Why You May Be Undervalued as a Young Adult

Jonah Hill as Peter Brand in Moneyball (2011).

With the baseball season upon us, and having recently experienced the bumpy transition into young adulthood, I thought it would be a good time to reminisce on an idea shared in the 2011 movie Moneyball, and discuss how it relates to some of the challenges faced by young professionals and recent grads about to make the leap into a new life stage.

Moneyball is a story of how the 2002 Oakland A’s baseball team, facing the adversity of losing marquee players to big ticket contracts in larger markets, won their division by using advanced statistics to find talent that was otherwise written off by other teams. Even Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) was a seemingly average floor-level employee until GM Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) listened to his game-changing strategy in a Cleveland parkade.

The central idea in the movie is that many players are undervalued due to an established, widespread way of thinking. This isn’t only found in baseball, however, but also in other arenas of life -home, work, and relationships to name a few.

In the past twelve months, I have graduated (twice), been through a business accelerator program, lived on a financial teeter-totter, coached youth hockey, given a TED talk, and been through 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds of job interviews. And I have been written off, time and time again.

I may not be able to tell you how many red cars are in Toronto, how many ping pong balls you can fit on a Boeing 747, or what price I would charge to clean all the windows in New York City. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t teach twelve year old goalies with zero confidence how to stop pucks in under five minutes. In fact, I never played AAA hockey growing up, so that probably means I don’t know what I’m doing, right? I’ve invested over $40K into two degrees over five years, but I’m not even sure how much weight my education carries when every employer wants 2–3 years of experience for entry-level positions, and nearly 70% of Canadian millennials carry a university degree.

We live in a world where we have to prove ourselves every single day. And it comes down to a) our ability to stand out or above the crowd, and b) people’s perception or way of thinking. Life is a series of elevator pitches.

In a crowded market like the one we live in today, you’re likely undervalued too. You can’t change the way other people think, but you can iterate your pitch, and change who you’re pitching to. I’m never going to convince the head coach who yells at his kids that I can teach them a certain way. You’re never going to convince the boss who doesn’t invest in your success to give you a promotion. If Peter Brand was pitching to Mark Shapiro as opposed to Billy Beane, would the 2002 Oakland A’s still have been a thing?

So whatever big break you’re looking for — whether it’s moving out, landing the first job, pitching an investor, or working your bar opener with a good looking guy or gal, remember to show them the authentic you. If they see the value, you’re well on your way to the right opportunity. If not, there is someone out there who will.

In a job interview, I can’t recall the fastest way of transportation to get to Timbuktu. I’ve been told I approach entrepreneurship differently from everyone else. I don’t believe in coaching through fear, though hockey “experts” tell me otherwise. I can, however, tell you how to increase your customer engagement, loyalty, as well as their monthly basket size. I can be a successful entrepreneur because I think differently. I can teach an eight year old how to become a very good goalie in just four months.

90% of any idea actually lies in you. Keep Grinding. Never Settle.