Never Give Up On The Dream
This is an excerpt from Derek Franks’ chapter in “The GM’s Handbook” which is available in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.
The Dream Exists For A Reason
After I decided to work for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies in my hometown as an entry-level employee, it took me two tries to get hired by the team. Fifteen years later, I serve as the team’s president. Looking back now, it was never my intention to stay in Fresno at all. I still lived in nearby Kingsburg with my family and was attending Reedley College, a JC close to home (Go Tigers!). I simply wanted to gain experience working in baseball. My goal was to transfer to whatever four-year university nowhere near Fresno, and have the ability to work for whatever local baseball team was nearby after I earned some resume experience with the Grizzlies. I figured, with baseball experience on my resume, I would have exciting opportunities in the future. And, I was willing to do anything to make it happen. I’d planned to tear tickets, sling hotdogs–hell, polish the mini-helmets for the Dippin’ Dots, if it got me a job in baseball. At the 2003 Fresno Grizzlies job fair, I thought I’d exhibited my readiness. I imagined I’d conveyed my commitment. I felt I’d demonstrated my worth. I drove home with my buddy, Jordan, who also applied, feeling great about my future in baseball. I was a shoe-in. The folks that did the hiring back then didn’t seem to have the same feeling. (They did, however, offer Jordan a job. He declined–said he only wanted to do it if we could work together.)
As I often did when plans didn’t go according to…well, plan, I thought of Michael Jordan. I heard that he was cut from his high school team, and still, with triumphant grit, went on to be perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time. It served as a motivating factor to never give up. I’m not even certain if that story about him is actually true by the way. I may have read that Jordan actually got put on the JV squad instead of the varsity as a sophomore. But it doesn’t matter. War stories aren’t about the actual events. They’re about providing examples that you can use to push yourself forward, because they offer a foundation for the results you can expect given a certain level of effort and not giving up.
Minor league baseball is full of transplants. People from all over the country end up working for multiple clubs so I have been fortunate to work in my hometown in a community that I have cared about my entire life. Now, if you hate a feel-good story you may want to stop reading. Mine could make you sick it’s so cheesy. The local guy who goes from box office intern to general manager, starting with that same kid going to the team’s job fair and not getting hired. I didn’t even receive a phone call turning me down. I got nothing from the team whatsoever. And the job fair was for seasonal positions like ticket takers and ushers. But, I didn’t give up on the goal of working in minor league baseball. And that 2003 job fair experience showed me that getting a job in baseball was pretty darn hard. It was worse to see that while not earning a position with my hometown team, I had a friend turning down the same opportunity, shrugging it off as no big deal. I returned to the job fair in 2004, stood in a line of over 800 applicants, a man possessed with the single goal of getting hired.
The year prior, I had handed my resume to one of the attendees and went home. In 2004, I looked all of them in the eye, shook their hand, and said, “I’m Derek Franks, and I want to be on your team.” Not earning a position the first time taught me a valuable lesson. When you want a job, get a job. And this time, I was hired. I’m glad MJ got cut, or whatever actually happened. Those motivational things work sometimes. And I learned a lot from the Grizzlies, especially my second day on the job as a ticket office intern. My boss told me to bring my golf clubs, said we were on pocket schedule duty, and that we could squeeze in 9 holes while we were at it. My dad called me that evening, asked how things were going. I told him “I could do this job forever.”
Discover the rest of this chapter and more, in “The GM’s Handbook,” a new 390-page book available now in paperback, Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. It is cited, indexed and professionally edited, providing perspectives from 16 MiLB C-Suite Executives on leadership, hiring/firing/interviews, merchandise, tickets, concessions, corporate sales and the business of sports revenue generation.