The Best Advice Clint Hurdle Ever Gave.

Last week, two inspiring women from the Propelle community — Eryn Morgan and Jenny Karlsson — went to hear the Pirates General Manager, Clint Hurdle, speak on the topic of leadership. The nuggets that they were sharing online were enough to make us want to hear more. So, we asked if they'd be willing to share their biggest takeaways from the afternoon here. 

They said yes (thank goodness!) and sent on this inspiring tale of their time with one of THE most inspiring men in baseball. 

Last Saturday, we (Jenny + Eryn) got the cool opportunity to listen to Pirates General Manager Clint Hurdle speak on leadership. As someone who has such a high-pressure job, not to mention being under armchair quarterbacks’ microscopes on a nightly basis, we were inspired to find several really actionable takeaways that can apply to us as business owners.

When we started out in our journeys into entrepreneurship, we were excited about the prospect of one day being our own boss and devoting our time entirely to building our businesses. However, it didn't take long to realize that we got it all backwards. The goal of being in business for ourselves was not to work more, but to have more personal time.

Working at home we encounter lots of challenges and successes, and we found that we wanted to share it with someone at the end of the day. Unlike someone who works at an office and has a water cooler, we found ourselves alone for hours (sometimes days) on end. When our husbands walked through the door, the immediate reaction was to word vomit all over them! There was so much to get out.

To be a leader in today's world, you have to fight for balance. Clint said, "I fight for balance everyday." In order to blend personal and business, he recommended the following: be where your feet are.

When you're working on something, be in that project. When you're with your family, be with them. If you're on a vacation, drop the phone and go all in. The key to balance is to focus on where you are and what you're doing in your present moment.

How does he manage to process it all and release it? Clint shared that when he walks through the door at the end of a day, he is allowed 5 minutes to unload, sharing with his family the parts of his day that stuck with him most, whether positive or challenging. In order to beat the clock, he focuses on being concise and factual, and has learned to prioritize what he shares.

Another useful point Clint shared was how to constructively give and receive feedback with a process casually referred to as 3 up, 3 down. This technique can apply to all manner of personal and professional relationships, but Clint lets his family members give him feedback to stay in balance at home. (The most common challenge for him, and probably most of us: Putting our phones down.)

When you're looking to give critique or feedback, always lead with three positives. What is the person doing well? How are you proud of them? Where are they succeeding?

To deliver negative feedback, structure it the following way:

  1. Here's what I'm seeing.
  2. How do you feel?
  3. How can I help?

The natural response to receiving negative feedback is to put our guard up. The likelihood of truly hearing and taking in constructive criticism improves with positive affirmation, because people feel like you see and understand them. It feels like less of an attack. "Listening is an act of the will," Clint shared.

Clint starts tough conversations with his players and coaches this way. It allows him to build them up, and from there he's able to offer a few pieces of feedback aimed at improving their performance.

How could you apply this same technique in your business and life?

It's been shown that a huge killer of high level CEOs is isolation, which is one of the reasons we’ve been meeting weekly for two and a half years to connect and grow. We've applied this technique to our accountability relationship in order to not turn it into a complaint fest. Because we trust each other, we are able to give and receive this kind of feedback and keep each other accountable to our dreams.

We talk about what went well or where we are struggling, and we don't let it become a rant or a complaint session. The technique helps us to keep each other from being too hard on ourselves; we have the other to offer positive encouragement. But we can take constructive critique too, because we've built that kind of trust. We don't tolerate each other's shit and there's no room here for being cynical or overly critical. "How is this a good thing?" we often ask each other when presented with challenge.

When we coach our clients, we ask ourselves; how can we as leaders help them reach the potential that we can see in them? Clint's advice: "What you speak into people, they will aspire to."  Ask questions and help people discover their greatness. Help them to become the leader you can see by offering them positive encouragement.

Imagine the kinds of leaders we would be in our businesses or what kind of community we would create if we were to lead with this perspective!


Eryn Morgan Goldman, founder of Eagle + Mouse, teaches the art of authentic marketing to small business owners to help them attract their dream clients.

Jenny Karlsson, founder of Financials For Creatives, helps creative entrepreneurs feel more confident about their financials through budgeting, brainstorming, and accountability. When she isn’t crunching numbers she uses her camera to capture the connection between pets and their people.