Moneyball, California Dreaming, and Editing in Public is Hard

I spent the majority of last week in San Francisco at an annual corporate training / team-building / liver-decimation exercise. It’s the only time each year that they bring together the consultants from all the regions and branches of Indirect Tax, and while the training sessions were particularly useful and informative this year, what it really represents is a chance for a very decentralized team (about 50 people from four continents) to gather together as a group and renew the personal connections that allow us to rely on each other at two in the morning when the proverbial shit and the metaphorical fan become a lot less proverbial and metaphorical. The latter is accomplished with structured activities, face-to-face time, conversations over dinners, a few war stories between Type-A personalities, and an open bar.

While “what happens in Frisco STAYS in Frisco” I will share the following sequence of Wednesday night texts from a good friend and colleague of almost five years, unedited:

ME: Did we lose you?
HIM: Jiffy saute g’day HDTV
HIM: Sarah heftier jiggly
HIM: Fuck
HIM: Tree grey hoots
HIM: Fucjir I can’t tyie
ME: Where the HELL are you man??? That looks like a serious good time in progress!!!

I’m not going to lie, “Sarah heftier jiggly” became something of a theme and a mantra for the rest of that night. Was this a person, a place, an event? I won’t tell you the answer, but I will say it’s none of those things and all of them. And maybe the best auto-correct fail I’ve ever been a party to.

Enigmatic tales of late night adventures aside, it was a very productive meeting and it managed to have a bit of a theme. On the flight out for the east coast team we saw the movie “Moneyball” staring Brad Pitt and written by Aaron Sorkin based on a book by financial writer Michael Lewis. It’s the story of Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane trying to change the way the game of baseball is played from the foundation up. Surprisingly, for a movie about baseball, it’s not a “baseball movie.” It’s a business movie. A very VERY good business movie, and if I was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences I’d be voting for Best Picture and Best Actor without a moment’s hesitation.

While I won’t give any of the specific details away, I will share the finer points that a group of consultants in the financial industry took away from a viewing. This was the theme of our regional kickoff session, and I imagine these lessons are going to be very much in my mind as I move forward for the coming year:

  1. The goal shouldn’t be to buy players, the goal should be to buy wins. In order to buy wins, you need to buy runs.
  2. In order to score a run, we have to get on base. Do we care how we get on base? No, we do not.
  3. We get paid to get on first, we do not get paid to get thrown out stealing second.
  4. Sometimes we have to learn to play a new position. That’s not hard, it’s INCREDIBLY HARD.
  5. They aren’t paying us because of the player we were or the player we could be, they’re paying us for the kind of player we are today.
  6. The first guy through the wall always gets kicked in the teeth, always gets bloody. Always.
  7. Losing is NEVER fun. We hate losing more than we love winning.
  8. No one will remember setting records or great games or even a winning season if you don’t win the last game of the season.
  9. How can you not get romantic about the game?

I don’t play baseball, but I do play the business equivalent of a full-contact sport at a professional level. I feel very good about my team this year, and I think there’s a very good chance we’ll win the last game of this season.

The other thing I did in my down time last week, was try to edit the first chapter I posted up in my last two posts. Editing is hard. Tracking your changes and writing up WHY you changed things is BRUTALLY hard.

I’ve gotten about the first third of the first half done. It only took me the better part of four hours. I’m 100% committed to getting this post done, but I recognize it’s going to take longer than I had initially expected. I’m guessing that it’s going to take the rest of the week and I also want to actually continue writing the next chapters too. So, to accomplish that I’ve decided to re-invest the rest of my writing time this week to finishing up the next two chapters and THEN going back and finishing the edits on Chapter One. It’s not how I thought I’d go through it, but I’m afraid of running out of steam if I don’t actually commit to more chapter writing and less poking at the one I already have on paper.

So, expect at least two more chapter posts this week, and hopefully the edit post will go up before (or during) the weekend. One of my “emails but doesn’t comment” readers asked if it was a romance novel like my mom wrote, and the answer is no. There are romantic moments in the first third, but they are counter-balanced by some very unromantic moments, and a theme that is not about how everything works out in the end.

After the third chapter I’ll post the synopsis of the book and the cover letter I stick on it before shipping it off to a slush pile somewhere. As a bit of social experience, I’ll post up the rejection letters and my reactions to them. I have a different perspective on rejection letters than many aspiring writers, and I think actually talking about the nature of rejection and how it may not actually be a personal attack on the author is worth putting into its own post one of these days. I figure I’ll wait until I have a specific example to work from. Shouldn’t take much more than six to nine months after I send it off, which at the rate I write should be just enough time for me to get it written.

[Word Count: 1055]

5 thoughts on “Moneyball, California Dreaming, and Editing in Public is Hard

  1. Sounds like I am on the wrong side of both tax and tax software. The closest I got to that was a PowerPlan user conference in Orlando; and though some liver damage may have happened, no fun text strings did.

    There was actually less liver damage (and events fueled by liver damage) per-capita this year than in years past. I get the feeling that we’re starting to gel a bit better as a group and maybe we’re enjoying each other’s company more and relying on lowering communication barriers a little bit less. That’s really just idle speculation, we had a good week and that’s really all that counts.

    And I will definitely keep that movie in mind. It has to be a million times better than the movie I saw yesterday, The Grey (do not, I repeat, do not subject yourself to it). Plus, it’s got Brad Pitt. Business lessons. Brad Pitt. Win-win.

    It’s an amazingly good movie. I can easily recommend it to non-sports-movie people and sports-movie people alike. Probably not great for the “competition is evil, kumbaya” set, but if you go out and work for a living in the business world, it’s got some really great lessons. And it’s a good movie with great acting and really engages the viewer, so I really can’t recommend it enough.

    I promise not to go see “The Grey” based solely on the review you facebooked and your comments to go with it.

  2. We will not see “The Grey” based on blurbs I’ve heard. It sounds as though I’d have big issues with it and would constantly just yell at the screen.

    And it sounds like it sucked. Reason enough to skip it all together.

    And, well, seeing it would dishonor the memory of our own beloved wolf.

    And THAT would just piss me off.

  3. Ha! Squiggly ploosh twatter bathering!

    I’m pretty sure “Squiggly ploosh twatter blathering” isn’t an autocorrect I want to see the source on…sounds like a bathroom conversation.

  4. Damn auto correct! What I MEANT was: Sounds like you had fun!

    SUUUUURE you did…

    Also, re: The Grey – when did Liam Neeson become the guy that punches everything? What should he punch next? I vote for sharks.

    “that guy that punches things” is a GREAT actor calling card. Sharks would work, I’m voting for Smurfs or LOLCats in glasses.

  5. If he was punching wolves in the movie, the wolves should have taken his hand off, as our girl would have done. No need for sharks then! Otherwise, I fully support him punching sharks!

    I’d watch a “jerk eaten by wolves” movie, and a “dude punches sharks” movie…but I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be the same move.

    Although, “Jaws 14: Swimming with the Wolf Puncher” might actually sell a few tickets…

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