Over 11 years ago, I was a new salesperson at the Southcenter Store 5 Store. I was taking college classes and received an ethics project that had very loose perimeters. Already enamored with our company, I asked my store manager if there was anyone I could “interview” about our ethics to base my project on. She thought for a moment and suggested I reach out to Blake. Admittedly, I had no idea at that time that she was telling me to email our CEO. Despite growing up in Seattle and having fond memories of getting my school shoes every year at Nordstrom, I didn’t know who the CEO was, and likely would have been too scared to email him had I known.
I did email him, though, and after hitting send, decided to Google him. Much to my surprise, and embarrassment, I learned who I had emailed. Blake responded to me by the next day, complete with an invitation to meet him in the next week or so.
I remember sitting in the auspiciously low chairs on the 6th floor, nervously waiting to meet him. He came towering around the corner with his arms open and smiling, greeted me, and immediately I felt comfortable and no longer nervous.
He spent over an hour with me, thoughtfully answering each of my questions, always asking “what else?” I felt so valued and amazed that he would meet with me like this. I remember thanking him repeatedly, which he humbly and genuinely said was not necessary. It was then that I truly felt and understood the inverted pyramid, and have always carried that with me. It was a turning point for me and my career – I knew this was a place I wanted I wanted to stay and grow within when our CEO would so freely spend his valuable time with an eager college student.
Years later and now in the Buying Office, I’ve been fortunate enough to have met and spent time with Blake on several occasions as a ADM and DM, be it over lunch or when he’d walk my floor, always inspiring and asking questions I knew he likely knew the answer to, but with the evergreen intent to teach something. Still,
I’ll never forget the time he took with me so long ago, and it’s a lovely thought to note how many other people share similar interactions.
I hope these memories and stories of the meaningful impact Blake had on so many offer at least a little comfort to the Nordstrom family, as we all share in the sentiment of losing such a phenomenal leader.