A Little Slice of America
I just spent the past weekend on a father-son baseball road trip that was centered around the annual Little League World Series (LLWS) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. My son Ryan has been watching the games for the last several years on ESPN and ABC. He even watches replays of games from past years on YouTube. I’m pretty sure he has watched the U.S. Championship game from 2012 between the Southeast team from Tennessee and the West team from California at least ten times.
Earlier this year he asked me if we could go and watch in person so we planned ahead and made the trip into a several day journey to include some side trips to other stadiums and sites along the way.
On the way out we passed through Pittsburgh and saw PNC Park (home of the Pittsburgh Pirates), stayed in Altoona and saw the home of the Altoona Curve, visited the stadium where the State College Spikes play. As we headed home we ended our trip watching the Akron Aeros play the Reading Fightin Phils in a Double AA game at Akron’s wonderful Canal Park.
In between we took in 6 little league games in South Williamsport and experienced all that the LLWS has to offer.
10 Things Realtors Can Learn from the Little League World Series
As a teacher and writer, I am always looking for opportunities to learn something new or find new lessons hidden in our daily activities and the world around me. Here are some things I think Realtors can learn from this annual event.
1. Have a goal with a huge reward attached – In 2012 there were over 450,000 kids playing for 28,422 teams around the world. Only 16 teams – 8 from the United States and 8 from regions around the world – earn a spot in the LLWS in Pennsylvania.
What is it you’re working towards this year?
2. You don’t get very far without support from your family – It’s amazing to see the families get to their seats hours before game time, cheer vociferously through all 6 innings (win or lose) and do it all over again the next day. Now imagine doing that all season long plus all the travel and expenses that it might entail.
Who are your cheerleaders who are constantly providing you with energy and support?
3. Practice, practice, practice.
Do I really need to explain this one?
I didn’t think so.
4. Nobody gets turned away – Much like our Fair Housing laws that are designed to protect individuals who wish to be homeowners or use the services of a Realtor to sell a home, the Little League philosophy does not permit any eligible candidate to be turned away based on an entry fee.
What are you doing to expose yourself to and serve a large community of customers and clients?
5. Volunteering pays off – Little League has over one million volunteers each year to help make their events and games run so smoothly. Visit Williamsport during the LLWS and you’ll have the opportunity to see the army of volunteers helping to make this a world-class event. If for nothing else, these men and women helped represent their city, region, state and country with pride and let all visitors see their dedication to the event.
In what ways are your selfless efforts affecting others who can benefit?
6. Admission is free! – There is no charge to attend a LLWS game. In the middle of the first inning of each game, volunteers pass cans through the audience seeking donations to help fund the event.
Think of all the ways you can serve your audience for free. Consultation for former clients, market updates to FSBO’s, inviting people to your open houses, offering a free CE class and many other ways you can provide value without charging a dime.
7. Rely on sponsors – Part of the reason you can make events open to the public with no charge is because companies step up as sponsors. Among the many who were visible at the LLWS were Dick’s Sporting Goods, Easton, Gatorade, Kellogg’s and Subway. They had tents with activities for visitors, provided equipment for players and certainly rewarded executives and their own customers with access to the event.
Who can you find in your community to help you provide an amazing experience without breaking the bank? How can you better leverage your relationships with affiliates (while staying within RESPA laws) to create better service systems?
8. Sign every autograph – It’s kind of neat to see 11, 12 and 13-year-old kids get flocked by fans for autographs as they walk through the complex. Even more cool is that almost every single player who was asked for an autograph by a fan stopped and willingly signed a program, autograph book or bill of a hat. Of course they are just kids, so how cool would that be to get the adoration of fellow kids? Ryan acquired over 50 autographs including the entire team from the Asia-Pacific Champions from Chinese Taipei. Luckily they each also added their uniform numbers to their signatures because Ryan can’t read Mandarin Chinese.
How do you react when people ask for a minute of your time, your opinion or some friendly advice?
9. Learn from and share with your competition – These kids are only competing with the other 15 teams when they step on the field of play. Between games, they hang out in the dorms on the complex and play ping-pong, dine together and trade commemorative pins with one another. I’m sure that many of the competitors will have life-long friendships form these two weeks in Williamsport and with social media and today’s technologies, it will be easier than the old-fashioned pen-pal system of our youth.
Our industry is better when there is a genuine sense of cooperation. How often do you find yourself engaging with fellow agents from not only your own branch or company but from competing brokerages? What could you learn from or share with them that could help raise the bar for our industry to better serve the customers and clients we all interact with on a daily basis?
10. Don’t forget to be a kid! The LLWS was and always will be a game played by youngsters. There will be laughter and there will be tears. There will be amazing efforts put forth and there will be injuries sustained. There will be players bordering on adulthood and there will be players years away from their first whisker.
They will stay up late and eat too many sweets. All of them will probably grab a piece of cardboard and slide down the big hill in the outfield of Howard Lamade Stadium.
Sixteen teams came to Williamsport hoping to leave with a LLWS Championship yet only one team will. When it’s all said and done, there will still be 16 groups of kids heading home.
When they get home, whether it’s in a matter of days or weeks, all of the competitors in the LLWS will be headed back to school. Some will be in elementary school and others in middle school but either way, they will be dealing with life as a kid. Some may continue to play baseball or be involved in the game their entire life while others may change sports or develop new interests.
If you ignore the other 9 lessons, heed my advice and remember this last one. Business and life are much, much better when we have fun in whatever it is that we’re doing.
I hope you have a great week building relationships, solving problems and having fun.
To paraphrase the Little League pledge that was recited by one player before each game,
“…play fair and strive to win. But win or lose…always do your best”
Photo Credit: Derek Gavey via Creative Commons