“It sure looked like everybody was having fun there” one friend commented offline after watching this week’s press conference introducing local ownership.
He may have been responding to the friendly banter between Mayor Jenny Durkan and Tim and Tod Leiweke who joked about “blood on the floor” left as a result of challenging negotiations.
Maybe we were all just feeling jazzed because everybody in the room had the opportunity to high five or hug Storm owner Ginny Gilder the day after her team staged an epic playoff comeback on the shoulders of the legendary Sue Bird.
Most likely it was the obvious brotherly love that always exists whenever Tim and Tod get in the room together. The joy that these two have found working together (along with Tim’s daughter Francesca) is obvious and that familial spirit, along with Tod’s relentless sense of pragmatism are being steadily infused into the culture of this team in a way that is fun for everybody involved.
And “everybody” is getting to be a big group.
My typical spot in the back and off to the side, out of the way of the professional journalists and difference makers is getting crowded, mostly with friends who have gotten to know each other over time.
It’s always fun to see Robert Nellums who I’ve known and respected for more than a decade. With him are at least a dozen representatives of Seattle Center organizations and the surrounding community community. It’s a fun group of folks from places like the Vera Project and my friend Debi Frausto of the uptown alliance, who was nice enough to buy me a beer before the Storm’s game 5 win.
OVG’s incredibly competent operations leader Steve Mattson has become a friend and he’s joined by newer hires like Dave Tippets, Morgan Littlefield and Heidi Dettmer who have mutual relationships from their time at the Seahawks, Sounders and Mariners. Because everybody is in the same room we have ample opportunity to corner Lance Lopes and make him answer any questions that have built up.
There are lot hugs at a Tod Lieweke event. He likes to schedule these things for 2 hours, with food which allows everybody to linger, mingle and have 5 minute conversations instead of scheduling meetings at some other time. It’s an extremely effective way to resolve small issues and make sure everybody feels appreciated and listened to.
With all these folks involved it is getting hard for me to find a role or a purpose.
They don’t need me to remind elected officials that this is important. Our mayor, Jenny Durkan does a fine job sending the message that sports and community are important. When she needs backup there is a broad and diverse coalition that is assembled and well managed to come out and support her.
All of the the relationships I’ve built over the years are pretty insignificant and unecessary when compared to what this group brings to the table. They just added a whose who of Seattle business leaders to an already stacked lineup of friends.
I’ve described myself in the past as a “relentlessly inviting participation” with the intention of making this a community effort but lately I can’t go anywhere without hearing “I met with Tod last week” or “a member of the team has already contacted us to find out more about our priorities.” These guys are everywhere.
And the pragmatism and fun I’ve tried to bring in recent years? Tod Lieweke has it covered. I’ve never met a more pragmatic and inspiring leader. His spirit is contagious and as a result of the tone he sets there are a dozen positive thought leaders out there stoking the fires and keeping everybody upbeat.
About the only role I can really envision anymore is telling everybody what a great job they are doing, providing a little bit of moral support for a crew that is working overtime and more to try to meet an ultra-aggressive schedule. Other than that I’m just there to see old friends, get a hug or two and enjoy the free food.
Mayor Durkan, Tim, Tod, Lance, Steve, Heidi, Morgan, Debi and all the rest please know that you are appreciated. You are doing a really good job with a project more difficult than most people can imagine. Thank you!
After a decade of service it’s great to be a fan again.