The ‘How’ and ‘What’ of Business Development

My primary role for the company I work for is business development,* and at times, I’ve had a hard time explaining to family and friends exactly what that means. Sales and marketing most people understand, but BD is a bit more ambiguous — especially when those of us who do it can’t articulate it well.

*Actually business development + sales, which technically isn’t considered traditional business development, which is addressed in one of the posts I’ve linked to.

If you at all share that struggle, the chapter on BD in this book was quite helpful. That eventually led me to this post, which explains quite clearly the role of business development and how it works with other teams within an organization.

Finally, that post led me to Seth Godin‘s thoughts on how to do BD better. His blog post is six years old but, like everything he writes, still spot on.

Especially this:

Courtship, negotiation and marriage. Every deal has three parts, and keeping them straight is essential. During the courtship phase, you win when you are respectful, diligent, enthusiastic, engaging, outgoing, and relentless in your search to make a connection. Do your homework, research people’s backgrounds, learn about their kids, visit them—don’t make them visit you. Look people in the eye, ask hard but engaging questions, you know the drill. Basically, treat people as you’d like to be treated, because the people you most want to work with have a choice, and they may just not pick you. Hint: if you skip the courtship part, the other two stages probably won’t come up.

Weekend Roundup

Weekend Roundup: 05.16.15

Last year, I wanted to start learning how to podcast, and a friend of mine was interested in starting a blog dedicated to the Chicago Bears, so was born.

Our audience is still relatively small, but it’s growing. We’ve recorded 23 episodes, including a variety of guest interviews. The latest is with Bears OLB Sam Acho, which you can listen to here.

As I mentioned in the introduction to the interview, Sam comes across as a super nice, humble guy who has a more cerebral approach to the game than many. He’ll be battling for a roster spot come Training Camp this summer, and I’m wishing him the best.

If you’re interested in subscribing to the podcast via iTunes, you can do so here.

Other news and notes from this week:


Playing While Intoxicated: ‘You Knew I Was Drunk’

Branch Rickey is a fascinating character, a renaissance man in the rough-and-tumble days of baseball, someone who brought lasting change to the game, both big and small. Revolutionary isn’t too strong a word.

So, even after finishing Lee Lowenfish’s 600-page biography of the longtime executive, I needed more. So I picked up one of the books listed in the bibliography: “Branch Rickey’s Little Blue Book.” Basically, a guy named John Monteleone went to the Library of Congress and went through 131 containers of Rickey’s writings, letters and speeches, then complied the notable ones into a book.

The book isn’t bad, and there are a few worthwhile nuggets. (I learned Rickey invented the batting tee, for example.) The highlight, however, is the scouting reports, and the crown jewel is a report on an outfielder named Joe Taylor:

A tall, rough, sea-going Negro who allegedly plays a great game when he’s sober. He has a reputation for being a complete rounder — a fence screeching tomcat with not enough females in sight. ‘Tis said he even plays a good game with a snoot full. This fellow can run and he can throw and he can hit the ball “a fur piece.” I don’t know how old he is. So far as I can find out, no one does. My guess is somewhere between 20 and 40. Age doesn’t matter because he is fast, agile, and obviously full of confidence. He is presently hitting .325 and 24 doubles and 16 home runs.

Taylor bears such a reputation that I guess I couldn’t have the remotest interest in him, but he impressed me very much as a player.

Now, after discovering that gem, I could hardly stop there. After some research, I found that Rob Neyer wrote about Taylor in his “Big Book of Baseball Legends.” In it, he relays a story from yet another book, a story told by a teammate named Dick Fitzgerald, that seems to validate Rickey’s scouting report:

Joe Taylor was a great Triple-A ballplayer. He could do it all. He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues, but he really should have had a career in the majors.

Anyway, one day in 1959 when Joe and I were on the Vancouver club in the PCL, Joe came to the ballpark drunk. We tried to sober him up by getting him a lot of coffee and juice, but that didn’t help a whole lot, so when the game started Joe was not in the lineup.

When the ninth inning rolled around, we were trailing 2 to 1, but we had the tying and winning runs on base with two outs. Joe was feeling better at that point, and he started pestering our manager, Charlie Metro, to let him pinch hit. “Come on, Charlie. Put me in, and I’ll break this thing wide open.”

Metro pinch hit him, and Joe struck out on three pitches. Three fastballs right down the middle, and Joe didn’t even take the batt of his shoulder.

Of course, Metro was pissed. And as he started walking down the concrete corridor to our locker room, Joe came up behind him and said, “Charlie, you dumb ass … You knew I was drunk. Why’d you put me in?”

An all-time great quote, yet there’s reason to doubt the story. Neyer dug deeper and looked at box scores for all 151 of the Vancouver Mounties’ games in 1959. Taylor played in 110 of them — he spent a good portion of the summer in the majors with the Orioles — but, according to the files, he didn’t pinch hit in a single PCL game that year.

But there’s no reason to doubt Taylor’s affinity for alcohol. Going through old microfilm of The Sporting News, Bob Lemke found that Taylor served a two-game suspension the next season, in 1960, for playing while intoxicated (PWI?) while with the Seattle Rainiers in the PCL.

Rainiers manager Dick Sisler removed Taylor after the first game of a doubleheader after he stumbled over first base and admitted to teammates that he was drunk. Just 15 days prior, he had be convicted of a DUI and lost his driver’s license as a result.

Taylor’s sober days were productives ones, though. He led the Rainiers that season with a career-high 30 home runs.