7/7/21: Never Wanting To Leave A Group Once You Find Your Place

I opened up Fbook last nt prior to the Suns 1st NBA Finals game. Saw 12 posts by current/former employees I’m still connected w, sharing their excitement…& the coolest part: seeing dozens more msgs from others in our Suns “fam.”

I’ve worked for a # of pro teams. But there was something abt the Suns, that to this day, makes current/former employees feel connected to the BRAND. And it’s NOT a bandwagon thing bc the team might win a ring…it’s way more.

I got to the Suns as a Sales Director in 2007. Stayed till 2010. Leadership came from the top there. Rick Welts was our President. He then went on to be the President of the Warriors for 10 yrs, bringing them multiple titles.

Rick led by unifying. We had senior staff mtgs every Wednesday w ALL biz units present. Everyone got an equal chance to share. He even had Steve Kerr (our GM at the time), in on every one of those mtgs. Uniting the biz & bball sides is not common in sports. Rick made it happen. Steve would ask US what HE could do to help our sales efforts, after mtgs. Everyone was in it together.

The rest of the senior leadership was so solid. John Walker – now the President of the Houston Dynamo, was our CMO. He was as honest as they came. Straight shooter & you knew where you stood.

Most all the staff was from outside phx, so we became tight – not just colleagues; friends. And career growth came from those connections. Bob Hamer who was a manager on my staff became VP of Sales soon after I left. Then Kyle Pottinger, who we literally hired as an entry level seller (& I later hired at the Devils), is NOW the Suns SVP of Sales.

Our fan-facing mktg msg at the time was “Planet Orange” & everyone from ushers to fans, ate it up. It was an experience to be in the building on game nt.

So why bring all this up? Leadership, adversity (getting close, never winning it all), transparency, experience, they BIND ppl together. And once you’ve become fam in that way “you never leave.”

It’s why so many are writing on each other’s pages. It’s why tho it’s been yrs, we all feel part of this run.

And what gets me JACKED is learning from this experience more about what binds ppl for the long run. Theo has yet another line he always uses…a beauty: “Once you help ppl turn on that lightbulb, they never want to leave.” He also says “We’re in the business of collecting people.” It’s easier to see this when you’ve been the member of a sports team/fam, bc you’re all going for one goal – a championship. The leadership thru the trials/tribulations show you, you’re bound to the fam/brand/mission/story for life. Getting together is always a reunion. Celebrating each other’s successes is always a no brainer. But in mental health, it’s not AS clear to ppl that we’re ALL on the SAME team, bc society has conditioned us for so long, to think of our struggles separately, in different buckets, where we can’t understand one another. But it’s not true. Once “the lightbulb goes on” that struggle is struggle, & we can support each other & relate no matter the circumstances, no one “wants to leave.” That’s the fam we are building. It’s the fam this world needs right now. And we love being your partners, recruiting for this important team.

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