What makes successful people – successful? They take advantage of every opportunity
It’s 4:00 on a random weekday and I’m northbound 35 headed back from Austin to Dallas. Construction is brutal and I’m trucking it home from a week of client meetings (and great Austin BBQ – Franklink’s).
Flipping through my sports radio stations – I stumble across Jon Daniels (General Manager) of the Texas Rangers swapping stories with Ben & Skin of Dallas’ sports radio station 105.3 “The Fan.”Daniels – always laid back on the radio is talking about the state of the Texas Rangers and why they did/didn’t make any trades at the MLB trade deadline earlier this summer. Mostly no-answer responses, but then Daniels said something – not about baseball, but about creating one’s own success. He talked briefly about what brought him to where he is today. The basic message he relayed was that he took advantage of his opportunities.
I’m paraphrasing here, but the short story was Jon Daniels and his friend A.J. Preller met in college at Cornell University. Both Daniels and Preller had a passion for baseball – but Preller took it a step further (at the time) and always knew he was destined for a baseball job. He got one. After graduation, Preller started with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Jon started in the corporate world, but still stayed closed to the game though Preller. A year passed, and one day, Preller asked Jon Daniels to come out to the MLB winter meetings. This is where taking advantage of your opportunities separates the successful people from the rest.
Jon bought an airline ticket, hopped a flight, crashed on Preller’s hotel floor and made something out of nothing. Daniels was just a guy. Sure — he was smart and understood math, but really just a corporate guy with a passion for baseball and brilliant mind for statistics. That’s irrelevant. There are probably a lot of brilliant math/stats baseball fans in the world. But it was Daniels that took advantage of the opportunity.
While at the MLB winter meetings, Daniels made important connections. He talked with people, he engaged in the conversation and created relationships through networking. He followed his passion and made something happen. Daniels could have stayed in his (I assume well paying job – based on graduating from Cornell) and kept the corporate track, but he didn’t. He made something out of nothing happen.
After the 2001 winter meetings – Daniels landed an internship the following spring with the Colorado Rockies. After the baseball season concluded that year, Daniels was informed of an opening in the Rangers organization. He applied and was hired by then GM John Hart as Assistant, Baseball Operations. He was promoted to Director, Baseball Operations in October 2003 – then GM with the Rangers in 2005.
Note: Today, Preller is the Texas Rangers Assistant General Manager serving under Jon Daniels (General Manager). Preller interviewed and was named as the new General Manager of the San San Diego Padres.
I respect Jon Daniels. Not because he’s brilliant (which he is), but because he’s driven. Talent is easy to spot – drive, determination and heart, not so much. If I had to choose between smart or driven, give me driven every time.
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