Blake Nordstrom saved my life.
I was the Corporate Merchandise Manager for Rack Shoes, and had been in that assignment for 17 years.
It was mid Oct 2009; the Rack shoe team over time had posted consistently good results, however the year before and YTD shoes results was #3 out of 4 merchandising positions.
The Racks were in the midst of strong growth.
It was a Friday afternoon.
Blake called me up to his office up on the 6th floor, closed the door, and shared: “Tim; we think the world of you. You’ve had a good run. However your last couple of turns at bat have not been strong. We have high expectations for Rack shoes and strong growth plans for the future. We don’t know if you are the right leader to go forward with.”
I was stunned.
I had known and worked with Blake since register training in 1982.
I was 53 years old with 3 kids in high school and college.
Nordstrom was my career and the means with which I supported my family.
Blake sent me out the door with the weekend to think about it.
It was a tough and soul searching 2 days with my wife Rose and family.
I went back to see Blake on Monday, and shared: “I am the best person in this Company to lead Rack shoes. But I am stumbling and I need some help.”
Blake stated: “You have many good qualities. I would focus on 2 areas:
Lead with strategy and let the buyers be buyers.
Hold the people you support as accountable as you hold yourself”
Blake ended the conversation with “What can I do to help?”
Together with the support of Blake and others, I worked hard to evolve my approach to and style of leadership:
I moved from a pattern of micromanaging to teaching the Buyers and team I supported correct principals and then expected them to govern themselves to achieve good results.
The next 7 years Rack shoes finished #1 four times and #2 three times.
I retired in 2016 on a high note.
The CEO of best retailer brought in a struggling merchant leader, called them on the carpet, and then extended an olive branch of support.
No one had higher expectations for their team or compassion for those who served than Blake.
Blake saved my career and my life.
I believe in and worked for what he stood for.
It brought me success and sustained my family.
I will forever remember and be indebted.