Hey hey! Welcome back to another episode of The Bullpen Sessions! For this episode, I’m changing things up. I’m sharing with you a keynote talk I gave to the National Association of Health Underwriters at their annual conference in San Diego last July. I was in a room full of insurance brokers and strategic partners in the industry, and my topic was the power of sharing your story.
Here’s what I believe: No matter what industry you’re in, the thing that will set you apart from your competition is your unique story. When you choose to share your personal experiences with your prospects, you give them a way to relate to you. You go from being just another salesperson they have to deal with to being an actual human being they can connect with.
That element of human connection is essential to a successful business. People will want to do business with you if they feel like you are a relatable person. Start by establishing yourself as a real person with a story of failures, successes, and obstacles that you’ve overcome. Your business will start booming as much or more than your competition’s. Growing and scaling will become more effortless than ever before, and you’ll start enjoying the success of your dreams.
Before we get started, I want you to do one thing: Close your eyes for just a second, and imagine what you wanted to be when you were a little kid. Do you remember what your dream job was when you were little? Good! Now with that, let’s get started with my story.
My Story: From Childhood Success to Division I Failure
I remember exactly what I wanted to be when I was a little kid. I wanted to play professional baseball. I grew up absolutely loving the sport. My dad played baseball in college, and he went on to be a successful high school baseball coach. In fact, he’s now one of the winningest coaches in Wisconsin State history! You can see how my upbringing influenced me: I was raised in a baseball-loving environment, and I wanted nothing more than to play in the major leagues.
That’s why, in high school, I created a course of action that helped me succeed on the field. I was a shortstop and a pitcher, and I knew that my best chance of playing Division I baseball in college was on the mound. But I had a problem: I was 5’9” and weighed 145 pounds by my senior year — Not what I would call an intimidating presence on the mound!
Nevertheless, I knew I could succeed. I had the mindset, confidence, and competence I needed to be successful. So when it came down to the playoffs during my senior year, and a scout from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee came to watch me play, I threw a one-hitter. It was incredible! I gave up a hit on the first pitch of the game, and that was it. That night, I got a call from the head coach at the University of Wisconsin: I had a scholarship to pitch in Division I baseball. My dream was closer than ever to coming true.
Then I went to college. I spent the first couple of years just trying to gain weight and play bigger by literally getting bigger. I spent a lot of time in the weight room and took a magic supplement called Creatine — I know the long-term ramifications of that now. But at the time, I was excited to put on 30 pounds of muscle in the first two years. I didn’t realize that as a pitcher, the last thing you want is a muscle-bound bicep.
At this point in my baseball career, I had stepped off my path. I was taking the wrong course of action. And it was starting to show. My stats were awful, and by the end of my sophomore year, I wanted to quit and give it all up. I needed a more positive course of action. And I found one, but unfortunately, it didn’t last forever.
My Story Continued: To the Big Leagues and Back
Between my sophomore and junior years of college, I started to improve as a pitcher. I was named captain, and that gave me the confidence I needed to get back on track. I began to hone my pitching craft, and when my senior season came to an end, I had the opportunity to pitch in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. I was finally in the big leagues playing professional baseball! But that’s where my success in my dream career ended.
When I got to pro ball, I very quickly lost my confidence. Suddenly I was playing with guys from much bigger schools like LSU, Arizona State, and Texas, and I let it all go to my head. I had gotten back on the correct course of action that had made me successful in high school, but I fell off again almost immediately.
There’s one game that defines how short my professional baseball career was. It was our first trip to Missoula, Montana, to take on the Missoula Osprey. And while we were on the bus heading from Helena to Missoula over the McDonald Pass, I remember the coaches gave us a warning: The crowd in Missoula gets pretty rowdy. There are college kids enjoying the game during their summer break, they drink too much, and they just love to make every home game a nightmare for the opposing team.
That night, our starting pitcher was terrible. By the third inning, the call came down to the bullpen, and no more than ten throws after I started warming up, I went into the game. I got to the mound and started warming up, and the crowd started chanting. Over and over, I heard, “How can you pitch when you’re five-foot-six?! How can you pitch when you’re five-foot-six?!” And man, it went straight to my head. What right did I have to stand on that mound? I finished out the year, went back to spring training, and on the last day, I got released. And that was the end of my professional baseball career.
The Lesson: Building Your ERA in Business
Here’s the lesson: If you want to play bigger in your life and your business, you’ve got to have a major-league mindset. And a major-league mindset requires confidence, competence, and one effective course of action. You have to find a course of action that works for you and stick to it. Don’t let haters and critics tear you down, and don’t let your challenges defeat you.
I know you have plenty of challenges. In my baseball career, my challenges were my height, my pitch velocity, and my draft stats. In business, the challenges are a little different. For most of us entrepreneurs, there are three major problems:
#1: Noise — There’s a lot more noise in our industries, and it feels like everyone is saying the same thing.
#2: Pandora’s Box is open — There are no more competitive advantages. Everybody has access to the same resources now.
#3: The other guy is Andres Torres — Most of your competition is way bigger than you. They have more resources, they’re more capable, and they’re doing way more business than you are.
If you’re going to stand out from the crowd, grow and scale your business, and start winning and succeeding in the major leagues, you’re going to have to have a single course of action that works. I fundamentally believe that the most effective course of action for any entrepreneur today is to share their story.
Here’s what happens when you share your story: You give yourself a massive asset. When you share your failures and the lessons you learned from those experiences, your prospects are going to want to do business with you. When you really get vulnerable and tell people your story, you give yourself something I like to call ERA.
Now, you baseball fans know that “ERA” stands for “earned run average.” And as a pitcher, you want to keep your ERA as low as possible because you don’t want the other team making runs against you, right? During my brief professional ball career, my ERA basically determined whether I kept playing or got released. But in business, I use the term “ERA” a little differently. In business, it stands for “Engagement, Relationships, and Authority,” and when you share your personal story, you build all three of those things.
When you tell people about your own experiences, you engage them, and you also start to build relationships. People want to do business with people they trust, right? You can build that trust just by being honest and sharing your story. And even though your story is going to contain times when you’ve failed, it will also help establish you as an authority. If you’ve experienced failure, learned lessons the hard way, and personally discovered and used the tools and strategies you’re recommending to your clients, they will know that you are an authority. Your ERA will skyrocket — And in business, that’s good news!
You Have Two Choices
Here’s the bottom line: You have two choices right now. You can continue looking up and wondering how your competition continues to play bigger, or you can look back and celebrate the amazing growth your businesses have had. You’re going to be in one of those two places, and the thing that’s going to get you where you want to be is your story.
All you need here is a little confidence, a little competence, and a willingness to share your story. If you share your story of failure and success with your prospects, I promise they’re going to want to do business with you. Your stats for engagement, relationships, and authority are going to go way up, and you’ll start playing in the major leagues with the bigger guys you’ve looked up to.
I hope you learned something from this episode, guys! If you did, please subscribe and give me a five-star review on Apple Podcasts. I’m so grateful for all of your reviews. And if you don’t forget to share this episode on Instagram and tag me, @andy_neary, with your favorite takeaways.
Remember — Your story is your biggest asset, and when you share it with the world, you give yourself a massive competitive advantage.
I’ll catch you guys later!