I’m seeing many posts that perfectly capture the spirit of Blake Nordstrom. He was a great leader, visionary and incredibly smart. Two things I also saw was his humor and competitive spirit. On more than one occasion I saw him send a department manager on a wild chase for the “wall stretcher” when they complained their floor was too small. He’d say with a straight face, “Have you used the wall stretcher? There’s one in the building, if not, check another store. They’ll have one.”
15 years ago, when I was managing 527, Short Hills, Blake’s teaching, humor and competition came out at once. Foxcroft blouses were big and we sold thousands of them. We walked to the rounder, Blake turned to me and said, “how many of these have you sold?” Stammering for the exact figure I blurted out a number that was in the area of our number but I wasn’t confident it was right. Blake squinted a little and said, “you feel good about that number?” I nervously chuckled and said, “not really.” He then said, “I bet you’re not in the top 20 in the company.” I pondered it for a quick second and said, “I’ll take that bet.” Blake then said, “what do you want to bet?” Me: “A $100!” Blake (laughing): “How bout a $1?” We shook hands and continued with the visit.
As soon as Blake left I ran to check our rank in the company. 19th in the company. I emailed Stephany Pierce, my regional manager with the rank and a message that said, “Blake owes me a dollar but I’m not certain I have the courage to collect it.” To my horror Stephany forwards the note to BLAKE, cc’s me and writes, “Haha….pay up sucker!” Blake replied, “fair enough, I stand corrected. Good job, Glenn.” Trust me when I say that the message of ‘know your business, store manager’ wasn’t lost on me.
Two days later this note arrived in the mail with a dollar bill inside. I framed both and have it proudly displayed in my office ever since. On a recent trip to Minneapolis Blake was in my office, saw it and recounted the exact story to me of how I won it. He laughed again, held his finger in the air and said, “I bet you knew how many units you sold since that bet!” More than he knew.
This note has always stood as a reminder to stick to my word, know my business, have fun, and be humble enough to admit when I’m wrong. Truth be told I also kept it as a memento because it’s not often you’re right and Blake is wrong (seldom happens, if ever). I will cherish this note even more now.
Every time I was in Blake’s company I walked away learning something new, inspired to stretch myself and having a good laugh. Being part of Nordstrom under his leadership has provided so many positive contributions to my life that I will never forget and will always be appreciative. He will be missed. My deepest condolences to Blake’s family, his wife and two children. R.I.P. #ThanksBlake #MyBlakeStory