Theo’s 20% Rule

June 25, 2019

I’m a lifelong Cubs fan as required by my grandfather who took me to my first Cubs game back when you could buy a bleacher ticket for $3 and bring your own cooler full of drinks into Wrigley Field (Grandpa Tom liked his Old Style). Wow, have times changed. My 12-year-old son Kevin and I have been to many Cubs games but until last week we never sat in the bleachers. Feeling nostalgic, I decided to take Kevin and sit in the exact bleacher seats that I sat in for my first Cubs game.

The tickets were close to $50 each, coolers are no longer allowed, and the bleacher fans are much tamer and friendlier to the opposing team than I ever remember. As I scanned the stadium, my son couldn’t believe that when I was younger there was only one hand-operated scoreboard and all of the music was generated from an organ. Can you believe stadiums didn’t always have jumbotrons? But the biggest change wasn’t visible to the eye but was definitely present and that is the expectations for the team and Cubs culture. I grew up with the Cubs being lovable losers and my son has grown up expecting a World Series Championship every year. After 108 years the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and continue to compete for championships every year.

Theo Epstein’s Cubs

I believe this change in Cubs culture can be directly tied to the hiring of team president Theo Epstein. On the drive home from the game, I had Kevin pull up an old Dave Axelrod podcast, “The Axe Files,” where Axelrod interviewed Theo Epstein after the Cubs Championship. I highly recommend you listen to the full episode as there are many great lessons to be learned from Theo. My favorite is Theo’s 20% rule.

Theo Epstein says, “Whoever your boss is, or your bosses are, they have 20 percent of their job that they just don’t like, so if you can ask them or figure out what that 20 percent is, and figure out a way to do it for them, you’ll make them really happy, improve their quality of life and their work experience.”

Who is your boss? For most insurance producers, their main boss is their client. What if you applied this rule within your agency and were able to determine the 20% that your client doesn’t like. Solve the 20% conundrum for your client and I am certain your agency can experience the same cultural shift that the Cubs have experienced.

In the meantime, I reminded Kevin that my 20% was yard work and if he wanted to see the beautiful brick and ivy of Wrigley Field again the lawn better be mowed and the weeds pulled first thing in the morning.