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Key Takeaways

  • The role of a manager in sports has evolved from being a superhuman leader to a facilitator and problem solver.
  • Leaders should be able to connect with people through empathy, compassion, and awareness of those being led.
  • Consistency is the key to demonstrating values and authenticity in leadership.
  • Removing bias, emotion, and momentum from decision-making is crucial in negotiating high-stake situations.
  • Managing expectations is key when working with bosses, especially in sports, where owners can be emotionally impacted by short-term success or failure.
  • Separating one’s self-worth from their job performance is crucial for sustainability in any career.
  • Understanding alternatives, framing a walkaway in negotiations, and being value-based and caring in leadership can make one an effective negotiator and leader.

Executive Summary:

Hi everyone! Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Mark Shapiro, the president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. In the previous episode, Mark talked about his leadership philosophy and responsibilities as CEO. He also shared his insights on empathy, diversity, discipline, and resilience as key attributes of a successful leader. 

Apart from that, Mark discussed the importance of fostering an environment where everyone feels safe and confident to contribute to the team’s success, regardless of hierarchy or position. With that said, let’s continue our conversation with Mark.

The Role Of A Manager Has Evolved Drastically Over The Years

Aram asks Mark about the role of a manager in team sports today. In reply, Shapiro explains that the a manager’s responsibilities have evolved over time and is less about making brilliant decisions and more about facilitating and deploying information to a broad group of players. 

He suggests that the manager’s role today involves:

  • Balancing the use of resources
  • Being thoughtful with the resources available
  • Communicating effectively to prioritize and solve problems that could undermine success

The manager’s role is no longer that of a superhuman leader but of a facilitator and problem solver. Shapiro also mentions that even outside of sports, a general manager’s role is not that of a decision-maker but rather a leader in the decision-making process. 

Leaders Should Be Able To Connect With People

Nolan highlights having heard Mark mention the quote, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship,” by Dr. James Comer several times and asks how this idea factors into their leadership philosophy and collaboration with their team.

In reply, Shapiro discusses the importance of empathy and connection in leadership. He firmly believes that the ability to connect with people lies at the the core of leadeship, and this ability takes precedence. He cites the example of NBA coach Popovich, who spends 80% of his time connecting and caring for his team before coaching.

According to the CEO, taking into account the empathy, compassion, and awareness of those being led are critical to effective leadership. He mentions reading educational material to understand how to be a better coach and prioritizes caring and connection for his team and players. Mark mentions that the quote by Comer is on his whiteboard and will always be a guiding principle for his leadership philosophy.

Consistency Is The Key To Demonstrating Values

On the same note, Mark Shapiro emphasizes the importance of authenticity and consistency in leadership. He believes that leaders will be judged by their actions, not their words, and consistency is key to demonstrating values daily. 

Shapiro draws a parallel between leadership and parenting, noting that coaching his son’s baseball team was a good reminder that kids watch everything a leader does, not just listen to what they say. He highlights that he had to model the behaviors he wanted to see in his team before he could ask them to follow suit.

One Needs To Remove Bias, Emotion, And Momentum From The Decision-Making Process To Navigate High-Stake Negotiations

Aram asks Mark about the challenges of negotiating when a team is trading a high-profile or popular player. In response, Mark explains that removing bias, emotion, and momentum from the decision-making process is key. He suggests that negotiations can be particularly challenging in sports because everyone has an opinion and feels entitled to give free advice. 

Shapiro strongly believes that having a process, framework, and system in place for negotiating is essential to remove bias and emotion from the equation. A solid framework helps ensure that decisions are made objectively and with a clear focus on the team’s best interests.

Next, Mark discusses the tension in sport leadership between balancing the present and the future. He notes that the majority of stakeholders have their eyes firmly fixed on the present and what is beneficial today. In contrast, leaders have to balance the present and the future to build a sustainable Championship team. This can create tension and conflict that needs to be overcome in negotiations with stakeholders, including the team, players, coaches, front-office staff, and fans. 


While Dealing With Government Officials, It’s Important To Understand What Will Drive Their Decisions  

Aram asks Mark about the latter’s communication with city and community leaders and how he approaches those conversations as the President and CEO of a Major League Baseball team. Mark replies by highlighting that during COVID, he had many conversations with the Canadian government at various levels, which helped him gain significant knowledge on the Canadian system of government. 

Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of understanding what’s important to government officials and what will drive their decisions while still trying to accomplish what the team wants to accomplish. That said, he acknowledges that politics can be challenging and sometimes discordant with logical decision-making, and he relies on the people around him to be more patient in those situations. 

Lower Your Expectations While Persuading Your Boss 

Next, Nolan asks Mark for advice on effectively leading bosses, as he has heard about how difficult it can be to influence or persuade people higher up in the organization hierarchy. Mark advises managing expectations is key when working with bosses, especially sports team owners. 

He highlights that owners often approach sports differently than other businesses and can be emotionally impacted by short-term success or failure. So, it is important to have a clear strategy and an objective set of expectations while also acknowledging that there is variability in outcomes that cannot be perfectly articulated. 

Overall, it is important to stay aligned with the process and not deviate from the strategy or plan based on any individual data point.

One Should Separate One’s Self-Worth From Their Job Performance

Moving on, Mark emphasizes the importance of separating one’s self-worth from their job performance, which he believes is crucial for sustainability in any career. He suggests that maintaining humility and consistency in one’s character is key to achieving this separation. 

Furthermore, the 55-year old believes that being open-minded, curious, and focused on personal growth and development is necessary in order to lead effectively. 

Regardless of the outcomes, Mark believes it’s important to remember that leaders are just human beings who are no different from anyone else and who are important to many people in life. He stresses that if one ties their self-worth to their job’s outcomes, it’s not sustainable and can make others around them miserable.

In Negotiations, It’s Important To Understand Alternatives And Frame A Walkway

Finally, while wrapping up the conversation, Nolan asks if Mark has any final thoughts for the listeners on how to become more effective negotiators or leaders. Mark responds by emphasizing the importance of understanding alternatives and framing a walkaway in negotiations, as well as being value-based and caring in leadership.

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 : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays. If you haven't already checked out part A of the show, be sure to do that first. Let's jump into the conversation with Mark.

Aram Donigian : Mark, let me ask a question.  I just saw in the news that your manager, John Schneider, and kinda I'm curious about his role and what you just described. I just read yesterday that he saved, he saved a lady who was choking. So, wondering, you know, how does the role of a manager play into what you're talking about?

The Evolving Role of Leadership in Sports [1:38]

Mark Shapiro : Well, it's interesting. It's changed a lot, right? I think as we genuinely like think about leadership and think about the expectation, there's this mass media perception of leaders, you know, and I think it's one that our culture still tends to be drawn towards. You know,  it's thinking that one person's gonna make some masterful decision on the way we use the bullpen. One person's gonna make some masterful decision on the way our lineup sits.  You know, that person's gonna give an incredibly motivating speech and everybody's gonna automatically just perform better.  and I think we really did maybe prescribe to that when I started in this game. That was the role a manager played some superhuman leader. Now, just like the general manager's role is not really decision maker, it's about leading decision-making process. And the manager's role is about being thoughtful with all the incredible amount of resources we have out there.

How can those resources best be facilitated, brought forward, utilized, balanced with the human side, you know, digested by our players in a way that's meaningful, not just checking boxes, but actually meaningfully deployed within a game. So, it's an incredibly sophisticated, challenging job that involves so much more balance than it did.

It's less about making brilliant decisions and more about helping facilitate and deploy information, you know, across a broad group of players. And then communicate effectively also about prioritizing the problems that come up because there's gonna be any number of problems that exist on a daily basis. And helping work with the others to solve those problems. Knowing which ones are important, which ones could undermine our success, and making sure those are the ones we address, not the ones that are just pet peeves, cuz there's not enough time to deal with every problem that comes up, regardless of what, what role, that we're in.

NM : I've heard you quote Dr. James Comer a few times. No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship. How does relationship or the human side factor into your own personal leadership philosophy and how you collaborate with others on your team?

Prioritizing Empathy and Connection in Leadership [3:39]

MS : Well, I think that's at the core of kind of what I was referring a little bit to with manager as well. And I think any leader, including myself, which is always getting back to it does not matter how much information you have. It does not matter how smart you are. It does not matter how good your process is or system is that at the core and at the foundation, if you're leading people, you know, you have got to connect first before anything matters, before any of that matters, you've got.

So, while we are obsessively focused to get the best information, to have the best process, to have the best equipment and tools and resources, none of that matters if we're not foundational in the relationship first. And I think,  you know, I always go back to, you know, probably now the greatest coach in the history of the NBA, coach, Popovich.

And, you know, I've had a chance to be around the Spurs a little bit more through RC Buford than him, their team president, who's a friend. And I, and RC at one point we were at a leadership conference and talking about people kept referring to pop as the greatest MBA   coach. And he's, you know, RC will always like tell me privately like, Hey, he spents 80% of his time loving and connecting and caring, and only about 20% of his time coaching. And everyone views him as the greatest coach. That he's all about caring and loving and connecting. And so I, I just, I think that that is another way of saying, you know, deep level of empathy, compassion, awareness of who you're trying to lead.

And it's gotta be authentic. It's gotta be consistent and it's gotta be, you know, the precursor to anything else you're trying to accomplish.

MS : So when I think about how I want our players to feel, or how I want any person that works here to feel, I want them to feel that caring first because I know nothing else matters unless we, unless we connect first. And that I think that, that Dr. Comer quote, that my brother who, you know, who's committed his life to helping people in the nonprofit world,  you know, first brought up to me when we're talking about coaching teaching is a lot like coaching.

You know, it really is, I mean, the same attributes and characteristics and traits that make elite teachers. And when I think about coaching, I'm often reading education material. Cause it's been a lot more systematically studied than coaching has been studied. So, that’s how that Comer quote, you know, fits in. That's why it's on the whiteboard on my office. And while some things will get re-erased and replaced, that one's never going anywhere. It's gonna always be up there.

AD : I love the piece around office authenticity and consistency. In this, so important without those, I feel like the relationship of the human side falls flat. So….

The Power of Leading by Example [6:31]

MS : Yeah, I mean, you're gonna be judged by what you do, not what you say. Right? And so that, that consistency is how you carry yourself and the way you demonstrate those values on a daily basis. Parenting's a great reminder for us in that as well. You know, it's funny, I've always, always reflected back, I had a chance to coach my son growing up and, you know, it's a great laboratory for, you know, hey, here you are, this baseball executive that's worked all these years in the game, and all of a sudden you're coaching 11, 12, 13 year olds, and they're a hard audience [laugh], you know, it's hard to win. It's hard to win their respect.

But ultimately, what was a good reminder was they didn't listen to anything I said, but they watched everything I did. So, you know, the way I wanted us to treat umpires the way I wanted us to treat the teams, we competed against the kind of teammates I wanted them to be. I had to model that before I said it.

AD : We’re gonna come back to,  family in just a moment and we'll, we'll kind of expand on that.  Want to talk a little bit about just the challenges,  when the situation is tough. How do you, can you tell us a little bit about how you approach negotiations when teams are involved in trading maybe a really high profile or  very popular player? I would assume that involves just a significant amount of internal,  churn and discussions as well as the obvious kind of external negotiations.

Managing Bias and Emotion through Frameworks and Processes [7:31]

MS : In those circumstances, like any other negotiation you're trying to regress out in motion and momentum you know, from the decision and the hard, probably, the challenge that in sports is most challenging about negotiations, whether it's a trade or a free agent, is that you receive a lot of free advice, [laugh], you know, every, you know, anybody else you could, you could be a Fortune 500 CEO of leading a decision-making process that's far greater than any negotiation I've ever been a part at from a pure monetary level.

But the reality is no one, they're gonna walk into the barbershop and the barber's not gonna ask them about an acquisition of a company, right?  you can walk in to get a cup of coffee and no one at the coffee shop's gonna say, you shouldn't think about that merger, you know, that merger or acquisition.

MS : But our jobs everywhere you go, whether you're picking your kids up at school, getting your haircut, you know, grabbing a coffee or going out to dinner, someone's gonna step up and give you some free advice, [laugh], or you're gonna just, you know, you're gonna open up the, you know, your browser in the morning and there's gonna be six articles that are, you know, in your face or, you know, turn, get in your car and turn on the radio, and there's gonna be, they're gonna be talking.

So, you know that the process and the framework for the negotiation is essential because it removes that bias. It removes, you know, that emotion and that momentum that can underlie, that can undermine either how you feel about a player or how you feel about wanting to satisfy those, the people that gave you the free advice. And that's why a framework and a process and a system for negotiating is so important.

AD : Well, and it's gotta be difficult because the folks, given that free advice, they're a key stakeholder group, right? I mean, they're oftentimes your fan base. So it's, I would think there's a tension of being aware of and still making decisions that are wise for your organization.

Balancing the Present and Future in Building a Sustainable Championship Team and Overcoming Stakeholder Tensions in Sport Leadership [9:45]

MS : And the heart of that tension in sport lies on the majority of your stakeholders have both eyes absolutely firmly in this moment. They are only thinking about what is beneficial today. And our jobs are to have one eye on this moment and one eye on the future. We've gotta balance those things. We're trying to build a sustainable championship team, not a, not just a championship team, which means we wanna have a chance to win every year. That's a balance.

There are times when we will wait the current moment more than the future and times we'll wait the future more than the current moment. But anytime we are not a hundred percent waiting, the current moment, we are in conflict with our stakeholders. And that creates a tension that can we have to overcome in a negotiation. So that our, by the way, our stakeholders can be the team, the players, the coaches, the front office people around us sometimes as well as our fans.  it's just that as in leadership's positions, we can not only make decisions in a vacuum based on the on only on this current moment.

AD : Talking about other stakeholders. Maybe explore this a little bit. You know, recently your team received the commissioner's award for philanthropic excellence. Congratulations on that.  I'd imagine that as president and CEO of a major league baseball team, regardless of where you are, you have significant communication with city community leaders, opportunities to collaborate around or discuss things such as stadium renovations even more recently, COVID protocols and so forth.  How do you approach those conversations with that stakeholder group? and do they differ at all in an environment like Toronto where you're the only baseball team in Canada versus maybe a city like Cleveland?

Navigating Complex Government Systems and Balancing Logic with Politics [11:00]

MS : Well, I had far more conversations than I ever dreamed I would have with the Canadian government at every level, city, provincial or federal, during COVID. And they were, I was, I gained a very deep and quick education of the Canadian system of government, which is different.

It's a parliamentary system. It's different than the US system of government. So, I got a quick education, you know, because I had to interact and, and intersect with so many different stakeholders. And yes, I, you know, whether it was in Cleveland dealing with funding for a renovation of progressive field or whether, you know, it was trying to just get back in the country to play games in Canada and in Toronto. Cause we actually ended up having to play games in both Dun Eden, Florida and Buffalo New York, you know, which is major league games, regular season games, which is beyond belief.

MS : We were the only team that not only couldn't play in our own stadium, we couldn't play in our home country or city, which is, you know, it could be a whole other podcast, which [laugh] a heck of an experience. I think in the end though, what I have thought about when dealing with those government officials is,  trying to understand what's important to them, what's at the core of, you know, how of what they need to be, what will drive their decisions, and trying to help satisfy those things and still accomplish what we wanna accomplish.

So, and that's challenging with politics, right?  be, and it probably is a little bit more challenging and almost anything else with my personality, because I don't tend to be a pure apolitical or bureaucratic being. Those things kind of, those are, those are some of, you know, my, my lack of patience with those things are probably a weakness of mine.

MS : They're a limitation of mine.  and so when it comes down to someone thinking more about, you know, favorable ratings and kinda where, you know, putting their finger to the political wins and making a decision,  and I'm thinking about what logically makes sense, those things are discordant to some extent at sometimes, and those are challenging. Those were challenging moments for me. That's where I've gotta rely on better people around me that kind of pull me back in and are more patient. and, and I've gotta make sure that we're persistent and aware that, you know, those are legitimate concerns for the politicians and for the people, you know, leading government. It's not just, you know, the general wellbeing of the community that they have at heart.

NM : You also mentioned engaging with team owners. We often hear from listeners about how difficult it can be to influence or persuade upwards. What advice do you have for effectively leading our bosses?

Managing Expectations in Sports Ownership [14:07]

MS : Manage expectations. That would be the, that would be the first thing I'd, you know, I'd say, you know, every, when I reflect back and when I've talked about my friends, talked with my friends in other sports,  it is, it is a unique beast, you know, a Major League sports owner. They don't often approach sports the way they approach their other businesses. and they are impacted emotionally by their friends, you know, that they see ow, you know, because they're just, they're, they can more publicly gauge short-term success and failure, you know, through the lens of wins and losses.

So, it is extremely important before, during, and after the season, that there is a very clear strategy articulated that there is an objective set of expectations that are set, but that are a range of outcomes that are discussed because there is a variability that comes with human beings,  that cannot be perfectly, you know, articulated.

MS : And so I think what I always want to do with stakeholders up is have them understand this is the process we went through to make the decisions we made. Here's our strategy, here's how we execute it on it. Here's what our expectations are going in. However, that there are a range of outcomes that, you know, could happen this year, but regardless of what occurs, you need to understand how we got here.

And if you buy in to how we got here, if we're aligned that the process was good, that the system was good, that the inputs were good, the variables, the people, the contributions, you know, all those variable inputs were good, then over the continuum, we're gonna have good outcomes.

Don't be swayed by any individual outcome. And I think that's what you're trying to do is ensure that there's a, doesn't mean we're gonna be, not be bitter at a loss, doesn't mean we're all not gonna be disappointed, but that we don't deviate from a strategy or plan just based on any individual data point.

And that's, that can happen with where, with an owner in sports, where it might not happen with the owner and their other businesses because there's an emotional piece to do it.

NM : You may have just touched on this, and so I'll ask,  looking ahead to the season and what is always a highly competitive American League East division? How do you get the team ready to thrive for 162 games?

Focusing on Improvement and Identity [16:32]

MS : I mean, our, there are different times and different cycles and our expectations are Championship expectations. To me the best way to have us prepare for that is to not focus on the outcomes, but to focus on us continually improving, to focus on us and our players articulating to each other their identity, you know, how they're gonna hold each other accountable. How they can advance their brotherhood, you know, further than it is right now, before they start to enter into games that count before we step foot, you know, into the arena, where we are competing day in and day out. Because it is much more challenging to do that on the fly. It's easier to make those adjustments and to recalibrate, but if you're having to create that while you're competing, that is really challenging.

So, I'd say, well, as we are beginning to undertake the journey, it's recommitting, re-articulating, you know, ensuring there's alignment to what our identity is, to what forges, you know, the bonds of brotherhood that exist in that clubhouse downstairs. And we're talking about how we're gonna hold each other accountable throughout 162 data points and games. But we're also, you know, committing to each other that we're gonna stay steadfast in that journey regardless of where it goes.

AD : Now, Mark, shifting a little bit off, off the team, maybe to even kind of a big, big picture of the work you do, within Major League Baseball. And we mentioned a number of the committees that you, you sit on and participate in league meetings just wrapping up recently. As you work on these committees that have it, that affect the entire sport in all 30 major league teams. How do you manage the tremendous differences between regions,  team owners, and so forth to get alignment and actually get things accomplished?

How the Competitive Nature of Baseball Makes It Difficult to Align Views and Work Toward the Future of the Game [18:07]

MS : That is a great question. Often not well [laugh], often not well, because we're all competitive and we all tend to look at life through our own, you know, our own circumstances and in baseball more than any other sport, because of the way the collective bargaining agreement is set, because of the way we share revenue,  the disparate views of our businesses, and they are 30 different unique businesses, often make it difficult to align.

For me, what I do is, you know, I kind of look at it like I've got two hats, and when I go to those meetings and we're working on the future of the game, my hat is less a Toronto Blue Jay, a Cleveland guardian, whatever it is, my hat is just, it's a major league baseball hat. It's just a game of baseball. It's just thinking about how much I love the game and how much I want that game to be greater, you know, five, 10 years from now, than it is today.

MS : And even when I'm done working in it. And I think if, for all of us that sit on those committees, the more we can step outside of the myopic view of the moment, of our own particular set of experiences and circumstances.  Not meaning we don't bring our circumstances with us, but meaning we put those circumstances aside and we think about we are here to make the game better. We are here to grow the game. We are here to help others enjoy it, as much as we do and be impacted by as much as we have been impacted by it. So, I guess I, that's when I put my kind of universal MLB  hat on, my universal baseball hat on, and just think about what can we do to grow the game? What can we do to make the game better? What can we do to help more people enjoy it? And that's, I try to put aside my own circumstances, my own self-interest, and just my, make my self-interest the game of baseball. I think that's what we all try to do.

AD : Yeah, and I, and again, I just imagine that's difficult at times. You know, a year ago Major League baseball experienced a lockout that lasted a little over three months. Unfortunately, it had very little impact,  negative impact on the season. As you, as you look back on that,any negotiation lessons that you think were learned from that lockout? And if put your predictor hat on any chances we experienced a lockout or strike again in the future?

The Importance of Trust and Stakeholder Mentality in Baseball Labor Relations [20:30]

MS : Well, I mean, I think the [laugh], the underlying feeling I've got, when I think about the lockout in general and just the, maybe just the stoppage, you know, that labor created, you know, and obviously I've seen a few of those over a 31 year career, you know, and whether it's 1994,  players walking out or whether it's, you know, a lockout, it is that without trust, without truly trying to understand the other party's, you know, priorities, you continually battle and continually end up at negotiations that both groups end up losing.

You know, no one really ends up winning. You know, you can feel like you've got concessions, but the damage inflicted is probably more damaging in the long run. And it, and my overall opinion, and this is just personal is, until we end up and can create a system or a dynamic or a relationship where our players truly feel like they're stakeholders and not employees, it's gonna be very difficult to have a different negotiating dynamic for us, regardless of the labor cycle that we're in.

And I'm not unique in feeling that way. I think the bulk of owners feel we just haven't been able to do that. We have not been able to pierce that dynamic. It's, you know, unfortunately, and you can look at the history of major league baseball labor relations, and it is, like any historical deep-seated challenging dynamic. It's just there is a different view, different perspective, and a lack of trust that is historically based and we have not been able to bridge that trust gap.

NM : So Mark, kinda discussing the getting creative around all the different stakeholders, the different owners, alignment with the players, you know, how does that creativity show up and how do you really foster that as a leadership skill?

The Creative Side of Building a Special and Impactful Organization in Baseball [22:35]

MS : I've always, it's funny, I've always kind of, I've had artists in my life that have, you know, been, been played important roles and you know, I think people may not look at executives and leaders through a creative lens very often. I think the way that I've thought about an organization being a special place to work and play,  that general underlying feeling that I want this to be the best place to work and the best place to play,  that there is a creative side to that. It's not static, it's not, you know, not just about individual decisions. It's about thinking how things and people link together and how they connect to each other.

And maybe the creative piece of that is, it's the way you think about the connection of individual efforts from one to the next. And over a continuum those things are able to build something special and beautiful and and lasting and impactful upon the people who just watches play, you know, so that when ultimately when the team takes the field, that team doesn't just exemplify a win or loss, but that team, the way they play the game manifests the values that link a scout to a coach, to a trainer, to a strength coach, to a, you know, a physical therapist and you know, something in the way those players play the game as a representation, you know, of values.

AD : Mark, you’re right, there was a quote I read,  as we were preparing, you said, Corey, your personal philosophy is never to let your job define your worth as a human being.  I think that's difficult for many of us, regardless of profession, given the demands of your job that you've been describing, how do you try to manage the negotiations, in both your personal and professional pursuit?

Separating Self-Worth from Performance and Maintaining Humility in Leadership [24:14]

MS : Well, that is extremely challenging, but absolutely important to any sustainability. You will not be sustainable in any career in life if you start thinking, if you start, if you cannot separate your self-esteem and self-worth from your outcomes, from your performance. And so, I think ultimately it gets back to the relation component that, I don't look at myself as being different, a different person when I'm, when I think about myself as a leader, the leader I am is the man I am, is the father I am, is the partner I am, is the brother I am, is the son I am,  all those things, I, and you have to, and it gets back to again, I know I tend to be a little redundant when talking about these, these core values, but,  you've gotta be consistent. And when you walk in the door, you're not putting on some cape that says, okay, I'm gonna lead some negotiation process now and transition and transform into a superhuman negotiator or a superhuman leader that makes incredible decisions.

And no, I'm, I'm just the same person that, you know, walked from taking out the trash and washing dishes you know, feeding the cat and walking the dog. And that same person is gonna, you know, come here and lead people through a decision making process that lead people through a negotiation, not conduct a negotiation, but lead a negotiation process that's gonna, you know, that's gonna involve input from a lot of people,  that's gonna help us, you know, achieve a better outcome. And so I think that humility, that open-mindedness being at the core, that curiosity, that quest for improvement and growth,  and learning and development is really gotta be at the core. And that reminder that, you know, regardless of what the outcomes are and people seeing your praises, you're no different from that person who woke up in bed in the morning, no different from everybody else that works here.

And on the darkest days when you know people are angry and calling for your job and, you know, insulting you in ways that, you know, probably you don't deserve to be insulted, that's just their passion playing out. But you're no different. You're still the same person that is important to a lot of other people in life. And you've gotta think about that. So,  you don't have the luxury of riding that roller coaster, and if you do hop on that roller coaster where the outcomes are defining how good you're feeling about yourself, it, you're gonna have a short-lived existence. And you're gonna make other people around you miserable, and you're not gonna make it, you're not gonna be the best place to work or the best place to play.

AD : Building off of this, as you look back on a career of 30 years,  is there a particular moment or event that you're most proud of? And we're blending leadership and negotiation here quite a bit in this conversation. I see the two as linked, but I, whether it's a negotiation or it's, we were working through a real difficult problem that you, like, you look back and you said we were really successful, and if, if you pulled apart, why was it so successful?

The Importance of Values-Based Decision-Making and Teamwork in Achieving Championship Success in Baseball [27:15]

MS : People love to ask about moments and, you know, are there favorite memories? And you know, I think, you know, I always do feel like the best ones are yet to come, you know, and there's been someone certainly in Toronto, but when I was a GM and went through the unbelievable challenges of kind of turning over an entire team, the entire team, and going from what was a perennial champion for eight straight years to worst and get back to championship level again. And when we knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs, clenched, the division led the league in wins in 2007, the moment that our players were celebrating in the locker room in 2007,  I remember looking around and all the years we had talked about values-based decision making and picking players that, you know, we believed in, not just from a talent perspective, but also as human beings and building something special.

And, the linkage that those values represented between the scouts that work to identify these players, the women and men sitting in cubicles that, you know, were crunching analytics and data that contribute to us acquiring those players to the trainers and the physios that rehabilitated the ones that were heard to the, you know, to all the people in the office that helped put together, you know, the games that maximize revenue that allow us to play, pay those players and keep 'em together.

And all the people that felt a part of what happened that the celebration that those players had was really the manifestation of those values and of the link, you know, of a group of people who bought into something that was, we are gonna put a team out in the field that represents the values that join us together.

MS : And the way they play the game is gonna be something that when we lay our heads in the pillow tonight, we are gonna believe in those players in Grady Sizemore and Cece Sabathia and Victor Martinez and Johnny Peralta and Travis Hafner, and those players are gonna be, and to this day, man, like, you know, those are, I though I look at those guys and think that's, that's what you want, you want, you want to know that through ups and downs, injuries, you know, performance swings, you know, they care, you know, they care that they, that they want, they care about each other and they care about, you know, wanting to do something great.

And those guys did great things, but they were great people too and great teammates. So, great moment for me just thinking about what that meant to so many people, not just, you know, not just the fans or not just those players pouring champagne, but all the people behind the, you know, the thousands of efforts that led us to that moment.

NM : Mark, this has been a wonderful conversation. As we prepare to wrap up, any final thoughts for our listeners on how they might become more effective negotiators or leaders?

The Importance of Understanding Alternatives and Being Values-Based in Negotiations and Leadership [32:26]

MS : Yeah, I know we, like Aram said, we spent a lot of time, Nolan, on leadership, you know, and, and, but I do think that we could have dovetailed back and forth from leadership to negotiation, you know, and thinking about the only things that we didn't talk about in negotiation are just the importance of really understanding alternatives of both yourself and, you know, the people you're negotiating against.

I think if someone were to say, is there one thing you know that's gonna define the success, you know, of a, of a negotiation, it's gonna be absolutely understanding alternatives and framing a walkaway, and being disciplined enough to stick to that. And to frame that walkaway. You've gotta truly understand your own alternatives and the alternatives of the people across the table from you.

To do that, you know, to truly understand and, and to conduct, you know, once you have that, to conduct a negotiation that is, is meaningful and doesn't do harm to either person and can, you can build a business and a life upon, you've gotta be values based and you've gotta connect and care first, and that's where the leadership piece fits in.

And that's kind of the common theme to a lot of what we talked about today. So,  I enjoyed the conversation, appreciated the opportunity, certainly appreciated the thoughtfulness of the questions that both of you had. You know, it's not often that I get, you know, we can, I can spend an hour and, you know, 10 minutes and have that go by so quickly, but I'm passionate about the topics that we covered today and appreciate you guys giving me the chance to kind of reflect a little bit and talk about some meaningful topics to me.

NM : Well, thank you. And, I turn it over to Aram for closing thoughts.

AD : Yeah, I'll just, Mark, I'm gonna echo our thanks to you and say thank you for the thoughtful responses. Know you're incredibly busy, but thanks. And so thank you for making the time, to be on and talk to us so much. We could talk, talk through the alignment of values, who you work for. I love the, and I really hope folks will go back and listen to the idea of how you describe, leading upwards, no surprises, align with them and pull them in, our bosses and our superiors, pull 'em into the process by which we make decisions, to include what you said at the end, which is understanding that we negotiate, we lead to make better decisions, right?

And that means knowing what we can walk away to, and comparing that to what we're doing at the table. And that is an important driver for why we negotiate in the first place. And certainly doing that as a ties to relationship and good communication and the values piece. So, thanks for everything, this has been great. And again, I just thank you for your time.

MS : Yeah, thank you guys. Have a great day.

NM : That is it for us, the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. If you please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast, we'll check you out in the next episode. Hey, thanks for checking out this video on NEGOTIATEx. If you found any value at all, please hit the subscribe button, hit the notification icon if you wanna be notified of future videos.

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