Except .220 hitters. There are a lot of .220 hitters in business who go through the motions. All of these were seen as great talents in high school, college or on the ball field of their native countries.

4. Who gets paid the most?

Clutch players. When the pressure is greatest, clutch performers step to the plate and drive in the winning run or make the great defensive play that saves the game. Practice by stepping up for critical assignments instead of shirking them.

5. It is not enough to be clutch.

That seems to contradict the previous statement but let me continue.

Baseball is also a huge marketing machine that operates in conjunction with the media to sell stories that make you want to watch, read or listen to more– to become “a fan.”

You need to market yourself and not just simply rely upon being “discovered.” Make sure the right people at your firm know about your clutch performances. Make sure you use social media, trade groups and other outlets to create a trail of information that allows “big market teams” with “deep pockets” to discover you.

6. Listen when you are approached.

When you are approached, pay close attention to the opportunity and how it will set you up for another big payday after this one. Only fools don’t listen when someone starts waving around a contract with lots of zeros in it that you don’t have. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it. You just have to listen to the proposal with an open mind and then make a decision.

7. Get a coach. Get an agent.

A good coach will guide you through your career so that you don’t take short cuts. They will understand you and your aspirations and give you a kick in the rear or a gentle tap on the shoulder to correct your course AND they will learn the different times to do each one.

A good agent will make things so much easier for you by making you aware of opportunities that meet your needs. In job search, they should be seen as an ally . . . but the ultimate decision rests with you. All these big deals are negotiated by agents. Learn from that.

8. People are disposable.

The player who puts on 25 pounds after signing the big deal and fail to perform will put themselves in the position to get tossed out at the first opportunity. Fat. dumb. Lazy. That’s not what a team is signing someone up for. Being clutch for them is what they want.

9. Make demands on yourself.

Clutch players practice for the important moments. They don’t just “wing it.” Practice. Be ready.

10. Winners find the way to win. Losers have excuses.

We see it all the time. The losing team walks off the field, shaking their heads over what could have been. There is no second, no minute, less important than another. Every time you work, the goal is to give 100% effort and not be lazy. After all, you never know moment when you need to be clutch will appear before you. Unlike baseball when there may be time to think before you walk to the plate, sometimes, all you have is an instinctual response to go by.

Today, not tomorrow, is a good day to start acting on these lessons.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2015, 2019



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
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