EP 78 – The One Career Decision I Regret The Most

Hey hey! Welcome back to The Bullpen Sessions! Each week, I deconstruct my journey and struggles through my professional baseball career. I take the lessons that I learned and help you apply them in your work and business so that you can live a life of purpose! 

This week I am going to get really vulnerable with you, guys. I’m going to share a moment in my life that I really regret. So grab your glove, hold your ball, get ready to take the mound — this is going to be interesting. 

Make sure to keep reading throughout this whole post because this story has a twist. It’s about a decision I made in my pro baseball career that had a much bigger impact on my life than I realized. With that, let’s get started.  

Spring Training 2001

Let me take you back to my spring training in 2001 when I was playing with the Milwaukee Brewers. Each day I got to the spring training complex before sunrise and kept my stuff in the locker. Your locker could be next to someone playing AA or AAA who is just one step away from making it to the Major Leagues. It’s a great way to learn from guys who have been where you are and beyond!

Although, the thing about spring training is that it is very monotonous. Each day you go down for breakfast alongside the rest of the Minor League camp, you come back, relax, put on your uniform and head out for stretching and calisthenics, followed by eight-nine hours of practice. And if you don’t enjoy the entire process, it is going to get to you quickly. 

And I admit that I probably did not enjoy the process as much as I could have. I allowed myself to view the game more as a job than a hobby or a passion. Yes, it is a business at that point, but you can still give yourself space to really enjoy the process of getting up every morning to play ball while getting paid for it. 

But that year, I knew that if I stuck around spring training long enough and if I didn’t get cut, I had a chance to go break camp and pitch for the Beloit Snappers. The Beloit Snappers is a single A team in the Milwaukee Brewers organization located in Beloit, Wisconsin. And Beloit was just 50 miles away from where I grew up, which is why it was such a big deal to me! If I spent the summer pitching in Beloit, my friends and family could come and watch every single game that I played, and boy, was I excited about that! 

So every day, I got up and worked on my mechanics. I might not have enjoyed the process much, but I did not take anything for granted. And I remember entering into the last week of the spring training, days away from breaking camp, and I felt good. 

Two-three weeks into the spring training camp, you start playing games in the afternoon (sometimes teams will come to your spring training complex or vice versa). And on this particular day, we were heading over to the Scottsdale area to take on the Oakland Athletics. It was a beautiful complex, and I was pitching that day and had a really good outing. I didn’t give up any runs in the one or two innings that I played, and that made me feel really confident about what that summer was going to look like. I was excited about the possibility of my friends and family watching me play professional baseball consistently. 

After the game, I headed over to the practice field, ran my sprints, and did my cool-down workout with the trainer. On the bus back to our spring training facility, I was sitting next to Billy Hall who at that time was playing AA or AAA, and we had an inspiring conversation. Everything was looking good for me, but then that all changed.

The Pink Slip

When I woke up the next morning,  it was like any other day. But when I reached the spring training facility that day, there was something different. As I walked into the locker room, hanging on my locker was a pink slip. It was a very awkward moment. When you’re given a pink slip, everybody knows that you are being cut and let go, and so they tiptoe around you, pat you on the back trying not to offend you, and tell you how it has been a joy playing beside you.

I grabbed my playbook and took a walk of shame down to the Director of Personnel’s office. And here’s what was interesting — when I entered his office, I wasn’t just talking to the Director but also to two Minor League coaches who were sitting on either side of him. What were they doing there? And then it struck me — when some people are cut, they absolutely freak out. Those coaches were there for the Director’s protection. 

They thanked me for my time and service, passed over a list of independent teams to me, and asked me to pick a team that I wanted to play for. They would make a call and refer me to that team.  These independent teams are professional baseball teams but are not affiliated to any Minor League or Major League baseball teams. I could have spent the next summer playing in the independent leagues, and who knows another major league team might have shown interest and signed up a contract with me. 

And so at that moment, I made a terrible decision. I told them that I was glad that I got the chance to play professional ball, but I already had my finance degree, so it was time for me to move on with the rest of my life. It was not this decision that I regretted the most, but it was a bad one nevertheless. I was 22-23 years old at the time, and I could have taken a year or two to play independent ball, enjoyed the travel, and had fun since I did not have too many responsibilities at that age. But my pride was hurt, so I wasted that opportunity.  

If you are a young athlete reading this, then I have a piece of advice for you: Savour the joy that your sport brings you, regardless of whether you’re the MVP or not. If you have a chance to continue playing in independent leagues or have any other opportunity to pursue your sport, then don’t be so quick to end your career so abruptly as I did! 

The Decision I Regret the Most: Letting That Experience Impact My Business Career 

Now, this is where we get to the lesson that I want to teach you with this episode today. Here’s what I did regret the most. When somebody had literally fired me and told me that I was no longer good enough to play a sport that I had been playing since age four, that message impacted my business career for well over ten years. But how?

  • Reason #1: I struggled with feeling good enough about myself. My self-worth was rock bottom for a long time. This definitely impacted my early career when I was selling financial planning or insurance. Am I good enough to win at this new game I’m playing? For a long time, I didn’t think so.  
  • Reason #2: I was never satisfied. Instead of looking back and seeing what I had accomplished as a 5’9” pitcher in professional baseball, I looked at myself as a failure. And again, this transitioned into my business career. I was never satisfied with my work. This is something I still struggle with today. Recently, I’ve really been trying to take the time to reflect and celebrate my progress about how far I have come in life! 
  • Reason #3: I know one of the reasons I was let go was because of my stats, or lack thereof. I also was considered “old” for the level I was in at the Minor Leagues. My stats the previous year were good, and so were my stats on the mound and the spring training, but they weren’t great. And I allowed that judgment of my abilities (based on some stats) to impact my business career. I was always tempted to compare my own stats to others, and I had this constant feeling like other people were judging me. Of course, now it was not about run averages or strike-outs, but about sales numbers, pipeline opportunities, or the amount of revenue I was bringing in. It was just a different type of stat.

Let’s face it —it stings when someone tells you that you are not good enough to play something that you have played all your life. It sucked. But what I really regret is letting that experience destroy my mindset. And as a result, for ten years, my business career suffered. 

I also regret not taking the moment to celebrate victories. It’s good to be ambitious, but if you never reflect on everything you’ve accomplished, you’ll eventually burn out.  And lastly, I  regret the fact that I allowed myself to be judged because at the end of the day the only person that impacted my happiness and my success was me

If you’re a young athlete, I gotta speak straight with you. At some point, your sports career is going to end, and you will have to move on to Chapter Two. You’ll have to start something new. And the advice that I want to give you is never to doubt your own abilities. Know that you are good at what you do but that your work doesn’t define you as a person. Be happy, find something that fulfills you, and enjoy the process. Celebrate your victories and the progress that you are making. 

And what’s more, don’t let other people’s judgments impact you. Don’t get caught up in the comparison because at the end of the day, this is what kept my business away from success for far too long. And I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

Why You Should Listen to This Episode Right Now…

Guys, I leave this with you today — whenever a transition comes in your life, have faith in yourself. Enjoy the process and the journey to whatever your next chapter in life looks like. And most of all don’t let other people’s opinions determine your self-worth. Just stay in your lane, and know that success is coming just around the corner. 

My man, thank you for taking the time to read this Friday Bullpen Sessions post, and don’t forget to listen to the episode as well. If you are enjoying these episodes,  please go over to Apple Podcasts, subscribe, and give me a five-star rating — I’d be really grateful. Also, share this episode with a family member, friend, or coworker who needs to hear it, and tag me on Instagram, @andy_neary, with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways!

Thanks so much for joining me today, guys! Before I go, I want to give you two special offers: First, I want to invite you to join my Complete Game Mastermind. This is my coaching program, and it starts in just a few days! Masterminds are a great way to get coaching and put yourself in rooms with other entrepreneurs just like you. You can start building your community and gathering people around you who will support you and your growth.

You can also join my FREE text community! Just text the word “Mindset” to 414-622-1462, and I’ll give you access to a TON of free weekly coaching. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and join the Complete Game Mastermind, this text community is a great way to see if my coaching might be right for you.

Remember — when clarity and confidence collide, action happens. Go out and make it happen today!


EP 71 – Marshall McFadden: From the NFL Trenches to the NASCAR Pits

Hey, hey! Welcome back to The Bullpen Sessions!

If you’ve been here a little while, you know that my mission is to look at what it takes to succeed as a top athlete and translate that mindset into the boardroom. I want to give great advice to young athletes and current business people so that we can all achieve massive success. And when it comes to mental toughness and having a success mindset both on and off the field, there’s no one greater than Marshall McFadden.

We’re going into much more detail in a minute, but to sum it up: Marshall is an inspiration. Growing up in a single-parent home with four siblings and not a lot of money, Marshall didn’t often look forward to future opportunities. But he worked hard and showed up in the moments he needed to most, and as a result, he created massive opportunities for himself — ultimately landing in the NFL.

But when his NFL career ended, did Marshall decide to kick up his feet for the rest of his life? Of course not! Instead, he made a pivot, and probably not one you’re expecting — today, Marshall works as a member of the pit crew with the Chip Ganassi NASCAR team. That’s right! The football star has become a NASCAR gasman — and a fast one!

This conversation was so much fun, and I know you’re going to get a lot out of it. Marshall and I talked about his journey to success and the mindset he’s taken with him throughout his journey. Let’s dive in!

Who Is Marshall McFadden?

Marshall McFadden is a legend in more ways than one. Growing up in a small town in South Carolina, Marshall didn’t really have any big NFL dreams. He knew he liked playing football, and he played for his high school team, but that was about it. His school was particularly small — they only graduated 53 kids Marshall’s senior year — so they didn’t often see recruiting scouts come out to the games. But all that changed when Marshall was selected to play in an all-star game.

Marshall played in a much bigger arena at the all-star game, and suddenly he was getting attention from college scouts. However, Marshall’s family had never been to college, and he’d never had any expectations of going to school after high school. So when the scholarship letters came pouring in, he decided to simply follow his friends to South Carolina State. Who knows what might have happened if he’d played for the South Carolina Gamecocks or the Clemson Tigers?

Nevertheless, out of college, Marshall was recruited to play in the NFL. Over the course of his incredibly successful career, he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders, and the St. Louis Rams. He played in the NFL from 2012 to 2015, but at that point, he decided to make a little career pivot.

Instead of retiring from football and making a change to a boring desk job, Marshall decided to do something a little bit different — he’s working on the pit crew for Chip Ganassi NASCAR team. I can tell you from experience that that’s extremely challenging work! I recently had the opportunity to participate in a simulated pit crew competition as part of a men’s retreat, and I can tell you that it is TOUGH! Marshall works as the gasman, and he has to get the tank filled up with gas in just 12 seconds!

Marshall is an incredibly inspiring dude. He has truly beat the odds to become a legendary football player AND an incredible pit crew member! You might not think that football and NASCAR typically go together, but this man has mastered both. I was so excited to sit down and have a conversation with him today! 

The #1 Lesson Marshall McFadden Learned from His Mom

I would call my upbringing perfectly average. I was a fairly normal kid, and both of my parents were teachers. They were wonderful, and they cared for me. We didn’t have a ton of money, but we weren’t poor either. We were a pretty average family across the board. I didn’t have too many obstacles to overcome on my journey, in that sense.

But as I mentioned earlier, Marshall, on the other hand, didn’t have the easiest upbringing. He grew up as one of five children in a single-parent household. His mom worked hard to raise her children as best as she could. She worked long hours, made minimum wage, and always did everything she could to provide for her kids.

And her efforts didn’t go unnoticed. As a young athlete and even today, his mom’s ultimate tenacity and perseverance in difficult circumstances continue to motive Marshall and drive him to succeed even when he feels too exhausted to carry on:

“Football is a physical sport, and you gotta train. And most people … go through some situations where [they] think about giving up in football, you know, because [they’re] going to play against bigger stronger, faster [players.] … [There] are times out there where you just don’t have anything left, and you just want to talk away, or you feel like you can’t compete, … but I always go back to that moment where I did have a single-parent mom. She was making minimum wage, and she had to carry five kids. … I can take away from that … if she can do it, why not me?” – Marshall McFadden

From the moment he had that realization, Marshall knew he no longer had any excuses. He may feel tired during a workout, he might get a little winded out on the field, but he recognized that his mom had endured so much exhaustion to raise her kids. If she could work so hard for so long, he could handle being a little winded.

Marshall McFadden’s Advice for Young Athletes

One of the things I was most excited to ask Marshall about was his advice for young athletes. I sincerely hope that this podcast can serve young athletes and help them develop the mindset they need to succeed in their chosen sports. I loved what Marshall had to say in response to this question.

You see, growing up, Marshall never really considered college as a serious opportunity. He didn’t have plans to go to college at all, but that changed when he was selected to play in the all-star game. Suddenly, recruiters from all over wanted him to be on their teams. They told him everything a young football star might want to hear — things like, “You’ll be the star of our team!” But when Marshall got to college at South Carolina State — a small, historically black school — suddenly he was the low man on the totem pole. He quickly figured out the importance of being humble and continuing to work hard.

“Don’t believe the hype. … Sometimes parents and relatives can hype it up so much and spoil [young athletes] to a certain extent to make them out to be something they’re not. … When I go to these schools, … I tell people, especially kids — you work hard, and you’re pretty good in the little division you play in, but do you understand [that there are] a million more people across the world doing the exact same thing?” – Marshall McFadden

Confidence is essential, but overconfidence is detrimental. Each time you step up into the next league, you have to be prepared to be the lowest man on the totem pole and work hard to deserve a place at the top. That doesn’t mean you’re not talented, it just means that you can’t show up on day one of the next level of your sport and expect to be treated like the most important person on the team. You have to work hard, be a team player, and earn the respect of your teammates and coaches. Once you do that, you’ll have achieved the success you desire!

From Football to NASCAR — Taking Your Skills into the Real World

One thing that happens to athletes too often is that they find their whole identity in their sport. Their whole lives revolve around their athletic career, and for a while, they may not really notice. But when they retire, it can be challenging to transition into a new career. 

But the good news is that you can take the skills and mindset you’ve learned as an athlete and apply them to your new post-sports life! That’s what Marshall did. He started working as a FedEx manager for a while, but then one day, a friend encouraged him to check out the pit crew practices happening right up the road at NASCAR. 

Marshall noticed the camaraderie among the pit crew most of all, at first. Those guys have to be perfectly in sync to change all four tires and refill the tank with gas in under 12 seconds, so they have to build really strong relationships among themselves as teammates. Team build is something Marshall’s familiar with as a former football player, and the idea of working in such a close-knit group like that appealed to him.

But then he noticed something else: Recruiters and managers who hire for pit crew positions don’t just look for people who know how to work with cars. Today, the want athletes on their teams:

“Now you talk about changing four tires, a full tank of gas, and make adjustments [in] under 12 seconds — that’s impressive. And you got no room for error, you know? And so how you make those times faster, you go and get faster people.” – Marshall McFadden

When Marshall retired from the NFL, he had no idea he was going to end up on a NASCAR pit crew. He had no experience working with race cars! But he was fast and good at cultivating relationships within a team, and that made him the perfect fit for a job he never would have expected. When you retire from the professional sports world, keep an eye out for opportunities to use the skills you’ve learned — you may be surprised by the opportunities you find!

Why You Should Listen to This Marshall McFadden Podcast Episode Right Now…

I was so inspired by Marshall’s story! Throughout his career in football, he kept going, remembering the incredible hard work his mom put in when he was young. Then, after retiring from football, he found a new way to use his skills, and today, he’s in a career that makes him truly happy. I’d say he’s been pretty successful, wouldn’t you?

I think this quote from our conversation sums up all of Marshall’s best advice:

“Sports in general don’t last forever. … Eventually, one day, as an athlete, you gotta walk away from the game. And it may be in high school, it may be in college, it may be in pro, but at the end of the day, it is what it is, and you gotta move on with life. So I like to tell people …  — find something else that you enjoy, and in your free time, when you’re not playing football or [during] an offseason, figure it out. Prepare yourself for the future.” – Marshall McFadden

Stay humble, work hard, and develop skills that you can translate into a future career. That’s fantastic advice for any athlete.

Thank you guys so much for joining me today! I truly hope you got a lot of value out of this episode. If you did, please share it with your friends on Instagram! Post a screenshot of the episode, and make sure to tag Marshall, @mmcfadden5, and me, @andy_neary, and share with us your greatest takeaways from the episode!

And please, if you have a minute, I would appreciate it so much if you could leave this podcast a five-star rating and review over on Apple Podcasts. If you’re finding these episodes valuable, help us get the word out so more listeners can find us!

Thanks so much for joining me today, guys! Before I go, I want to give you two special offers: Number one, I want to invite you to join my Complete Game Mastermind. This is my coaching program, and it starts in just a few days! Masterminds are a great way to get coaching and put yourself in rooms with other entrepreneurs just like you. You can start building your community and gathering people around you who will support you and your growth.

You can also join my FREE text community! Just text the word “Mindset” to 414-622-1462, and I’ll give you access to a TON of free weekly coaching. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and join the Complete Game Mastermind, this text community is a great way to see if my coaching might be right for you.

I’ll talk to you guys again on Friday! As always — go make it happen today!

Andy Neary Signature