There probably is no greater example of the power of teamwork than in sports. Placed in a competitive environment, winning and losing all lies in how well the players work together. Sports broadcaster Joel Goldberg knows this to be true. As a member of the Kansas City Royals television broadcast since 2008, serving as the host of every pre-game and post-game show on FOX Sports Kansas City, Joel is someone who has seen and learned the greatest lessons from being around championship teams. In this episode, he joins Rodney Flowers to share some of those with us as well as his career journey—from what he has encountered to where he is now. He talks about the beauty found in failing, becoming successful, building resilience, celebrating small victories, and more. He also shares some of the greatest stories in his career that have provided him valuable lessons on life. Join Joel and Rodney in this conversation as they discuss the ways we can build our legacy and also serve the world.
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Greatest Lessons From Sports Teams: On Failing, Success, And More With Joel Goldberg
I have Joel Goldberg in the studio with me. He has been a member of the Kansas City Royals television broadcast since 2008, serving as the host of every pre-game and post-game show on FOX Sports Kansas City. From the University of Wisconsin, he’s a graduate who has won a 2001 Mid–America Emmy for sports reporting and has covered multiple championship teams in Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He’s done a lot of other stuff, which we’re going to talk about. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and get Joel on the show. Joel, welcome to the show.
Rodney, it’s good to be with you. It’s good to be here on the show. Hopefully, we could do a little game-changing ourselves.
That’s what we do. We do a lot of game-changing around here and it all starts with mentality. I believe that we can change the game based on how we think of our mental state. When we change our mental state, we change our lives. You know all about that. I want to welcome you. Thank you for coming to the show. I’m excited about your experience in life as a sports broadcaster. As someone who has been that close to the game, I’m sure you’ve experienced a lot of things that have served you in your life being around that very competitive atmosphere. Being around championship teams in the areas of football and baseball, I’m sure that there’s a host of stories and experiences that you have that would be enlightening. I want to dive into your career, about what you’ve encountered in and where you are now. I want to get into what you’re doing, how you’re serving the world, what you’re out there contributing these days. I’m excited to have you here.
It’s great to be with you. I‘m excited about this because I’ve had this long career in sports. The first thing I want to say is that, at best, on a good day, I was a mediocre athlete. That might be generous to the younger me. I wasn’t a good athlete. I loved sports as much as anyone. What I knew early on that once I got past the dream of any kid who loves sports of, “One day, I want to play in the Major Leagues or hit the game-winning shot.” Once I realized I wasn’t good enough to hit any game-winning shot, what I did know all along and certainly when I hit that point was that I love to talk about it. What I didn’t know back then before I seriously pursued this dream is what would come from it.Just because you spend the most money doesn't guarantee that you are going to win or be the most successful. Click To Tweet
It’s an interesting observation that you made in the introduction or in the first question about being around champions and being able to learn from them. There are so many lessons learned in locker rooms in team atmospheres. That doesn’t have to be true in a sports sense. To me, a locker room is an office and a group of people who are trying to win at something. It happens to be a game that we watch. Getting the right mix of people, not just talent, finding that right mix and having the right habits leads to championships in sports that are measured by wins and losses, but it translates to any walk of life. We say in sports all the time, it’s chemistry.
I like to say that I’m building a team around me. That starts with my significant other and family. Families are team organizations. They are teams within a team within a team. Especially now, with so much around collaboration and working together, the world has gotten so much smaller where you can reach out to someone in a different country and you can be working together on a project. They don’t have to be right next to you. The idea of working in teams and working together with people. You talked about chemistry, which could lead to culture, comradery and all of these things that make up a team. You’ve seen it in sports several times. The Washington Redskins is the example that I’m going to use in this analogy.
The Washington Football Team.
Let’s do it that way. There were the Redskins at that time, but the Washington Football Team. I remember when they were buying players seemingly as to what they were doing. They were after the highly popular guys. They got them. They could afford them. They put them all together, but they didn’t win. That goes to show that it’s more than just talent. It’s those intangibles that are needed in order to win a championship. I can’t agree with you more.
It’s a great point because we see it all the time in sports and business. Just because you spend the most money doesn’t guarantee that you are going to win or be the most successful. With that said, it always helps to have more money. I’m not much of a gambler but who has the best chance of winning big at the casino? It’s probably the ones who come in with the biggest bankroll. It doesn’t mean they’re going to win, but they’re going to stay in the game longer.
What I always like to say about anyone in the situation like you mentioned with Washington or name the team and other sports. Baseball is a great example because they don’t have a salary cap, they just have a luxury tax. The big market teams like the Yankees and Dodgers have a higher credit limit. “We spent $60 million, $80 million, $100 million, $200 million on a guy and it didn’t work out. We’ll go spend on someone else.“ Whereas the smaller market teams have to get it right because if it doesn’t work on that $100 million purchase, they don’t have a whole lot of money left to spend. That’s interesting to me because it forces those smaller markets to have a little bit more of a sense of having to get the little things right and pay more attention to chemistry, culture and team building. They have to find other competitive advantages.
We can throw this out there to anybody. You don’t even have to be a big baseball fan. I don’t know what your level of interest in baseball is. Who’s the most storied number one franchise in baseball, if not all sports, in the United States? The New York Yankees. The last time they won a World Series was in 2001. Think about that. It’s been many years. The Los Angeles Dodgers can spend with the best of anyone. They won their first World Series in 1988. Money, as you’re talking about, going and buying something, we all like to buy a lot of nice things. It’s that old, “Money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness.” In this case, money doesn’t guarantee success. It helps, but there are a lot of other things that you have to get right.
You talked about those smaller markets that have to get it right. We can bring that back to individuals like you and me or organizations. We only have one life and it’s important that you get it right during this lifetime.
We’re going to get it wrong a lot of times, too and that’s okay. When you talk about game–changer and resilience, we are all going to get it wrong at certain times. That’s the way that it is. I wanted to see if I could call up a quick quote. We lost Henry Aaron, who to me was the greatest living legend in all of baseball. If he wasn’t number one, he was number two. It was either him or Willie Mays. When you add in everything that he did with civil rights and everything else in this world, it was well beyond baseball. By the way, he became the home run champion passing the greatest name in the history of baseball, Babe Ruth.
He did so among hundreds, if not thousands of death threats in the Deep South. The quote that I found from him that I saw after his death and the one that resonated with me the most was, “Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life, but failure will never send you in the wrong direction.“ I think I’m getting a little of that wrong then, but I got the front half of that right. “You learn from your mistakes.” What he said was, “It’s not failure. It’s success if you learn from it.“ I messed up the end of that quote. There’s a beauty in failing, too. There’s a necessity in failing and it‘s a matter of what you do with it to make this life so good.
I truly believe that. I believe you win or you learn. That’s it. There is no losing. That’s not part of the vocabulary. That fear of failure paralyzes a lot of people at times so they won’t take the necessary steps because, “If I fail, what does that mean?” There’s a story around what it means to not get it right to fall short. They don’t want to live that story for whatever reason. The story is a little misguided. It’s missing some pieces. It’s missing the learning experience and the details that you gain from going through that experience, which makes failure worthwhile. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Fail fast, fail early.“ Why? It’s because you can go ahead and get those lessons.
You have to pay attention to it, too. You have to be in the moment. Failure is never fun. No one wants to fail. You’re an entrepreneur. I’m an entrepreneur. You’re a speaker. You know that there is a cycle to having success and failure. You have hot streaks and cold streaks. I always sit there and tell myself, “I’m on a bit of a cold streak. It is a result of having been focused on releasing a book that came out.” I was paying attention to different things. As I’m going through trying to bust out of the slump in the same way that an athlete does and putting in the extra work, you have to have a belief in yourself.
You have to have a belief in the process and what you’re doing is right and also an understanding and taking stock of everything you’re doing. “Is this right?“ Not in a self-doubt way, but in an analytical way. “Am I doing things the right way? If I’m not, if this isn’t working, then let’s re–evaluate and do what it takes to amend that process because times change.” The rest of that quote is, “Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life, but failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.” Those were the words of the late Henry Aaron. Those words apply to a baseball player, a CEO, an entrepreneur, a garbage man, a father or a politician. Anyone in any walk of life, those are powerful words.
Joel, I see that you’ve built a 25–year career developing and maintaining strong relationships with professional athletes, coaches and team managers. What are some of the stories and maybe some of the lessons that you’ve learned from being in those types of relationships?
The first thing I would say is it took me a while to learn those lessons. The good news is that those lessons were all happening but like anybody when you’re young, you’re so trying to get everything right and perfect. You don’t want to stumble and say the wrong words. “Am I looking at the camera the right way,“ and on and on that sometimes you forget to take off the blinders and observe what’s going on. It took me a lot of years to understand the importance of relationships as a broadcaster. In my role, certainly with the Kansas City Royals and before that, as a reporter for local news stations and being in locker rooms and all that. What they never taught us in school and I don’t know if business or even medical school, nursing or law school is how often are we taught the relationship part of it?Money doesn't guarantee success. It helps, but there are a lot of other things that you have to get right. Click To Tweet
We’re taught how to do everything. “Here’s how to be a broadcaster. Here’s how to write. Here’s how to set up the camera and lights and do audio. Here’s how to be a podcaster.” They weren’t doing that when I was young. We have all the here-to guides, tutorials, manuals, textbooks and all that type of stuff and then you go and try to fine–tune your craft. Unless you’re a total natural at it, most of us aren’t, it takes a long time. No one ever said, “Here’s how you build a relationship.” I have a million stories but what I came to learn over time was when you treat athletes or fill in the blank to whatever profession you’re in. I try to make everything I do not about how to be a broadcaster because most people will never get that opportunity. It’s a unique circumstance. It’s how you connect with people in whatever you do.
When you treat everyone else who’s in your world or who you come into contact like a normal human being, no matter who they are and what they do, the way that you would treat your neighbor or friend, it’s amazing how far that goes. Many people will walk in to say, “I’ll put it this way.” Think about your favorite Hollywood superstar, favorite musician or favorite athlete. If you were to bump into them in the lobby of a hotel or at someplace, would you go, “Look at who it is. That’s Michael Jordan. That’s George Clooney?” Would you walk up and say, “Michael, I don’t mean to bother you, but I just want to say I’m a big fan and you’ve impacted my life. It’s great to meet you?”
If I were to walk down the street in the first time, I would meet you and we’ve never met face-to-face, I would say, “Rodney, what’s going on? It’s great to meet you finally in person. Nice to meet you.” If we didn’t know each other, “I’m Joel. Hi, Rodney. It’s good to meet you.” We forget to do that sometimes with people who we put on a pedestal. It’s in us to make people bigger than they are. Are these the greatest athletes in the world? Yes. Most of us can’t do what they do, but there are things that I could do that they can’t do.
What I found out was that when you start treating people normally, they respond normally. Anyone who‘s famous or even someone like me, people know me in Kansas City and they don’t know me outside of Kansas City, when you’re in the spotlight, people like to give you stuff. It‘s funny because the big–time celebrities, superstar athletes, actors and musicians don’t need anything. I’m not in that category, by the way but they make all the money in the world. They don’t need anything, but people give them free stuff all the time. They like that. They’re spoiled by that. What they don’t like is when it’s uncomfortable.
I’ll finish the thought with this one. Sometimes I’m going around the stadium and trying to go from point A to point B. I’m out here doing a report in the outfield and then I’m going to hear people will stop and sometimes they’ll shake my hand and, “How is it going?” That’s great. In other times, I’ll be walking down the concourse and I’ll hear, “That’s Joel Goldberg.” I’ll look in. If they’re feet away, I’m like, “I hear you. Now, what do I do? Hi.“ It’s awkward. When you treat people normally, it goes a long way.
I want to park here for a second, Joel. The reason why I want to park here is because this is a critical and crucial conversation around many people and their dreams. I’ve met so many people who have a dream of, “I want to play at the highest level. I want to do this. I want to be an actress. I want to go to Hollywood.” They have someone who they idolize. They have someone who is a role model for them. They loved them but the thought of them accomplishing what this person has accomplished is okay for that person, but not okay for them like, “They can do that, but can I do that? No, I would never.“
It seems that they defeat themselves before they even get started. “There’s no way I can ever do that.” Maybe you won’t, but you haven’t even given it a shot yet. You’re not defeated by your lack of talent or not having the opportunity. You’re defeated from the beginning because you don’t even think that there is a remote possible chance. I have a problem with that for a couple of reasons. I believe that even if you are right and you don’t make it to the place they are, even if it’s one step further than where you are, it was worth the effort but to say, “I will never be that and because I would never be that, I’m not going to even try to be that.“
When you see a person wherever they are, let’s say Michael Jordan. He’s at the peak of the mountain. He sitting on the tip but there‘s a lot of success from where he started all the way to the tip. The pursuit to do something like with Michael Jordan or any other person has done puts you in the possibility of experiencing some of, if not all of those successes that’s between where you are and where you want to go. When you say, “I can’t do it because I don’t see myself sitting at that peak,“ then you’re negating all possibilities between point A and point B.
There’s a couple of thoughts here. One is the fact, “Don’t you want to know that you tried? Don’t you want to give it everything you have?” Most of us will never be Michael Jordan. Most of us may never play in the NBA or the Major Leagues, but don’t let anybody tell you no. I remember I had a guidance counselor in high school that as I was applying for college has told me that I had gone to high school in the Chicago area. A lot of the kids went to the University of Illinois, a state school and a good school. She said, “You can’t get in there.” I never applied. That worked out for me well because I fell in love with Wisconsin. I can’t imagine having been anywhere else, but I always thought about her.
I remember her name. I don’t know if she’s alive. I wouldn’t know if I’d walked by her on the street. It’s been that many years, but it always bugged me when I thought back at it like, “I just let that go so easily?” I’m glad it ended up being something that wasn’t a passion of mine. The greater story, at least in my world, is getting into broadcasting, which is by no means like making it to the NFL or Major League Baseball, but the odds are thin. I tell people all the time and I make up these numbers, but you get the point from them. Let’s say, there are 10,000 kids coming out of college across the country in 1994 all the way back when I did. Of those 10,000, only 100 are going to get jobs on TV because that’s what’s going to be available over the next year.
I was one of them. I wasn’t better than anybody else. You have your prodigies. You have people in every field who haven’t figured out right from the beginning. That’s hard to do without a lot of life experience. That’s a natural talent, but most of us have to work hard to get it. I knew so many people that I would bump into over the years when I was on TV. I’d be visiting a city doing a game and bump into somebody that I had a television class with at Wisconsin or something like this, “How are you doing? It‘s good. I’m successful or whatever they would say in marketing, PR or whatever profession. I wish I’d given it a shot on TV. You look like you’re having so much fun. You look like you love it.”It's in us to make people bigger than they are. Click To Tweet
I have no idea whether I’ve made more money or less money than them. Probably at that point early in my career, I guarantee you they made more money because I’ll make it anything at the start but I was never second–guessing myself. I second–guess myself all the time. That’s a bit of that impostor syndrome. That’s that voice in your head. We all have it. The best of us know how to recognize what that is and not let it be debilitating. If I had walked away from television, I would have spent my whole life wondering what would have happened. I have no what-ifs at this point. Maybe I took some wrong turns. At some point, maybe I took some right turns. I don’t know, but I ended up where I wanted to be, even if I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. I know I went about it the right way.
Were the odds against me? Yes. I felt like every TV station in the country said no to me. When I got my last rejection from a TV station in Missoula, Montana, it wasn’t the last one, but that was the one that was like, “Here I am sitting in my parents’ house in suburban Chicago. I can’t get a job in Montana. Where am I going?“ I started knocking on doors, driving around the country and introducing myself on my own. The next thing you know they were lined up trying to hire me. I wasn’t better than anybody else around me. I wanted it more than everybody else.
I guess that would be the one thing I have in common with Michael Jordan. It would be like the, “Keep shooting and shooting. Kobe Bryant has all done that.” They outworked everybody else. They also happen to have the talent to be better than everyone else. That’s why they ended up being the greatest of all time. Greatest talent and work ethic is a combination that very few have. I don’t have that talent that everybody else has, but I was willing to work at it and build those relationships in those locker rooms over time. Those relationships started.
This is what happened. I finally was like, “I’m not going to realize my dream here.“ This was pre-internet. Email has just started. There was a little bit of website action but not much. You did have to pick up the phone. I started cold calling TV stations, randomly. I hate cold calling. The conversation would go like this every time. I’d ask the receptionist who the news director was. They’d give me the name. I’d say, “Thank you,” and hung up. I’d wait ten minutes. Somehow they might not recognize my voice again if that mattered or not. I’d ask for the news director and talk or leave a message saying, “I’m passing through Terre Haute next week or Peoria, Illinois or Rochester, New York. Binghamton, New York,” or all over the place.
Smaller, not big markets. “I‘m going to be in town next week from Wednesday or two weeks from Thursday. Are you around by any chance? If you are, I’d love to pop by, shake a hand and drop off a tape.“ “Yes, I‘ll be here. Come on by.” “What’s a good time?“ “2:00.” “Great. I guess I’m driving to Binghamton now.“ I wasn’t planning on going to any of those places, but suddenly, I had the face-to-face and I was building these early relationships. They didn’t have openings, but once they did, I moved to the front of the line. It’s a way of figuring out how can you outwork or out–strategize others to give yourself that opportunity so you don’t regret it later in life.
You built a relationship. There was a connection made there. They got to know you. They‘ve seen that you had taken an unorthodox approach to meet with them and get out there. That carried weight as well. That said a lot about you. “I liked this guy. He has taken this type of approach. Let’s see what he’s got. Maybe let’s see if he can work for us.” There’s something to be said about that.
One other thought I had. I’ve never thought about it this way and I’ve told that story many times. I think about it in terms of the way I try to go about my business now. We always hear about adding value to others. I’m guilty of this. Sometimes we sit there and say, “Am I giving anything?“ Those television news directors in smaller markets where they have some turnover and they’re constantly looking for the next person that they can rely on, it’s hard to do that sometimes when you’re just looking at a tape. Nowadays, it might be a reel on YouTube or whatever it is. I wanted to build a relationship, but I wasn’t thinking about it like this at the time.
I might have made their job a little bit easier because when it came to searching through stacks I’d see on their desks, they’d have stacks of tapes up to the ceiling back when we have tapes. They were getting stuff from kids coming out of college every day. That could be overwhelming. You’re not going to get to all of that stuff. I might have helped make their job a little bit easier in that search, too. What can you do? You want to benefit yourself ultimately, but what can you do to help others? That goes a long way. It makes an impression on others.
I want to get back to the Michael Jordan story. I agree with you so much that you may not be the next Michael Jordan if there’s someone out there reading this that has that goal and dream. I feel like that’s okay because there’s no way you can be Michael Jordan. We’ve already had Michael Jordan. We don’t need another Michael Jordan. That story will live forever, but we need the next Joel Goldberg. We need the next Rodney Flowers. We need the next whatever your name is. Put your name in that. That’s what we need. It may not be the same. It doesn’t have to be as Michael Jordan. It is what it is, but it’s not even so much being the next Michael Jordan. It’s having that level of impact, influence and inspiration.
If we’re striving for that instead of striving to be someone who’s had a great experience in life there, our possibilities are even greater because you don’t have to do the exact thing that he did in order to be impactful. Do your play. I believe in playing your game. If you got to get out on the field and run a route the way Emmitt Smith ran it because that’s the way Emmitt Smith ran it, then you’re not going to be able to do that because you’re not Emmitt Smith. You got to run the route the way you run the route.When you start treating people normally, they respond normally. Click To Tweet
That takes a long time. I used to find myself all the time from a TV standpoint comparing myself to all my competition. I can remember before I got to Kansas City, I worked in St. Louis from about ‘98 through ’07. I remember watching the other TV stations and thinking about some guys who have gone onto big roles. A guy named Matt Weiner was one of my competitors. He’s on NBA TV now and has been for years. I remember I used to watch him and be like, “He’s smoother than me at this. He’s better at that.” It used to stop me and slow me down a little bit because I would sit there and be like, “I wish I was better.“ There came a point where I was battling against myself. That doesn’t mean I get it right all the time, but I have enough confidence in myself now to understand when I don’t get it right that it’s okay. I’m not going to be perfect, but I know how to handle it when I don’t get it right.
You mentioned about being yourself and being the next Michael Jordan or not and it got me thinking about a cool story that I watched over the years here in Kansas City. I wrote about it. The Royals had a player for the last fourteen seasons by the name of Alex Gordon. Alex Gordon is the only player that was left on the team until he retired. That was here when I got here in ’08. He was drafted in the first round of 2006. He was the second overall in the country. An all-American, top–college player in the country, they drafted him. He’s from Lincoln, Nebraska, which is Kansas City Royals territory. It’s a little over three hours from here in Kansas City.
His family used to come in once or twice a summer and sit in the upper deck and go to games. His brother was named after George Brett, the legendary Hall of Fame third baseman. His brother’s name is Brett. They were a Royals family. He got drafted by the Kansas City Royals as a third baseman. Who were they comparing Alex Gordon to the moment he was drafted and every moment after that through the Minor Leagues and when he got here? He was going to be the next George Brett. It’s tough for anybody to be considered the next of a guy who was the greatest in franchise history.
In 2010, he was struggling and they sent him to the Miners. They converted him from third base to left field. We didn’t think a whole lot of it other than the fact that this guy who was supposed to be a superstar was demoted. I hope he figured some things out. He came back to be the greatest left fielder of his generation. The numbers will bear that out. He is the poster child for the organization. If you are a Minor League outfielder, this is the way you go about your work. This is the way that you prepare. This is the way that you play left field. This guy won Gold Glove after Gold Glove as the best left fielder in baseball every single year and he retired.
When that happened, I reached out to about fifteen guys who used to play with them or knew him well. I got all these comments that I shared on TV and all this type of stuff. I wrote about one of them and what Mike Sweeney said. Mike Sweeney was a veteran player. He’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. He was one of those veterans in the clubhouse when Alex Gordon got here. Now, he works for the organization in an advisory role. He said to me, “The kid who showed up as the next George Brett became the first Alex Gordon.” It’s exactly what you were talking about being yourself.
In society, you have to be careful with that because that’s what society does. Society is greedy. They want the next Michael Jordan. They’re looking to compare whoever’s great. They’re looking to see who is the next great person coming in. LeBron James was a great example of that. Unfortunately, he is still being compared to Michael Jordan, even to this day. He has his own legacy. Whether he’s better or not, that’s debatable. I guess it depends on who you are.
It’s a fun debate. It depends on when you grew up and how old you are. It is what it is. I’m old enough where there’s no question it‘s Michael Jordan.
I’m the same way. I feel like there will never be a better player than Michael Jordan for whatever reason, but it doesn’t take anything away from LeBron. LeBron is a great player. He has stats that are better than Michael Jordan.
It doesn’t matter what you and I think. That’s fun for us to do. It’s not something he should do.
You get into dangerous water when you start because it was an unnecessary pressure for him. It was unfortunate he had to deal with that. It showed in his game, too. You could see where LeBron came into his own. He got to that point where, “I’m LeBron. I’m not Michael Jordan. I’m going to play my game.” He flourished after that. It’s just that a lot of people feel like, “I got to go be the next this or that.” A true story, I’ll tell you and this is funny to me. I had a mentor who said, “You’re the next Les Brown.” I don’t know if it was because I was Black or whatever. I was like, “The next Les Brown?” “Yes, you’re the next Les Brown.”
I’m not going to say the name of the guy who told me that. It’s flattery, but I’m not taking that on. Look at what Les Brown has done. I’m not saying I can’t do that, but that’s Les Brown’s legacy. He owns that. That’s his. I want to be whatever comes out to be a Rodney Flowers. I’m going to do the best that I can be the greatest, I can be and be the best version of me. That’s it, but I’m not going to go, “I want to be like Les Brown.” That’s not my game.
If you’re paying attention, you could take something from everyone. All of us should be able to take something from Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Les Brown, Rodney Flowers or whoever it is. If you‘re paying attention, you can learn something to add to your repertoire or tool belt. If you’re paying attention, there are always things that you can do to get better, but that doesn’t mean you need to be them. It means you can learn from them what you do by paying attention and figuring out what works and not. You take all this and put it into the blender and it comes out to be you. We all should have those influences in our lives.Whoever it is, there should be an opportunity to learn from everyone you come into contact with. Click To Tweet
To me, if you’re paying attention, those influences come when you’re going up and down the hallway or saying hi to the parking lot attendant. Whoever it is, there should be an opportunity to learn from everyone you come into contact with. Sometimes it’s not always good. Sometimes it’s bad. “I wouldn’t do it that way. Maybe I should try it that way.” That doesn’t mean you’re trying to be them. It just means that you’re taking a piece from them and you’re growing.
All of these athletes and everyone that we would look up to is an example of what’s possible. That’s how we look at it. It’s an example of what’s possible for you because they did it. They’re human. Maybe they have different backgrounds, opportunities and experiences, but that’s okay. There are variables in everything, but they still made it. Michael Jordan, Kobe and even Les Brown, you name it, there were situations and circumstances that could have stifled their development. It could have prevented them from getting where they are.
It could have been excuses that would have held them back if they allowed it to, but they overcame all of that and still were able to rise to a high level and a human. That means that’s available for me. If they can get over extenuating circumstances and do away with the excuses and still make it, then why can’t I do that? That’s what I take away from these guys. That’s what I take away from people like you and other athletes. There is no excuse. We can all get there in our own right if we choose to use these as examples and move forward with the pursuit.
I always say, “Find little victories and celebrate them, too.“ Sometimes the victory is taking a positive step. I’m not a big New Year’s resolution guy, but I take a stock of things. It‘s goal–setting and all that. It’s trying to find a little bit more structure and discipline when I do something, whether it be sticking to a little bit more of a schedule with working out or making sure that I’m carving out time every day to do a little prospecting and business development. When I’m able to accomplish something like that, I want to take note of it. We all want to take that giant step from here to the end. What is the end? It’s all part of the journey. You just try to get better. There are going to be steps backwards, too. That’s part of everything we talked about with failure. Am I moving the needle in the right direction? Those are the little things.
I’m better at what I do, what I know and what I have to share with others on people’s shows and hopefully, ask better questions on my show now than I was before the pandemic started with new perspectives or listening to other people. There are ways. I love this one. One of my colleagues and fellow announcer always says that when a guy is in a slump in baseball, “You’re 0 for 4. You’re 0 for 20 the last five days.” Can you do something to help your team?
Maybe you didn’t get a hit. Maybe in basketball, you didn’t score. In football, maybe you didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Did you do something that helped the team? Did you do something positive that when your head hits the pillow at night and say, “I did that?” It might be a small little thing. It might be being on the bench in sports and firing up your teammates and contributing that way. It might be putting your arm around someone and helping them out and saying, “I’m having a crappy day, but I made that person‘s day better.“ Those are the little victories that add up to me over time.
Any way to change the game, you got to have the mindset of a game–changer.
There are a lot of ways to change the game and it doesn’t all have to show up on the scoreboard.
This is a full circle back to what we started talking about, which is the team and the locker room. It’s asking yourself, “Who are you going to be in the locker room?” It‘s great when you’re scoring, your stats are up and you’re increasing your value as an individual player but when that’s not happening, who are you in the locker room? Who are you off the field? Who are you when your teammates need you? If the other guys are getting all the publicity, play and time and you’re not getting that record, who are you then? What type of player are you at that point in time?
That’s important. We talk about, “Don’t compare yourself to others, but be good to others.” I don’t mean being nice. I mean, “What can you do to make other people’s lives better?” That’s your teammates. That’s your clients. Sometimes it could even be your competitors. It’s amazing what happens when you put it out there in the world. I don’t know if I believe in karma or not. I don’t know what I believe. I just believe in doing the right thing.
That doesn’t mean I do it every time or I don’t miss that. I missed plenty. I’m proud of the fact that most people seem to view me as a good guy, a humble guy and someone who goes about things the right way. I know we can’t please everyone. You can’t sit there and fret over pleasing every single person because you’re always going to have detractors. Are you proud of the way you go about your business? Are you proud of the way that you take care of your family and others? When you take care of those things, people are going to take care of you, too. It goes a long way.
When I think about it, you know it deep down inside. All you got to do is look in the mirror. You don’t need to find someone who agrees with you. You know if you’re giving it 100% or not. You know if you’re being real or not. I have this thing about authenticity. A lot of people say, “Be authentic. Be your real self.” That’s okay. I get it. I believe that being authentic is more than just being your real self. It‘s being real with yourself.
That’s sometimes hard to do because we can trick ourselves a little bit. We’re all guilty of it. It’s very easy to justify out of convenience. Talk yourself into something or out of something. You made a good point there, too. You may tell yourself otherwise, but those are deep thoughts right there.Find little victories and celebrate them, too. Click To Tweet
Joel, it’s a great conversation. I’m glad to have you on the show. How can people connect with you if they wanted to reach out or learn more about you?
There are a few ways. I’m all over the place on social media. I wish all the handles were the exact same, but they’re easy to find. My Twitter is @GoldbergKC. My Instagram is @JoelGoldbergKC. If you search for Joel Goldberg KC or Goldberg KC, you‘re going to find those. Those are the two that I’m on the most. My website is, JoelGoldbergMedia.com. My YouTube page is, Joel Goldberg. My Facebook page is Joel Goldberg Media. The show is called Rounding The Bases. It’s all about business, baseball life, leadership and telling other people’s stories. That’s on iTunes and all those places. It’s all that and then I do a ton of keynote speaking in that world that you live in as well. It’s a good spot to go for the website.
Thank you for that. I’m looking forward to going on your show. I love the title, Rounding The Bases. That’s what we were talking about here. We talked about being real with yourself and knowing whether or not you’re giving it your all, showing up and all of those things. I’m looking forward to that. This was awesome. There were a lot of nuggets in this show. Thank you for sharing and being so open with us. I appreciate it.
We’ll turn the tables when you come on. I’ll ask the questions and you’ll answer them. I’m like you. It’s all organic. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but it‘s fun for my show. I ask every guest three baseball–themed questions, but they’re just about whatever your profession is. “What’s the biggest home run you’ve hit in your life? What’s the biggest swing and miss you’ve taken and what did you learn from it?“ We’ve talked about a lot of that now in some ways. The third baseball–themed question is, “What is the small ball? What are the little things that add up to the big things?“ I could say that in your vernacular pertaining to this show, “What are the little things that add up to changing the game?” It’s the way that I would say it. That’s what my book was about, Small Ball Big Results. It’s what I was talking about, “What can you do every single day to help move the needle in the right direction?“
When you wake up in the morning, every single day, that’s the focus. You get down to the field one yard at a time. You come home in baseball one base at a time. I believe in winning the day. I want to go, “Can I get a ten?“ I just want to get to a first down. I don’t have to have the 65–yard run. I don’t have to have the 85–yard pass for a touchdown. Can we go 10 yards? If we can consistently go 10 yards, that’s called progress.
I like the football analogy. I tend to end up dealing with a lot of sports analogies with what I do and I don’t have to. I covered the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and all those guys. They certainly could go 90 yards, but they also were capable of just 3, 4 or 5 yards at a time and little by little. When you go about things right that way, sometimes those 80–yard completions, home runs, grand slams, bases–clearing doubles, or buzzer-beater shots, they happen. They do. It’s amazing how many times I’ve heard over my career players say, “I wasn’t even trying to hit a home run.”
You got there before I could. It was beautiful. It happened because you were in that repetition of doing the small things right. One of the players I admire in sports is Tim Duncan. What I admire about him is he was a master at the fundamentals, the small things, the little things. It made him such a great player. There’s nothing fancy or extravagant about him, but every night, every game he would consistently give you his shots and blocks. He would do everything well and you can count on him. Grand slams, home runs, 85–yard passes, dashes for 65 yards down the field, they’re far and few in between. They don’t always win the game. It’s the consistency of doing the little things will. That’s what can guarantee success. You can go into any situation. If you know you have those fundamentals down, you know you can get through about anything.
I liked the Tim Duncan thought, too. First off, he’s one of the greatest players of all time. Certainly, he’s one of the greatest players of his generation. He did all the fundamentals well. What also backs up or magnifies what you were saying is that those little things were so true because he was such a quiet–under–the–radar personality. That gets us back to what we talked about. He didn’t try to be Shaquille O’Neal or Charles Barkley, two of the greatest and most entertaining personalities to this day. I’m not even a huge NBA fan. It’s what I believe is the best show on television. Certainly, it’s the best sports show on TNT because of those personalities.
That show also has Kenny Anderson who’s a little bit more understated. That show has Ernie Johnson Jr. who’s the traffic cop. That‘s more of the role that I have in baseball on a smaller level and it all meshes well together. Tim Duncan was along with everything that made him great on the court. He was quiet, stoic and himself. He wasn’t trying to sit there and say, “Look at all the attention Shaq is getting,“ or, “Look at all the attention of whoever else it was getting.” He was comfortable being who he was and he did it well.
There’s a lot that can be said for that. Like I said, those guys are examples of what’s possible. Joel, thanks again for coming to the show. This has been amazing. I’m glad to have you here. Before we end the show, we always ask our guests this one final question. How can we bounce back from adversity, dominate our challenges and consistently win at the game of life?There are a lot of ways to change the game. It doesn't all have to show up on the scoreboard. Click To Tweet
We talked about some of it, but I’ll frame it this way. There will be setbacks and steps backward, but there’s always room to go forward. For me, it’s saying, “No matter what I put out there every single day, it’s understanding that I’m not going to be perfect. If it doesn’t work, get back up and do it again tomorrow and the next day.” Don’t be so hard on yourself. Hold yourself to a high standard, but none of us are perfect. I’ve got my slumps. I was hosting over 300 shows per summer at a normal, non–pandemic baseball a year, pre-game and post-game. There were some days where I was like, “The words aren’t coming out of my mouth right. What the heck is wrong with me?” I’ve come to believe in myself to understand, “I’m good at this. That kept me around long enough. I must be doing something right.” If I have a bad day, move on. That’s it.
We talked about the little things adding up to the big things. I’ll plug it one more time, Small Ball Big Results. That’s what I wrote about. No one that I wrote about in that book, which is a combination of baseball, business and life from entrepreneurs to amazing overcoming adversity type of stories, none of them got there in a straight line. None of them got there saying, “This is what I want to be. This is where I got.” It comes with setbacks every single day. Alex Gordon is a perfect example of that. He never got drafted expecting to be a Gold Glove all-star left fielder, but he figured it out and adjusted. “Life will throw you curveballs.” That’s a good baseball term. You just got to keep getting back up and growing from it.
Ladies and gentlemen, Joel Goldberg. Thanks for coming to the show. I enjoyed the conversation. Please let us know how we can support you, Joel. I love what you do. You’re a great guy. I appreciate you coming on the show.
The feeling is mutual. Rodney, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to having you on mine.
There you have it, folks. It was another successful episode of the Game Changer Mentality show. There are a lot of nuggets in this show, a ton of them. It comes down to being willing to stay in the game and not compare yourself, playing your own game and not the game of your idol, using those people you idolize or you look up to as examples, but creating your own legacy, carving your own path and doing it your way. We need you. That’s the thing. Until next time, peace and love.
- Kansas City Royals
- FOX Sports Kansas City
- @GoldbergKC – Twitter
- @JoelGoldbergKC – Instagram
- Joel Goldberg – YouTube
- Joel Goldberg Media – Facebook
- Rounding The Bases – Apple Podcasts
- Small Ball Big Results
About Joel Goldberg
A native of suburban Philadelphia and Chicago, Joel Goldberg has been a member of the Kansas City Royals television broadcast since 2008, serving as the host of every pregame and postgame show on FOX Sports Kansas City.
The University of Wisconsin graduate won a 2001 MidAmerica Emmy for sports reporting and has covered multiple championship teams in Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
Joel built a 25-year career developing and maintaining strong relationships with professional athletes, coaches, and team management and he now shares those stories and strategies with companies and associations that live on stage and these days virtually.
He’s hosted a weekly podcast called Rounding The Bases the last two years and added a daily live video podcast when the pandemic started focusing on leadership during these times.
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