Podcast 2: The Things I’ve Learned—Work Ethic is Everything
Episode 2 of THE THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM PODCAST is here. Today’s Topic: Work Ethic is EVERYTHING
Transcript is below:
I consider myself lucky. Securing my first job as a sophomore in college with a Major League Baseball team changed my life, and all for the better. As I mentioned in last week’s podcast, I was lally-gagging my way through college until I found a new major and a new purpose.
Do you remember what it is like to be 19 and naive? Nineteen and floundering, unsure as to where you will go or what you will do in life? Wondering to yourself what college will teach you and how you will use it in the future? I had all these questions. However, my early days at the Orioles helped me sort things out.
Enter two of my dear friends, Julie Wagner and Charles Steinberg. Not much older than I was at the time, these two were the department directors for Community Relations and Orioles Productions, respectively. Additionally, at the time, the Orioles had the best PR department in all of baseball, headed up by the late Bob Brown, a very nice man who was a little bit intimidating because of how good he was. We all called Mr. Brown, out of immense respect and maybe a little bit of fear.
It didn’t take me long to learn lesson #2 in this podcast series: Work Ethic is Everything. What those of us who worked for Bob, Julie, and Charles quickly found out was that it was a work ethic that showed your true grit. Sure, getting straight As in college is an accomplishment—but for me, I noticed it was the school of hard knocks working in baseball that determined who would rise to the top, could complete a task, and gave every last effort you had to make something successful? If you could do that, your value rose, the team wanted to keep you around, and you even, perhaps, found yourself in a leadership position or earned a full-time spot on the front office roster.
So many of my friends and I grew up during this era in baseball. We’re all still close, and we all tend to say the same thing: our work ethic was developed during the time we spent working for the Baltimore Orioles. You realized very quickly that you didn’t want to disappoint the people who were your mentors, your guides, and your teachers. Sure, we worked 60-80-hour weeks during the season. Baseball plays 81 home games, and you often had to be at the ballpark at 9 a.m. and didn’t leave until after the post-game notes were distributed to the media. Dedication. Commitment. Work ethic. That’s what I grew up with, and it’s what I still have to this day. I was trained with that philosophy.
If this sounds a little daunting, believe me, it was not. It was just what I needed. This driving notion of creating a work ethic built our characters. Bob Brown, Julie, and Charles were the best role models; they worked hard and taught us to do the same, sometimes by setting expectations and sometimes by example. The long hours spent working in baseball forged lifelong friendships similar to those found in the military or among those who work in law enforcement: there’s a bond of kinship that doesn’t fade with time, even if we don’t see each other as regularly as we would like.
Watching Bob, Julie, and Charles, and others in the organization work hard was inspirational and aspirational. At nineteen, I quickly realized who I wanted to be: I wanted to be like them. They had passion, drive, and a lot of fun along the way. It was a great place to grow up. I can’t tell you how many breakfasts at 2 a.m. I had with Charles or how many events Julie and I planned, organized and traveled to together. The hours spent working in baseball taught me everything I needed to know about achieving goals, and that hard work equals success in life.
Fast forward to today. I’m not nineteen anymore, and in my forties I completely switched careers from working in public relations and publishing to becoming a full professor at a university outside Baltimore. The ingrained work ethic I learned got me where I am today. In 2008, I secured a full-time job as a professor at a local university outside Baltimore. In 2009, I went back to school and earned an MFA in Creative Writing while raising two young children. I’ve written six books and a textbook. I could go on, but you get the point.
All of this started because I took a chance and mailed off a resume and cover letter to the Orioles that cold, February day. All of this because I learned about work ethic at a relatively young age. All of this because I learned from the best.
Nothing since then has ever been the same. I’m so grateful for all of it.
Stay Bright & Positive,