On The Money: What Brad Pitt Can Teach Us About Life And Business

The film Moneyball (based on Michael Lewis' book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game), looks at the Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane's (played by Brad Pitt) less conventional approach to the practice of hiring professional baseball players.

While baseball traditionalists tend to hire based on certain criteria (highly athletic hitters and their good looking girlfriends), Beane is convinced there has to be a better way to hire players for teams whose budgets come nowhere near those of other teams in the Major Leagues. He decides that traditional statistical formulations used to gage player success weren't representative of a player's true potential, and starts to build a winning team based on less expensive options. As an example, instead of looking at pitchers with incredible throwing speeds, Beane looked at pitchers who could get more ground outs.

Player attributes that were less focused on looks were often used in Beane's selections. While one player was shunned by the majors due to his odd-looking pitching arm and style, Beane looked at other aspects of his record and decided he was a potential winner. By applying his technique, Beane was able to assemble a winning team that could compete with major competitors fielding huge budgets.

So what does Brad Pitt have to do with life and business?

  • Smart risk taking can have a huge potential payoff. He went against tradition, took a risk in doing so, and won
  • To solve a problem, sometimes you have to look beyond the obvious
  • Using creativity and ingenuity, he transformed his position from being one of having an unfair advantage to that of a winner. He did this by identifying unique strengths in others that the majority of people in his industry dismissed
  • Given a chance, underdogs can turn out to be winners. It takes someone who "thinks outside the crowd" to give them that chance
  • You can't hire people solely based on looks or the fact that they might have some perceived "quirkiness" that doesn't fit the norm. They have other attributes that will make them shine (and make YOU shine too)
  • The greatest form of flattery is imitation - after Beane's success, other Major League teams tried to copy his winning formula

What do you think businesses can learn from the way Billy Beane achieved success? Why does there always seem to be resistance to new ways of thinking - when the people who think differently are often the ones who are able to change the world?