Mike Veeck

Up to bat with a business book

St. Paul Saints's Mike Veeck advises businesses on how to find and retain employees in his new book

By Kevyn Burger

As the co-owner of the St. Paul Saints, baseball impresario Mike Veeck is known for his “fun is good” mantra, promoting an over-the top, stunt-filled experience when his team takes the field.

But Veeck’s resume contains more than baseball credentials. He teaches college and graduate level sport management courses, has worked as a marketing consultant and headed several advertising agencies.

“I’m more than a greedy owner, although I am a greedy owner,” he confesses with a chortle. “With the Saints, I consider myself a small business owner.”

Now add “business book author” to his list of accomplishments.

As usual, Veeck, 65, is coming at the project with an oversized twinkle in his eye.

Called Another Boring, Derivative, Piece of Crap Business Book, Veeck’s new book, co-written with Allen Fahden, includes a few gimmicks that are consistent with Veeck’s irreverence.

“No one who reads a business book ever reads more than the first chapter, so our first chapter is about 50 pages long,” he explained. “All the other chapters are one or two pages.”

Much of the message in Veeck’s book guides businesses in their efforts to find and retain the best employees.

“It is occurring to businesses that if they make their place attractive, people will stay, and it’s a lot cheaper to keep them. They can implement ideas that don’t cost anything that will make their employees happy,” he said. “The first thing is to get to know them, have more face-to-face meetings. You need to create that environment; people don’t come up with brilliant ideas in a vacuum.”   

The smart-aleck adheres to some of the same advice you got from your mother. Veeck preaches tried-and-true tactics that stand out in a business environment often dominated by email and social media.

“I’m not too busy to send handwritten notes; I know they leave an impression. I sold $100,000 in advertising because I sent a personal note.”

Baseball and an oversized personality are in Veeck’s DNA. He is the son of the legendary Hall of Famer Bill Veeck, a showman who owned the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns at various times.

The senior Veeck was the first American League owner to include an African-American player, and his son also promotes diversity; the Saints featured the first woman to pitch in a men's professional baseball league.

Veeck encourages businesses to welcome talented employees by expanding their notion of who belongs on their team.

“Our accountant with the Saints has green hair and she’s a roller derby girl,” he says. “The numbers are in the best shape they’ve ever been in.”