Lesson for Young Brokers from A-Rod?

I have never been a fan of Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod). His talent was never in question, but he always seemed to say and do the wrong thing. Early in his career, he was pals with Derek Jeter, one of my favorite players, but that friendship ended when he made some negative comments about Jeter in Esquire Magazine and never recovered, even when they were teammates. After that, there were steroids, Biogenesis, a suspension, a lawsuit against Major League Baseball, opting out of his contract (they shouldn’t have resigned him), and many tabloid covers.

When he was traded to the Yankees, I was not happy. While he is probably one of the most gifted baseball players I have ever seen, he was the anti-Jeter. He seemed to make it all about him, not the team, and collapsed in the playoffs, except during the 2009 championship season.

As this season progressed, he had become a bench player, not a good one, and a distraction to the team. It was obvious to everyone that it was time to end his playing career with the Yankees.

So after much speculation, this past weekend, the Yankees called a press conference to announce that he would be released from his contract and that he would shift into the role of special advisor to the owner. I watched the press conference, interested to see what he would say, what the team would say, and how they were going to spin this.

For the first time I can remember, he said all the right things.

He was gracious, thanking everyone for the opportunities he was provided. He admitted that he had his missteps, but prided himself on being someone who always got up after he fell.

He was clearly focused on leaving on a positive note.

Last Friday, I had an uncomfortable conversation with a client. It was clear that we weren’t on the same page, despite many attempts on my part to get there. It was obvious to me that we needed to move on from each other, so I suggested that we part friends rather than continue to work together in a way that frustrated both of us.

First thing Monday morning, I sent a note to the client, thanking them for the opportunity, apologizing for not being able to get on the same page, and expressing that I looked forward to bringing them a deal in the future.

I was focused on leaving on a positive note.

We all fall down. We all get back up. That’s life. But the ability to recognize when something isn’t working and make a change isn’t something everyone is willing to do. Change is scary. It’s how we handle that change, at times, that will define our relationships and our careers.

When I was a junior broker, I worked on a building that was struggling. After 18 months, they replaced the asset manager, the person we reported to, and after giving us another six months, he fired us. Even though I was the junior broker on the team, I called him to apologize that we hadn’t performed for him, and thank him because I felt I learned a lot on the project.

He was impressed by the way I handled the news that we were being replaced. Six months later, he called me to work on a different assignment, one he wanted me to lead. It was one of the first projects where I transitioned from junior broker to senior broker.

The question mark in the title isn’t a typo. Getting a positive lesson from A-Rod wasn’t something I thought would be possible.

Will history be kind to A-Rod? I don’t think so. However, he’s doing a great job changing the story, and trying to end on a positive note. Clearly, it’s important to me and has served me well to date.