What Startup CEO’s Can Learn From a No-No

While most of my Twitter and Facebook feed were watching the MTV VMA awards, I was blissfully watching Jake Arrieta throw a no hitter for the Chicago Cubs.  I guess I missed Kanye announcing for the 2020 election.  I don’t know which would be a sign of the apocalypse really happening, Kanye and Kim in the White House or the Cubs winning the World Series.  I don’t think it’s the Cubs.

I think that startup founders can learn A LOT from the way Joe Maddon manages a team. After the game, the Cubs had a pajama party on the plane ride home. He doesn’t keep things loose in the sense that anyone can do anything. He does keep things loose and somewhat off kilter though.

Maddon is a great leader. He sets high expectations, and the tone. But, he really lets players figure it out and be themselves. When the Cubs are totally out of it, he will pitch a position player in place of a reliever for an inning. He bats the pitcher 8th. He also understands the mental part of managing. For example, he knows the Cubs are in the stretch drive. They have a shot at the wild card game. He also knows there is a lot of pressure-pressure the players put on themselves and pressure from the fans. The normal reaction would be to work harder, put more time in. Instead, Maddon told players to skip batting practice. Don’t come to the park early. He made it mandatory. Remember, players aren’t just competitive with other teams-they are competitive with each other for playing time. There is big money at stake and there is pressure for players to get more time on the field.

Each year, there are new faces on teams. Each year, a pro team is kind of like a startup in that way. There is a lot of randomness. Injuries happen. Stuff happens. Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get.

My New York friends are happy about the Mets.  The Mets have sort of a hapless history-but not like the Cubs!  Would be fun to have a Mets-Cubs playoff for the World Series.  The Mets broke my heart in 1969.  I am totally enjoying this Cub team.  They fight hard.  My favorite player is Kris Bryant.  Man can that guy hit. Someday, they just might win it all……