Cal Ripken Jr. has advice for small business owners

Friday, October 5, 2018

Cal Ripken Jr. has advice for small business owners
Katishi Maake, bizjournals.com

Cal Ripken Jr. wasn't going to feel sorry for himself after his Hall of Fame baseball career came to end.

"Halfway through my career, I started to think about what would be beyond baseball," he said.

Ripken discussed his philosophies on life and business before dozens of business leaders gathered Wednesday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 14th annual Small Business Summit. The 19-time All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles is the CEO of his own small business — Ripken Baseball Inc., a youth sports enterprise that operates several baseball complexes across the country.

In August, Ripken Baseball received a minority investment from LionTree Partners, the investment arm of LionTree LLC.

During his 40-minute address, Ripken imparted business lessons drawn from his baseball career. Here are some of the highlights:

On honesty: "You could surround yourself with a lot of people that say yes to you all the time and not tell you the truth. In some scenarios, they're intimidated enough that they don't want to give you bad news, but it is your job to make sure you assemble yourself with people that will tell you how it is."

On fairness and equality: "When [baseball] managers come in and make a presentation to you in the locker room on the very first day, many of them said, 'I'm going to treat everybody fairly but I'm not necessarily going to treat everyone equally, because some people have earned other advantages over others.' So I always thought that was an important thing — the distinction between treating everyone equally and treating everyone fairly."

On improvement and goal-setting: "Once you've set a standard for yourself, now you have an opportunity to set some goals. But even in those years, you can overachieve and sometimes you can underachieve and you're still better. You're competing again yourself, number one. In order to compete against yourself, you've got to give an honest evaluation of who you are. The thing I found that big league players especially did not do was, they did not look at their weaknesses and say, "OK, I'm going to make my weaknesses more of a strength." They just practiced their strengths. The second thing was competing against your teammates. There's healthy competing within a business and then there's not-so-healthy competition within a business, so you got to be careful. The idea is to bring a team together. Those two forms of competition sometimes replace goals. It's all about getting better each and every time and warding off some of the challenges even internally that might sit you down and might end your career."

On mental health: "Sometimes the pressures get so extreme you don't really have any place to turn in some ways. I think it's an absolute must to have... care in place because the pressure only gets worse. When things happen in your personal life, you've got to have an outlet."