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How to Ruin Your Professional Reputation

Wrigley FieldYou may have heard that yesterday was Lou Piniella’s last game as the Cubs’ Manager. Piniella had announced earlier that he was going to retire at the end of the season, but family concerns – specifically his mother’s health – caused him to step up his plans.



We wish him the best. He retires at number fourteen on the list of Major League Managers with the most wins. He is one of only five managers awarded “Manager of the Year” three or more times.

Yet, he wasn’t able to turn the Cubs around. When he was hired after the close of the season in 2006, Piniella said he would turn the Cubs into a winner.

From Division winner to discouraged again
He got off to a great start in 2007 when the Cubs finished first in the National League Central Division. Then they lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in three consecutive games in the Division Series.

The next year, the Cubs won their division again. However, once again, they didn’t win a single game in the Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodger.

In 2009, they finished second in their Division.

This year has been a complete disaster.

For us Cubs’ fans, it’s pretty discouraging. But it’s even worse than that …

Bucking a long tradition
As many people know, the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. To give that some perspective, let’s consider the year 1908:

1. The average life expectancy was 47 years.

2. There were only 46 states here in the United States.

3. Only 8 percent of all homes had a telephone, only 14 percent had a bathtub.

4. There were only 144 miles of paved roads in our whole country.

5. The speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

6. Only 30 people lived in Las Vegas, Nevada.

7. The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour; so the average worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

8. 90 percent of all doctors had no college education. They got their license by attending a medical trade school.

9. More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.

10. Most women only washed their hair once a month with Borax or egg yolks instead of shampoo.

11. They could afford to do it … eggs were fourteen cents a dozen; sugar cost four cents a pound; coffee was fifteen cents a pound – that caffeine buzz was really cheap to come by!

12. Speaking of buzz – marijuana, heroin, and morphine could all be purchased over-the-counter at the local drugstore. Maybe the Cubs didn’t actually win the Series … it was all just a hallucination!

In all this time, with all of these changes, the Cubs haven’t won another World Series. So tradition certainly wasn’t on Lou’s side when he accepted the job as the skipper of the Cubs.

The lesson for entrepreneurs

We don’t know if Warren Buffett is a Cubs’ fan or not. But he said:

“When a management team with a reputation for brilliance joins a business with poor fundamental economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”

It’s a Herculean task to buck tradition. It’s a long climb uphill when you fight the trend. Even great managers may sully their reputation if they take the reins of a bad business.

It’s best to stick to businesses with solid fundamentals. Growth creates opportunities. That leads to BIGG success!

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(Image in today's post by anneh632, CC 2.0)