Taking chances

Don’t be afraid to go for the gold

As a young boy, I wanted to be a professional baseball player when I grew up. And that goal stayed with me for a long while. I had a nice baseball career through Little League, Pony League, Junior Legion, high school and college baseball. I played many positions and did pretty well, and have the newspaper clippings my parents saved to prove it.

Then when schooling started to heat up in junior high, I added being an accountant to my career goals. Don’t ask me how many combination professional baseball players and accountants there are. I don’t know any.

I blew my big chance to make that combination happen when I graduated college with an accounting degree and, along with my buddies Bobby and Bill, was offered a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, I was also graduating and had secured a job with as an accountant. I had the chance of fulfilling my dream at last. But the tryout at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh was the same day as my first day on the job in Barberton, Ohio. So what did I do?

I made the logical decision of being committed to the new job and blew off the tryout. Dumb. Single worst decision ever, right? Bobby, Bill and I could have had the time of our lives. But logic took over and I went to work.

The point is that sometimes you get opportunities that seem too far reaching, but you should not be afraid to reach anyway. Let the disruption happen and reach for the brass ring. Later in my career, I was more willing to reach a little, taking jobs in faraway places and in areas outside of my field of training to advance my career, and that seemed to work out well for me.

You should always have a plan, but always be prepared for when the plan gets altered and you get punched in the mouth by life.

I know that I never had graduate school in mind. I thought I was finished with school after college. But as I kept trying to reach to top, I needed more fuel, more training. Graduate school offered more management and marketing skills which have proven to be priceless. I went to graduate school on the GI bill while continuing to work nights and weekends and struggling to raise a family. But it paid off all around. The family turned out great, and so did my career.

All of this stems from my competitive nature and the need to achieve. I don’t consider myself an overachiever but I am competitive for sure. And I like setting and achieving goals. I have missed a few, like the professional baseball thing, but I have a high batting average on the rest, and have been very fortunate.

I think most of us are competitive and not looking for a “participation” trophy. Go for the gold, the brass ring, the winner’s circle. Take chances and go outside the box, and all the other cliches you know.

And providing yourself with all of the education and training you can get, and connecting with quality mentors along the way, will help ensure success — the winner’s trophy.

John W. Manzetti, managing director of Manzetti Group LLC, is an award-winning, visionary financial and business leader, technology entrepreneur, startup adviser, investor and expert on the topics of economic development, venture capital formation and the commercialization of innovation.