Thanks to Saturday’s service – both heartbreaking and inspiring – I am ready to share my Blake story. The theme of family resonates with me – I’ve been fond of saying that I grew up here. With over 27 years of service, more than half of my life has been spent at Nordstrom, immersed in the culture we all love so much. As I look back, I realize that Blake was most supportive of me at a pivotal time in my career. It was 2003 and I was asked to take on a new role by another leader. Despite the fact that it was a promotion to VP, I wasn’t sure. In fact, I didn’t really want the job because frankly I didn’t think I was qualified and I was afraid to fail. I think Blake heard this from one of the leaders I was close to and called me to his office. I thought the meeting was part of the interview process, but much to my surprise Blake simply insisted that I accept the role. He seemed so confident about it, despite me feeling the need to tell him why I didn’t think I was the right person for the job “I have no background in Credit, I’m a brand person and I know retail marketing.” His response was “I know, that’s what we’re looking for, we want someone with a different perspective.” Then, for added measure he said “Try it, if you don’t like it, we’ll find you something else in a few years.”
With that objection deflected I shared some personal information with Blake – it was a bit uncomfortable, but I felt it necessary to be transparent . . . I was newly divorced with a 4 year old and a two year old. I really did not know how I could possibly handle being a new VP and monthly travel. Again, Blake surprised me “That’s no problem, family comes first, we can be flexible.” He went on to ask me who would watch the kids when I was away – I told him about my mom and her help through my difficult transition to single parenthood.
Needless to say, I accepted the job and spent seven years in the most challenging and rewarding role of my career. Every time I traveled with Blake from that day forward he asked about the kids and my mom. He truly cared that my home life was settled, especially when travel ramped up and work was intense. I can’t imagine what path my career would have taken if Blake had taken no for an answer. The fact that he was willing to take a chance on me gave me confidence that I didn’t know I had. Was it always easy – absolutely not! But Blake continued to be present in my career as I moved to the Rack, another area we both shared a passion for. I am so grateful for the opportunity not only to know Blake, but to be a recipient of his coaching and a beneficiary of his leadership and dynamic presence.
I think what has held me back from putting these words down is that I simply could not imagine what Nordstrom looks like without Blake. After Saturday, I see it now. His legacy will live on in all of us. And, in doing so, it will make us that much stronger and better. It’s been an honor and I feel so fortunate to have known Blake.