How To Prove Yourself With Wine & Baseball

Happy Friday!

This week, I did an interview with Thrive Global to talk about our work and share what anyone can learn from athletes that transition. Even though it was the first time I contributed to a publication, I knew I had insights that others could learn from. That notion - not having experience, but being confident in what you bring to the table - is what I’m exploring in August’s first weekly column. I’m looking into a former college softball player who had no experience in the sports industry and is now MLB’s highest ranking female. A former college football player quit his first job after 11 months and took steps to build an impact-driven wine company that's donated millions to global causes.

How have you pushed through inexperience? Share your answers with me and I’ll include them in next week’s column!

- David

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Kim Ng: Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, MLB

“You have to be willing to get in any way that you can.”  Until she presented her senior thesis on Title IX at the University of Chicago, Kim didn't think about a career in sports. It was speaking about her work to coaches and administrators that made her realize she wasn't ready to give up on sports. The former college softball standout asked every coach at her school if they knew anybody in pro sports and sent her resume to every team in Major League Baseball. The White Sox eventually gave her an internship upon graduation and hired her full-time a year after that. 28 years later, she’s the highest ranking women in the league, overseeing the MLB's international scouting and development. 

Kim’s Numbers

  • 4 - the number of miles Kim grew up from the Mets' stadium in Queens. She eventually became a Yankees fan after her mom got free tickets through her job

  • 26 - Kim’s age when she became the youngest person and first woman in baseball to present and win a salary arbitration case

  • 9 - the number of times she’s interviewed for a General Manager position. For all her success in the league, she’s widely considered to be the first woman who will eventually hold the highest position for an individual team

  • 5 - her rank on Forbes’ list of most powerful women in sports. She’s also been recognized as Forbes’ 13th most influential minorities in sports and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People

How Kim Made It

  • She Stepped up to the plate: “At no point did I think, ‘You can’t do this.’”By becoming the youngest woman to arbitrate a case, she proved her worth, enough for the Yankees to make her the youngest Assistant General Manager ever at 29. That opportunity saw her successfully negotiate the contracts of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Paul O’Neill. Having started as an intern overseeing data for the White Sox, Kim never let inexperience or not fitting in prohibit excellence.


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Brandon Hall: Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer, ONEHOPE Wine

11 months into his first job as a sales rep for Gallo Wine, Brandon Hall quit. He knew it wasn’t for him. Just a year before, the former Cal football player thought he’d one day own a business, but only after a professional sports career. When Brandon's colleague, Jake, found out about a friend's cancer diagnosis, they figured there was no better time to help. With limited sales experience and seven other friends that joined him on the journey, Brandon started ONEHOPE to sell wine and donate proceeds to charity. Today, ONEHOPE has made more than $4 million in donations, provided 46,000 people with global health care, 49,000 forever homes for shelter animals, 1.8 million meals for children, 163,000 life-saving vaccines and more.

Brandon’s Stats

  • 10 - the number of stores Brandon was responsible for managing as a Gallo sales rep to make sure their products were stocked appropriately

  • 168 - the number of cases Brandon and his team had to start selling out of the trunks of their cars when they quit

  • 8,000 - the total number of bottles sold of their Merlot in their first year. They started with 3 varietals: a Cabernet that supported Autism, Chardonnay that supported breast cancer, and a Merlot that supported aids awareness

  • 10,000 - the number of limited edition wine bottles sold for their 10 year anniversary. The proceeds helped fund a school that will provide education, opportunity, and sustainability to a community in Guatemala

How Brandon Built A Business With No Experience 

  • He always thought ahead:

    • When Brandon and ONEHOPE CEO, Jake, were at Gallo, they were constantly brainstorming business ideas. Before the cancer diagnosis of Jake's friend ultimately pushed the founders to leave, they had months of solidifying the idea and initial steps to go build the company.

    • Striking out on their own meant the ONEHOPE team had to compete with big conglomerates. 5 years into the business and years before their giant competitors were nimble enough to transition, Brandon led the team’s e-commerce initiative to sell directly to consumers and focus less on distributors. It allowed them to create more impact, reserve more money for donations, and build a whole network of cause entrepreneurs serve as affiliates for the brand. Your ability to succeed is correlated with your ability to think ahead and execute.

Read our interview with Brandonto learn more about how he turned his inexperience into successful impact-driven company andorder your own bottles at their website.