Do you ever wonder if your work is making a difference?
If you do, that’s not a bad thing. Everyone wants to make a lasting contribution that they can be remembered for, but that means you’ve got to understand what it takes to make an impact to gauge whether or not you’re on track.
For more on that, today I’m joined by Josh Rawitch from the Arizona Diamondbacks. As the Senior VP of Content and Communication for the Diamondbacks, he oversees media relations, broadcasting, in-game entertainment, and all things social media; all the while encouraging his team to join him in finding new ways to stay on the cutting edge.
His stories shed light on what it means to be a voice for change while reminding us that all experiences have the potential to make a difference.
So, let’s get after it! Click the Play Button right now to hear Josh’s perspective on what it takes to make a lasting impact!
If you're looking for advice, have leadership questions, or have always wanted to ask me something about myself or the show; now you can submit your questions by visiting bit.ly/IgnitionPointAMA to be featured in our upcoming Q+A Segments.
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Hey! What’s going on? I’m Steven Miller and you’re listening to Ignition Point – the show that’s here to get you fired up and ready to win the week.
At some point, you’ve probably found yourself wondering if your work was making a difference. It’s a tough question to sit with, right? But it pops up because there’s a part of you that wants to be remembered for making a positive, lasting contribution.
Now, this doesn’t mean you’ve got a big ego or that you’re a narcissist, it’s just human nature. So, it’s not a matter of “if” you’re going to be thinking about this, it’s a matter of “when” and “how often.” That means you’ve got to understand what it takes to make an impact to gauge whether or not you’re on track.
Take this show for example. It’s always been about giving you that spark and motivating you to look at your situation differently. That’s the intent, but just because I’m intentional about what goes into the show doesn’t guarantee that every episode will resonate with you. It’s just the first big step.
Setting your intention unlocks your potential for impact and it serves as true north. It’ll point you in the right direction and help you make the right decisions, but if you want your impact to last, you’ll need to stay fired up about your intent and be ready to really grind for it.
Josh began his career in baseball operations with the LA Dodgers, where he made a name for himself as an early advocate for social media’s role in community relations. Then in 2011, Josh brought his talents to Phoenix and traded in his Dodger Blue for Sedona Red.
In his current role as the Senior VP of Content and Communications for the Diamondbacks, he oversees media relations, broadcasting, in-game entertainment, all things social media, and much more; all the while encouraging his team to join him in finding new ways to stay on the cutting edge.
But for Josh, it doesn’t stop there. Outside of his work at Chase Field, he’s served as the Venue Press Chief for the last three World Baseball Classics and is an adjunct professor at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism – where he teaches Sports Communication.
His stories shed light on what it means to be a voice for change while reminding us that all experiences have the potential to make a difference. So, let’s get after it! Here to share his perspective on what it takes to make a lasting impact, this is Josh Rawitch.
THE WEEKLY MONOLOGUE WITH JOSH RAWITCH
I just saw yesterday – 13 of Major League Baseball's GMs are Ivy league grads.
We're surrounded by a lot of smart people and I don't think anybody ever comes away from a conversation with me and goes, "wow, that guy is just brilliant!"
I mean, that's just not who I am.
When I think about what's brought me success over the years, I think it really kind of drives into three things for me and it's basically a work ethic, my passion for baseball, and ultimately wanting to make a difference.
In most cases – even going back to my high school days – I would never have been seen as one of the better players on my baseball team. It was always driven by could I outwork the people around me – and I'd say that certainly in the world of sports, but all throughout business – it definitely comes down to that as well.
If you're kind of willing to work harder than everybody else, that pays off.
I do think that when you work in the environment of sports and entertainment or even politics to some extent, you are often driven solely by passion. Either the cool factor of telling your friends where you work or the cool factor of the experiences that you have. The hours we work, the amount of games in a season; it's a lifestyle we've chosen to be a part of. And so, I do think that the people that I work with that are involved every day in the content and communications of the Diamondbacks – I'd say every one of them loves baseball on a level that most people can't possibly understand, but of course everybody's still motivated by other things as well and I think it's finding what that secondary motivation is that drives you in addition to your passion.
If you basically look at the people around you, there are going to be a lot of people who are happy to go nine to five, happy to take home their paycheck, and I've always tried to impart on our department, "there's a lot to get done and it doesn't happen in a nine to five environment."
Kind of moving on to the second point that I think has been a key to success in my world, is passion.
People say it all the time that, "you find your passion, you turn it into your profession," and it's cliché, but ultimately, I mean, I've loved baseball since – I think – I was five years old and I don't think I really realized that it was a career that I could work in until my teens or even twenties, but once you start to realize that what you're doing isn't work and that you're coming to the ballpark – in my case – every day and just truly love what I do, it changes everything and I can't imagine anybody wants to work a 60 or 70 or even 80-hour week in some industry that they hate.
I mean, it just makes it so much easier when you love what you're doing and that you're motivated by something every day when you come into the office.
You know, I think in my earlier years, one of the things I probably didn't realize was how different people are motivated by different things. Some people – it's money. Some people – it's title. Some people – it's responsibility, or some people – it's just truly the respect of their colleagues that's what motivates them more than anything else.
Early in my career, I probably thought more people were like me – motivated by the same things I'm motivated by – but I had an interesting interaction with coach, Bob Knight – like him or love him, some people can't stand the guy, but he certainly knew how to coach and had success – when he was the coach at Indiana and I went to IU, I remember he taught a class called Technique of Coaching Basketball.
I was fortunate enough to somehow get a spot in that class.
The first day of class he walks in and he says, "I'm going to teach you guys everything you need to know right now," and he picked on a kid.
There was maybe only 35-40 of us in the room, and he picked on a kid in the middle of the room who was a little heavy set, probably not the most athletic kid in the room. And he said, "okay, I'm going to have you walk over to the doorway over there. I want you to run and jump and try to touch as high as you can above the door."
So this kid kind of runs and his fingertips, kind of knick the top of the doorway and Coach Knight goes into his wallet, he takes out a $20 bill, he pins it up like two or three inches higher above the doorway and says, "if you can touch that twenty, it's yours."
And sure enough, the kid runs up and slaps the top of the doorway and hits the $20 bill. And he said, "it's really all about motivation."
When you're trying to find out what motivates somebody else, you have to actually get to know them. I don't think it can be a surface level relationship. That's how I would recommend finding it, is you get to know somebody. And when you hear that someone talks about what matters to them is, "just the respect of people believing in them," or to somebody else they talk about the things that they want, the travel they want to do, or the car they want.
I've always loved when people say that, "God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason and that you're supposed to listen twice as often as you speak." I'd say that's actually a challenge for me.
I'm a talkative guy. I come from a talkative family, and the old General Manager of the LA Dodgers – Ned Colletti – I remember telling me that when he goes through negotiations with somebody, it may be an hour long conversation with a particular agent, and he's trying to find the one nugget within that hour that helps him understand what is the motivating factor in this deal.
And so, I think that's really what it is. It's listening in those environments. It's picking up on nonverbal cues. It's understanding what's going on in people's lives, but I think it's a delicate balance.
I'm young for my position – because they're older than me, they're "old school." They're operating in a pre-social media world, so for probably the last 15 years, I've been that voice of change within baseball.
I think that by constantly pushing the envelope, sometime around 2006 or 2007 I think the reality hit that as the media world was changing, we had to change the way that we'd talk to our fans and so we kind of came up with a strategy that was a direct to fan approach, but I think as we looked around, the idea that you could talk directly to your fans – via social, via the internet, YouTube, you name it – we haven't been afraid to do those things and I often tell our staff, "I want us to make more mistakes, I want us to take more risks;" and we can't risk ruining our brand – we have to be pretty careful not to go too far, but I don't think there's anybody in our department of content and communications that is afraid to make a mistake.
I think they know that if they screw up, I'll still back them and ultimately I try every day to make sure that I'm actually hearing out the opinions of others, taking it into account and then figuring out how that can help our organization. That enables all of us to be willing to go out and try different things.
And then the last thing is really just about impacting other people.
Early in my career, I don't think I realized that the best part of this job is basically the impact that we have on the people around us and the simplest things we do; I can give a kid a baseball in batting practice and they're going to literally remember that for 25 years – "Remember that time I was down on the field and someone gave me a ball?" – or you can introduce someone to their hero or we can make a donation to a nonprofit.
When you think of the most important person in baseball history, it's Jackie Robinson and Jackie Robinson's always been my favorite quote of, "a life is not important except in the impact that has on other lives." And for him to have made that comment 70 years ago and have it still hold true almost a century later is pretty special.
So, when I think about what I aim to do here at the Diamondbacks, it's really about having an impact on the people that I work with every single day, first and foremost; but our President and CEO, Derrick Hall always says that, "the customer doesn't come first. The employee comes first, and that if we treat our employees in the best possible way, that they're going to in-turn treat our customers that way;" and in any industry, if you're truly thinking about your customer, that's what matters most.
I hope that if we're treating media members right or if we're treating employees right, that it's going to come across in the way that the world looks at the Diamondbacks.
Ultimately, when I think of what makes a good leader, it's being vulnerable and it's knowing that you're not always going to be right. I think the best story I can share as it relates to that is – our former Chief Baseball Officer, Tony La Russa, who's in the baseball hall of fame and one of the greatest managers of all time – and I remember shortly after he got here, within the first week or two; I remember we were walking through a parking lot somewhere and he stopped and he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, "if I'm going to do this job, I'm going to have to trust you, and you're going to have to trust me. And I need you to tell me when I'm doing something wrong, and I'm going to tell you when you're doing something wrong."
I think the one where he really helped me the most and I think opened my eyes was probably about five years ago or so, we were at a leadership retreat with our leadership team and we were going through exercises about where we can improve and what we can do better. And I remember he – completely unprovoked – wrote on a piece of paper, "empathy needs improving," and slid it across the table to me.
And I kind of laughed cause I've always known that one of the things I struggle with is being empathetic and making sure that I'm seeing things through other people's eyes – and that piece of paper is still sitting on my desk at Chase Field.
It's this ultimate reminder that if you are going to lead people, you have to understand what drives them, you have to be empathetic to what's going on in their lives.
You can't just be a slave driver like this is the 1950s.
Having people be honest with you about what your flaws are, is really helpful.
Being honest with other people in a nice way about how you can see them improve, I think is kind of one of the keys to being a decent leader.
And I think I've just been fortunate enough that over the years I've had people look at my work ethic, and look at my passion, and look at my interest in giving back, and see that as a valuable asset in somebody that they want to try to help grow in the organization.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
Let me start off by giving a big thank you to Josh Rawitch for coming on the show.
If you’d like to follow Josh on Twitter or Instagram, his handle is @JoshRawitch, but if you want to keep up with the Arizona Diamondbacks, you can read up on their team announcements by visiting dbacks.com/update or by giving them a follow using their handle @Dbacks.
Now, before I go into some of the practical ways you can apply Josh’s advice, I think it’s just as important to walk through what I call the “conditions” for making an impact.
The difference is – with impact conditions – you can’t afford to leave it to blind faith. By taking your time to review them, you’re able to elevate your mindset and maximize your potential.
The first big condition is that you agree to the opportunity cost of getting to the end game. This should be familiar if you’ve ever studied economics, but to keep it brief, opportunity cost is the "cost" of not enjoying the benefits associated with alternative choices.
No matter the size or scope of what you’re hoping to accomplish, there’s always going to be a cost, and more often than not, it’s going to take a lot more than you’d think. Whether that cost is time, money, comfort, or other opportunities, if you want to make your mark, you have to be mindful of where you draw the line on what you’re not willing to sacrifice.
Like Josh said, maybe it’s the time commitment, and you’re not okay with putting in more than 40 Hours a week. Maybe you’re not willing to pass up family game night. Or maybe you’ve got an ethical dealbreaker, like the ones I talked about with Chris Snook during our first season.
Whatever it is, you’ve got to be able to answer for yourself, and candidly, for other people in your life, where the ends don’t justify the means. Of course, you won’t be able to take a hardline stance on everything, but so long as you know what the most significant factors are, you won’t have to worry about compromising on the wrong things.
This goes hand in hand with condition number two, which reminds you that you need to wrap your head around what your world might look like after you make your mark. But that can be a balancing act. If you’re headstrong, you’re more likely to get rose-colored tunnel vision and ignore alternative outcomes in favor of premature action. On the other hand, if you’re extremely calculated, it’s possible that you’ll overthink the aftereffects to the point where your indecision cripples your ability to act.
Now, don’t take this the wrong way – I’m your #1 fan – but the best-case scenario isn’t necessarily the one that’s most likely. Just take a look around; we’re not living in a utopia. Things break. Pandemics happen. There are so many uncontrollable variables like environment and societal context that can change overnight, but you can’t let yourself get discouraged by what could happen.
There’s probably a hundred examples out there, but look at Dr. Pepper, Bubble Wrap, Playdoh, Listerine, and Post-It Notes. When you compare their intended purposes to how they’re used now, the difference is night and day. If you don’t know these stories, they’re worth reading, but here’s one worth hearing.
In 1989, a team of chemists set out to create a treatment for the chest pains commonly associated with Heart Disease. After months of compounding, they came up with a drug called Sildenafil, and in early trials, their pill was showing impressive results, but after their parent company got word of some overwhelming side effects, the higher ups decided to reposition their drug for a different use. So, after they filed the new use case and were approved by the FDA in ’98, the parent company – Pfizer – brought Sildenafil to market in the form of a little blue pill that they called Viagra, which has since generated tens of billions of dollars in revenue.
I’ll spare you the details on what it does because you’ve probably heard of it, but if you don’t know what it’s for, let’s just say that the original team of chemists probably weren’t expecting to have this type of longstanding impact.
Now setting aside that top shelf Dad-joke; this shows the importance of the second impact condition. If you overthink the risk of alternative outcomes, you could lose the chance to make a positive impact for others. Or on the flip side, if you only see the benefits, you risk resenting any impact other than the one you expected. That means you have to consider both sides of the impact potential without letting them outweigh your original intent.
Ultimately, when you’re clear on your intent and you’re mindful of the impact conditions, you’ll be able to see the forest for the trees. Because together, they create a link that unites hustle and heart; keeping you on track so that what drives your work ethic doesn’t get derailed.
So, what’re the best things that you can be doing right now?
Well, even though it’s going to sound like I’m ripping off a fortune cookie – the advice at the top of my list would be to do some soul searching to figure out what motivates you. Seriously. I’d even argue that there’s never been a better time for it than right now, because there’s always going to be something that gets in the way and keeps you from the answers. But if you take the time – right now – to figure out what motivates you and what can get you fired up every single day, you’ll be able to consistently play at the top of your game and have a basic understanding of how to identify what motivates others.
Now that introduces a really powerful idea that I don’t want to gloss over. For the longest time, coaches have said that being a part of a team takes sharing the same motivation, and that you need to rally behind the same cause. But that’s only half true, and it sets the wrong standard.
Even if you’re working as a team, you don’t need to adopt someone else’s motivation to make an impact. As Oscar Wilde once said, “be yourself, everyone else is taken.” By being in touch with what you’re passionate about, you’re able to help others on the team to find what drives them. Then, when every member of your team is authentically driven, the team is able to scale their effort for collective impact. So, whether you’re flying solo or you’re part of a team, you’ve got take the time to look within yourself to figure out what motivates you.
As for some ideas on building longevity into your work ethic – I think one of the best things you can do is invest some time into creating passive reminders that encourage you to keep hustling.
The only quasi-requirement is that your system reaffirms that you’re getting after it for a reason and that that reason is worth it. From there, the options are limitless.
You could post your favorite sayings in your home or above the door to your workspace. You could dedicate some time in your calendar to something that gives you a boost of energy. Or you could find and join a community – online or in person – that circulates content that elevates your mindset.
Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of over-repetitive systems, so for me, receiving the same quote at the same time every day wasn’t going to work. That’s why I created an automated system that randomly inserts a quote as a scheduled reminder in my work calendar. Only quotes that resonate with me are cycled in, and when they pop up, they remind me to stay on task.
To give you an example, here’s the one that flashed across my screen right before I started recording: “Everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to put the work in. You grind hard so you can play hard. It could be in a year; it could be in 30 years. Eventually, your hard work will pay off.” That’s one of my personal favorites from Kevin Hart, but I think I’ve got something like ten or twelve quotes in the rotation.
I liken this approach to putting your work ethic through a boot camp. The more you’re exposed to it, the stronger your work ethic will get, and over time, you’ll make hustle into a habit. So, find a system you want to try and set it up. There’s some trial and error involved, but once you find the one that works, it goes a long way.
Remember, success is not something you find, it’s something you forge. Every work of art started out as a sketch, every revolutionary invention started out as a prototype, and every pro athlete started out as a kid with a love for the game.
When you’re able to unite the right intent with an awareness of the impact conditions and a driven work ethic, you won’t have to wonder if you’re making a difference. You’ll know that it’s only a matter of time, and the only thing left to your imagination then, is how much good you can do for others.
If you heard something on today’s episode that you’d like to follow up with me on or you're looking for input on something a little bit different, feel free to submit your questions for a chance to be featured on an upcoming episode of Ignition Point. To submit a question, you can visit bit.ly/IgnitionPointAMA.
Again, I’d like to give a big thank you to Josh Rawitch for joining the show.
If you’re looking to connect with Josh or you need to track down any of the links mentioned in the episode, you can find them all in the Show Notes up at DecisiveLeap.com/IgnitionPoint.
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Well, that’s going to do it for this episode, so stay motivated and keep moving forward.
If you put in the hard work right now – one day – you could be the one motivating the world with your story.
I’ll look forward to speaking with you next time on another Ignition Point.
Now get on out there and win the week!