SBD/September 18, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With MiLB President & CEO Pat O'Conner



O'Conner admits he can get impatient when dealing with modern technology
Since his days as a Dodgertown intern in '81, MiLB President & CEO PAT O'CONNER's life has been connected to the minor leagues. This year O'Conner celebrates his 20th year with MiLB, and he thinks he'll do so by spending a few less days on the road. "In 2011 it was 215 days, and I cut back in 2012 to 195," he said. "I've made a concerted effort this year to try to go to 150 or less, and I think we're on pace to maybe do that." O'Conner recently spoke with THE DAILY about baseball's battles with the struggling economy, why he doesn't like mixing business with pleasure, and how worldly wisdom can be found atop a tractor.

Surviving a tough economy...
We're a collection of small businesses, scattered throughout the country. When other small businesses are finding it difficult to participate and succeed, let alone grow in this current economic environment, we're holding our own. You can buy Minor League Baseball in 160 cities across the United States, concentrated in B, C and D counties but not without reaching in the A counties. Marketers who don’t want to activate in 160 cities, that’s fine, we’ll give you everything, you’ll get a little something in everything, and then you tell us where you want to focus. 

Negotiations go awry when...
The perception or reality that your counterpart isn't being honest. I tell my staff over and over, don’t ever lie to somebody. You don’t have to tell them everything you know, but don’t lie to them. I think the perception or reality that you’re dealing off the bottom of the deck, that you don’t want a real solution.

Best advice I've ever received...
You can make friends at work, but don’t work with friends. You have to establish the relationships, whatever they are. Are they going to be personal, or are they going to be professional? There are too many people that try to work together after a friendship's been established, and the lines get blurred.

To tweet or not to tweet...
I don’t Facebook and I don’t Twitter. We had a debate some months ago over whether the president should be, "tweeting" I guess is the proper word. I think it would be really neat, but I would take it very seriously as far as a commitment, and if the fans ask questions I’d be inclined to want to get them answers. It’s a slippery slope. I don’t want somebody who takes the time and cares and is interested to send me a tweet that I blow off.

Grappling with technology...
I was the last person in the company to direct deposit his paycheck, and I think I was probably one of the last people to get a phone that did anything more than flip. I have a Droid. I've got Angry Birds for those long flights. I've got Pandora, but I can’t figure out how to add any songs to it. I try, but one, I’m not savvy, and two, I’m impatient. I know two things about computers: I know when they work, and I know when they don’t work.

Favorite music...
I’m a big '70s, '80s, '90s guy. I like country; I don’t like the twangy original country. I like the ALAN JACKSON-GEORGE STRAIT type of country. A little more towards a ballad than a hard song. I’m a big JIMMY BUFFETT fan.

For relaxation...
My wife and I have a second property, it’s twelve acres, and I mow most of it. I like to get on the tractor or the mower and mow. I can get on there and solve a lot of the world’s problems, and the only thing I really have to focus on is keeping my lines straight.
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