I first met Blake over breakfast after a recognition meeting at 427. He was in town for a few days and asked the store managers to select a few department managers from the region to join him for the most important meal of the day. I remember never feeling so nervous and trying to keep every key metric about my business in my head to rattle off as needed but the conversation wasn’t about numbers or the top 10. Blake immediately put us all at ease with his signature smile and asking us each about how we got to where we were today. I’ll never forget how genuine he was to each of us or how he would bend over to drink his orange juice from a straw without picking up the glass. In that hour and a half I witnessed the power of listening and engaging with people as a leader. How lifting them up and making them feel heard did more than any benchmark or measurement of success that was out there. My interactions with him after that day were fleeting but in my 15 years with Nordstrom my pride for where I work has never wavered because of the environment he promoted. There’s a quote by Jack London that embodies the man Blake was and looked for in his people.

“…The proper function of a man is live rather than exist, I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.”

Thank you Blake for teaching me that it’s not always about the figures but about the people and how essential it was to be present in each day and leave it better than you found it.

Alina Roush