Founders & Friends with Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

Startup Podcast by Scott Orn

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Posted on: 05/21/2019

Andrew Miller, EVP of Ops of the Toronto Blue Jays talks about operating a professional sports franchise

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

Executive Vice President, Business Operations - Toronto Blue Jays


Andrew Miller of Toronto Blue Jays - Podcast Summary

Andrew Miller, Executive Vice President of Business Operations of the Toronto Blue Jays discusses aligning an organization to focus on a single goal, winning.

Andrew Miller of Toronto Blue Jays - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn of Kruze Consulting and, before an excellent podcast, a quick shout out to our sponsor, Brex. Brex is a credit card for startups, the first one ever. It’s fantastic, they don’t require a personal guarantee by the founder, that is a huge, huge deal. Also, has great integration with QuickBooks, which makes life easy for your accountant and, finally, they have really good rewards. They do startup-centric rewards so like, bonuses on ridesharing and, travel and, eating out and things like that. All things that will appeal to the whole team at a startup. So, check out, Brex and, if you go through their sign up and type in Kruze, you get a discount. Hopefully, you enjoy Brex and, thanks so much, guys, for sponsoring the podcast. Thanks. Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting and, my very special guest today is, Andrew Miller, Executive Vice President of business operations of the Toronto Blue Jays. Welcome, Andrew.
Andrew: Thanks Scott, thanks for having me.
Scott: So, we have been friends for, I don’t even know, 15 years, something extremely long.
Andrew: Yeah, at least.
Scott: You still have all your hair, you look great, I don’t.
Andrew: You look great.
Scott: But, [crosstalk] young kids and, you have a really cool job, I’ve always been envious and, maybe it’s worth retracing your career a little bit, tell people how you got to where you are with the Bluejays.
Andrew: Sure. So, I grew up in Southern California and, just loved baseball. Played baseball growing up, I was a bat boy for three years for a minor league team in my hometown and, always wanted to play baseball and, was really fortunate, went to Cal and, walked onto the baseball team there, was a left-handed pitcher. I think pretty quickly realized the level of competition at Cal and in our competitors and, realized that playing baseball probably wasn’t going to be the future path for me so, focused quite a bit on studying at that point, was a business major at HOS and, really loved my classes, loved putting myself in the shoes of executives and, trying to think about what I would do in their situation. And, was fortunate, got an internship with the Oakland A’s while I was in school, an internship with sports channel, which was the predecessor to Comp Cast sports Barrier and, the RSN for the A’s and Giants and, found ways to learn more about the sport’s industry. But, when I graduated from Berkeley, decided, baseball’s been my entire life and, I’ve loved the game and, I’m passionate about the game but, I’ve also enjoyed my classes and, maybe there’s something else out there for me. So, ended up going to Wall Street, did a year in New York at Solomon Brothers and, Fixed Income, went back to the Barrier and did a couple of years of investment banking in tech banking for CIBC Oppenheimer and then, moved over to Global Crossing and Venture Capital and, really went through the dot com boom and bust in the late 90s and early 2000s, ended up at Global right before their bankruptcy and, got let go about six weeks before they filed for bankruptcy in early ‘02. So it was post 9/11, post dot com crash, every single person I knew in the valley was out of work and, it was hard, I mean, I really had enjoyed what I had done, hadn’t really been thinking about baseball and, you know, for a number of years had worked in different finance roles and, loved it. And, was trying to find something else new to do and, a couple of buddies of mine were out of work bankers and, they were starting up a small investment group and, tried to convince me to join them. And, I tried to explain to them, I have an apartment in Silicon Valley, I have bills to pay, I need to get paid, I need to work and …
Scott: You’re pretty young, too so, it’s not like you had a lot of savings.
Andrew: No, I had nothing and, yeah, that’s why I had to just say to them, I have no one paying my bills if I don’t get paid, I don’t eat, I don’t pay rent and, they made me sort of an offer you can’t refuse. They said, “You have a negative opportunity cost right now,” which I had to go back in my Econ 101 and try to figure out what that could possibly mean but, you know, they said, “Listen, you’re sitting on your couch all day doing nothing and, we’re offering you a job, a desk, deal flow, a business card, you can keep looking for jobs” and, I enjoyed being with them so I said, “You know what? That’s fair,” you know, if they make money, I’ll make some money. So we ran around Silicon Valley for a couple of years, did some small advisory deals, made a couple of small investments and, ultimately what I realized was, I was young and, that my partners were more where we are today, you know, in their 40s, they had been managing directors at banks and, they had kids and, mortgages and, they were much more in the mode of waiting out the storm. And, I had decided I don’t really see myself as a banker long term and, that my career path is moving towards becoming a banker again when the storm clears out. So, that led me to grad school where we obviously spent a lot of time together at Northwestern but, for me it really wasn’t about sports, it was about the intersection of law and business and, the JD MBA program there, was a good way for me to take what I learned in the business world and, get a legal education and, you know, hopefully come out the other side with the ability to really understand the implications from a legal perspective, from a business perspective and, you know, as you know, most of the things that we’re dealing with in the business world, nine times out of ten or, 90 out of 100 times, the answer is not, go call a lawyer. And, when you’re dealing with startup executives, they’re dealing with every challenge that anyone has in the business world. You know, you have employee issues, you have customers not paying you, you have suppliers not supplying you with what you expected. You have intellectual property questions, anything that comes about and, most of the time, it’s really a business question and, you’re trying to figure out what are the legal implications of my decision making and, I didn’t feel equipped to have those conversations and, provide that advice. So, Northwestern was a great opportunity for me to round out my education and, was really my first year of law school that I started thinking much more about, what is it that I want to do? And I realized I had three years where I didn’t need a job and, that felt like a lifetime, at that point and, what do I really want to do? Baseball kept coming back up and, Moneyball, the book had come out a year or two before and, I read it, I realized, not only was that happening right down the hallway from me in Oakland and, I wasn’t aware but, more importantly, the types of decision making, the types of frameworks, the types of use of information that I had seen, whether it was on Wall Street or, Silicon Valley or, grad school, that that was starting to become more incorporated in the baseball world. And so, my thought process was, I don’t need a job and, if I can use the next year or, two or, three learning more about baseball and, it works out, great and, if not, hey, I’ll probably go back out to California and find a job that I enjoy and, I’ve learned something more about baseball. And, I was really fortunate, I spent about 12 months doing that and …
Scott: The negative opportunity cost thing kind of showed up again for you, right?
Andrew: Yeah, exactly right. There’s no reason not to try and pursue it and …
Scott: You did something that I always admired and, I think this is where you are going but, you, because sports are kind of notoriously hard to get into, the business side of sports and, I worked for an agent through happenstance when I was in college and, you had some Asia connections but, you did something that I just absolutely loved at the time, I recognized what you were doing was amazing. Maybe tell the audience your, how you got your first toehold into professional sports.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean a lot of it was just networking and, that’s something that, especially the time was very uncomfortable for me and, not really part of, like very natural for me and, I just was struggled to reach out to people and ask them questions or, introduce myself and, what I realized very quickly whether its sports or any other industry is that, people are very happy to talk about themselves and their careers and, provide advice and, so I had the good fortune of probably talking to, I don’t know, two or three dozen people at different teams, different sports. Baseball, probably basketball, football throughout a year, year and a half or so and, got a lot of insights, really got to understand the industry a lot better, I got some advice to do my own research and to start finding areas of the business I was passionate about and, learn more about it and, I started doing that, salary arbitration, I read more and, there’s a lot of academic research papers out there on salary arbitration and baseball, its one of the few areas of arbitration that actually has published data because, the player data is publicly available and, the results of each case are made public. And so, it’s easy for people looking to do research on any number of different fields of negotiation or, arbitration to use baseball salary arbitration. So, I started doing research on my own and, at some point, got really lucky, someone said to me, “I don’t know him, I talked to him once and, I can’t really provide you an introduction but, I think Chris Antonelli of the Indians would really value a conversation with someone like you with your background.” And, you know, Chris, at the time, was assistant General Manager of the Indians and is currently president of baseball operations and, that night I emailed Chris, total, blind, you know, cold email and, he responded and, a week later we talked and, a month later the Indians hired me as an intern.
Scott: Wow. I thought you went to like the winter meetings too, or something like that and, like networking with the key, it was something with the Kansas City Royals people were talking to you and then, they were that who put you in touch with the Indians or, I remember something about this.
Andrew: No, it was a total cold call to Chris. They hired me in baseball operations, which is all I’d do so, my goal was to become a general manager and, you know, baseball split, in baseball operations, which is everything tied to the players on the field, scouting, coaching, developing players, all the science and analytics that go into players, that’s all in the baseball operations side. And then, there are business operations, which is what I do now, which is, all the things that are more traditional to businesses. Sales, marketing, finance, HR, IT, facilities and, my goal was to be the general manager, which is the person that oversees the baseball operations side of things …
Scott: You kind of sold yourself short on the, your career at Cal too. Like, you were a crafty left-handed pitcher. So you actually had some bonafide experience, you weren’t like a major league player but, you knew the game, you played it for a very long time. So, that makes sense like, a former player going into the general manager track, right, that’s what you were thinking?
Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I wasn’t that good a player but, you know, I mean Cal is a high level of baseball and, the time we were still just the Southern Six-Pack so, you know, our division was Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, I mean, that’s a really tough baseball division. And, you know, there were guys that I played with that became big leaguer’s, you know, a lot of guys we’d play against, went to big league so, it helped me understand very high level of college baseball and, what types of skills and, what types of players translate into professional baseball. But, you know, my job in Cleveland was much more tied to contract negotiations, salary arbitration, anything tied to the major league team in the roster and, I loved it, I mean, I got to do that for four or five years and, really enjoyed it, it was a part of a number of trades and, 2006, seven, eight, nine, that really set the path forward for the Indians for a number of years, you know, a number of those guys are still there.
Scott: I remember being on the phone with you, the Indian’s at the time were an analytics-driven team and, the Giants were not, the team I root for. And so, routinely, you guys would be trading with the Giants and I would be like, “Oh my God, the Giants just traded for like another terrible marginal major league player from the Indians.” So, one night, randomly, as a joke, I called you and, you were like three hours ahead of me, I think I was driving home from my grandma and, I was like, “Stop trading with the Giants, please.” This is before the Giants won three world series in five years so, I was totally a bitter fan and, obviously, that showed me that team knew what they were doing.
Andrew: Yeah, I don’t remember what trade you’re talking about but, you know …
Scott: It was the Ryan Darko trade or something like that, it was just like a terrible and, you and I were talking and joking around and then you were like, all of a sudden, you’re like, “I got to go, I got to go right now, I’ll see you later.” And, I was like, “Oh, shit.” But it was like, I think it was like 11 or midnight your time and, the next day, I think you traded Cliff Lee or, Carlos Santana, two major, major players and, I realized you had actually been working on that trade late at night and, took a phone call from your friend but, that’s what you were working on and that’s why you had to go really quickly.
Andrew: I don’t remember that but, the Giants definitely did well for themselves so, it wasn’t anything that we did to steal players from them [crosstalk].
Scott: No, no, I think it was one of those things where, I think you guys, the teams looked at the world differently so, it made sense to be natural trading partners. Like, if the team you’re looking at, if you’re working on a trade, sees the world the same way as you, it’s probably hard to put a good trade together.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s actually …
Scott: Mutually beneficial.
Andrew: That’s one of the questions I asked pretty early on because, especially at the time there were teams that had very different perspectives on valuing players and, decision making and, a lot of other things and, one of the questions I had pretty early was, is it easier to do trades with teams that have a similar perspective? You know, at the time it may have been the Red Sox or, the Diamond Backs or, some of those other teams, the Tamper Rays or, some of the other teams that didn’t have the same type of decision making and, you know, the truth is that it sort of depends, right? There’s some value in not seeing players the same way because that might allow you to line up and, there’s some value to analyzing players in a similar manner because, that allows you to maybe speak in a very similar language or, you know, say, “Hey, here’s the sort of value I put on the player and, here’s why” and sort of be able to communicate throughout the negotiation. But, you know, I think baseball is fun because there are 29 other teams and, they all do it slightly differently and, there’s a different way’s to be successful.
Scott: Yeah, that makes total sense. And, assigning, you guys, you value a player the same way, much the same way like a Wall Street would value a company, you have a starting point for the value. There’s something you glossed over there which I think is important to point out, which is, you started as an intern with the Indians. I think it, wasn’t it unpaid, as an unpaid internship?
Andrew: You know, this is sort of negotiations 101. I was actually in a negotiations class at Cal when I got the offer to be an intern for the Indians and, I was just in shock that the Indians were offering me an internship and, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what questions to ask and, I remember going over to my professor after the class and saying, “Listen, I know this is going to sound stupid but, I just got offered my dream job and, I’ve no idea how to ask them questions like, am I getting paid or not.” I said, “I don’t know if I care but, I don’t want to lose the internship because I’m asking.” And he said, “You know what, just come up with three or four questions and they’re going to be basic terms, when do you want to start and, you know, what do you know about living in Cleveland and, you know, is this paid and, you know, just slip it in there.” And he’s like, “Most of the time, they have it and they set it and, it is what it is” but, it was paid, it was very low paid and, it has worked out well.
Scott: It worked out well and, you also had, I remember you had a compadre who was an intern as well and, I actually drove through Cleveland on my way, I think, to my home, maybe for my Summer internship.
Andrew: I remember this.
Scott: And stayed at your apartment and got to see and, like you guys saw the opportunity and worked really hard. I remember being super impressed but, you guys were both tired but, you worked hard and made the most out of your internship to get the full-time offer.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, it was a lot of fun and, you know, I think the thing that struck me most about Cleveland was, having been in a number of organizations prior to the Indians and, I love the people I worked with and, I loved the work I was doing, I had never seen an organization like them and like the leadership of Mark Shapiro who I still work with here in Toronto and, Chris and, Mark Chernoff, the general manager of the Indians and, their approach to building organizations and, leadership and, empowerment and, hiring and, development was, it was the sort of thing we would read about in business school and, I had never actually experienced it in real life. And, you know, truthfully, I actually thought it was some sort of a selling approach when I first started, you know, I just thought it’s too good to be true that, the people I’m working with are incredible people, they’re down to earth, they’re humble, they’re really competitive but, they care. They care a lot about learning, they care a lot about building and, they care a lot about trying to figure out how to improve as an organization and, as individuals. And, I just thought that probably not sorts of who they are, that’s probably going to, over time I’m going to see who they really are and, over time it was actually proven time and, time again that, no, that’s exactly who they are, what you see is what you get and, it changed me. It changed me as a leader, it changed me as a person, it changed how I interact with my employees now because, the idea was, what is it that you want and, how can I help you get to where you’re going? And, the very first time I met Mark was before my internship started, they invited me down to West Haven, Florida, to this big training facility to meet everybody and, he sat me down and he said, “First of all, I sit down with every intern,” he said, “Because, every intern we hire is the most important person that we add to this organization.” And, if you look at Mark’s track record, it is absolutely unbelievable and, he’s right, I mean, the people that I worked with are now running seven or eight different major league teams and, it’s just the ability to say, we’re going to bring people in that are incredible with what they do, have diverse backgrounds, can complement our team and then, empower them to work on the most critical things. And, what Mark asked me was, “What do you want to do?” And I said, “I want to be a general manager.” And he said, “Well, two things. First, if you want to be a general manager, you shouldn’t be sitting here. And, second … “
Scott: You can’t be afraid to vocalize your dreams, right?
Andrew: Yeah.
Scott: It makes tons of sense.
Andrew: And he said, “Second, my job is to help you develop the skills and experiences necessary for you to achieve that goal. It may not happen here because there’s only one GM,” it was him at the time and he said …
Scott: You’re like, oh, I am going to Julius Caesar you, don’t worry.
Andrew: “And it may not happen elsewhere because there are only 29 others of those roles in the entire world but, as you continue to grow and, mature and, develop and, your goals evolve, my job is to understand that and, to continue to help you along the way.” And, I’ve been really fortunate, I mean, I’ve been with Mark for 12, 13 years now and …
Scott: That’s a really good story. And the Indians, basically, as you said, seven or eight general managers now, in the major leagues, are from the Indians, from that tree.
Andrew: Yep. Yeah, I mean, the guys I worked with, actually came in and replaced Mike Hazen, who’s the general manager of the Diamondbacks, Neil Huntington left pretty early on in my time in Cleveland, to become a Pirate’s general manager and, he’s been GM there for 12 or so years. David Sterns and, Derrick Falvey both worked with me, they’re running the Brewers and the Twins. Mike Chernoff is obviously promoted to GM in Cleveland and, Ross Atkins is our GM here, I mean, it’s unbelievable, I mean, it really is. Being in the Barrier, the Bill Walsh coaching tree and, all that, 49er legends that went on to coaching, I mean, that’s what Mark has done in baseball with executives and, I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of it. But, ultimately for me, you know, I was on that path and, four, five years in was loving it, I had no decision to switch and, Mark started to transition to become team president and, you know, he was going to oversee the business side and, the baseball side, which is relatively unique for a team president and, his background was 20 years of work at the Indians in baseball operations. So, he was looking for someone to help him learn the business and, ultimately run the business and, he started very slowly and softly floating things to me and, “Hey, when you get a few minutes, I know you’re busy but, take a look at this marketing plan, this business plan and, just give me some thoughts of how you would think about, you know, what questions would you have?” And then, it ultimately was, him asking me to switch over and become his assistant on the business side and, it was a really tough decision for me.
Scott: Well, you should be the host of this podcast because you steered the conversation exactly where I was going to go forward. How to make yourself incredibly valuable to the people you work with. And, you did that like, you had this business background, you had the legal background and, I remember at the time when you were making this transition, it made tons of sense to me because I was like, you were one of the few people in the organization that understood the baseball side of it but, who also had a business background and, he realized that could be incredibly valuable to him.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, it was a hard decision for me because, I was on the path that sort of brought me into baseball and what I really wanted to, you know, I saw my goal and, obviously, I talked about all the great people I worked with that have gone on to do that and, you know, there’s nothing guaranteed in life, you know, those are hard jobs to get. But I was in the right path and, the right position to have that opportunity and, you know, ultimately, I just decided that I am passionate about baseball and, I love the sport and, almost nobody gets to work on the baseball side and the business side so, it would give me a really unique perspective on the game. And then, much more importantly, my number one goal was to win the world series and, you know, the team I was with, they were really talented, they weren’t looking to improve and, not that I wasn’t contributing to it but, baseball, economically is very tied to local revenue, there’s no salary cap and, 75% or so of the revenue the teams generate is local, which is polar opposite to a sport like the NFL where, you know, about three quarters, or so, the revenue is centrally driven from the league. And so, from a baseball perspective, that means the market you’re in, which is a defined territory. Any other business that you’re working with has some ability to migrate and say, “If these are the customers, is this the market I want to be in? If not, I need to either shift my product mix, develop something new or, move to a different territory and try and develop new customers.” We can’t do that. Our customers are fixed by definition and, for Cleveland, it’s a very small market. It’s, you know, really from Cleveland to Toledo too, Columbus to, Youngstown and back to Cleveland, it’s about an hour and a half or two hours in any direction. For Toronto, it is literally one word, our market is Canada.
Scott: Yeah, which is incredible.
Andrew: It’s just a massive, massive difference. So, you know, for me it was, maybe the ability for us to transform our business and, focus on organizational strategy, what are the resources we need, what’s the best way to deploy them? How do we build our brand? How do we engage fans? This was in 2010 or so, how do we build a social media practice, which we didn’t have? You know, how do we engage fans through different channels of media? How do we think about reinventing our ballpark? And, ultimately, all of that leads to, how do we generate more revenue so that we can use it more effectively for baseball decision?
Scott: Yeah. I remember talking to you for three or four years, maybe five years ago about how the sales and ticketing side had not really been run in a revenue optimization way. There was a lot of discounting and things like that and, you were trying to reign some of that in and, also reach out to the big corporate Andy’s in Cleveland because, you kind of said, it’s a small market, there’s only so much money to go around and so, you were thinking like, everything, soup to nuts, on the operations side of how you can increase revenue.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, the interesting thing about Baseball is that, you know I mentioned, Moneyball and, you know, that was really the outcome of a pretty natural process in that, because of the way that the economics are that I just mentioned, you need to figure out ways to create competitive advantages to utilize your resources most effectively. And, in the early 90s, big baseball contracts were a few million dollars and, if you’re a billionaire owner, like, no one wants to lose a few million dollars, right? But, if you’re a billionaire owner, you can sustain that loss, you know, 10 years later, Alex Rodriguez signs a 200-million-dollar contract, that is franchise changing money. And so, that was a very natural progression to, okay, if we’re talking about a 200-million-dollar decision, think about the businesses you’ve worked in or, worked with, a five million dollar decision is handled differently, with rigor, right? But, very differently than a 200-million-dollar decision. And, you know, now you’re looking at player contracts, Mike Trout or, Bryce Harper that are a quarter to half billion dollars and, you know, that’s a different approach to decision making, if you’re talking about that magnitude. So, that really lead to a lot of the more informed decision-making technique, using data, using different decision frameworks within the baseball operations side. The interesting thing was, that really wasn’t done on the business side until about 10 years later, or so. It took another decade before the real sophisticated business techniques, that are being used now in many, many different industries, were used in baseball. And, you know, the interesting thing about that was, most of the techniques just come from other businesses and, if I said to someone, “Hey, we should think about maybe trying X, Y or Z” or, “Have you thought about this?” Sometimes, every once in a while, I get a, you’re thinking about that Moneyball stuff and, I say, “No, no, no like, Moneyball was applying businesses statistical principle’s to baseball decision making, I’m just talking about applying it to business.” We’ve hired people from Google and, Proctor & Gamble and, Kraft and, Kellogg and, Wharton and, all the best business schools and companies and, they’re using those techniques and, the truth is that baseball is a consumer business and, it’s not that dissimilar from other consumer businesses. And, it’s about trying to understand who are your customers and, what is it that’s driving their decision to purchase your product? And, for us, that product happens to be an experience at the Roger Center and, watching a baseball game or, experiencing different things that are tangential to the game that, that’s the decision and, it’s not that different from going to a supermarket and buying a product or, you know, having some other consumer decision, it’s just it’s a different way to frame the fan base.
Scott: Well you, I mean, you’re competing against Netflix and, movies and, Spotify and, any form of entertainment out there and so, you have to be on your game.
Andrew: I mean, a lot of times we’re competing against ourselves, in some way because, the technology has made it so easy for us to access baseball that, you know, I carry around an iPhone and watch games on my phone most of the time, if I’m not here, if it’s not a home game and, that was impossible 20 years ago. And, you know, for a fan, the decision to come to our game in downtown Toronto and, deal with all the things that go with coming downtown and, spending the money and the time to come to our game, that experience has to be different than watching the game on their phone or, in their living room. And so, for us, it’s trying to create something that’s unique, that’s going to make a fan want to spend their time and money with us.
Scott: I couldn’t say it any better. So, and we’ve been, we usually record for about half an hour so, we’re kind of there but, there’s a couple of other questions I want to ask you.
Andrew: Sure.
Scott: So, we, before we turn the mics on, I was kind of framing the podcast a little bit for you of like, it’s really a startup podcast, this is for people who are in the startup world or, serving startups and, I was like, and we were generating ideas. I was like, what can a startup learn from your experience in baseball at the Blue Jays? And, you had two really awesome points. Do you remember what they were? Do you want to go over them?
Andrew: I don’t remember what they are. It’s been a long half hour.
Scott: You’re just that smart. The first one was, building a strong culture and, or, organizational culture, which I thought was very kind of, very smart because, baseball’s kind of a, maybe the old way of thinking about it is like a star business, you know, you get the Alex Rodriguez or, whoever, Barry Bones type of player and, good things happen around those superstars. But, I think, one of the things that the Indians did, when you first started off and, it’s more pervasive inside of baseball now is, people talk about the organizational culture, a lot, from the ownership all the way down through the executives to the team. And maybe you have some thoughts on that because I think that’s very applicable for startups.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, so first of all, I come out of the startup world and, you know, come out of Silicon Valley in the 90s and early 2000s and, a lot of what I saw there was the energy and the feeling like, we’re changing the world and, that was what was exciting about it. And, you know, working on dot com IPO’s in the late 90s, you know, being 23, 24, 25 years old and feeling like, this work matters and, it matters because we’re changing something. And it was really energizing and, the world changed. It may not have needed a thousand of the dot com companies that were out there competing but, you know, the technologies that we saw and, the way that consumers interact, really did change. And, you know, that piece of it, you know, translates to a baseball organization where, we have a goal, our goal is to win the World Series and, we need to have every single person working on the most important thing to help us achieve that goal. And, it doesn’t matter if that person is cleaning the floors or, doing accounting or, coaching players or, playing, we need every single person to be doing what’s the most important for them, to help us achieve that goal. And so, that common goal and, the core values that surround it, I mean, we’re very small organizations, we have roughly 200 or so employees on the business side full-time and, roughly 200 or so employees on the baseball operations side, not counting players. And, that’s not that big. And, we need to make sure that we’re utilizing our resources in as effective was as possible but, it also means that every single person needs to be aligned from a culture perspective. You know, our values, when we hire people, it is critical that someone is coming in with an aligned set of values and, they’ll have different perspectives and, add to the conversation and, add a different point of view but, we need people to all be focused on a common goal.
Scott: I love it and, it is like, that is something we’re still learning and, still getting better at like, having everyone pulling the same way and, going for the same thing. I’m reflecting back on your first meeting with Chris, your former boss. Chris Antonelli right or was it …
Andrew: It was Mark that said those things.
Scott: Mark, I’m sorry Mark Antonelli. Sorry, where he was asking you as the intern, where you wanted to go and, what you wanted to get out of it. Having that buy-in from the bottom up is incredibly important, it’s good to see that, I know you have the Indians and, it’s good to see you’ve been replicating that with the Blue Jays.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, our goal is similar, right? We want people to be passionate about what they do and, you know, the difference, I think, between what I was doing before and, what I’ve been doing in baseball is that, there’s some milestone’s you pass, there’s some goal’s you achieve as a company and, it’s always very exciting, there’s nothing in this world that’s more exciting than pouring champagne on each other and, celebrating what is a group victory and, making the post-season or, advancing the post-season, there just aren’t that many places in this world where your performance is judged night-in and, night-out, good or bad and, the ability that you have to come together when it all works out is really a special feeling.
Scott: That’s awesome, I love it. I think that’s a really good place to leave it, actually. Where can people get ahold of you or, follow you? Obviously, they can follow the Blue Jays on ESPN or ESPN.com or, whatever but, if they listen to this podcast and want to reach out or, how can they get hold of you? On Twitter, LinkedIn?
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, I may be the least technologically focused person you’re dealing with, I mean, I’m on LinkedIn. You know it’s funny when I got here so, we’ve built social media practice in Cleveland and now rebuilt one here and, when I got here, there was a lot of question of like, “Hey, are you going to be on Twitter answering fan questions?” And my response was, “No, we have two million followers on Blue Jays Twitter feed, we should be utilizing that to generate all the interest and, to answer fan questions when necessary, that’s a huge platform that we need to try and grow. So, I’ve sort of taken a backseat to let the team and the brand kind of carry it. But, I’m on LinkedIn if people want to find me and, yeah, reach out.
Scott: I was so excited for you when you went to the Blue Jays because, A; Toronto’s like a world-class city and, a cool place to live and, I’m envious and, we promise to visit you and, as you said, you have the whole entire country of Canada routing for the Blue Jays. And, before we turned the mics on, we were talking about how you called up Vladimir Guerrero’s son who was, Vladimir Guerrero was a great player for the Montreal Expos, Expos moved to Washington DC and new name now but, you’re kind of continuing that national tradition and, I thought that was beautiful.
Andrew: Yeah, I mean, our brand really is nationwide here and, it’s something that is very, very different and, it’s one of the areas that were outside my comfort zone coming here but, you know, learning, not only a new city, a new country, a new fan base, a new ballpark, new organization but, you know, how does a country interact and how do you think about cultivating that brand nationally? And, you know, what I can tell you is, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen where, you know, we really are Canada’s team and, there are Canadians coast-to-coast that watch our games and, last year I went out to Seattle to see it first hand but, when we play in Seattle and some other cities around the league, it’s really a Blue Jays atmosphere, home game, I mean, there’s probably have to two thirds of Safeco field at the time last year that were Blue Jays fans and, coming down from Vancouver and, Western Canada, the maple leaf and, the Blue Jays logo, really means something to people that is a pride in Canada and, their home country.
Scott: I love it. I love it. Well, congrats on your success, I know how hard you worked to get there and, we’ll be following along with the Blue Jays this year and, you’ve got some really cool talent coming up so, hopefully, we’ll see you in the World Series in a couple of years.
Andrew: All right, thanks, man.
Scott: Awesome. All right, buddy, take care. Hope you enjoyed that episode of Founders and Friends Podcast. Quick shout out to Brex, the first startup credit card. Brex is our sponsor and, I really appreciate their support. Brex has no personal guarantee for founders, that’s a really big deal. It integrates really nicely with QuickBooks. Great rewards that are startup-centric. It’s a really nice little tool and, we are seeing it all across the Kruze portfolio of clients so, check it out. And, again, if you go through the signup flow and, type in, Kruze, you get a discount so, hopefully, you’ll check out Brex. Thanks again for the support on the podcast, guys, take care

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