Tips From The Top: One On One With Dave Stewart

I spoke to former Major League pitcher, executive, coach and agent Dave Stewart about his journey and his best advice

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Adam: Thanks for taking the time share insights from your journey on and off the field. What is the most surprising thing about life in professional sports? What is something that would shock fans?
Dave: What would shock fans are the other celebrities (including different actors, comedians, artists, etc) they all wish they played pro baseball. I hear it all the time from others that are amazing in other careers tell me stories about how they wished they’d never stop playing baseball growing up, etc. I’ll never forget meeting Shamar Moore and he kept saying he wished he’d never stop playing baseball. 

Adam: In your experience, other than natural talent, what are the defining qualities of a superstar athlete?

Dave: The defining qualities of a superstar athlete… I think they are relentless, they have a successful vision and they also have a successful plan. Some people have a successful plan and vision but those who are superstar athletes, they don’t plan for anything other than success. There is no secondary plan.

Adam: What players and coaches have you learned the most from? What did you learn from them?
Dave: My mentors were who were players were Davie Lopes and Reggie Smith. Equally, I learned very valuable life skills. When I met them I was 18 or 19 and trying to develop not just how to be a great athlete but how to be a man and what they both taught me was how to be a man. I learned how to accept responsibility and how to make sacrifices. They didn’t accept figure pointing, and if they pointed, it was pointing at themselves. You have to always look at self. God willing that life is not short, I definitely believe in second chances and that people can change. They embraced me and taught me the things that you can only learn from a man being that I was primarily raised by my mom and grandmother. My father passed away at the young age of 16.

In regard to coaches, Dave Duncan was probably the most influential coach I’ve had but it was strictly from a baseball skill perspective. He taught me how to focus and hone in and how to process and think. He gave me the tools on how to put my mental ability and my physical ability in the same place and once the two were aligned, that’s when my game took off. The quicker your mental catches up with your physical is when you become an elite athlete. 
Another mentor Mack Newton – he was my martial arts teacher – he taught me how to compartmentalize my life and how to center and control me.

Adam: What do you believe are the defining qualities of a great leader?

Dave: What I think leaders have mastered is when to talk and when to shut up. Leaders understand how to communicate with each and every individual at their level. Leaders engage you instead of separate you. They understand the vision and they know how to take you there. That is what I understand what leaders are to be.

Adam: Who is the best teammate you ever had and why?

Dave: Carney Lansford. He could make you laugh but at the same time, he had no problem telling you if something wasn’t working. He could make you laugh and discipline you at the same time and he would never ask you to do something that he couldn’t do. There wasn’t one “click” in the clubhouse that he couldn’t mix and mingle in. He fit in with everyone. People respected Carney across the board.

Adam: What are the best lessons you have learned through your career in sports that are applicable to those of us who will never earn a living playing pro ball?
Dave: Playing pro sports – sports and life are one in the same. You can’t goof off on the road to success. You have to maximize each day and take your best shot every day. One of the most important lessons I learned in life is that you have great days where you feel on top of the world and then bad days that you are up under the bed but you have to keep getting up knowing that tomorrow is another day.

Adam: What are some of the best lessons you learned from your time in the front office and your time as a sports agent?
Dave: The best single lesson that I learned as an exec is managing the people above you. When you can’t manage the people above you it is going to be a difficult road. You have to learn to manage up.

From the agent side, the best thing that I’ve learned is to listen – you are dealing with a lot of individuals and by listening to you learn how to communicate with a lot of different personalities and individuals.
Adam: What are your hobbies and what role do they play in your success? And what compelled you to get into the recovery medicine space?
Dave: I am currently the CEO of an all-natural topical analgesic called Zen. There are so many pain relievers (loaded with chemicals) out there that people use that don’t work and you’re told “oh it will work in 30 mins” and then you wait, and it doesn’t work. Coming from a guy that played professional sports, I have a sore elbow and when something bad happens to you, you hesitate to try it and when something good happens you want more.

In regard to hobbies, my first real love is boating and fishing. I think that everybody has to have a place that they can go to to get away and relax, a place that you can go that’s satisfying and know that this is alright. When you have a place like that, then you can go back and do what you do with a different attitude.

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