Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson on How to Stay True to Your Passion

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If you are looking for some sound advice, Jeff Idelson, President of the Baseball Hall of Fame, might be a great source.  Jeff’s personal story, which he told me during an interview, recounts his successful climb up the corporate ladder with the Boston Red Sox. He eventually went on to become the sixth President of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and has been privileged to come into contact with some of the greatest heroes ever to play the game.  He has spent time with them, observed them and has gotten to know many of them in ways few can boast about. Jeff’s insight into what makes them tick may seem somewhat elementary, but it only proves that basics really do count.

Worked His Way Up…
It seems Jeff himself had a passion for the game from a very early age. As he puts it, “I went to my first baseball game when I was five, and caught baseball fever. I never looked back. I was willing to do anything just to be a part of the game. I started out working as a popcorn vendor at Boston’s Fenway Park, then I worked my way up to selling ice cream, then finally making my way to the top of the food chain for vendors: hot dogs!  In 1986, while in junior high school, I got the opportunity to be an intern in the public relations department for the Boston Red Sox.  After college, I worked full time for the team’s public relations department.”

The Corporate Ladder
New York was Jeff’s next stop. He was hired by the New York Yankees as the club’s director of media relations and publicity. Prior to joining the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jeff served as senior press officer for the 1994 World Cup organizing committee. Later that year he went to work for the Baseball Hall of Fame as its director of public relations and promotions. He rose through the Hall of Fame organization, eventually becoming its president in 2008, where he now oversees three million historic documents at the epicenter of baseball history.

His Advice: Follow Your Passion
Reflecting back on his career, Jeff advises people to follow the same philosophy he learned from his father: “My dad would enjoy the whole pie. He taught me passion, value, hard work and an appreciation for people pursuing their dreams – there are no replacements for discipline, perseverance and confidence.”

At the end of this interview Jeff shared one of his favorite quotes with me. It comes from Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play Major League Baseball:
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on another life.”

Jeff’s Empowering Thought:  “Take your work very seriously, and give all you have.”

Are you following Jeff Idelson’s advice? Are you giving it all you have?