Growing up I was a BIG baseball fan. And during the 1980s, there was a player who everyone liked no matter what team you rooted for. His name was Tony Gwynn.
Tony Gwynn was one of the best pure hitters of all-time. He won the batting title 8 times and a .338 lifetime batting average (for those non-baseball fans, it was the highest career average for any player who started after WWII). It seemed every gamy my beloved Mets played against the Padres (Tony’s team), he would get a hit.
And when Tony Gwynn was eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame – he got in on the first ballot (not that there was any question he would get in on the first try).
This past weekend, Tony Gwynn passed away at the age of 54 from salivary gland cancer and the baseball world is mourning.
So what does a baseball legend have to do with business? Here are X lessons you can learn about business from the life and career of Tony Gwynn…
LESSON #1: PROLIFIC AND CONSISTENT SMALL HITS
For Tony Gwynn, it was about getting base hits. He didn’t try to hit a home run – he would just beat you with singles and virtually never strike out. Sure, the home run hitters get all the glory, but Tony didn’t care about the glory, he beat you with the singles. And it was those thousands of nice and easy base hits that added up to a hall of fame career.
Takeaway: You can build a very big and profitable business by creating lots and lots of high-quality, low-priced products which sell well. And when added up, come to significant income. You might not have the glory of a big “best seller” (aka Home Run), but at the end of the day, you’ll have a successful (and profitable) business.
LESSON #2: LONGEVITY
Tony played for twenty years. By knowing what he was good at and focusing on that one thing (base hits), he played professional baseball for two decades. He knew by just getting hits, it will help his team win and he wouldn’t be the “flavor of the month”. The final result was 3,141 hits over twenty years.
Takeaway: Business is a marathon, not a sprint. Create products, programs and companies that are built to last. In other words, one product launch (just like a player having one good season) is NOT a business and won’t get you in the hall of fame.
LESSON #3: LOYALTY
In a era where professional athletes hop from team to team for a bigger paycheck, Tony Gwynn was loyal. He played his entire career for ONE team, the San Diego Padres. The relationship he had with San Diego fans led to the team literally building a statue of Tony at the ballpark!
Takeaway: You must be loyal your customers and clients – they are the lifeblood of your business s. Promoting products you know aren’t good just because you “owe” a friend an email or it’s a “reciprocal” mailing is poor business. Show your customers (a.k.a. fans) how much you care for them – and you will be handsomely rewarded.
LESSON #4: YOUR HEALTH
I was contemplating adding this lesson, but I think it’s important. Tony died at just 54 years old (at least 30 years too young). It was from salivary gland cancer which he attributed to years of chewing tobacco (a habit he started when he was a rookie in 1981). Tony can no longer watch his grandchildren grow – which is the saddest tragedy.
Takeaway: You will never reach the highest levels of success unless you are treating your body like a temple. But more importantly, you might be cutting years off your life. Do all the stuff you know you should be doing. Eat better. Exercise. And avoid the bad crap (like tobacco).
They broke the mold when they made Tony Gwynn, both the baseball player and the man. And there are many lessons to be learned by looking back and reflecting on his life.
Tony Gwynn left a legacy.
Are you living a life of greatness? Or are you settling for mediocrity?