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Moneyball... Before Moneyball

Good morning innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.


This newsletter and podcast feature stories about the people – past, present and future – who change the world.  They make decisions and take actions enlivened by what I call The Entrepreneur’s Ethic.  The Entrepreneur’s Ethic infuses people, organizations and places where the future is created, and the world is made a better place.

One of the Entrepreneurs featured in my upcoming book, The Entrepreneur’s Ethic, is Ewing Kauffman. Kauffman founded Marion Laboratories, a pharmaceutical business, in Kansas City in 1950. By the 1980s, Marion was a billion-dollar business.

But a non-pharmaceutical piece of Kauffman’s legacy is in professional baseball, and this case study will dive into one of the most interesting experiments in professional baseball talent development in history, the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy. If you’re a fan of Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, or the movie of the same name with Brad Pitt playing Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane, you will very much enjoy this case study. Before Billy Beane, Ewing Kauffman was using similar concepts and concentrating his very entrepreneurial mindset on professional baseball.


There are seven parts of The Entrepreneur’s Ethic. Kauffman’s work exemplifies Ethic 7: Mentor in All Directions. This is the teaching and learning-orientation of entrepreneurship.


In the following weeks, we’ll dive into podcast interviews about the business of sports and where and how entrepreneurs have made an impact.


Good Reads







Three Things I Think (I Think)


Podcast episode 8 guest was filmmaker, Jon Housholder, who cited his favorite filmmaker as Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s most recent film, Oppenheimer, has created discussion about nuclear technology. I saw the film last weekend, and thought it was well-done and an engaging depiction of a talented, if complex, person of significant impact.


Nuclear fission is a significant technology for warfare but also for energy production. One destructive side and one constructive side. The proverbial two sides of the coin.


1.     I think every technology has both a destructive and a constructive side. Whether a technology that’s been around for a time like nuclear fission or one that’s more recent, say artificial intelligence, all technologies have two poles.

2.     I think every character trait has both a destructive and a constructive side. One of Ewing Kauffman’s superpower traits was mentoring and developing talent. Unfortunately, he let that talent get spread too thin in implementing the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy, or at least the resources he could spend on talent development were spread too thin, and he had to shut the fascinating experimental program down after three years. Yet the pieces of what he started with the academy were eventually picked up by the rest of professional baseball and beyond.

3.     I think every theory has both a destructive and a constructive side. Moneyball is now referred to, in places, as a theory. The idea is that data analytics can enable better competitive strategy per dollar invested whether baseball, another sport or business. Sometimes, sure. But sometimes over-reliance on data can cloud or block insights into the new, the unexpected, the untested and the surprising.


Fortunately, the positive poles or sides are stronger than the negative. That doesn’t mean that devastating nuclear war didn’t almost happen in the past (Cuban Missile Crisis 1962) or won’t happen in the future, but the calling to the good, the positive, the right, and the just is stronger in people.


Farm to My Table


Jackson Kimle and Matt Ellis from Midland Seafood have converted the horse barn on our acreage to shrimp production and they’ve begun harvests. Last weekend, we had a very short trip from farm to table. “Hyperlocal” says Jackson. About one hundred feet. Jackson’s wife, Sarah, prepared a shrimp boil that we enjoyed on the deck. Fresh. Shrimp. Is. Amazing!


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