Sam Seely

Five tool player

My sophomore year of college, Jeff Weiner came to speak to my BUSN 174 class. It was 2009 and LinkedIn was a long way from becoming the company they are today. Jeff was still interim President -- a few months after speaking to our class he’d be named CEO.

During Q&A, a student asked him for the one piece of career advice he’d give to fresh grads.

Jeff’s answer: become a five tool player.

In baseball, a scout’s dream prospect is the the five tool player, the ballplayer who can hit for average, hit for power, run, throw, and field. My go-to example is Griffey: either because he’s the best ever, or because I watched more baseball as a seven-year-old in 1996 than I have in the cumulative years since.

In business (and, specifically, in tech,) the five tool player is the candidate who has:

  • Technology vision. Sees the future and what needed to get there.
  • Product sensibility. Meets the needs of users with great product.
  • Business acumen. Knows not to sell a dollar for a quarter.
  • Leadership. Inspires others to meet a shared vision.
  • Resourcefulness. Asks for forgiveness, not for permission.

This advice has always stuck with me. Since hearing it, I’ve kept it in the back of my mind, a sort of North Star for what to frame in the long-term.

If you want to read more about Jeff’s five tool player, he’s blogged about it on LinkedIn here.