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Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

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Business Lessons To Learn From Omar Minaya [The Mets' General Manager]

September 2006

Some of you already know I am a big New York Mets fan. (In fact, I aspire to a part time job as Mr. Met, the mascot, but that's another story.)

I couldn't tear myself away from watching the celebration when the team won the division championship on September 18th – 20 years after the last one. There was no doubt we were watching a TEAM, a group of elite athletes who cared so much for each other and their common goal(s) that they raised the bar on what their talent alone was able to produce and had no intention of being stopped. They are diversity personified, yet they all claim to be incredibly close-knit, and new (lateral) additions feel comfortable with them almost immediately. Though ideally that's what a team should be, for professional sports teams in the last few decades, it is quite unusual, perhaps unique.

As a close observer of how the team has been remade in two short years (though it seemed much longer to the fans), I think business and professional firms can learn some lessons in talent recruitment and management from Mets general manager, Omar Minaya, and the team manager, Willie Randolph.

  • At his core, Minaya is a talent scout. He has learned to evaluate talent without pre-conceived notions of age (Julio Franco, age 48!), ethnicity, or current salary as an indication of value. This has gained the Mets tremendous resources in both position players and pitchers, young as well as some thought to be over the hill.
  • To quote William Rhoden, sports columnist of the New York Times (September 15, 2006), “The spine of this team is its role players. They are why the Mets have been able to build their enormous lead. They are why Minaya should be heavily considered for executive of the year.’
    Role players are not the stars or the regular starters. They make for a very deep Mets bench. Most were not expensive to acquire; they are both early and late in their playing careers, they are helped by great coaches; and they became invaluable. The secret has been speed and bench players.
  • Minaya thinks long term. He always looks at the big picture. Rhoden observed that he runs the organization with a sense of urgency, even when they are far ahead, taking nothing for granted. The Mets have been and still are an organization in transition. He accepts the need to change and to be thinking ahead.
  • Minaya has avoided prima donnas (several were considered for their talent but rejected for their character). As Rhoden said in his article, “The Mets are a blend of veterans and young players, stars and role players.” They are truly a team, like each other, and advise each other generously. Mentoring seems to be a way of life on the team.
  • The greater diversity on the team (and Minaya was criticized by some for acquiring so many Latinos) has not only been good for business – ticket sales – but also for team spirit. The players' enthusiasm all season for what they have achieved and can give to others is contagious. Close friendships have developed as they “had each other's backs,” and the “white guys” are every bit as integral to the spirit too.
  • Perhaps equal kudos go to manager Willie Randolph, whose competitiveness and even temper has helped to keep the team focused. He is a veteran who has been there, done that many times as a player and coach, so his credibility is unquestioned.


To translate this for a professional services environment:

  • Even organizations with a long-term success record should consider themselves in transition. Complacency, even momentary, can be dangerous. Marketplace change is so rapid that assuming a constant state of transition is a wise course.
  • Firms need to give more recognition to their “role players,” those that are not the super-rainmakers but who nurture existing client relationships and expand business with existing clients, who manage, train and mentor the younger people who are the future of the firm and retain their talent, and who can be counted on for their storehouse of wisdom and judgment – at any age. They are the glue, and firms will not hold together for the long term without them.
  • Carefully consider what effect laterals with large books of business will have on the cohesiveness and culture of the firm. Those with the right attitudes and collaborative behaviors will be a tremendous asset along with the revenue they bring. However, lone rangers who hold on tightly to their clients in case of the next move, who crave the spotlight and demand out-sized attention from staff, can be a liability. (I don't have to mention specific athletes here for you to get the picture.)
  • It's important to learn how to recognize talent and not set criteria primarily by schools attended or technical skills only. Firms need to pay more attention to how people interact with clients and colleagues (the “plays well in the sandbox” criterion) and interest in developing new, potentially profitable niches. The attributes that were sought in the past might not be what's most needed in the future. Equally important, is diversity in all aspects, including skills.
  • There is a solid business case for embracing diversity with big rewards internally for the professional firm and in attracting enthusiastic clients and supporters. With a conscious effort to appreciate and celebrate differences, results can be far better than you imagine. Remember who comprises the marketplace.
  • Forget ego and surround yourself with the best management team on all levels. Let them show what they can do and support their efforts.


To fans of other teams and non-baseball fans, thanks for indulging me.
For those Yankee fans who want equal time, I will mention that I have written and spoken about Joe Torre's smart management style and leadership qualities at many presentations in the past. Now it's time to learn from the less “corporate” approach of the guys across town.

Whatever team you follow, I welcome your comments.


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2006. All rights reserved

For training, coaching and special programs on maximizing the potential of your organization and your young professionals, call Phyllis for an exploratory talk or complimentary coaching session at 212-593-1549 or e-mail at: See and Ask about our ground-breaking *Next Generation, Next Destination* transitioning planning programs and services for baby boomer senior professionals and their firms.