Three Ways Little League Preps You For Agency Life
Growing up, baseball was a big part of my life. It brought me plenty of joy, and a little heartbreak, given that I grew up in Atlanta (however, being born in 1990, I do credit myself for personally kickstarting the Atlanta Braves infamous “Worst to First” season of 91’). When not playing or practicing, you’d likely find me rallying neighborhood kids for shoeless pickup games or catching a primetime game on ESPN.
When learning to play a sport, the biggest takeaway a child can have is understanding the dynamics of a thriving TEAM. As an adult, the lessons learned during youth baseball continue to pay dividends in my professional career, from elevating the team and creating a winning culture, to thriving under pressure and embracing flexibility.
Culture Is Key
In little league, a new year means a new team and new teammates. Learning to be open to others, understanding who they are and how they tick helps to build the TEAM.
This begins to manifest in growing a positive and winning culture within your team. In the MLB, teams will sign veterans who aren’t top players but are incredible teammates and leaders. You’ll also have those who come in with the hopes of playing well, but in the locker room, they are a detriment to the culture of the team. These teammates are typically referred to as a clubhouse cancer.
How does this translate to agency life? Examine how your organization is interviewing and hiring. Far too often, hiring is driven by bandwidth issues within your team, created by a new win. However, that new win means we need people to help with this new work and we need them… yesterday. As a result, agencies often cut corners and conversations to hire based on experience and resumes—not understanding who the person truly is. Instead, really commit to that 2nd coffee conversation with a person. Get to know who they are, what makes them tick, how they process information. This will help you make sure you’re hiring your clubhouse veteran and not a cancer.
Escape Your Comfort Zones
When you’re young, it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Your household chores, little league playoffs, or High School homecoming (shout out to those awkward photos that never go away thanks to social media). However, putting yourself in situations to face pressure is the first step.
Pressure is simply another opportunity to learn and succeed. Embrace those opportunities! For everyone not making millions to hit a curveball, what does it mean for you to step in for your next “at-bat?” At your agency, maybe it’s asking to run a larger account, shadow a new role or even present to internal stakeholders. Whatever your “at-bat” is, make strides to do it. Who knows, you may find yourself craving the pressure-packed situations more and more.
The Utility Player
As with most sports and competition, you can’t always be the best player on the field or in your position. Sometimes you find yourself better than 95% of other players, but not good enough to beat whoever is starting ahead of you. So, where do you fit in?
Hopefully, you’re still reading if not a baseball junkie, and have heard of the typical positions. There’s a pitcher, catcher, outfield and so-on. But if you watch a few major league games on TV, you’ll eventually hear the broadcast announcer mention something about a utility player. Huh, what is that?
Remember that kid who was better than most but never really became the best? Every major league team is limited to the number of players they can carry on their roster. Due to these limitations, they need players who can fit in and play a number of positions. If a player gets hurt, it doesn’t matter if it’s shortstop, second base or outfield—they can jump in and fill the position. The importance of this utility player can’t be understated.
This scenario easily translates to the agency workplace. All too often, competition is used as inspiration to get ahead of your co-workers. Instead, see your work as a chance for the team to rally together with everyone doing what they can to most contribute—no matter what “position” you’re playing. Yes, your title may say Sr. Director, but remember the first takeaway: It’s about the TEAM.
Regardless of title, experience or even industry, shift the lens in which you see your role. Maybe you could step out of the spotlight to share the play with your teammates. Or maybe you could become a culture contributor by grabbing lunch for a busy coworker. Whatever your move is, find a time this week to take a step towards making your workplace a winning one. You got this.