In the mid aught years we ran a pretty fantastic leadership development program, the LDP, for our senior leaders. Over 350 leaders attended over 25 programs, over three years.
We had amazing sponsorship for this program, starting with Blake. Blake, Delena, Pete, Erik, and the rest of the executive leadership team attended each and every program, kicking it off, stressing the importance of developing leadership skills and sharing current business updates. We always had at least 6 exec leaders participating. If someone couldn’t make it, they made sure someone came in their stead and that they were in attendance for the next program.
Delena was our executive sponsor and did a great job enlisting the support of all; not an easy job to wrangle extremely busy people, especially the C-suite. I also credit much of the support to Blake. He always ‘walked the talk’. He did not expect anyone to do something that he himself was not willing to do. He attended almost all of our programs, demonstrating leadership, working around our dates. A rare occurrence in today’s executive world.
Blake demonstrated leadership each and every day, in each and every interaction. He was honest, humble, candid, humorous. Blake was always ‘present’. When he was talking with you, you felt like you were the only person in the room. He looked you in the eye, he spoke directly to you. He wasn’t checking his phone. He wasn’t looking around at everything around him (though you knew he noticed even the most minute detail). He wasn’t distracted (or at least it never showed). You knew you had his full attention. He made people feel like what they had to say was meaningful. He made you feel important. And in return, you made sure to make the most of every moment with Blake.
Blake was a great story teller, as many of you have attested. He was a man of high integrity and knew how to get a point across, in a way that others could hear. Even the tough messages. He knew how to give feedback that made the point, yet was always respectful. Perhaps that’s what I admired most about him. He could give you ‘course corrections’, that were considerate; lessons you could learn from. You knew you’d been ‘schooled’, and you could still walk away with your head held high. He inspired you to do better. To BE better. He ‘walked the talk’.
Blake lived leadership. In a way that made it easy for others to follow.
Over my 30 years at Nordstrom I was fortunate to work with more than my fair share of great leaders. My respect for Blake has always been extremely high. He will be greatly missed, yet his legacy and impact will live on.
My condolences to Mr. Bruce, Molly, Pete, Erik and the rest of the family. May you be heartened by the impact that Blake has left on so many.
Julie Jones O'Leary