World Series Champion Lou Piniella Reveals 3 Similarities in Baseball & Business

Evan Heby, Advertising, Media and Publishing Marketing Lead

March 21, 2018

World Series Champion Lou Piniella is no stranger to big league wins.

From playing baseball to coaching to broadcasting, the star has 46 years of Major League Baseball experience under his belt. Fans know him as “Sweet Lou,” the nickname he earned from his smooth, sweet swing during his playing days.

His wealth of experience has given him perspective on the correlation between business and sports, which he recently talked about at NetSuite’s Grow Live event in Seattle.

“You got to have talent, leadership, you got to have discipline, you have to be very competitive and then you got to be smart,” Piniella said. “Those are the same things we look for in sports and that’s what we were talking about here in the business world.”

To give you a full picture of our time with Piniella in Seattle, we’ve recapped his discussion on three shared pillars of sports and business.


Piniella credited much of his success as a manager to the talented players he coached – Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro Suzuki – to name a few. Jeanne Urich, Managing Partner of SPI Research, a research firm focused on the services industry(opens in new tab), also joined us in Seattle to talk about growing in the new services economy. Urich spoke about the importance of hiring the best talent and strategies to retain them over the long haul.


Throughout Piniella’s career, there’s one quote by Ronald Reagan he took to heart: “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people do the greatest things.”

In everything he managed, he brought along several of his own guys to coach pitching because of how important it was to him to have team members he could trust. Piniella’s management strategy was to let each individual pod run itself.

Expanding on Piniella’s point, Urich discussed the importance of a strong team foundation. She explained how her research shows that top companies almost always have a core group of tenured employees as the foundation of their business.


During his time as a player and manager, Piniella won three World Championships. For him, winning consistently is the hardest thing to do and losing is the easiest. In business, that’s true as well. Your business will not always win; your company will go through ups and downs, but in general, successful businesses will win more than they lose.

That’s the same with a ball club. The best ball clubs will inevitably lose, but the difference between the top tier businesses and the top tier ball clubs is that losing consistently is not an option.

During the event, Piniella shared a few of his favorite baseball moments with us, including his favorite ejection (long story) and favorite (Boston) and least favorite (Tampa Bay) places to play. Piniella also shared a few of his personal favorites away from the field – he is more of a Beatles fan than a Rolling Stones one, he prefers Cabernet’s from California over beer and chooses hamburgers over hotdogs any day of the week.

Interested in learning more about how to grow your business? Check out our upcoming Grow Live Series(opens in new tab), which could be coming to a city near you!

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