Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Six Lessons About Corporate Culture From the San Francisco Giants


Here I am with my daughters with the Giants 2010 World Series Trophy

Sometimes it is best to stick to your plan, and focus on crisp execution, and sometimes your passion takes over and brings you into uncharted territory.  Today, I am experiencing the latter, in the glow of the SF Giants sweep of the Detroit Tigers.  I promise – back to Busting Your Corporate Idol tomorrow.

Growing up, baseball was on in my house every day.  My father often said “Baseball is like life: Long periods of repose punctuated by period of flurious activity.”  Clearly, dad never worked in Silicon Valley, where the mantra seems to be “long periods of manic activity, punctuated by periods of fitful repose.”

The SF Giants are a business, and their culture has a lot to teach us.  Here are six reason why you want your company to be like the Giants:

  1. They are winners.  Everyone loves to be part of a winning company, and the Giants just won the world series for the second time in three years.  Of course in between, the Giants had a terribly disappointing losing season, setting a record for the lowest runs scored during the season.  That is the great disadvantage of winning – it is only temporary. There is always a next season, where the win loss record starts all over again.  In the corporate world, there are no seasons and off seasons.  From an individual standpoint, it is important to remember to define your happiness metrics outside of the workplace, because the bar for success at work is arbitrary.
  2. Resilient – see #1.  In spite of 2011, the Giants were back this year.  But more than that, the Giants bounced back from numerous setbacks this season, including losing their star player to a 50 game suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, losing their closer, and loss of World Series MVP twice to the DL.  The lesson: the success of the organization depends on more than just one person.
  3. Principled.  According to the business ethics literature, one of the strongest indicators of an ethical culture is an even-handed enforcement of the rules.  When Melky Cabrera’s suspension for using steroids was over, he was not offered a place back on the club roster.  True, he did his time, but he also lied to everyone on the club when initially asked if he had cheated.  The Giants culture requires honesty and integrity.
  4. Thoughtful.  In what may seem like a contradiction, the Giants welcomed back another player after he served his 100 game suspension for performance enhancing drug use.  The difference?  Guillermo Mota was honest when asked, and it was generally accepted that his second PED offense was inadvertent.  At a time when the Giants could have said “we need to be consistent, and someone may complain” they were forgiving.
  5. Accountability.  Many of the stars from the 2010 team were no longer on the club.  Why not?  They had bad seasons in 2011.  In some ways baseball is the purest form of capitalism.  It is extremely transparent – your playing time and salary depends on your performance.  There is always someone  waiting to take your spot.  This anxiety is at the forefront of many in the corporate world today.  But remember, those players from 2010 who are no longer with the Giants are playing for other teams.
  6. Loyalty.  Before the season, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean among others were awarded contract extensions based on their superior performance.  And on a micro level, when one of the players, Hunter Pence was not hitting well in the NLCS, Bochy the manager made no change in the lineup or batting order.  He had faith that Pence would come around, which he did.  And moreover, I think Bochy recognized that Pence was making contributions as a leader in the locker room, and with his defense.  It’s not only about the numbers.

Seem like a bunch of contradictions?  Baseball is a lot like life, which is why I love it so.



  1. Greg Marcus says:

    I am troubled by #5 because of the unemployment in the country. Job loss is a reality, but I don’t think living in fear is the answer.

  2. Greg-

    Wonderful post about a fantastic team.

    I’m impressed by the Giants because they play as a team. Everyone contributes and they have depth in the bench.

    Companies tend to only reward their star players or the ones that carry the ball over the goal. That’s a shame.

    Success is a team effort. Solid citizens who show up and get their jobs done contribute just as much as the superstars.

    Go Giants!


  3. Greg Marcus says:

    Thanks Jarie!

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