Successful entrepreneur (and former Major League athlete) Anthony Ranaudo knows something about perseverance, resilience and leadership.
A New Jersey native, Anthony headed down south to play ball at LSU, where he helped lead the Tigers to a College World Series victory in 2009. From Baton Rouge he went on to play with the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and the Korean Baseball Organization. Injuries would eventually sideline his playing career, but wouldn’t prevent Anthony from pursuing his goal of one day returning to LSU and graduating. In 2018 his perseverance paid off, and he finished his degree in Sports Administration – setting the stage for a career that would utilize his passion for business and considerable drive to excel.
The first act contained success and difficulty in equal measure. After a high school and college career spent hitting all of his goals – getting recruited to the program of his dreams, winning a championship, and becoming a first round pick for the Red Sox – Anthony hit some roadblocks. After 4 years in Boston, he was traded to the Texas Rangers and experienced an environment where he didn’t know his teammates, the organization was less communicative, and he began to experience social and performance anxiety. This culminated in a personally defining moment – hitting the Major League record for pitching the most walks in an inning, and getting booed off the field.
“Don’t let one moment define you”
“I thought my career was over. It made me think about resiliency – I didn’t want my career to be defined by a mental or physical breakdown. I tried to let it define me in a positive way, which is also true for leadership and entrepreneurship, and the things that I’m executing every single day.”
After what he describes as a breakdown on the mound, he was offered a fresh start via a transfer to the Chicago White Sox Triple-A team. Anthony embraced the opportunity for transformation – he made the decision to “show up in the locker room, be a leader, conduct myself professionally, and define my career from this point onward.” He would make it back to the major leagues with the White Sox after going 40 innings without walking a single person.
“Learn what success means to you”
Through the remainder of his baseball career, Anthony started putting together the building blocks of a second act that would center around a focus on mental health, thinking about performance in a more holistic way, and giving back to the community that had given him his start. It was 2016, the year of the historic August floods in Louisiana, and Anthony took up donations among his teammates and encouraged the MLB organization to match funds. They ended up donating $250,000 to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. He feels that coming to Baton Rouge helped him develop the sort of network and community that enabled him to do things he might not have been able to do in other cities – and that was crucial to understanding what he was truly motivated by and what he wanted to give back.
“When I went to Korea in 2017 I thought I had everything I wanted – the most money I had ever made, I was the top pitcher – and I was the least happy I had ever been. When I broke my hand and was forced to come back to the US for surgery, I began working with kids. I realized they were more interested in my stories than skills – what had happened when I failed, and how I came back. This made me want to reach more people, so I started a podcast.”
“The Up & In Show” features Anthony and former LSU teammate Jared Mitchell talking with professionals at the top of their fields about adversity, training, mental health, and everything that goes into the pursuit of excellence. Producing the show presented Anthony with an opportunity to develop Bullpen Creative, which helps athletes and brands with their creative needs and disseminates more stories about sports and mental health.
Going through and overcoming adversity has given Anthony the confidence to push through the stress of entrepreneurship, and learn that he’s not driven by money or fame – he wants to be able to talk about mental health and performance through all of his endeavors, enjoy the process, and commit to continual learning as he strives for success in his businesses.
What baseball taught him about leadership
“You set the tone with the first pitch.” And it’s important to know how to recover when you haven’t made a great start. Anthony’s top performance at LSU was against Auburn, the #1 and #2 teams. His first inning went poorly, but his adjustments gave him the best game of his college career. The ability to make adjustments has held true throughout his career – as he played and learned more about performance, his mentality changed to a focus on meditation, an understanding of rest and recovery, and an approach to every day with the question “what can I be doing to get better?”
He now tries to be the kind of leader that his favorite coaches were to him – the kind that understands that not everyday is the same, and sees development as a team effort. It’s not only about what the coach wants to see happen – it’s about how YOU want to improve as well, and partnering together to build on those goals.
“I know I’m still not the best I could be at managing. I’m always learning, and always trying to communicate “what can I be doing to be a better leader?”‘
Anthony’s interest in human performance continues to grow, and he recently joined with business partners to bring the F45 Training franchise to Baton Rouge and other locations in Louisiana. This is in addition to other investments of time and capital he has made into businesses like Marucci Sports, Diamond Nation, Meribo Pizza and other enterprises.
He’s only 31, and has no plans to slow down any time soon. He loves to speak about his experiences and help develop people in the pursuit of their passions, with a holistic approach that includes brain and gut health, breathwork, and nutritional advising.
Thank you Anthony for coming to speak about your leadership journey with our Essentials of First Line Leadership class.
Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.