Monday, April 29, 2013

Rainmaker scouting

On a recent cross country flight, I had the opportunity to sit next to a chief scout of a major league baseball team.  To a baseball junkie, this was like Charlie getting the golden ticket.  After 4 hours, I doubt he felt the same way..

We talked recruiting and scouting and what makes the best of the best.  What good scouts look for besides the numbers.  The underlying traits that a major league scout looks for to determine if a prospect will grow, peak shortly, or their best days are behind them. 

He identified 5 traits that major league ballplayers and top rainmakers share:

Preparedness and Work Ethic:  In baseball you have to be ready every day, not like football where a weeks practice goes toward one game a week. This requires discipline.  He gets to the park early to watch players and detect attributes in their pregame rituals.  Higher achievers are more focused on the details and don’t put up with distractions.

Concentration and Focus: Although related to preparedness, this is more related to how a player conducts themselves during a game.  Pitch by pitch, play by play, they are in every moment.

Competitiveness:  This may seem obvious, but everyone takes their lumps at some point.  Perhaps a slump that lets self-doubt creep in.  When this scout sees someone with talent underachieving he said he wonders ,”Is there a desire to succeed to the degree that there’s a failure mechanism kicking in? Is there a fear of failure. Is the desire to succeed significant enough to overcome the fear of failure?”

Stress Management and Humility: It’s a cliché about how you can fail in baseball 7 out of 10 times and end up in the hall of fame. The ability to cope with failure requires a short term memory and a sense of humor. He likes watching how a player reacts after making a mistake.  Does he hang his head or smile it off as fans are screaming at him and come back with a big hit. I’ve spoken with some of the biggest name attorneys in the country who are the most approachable and self –effacing people you will know, and I’ve spoken with junior partners at small firms that think the Sun rises and sets on their streams of consciousness.  Like the old adage goes, if you are that good, your actions speak more than your words.

Adaptiveness and Learning Ability: How successfully is the player able to process new information during a game? Listen to advice.  How does he adapt when his life situation changes.  The idea of coming out of law school and 10 years later being a rainmaking partner is rarely a straight line even for the most talented.  Attorneys and ballplayers cant be too rigid in their mental approach.  What works for the top rainmaker in their firm may not work for them.  They find what works for them but always look for ways to tweak their approach.

Everyone is being scouted.  How would you scout yourself?

Andrew Wilcox,, 850-893-8984