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Exclusive Interview with Glen Taylor, Majority Owner of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA's Minnesota Lynx
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It is not every day that you get to sit down and have an exclusive interview with a self-made Billionaire. This interview was made possible because one of our Teammates, Adrian Chapman (www.careerathletes.com/adrianchapman), took a chance and called to see if Glen would share his advice with the CareerAthletes.com community. This kind of effort is exactly what CareerAthletes.com is about, reaching out to a like-minded individual to help gain or expand your Career. If Adrian can get a gentleman as busy as Mr. Taylor to sit down and talk, imagine all the possibilities that are out there for you. The point is you just have to put some effort in and doors will open. Thank You to Mr. Taylor for his time and advice to the CareerAthletes.com community!

Career Athletes (CA): Going through your background and speaking with you, you have obviously had a lot of success in the business world doing many different things. We were interested in what prompted you to look into buying professional sports organizations with the Timberwolves and the Lynx?

Glen Taylor (GT): Well, probably not like a number of other people, it was not one of the things that I wrote down on a career path or a wish list or anything like that. It had not occurred to me that I would want to own a professional team. I enjoyed sports and was probably just a ‘very good' fan.

At the time, the Timberwolves were going to leave the state of Minnesota and possibly go down to New Orleans. The governor called me because I had served for 10 years in the state senate as a senate minority leader. He also called because of my business experience and to see if I could help the parties put together a plan to keep them in Minnesota. I didn't know any of the interested parties in buying the team or the owners of the Timberwolves. It was kind of a freebie that he asked me to do, so I got myself involved in figuring out how to keep the team in Minnesota. It was a little bit more than anticipated because we had a building involved and the owners were going through some financial difficulties. While doing this, I had access to the Timberwolves financials. When reading them, it occurred to me that with my business knowledge, I could probably run it better than it had been being run prior and perhaps even make it a profitable venture. I hadn't been able to tell that before because I did not have access to that type of information. At the time, I was not a part of that discussion. However, my job was to help the other parties, so I did what I could and finished helping the parties figure out a solution. A month later I read in the paper that the deal never went through and then one of the owners of the Timberwolves called. He told me he thought that I was the only one who seemed to have an understanding of how a deal might be able to be done to keep the Timberwolves in Minnesota. He asked me if I was interested in buying the team. It was at that point, with that knowledge I had going into the transaction, that we were able to put together a deal in a week. It was not a plan or a thought but more of an opportunity that arose and I was in a position to jump on it.

(CA): Many athletes live and breathe their sport throughout their entire athletic careers. Once they graduate, many of them think that they want to pursue a career in the sports world as an athlete, coach, administrator or something to do with professional sports. They want to get in the door at a front office for a pro sports team and in our experience that has been difficult to do. Do you have any advice for someone trying to break that barrier and find a way in?

(GT): First of all, I would use the word "patience. " It is a very important word because when you are talking about professional or even college, the athletes that have reached that level have done so in a very rapid fashion. Those individuals have some God given gifts, some athletic gifts or just internal gifts, and are very hard workers. They have risen to this level very quickly, and they are used to that. But to get into the other half, the coaching, the management, etc., they have to begin at the bottom and work their way up. I think it is very difficult for a lot of them because of their former successes. I have had other people ask me about this and my response is that you have to be patient, learn the ground rules again, and work your way up. I think I may be talking to a group of individuals (college athletes) that may be very impatient. I would just say that I think this is the biggest difficulty I see; they have moved very fast, and now in this circumstance they must learn patience. If they have patience a lot of them can make it because they have a lot of good experiences.

(CA): From a personal standpoint, what are some of the traits or attributes that you possess that contributed to your success in building the Taylor Corporation as well as owning the Timberwolves and the Lynx?

(GT): One always has to think that luck and good fortune plays a factor. Sometimes that has to be a part of the element. I don't want to say that if you do a certain few things that it is just going to happen. I think people can work hard and do all the right things and sometimes it doesn't work out. I would say that luck and taking advantage of good opportunities are definitely factors.

The gift I have is the selection of people. It seems like I have the ability to choose well when I meet someone. I bring them along with me and they stay with me for their entire careers. So, I think the ability to recognize people who have a skill set that is different, but complements mine and allows me to take on a business or transaction, has been one of my best gifts.

As far as luck is concerned, you have to be willing to take huge risks. Luck won't play a part unless you are willing to take a risk and it has to be a real risk. You have to be willing to say "I believe in myself and I am willing to take this risk." I am hoping maybe luck plays into it in that I do it at the right time, my competition is a little weak, or my new idea is the right one at the right time.

(CA): Looking through your information, you have been involved in so many different things. How do you manage your time as a business leader, father, and mentor?

(GT): The easiest and most logical answer is that I have surrounded myself with good people, and more importantly, people that I trust. I don't have time to dwell deeply on so many things within my business. So, I have to have people in place that I can communicate with quickly, give them a lot of authority and am able to hold them accountable. I have very high expectations for people. I am willing to give them authority, but there is no doubt I hold them accountable for their actions which allows me to move fairly fast so I don't have to spend a lot of time on a particular issue.

(CA): As a business professional, creating connections is a huge factor and a key to success. Career Athletes exists to help athletes create meaningful connections. How important has professional networking been for you and do you have any tips that you can share for someone wanting to develop their professional network?

(GT): It is very important in a couple of ways. It certainly opens the door for business reasons. I can, without a doubt, get into nearly any door because of my connections to sports. Sports are a huge social connection that everyone can relate to in the world and especially in the US. It is a big way to get into doors that you could not get into otherwise. People are very interested because there is an intrigue with how the sports world works at all levels. I think you can share those experiences easily and it helps relate and open doors.

The other part is that you should ask questions. Some people are afraid to ask questions of successful people and stars. I have found that people are willing to share information about their business and how they are doing things; just like you are asking me to share my experiences with your community members right now. I have found that if you are willing, and have the fortitude to ask someone, "What about this?", "How are you doing this here?", "What did you learn about this?", that is Free Advice! You can use it or throw it away, but it's free advice and can be of great value because of their experiences. I still ask a lot of questions today when I meet other owners or even when I meet young people. Their lives are so much different than mine and they are able to provide insight on how things can be marketed and have opinions on how you might be able to do things in a different perspective. I ask a lot of questions, but I see a lot of people are hesitant to ask questions.

(CA): What advice would you have for our community members who are working and striving to earn leadership positions within their organizations?

(GT): Look at yourself and do an analysis of what you believe your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. When I was a young person I thought, if these are my weaknesses, this is what I should spend my time on. What I have learned in life is that I should concentrate on my strengths. Understand your weaknesses, but don't think you are going to make your weaknesses your strengths. It will be your strength once you understand that it is your weakness and then you can get other people to help you in those areas. I just think you should look at what you do well and really concentrate on that effort and continue moving ahead. Understand what you do poorly and go to others quickly to help you in those areas. Don't try to make yourself an all around "super person."

(CA): What would you say are the most important characteristics that you look for in employees and teammates with the Taylor Corporation and your professional sports teams?

(GT): First, I would use the general word "integrity." I just like to work with people who have that integrity and honesty inside of them already. I just don't know why I would want to work with someone who does not have that. Let's just say an athlete who really can understand that there are other people in the world that are not as fortunate as themselves, and therefore they have the integrity to help that person.

I also like the word "competitive." I don't know what the word means to all people, but to me it means you believe in yourself; a person that has a high respect or an idea of themselves in which they can do the things that they want to achieve. I can talk other people into doing things for me, and I am very good at motivating people, but they are never as good as a person who believes they want to do something for themselves.

I like integrity, that internal ambition to better themselves on their own, and what I had talked about before, those people who are willing to take some risks. Risk means you could be criticized for making those decisions publicly, but you are willing to do it because you believe in your ideas and the direction that you are going.

An example in sports would be in basketball. You get down to the last minute and you have to take a shot. That particular shot is technically just another shot in the game, but THAT shot is the one that will be criticized or praised if you make it or miss it. As you know, a lot of people are not willing to take that shot. They know that there is a huge chance that they will be criticized if they do not pull it off just right. But there are certain people out there who just say, "I'll do it, if I miss I miss, but I am going to give it my best shot." In business, it is the same way. There are certain things and decisions you will make and sometimes it will click and you will be praised and sometimes you will fall on your face. I want people who are willing to try that shot.

(CA): You hit on some of this earlier, but within the course of your career was there a specific turning point or multiple turning points through your career, or have you always felt you were on the right path?

(GT): When I went to college, I was working towards a math/physics/social science teaching degree. I thought I was going to be a teacher, principal or superintendent. I had to work so I could go to college, so I stayed in the business I was currently working at. I was working at a company, owned by Mr. Carlson, and ended up staying there. I never took any business classes besides the accounting and math courses. So, now I was in the business world and eventually ended up running the company for Mr Carlson. I started thinking why am I doing this? It wasn't what I had planned. I can remember this occurred to me in 1962 and I thought, "If I am going to lead this company I want to provide opportunity and security for the employees, and we are going to be a company that takes care of their employees." Once I made that statement to myself in my head, I wrote down what that meant. That forced me to do all the things that I did.

Number 1 - If I wanted to provide opportunity and security I had to be with a growing company. If I wasn't, I couldn't tell my employees they had opportunity and security if the company wasn't growing. So I was going to make sure it would continue to grow to give them more authority, more wages, more advantages, and the security that they would have a job in the future.

Number 2 - It would mean I would have to buy the company from Mr. Carlson and then what opportunity would there be for the employees? So I realized I had to buy the company and I didn't have any money, but I had to figure out how to do that. Fortunately, I did that. So that realization forced that decision.

Later on it occurred to me that I had a lot to learn and I went back to Harvard to their upper level courses. I hit it at the right time and there was so much information that came out of those classes that prepared me to build a company.

So those are the little key things in my life that I can tell you right now changed my whole way of thinking. Those things showed me I had to do things different or along certain guidelines. I have not changed those things from 40 to 50 years ago and they are the driving forces I use for decisions I make today.

(CA): While we are on the topic of education, what are your thoughts on degree relevancy and pursuing a master's degree? There are plenty of options for people to pursue a Master's or Post-Secondary degree, what are your thoughts on that?

(GT): In general, I just tell young people to get a degree. Then they ask me in what, which I reply, get a degree.

I think what education is now, is really showing that you have the ability to learn. Generally we have to re-teach you once you get into the business. I am really looking for someone who has the ability to learn, not necessarily what they have learned. I believe the first 4 years may not be helpful in a lot of areas in life, but it will set you up and give you a strong foundation to build on. That would be my thoughts on the 2 year or 4 year degree.

As far as a Master's and things like that, I think that is a little different. It is the continued education and you should hone in on an area that you really like. It should be something that will help you reach your goal of more responsibility or more money - whatever your goal is in life. We are interested in helping our employees in that area, but not just to go back to school, but to hone in to make them better. It has to be something that will help them develop a skill they are lacking within our organization to make us all better.

There are two other parts too. Show us you have the ability to learn and to improve yourself. The second is with the higher levels and you need to make sure you need to hone in on something.

(CA): So would you say that if they do pursue that master's degree or higher education would benefit them more once they have some working experience?

(GT): I just think they are better at it once they have some experience! I worked for a while and then I went back out to Harvard. I just think it helps as you will ask better questions if you have been out there a little bit. You know what questions to ask once you have experience.

(CA): I know we hit on this a little bit earlier, but what would be your advice to someone who wants to gain more responsibility in their career within their organization without coming across as arrogant or pushy?

(GT): I don't think it's to be arrogant or pushy to ask or tell people you want more. Mr. Carlson would have never given me the responsibility he gave me if I wouldn't have asked. There I was, I had graduated in only 3 years, so I was 20 years old. If I had not asked for more responsibility and told him I thought I could do more, I don't think he would have given it to me. I think there is a respectful way that you can tell people, "I can do more, I would like to do more, if the opportunity is there, let me show you I can do more." There is a measurement, as you indicated, of being arrogant, but I think there is a nice way of telling people that you want to get ahead to earn more money, have more authority, or to help the organization be better. I think you can pick your own way to say it nicely.

CareerAthletes.com Exclusive Interview with Glen Taylor, Majority Owner of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA's Minnesota Lynx

It is not every day that you get to sit down and have an exclusive interview with a self-made Billionaire. This interview was made possible because one of our Teammates, Adrian Chapman (www.careerathletes.com/adrianchapman), took a chance and called to see if Glen would share his advice with the CareerAthletes.com community. This kind of effort is exactly what CareerAthletes.com is about, reaching out to a like-minded individual to help gain or expand your Career. If Adrian can get a gentleman as busy as Mr. Taylor to sit down and talk, imagine all the possibilities that are out there for you. The point is you just have to put some effort in and doors will open. Thank You to Mr. Taylor for his time and advice to the CareerAthletes.com community!

Career Athletes (CA): Going through your background and speaking with you, you have obviously had a lot of success in the business world doing many different things. We were interested in what prompted you to look into buying professional sports organizations with the Timberwolves and the Lynx?

Glen Taylor (GT): Well, probably not like a number of other people, it was not one of the things that I wrote down on a career path or a wish list or anything like that. It had not occurred to me that I would want to own a professional team. I enjoyed sports and was probably just a ‘very good' fan.

At the time, the Timberwolves were going to leave the state of Minnesota and possibly go down to New Orleans. The governor called me because I had served for 10 years in the state senate as a senate minority leader. He also called because of my business experience and to see if I could help the parties put together a plan to keep them in Minnesota. I didn't know any of the interested parties in buying the team or the owners of the Timberwolves. It was kind of a freebie that he asked me to do, so I got myself involved in figuring out how to keep the team in Minnesota. It was a little bit more than anticipated because we had a building involved and the owners were going through some financial difficulties. While doing this, I had access to the Timberwolves financials. When reading them, it occurred to me that with my business knowledge, I could probably run it better than it had been being run prior and perhaps even make it a profitable venture. I hadn't been able to tell that before because I did not have access to that type of information. At the time, I was not a part of that discussion. However, my job was to help the other parties, so I did what I could and finished helping the parties figure out a solution. A month later I read in the paper that the deal never went through and then one of the owners of the Timberwolves called. He told me he thought that I was the only one who seemed to have an understanding of how a deal might be able to be done to keep the Timberwolves in Minnesota. He asked me if I was interested in buying the team. It was at that point, with that knowledge I had going into the transaction, that we were able to put together a deal in a week. It was not a plan or a thought but more of an opportunity that arose and I was in a position to jump on it.

(CA): Many athletes live and breathe their sport throughout their entire athletic careers. Once they graduate, many of them think that they want to pursue a career in the sports world as an athlete, coach, administrator or something to do with professional sports. They want to get in the door at a front office for a pro sports team and in our experience that has been difficult to do. Do you have any advice for someone trying to break that barrier and find a way in?

(GT): First of all, I would use the word "patience. " It is a very important word because when you are talking about professional or even college, the athletes that have reached that level have done so in a very rapid fashion. Those individuals have some God given gifts, some athletic gifts or just internal gifts, and are very hard workers. They have risen to this level very quickly, and they are used to that. But to get into the other half, the coaching, the management, etc., they have to begin at the bottom and work their way up. I think it is very difficult for a lot of them because of their former successes. I have had other people ask me about this and my response is that you have to be patient, learn the ground rules again, and work your way up. I think I may be talking to a group of individuals (college athletes) that may be very impatient. I would just say that I think this is the biggest difficulty I see; they have moved very fast, and now in this circumstance they must learn patience. If they have patience a lot of them can make it because they have a lot of good experiences.

(CA): From a personal standpoint, what are some of the traits or attributes that you possess that contributed to your success in building the Taylor Corporation as well as owning the Timberwolves and the Lynx?

(GT): One always has to think that luck and good fortune plays a factor. Sometimes that has to be a part of the element. I don't want to say that if you do a certain few things that it is just going to happen. I think people can work hard and do all the right things and sometimes it doesn't work out. I would say that luck and taking advantage of good opportunities are definitely factors.

The gift I have is the selection of people. It seems like I have the ability to choose well when I meet someone. I bring them along with me and they stay with me for their entire careers. So, I think the ability to recognize people who have a skill set that is different, but complements mine and allows me to take on a business or transaction, has been one of my best gifts.

As far as luck is concerned, you have to be willing to take huge risks. Luck won't play a part unless you are willing to take a risk and it has to be a real risk. You have to be willing to say "I believe in myself and I am willing to take this risk." I am hoping maybe luck plays into it in that I do it at the right time, my competition is a little weak, or my new idea is the right one at the right time.

(CA): Looking through your information, you have been involved in so many different things. How do you manage your time as a business leader, father, and mentor?

(GT): The easiest and most logical answer is that I have surrounded myself with good people, and more importantly, people that I trust. I don't have time to dwell deeply on so many things within my business. So, I have to have people in place that I can communicate with quickly, give them a lot of authority and am able to hold them accountable. I have very high expectations for people. I am willing to give them authority, but there is no doubt I hold them accountable for their actions which allows me to move fairly fast so I don't have to spend a lot of time on a particular issue.

(CA): As a business professional, creating connections is a huge factor and a key to success. Career Athletes exists to help athletes create meaningful connections. How important has professional networking been for you and do you have any tips that you can share for someone wanting to develop their professional network?

(GT): It is very important in a couple of ways. It certainly opens the door for business reasons. I can, without a doubt, get into nearly any door because of my connections to sports. Sports are a huge social connection that everyone can relate to in the world and especially in the US. It is a big way to get into doors that you could not get into otherwise. People are very interested because there is an intrigue with how the sports world works at all levels. I think you can share those experiences easily and it helps relate and open doors.

The other part is that you should ask questions. Some people are afraid to ask questions of successful people and stars. I have found that people are willing to share information about their business and how they are doing things; just like you are asking me to share my experiences with your community members right now. I have found that if you are willing, and have the fortitude to ask someone, "What about this?", "How are you doing this here?", "What did you learn about this?", that is Free Advice! You can use it or throw it away, but it's free advice and can be of great value because of their experiences. I still ask a lot of questions today when I meet other owners or even when I meet young people. Their lives are so much different than mine and they are able to provide insight on how things can be marketed and have opinions on how you might be able to do things in a different perspective. I ask a lot of questions, but I see a lot of people are hesitant to ask questions.

(CA): What advice would you have for our community members who are working and striving to earn leadership positions within their organizations?

(GT): Look at yourself and do an analysis of what you believe your strengths are and what your weaknesses are. When I was a young person I thought, if these are my weaknesses, this is what I should spend my time on. What I have learned in life is that I should concentrate on my strengths. Understand your weaknesses, but don't think you are going to make your weaknesses your strengths. It will be your strength once you understand that it is your weakness and then you can get other people to help you in those areas. I just think you should look at what you do well and really concentrate on that effort and continue moving ahead. Understand what you do poorly and go to others quickly to help you in those areas. Don't try to make yourself an all around "super person."

(CA): What would you say are the most important characteristics that you look for in employees and teammates with the Taylor Corporation and your professional sports teams?

(GT): First, I would use the general word "integrity." I just like to work with people who have that integrity and honesty inside of them already. I just don't know why I would want to work with someone who does not have that. Let's just say an athlete who really can understand that there are other people in the world that are not as fortunate as themselves, and therefore they have the integrity to help that person.

I also like the word "competitive." I don't know what the word means to all people, but to me it means you believe in yourself; a person that has a high respect or an idea of themselves in which they can do the things that they want to achieve. I can talk other people into doing things for me, and I am very good at motivating people, but they are never as good as a person who believes they want to do something for themselves.

I like integrity, that internal ambition to better themselves on their own, and what I had talked about before, those people who are willing to take some risks. Risk means you could be criticized for making those decisions publicly, but you are willing to do it because you believe in your ideas and the direction that you are going.

An example in sports would be in basketball. You get down to the last minute and you have to take a shot. That particular shot is technically just another shot in the game, but THAT shot is the one that will be criticized or praised if you make it or miss it. As you know, a lot of people are not willing to take that shot. They know that there is a huge chance that they will be criticized if they do not pull it off just right. But there are certain people out there who just say, "I'll do it, if I miss I miss, but I am going to give it my best shot." In business, it is the same way. There are certain things and decisions you will make and sometimes it will click and you will be praised and sometimes you will fall on your face. I want people who are willing to try that shot.

(CA): You hit on some of this earlier, but within the course of your career was there a specific turning point or multiple turning points through your career, or have you always felt you were on the right path?

(GT): When I went to college, I was working towards a math/physics/social science teaching degree. I thought I was going to be a teacher, principal or superintendent. I had to work so I could go to college, so I stayed in the business I was currently working at. I was working at a company, owned by Mr. Carlson, and ended up staying there. I never took any business classes besides the accounting and math courses. So, now I was in the business world and eventually ended up running the company for Mr Carlson. I started thinking why am I doing this? It wasn't what I had planned. I can remember this occurred to me in 1962 and I thought, "If I am going to lead this company I want to provide opportunity and security for the employees, and we are going to be a company that takes care of their employees." Once I made that statement to myself in my head, I wrote down what that meant. That forced me to do all the things that I did.

Number 1 - If I wanted to provide opportunity and security I had to be with a growing company. If I wasn't, I couldn't tell my employees they had opportunity and security if the company wasn't growing. So I was going to make sure it would continue to grow to give them more authority, more wages, more advantages, and the security that they would have a job in the future.

Number 2 - It would mean I would have to buy the company from Mr. Carlson and then what opportunity would there be for the employees? So I realized I had to buy the company and I didn't have any money, but I had to figure out how to do that. Fortunately, I did that. So that realization forced that decision.

Later on it occurred to me that I had a lot to learn and I went back to Harvard to their upper level courses. I hit it at the right time and there was so much information that came out of those classes that prepared me to build a company.

So those are the little key things in my life that I can tell you right now changed my whole way of thinking. Those things showed me I had to do things different or along certain guidelines. I have not changed those things from 40 to 50 years ago and they are the driving forces I use for decisions I make today.

(CA): While we are on the topic of education, what are your thoughts on degree relevancy and pursuing a master's degree? There are plenty of options for people to pursue a Master's or Post-Secondary degree, what are your thoughts on that?

(GT): In general, I just tell young people to get a degree. Then they ask me in what, which I reply, get a degree.

I think what education is now, is really showing that you have the ability to learn. Generally we have to re-teach you once you get into the business. I am really looking for someone who has the ability to learn, not necessarily what they have learned. I believe the first 4 years may not be helpful in a lot of areas in life, but it will set you up and give you a strong foundation to build on. That would be my thoughts on the 2 year or 4 year degree.

As far as a Master's and things like that, I think that is a little different. It is the continued education and you should hone in on an area that you really like. It should be something that will help you reach your goal of more responsibility or more money - whatever your goal is in life. We are interested in helping our employees in that area, but not just to go back to school, but to hone in to make them better. It has to be something that will help them develop a skill they are lacking within our organization to make us all better.

There are two other parts too. Show us you have the ability to learn and to improve yourself. The second is with the higher levels and you need to make sure you need to hone in on something.

(CA): So would you say that if they do pursue that master's degree or higher education would benefit them more once they have some working experience?

(GT): I just think they are better at it once they have some experience! I worked for a while and then I went back out to Harvard. I just think it helps as you will ask better questions if you have been out there a little bit. You know what questions to ask once you have experience.

(CA): I know we hit on this a little bit earlier, but what would be your advice to someone who wants to gain more responsibility in their career within their organization without coming across as arrogant or pushy?

(GT): I don't think it's to be arrogant or pushy to ask or tell people you want more. Mr. Carlson would have never given me the responsibility he gave me if I wouldn't have asked. There I was, I had graduated in only 3 years, so I was 20 years old. If I had not asked for more responsibility and told him I thought I could do more, I don't think he would have given it to me. I think there is a respectful way that you can tell people, "I can do more, I would like to do more, if the opportunity is there, let me show you I can do more." There is a measurement, as you indicated, of being arrogant, but I think there is a nice way of telling people that you want to get ahead to earn more money, have more authority, or to help the organization be better. I think you can pick your own way to say it nicely.

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