Lessons for Entrepreneurs from a Baseball Pro

Suzanne Clark (left) and Cal Ripkin (right)

Bringing together dreamers, doers, and leaders across the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 14th year inspiring and educating business leaders through the Small Business Summit. This years keynote featured Senior Executive Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Suzanne Clark and baseball role model, author, and coach Cal Ripken.

With his giant success in baseball after twenty-one years, Cal Ripken has taken his mistakes, lessons,and success from playing the game and adapted his skills to building a second career in kids business creating what Clark described as “Ripken Version 2.0.” Like most entrepreneurs Ripken “wanted to do something” and this drove him to expand on what his father taught minor league players on how to get to the big leagues, creating his youth baseball company out of exposing kids to these lessons in what is now known as “The Ripken Way.” Guided by the organization’s vision to “Elevate every player’s potential on the field – and in life.” Ripken believes in providing a strong foundation for kids to learn that while its a simple game with a bat, a ball and a glove what you do in the game, you do in life. Inspiring young athletes through remarkable experiences the Ripken Way is an unwavering commitment to be-and do-our best.

“Hitting in baseball, you fail seven out of ten times, even if you are great. You got to figure out how to deal with failure … You make mistakes and the most important thing, just like in sports, is that you learn from the mistake.” This lesson is important for business, too. And Ripken encourages young leaders and entrepreneurs to embrace it, because he believes “it’s where the magic happens.” Learn more about overcoming setbacks from “YLAI Network Members Tips for Bouncing Back after a Setback” and surviving entrepreneurship as a contact sport.

From being a coach Ripken tells parents “think of ways to diffuse the pressure, not add to the pressure”. This lesson is useful to anyone who manages people, trying to diffuse the tension from your employees and help them succeed. As a player and employee there are huge amounts of pressure to perform one’s best and Ripken points out the absolute must for self care for a business’s employees because the pressure only gets worse.

Having worked with numerous managers in his career, Ripken describes the importance of knowing how to treat everyone fairly but not necessarily treat everyone as an equal. To Ripken, to treat players fairly is to differentiate by what they put in qualitatively. This is just as important in business as you will have employees that are seasoned and employees that are new.

“To compete against yourself you need to give an honest evaluation of who you are, what you are good at and not.” This is Ripken’s final advice to entrepreneurs and anyone in the business world as you are constantly competing against yourself in order to successfully meet your goals. This allows you to set a standard for yourself and from that you can set smart goals in which you overachieve or underachieve but overall do better. This is valuable as it allows you to play on your strengths and build on your weaknesses which is essential as a player, a business owner or entrepreneur.

You can watch other video of the 2018 Small Business Summit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on their website.