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.
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.
■ 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.
What I Like …
■ 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).
■ 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.
■ 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.”