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The Truck Driving Pitcher: Persevering After Failure

A mere 598 days ago, the Kottke Trucking blog touched on the signing of a pitcher made by the Minnesota Twins. Brandon Poulson was that pitcher and he caught our interest because he was once a truck driver.

Poulson went to work for his father’s excavating business after playing football in junior college, but soon turned again to baseball when he started attending Academy of Art University in San Francisco. That’s when he caught everyone’s attention because he could throw absolute bullets, consistently hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun.

The scout that signed Poulson said that he had the “best pure arm strength I’ve ever seen.”

As baseball observers know, arm strength isn’t the only thing involved in being a good pitcher. Control, throwing strikes, is a huge key and it’s something that Poulson hasn’t found. Poulson was released by the Twins this week after a couple seasons in the minors which resulted in 27 2/3 innings pitched with a total of 32 walks. More walks than innings pitched is never a good ratio to have.

When Poulson was initially signed by the Twins, we mentioned Steve Jobs and his mantra to ‘dream bigger’ and to never give up. Poulson’s release might be seen as a failure, but failure isn’t lethal. Just ask Steve Jobs.

Jobs failed multiple times throughout his life, but still ended up being one of the most successful and well known CEO’s in business history.

Jobs was a college dropout, but he attributes his dropping out to the typography computers feature today. When Jobs dropped out, he dropped in on a calligraphy class which resulted in the easily read typography on the first Mac and beyond. By the way, Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Zuckerberg, Brad Pitt, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Tom Hanks all also dropped out of college.

It’s well known that Jobs was once kicked out of his own company. The board kicked Jobs out of Apple, but Jobs didn’t run away from the technology world that he had thrived in. Jobs bought a computer animation company called Pixar which is now known for making films like ‘Toy Stoy’, ‘Monsters Inc.’ and ‘Finding Nemo’. The company was struggling before Jobs purchased a majority of the company and continued that struggle during the initial Jobs years which resuted in his multiple attempts at trying to sell the company just to break even with his investment of $50 million. No one ever bit on the offer and Jobs eventually sold Pixar to Disney in 2006 for a stock deal worth $7.4 billion. At the time of the sale, Jobs owned more than 50% of Pixar which would mean a nice, at least, $3.7 billion added value to Job’s portfolio.

After the firing from Apple, Jobs stayed in the computer business, too. Jobs started a company called NeXT which was seemingly a flop on its own. NeXT eventually was purchased by Apple which brought back Steve Jobs to Apple which allowed him to eventually once again rise to CEO of the company. In his second reign, Jobs introduced to the world the iPod, iPad, iPhone and all the Apple products that a large majority of us use on a daily basis. The operating system NeXT had was the foundation of the iOS system that is run across Apple products today.

Jobs failed sometimes but came out on the other side in a better position.

Poulson has already signed with the Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. The Blue Crabs are a step down from the minor leagues of the Twins, but maybe it’s the step Poulson needs to further his baseball career. Sometimes a step back in reality is a step forward.

The moral of the story is to never give up after a failure. Your failure might not be as ugly as being kicked out of your own company or being cut by a professional baseball team, but we all endure failures. Nobody is perfect. Failures are learning opportunities and if we make the best out of them and learn from them, those failures aren’t really failures anymore.

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