Archives For September 2011

Innovate like Moneyball

September 28, 2011 — 9 Comments

Confession:

I have a romantic love affair with Baseball.  It may be weird to you but it isn’t to me.

I left my baseball love, St. Louis, seven years ago to move down and be with wife Brooke. I have quite enjoyed Nashville but the physical distance from St. Louis baseball only grew my love for the game.  Nashville unfortunately isn’t known as a baseball town but when I meet another “real” fan of the game, we immediately are friends regardless our favorite team.  These days, I follow box scores like it is my balance sheet.

Brooke and I just watched Moneyball (2011) starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.  This is based on MIchael Lewis’ bestselling 2003 book.  Hands down, this is the finest baseball movie since Bull Durham/Field of Dreams.  Critics call Moneyball the baseball movie for nerds but I think it is made for all of us.  It has inspired me to act and here is why.

If you have not see the movie, here is a summary.  Faced with putting together a baseball roster 1/4 the budget of the NY Yankees, General Manager of the Oakland A’s Billy Beane had enough.  Year after year, he would develop amazing players only to be robbed by them in free agency by rich teams like the Yankees or Red Sox.  Instead of drafting players solely by basic stats like batting average, home runs, and RBIs, with assistance,  he employed computer-generated analysis and found a better way to rate players. This idea stressed the greater importance of “on base percentage” (hits plus walks and being hit by pitches), which gives their team a statistical advantage over time.  And it worked albeit with heavy opposition of the idea for his first season in 2002.

Was it easy?  No.

Did the “establishment” scouts cry foul and think he was crazy?  Yes

Moneyball should awaken the “innovative spirit” within all of us.  Whether in business, school, personal life, church, or your little league team, we must pay attention to the dragon that needs to be woken in us.

I lead a marketing team in publishing and there isn’t a day that goes by when I just wish there was a standard to go by.  Marketing Plans I wrote only 6 months ago can seem archaic compared to what is needed in today’s complex publishing environment.  I think in “context” so it is particularly harder for me to stretch to innovate and think through better ways of doing things.  But the past is the past and we can still learn from it.  But…

The world is changing faster than I’m writing these words.

So here is where we go.  Here is where I need to go with you.

When someone says “that’s just the way it it is” or “that’s how it worked before”…

Pause.

Question the status quo.

Focus on the outcome and that will tell you how to play in today’s world. 

If it didn’t work today; research, try, fail, try again, and keep learning.  You will get there.  But you can’t just keep pulling out the “driver” when you need what you really need is to hit a cut 3 iron. (I apologize for the golf lingo, I can’t help myself)

Innovate and swing away.

Who is really “The Man?”

September 6, 2011 — 2 Comments

I’m in my 30s now and like any honest man I never have stopped searching culture for signs of authentic manhood.  I like my fellow brothers today are bombarded with conflicting messages about what it means to be a man.  Despite this, I’m learning more about what it means to be a man since getting married and having kids.  Prior to both of those huge components of life, I felt more like a boy wandering in a jungle full of loud and confusing imagery telling me what it means to be a man. But these scenes of life I encounter tell me there is more beyond the curtain.

My wife and I recently watched (twice) Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), starring Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone.  I must say that I haven’t laughed so hard at a romantic comedy in years.  Yes, I’m a fan of the greats like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, Say Anything, and Sweet Home Alabama.  Most guys do love those movies whether they admit or not.

In Crazy, Stupid, Love, what is so amusing is that a 20-something so-called man is giving a 40-something advice on picking up women.  And on top of that, he is giving him advice about what it takes to be a real man.  Ryan Gosling’s character is highly quotable in this role:

“I’m going to help you rediscover your manhood. Do you have any idea where you could have lost it?”

“The war between the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing for exercise.”

“I don’t know whether to help you or euthanize you.”

“Be better than the Gap.” (commentating on Steve Carell’s style)

I laughed so hard at the last line in the theatre but then paused to looked down at my jeans and realized they were from Gap.  Good grief.

Despite the movie’s humor, it raises many questions about how men should act and view themselves.  Without ruining the movie, it probably left more questions about this issue instead of giving us answers.  Maybe that wasn’t the point of the movie.  In our lives we are confused by the extremes of man; the angry brute who only will watch and participate in Ultimate Fighting, the passive male asleep at the wheel of life not willing to engage in life, or metrosexual who worries more about himself, his looks, and won’t commit to any woman.   If we as men are not careful, we will get lost in the extremes of post-modern manhood.  What Crazy, Stupid, Love shows us is a glimpse of the transformation process to become a man.  I can’t judge either character too harshly because they are in this process.

I take comfort knowing that like them I don’t have it together.

So where do I go now?  I join Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling’s characters in this process.  All I know is that I’m not going to sit down and wait for things to happen.

I’m challenged to do (and not wait for) the following:

  • Pursue genuine friendships with men.
  • To seek mentors I admire who are older than me.
  • Study the great men of history.
  • Be humble about my successes and failures.
  • Share the wisdom I’ve acquired with those younger than me.
  • Pray like Christ, the best example of man.

What about you? 

What does it take to be a man in your point of view?