We begin this post by expressing our sincere condolences and best wishes to the entire Steinbrenner family and organization. George Steinbrenner passed away today in Tampa Bay Florida. In part our post is to honor Mr. Steinbrenner by acknowledging his mindset, his drive and accomplishments. For us he truly is The Worlds Ultimate Entrepreneur. I have been almost mesmerized by the reports on ESPN the past 90 minutes as ESPN has interviewed the Who’s Who in the Yankee Sports History. As I listened – I really marveled at how he was being remembered.
There was common theme about winning, never quitting – from the words he said he wanted on his gravestone – “He Never Stopped Trying” to advice he gave Daryl Strawberry when Daryl was in the midst of his drug problems – which was “never give up – don’t quit – winners pick themselves up and get back in the game”
He was often quoted saying “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing,” he was fond of saying. “Breathing first, winning next.”
His history as a sports entrepreneur began back in the 70’s when he bought a Cleveland basketball team and then was rebuked in his attempts to accomplish his dream of purchasing the Cleveland Indians. So what did he do in 1973 he went and bought the struggling – in the basement – rundown franchise of the New York Yankees for $8.7 million. He did not give up.
he almost single-handedly changed sports by his “my wallet is open” use of free agency. It was based upon a sound business practice of hiring the best talent – paying them a ton of money and expecting the best. His expectations were about winning! And his goals and expectations were high – it became the organizational goal every year to be the best in the world – to win the world series and he went out and hired the best talent available every year to get there. He was not satisfied with being better than the Boston Red Sox or winning the division or even the AL Pennant (they won 11 of those during his ownership) – It was world series or bust! In 36 seasons since he became the owner of the Yankees they have won 7 world series. The most of any baseball franchise in history just counting the ones during his ownership.
What can we entrepreneurs learn from this? Mr Steinbrenner as the ultimate entrepreneur set out to be the best in the world at what they did – to win the world series every year – not just once and look they only won it about 20% of the time. And yet the New York Yankees are recognized as the most successful, most profitable and most valuable sports franchise in the world. Even though they achieved their goal only one in five times! The organization embodies his drive – never quit, focus on winning – don’t give up.
Words every entrepreneur can live by! Mr. Steinbrenner when you were at your best – you have left inspiration for us all.
There were parts of Mr. Steinbrenner many people don’t know or remember also.
In the early 90’s Mr. Steinbrenner was banned from day to day management and involvement in his baseball teams operations for his involvement with a known gambler and legal problems he had over that. this coincided with a time when the Yankees were in the basement and were not the Winning Yankees. So many entrepreneurs would give up on their dream – sell out – etc. Not Mr. Steinbrenner – he did not quit and was eventually allowed to return to the team management. The Yankees went on to their incredible streak of World Series Championships after that incident. It supports the view that many successful entrepreneurs recover form and get through big setbacks and circumstances because they are resilient and have developed a never quit on your dream attitude.
Another little known characteristic of Mr Steinbrenner – his charitable giving. Even though he loved the spotlight – had his own personal PR agent – his charitable giving rarely made the press – because that what he wanted. He did not give to get press coverage or free PR for his business – he gave because he was helping others and giving back. Usually his only stipulation to his gift was that noone knew it came from him. His much covered firings of his managers were very visible – stuff of legends and folklore- Billy Martin 5 times – but few knew that many of those people remained on the Yankee payroll – their families taken care of the rest of their lives!
He built many teams – some better than others – always seeking the best and to be better. Win a World Championship – get better and repeat! He took care of his players and employees – He paid them industry leading salaries and bonuses. he was consistent in his expectations – win or else! He involved his family in the business and has left behind a legacy for his family for generations to come.
Sounds like The Ultimate Entrepreneur To Me – Our prayers go out to you and your family!
ESPN is airing an episode of it’s award winning show 30 for 30 on September 21, 2010 focused on Mr Steinbrenner. produced by the tow time Academy Award Winning Filmmaker Barbara Kopple – The episode is called:
It premiers on Tuesday Sep 21 at 8PM EST on ESPN
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