SBJ/July 25-31, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Spotlight: Dan Griffis, Target Corp.

Despite move from Ganassi, Griffis stays on Target

After working in motorsports for nearly a decade, Dan Griffis has taken the position of director of strategic partnerships, events and lifestyle marketing with retail giant Target. Griffis, who was vice president of business development at Chip Ganassi Racing, will now be working with one of the team’s top sponsors. Griffis spoke with staff writer Molly Hogan.

Age: 38
New title: Director of strategic partnerships, events and lifestyle marketing at Target Corp.
Previous title: Vice president of business development at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
First job: Caddie at Oakland Hills Country Club
College education: B.A., history and economics, College of Wooster, 1994; MBA, University of Michigan, 2001
Resides: Minneapolis with wife Janna and children Riley (9), Holden (7), Eliza (5)
Grew up: Birmingham, Mich.
Executive most admired: John Wooden
Brand most admired: Dunkin’ Donuts. They have created the nectar of the gods.
Last book read: “The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality,” by Brian Greene
Favorite movie: “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Working in a large corporate environment. For the last nine years at CGR, I have worked alongside 350 great people. At Target I am now working alongside 350,000 great people. I have a few more names to memorize.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
Being able to keep the race team financially healthy by bringing new sponsors to the sport during the most difficult economic environment.

What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Not being able to win a NASCAR championship in my time with the team.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
I have two pieces of advice: 1) Leave your “foam finger” at the door. This business does not need any more fans. We need passionate people who can look at the business objectively and find new ways to add value. 2) My favorite quote is “Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think.” Ideas are the most powerful currency, so get creative.

What is one story you are continuing to watch in the sports world today?
How long the NCAA can continue to be the perfect monopoly. I think over the next five years, we are going to see some major changes to how they do business.

What is the one element you would like to see changed about the sports industry?
I would like to see more businesspeople on the team side seek mutually beneficial outcomes and for sports fans to demand more meaningful interaction from teams than a T-shirt being launched from a cannon. It is just a T-shirt, people. Don’t set your bar that low.

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