Stop Swinging At Every Pitch…

In People Skills, Stories

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nati Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9665074g) Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett speaks during an interview in Omaha, Neb., with Liz Claman on Fox Business Network's "Countdown to the Closing Bell Buffett Media, Omaha, USA - 07 May 2018

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In Kaunas, Lithuania, I had a teammate/roommate named Mike, a guard from New York and the most prolific female-phone-number-getting individual I’ve ever seen, still, to this day. 

Mike had so many Lithuanian women’s numbers in his phone, I don’t know how he kept track of who was who. 

I’d come home to our flat sometimes, usually from hours spent in Internet cafes, to find some random chick laying in Mike’s bed, with Mike nowhere to be found. 

I’d text Mike about the random girl. 

He’d tell me that I could either engage with the chick any way I pleased, kick her out, or simply ignore her — she would eventually get the hint and leave on her own. 

Mike was a legend. 

I accompanied Mike on some of his missions around town. What I liked most about his style was that while Mike was aggressive in his prospecting, casting a wide net, he was also smooth — never pushy or aggressive in conversation. Women felt comfortable talking to Mike.

Mike would talk to damn near EVERY woman who passed by us, but he’d take time only with women who were interested in talking back to him. If someone wasn’t interested, he would move on immediately without a second thought. 

Mike didn’t speak a word of Lithuanian, but I’ll be damned if his closing rate (read: an exchange of contact information) was less than 90%. 

Mike’s pitch was the same every time; his goal was to initiate a text conversation and invite the qualified females to come visit him. He had this process down to a science. 

It didn’t work on every girl, but it worked often enough. 

I guessed that Mike had honed his female-conversing skills in the streets of New York— a place that, like my hometown of Philly, if you’re an attractive female, you can’t walk two blocks in certain areas with hearing a comment from a random man who may or may not actually want you to stop and talk with him. 

In certain parts of New York or Philly, talking to every female who passes by was more of a sport than a serious dating strategy. It’s just what males did. 

In Kaunas, Mike had a nose for locating women and learning about places to meet women. One night Mike told us — me and two other American players — about a club we could go to. 

One of the guys with us was from Detroit. He was about 6 feet tall, and while in the club, he positioned himself smack in the middle of an aisle where everyone had to see him. 

In other words, he was standing where every single female who passed by us had to either deal with him in some way or walk around him. 

Every girl who came that way, Detroit would stare her in the face, saying nothing but ensuring that she saw him looking. 

Detroit was in many ways the opposite of Mike. 

I watched this Detroit guy for most of the night. Not a single female stopped to talk to him. They all went around him and kept going.

Warren Buffet said the following of his investing principles. 

We try to exert a Ted Williams kind of discipline. In his book The Science of Hitting, Ted explains that he carved the strike zone into 77 cells, each the size of a baseball. 

Swinging at balls in his “best” cell, he knew, would allow him to bat .400; reaching for balls in his “worst” spot, the low outside corner of the strike zone, would reduce him to .230. 

In other words, waiting for the fat pitch would mean a trip to the Hall of Fame; swinging indiscriminately would mean a ticket to the minors.

“I can look at a thousand different companies, and I don’t have to be right on every one of them or even 50 of ’em, so I can pick the ball I want to hit.  

And the trick in investing is just to sit there and watch pitch after pitch to go by and wait for the one right in your sweet spot.” 

Many of us play our sport or our business like Detroit: metaphorically swinging at everything, waiting for the one where the interest is mutual. 

Most of us eventually end up just like Detroit, too: standing in the middle, hoping for something to happen, and walking home alone. 

We’d be better off playing the game more like Mike: cast a wide net (your possible interests), and spend time only with what’s working. 

If you’re sure of your offer, like Mike was, then you can take a lack of response as a loud and clear message that there’s no interest — move on. 

Don’t invest swings into pitches that you can’t hit. 

Choosing wisely is the step that comes before hard work and effort — and it’s the step that many hard-working people fail to spend enough time on. 

I cover choice in chapters 7 & 8 of my book Work On Your Game: Use The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate Your Game In Business, Sports, and Life