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Startup lessons from Moneyball

February 13, 2012

Couple of days ago I was reading an article I stumbled upon and the author urged the readers to watch the movie “Moneyball” before continuing to read it.

I’ve watched the movie and although the movie by itself was good, it has certain “lessons” which are helpful not only when it comes to Baseball, but also in Running a startup. Yeah, there’s a relation! It’s not about baseball, its about data.

Here’s my pick from the list.

This post is more for my own reference. I need to read this over and over so I’m posting it in my blog.

1. He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks, he’s great at playing the part.

Recruiting your first team is not necessarily about passing the eye candy test. You need to choose people who can actually DO the job, rest is secondary. Get good at seeing talent where others don’t!

2. You’re not solving the problem. You’re not even looking at the problem.

Look at the problem, identify the source and set that right. Focus on that.

3. We’ve got to think differently.

Startups work under constraints, big, unfair constraints! You cannot beat your competitor who is well established and super-funded, you’ve got to think different keeping the budget constraints in mind.

4. First job in baseball? It’s my first job anywhere.

When Billy asks Peter if it was his first job in Baseball, he answers “It’s my first job anywhere.

Don’t over-rate experience, all you need is hunger and talent. You’re looking for the future stars, because the current-stars aren’t affordable.

5. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.

Think in terms of buying outcomes, not titles.

6. He really needs to accept this as life’s first occupation, a first career.

Commit to something, don’t move, make it your life’s first occupation.When it comes to making decisions, it’s either “yes” or “no” there’s nothing in-between! Don’t sit on a fence.

“If you sit on the fence too long, your genitals are going to hurt.” – from the original article.

7. Why do you like him? Because he gets on base.

Figure out what success looks like for a given role, omit other details.

10. Hey, anything worth doing is hard. And we’re gonna teach you.

Teach, motivate. You need to make sure you teach valuable lessons. Fill power in gaps found in your employees.

12. It’s day one of the first week. You can’t judge just yet.

Don’t judge your employees too early, it takes a little time to shine, patience!

But you need to judge them eventually.

14. Where on the field is the dollar I’m paying for soda?

Being penny-wise and pound foolish. Save on big things than the small things. It’s not about money but about inconvenience and the principle. Remember, deep down inside, people are human.

15. These are hard rules to explain to people. Why is that a problem, Pete?

When you are transforming something and making a massive change, not everyone is going to understand. Be right- and make the change happen.

16. I’m not paying you for the player you used to be, I’m paying you for the player you are right now.

Hard-hitting. If he’s a good hitter, why doesn’t he hit good?

17. We’re going to change the game.

Fix something you want to be fixed. It’s just that.

Though I was able to identify most of these while watching the movie, I had to re-read the post to make this article upto here.

I wasn’t quite sure as to how I’d relate the lessons to the startup-scenario. The author of the original article has done it brilliantly.

Original article was written by a co-founder of Hubspot:

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