Think twice before you believe anything negative that the national media says you’re supposed to believe about someone.
Case in point: A couple of weeks back, for business reasons, I had the pleasure of meeting New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. Based on the way the media had portrayed him, I had this preconceived notion — mostly negative — of who Alex Rodriguez was.
I can tell you, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Alex is a true gentleman. Alex is smart. Alex is considerate. Alex is thoughtful. And, Alex is a real winner. Like most real winners, Alex knows what he doesn’t know and isn’t afraid to say, “I don’t know about that, and I could use the help. Tell me some more.”
On my day with Alex Rodriguez we met Papa John’s founder John Schnatter. Together, we toured the Papa John QCC- Quality Control Center; Alex asked some really smart questions. He was excited to be at Papa John’s and to have access to the inner circle of the executive team. Most importantly, he appreciated the commitment to quality at Papa John’s. Let me tell you why. It is no accident that Rodriguez is one of the best players in the history of big league baseball. This is a man who gets up every morning and takes batting practice in a special batting cage that he’s had built right into his home. Like Papa John Schnatter, Alex Rodriguez knows how important it is to be totally committed to excellence.
In a very short time, I’ve gotten to know Alex Rodriguez a lot better than just about everyone who has rude things to say about him. I’ve been honored to be a friend and mentor for him – and to help him connect with other people who can help him achieve the goals he’s set for himself. Throughout all of our discussions, Alex has been the exact opposite of the way he has so often been portrayed. He is open minded, a great listener, and a responsible, thoughtful leader who plans for the long- term, in his investments and in everything else.
The life lesson I picked up here was: Never let the media give you a predetermination of anyone. Judge people for yourself. And give everyone a fair shot. The old saying is true – you can’t judge a book by its cover…especially if the cover has been designed by someone who wants the book to fail.
Alex Rodriguez’s brand has been misunderstood. My job today is to let everyone know what a fantastic human being he is, and how proud I am to know him. Baseball is lucky to have him. The Yankees are lucky to have him. And I am lucky to be able to call him my friend.