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NAED Western Regional Conference Keynote Speaker Talks About Creating New Markets

By Scott Costa

Professional baseball is filled with tradition. Whether it’s the ceremonies surrounding opening day, the All-Star game or the World Series, fans use baseball’s traditions to follow their favorite team or their favorite players.

Two of those traditions are how great players are found, and how great teams are built. NAED is fortunate because at the next two Regional Conferences, we are going to hear from two people who have broken a couple of the decades-old baseball traditions and created new ways for baseball to think about how it does business.

In February, Paul DePodesta, the former Assistant General Manager of the Oakland A’s and key figure in the movie “Moneyball”, will be the keynote speaker at the NAED South Central Regional Conference in San Antonio. And in January, J.B. Bernstein, the inspiration behind the movie “Million Dollar Arm”, will be the keynote speaker at the NAED Western Regional Conference in San Diego.

Baseball has traditionally used scouts to travel across the country in search of the next Madison Baumgartner or Lorenzo Cain. That system has plenty of success stories, but DePodesta and Bernstein looked to change the way of doing business and create more competitive teams.

For Bernstein, that search meant a trip to India. He was inspired by the NBA’s signing of Yao Ming from China, and realized there is a wealth of talent outside of the United States.

“I started to think about what would be the perfect client for us to represent,” Bernstein told NAED. “We all agreed that Yao Ming was the dream client, so we started to think about how we could create our own Yao. The idea hatched over several months.”

Bernstein organized the first “Million Dollar Arm” reality TV contest in India in 2007, with the winner receiving a $100,000 prize along with formal baseball training in the United States and a chance to try out for a major league team.
The results have been great for the two winners. Rinku Singh is still pitching in the minor league for the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Dinesh Patel has returned to India to finish his education, but wants to return to the United States to become a baseball coach.

“This is right at the front edge of where we hope it will go,” Bernstein says about baseball in India.  “In China, the NBA took 10 years with Yao Ming to reach the critical mass it has achieved today, so we have to be patient. That being said, we are light years ahead of where we were when we started back in 2007 and a lot of the credit has to go the winners of the contest.”

As far as breaking the mold when it comes to finding talent, Bernstein is proud of the reaction the movie has created. “You never know how people will respond to a story, and for the pitchers and me it is a personal one. We are really proud of how the film and book turned out, and we are grateful to all the fans who have shared so many kind words about how the story touched them.”

Bernstein has much more to share about how he creates “Big Ideas” and the process it takes to make them work.  He will be the keynote speaker at the NAED Western Regional Conference in San Diego from January 18-21.  Using case studies from his new book “Hey… Where’s My Big Idea?”, Bernstein will talk about how and why he created new ways to do what others had been doing for decades.  You can register for the NAED Western Regional Conference by going to http://www.naed.org/westernregionconference/.

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