Brandon Laird is one of the top Yankee prospects. He currently plays for the Double-A Trenton Thunder and is leading the league in RBIs.

The other night, Laird hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, home run), including a walk-off home run (above) to win the game.

I was in the press box for that game, in fact, I spent some time with Laird before the game. I knew he was a top prospect, but what impressed me most was his character and attitude. Below are the highlights from our conversation.

Brandon Laird is 22 and comes from a baseball family. His brother, Gerald, is the starting catcher for the Detroit Tigers.

I started out by asking Laird about the best home run he ever hit.

“It was in a playoff game in high school, extra innings and I got a first pitch fast ball and just put a good swing on it.”

The key word is just. He “just” put a good swing on it. Laird and I talked about how peak performance happens when we have very little mental interference. You’re not thinking about your technique, your last at-bat, what people will think if you have a bad game or “what am I eating later?”

ET: Do you ever get nervous before games?

BL: I do. But then I take a couple deep breaths and tell myself that I’ve been in this situation before.

ET: Who is your favorite player?

BL: Growing up I was a big Chipper Jones fan and now I like Alex Rodriguez, as well.

ET: How did you get to this point in your career?

BL: Hard work.

ET: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were younger?

BL: A lot. The scouts at how well you do, but they also look at how poorly you do. If you go 4-4, that’s great, but if you can go 0-4 and still contribute on defense, be a leader and bounce back the next game, that’s even better.

ET: How is your nutrition?

BL: I actually started eating really well and lost about 25 pounds and it is definitely giving me more energy and helping me play at a higher level. It wasn’t easy, but I stuck to it.

Laird also shared with me the fact that he didn’t even make varsity in his first year of high school. “You can’t control that – you just have to go out and play your game and focus on the things you can control.”

Derek Jeter and Pete Rose also gave Laird some great advice (watch the video below).

As you know, after my conversation with Laird, he went out on the field and became only the second person in team history to hit for the cycle.

I could tell just by talking to Brandon that he had the right mindset and that he will go far. In fact, I gave him a copy of my book and signed it, “See you in the Bronx, Ed.”

Brandon Laird is a great player, but more importantly, he is a great person.

Watch the video below for part of our conversation…


There are two types of teammates in the world: builder-uppers and breaker-downers.

The builder-uppers are the Derek Jeters who make the rest of their team better. Michael Jordan was the same way.

The breaker-downers focus on themselves and may even put their teammates down to make themselves look better. One bad apple ruins the bunch.

This applies to sports, work, school and relationships.

Here is my favorite poem to bring the point home…

One day as I was walking around my home town,
I saw a group of men tearing a building down.

With a heave and a ho and a mighty yell,
they swung a huge steel ball and a tall building fell.

Impressed, I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
Should I hire them if I ever want to build?”

“Oh no,” he laughed. “Oh no, indeed!
They’re unskilled laborers–that’s all I need.”

“These men can easily wreck in a day or two,
what it takes skilled builders many years to do.”

So I asked myself as I walked away,
which one of these roles do I want to play?

Do I want to be known as one who constantly tears down?
De-energizing others as I spread negativity around?

Or do I want to be known as one who skillfully builds up with care,
enthusiastically encouraging everyone whenever I’m there?

Which type of person will you be today?


“I have a simple philosophy:
Fill what’s empty.
Empty what’s full.
Scratch where it itches.”

Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Angie Holmberg in Oklahoma.

Well tonight’s the night. New York Yankees versus the Philadelphia Phillies. The Turnpike Series begins. Bragging rights for the tri-state area.

These are the two best teams in the Major Leagues this year.

And they’re going to be nervous.

That’s normal, and inevitable – they can’t control that.

What they can control is how they react under those conditions.

Derek Jeter has a simple approach. He just focuses on staying in the present. He stays in his own world. He’s the eye of the hurricane, calm and focused, no matter what’s going on around him.

In the New York Times yesterday, they were talking about how Jeter didn’t even know Yankee-rival and former Red Sox player, Pedro Martinez was slated to pitch Game 2.

“Is he pitching Game 2?”

“…Jeter’s approach works for him. He is focused on baseball, focused on what he must do to get prepared for games. At some point on Tuesday, he would have learned in a scouting meeting that Martinez was pitching on Thursday. So he would have two days to get ready to face a pitcher he knows intimately. Possessing that knowledge any earlier would not have mattered to Jeter, who said that his success was based on simplifying things.

‘As players, you can try to over analyze,’ he said. ‘You can over analyze things so much that you can put yourself in a funk. This is baseball. Whether you’re 8 years old playing Little League or you’re playing out there in the World Series. It’s still the same game.’ ” (NY Times, October 27, 2009)

It’s no wonder why Derek Jeter is the guy that any manager would want up at the plate when the game is on the line.

You may not be able to hit, throw and run like Derek Jeter, but you can instantly be just as mentally tough as him.

Good luck to the Yankees and Phillies; let’s hope the weather cooperates.

Thanks for reading.


“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

I miss the Twin Towers.

There isn’t a time when I look at the New York City skyline and don’t think about the World Trade Center.

Yesterday, I attended a lecture on success by Bill Boggs, four-time Emmy Award-winning talk show host at the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon. Boggs has interviewed some of the most successful people of the last century. He shared some of their tips on success.

It was interesting to hear that Sinatra said, “Sometimes you have to scrape bottom in life to understand how really wonderful life can be.”

And that Donald Trump said you cannot achieve great things in life without developing mental toughness.

Boggs said Mario Cuomo talked about the value of hard work.

Bill also interviewed Philippe Petit, the Frenchman who walked on a wire across the Twin Towers. Boggs spoke to him the day after he accomplished “The Artistic Crime of the Century” (Time Magazine). Petit said that it didn’t matter if that wire was two feet off the ground or two hundred feet; he was attached to that wire.

The documentary, “Man on Wire” was about Philippe Petit’s amazing feat on August 7, 1974, including his planning and philosophy on “living life on a tightrope.”

It was a sign that Boggs mentioned this movie that I had been meaning to see. So last night I rented the documentary and realized I would be watching it on the eve of 9/11. I got chills.

I had mixed emotions watching shots of the Twin Towers. There was sadness, appreciation of beauty and sheer awe.

This was an amazing film on many levels. And there were so many life lessons throughout.

I loved how Petit practiced in France with friends bouncing on the wire, simulating the potential wind and swaying of the towers. (Practicing Perfect)

“If you want something, nothing is impossible.”

Philippe Petit planned the 1,340 foot-high walk for six years and said that he never once thought about the walk. He was focusing on the planning of it. (Process versus Product)

“Improvisation and intuition should be taught in school. That brings intense joy and expression.” (Mindfulness)

“To me it’s really so simple that life should be lived on the edge of life. You have to exercise rebellion. To refuse to taper yourself to rules. To refuse your own success. To refuse to repeat yourself. To see every day, every year, every idea, as a true challenge. And then you are going to live your life on a tightrope.”

And finally…

“If you are passionate, you are going to do what you love to do all day long and you are going to be the best at it.”

Today, take a moment to remember 9/11. It’s okay to be sad, but remember what Joe Torre said, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

Torre’s former player, Derek Jeter may make history in New York tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, as he tries to surpass the great Lou Gehrig, and become the Yankees all-time hit leader with 2, 722 hits in the pinstripes.

Have a great day, everyone.

Thanks for reading.


“Unless you’re the lead dog, the view never changes.”
-sign outside the Yankees clubhouse at Legends Field in Tampa

So the Yankees lost their first ever game at the new stadium. It’s okay.

The Yankees are not about winning every single game; that has never been done, and never will be. But the Yankees have something called, pride, tradition, and history. The new Yankee Stadium was designed after the original and the field dimensions are the same. It is now the most amazing stadium in the world, a working museum. Everywhere you look, you will see the Yankee legacy, past, present, and future.

Derek Jeter knows this. Mr. Jeter also knows what it takes to become the winningest sports team in history – HARD WORK. Above are two photographs I took of Jeter at the old stadium.

Derek Jeter starts training in the middle of November in Tampa, regardless how far the team goes in the post-season. Most of the other major leaguers report around the middle of January.

Why does Jeter do this?

Because he knows that his career isn’t going to be that long, so he’s going all out, while he can. He says he can go on vacation after he retires. He knows the workouts he performs in November help him stay strong the following October.

It’s about constantly getting better. Jeter says, “It’s monotonous, but it’s important, too. Repetition breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds comfort. Comfort breeds relaxation, and the best environment for achieving success is when you’re relaxed.”

“The motivation is to be the best player I can be, and if that means some people want to call me one of the best in baseball, that’s up to them. I don’t sit here every day and think about what I accomplished in the past and how I’ve got it made now. I’m always focusing on what I can do to improve in the future. What can I do to make myself better tomorrow? I know people don’t care what I did last year. Seriously, last year is over with. My teammates and my coaches want to see what I can do this year. More important, I want to see it.”
Hard work (smart work) = Success
Homework: Watch the Yankees @ 1:05pm EST today!

Thanks for reading.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Dan Moster, President of the USPTA Midwest Division.

I know something about you. You’re on a team.

It may be a sports team, an orchestra team, a family team, a business team, or a relationship team.

If you’ve read my book or have been following my blog, you know what TEAM stands for…

Together Everyone Achieves More…as long as there’s a Total Effort from All Members.

The focus should be on the team, not the individual. Instead of “me” it should be “we.”

I am a die-hard Yankees fan and regardless of whether you like them or not, you cannot deny that between 1996 and 2000 they had a dynasty. But they didn’t have any superstars. They played as a team. And now they have Alex Rodriguez and haven’t won a world series in eight years!

In Joe Torre’s new book, “The Yankee Years” with Tom Verducci, Derek Jeter talks about those winning years…

“I think everyone had the right mentality,” Jeter said. “The right frame of mind. Yeah, you have to be talented in order to win, but you have to have the right mindset. And that mindset is, do whatever it takes to win a game. It sounds simple, but we really didn’t have anyone that cared more about putting up statistics, you know what I mean? I mean, if somebody had to hit a groundball to second base, they hit a groundball to second base. You don’t get a stat for that. You actually get a negative stat for that. But that’s how you win games.”

Jeter said the key…”do whatever it takes.”

Don’t try your best because you can always do better than your best. Do whatever it takes to help your team win.

Be a leader and leave a legacy.

There are no menial jobs, only menial people.

Thanks for reading.


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Robert Greene.

You can make or break a performance by the thoughts that arise in your mind. The winners and losers feel the same feelings but they take different action. Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, and Roger Federer all get negative, so it’s alright if you do. But it’s what they do when those thoughts arise that make the difference.

Here’s a tip to stop those performance killing thoughts from the book, “Good to GREAT GOLF,” by Dr. Rob Gilbert and John Sikes, Jr…

The Rubber Band – Put an elastic band on your wrist, and every time you become aware of a negative thought, snap the band against your wrist. The sudden quick pain will “snap you out” of the negativity and remind you to get your focus back on track.

You’ll never totally get rid of negative feelings, just make sure you accept those feelings, and then “snap” out of it.

Thanks for reading.


I tell people all the time, to have a “Joe DiMaggio Day.”

Let me explain…

When the great Joe DiMaggio was playing for the New York Yankees, there was a meaningless game at the end of the season, after the Yankees had already clinched a post-season spot. He played like he normally did – all out.

After the game, Joe D was interviewed and the reporter asked, “Hey Joe, this game was a ‘nothing’ game…why did you try so hard?”

“Today, there could have been one person seeing me play for the first time…I owe it to them to do my best.”

And now, Derek Jeter applies this philosophy.

Every lesson I teach, I give it my all, as if it’s their first lesson with me. Every motivational talk I give, I pretend that it’s my first. When I worked at the Princeton Racquet Club, I taught every lesson as if my bosses were on the court watching, even if they weren’t even in the building. And every morning, I write my blog in hopes that I can affect just ONE person out there. I think I can, but I don’t know for sure.


I love writing my blog every morning, and in my own weird way, I think I’m changing the world, but I don’t know unless someone tells me. This morning, someone told me…

Dear Ed,

My name is ________ and I am from __________. I’m 21 years old and I just spent the past 2 years in college in the U.S. playing college tennis in a Division 1 school. I ended last year inside the top 50 and I left college after last semester to pursue my childhood dream of playing professional tennis-A decision I am very happy with…

I’ve been reading your blog on and off for the past year and am just writing to thank you for all your inspirational/motivational messages. I turn to your page whenever I need a lift. I’ve had quite a few obstacles over the past year or so and reading your blog/quotes definitely helped me. I think you are an incredible person with a lot of love for the world, it’s good to know there are good people out there… I’m ranked in the 600’s in the world now and believe I can go very far. My ultimate dream is to be top 100 so I can play the slams and slowly but surely it’s becoming a reality…

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve got a million messages to read every morning so I’ll sign off. I’ve no doubt our paths will meet in the future at some pro tennis tournament. I will definitely be playing some challengers in California at some point. Thank you so much for everything man and keep on spreading the love!

Best wishes,


P.S. I know you like to put down people’s names in your blog but I’d prefer it if you didn’t use mine. Maybe when I make top 100 though! 🙂

Notice he said, “when” I make the top 100, not “if.”

Thanks for reading…and have a Joe DiMaggio Day…


Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Derek Jeter.

Many people ask me what it takes to be a winner.

Most people think winning is the result you get, whether it’s money, a trophy, grades or a raise.

I call those things by-products.

Winning, in my mind, is your effort.

Your attitude.

Your character.

If you do your best…how can you do any better?

If you have the right attitude, you can overcome any obstacle or condition.

And if you have character, well then you’ve got it all.

Last night I watched the final game at Yankee Stadium. I enjoyed the game, the re-caps, the tributes and my own personal memories of the House that Ruth Built. It was hard to choose one thing to blog about, but after the game, I knew instantly…

After the final out and some celebration, the New York Yankees and their captain, Derek Jeter, took the microphone at the pitcher’s mound.

Jeter spoke on behalf of the team and he didn’t talk about how great they were, or their 26 World Championships.

He talked about what an honor it was to put on the pinstripes. And talked about how it was a team effort from players present and past. And most importantly, they thanked their fans…and they meant it. That’s class.

Many people hate the Yankees because they have won so much and they have such a big payroll. I can see that. But I’m a Yankee for life because they have class. They are professionals. And last night confirmed it.

Yankee Stadium…thanks for the memories.

Thanks for reading.

Hope to see you tonight at the first book signing of “Game. Set. Life.” at Amalfi’s Restaurant in Lawrenceville, 7-9 PM.