By Jim Angell, special to MiLB.com
Throughout this year’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, four attendees of the PBEO Job Fair have agreed to chronicle their employment-seeking experiences (meet them all HERE.). In this, his first installment, Jim Angell finds inspiration and revels in the power of Winter Meetings happenstance.
Day One: A Good Start to a Great Experience
Martie Cordaro, the energetic president and general manager of the Omaha Storm Chasers, punctuated his 2015 PBEO Business of Baseball Workshop presentation by telling his job-seeking audience that without “committing to everything you do” for a team the resulting stark reality meant that “empty seats don’t eat hot dogs.”
The same commitment Cordaro spoke of can also be applied to finding a job in the business of baseball. Given that I’m a mid-career free agent, I can’t think of a better place to “go after it full speed” than here at the epicenter of the baseball world: the Baseball Winter Meetings and PBEO Job Fair!
It may have taken an unfortunate turn of events to get me here, but if it weren’t for the timing of my company deciding to downsize when it did, I would have missed this experience in Nashville. And day one was quite an experience.
It started on the drive to the Opryland Resort, when I stopped to pick up (who I thought was) a fellow job seeker walking to the event. As it turned out, I picked up Dr. Derek Papp, orthopedic surgeon for the Baltimore Orioles. Even the medical teams and trainers are at the Winter Meetings. How cool is that?
If you haven’t been to the Opryland, the place is impressive in its beauty and expanse – it even has a “river” which visitors can hitch a ride on. I did have to fall back on my land navigation skills to find the convention center, however. I admit that while I may have never got lost in the woods during my Army days, I did get lost three times in the hotel. (Yes, even with the help of the maps that are posted, it seems, every 20 feet.)
I won’t recap the entire day of workshop presentations, but the underlying theme I was that anyone can make it if they stay true to themselves and are honest about what they want to do and how they can make the fan experience the best it can be.
While there were moments of cold honesty about life in the business, the presenters and panelists were sowers of hope as well. Here are few of the seeds:
- “New and diverse perspectives are very valuable in baseball.” – Jennifer Zudonyi, manager of Major League Baseball (MLB) business communications.
- “Go after it full speed.” – Justine Siegal, Oakland Athletics coach.
- “Don’t discount what you did in the past.” – Giovanni Hernandez, MLB manager for international baseball operations.
- “Focus on how you can help the team.” – Robert Ford, radio broadcaster for the Houston Astros.
- “If you’re going to dream, dream big.” – Pat O’Conner, president and chief executive officer for Minor League Baseball.
Thank you, presenters, for a great first day. I learned a lot and I hope that others did as well.
As the workshop ended, my fellow job seekers and I posted for our first jobs. Hopefully, I’ll hear from someone on Monday for an interview. More jobs will be posted as well, so it is shaping up to be a busy day.
One final story before I sign off.
As I was trying to leave the resort for the night and checking another map (yes, lost again), a very nice woman asked if I was lost. While I was admitting that I was, I turned around to see none other than former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster standing next to her. Well, as a serious Cubs fan, the encounter made my day (sorry PBEO). After a little chat about baseball, jobs and his new career with MLB, we went our separate ways. But what a great couple! They didn’t have to talk to me, but they did and it made my night. I still got lost after that, but I sure felt good.
I should mention this to all job seekers who come to the PBEO Job Fair. While you may see all sorts of baseball players, former players, coaches, media types etc., don’t go out of your way to talk to them. They have a job to do and also value their free time when they are not working. Running into the Dempsters was some strange twist of fate and not the norm for the Winter Meetings.
Will Jim be able to find his way through the Winter Meetings maze on Monday? Stay tuned!