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Key Takeaways

  • Leaders should empathize and treat every human being equally. Empathy, awareness, and compassion are crucial for leading a diverse group.
  • Diversity in sports teams requires building a culture that fosters each player to perform at their best collectively. Leveraging diversity to achieve collective performance is critical.
  • When it comes to negotiations, there is always room for improvement and learning. Having a systematic approach and process is essential.
  • Discipline and resilience are the cornerstone attributes of a leader. Seeking out leaders and cultures that align with one's values is crucial.
  • People should feel safe and confident to contribute, regardless of their position or hierarchy. The focus should be on achieving the best outcome, decision, and result.
  • Intangibles, such as personality, character, and culture, are just as crucial as tangible data and analytics in building a winning team.
  • A scalable learning culture of perpetual improvement across the entire organization is the key to competitive advantage. Character and resilience are also essential in building a successful team.

Executive Summary:

Hey folks! Thanks for joining us on a new episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast

Today, Nolan and Aram interview Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, who has over 30 years of experience in baseball business and league operations. Starting his career in Cleveland, Mark held various leadership roles before becoming the team president in 2011. 

He is actively involved in Major League Baseball committees and serves on the Board of Directors for the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays. With that brief introduction done and dusted, let’s analyze the insights Mark shares in this episode.

Leaders Should Know How To Empathize And Treat Every Human Equally 

To begin with, Aram asks Mark about the influence his father, Ron Shapiro, had on his approach to influencing and persuading others. Ron Shapiro is a highly respected attorney and agent who represented several Hall of Famers and authored books on negotiation. 

In reply, Mark highlights how his father’s values-based leadership and negotiation philosophy have impacted his leadership style, emphasizing the importance of empathy and treating everyone equally. He describes his father as the most influential person in his life and continues to seek his counsel to date.

Empathy, Awareness, And Compassion Is Crucial For Leading A Diverse Group Of People

Next, Aram asks Mark about the role of his family’s immigrant experience in shaping his approach to communication, collaboration, and leadership. Mark responds by acknowledging the impact of his family’s journey on his parents’ values and his upbringing. 

He also emphasizes the importance of empathy, awareness, and compassion for each individual’s unique cultural experiences in leading diverse groups of people. According to Mark, the world of baseball is incredibly diverse, and recognizing and valuing cultural differences helps to lead people to greater accomplishments. 

All in all, Shapiro sees his family’s immigrant experience as a foundational perspective in his leadership philosophy.

Leaders Should Be Able To Build A Culture That Leverages Diversity To Achieve Collective Performance  

On a similar note, the speakers discuss the power of diversity in baseball teams and how it requires building a culture that fosters each player to perform at their best collectively. Shapiro notes the numerous countries represented in the Blue Jays clubhouse and the challenge of bringing together a diverse group of players to outperform what could be expected of them. 

He sees the immigrant experience as helpful in considering how to build a culture that leverages diversity to achieve collective performance.

When It Comes To Negotiations, There Is Always Room For Improvement And Learning 

Moving on, Nolan asks Mark about how his approach to negotiation has changed over the course of his career. In response, Shapiro notes that early on, he may have held the misconception that there are leaders who are simply better at negotiating or decision-making. 

However, he now realizes that no one is inherently better and that having a systematic approach and process is key. Shapiro also emphasizes the importance of continually refining one’s approach and understanding that there is always room for improvement and learning.

Discipline And Resilience Are The Cornerstone Attributes Of A Leader 

After that, Nolan Martin asks Mark for advice on how to get into leadership and management in sports. Shapiro responds by emphasizing the importance of finding leaders and cultures that align with one’s values, as this can result in working in a variety of fields that one may never have thought possible. 

He also stresses the importance of discipline and resilience, as he believes these are the cornerstone attributes that separate him from others. 

Shapiro advises young people to be sure of their values, seek out leaders and cultures that align with those values, and do the work assigned to them better and faster than their bosses expect. Plus, he emphasizes the importance of having high standards and expectations for oneself and others and using discipline to unlock their true potential and streamline workflow.

Mark’s Job Responsibilities As The CEO Of Toronto Blue Jays

Nolan highlights that Mark became the president and CEO of Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 and then asks him to explain to listeners who may not be familiar with baseball what Shapiro’s role and responsibilities are in this position.

In response, Mark states that in his current role as President and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays, Mark oversees various facets of the organization. He is mainly responsible for bringing in the best talent, both on and off the field, and ensuring that they are in the best position to succeed. 

He also articulates the values and vision of the organization, which is to bring World Championships to Canada and improve every day. 

Additionally, Shapiro is accountable for overseeing the baseball operations, which include identification, acquisition, development, and deployment of talent, as well as the business side. This involves producing 81 events a year, selling, marketing, community relations, ballpark operations, and facility management. 

Plus, he represents the Blue Jays at the ownership level with Major League Baseball and ensures that the organization has the necessary resources to succeed.

People Should Feel Safe And Confident To Contribute, Regardless Of Their Position Or Hierarchy

In response to Mark’s previous statements, Aram mentions that there are many responsibilities involving various stakeholders in the decision-making process, which can impact different directions. Then he asks Mark to share his approach to facilitating that process that reflects the values and culture of the Blue Jays organization that they are working to reinforce or develop.

Marks mentions that how he leads decision-making at the Blue Jays reflects the organization’s values and culture by encouraging people to bring forward ideas and opportunities that can improve them. He believes that people should feel safe and confident to contribute, regardless of their position or hierarchy, as long as the process used is rigorous and thoughtful. 

Additionally, the CEO emphasizes that no energy should be spent on credit or blame and that the focus should be on achieving the best outcome, decision, and result. He fosters a psychologically safe environment by modeling values of collective intellect, experience, and skill sets and bringing in people with diverse experiences and skills.

Great Things Can Happen When People Recognize Their Value And Contributions To Their Team’s Success

Lastly, Mark emphasizes the importance of fostering an environment that allows a group of people to outperform what they should achieve objectively. He believes that the intangibles, such as personality, character, and culture, are just as crucial as the tangible data and analytics in building a winning team. 

Mark also describes a scalable learning culture of perpetual improvement across the entire organization as the key to their competitive advantage. According to him, great things can happen when people recognize their value and contributions to the team’s success and genuinely believe in the culture. 

He strongly believes in the importance of character and resilience in building a successful team.

Mark, Aram, and Nolan discuss a lot more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this very informational podcast episode.

Thank you for listening!


Nolan Martin : Hello, welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Today’s gonna be a really exciting one. Don't  wanna waste any time. Aram, go ahead and kick it off.

Aram Donigian : This podcast is for all of us that love the American Pastime of Baseball. So, Mark Shapiro is the president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. He is one of the few major league executives that has experience in all facets of the game baseball business and league operations. Over the course of a career that spans more than 30 years, Mark was appointed president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays in November, 2015, a role that oversees the organization's business and baseball operations and represents ownership at the league level.

Mark's baseball career began in Cleveland, where he spent 24 seasons. He joined Cleveland as an assistant in baseball operations and quickly progressed into a senior leadership role as director of minor league operations before becoming Vice President of Baseball Operations and Assistant General Manager.

In 2002, Mark was named executive Vice President and general manager holding that position until he was appointed team president in 2011.

Mark was twice named the Sporting News Executive Of The Year, the only active General Manager in Major League Baseball at the time, to win the award twice. In 2005, he was also named executive of the year by Baseball America. Beyond his extensive work in the front office, Mark has been involved in key baseball initiatives at Major League Baseball for more than a decade.

He currently sits on the league's competition Committee, On Field Committee, long-term Strategic Planning Committee and Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee. Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Directors for Jay's Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays. Mark is a Baltimore native. He played four years of football at Princeton University where he earned a bachelor's degree in history. My degree is also in history, Mark, my undergrad. He lives in Toronto with his family.

And I'm gonna also add that I had the pleasure years ago a decade and a half ago of hosting Mark's father as a guest with the West Point Negotiation Project. And Mark has also been a visitor and speaker at West Point. So, Mark, as I get ready to thank you for joining us, I also wanna thank you for the time you've invested with our cadets and future leaders. It's exciting to have you on the program. Thank you.

Mark Shapiro : Thanks, good to be here. It was powerful to visit West Point in multiple ways as a history major, you know, to see and the the physical plant, but even more just to spend time with the cadets and the leadership there and consider, you know, their, the leaders that we are shaping there and the role they'll play in the United States history moving forward.

AD : Thanks for that. It is a special place. And for someone who likes history, yeah, it's special. I do want to start by asking you about your father since I had the opportunity to meet him. Your father Ron is a highly respected attorney agent who represented Hall of Famers, such as Cal Ripkin Jr., Curry Puckett, Joan Palmer, Eddie Murray.

He's authored several books on negotiation. I have 'em on my bookshelf. Also worked to bring together corporate and societal leaders to work on socioeconomic issues. It must have been interesting growing up with him as a father [laughs].

How has he impacted your perspective and approach to influencing and persuading others?

Influence Mark’s Dad Had On Mark’s Life [4:13]

MS : Man, I think it starts with values, you know, and I think everything, the fabric and the common thread that runs through, you know, my dad's career, his leadership, the roles he's played both in business and from a community level and with his family, are that the common chord is, you know, that it's values-based leadership and, and you know, how he treats human beings sits at the forefront of all of that.

So, you know, that his negotiation philosophy is based upon, you know, seeking solutions and seeking outcomes that, you know, while we win, everybody feels good about. And I think that takes a high level of empathy, a high level of awareness of both yourself and the other person more than anything. You know, my, when I, when I consider how my dad's impacted, not just negotiation, but my role as a leader, it's just how he treats people, doesn't qualify, people he treats, you know, every human being the same.

To see that modeled from someone who was obviously at a very high status level, but didn't take his status too seriously and recognize that really that status is meaningless in the bigger picture, was incredibly meaningful to me growing up. And something I try to, to carry with me and, and pass on to my kids as well. 

So, you know, he was definitely the most influential person in my life and continues to play that role as a counselor and, and a father. But I can't, I really, it's hard for me to express succinctly, Aram, you know, what he, what he's meant to me.

AD : Well, it's a wonderful tribute. If I were to dig a little bit more, maybe as a follow up into kind of your own family story and origins, you're a grandson of an immigrant, so am I. Does that background shape at all your thinking on communication, collaboration and leadership? And if so, how does it?

The Role of Immigrant Experience in Developing Effective Leadership in a Diverse World [6:05]

MS : Well, I think that immigrant experience that certainly played a huge role, you know, on my dad growing up and considering the historical perspective of, you know, how my family came to the United States and the journey and the reasons for that, you know, fleeing persecution, again, I think that if I consider the role that played with both my parents and the fabric and the values that they raised me, it definitely is part of my leadership.

You know, to think about other people's journey, to be aware to not impose or look at them through just my eyes and my set of experiences, but to consider their set of unique experiences. And the, and the world of baseball is an incredibly diverse world. You know, people tend to group and kind of classify our players as American, Latin American. I mean, that's just, that alone is just a terrible, or Asian, in reality, the cultures within Latin America are so different, whether it's Venezuela and Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican even within those countries, just like within the American experience, it's very different cultures as well.

So, I think the level of empathy, you know, the level of awareness, being truly compassionate to each and every individual's culture and set of experiences, it helps you lead people to be better. It helps you collectively accomplish more. And it is probably founded for me in the fact that my dad and mom were both children of immigrants. And so that reality and thought, although it's somewhat incredible to think about now, cuz I feel so distant, you know, is remarkable and definitely has plays a, a foundational perspective in both leadership and philosophy.

AD : I hadn't thought until you said it, and I, it's an obvious thing about how baseball is such a great example of the power of diversity in teams and in work.

Leveraging Immigrant Experience To Foster Collective Performance [8:00]

MS : Yeah, I mean, you think about our clubhouse, you know, I, I've, I've not counted recently how many countries are represented in just of just among 26 players. But Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican, Cuba, I mean, it's, you know, it there an American, obviously there's probably eight or nine countries among 26 players who have to come together in over 162 games, which is a, you know, which is a grind with a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, and a lot of tension. Try to accomplish something that's great, try to outperform objectively what could be expected of them.

So, the thought behind how do you build a culture that fosters each one of those players to perform at their best greater than their individual talent, you know, collectively is the challenge. You know, and culture plays a huge role in that. So, I think the immigrant experience is one that is helpful in considering that.

NM : As you look back on your career that started in Cleveland and now continues in Toronto, how has the way you practice negotiation skills in a broad or sense changed?

Embracing Humility and Systematic Approaches for Effective Negotiation and Decision-Making [9:07]

MS : Hmm. I think it is in concert with the way everything I've done has changed. You know, probably negotiation early on was fueled by some misperception, just like decision making in general was fueled by some misperception that there are leaders and there are people who are just better at making decisions, who are better at anecdotally and anecdotally feel they're better at negotiating. What is more obvious to me today than ever and more humbling today, you know, than it was in the early mid nineties when I considered negotiating, when I considered the opportunity to someday make decisions, is the reality that none of us are actually any better. And that system and process will beat an individual's anecdotal opinion every single time.

And so, I think it's just a matter of understanding that initially and then refining system and refining process over time with the understanding you've never done and you're continually trying to get better and learn.

NM : Also, when I ask you as someone who's worked their way up from the bottom of an organization to become a leader within your industry, what advice would you give to a young person today who wanted to get into the leadership and management side of sports and follow a similar path?

Finding Success through Cultural Alignment, Discipline, and Resilience [10:27]

MS : Yeah, I was laughing when Aram was reading my resume because of bio because you know, the assistant in baseball operations, I don't even think there was a title. I was just an entry level cubicle dweller, you know. [laugh]

MS : Believe me, no one knew I was working in baseball in 1992 and I started, I was picking guys up at the airport and pulling off game reports from a fax machine back then, which [laugh], you know, some listeners won't even know what that is and, and answering phones and I think there's a little bit too much emphasis sometimes on passion. And it's easy for me to say that cuz I work in a field I'm passionate about. I think the first thing I'd say is finding a culture and leaders who you align in values with, you know, that actually is somewhat liberating and, you know, can result in working in a variety of fields you never dream possible.

So for me, I sought it first probably, and it was more instinctual than articulated to a, to find leaders that I aligned with and believed in, you know, that had the similar set of values and a vision for building something special.

I really feel had that been in a different field, I might be in that different field today. So I don't view sports to be a calling for me. I view it to be, it, it happened to be that this is where I landed because I was unhappy in my first two jobs and did not align culturally in my first two jobs. And I kept searching and I searched for things that I liked and baseball and sports were a passion for sure. But that was, it was less about that and more about, you know, first being sure of who I am, what my values are, doing that hard work.

Second, looking for alignment with leaders and cultures that, you know, had those values and, and, and you know, would be a place that I could feel good about working. Both who I'm working with and who I'm working for.

And because of that, you know, I thrived and, and got opportunity. The second piece is probably the power of discipline. You know, I think I, as I reflect back on the things that separated me there, it wasn't a lot, you know, I'm not very talented. I'm not that smart, you know, but I am incredibly disciplined and that combined with resilience, I think are the things that are the cornerstone of, you know, maybe what separated me from some other people. That and luck, you know.

So, I would say if I was- and I do say when I'm talking to young people, the first piece is be sure what your values are. Second piece is seek out those values and the leaders and in the cultures you wanna work in. And the third piece is when you start getting opportunities, do the work assigned to you better and faster than your bosses expect.

And that's simple, I mean I genuinely thought that at 24 years old, now I'm gonna do everything assigned to me better and faster. Faster is more like demonstrating a sense of urgency. And I think that gives the people that are assigning work to you a confidence that you feel it's important and then they end up giving more to you. Better is just another word of saying, you know, have high standards and expectations for yourself and for others.

And I think discipline is the way to unlock both of that better and faster. Because you need to be disciplined in the way you think about your day. You need to think about the things that you can control within that day, not get sidetracked by the number of things you cannot control, which inevitably, every single day they're gonna come into your windshield, the things you can control.

So, I think with this, with using discipline as a power, you're able to do high-quality work faster than people expect. And, that results in more and more opportunities. So, you know, those are, those are kind of the, the things I would say to young people and, and a lot of 'em are the same things that, you know, when I reflect back were important to me getting more and more opportunities.

And I think they're just those, while a lot of things are not relevant, like fax machines, you know, some, some things I think are still relevant and I think those attributes maybe are still relevant to people's journeys and paths.

AD : Yeah, we would agree with you. And on the point that maybe fax machines not so much. I love the piece about around discipline and I also, I tell my students all the time, who you work for and with is gonna be so important, maybe more important than what you do.

The Importance of Finding Fulfillment in Who You Work With and For, Not Just What You Do [14:46]

MS : That's the source of fulfillment. You know, I think, you know, it's also a great thing cuz I think so many young people think, you know, what they do will be the sole source of whether they enjoy it or not. And I've seen plenty of who are working in a field that they love what they do, but don't enjoy who they're doing it with and maybe don't respect who they're doing it for. And that's a limited, you know, you're, you're gonna be par it's gonna be a perishable existence in that, in that, for that organization. It's, and you're definitely not gonna be happy, fulfilled a peace and content. And I think the, the happier you are, the better you'll enjoy, the better you'll perform as well.

AD : Yeah. It actually kinda leads us into, in a way to the next question, which is, when you were with Cleveland serving as their director of minor league operations, you installed a system of individual player plans for every minor leaguer in the farm system. It was a holistic philosophy of development providing cutting edge resources to players in mental, physical and fundamental domains. What can you tell us about this partnership with players and do you think it's something that leaders in other industries could replicate to better develop talented, high performing junior team members?

Bridging The Gap Between Potential and Performance [15:53]

MS : Yeah, I mean, from a, from through a business lens that's just called succession planning, you know, like that, that's what it is. And I think I've had a chance to do some consulting with some major businesses and corporations and leaders and think about things because inevitably in the baseball, on the baseball side of my job, there are four basic things.

We do identify talent, acquire talent, develop talent, which is what you're talking about. And then deploy talent, you know, on the major league team. Those are the four pieces of the baseball side of the business. The business side's totally different. And the development piece is my foundation. It's what I did for I think seven or eight years. It's the foundation I got in the game thanks to one of the leaders. I had Dan o Dow kind of pushing me into that side

It's something I'm passionate about to this day. And I love thinking about human performance in general, you know, in a, in a boardroom in an office or on a baseball field or any other performance venue and thinking about the limitless potential that human beings can perform at. But the gap between that potential and where they're currently performing. So player development is really about bridging that gap between where the performance lies and where the potential lies.

And thinking about that, the player plan, just like we started the podcast is, was a systematic way, you know, to think about that, to make it more digestible and ultimately empower our players to take ownership over their own development, just like each one of us, right? No boss, no coach, no manager, no pitching coach, you know, no one we have here is going to develop players.

What they are, there are resources that can facilitate development, but a player, just like each of us needs to take ownership of his own career. And the only person that's really gonna fully commit to that player's individual development every single day is that player. So what the plan was meant to do was to provide a roadmap. You know, our jobs are to relentlessly and tirelessly focus on providing the best resources to our players mentally, physically, and fundamentally. Resources can be facilities, they can be technology, they can be equipment, they can be coaches. But then we have to take all these different tools we have that work on their performance, on their sleep, on their hydration, on their nutrition, on their batting mechanics, on their pitching mechanics. And we have to make it digestible and applicable to our players, which means it's gotta be a little more simple, you know?

And the, the player plan was meant to be a way to think about their journey as they go through five, six different levels of our player development system to understand the process of development, to help them take ownership and be aware of their own path and know what is most important for them to be successful and be optimal in their performance.

So, I do think it's applicable, whether it's negotiation or any other facet of performance, it's again, the, the, the underlying theme would be, you know, system and process, you know, is a more repeatable way to be successful, a more digestible way for people to apply it outside of you know, yourself.

And ultimately it is about partnering with our players, not about doing it, you know, not developing our players, but, you know, facilitating development, which is about connecting and caring.

AD : Enrolling them in that process. The ownership, the accountability.

MS : Yeah!

NM : You became the president and CEO of Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. Could you describe for our listeners who may be less familiar with baseball, what your role and what key responsibilities are in this position?

The Versatile And Ever-Changing Role Of A Sports Team Executive [19:35]

MS : Yeah, I mean it's the more difficult sometimes it is to articulate what a role is, the more interesting it is. Cuz my role really changes day to day. I always say I move where the leverage lies, you know, but I'm not, don't view myself as some kind of superhuman decision maker or superhuman leader. I don't think that when I walk into a room, I transform what's being done there. I view myself to be someone that is responsible for thinking all the time about bringing in the best talent on and off the field, putting that talent in the best position possible to be successful, articulating the values that are the common thread that join us together and the vision of what we're striving you accomplish, which is to bring world championships to Canada, get better every day. “To bring world champions to Canada, get better every day” piece is a lot about building a learning culture that's humble, open, and obsessively focused on improving somewhat every day.

The winning world championships is the outcome of all those things I just mentioned. What that means for me and my role is, you know, I'm accountable for overseeing half the organization, which is the baseball operations, which is the piece I talked about. Identification, acquisition, deployment, I mean development, deployment and the business side, which is producing 81 events a year, selling, marketing, community relations, all those different facets, you know, ballpark, operations, facility management, all the different things that go into a business.

And then the third, the third piece would be because we are owned by a corporation I do represent, you know, the Blue Jays at the ownership level with MLB. So I get to sit on some committees and be thought thinking about the future of the game, whether it's the speed, you know, the pace of game rules that we're gonna indoctrinate this year.

I've been working with those, with others on those the past few years, excited about what that can mean for the growth of the game and the product on the field. You know, any other rule changes and things like that we get to work on. And then obviously [repre], you know, I also report up to a, a, a small committee from ownership level.

So, there it's about ensuring that we have the resources possible and that they understand this business. It's very different from the business that owns us. Those are kind of the four facets that I could move from on a daily basis and be involved in different things from building the incredible facility I'm in right now to $350 million renovation we're undergoing in Toronto to fielding a world championship team to, you know, thinking about the pace of game and the band shift rules, you know, it can be day-to-day anywhere in the, in the scope I just mentioned.

AD : As you described, that wide range of responsibilities, I heard a lot around, you know, involving many stakeholders in a decision-making process that has impacts in any number of directions. How does the way you lead that decision-making or help leader facilitate that decision-making process, reflect the values and culture of the Blue Jays organization that you are working to reinforce, develop whatever the right word is there?

Fostering a Culture of Openness and Collaboration [22:45]

MS : That's a great question and it's one that I haven't thought about in a way that I can succinctly articulate. So, let me try to on the fly, you know, think about that. But I think what I would say is always trying to think in kind of a risk benefit through a risk benefit lens, but most importantly, encouraging people to not hesitate to bring ideas and opportunities forward that can make us better to feel safe, secure, confident that we welcome that input from everywhere and any one, regardless of the level of the organization that they're working in, as long as the process that they use to bring it forward is rigorous and thoughtful.

And it's not just slinging ideas around. So I think where the values fit in would be really ensuring that people feel comfortable contributing, bringing forward ideas, being a part of that process at every single level without position, title, hierarchy.

And I think that would be kind of the values that we're trying to model on a daily basis. Like I'm always, you know, saying like, it does not matter. No energy can be spent on credit and blame. All that matters is that we get to the best outcome, the best result, the best decision. And so if you truly live that and truly model that, then you know that it can't be any one leader, any small group of leaders.

It's gotta be dependent upon collective intellect, collective experience, and collective skill sets. And so I think that, you know, thinking about those decisions, thinking about those processes are how do we bring in people with a diverse set of experiences, with diverse set of skills, you know, combined subject matter experts across domains to end up with the best process and the best outcome and the best decisions.

And to do that, you've really gotta foster, you know, I know the words now are psychologically safe, but you really gotta foster that comfort, that true, you know, tho those values that people do feel, Hey, I'm, I don't walk into a room and think I've gotta defer to the CEO, if I have an idea if it's gonna make us better. And that starts with me making sure people know that I, my ideas aren't any better than anybody else's.

AD : I just wanna make sure I get a quote correct here that you said, which is, no energy can be spent on credit or blame, which I think is just wonderful, powerful.

The Importance of Collective Success [25:13]

MS : That's inefficient to me. That's wasted energy. You know, if you've got people stepping up, claiming credit for something that goes well, it's all a collective success. It's all a collective celebration. It's all something that we need to be, you know, equally all feel a part of that, that actually makes it a better place to work, right?

If we all can recognize the value of our work, I should have said this earlier when you asked me about my role. I mean, the most important thing I can do is help people recognize how meaningful their work is. If I do that, it's gonna make it a better place to work, and it's more likely they're gonna do exceptional work.

So, a lot of what I'm thinking about is how to help people understand that regardless of where they work in the organization, if they're a custodian, if they're a ticket taker, if they're a concessionaire, or if they're, you know, an analyst, whatever it is, that they're meaningful to us winning a world championship.

AD : It's this idea I hear, what I hear is this fostering of an environment. And I would love to maybe just pull, pull that apart a little more. When you think about fostering an environment of winning, you know, to build a winning baseball team and doing that incredibly well at the highest level, how do you account for not just the tangible things that maybe you can, you can collect data on or, but the intangibles and, and how do you, how do you account for that? Or how do you, how do you ensure the intangible things that are gonna add value kind of come, come to the surface too?

Building a Winning Team through Culture and Perpetual Improvement [26:31]

MS : The heart of that lies in that statement I made earlier, which is, you know, it, first of all, it's the beauty of it. Like, we're not working in real estate, we're not working in the stock market, you know, we're working in professional sports. And so the reality is that every single year, regardless of sport you watch, that's, if that's a team-based sport, that something exceptional happens where a team, a group of people outperform objectively what they should, what they should achieve what is the root of that? That's the beauty of everything that we do. It's something special that occurs when a certain group of people get together. They either enter a flow state and it's, you know, whether it's special ops, you know, teams that perform at a level that other group of human beings should ever be able to perform that because of both training.

But even because of more, maybe because of the connection to each other, they feel the sense of duty and honor they feel for what they do, the mission and purpose they feel in their work. Those groups of people perform at elite levels that other human beings couldn't consider performing at. That's what we're trying to replicate, you know, in a field of sport. And so I do think that there is an enormous place for objective information, for data, for, you know, analytics.

But there is also a place for being thoughtful as to personality, makeup, and character and how that also fits in to what we're trying to build and accomplish, where culture fits in, you know, to that. And I think that when I think about our competitive advantage, it's not that I think strategy or culture, I'm not, I'm not a big, I really don't like those statements even by, even though they're said by incredibly smart people, what, you know, strategy, you know, culture, each strategy for breakfast, you know, that, that kind of stuff.

I think, you know, I like to think that culture is our strategy. You know, scalable, competitive advantage is an environment where people feel perpetually curious, perpetually driven to improve and develop and grow and get better. And if you've got that across an entire organization, every single level, you know, great things can happen. You can overcome huge resource gaps, huge talent gaps, and some special things can happen.

So, I think a couple things, Aram and Nolan, one would be, and they're all a little bit redundant, you know, one would be that learning culture of perpetual improvement, scalable across entire, entire organization. Two would be people recognizing at their value and meaningful to our success that if you've got those things together with a, across a group of people genuinely and deeply believed, some great things can happen, you know, along with the character and resilience and everything else.

NM : Hey everyone, Nolan here, I have to jump in, in today's podcast for part A of this show. Be sure to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already. And also join us next week for part B of this awesome interview.

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