SBJ/September 12-18, 2011/People and Pop Culture

Conrad Smith, COO, Minnesota Lynx

Smith’s Minnesota Lynx return to the WNBA playoffs this week for the first time since 2004 as the top seed in the Western Conference.

PROFESSIONAL


What I Like …

An insight: In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends.

An influential person in my career: My parents and all the talented educators along the way who unselfishly imparted their wisdom.

An out-of-the-box idea: Whether a part-time ticket taker or a courtside seat holder, treat everyone with the same level of attention and respect.

A timeless idea: Service before all else; handwritten thank-you notes.
CONRAD SMITH
COO, Minnesota Lynx

Where I'm From: Born in Winchester, Mass., grew up in nearby Woburn and now reside in Eagan, Minn.

Where I Went to School: Graduated with a speech and communications degree from Emerson College (other alums include Jay Leno, Steven Wright, Henry Winkler, Denis Leary and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Sam Presti) in Boston.

My First Job:
Mowed lawns, worked in a greenhouse and was a Scotts Lawn Counselor at a local gardening store.

A sports facility: Camp Randall, Fenway Park, Target Field.

A sports event: The Masters is the traditional classic sports event, but one of the best events I have ever witnessed was the highest-scoring game in WNBA history, a Phoenix Mercury 127 - Minnesota Lynx 124 double-overtime game on July 24, 2010.

A brand: Mayo Hospitals and Clinics, Best Buy.

A trend: Social media is now the easiest and most powerful tool to communicate with current and future fans.

An innovation: The Charlotte Bobcats’ smart-card program; personal relationships; sense of humor.

A pro league or team business initiative: Coming from the world of soccer, seeing the MLS’s expansion and innovation around its National Sales Center initiative.

An idea or invention I wish I had thought of: Bing.

A fantasy job: Press secretary for the
NBAE / GETTY IMAGES
Smith at a fundraiser for the Lynx Foundation in August

president of the United States.

What I Like About …

Sports: Being in a business that provides live, unique, anything-can-happen entertainment.

Sports business: The opportunity to create new processes and methods of improving our business operation.

Sports media: You can get detailed coverage of your favorite teams 24 hours a day, including LiveAccess Internet coverage of WNBA games.

Sports technology: Has allowed us to connect with our loyal fan base and attract new fans on a 24/7 basis.

The future of sports business: Combining the in-person experience with the comforts of watching a game on television at home.


What I Would Like To …

See: A live taping of “Saturday Night Live.”

See more of in sports business: Although many strides have been made, increase teams’ involvement in the nonprofit/cause-related community.

See less of in sports business: “We’ll try it and see how it goes” sponsorship deals. Commit dollars and embrace the brand.

See different: Limit the number of timeouts in the fourth quarter.

Change: The overall perception that women’s sports are not as entertaining as men’s sports.

Change in what I do: Enjoy the small wins along the way.


What I Don’t Like ...

In general: People who drive too slow in the passing lanes.
 
Pet peeve: Excessive commercial breaks on television and radio.

In business: Poor customer service.

About sports fans: Fair-weather fans. Let’s all be fans like those of the Cubs and Packers.


PERSONAL

What I Like …

GETTY IMAGES
That would surprise those who know me: Refereeing soccer games.

Heroes: All the military servicemen and women who protect and serve our country.

Players: Kirby Puckett, Carl Yastrzemski, John Havlicek and Bobby Orr.

Memento: A signed Kirby Puckett 1993 All-Star Game MVP baseball (black and orange stitching).

Music: The E Street Band, Tom Waits, NRBQ and Dave Bromberg.

Books: “Lone Survivor,” by Marcus Luttrell; “Hunting Eichmann,” by Neal Bascomb; and “The Brothers Bulger,” by Howie Carr.

Authors: Thomas Friedman, Khaled Hosseini, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Welch.

IPad app: Flixster.

Trips: Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Dominican Republic.

Movies: “The Wizard of Oz,” “Caddyshack,” “Back to School,” “No Country for Old Men” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

TV: “Cheers,” “In Living Color,” “Weeds,” “Mad Men,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Concerts: Talking Heads at the University of Miami; the last performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons (Conseco Field House).

Artists: Norman Rockwell, Bill Mack.

Dessert: Chocolate éclairs and my mother’s applesauce cake.

Drink: Arnie Palmer and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

Scent: Smell of fresh-cut grass in the morning and an ocean breeze.

Vacation spots: Several spots in Maine, including York Beach, Ogunquit and Bar Harbor; Key West, Fla.

Car: Lexus.

Quote: I have been writing quotes on my kids’ plastic lunch bags for the past several years. Favorites are “Live, Laugh and Love”; “Energy and Persistence Conquer All Things”; and “Leave the Gift of Kindness and Courage.”
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