7 min read

Pivot #21: Informal Education, Derek Jeter, Slater Koekkoek

Pivot #21: Informal Education, Derek Jeter, Slater Koekkoek

1st Period - Informal Education

An easy way to learn informally is to subscribe to educational resources. Everyone already subscribes to Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Disney+, etc. Mix in something that can help you learn. As you can likely tell from the Game Notes links, for me, it’s the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Financial Times. I read these publications everyday. They keep me informed, educated, and constantly thinking. 

It can be anything though. Any topic you find interesting. Whether you want to stay up to date on real estate or learn more about exercise science or dive in the gaming industry, there are publications for everything. Substack has become a go to source for me. There are a lot of fantastic writers that opted to start their own Substack pages. You can get industry expertise for a few bucks a month by subscribing to someone’s Substack. 

Figure out what you’re into and let your curiosity take over. Subscribe to sources that can keep feeding your intellectual appetite. Most news and media subscriptions are $10-20 a month. Worst case you don't find it useful, cancel after a month, and you’re out a few bucks. Go move onto the next thing to read. It’s an easy, low cost, informal education process. Find what you like and read.

2nd Period - Derek Jeter

Similar to the Steve Young segment we profiled in Pivot #13, Derek Jeter joined Alex Rodriguez on Bloomberg’s The Deal. It’s a good watch, especially listening to Jeter, a guy who is famously guarded about his off-field happenings, open up about his life.

Jeter’s remarks at the 31-minute mark are particularly insightful (transcribed below, emphasis added):

“Well first I didn’t start preparing for post playing career the day I woke up (after retirement). I started preparing for post-career years in advance. And my biggest fear in life is being unprepared for anything. You know a lot of times you hear athletes say, the game slows down or it speeds up. I think it speeds up when you’re unprepared. So I didn’t want to wake up and say what am I going to do next? I started talking about team ownership with maybe ten years left in my career. During my career I made every decision when it came to contract negotiations, marketing, philanthropy, I’m on a foundation. These are all pillars of an organization. I lived in Tampa. I learned about player development, scouting, and analytics. I wanted to be as prepared as I could. I started a company called The Players Tribune. We actually launched right after my career. I didn’t just wake up and say let’s start a company today. You start thinking about these things. And that’s why I think it made my transition into the business world a lot easier because I started preparing and I started learning for it

If Derek Jeter thought he needed to prepare for life after his athletic career, so should you. Do not be unprepared. Relating preparedness in sport is helpful. Plays on the ice slow down because you prepared. You’re well conditioned, honed your puck skills, watched tape, worked diligently in practice, took care of your body, all to make the gameplay easier. It should be the same approach to life after hockey. The more you prepare, the easier the transition. 

Derek Jeter played 20 seasons in the MLB. He prepared throughout the entire back half of his career. He explored, learned, and plotted for an entire decade before retiring from baseball. Even as a Red Sox fan, I enjoy seeing competitive athletes showcase that they are competitive humans. If you’re competitive, you want to achieve success, which means you’re willing to put in the necessary work to prepare appropriately. 

As an aside, it’s comical to me when I see an ex-hockey player doing nothing productive with their life, reminiscing on war stories of how “competitive” they are. Nope. They are selectively competitive when it’s convenient. Meanwhile Derek Jeter is over here learning about contract negotiations, when he could literally just sip pina coladas for the rest of time. 

It’s also notable how Jeter emphasizes he was involved in every one of the decisions throughout his own career. Players are their own unique enterprise. No better way to learn business than through your own career. The ownership and accountability Jeter describes is refreshing.

3rd Period - Slater Koekkoek 

Ian Mendes of The Athletic published a piece on former NHL player Slater Koekkoek. First, this story, in addition to many of the other stories I highlight, are brought to my attention by readers of The Pivot Newsletter. I appreciate all the tips and please continue sending me material. 

I encourage everyone to read the entire piece, but a summary of the article is below too. Interestingly, I’ve been messing around with the AI tools and the below summary is completely auto-generated from Claude.AI. Claude is a ChatGPT alternative, but specializes in text and photo analysis. I fed the tool an attachment of the article, asked for a summary of the article with key insights, and in 10 seconds it spit out the output below. Pretty good summary too. The answer to your next question is already, “No!”. The Pivot is not a completely AI generated newsletter. I promise I’m human. Artificial Intelligence can’t be this funny. Anyways, on with the story.

Here are the key insights from the story about former NHL player Slater Koekkoek:

  • Koekkoek had a promising hockey career, getting drafted 10th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012, but struggled with injuries and anxiety/mental health issues over his 10-year pro career.
  • He developed an eating disorder stemming from his anxiety, often unable to eat before and during games. This took a major toll on his mental health.
  • In February 2022 at age 28, he decided to retire from pro hockey, walking away from a lucrative contract with the Edmonton Oilers to prioritize his mental well-being.
  • After retiring, he found new purpose and fulfillment in taking odd jobs like renovation work and snow removal through his company FFYLwork (Fulfill Your Life).
  • The story parallels Koekkoek's life journey to a lion he encountered in Africa - battered and cast out from its pride, but finding peace as a "survivor" and "fighter."
  • Koekkoek has done therapy work to gain perspective and feel proud rather than ashamed of his NHL career, realizing playing pro doesn't guarantee happiness.
  • The central insight is Koekkoek's courage to walk away from pro hockey stardom to reclaim his mental health, finding new meaning in more modest work that provides a sense of value and purpose.

I stripped out three key insights that stood out from the article. 

  • Routine - We’ve talked before how hockey players are creatures of routine. Finding routine after hockey can be critical. Slater is a perfect example. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos and confusion of life after hockey. 

“Two months after his announcement, Koekkoek needed to build new routines into his life. He was no longer beholden to a rigorous practice and game schedule, but he was still craving direction and purpose. So each morning, he would set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. and take a walk to the Tim Horton’s around the corner from his house.”

Something as simple as walking for a cup of coffee might be the answer to center your day and gain clarity on your objectives. Whether it’s getting up at the same time, finding a fitness routine, or visiting the local Tim’s, find a routine you can rely on. 

“I did that walk whether it was snowing, raining or hailing,” Koekkoek said. “I needed to get out of the house every morning.”

  • Don’t need to follow your interests - I’ve referenced many times the “Interests” circle in the Pivot Framework is a dashed line for a reason. It’s a nice-to-have, but not required. Koekkoek shows you can find success in the least likely places. 

“I was hauling out toilets that were 40 years old,” Koekkoek said. “But I came home and Santana noticed the difference in me. Just in interacting with people and putting in an honest day’s work, I felt fulfilled.”

Combining his work ethic with the demand for manual labor jobs guided Slater to a place of fulfillment. 

  • Start going down a path - You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do in life. The most important thing is beginning a journey down a productive path. By picking up shifts for his friends renovation company, Slater learned about the intricacies of labor demand and the imbalance for certain laborers in the marketplace. This lead him to start his own company as a matchmaker in the market. 

As he was working closely with the renovation company, Koekkoek learned about labor shortages in various industries. He hatched a plan to start a company to help fill those gaps. The end result is FFYLwork, an acronym for “Fulfill Your Life.” Koekkoek said he hopes to encourage people to find work that fits their lifestyle. He has a pool of qualified shift workers who are ready on a moment’s notice to help out in retail, hospitality, healthcare and trades.

Slater is a great example of initially struggling with the pivot, but ultimately, persevering and finding success. By telling his story, Slater laid out some key tactics anyone can employ when going through their own transition. 

Game Notes

  • Alex Rodriguez could not raise the capital to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves - WSJ
  • Larry Fink warns retirement crisis looms for aging population - FT
  • Mastercard and Visa reach $30 billion settlement over credit card fees - Reuters
  • Dell lays of 6,000 employees - Reuters
  • Infrastructure: from investment backwater to a $1tn asset class - FT
  • The $27 Trillion Treasury Market Is Only Getting Bigger - WSJ
  • Caitlin Clark Phenom Playbook - GQ
  • Zyn Nicotine pounches land in the culture wars - WSJ
  • Brock Faber is going to get paid - The Athletic
  • Two friends turned their side hustle into a full-time snack business - CNBC
  • Jack Daniels flowed during the pandemic, now comes the hangover - WSJ
  • This dude landed a quadruple axel - CNN

Thanks for reading. Pass along The Pivot Newsletter to a friend. Contact me with questions or comments.