OK, so you landed that big gig at Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Simon & Schuster, or McGraw-Hill. The career is moving, but you are just starting up the rungs of this “Glamour Field” ladder. You may be asking yourself, “So Don, how do I light this candle?” One of the answers is as easy as balls and strikes (or Sets and Spikes). SOFTBALL and or VOLLEYBALL, networking at its best, are ways to get Face Time with disparate people within your organization.
The first thing to remember: Skill is important, but not necessary. The main driving force about these after-hour sports is that they incorporate all business lessons into a 2-3 hour game. The teamwork, camaraderie, strategy and tactics that help to make a game a life-lesson, are all central themes that will come in handy in the boardroom as well as on the ball fields. The ability to depend on your teammates, and more important, teammates being able to depend on you, will serve you well in your future endeavors within your organization.
Another great aspect of playing on a company-sponsored sporting team is networking. Sport is a universal language, and all staff from the President’s office (Terry McGraw would often ask teammates how we were doing and who was playing on the team!) to the Mailroom staff will be involved in playing as a team. The basic overriding consequence of playing is getting to know people within your company that you would not normally get to know during the course of your average work day. These interactions may seem small and immaterial at this point in time, but when your Shortstop becomes a Vice-President of a large division of your company, you may be in a much greater position to make a move into a better career slot.
Believe me; basing personnel decisions on friendships built on sports such as these are not out of the question. It’s been said for years that some of the biggest deals in business are cut on the Golf course, it is also true that some of the best personnel connections are made on the fields of Central Park playing in the Publisher’s League, or on the Volleyball hardwood floors of High Schools on the West Side of Manhattan.
I started out playing for the Macmillan Men’s team and Co-ed Team. This picture was taken in summer of 1986, when the Macmillan Human Resources Department (at that time called “Personnel”) chartered a bus and sent the New York contingent to Hightstown, NJ to play a rivalry game against our warehouse. The New York team lost 16-14, but it was a fantastic game with the lead going back and forth every inning we played. I played right field in this game.
From Macmillan I was traded to Springer-Verlag where I played for a year before contract issues forced me to opt for Free Agency. After a year hiatus, I ended up at McGraw-Hill where I played on the softball team for the next 6 summers. The Publisher’s League also has an All-Star game in the middle of the summer. There is no better feeling than being voted to an All-Star Team by your teammates. I was lucky enough to go to 4 All-Star games while I was playing for McGraw-Hill. Certainly the number of appearances were not Jeter-like, but it was fun to be recognized just the same.
The Volleyball leagues are Co-ed, as is the Softball League. Go out there, have fun, and get ahead in this business we love: Publishing.
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