Six Business Lessons from Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter nearly ruined baseball for me.

Growing up as a die-hard Mets and Red Sox fan in New York in the 1990s, I was constantly frustrated by his heroics against both of my teams. Twenty years later, with the benefit of (a degree of?) maturity, I took the time to reflect on his career and what can be learned.

Jeter played his twentieth and final season as shortstop for the New York Yankees. He is a five time World Series champion, and the Yankees all time career leader in hits, games played, stolen bases, and at bats. He has fourteen All-Star selections, five Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger awards, two Hank Aaron awards, and finally, the prestigious Roberto Clemente award—given to distinguished players who have made significant contributions to the community. He has had a truly prolific career and is respected by all baseball fans as an amazing player; even die-hard Red Sox fans respect him.

In honor of his retirement from baseball we’ve gathered six business lessons we’ve learned from Derek Jeter.

1. The more you practice, the luckier you get

It might look like luck when Derek Jeter throws a runner out with milliseconds to spare, but it certainly isn’t. But Jeter isn’t lucky; he’s a hard worker. He practiced and prepared for every situation that could come up on the field—and naturally has performed well and won championships, not through luck but through determination. He is known throughout baseball as a hard working player and has said, “There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” The same is true in business—the harder you work, the better your business will be. People might perceive your success as a lucky break, but in fact it will be due to a strong work ethic and persistence.

2. Surround yourself with great talent

No one can win a championship alone, even if they are a great player like Derek Jeter. Being a team player is important if you want to get ahead and that is true for both baseball and business. Forbes magazine recently published an article about an entrepreneur who raised $2 million dollars with a slide presentation about nothing. How was he able to do this? One word: team. He sold the investors on his startup about nothing by selling an all star team—“my goal is to build a team of five to six people, all veterans with a proven track record, all over the age of 35, to create the next big thing, whatever it may be.” Jeter certainly helped his team win multiple World Series, but he could not have done it alone, and this entrepreneur had the same notion. Find the best possible talent out there to help you run your business and it will be that much more successful.

3. Show up everyday, even when the going gets tough

Derek Jeter doesn’t let anything get in the way of playing, and the Yankees have benefitted not only from his direct contribution to the game, but in the example he has set for the other players on the team. Athletes are plagued with injuries that may hurt, but that you don’t need to sit out for. If you don’t play you cant achieve, and sitting out means missed opportunity. Jeter values showing up for work everyday and he believes there is nothing more important than the day’s game. You should feel the same way about your business as Derek Jeter feels about the Yankees. Dedicate your all, always show up, and perform consistently.

4. Be Dependable

Not only does Jeter show up every day, he consistently performs at a high level every time he steps onto the field. His teammates call him “Captain Clutch” for a reason—he always comes through for the team, even in the most high-pressure situations. He hustles in both practice and the game and his consistency is unmatched in baseball’s history. Take Jeter’s lead and be dependable in the office. Always perform your best and produce high quality work. Both you and your company will be rewarded for it, and you will command the respect of your peers and superiors and become the go to person for the most important projects in the office.

5. Nice guys do finish first

While others have fallen from the top amidst accusations of steroid use, Jeter has remained above the fray as a champion of integrity and character. He has remained humble after his many successes and has managed to avoid personal and professional scandal. He has played for one team for his entire career and is well respected by all baseball fans—even the Boston Red Sox—for the way he carries himself on and off the field. He’s a genuinely nice guy who started the Turn 2 Foundation, providing programs for children and encouraging them to “turn 2” healthy lifestyles. He is respected because he is a good guy, and you too, should strive to be a good example when representing your company, both at work and at home. Strive for integrity and people will look to you as a leader.

6. Don’t be afraid to dream

When Jeter was a kid he told his parents that he wanted to be a professional baseball player when he grew up—but not just any baseball player, he wanted to be the shortstop for the Yankees. He achieved this dream through hard work, persistence, focus, and a deep competitive streak that pushed him forward when others doubted him. He was drafted right after high school to play for the Yankees. Dream high, with hard work, determination, and consistency dreams are achievable—just ask Derek Jeter.

Rob Biederman
About the author: 

Rob Biederman is the co-Chief Executive Officer of Catalant, a marketplace that connects businesses to MBA alumni and students for short-term business consulting.  HourlyNerd was founded in 2013 with investment backing that includes Highland Capital, Greylock Partners and Mark Cuban.  Rob worked at Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs prior to his current role, and has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Princeton University – as well as an MBA from the Harvard Business School.  Follow Rob on Twitter.