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EP 75 – Brett Lorin: Former MLB Pitcher Turned Successful Entrepreneur

Hey hey! Welcome back to Bullpen Sessions! This week on the show, I have another abundant thinker who is absolutely crushin’ it in life. This episode is for athletes, parents of athletes, and business professionals who want to understand an athlete’s mindset and utilize it in any sport or business. So get your pen and paper ready to take some notes because you, my friend, are about to go on a wild ride.

My guest today is a former professional baseball player turned successful entrepreneur — Brett Lorin. Brett had all the talent and the ability in the world, and he fully leveraged his gifts and his mindset to reach where he is today. In our interview, I asked Brett to talk about his rise through high school and college baseball and the mindset shift that athletes experience when the unexpected happens. 

In our 75th episode, we took a closer look at the ups and downs in Brett’s career as a professional athlete. We discussed his transition and the lessons he has learned from sports and how he applied them in his franchise business and sales career. Brett’s persistent attitude and his passion for life both shaped his personality to be a successful entrepreneur. Sound like something you could benefit from as well? 

Let’s learn how Brett did it!

Who Is Brett Lorin?

Brett was a professional Minor League Baseball pitcher who fell just one call short of Major League Baseball. He played for teams such as the GCL Pirates, the Bradenton Marauders, and the Reno Aces

Brett had been pursuing a career in baseball since high school, he had the right mix of talent and discipline that allowed him to reach new heights. When Brett failed to make it to the big leagues while being at the top of his game, he decided it was time to move on and utilize his skills and experience in other fields.

He was disappointed that he didn’t make it to the Major Leagues, but not allowing this setback to deter him, Brett went on to operate a Jimmy John’s franchise for almost three years, before taking up a career in sales with Sunrun, a company which brings clean, solar energy into houses across the U.S. 

Brett met his fair share of failures and rejection in his sporting career, but instead of being depressed about it, he took it as an opportunity to seek success elsewhere. This gutsy transition from being a top-class player to now having a successful career in sales is what makes Brett’s story so inspiring. 

I know that so many of you out there will relate to Brett’s message — I know I did.

The Importance of Having Both Talent and a Healthy Mindset 

Let’s go back to his early days in California, where Brett played both baseball and basketball year-round. Playing multiple sports as a kid allowed Brett to better his mobility, range of motion, and trained him to become an all-around great athlete. 

“If I just played baseball all year round, I might’ve gotten burnt out … with it, but … having the balance of both basketball and baseball was good for me. I think you should play … [everything] until you are … 12-13 years old, and then you … start [figuring] out what you want to do. [By trying different sports,] … body-wise you are using different muscles, … [and this also helps you in becoming] a complete athlete.” – Brett Lorin

By his senior year, Brett had really stepped into his potential as an athlete and was sure about what he wanted to do in the future. Even after having a few offers from D2 and junior colleges for basketball, Brett chose to pursue baseball in college. He analyzed his prospects and felt that he had a better chance of playing baseball and making it big in the sport. He was playing some travel ball while getting lessons for pitching, and he even sent pitching videos of himself to colleges to pique their interest. It took a while to get noticed, but his patience eventually paid off, and he was recruited by the University of Arizona.

“I love the sport, … but honestly I didn’t want to … commit to basketball. I just made a business decision and went with baseball …. I could play basketball for four years at a D2 [college], and then that’s it for my sports career, but I really saw something in baseball. … [I also thought that I had a chance to make it big]. I’m tall, I got some leverage here, and I can grow into my body a little bit. So I just chose to go the baseball route, and it was the right decision overall.” – Brett Lorin

However, pursuing baseball didn’t come easy. In his first semester in college, Brett had to make a lot of adjustments maturity-wise, and he was also redshirted — he wasn’t going to be made a star right away because he was not on scholarship, and the college hadn’t invested in him. All the same, Brett wasn’t about to give up. He knew that he had the talent, but he also had to work hard to get where he wanted. 

“That’s why I’d tell most high school players, unless you get drafted really high and the money is something you can’t refuse, I think everyone should go to college and learn to grow and mature. … Assuming you get drafted your junior year, if you’re good enough, you’ll get drafted again.” – Brett Lorin

After spending the first year as a redshirt and getting a chance to play only nine innings in his second year at Arizona, Brett decided to transfer to Longbeach State. He took a gamble of switching from one big program to another, but he knew that he needed to pitch and he had to do something about it to make that happen. The timing was also key since this was also the last summer that he could transfer without sitting out a season.

“I got two years at the University of Arizona with [just] nine innings, [so I started questioning myself] — if I am not going to pitch [then], how am I going to get drafted …? … Just because you pick a school, it doesn’t mean that’s where you’re going to end up. … I could have stayed all four years and been a college kid, had fun, and barely played, with no … exposure for pro scouts. … But I had a goal, … and [I wanted playing time, and I just had to get seen] … Longbeach had shown interest, … [and I needed to move and get some more exposure]. … It was a turning point in my career, so I’m glad I did it.” – Brett Lorin

It was at Longbeach where Brett finally got some real pitching time and learned how to use his height and body as leverage. Out of all the 25-30 guys on the Longbeach college baseball roster, half the team went into the top seven, including Brett himself, and by the end of the semester, he ended up getting drafted in the fifth round. He pitched in multiple roles that year, and, as his pitching improved, he started hearing a little buzz about himself around high-level scouts. 

“[For a new guy, getting into the top ten was a big shift] … I think you always have to be realistic, …  and I knew my stuff can get hitters out, … and I just needed some mechanical tweaking. … I hadn’t gotten the instruction yet from somebody at that level, and once I did, I started to refine my delivery and my mechanics.” – Brett Lorin

After college, it was time for the Minor Leagues. Playing in the Minor Leagues was very different than playing college ball, which was actually way more structured. From here on, it was just playing about playing baseball, working out, and preparing his body and mind for success. 

“A lot of guys have already been in the system … [for a while], and [by] being the new guy, you will be a threat to them. … So there’s a lot of stuff you have to get used to and just be a pro about. … [In college, you have] your coaches on you about getting your classes and making sure your grades are up. And there’s only so much you can do when you’re in pro ball. It’s way more on you to make sure you’re going to succeed.” – Brett Lorin

For Brett, there were a lot of unknowns too, like learning to play alongside guys from different cultures and backgrounds. The Minors also have a very competitive environment — everyone is essentially playing against one another to hopefully be promoted. However, through it all, he understood that he needed to leverage his talent and mindset to make a name for himself in a competitive field. 

“You’re living with guys that you’re competing against. … The organization is going to make all the moves, [and] all you can control is what you do on the field. … The Minors are all about developing players, they don’t … care if you win, … [and] everyone is out for themselves because you have to move up by outperforming everybody else.” – Brett Lorin

It’s not easy to live in a high-pressure environment where one is constantly expected to outperform their peers. But with talent, a little competitive spirit, and a rock-solid mindset,  you can make strides towards your dream. Brett knew this very well, and this is what made him rise in his career. 

Pivoting Away from the Major Leagues

Despite all his hard work, however, the Majors seemed to get farther and farther away. Eventually, Brett was traded to Pittsburgh and then to Arizona with well-known players. He felt a little held back at Pittsburgh, so he grabbed the opportunity and moved over to Arizona to improve his chance of scoring big. And it was while playing with Arizona in 2012/2013 that Brett reached the AAA level in the Minor League —  that was just one step away from being called into the Major League. But unfortunately, that call never happened.

“… The following year after AAA, I … [got] released. … I had a great last year [but I couldn’t understand why I was being let go]. … But you know, once you are on your third team, you’re just a number at that point, unless you’re outperforming the league.” – Brett Lorin

After his stint with Arizona, Brett even played independent ball with the Long Island Ducks for a year. This was his last shot at getting signed back for pro ball. He spent a great year at Long Island, but he never got a shot to go back to the Minors.

“… I think it was a little refreshing [to play independent ball] … to be around the guys, [and] there was a lot less stress and a lot less structure. … So independent ball was fun, but I knew it was done…  I was not going to be a baseball lifer. If I didn’t get picked up this year, I was … [going to walk] away, [and] that was enough for me. I didn’t need to just keep playing independent ball for another five years just for the fun.” – Brett Lorin

For Brett, talent is important, but having a strong mindset is even more important. After not making into the Major Leagues, Brett could have easily given up on everything. But when he saw that the Major Leagues weren’t an option, he started thinking about how he could pivot into a different field. He had that strong, competitive spirit, and rather than letting that diminish, he decided to channel it elsewhere. 

“You can’t make it that far in professional sports [or business] without having a very competitive mindset … and a little bit of fire in you. … Even if you’re a good guy off the field, you’ve got to have a little bit of that edge when you get out there. … You also can’t let [the] outside factors steer you away from your goals [either]. So you have to make sure you put yourself in a position to succeed.” – Brett Lorin

Do you have that competitive mindset in your career? You don’t have to be in sports to have it — you can use this competitive mindset in your business or work as well! After Brett decided that his baseball career had ended, he decided to use his athlete’s mindset to help him succeed in the business world. 

Brett Lorin’s Pivot from Sports into Business 

Brett is now in the second phase of his life, and he’s doing incredible things. Post his baseball career, Brett started running a Jimmy John’s franchise with his cousin and operated a bunch of franchises for three years. Now, like many of you, Brett is working in sales. 

However, the transition from being a professional ballplayer to becoming an operator-owner of a franchise was a difficult one for him. 

“The transition was hard [because] I spent my college and pro ball years not building a resume for real life. [I spent] years perfecting a craft, and once it got over, ‘What does that get?’ … [People my age were already] years ahead of me, … and because I went into franchising so quickly, I didn’t have that downturn where I was just looking to let other things affect me.” – Brett Lorin

Even though this transition was hard at first, baseball taught Brett how to handle failure, how to deal with adversities, and how to work with people. He took to his business just like the way he used to attack hitters on the field. There were so many parallels to his baseball career to his new business career, and he used his athletic mindset to his advantage. Running a business is all about communication and pushing through failure, and these are skills he learned in baseball.

“I think because baseball is a game of failure, you have to handle failure [and] … deal with adversities, … injuries, … rehab, [etc]. I [have met] people from all over the country [and] the world … [and played with them on a team, and even communicated] with them somehow… [So I learned how] to work with people. … A lot of athletes can become great leaders just because you have to deal with so much.” – Brett Lorin

Brett’s sales career started way back in high school when he was sending his pitching videos to colleges to try and get their attention. And much like baseball, his sales career in solar energy too has had its share of rejection and failures. 

“I believe in [solar energy]. … It is good for the environment, but sales is [difficult]. Outside sales [are] very hard, you get a lot of rejection … [and] failures. So how do [I] handle [it]? I am not [a] pushy [salesman]… I try to do a lot of factual selling versus pushy selling [so that my clients trust me].” – Brett Lorin

I think Brett brought up a good point — when you’re a salesperson, people are much more willing to buy from you if they trust you. If you’re pushy and bossy, it can be a huge deterrent for your business. 

And if you are transitioning over to the next chapter in life like Brett did, then you need to find your passion or something that you enjoy doing. There is nothing worse than working in a career that doesn’t light you up and inspire you. It may take time to be successful at it, but if you put in the hard work, then you’ll get there. 

“Especially … with COVID, a lot of people have … had time to take a step back and figure out what they’re passionate about or what they enjoy doing. I know [at times] it is hard to [find] money in your passion, … but find an industry that will get you out of bed every day… You [will] never have all the answers, but try [different things and eventually focus on what is meaningful to you].” – Brett Lorin

Friend, you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing — because if you can’t get up every day and find value in what you’re offering, you will never be able to put in the amount of energy that you need. And what’s more, your passion and belief will inspire others around you! 

Why You Should Listen to This Brett Lorin Podcast Episode Right Now…

Guys, this interview with Brett taught me so much about being persistent and never using failure as an excuse to give up. If any of you need any advice or any motivation, then definitely check out Brett’s podcast Too Tall Sports, or find him on LinkedIn!

Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoyed this interview, let us know over on Instagram! Tag Brett, @TooTallSportsPodcast, and me, @andy_neary, with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways! And if you love the Bullpen Sessions, please subscribe and leave a review over on Apple Podcasts! Every review helps us reach more listeners like you! 

And remember — when clarity and confidence collide, action happens. Your age or your background doesn’t matter — it is your positive outlook towards life that makes each failure become just another pillar of success. Seek meaning in everything that you do in life. Go out and make it happen today!

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