Tue 12 Jun 2012
By Evan Wise
I just celebrated another birthday, which at my age, is less a celebration and more of a pit stop in the accelerating passage of time. This year Marc took us on a great trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Learning more about my childhood heroes was insightful and inspiring while I picked up a new hero along the way.
At 5’7”, Yogi Berra was not an imposing figure. In a tryout for St. Louis, he was told by the manager that he had no future in pro baseball. Even with his family telling him the same thing, Yogi never gave up. That persistence led to 358 career home runs and a great career in baseball. Yogi conveyed many lessons about attitude that apply to all, especially retailers. The following is a discussion of some of his famous quotes.
“You have to realize how to realize your dream.” The message for retailers is to not let negativity affect the game plan for your store, your customers or your life. Don’t let the media and the negativity on the news make you pessimistic. Your customers come to you to be uplifted and optimistic. Keep your eye on the dream and find positive steps every day that move you closer to it.
Part of Yogi’s career success was based on a stream of coaches and seasoned players working with him on his hitting, catching, strategy and tactics of baseball. He was always a student of the game and got better with every day and every play. Just because he was with the winningest team in the history of baseball, he never thought he knew it all.
“Figure out how to improve, how to get help.” Most independent specialty retailers are good pickers and great sellers, however there are new ideas and methods being developed and proven every day. Prior success does not dictate success in your future. New opportunities are there for you if you open your eyes and your mind to them. Yogi was a Hall of Fame catcher with the greatest team on earth, yet he was constantly figuring out how he could improve and seeking those who could help him make that happen.
“When I was with the Yankees, all we thought of was winning – we couldn’t imagine losing.” Too often retailers try something once and then give up. Not only do they give up on the experiment, they carry that negative conviction forward for years. The “We tried that and it doesn’t work here” attitude erases too many valid possibilities. Winning is a mindset and that mindset requires persistence. Figure out how you can improve an event or promotion or how you can buy better the next time. Learn why an unsuccessful event did not work. Too many good ideas are abandoned because of the lack of a winning attitude. Yogi struck out 414 times in his career. He never felt he tried batting but it did not work for him. That led to 2,150 hits in his career. He always got back to bat!
“It’s so crowded nobody goes there anymore.” I have yet to meet a retailer who does not view sales and traffic as two big issues. In reality, many businesses are crowded enough and sales are great enough to generate a much better profit and more cash than they do now. Just like Yogi worked on hitting, catching, running and strategy to become a more complete ballplayer, retailers need to actually work on budgeting, inventory management, cash flow planning, motivation, training, hiring etc. to become more complete retailers. Knowing your strengths while improving your weaknesses can lead to more success than you ever imagined. I know Yogi imagined himself playing pro ball but I bet he never imagined the day in 1972 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame! Where do you imagine your business going?
Baseball, like retail, is a national sport. Every day is a new game. Helping your staff win every day is how you get your store to the Hall of Fame.