Posts Tagged ‘Mike Lynn’

We just got back from meeting Amy Klobuchar at the Loews on Broadway. She is a dynamo, and joked about being the shortest one on the debate stage. Tonight she stood on a small podium, which barely made her visible to the audience but we hung on her every word. Her heart, her heart is as big as the state of Minnesota. Bob pushed forward after her speech and told her about our MN Vikings connection.

She looked at me and smiled, “My dad wrote many stories about your brother, Mike Lynn,” she said.

“It was the private jet that did him in,” I said.

And then she was off to another fan. I thought about her dad, a recovering alcoholic, old-fashioned newspaper man who saved his pennies in a tin can. I thought about my foster father, Daddy Jim, a transportation man at Picatinny Arsenal who saved his pennies in a Prince Albert tobacco can. We women, who had loving fathers, who knew the difference between right and wrong, we are the lucky ones.

“Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pitching herself to America as a teller of hard truths. She has charted a path to the White House that goes through (not around) certain hard-luck swaths of Middle America now known as Trump Country but which used to be Democrat Country, and which still is Klobuchar Country. Places like the 8th Congressional District in Northern Minnesota, which saw one of the biggest swings in the country, from President Barack Obama to President Trump, but which continued to support Amy, as well.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/style/wp/2019/05/07/feature/amy-klobuchars-complicated-relationship-with-her-father-has-defined-her-as-a-person-and-a-candidate/

Yesterday Bob and I returned to Nashville from a trip with friends to Montgomery, Alabama. We visited the Legacy Museum; From Enslavement to Mass Incarcerations; https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/museum

It taught us about lynchings, about how you might get lynched for staring at someone, about how they would advertise a lynching in the newspaper so thousands of people would show up, like a carnival. We saw a sign that warned “Negroes, Jews, and Dogs” were not allowed, and we saw the dirt.

Row upon row of large mason jars, filled with so many shades of brownish/red dirt – with the name of the African American and the place of their hanging. The Jim Crow South was a cruel substitute for freedom.

Afterwards, we drove to the Peace and Justice Memorial. We drove by the corner where Rosa Parks waited for the bus. We drove by the roundabout where Martin Luther King gathered his marchers for the bus boycott. https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/  A school bus let off groups of Black teenagers and we all walked amid the memorial as the sun appeared, streaming through countless hanging steel rectangles with the county, state and number of lynchings etched into every single one in this country. For every documented racial killing, there were ten more…

4,400 plus people lynched. Times Ten.

Tonight, our African American Uber driver told us about being stopped for no reason by the police, with his brother in the car and a dog sniffing all around the chassis. As we drove toward Rosa Parks Blvd, and I mentioned the lights were on in a school being renovated, he told us his mother was one of the first to integrate that Elliott School in our Germantown neighborhood. It’s now becoming an upscale condominium complex. http://elliottatgermantown.com/the-story/

I told our driver, James, he’d better vote like our lives depend on it.

I’ve been thinking Amy might be able to beat Trump because she’s got a steely, mid-western demeanor. She doesn’t suffer fools. She IS the decency check, the patriotic check. But I wonder who will win South Carolina? And can a 5’4″ senator forged in the Iron Range rise above the noise?


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Bob sat down next to me at the graveside service, a handful of dirt in his hand. I gave him one of my most scathing looks and whispered, “This is not a Jewish ceremony, don’t throw that dirt in my brother’s grave.” On top of the purple and gold flowers cascading over the casket, the pall bearers filed by placing their boutonnieres in the arrangement. Then the minister started to speak about how in their reform (Presbyterian) tradition, emphasis is placed on the afterlife, and not on the body. And while reciting the prayer “…ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” the solemn/seersucker/suited/Southern preacher threw a handful of dirt in among the flowers. Bob turned and smiled at me.

“Isn’t religion useful?” I said, while driving along on our twelve hour road trip home. The book NPR was discussing with its author was What Happened to Sophie Wilder, by Christopher Beha. http://www.npr.org/2012/07/26/157424289/christopher-beha-on-faith-and-its-discontents Beha is a lapsed Catholic, a non-believer like me, and he wrote a fictional account about an old college love who converted to Catholicism. I was riveted. After the radio interview, our discussion ran deep. Losing a family member, even when it was expected and an end to endless suffering, can bring some clarity into our own lives. Life is fragile, hang onto the good times, and yes, isn’t religion “useful.” Bob and I were talking about the service, the minister’s warm and heartfelt tribute to Mike, who had told him time and time again, “You’re doing my funeral, you’re MY man!” No one could refuse my brother.

I grew up super-Catholic because my foster parents were Catholic and my dead Father had been a church-going Catholic and not a “cultural Catholic.” Sacred Heart School, Camp St Joseph for Girls, maroon beanies and bow ties followed by khaki shorts and mass every morning in the summer. Beha was asked when he lost his faith and I was thinking about my own fall from grace. Remember, I was 11 when I went to live with the Flapper forever. She married a Jewish man, a judge in our small town. I acquired Jewish step-siblings and my brother Jim went to Columbia University. My first foray into a temple was for Purim, when kids dressed up in costumes and made noise like a Jewish Halloween! The polar opposite of the Latin Mass. I was hooked. Dinner table talk became enlightening, expansive. The Flapper loved Buddhism and wanted to travel to Hong Kong; she had been raised Presbyterian I believe, but always said that organized religion was for sheep. Sundays became a day for sleeping-in, the New York Times and lox and bagels with whitefish – no more church-going for me. But since I could first form a thought in my head, I never did buy the idea that only Catholics would get into heaven…and limbo? After 9/11, I was permanently done with religion of any kind.

So what is faith and how do we keep it? Mike grew up Catholic, married a Baptist, and was buried near William Faulkner by a Presbyterian. My Jewish MIL bought my cemetery plot near hers, soon after I married her son. Was this marriage counselor trying to tell me something about ’till death do us part? My step-father is buried there, and so is Bob’s brother Richard. I once knew a rabbi who said we haven’t really grown up until we plan our own funeral. Mike lived his life his way, not looking for accolades but working tirelessly. We will never know all of his good deeds, because for such a powerful man, he was pretty humble. That was rule number one from the nuns. He loved Great Danes, and his elegant Carmen never left his room. Frank Sinatra was playing, and a brother-in-law spoke about the dog sculpture that always sat on his Vikings desk. Emblazoned on its backside were the words, “If you’re not first in line, the view never changes.”

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Because a life cannot be summed up by two business deals. Reblogged from: http://lynn-and-associates.com/blog-1/

Mike Lynn was my older brother. He passed away this past Saturday, July 21st in Oxford, MS. The cause was complications from a long illness. For the past two days, sports columnists have been writing about his 15 years as the General Manager of the Minnesota Vikings, his lopsided Herschel Walker trade with the Dallas Cowboys, and the remarkable deal he negotiated to get 10% of the Metrodome Suite Revenues for 99 years in perpetuity.

I have started this blog to let interested people know about the consulting and training programs I am developing for on-line webinars, however, I am going to depart this one time to reminisce about my big brother, and show a different perspective of the ‘Purple Prince’ I knew.

One of the things I help clients do is ‘profile’ key positions … identify the core competencies that are needed for a position. Then you can advertise looking for those skills, and create a custom behavioral interview to look for candidates who have demonstrated those skills. So here is my take on Mike Lynn’s core competencies, with some behavioral examples to support them.

Composure – mood regulation and self-control. For as long as I have known my brother, (some six decades), he has been a cool customer. He was introverted and didn’t show his emotions very often. He was hard to read, tough under pressure. In high school, his friends called him “Duke” a nick name also given to John Wayne …another tough guy. Sometimes I would come to his Viking office to visit and watch as people would come and go with all kinds of problems … drama. Mike avoided the drama. He would listen … light up a cigarette, take his time, think about what he was going to say before saying it, and then tell them what needed to be done. He had great ‘street smarts’, emotional intelligence. He was self-aware and in control of how he expressed his own emotions.

Results – Mike was a bottom line kind of guy. He was very persistent at getting what he wanted. When he got out of the Army, he went to Pace College in Manhattan for two days…that’s right two whole days. Six years older than me, he came home and threw his General Introduction to Psychology textbook on my bed and said to me …”Here you read this crap …I’m going to work and make some money.” I read the text, loved it, and became a psychologist, and he did indeed go out and make some money.

I’ll never forget the first time he told me his business was basically to “get asses in the seats”. He was (he told me anyway) at 18, the youngest theatre general manager in the Walter Reade Chain. He was a young regional manager for Dixie Mart and a regional manager for a chain of theatres in Memphis …sometimes letting Elvis book a private mid-night party at one of his theatres. From the very start, Mike had management jobs… line jobs where he was accountable for business results. My brother never had a support or staff job. Even after retiring from the Vikings he started a private supper club in Oxford Mississippi, not too far from his antebellum home in Holly Springs. Up until the end, on my last visit to see him, he was on the phone giving orders to his club’s general manger. And the psychologist in me couldn’t help but notice how his affect perked up, his energy increased, breathing steadied, and he seemed and acted at his best during those few minutes – ’running his club’ – as I observed him – in a state of flow – issuing orders. I sensed he was happy, he had a purpose.

Negotiating – He would often start out by telling some young rookie football player …”You may have been a big deal in high school, or college …but this is the NFL …and you are a rookie … you’re only worth ….” . His previously mentioned skills tie right in here ..being composed and difficult to read, he could put players and their agents on edge. He had good timing, he knew when to speak up, and more importantly, when to just sit quietly and wait. He was very good at reading people, understanding their hopes, fears, and motivations. In many ways my older brother was the applied psychologist in the family.

As the GM for the Vikings, Mike did the player negotiations and he brought in some great players in those days. He was able to both keep his composure and handle the heat. His negotiating strategy with me on the golf course was different. I was a better golfer than him, so he would just keep doubling down on our bets until he won and we were even. It was like a game, although I think it might have been a little more than a game to him!

Compassion – There was a soft and tender side to my brother that he only showed to a few people, which is why this one would surprise many, and have them question my credentials. The fact is, my brother reached out and helped a lot of people during his life, including mine on more than one occasion when I needed support. He was the steady rock, the person in the family who could be depended upon to come through and help when needed. And I think this is a skill he developed and nurtured as he aged. Sure he was a tough guy – he thought he had to be.

In charge, in control, but underneath it all was a poor kid who grew up in Scranton Pennsylvania, lost his father when he was 13, and saw his family hospitalized with a head on car crash three months later. We were hit by a drunk driver who never even got a ticket …it was 1949. I was only seven and I’m not sure how we survived as a family, but I do know that when someone in the family suggested we go on welfare, by brother was adamant …”no welfare …I’ll work …we’ll get by.” And we did. My sisters married doctors, I became a psychologist, he ran the Vikings and we all turned out okay. I hope you feel you can finally rest now big brother … rest in peace. When you were alive, sitting behind your desk, staring into my eyes … it was not easy telling you, ‘I love you’, but I do.

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I was just telling the Bride the story about the Flapper’s easiest birth. After her last doctor’s appointment had determined that baby girl was still in the breech position, the topic of “birth options” was a frequent theme – acupuncture, yoga, C-section? “How many crib sheets do I really need,” followed by, “Well she must be in that position for a reason.” My brother Mike was born at home, baby number four to a Pharmacist and his Flapper wife in Scranton, PA. My Mother was hanging clothes out on the line when she told a friend who was helping, to run and fetch the doctor. I imagined a young woman running through the backyards of that coal town, around fences and flapping sheets, hurrying by gardens and family pets to fetch the old doctor who was a friend of our Father. By the time he arrived, Mike was already coming into this world.

My memories cannot be trusted because I was not there for most of our family history. I was number six in that Year of Living Dangerously, when 13 year old Mike wanted to play basketball with a friend and so was spared the 1949 Independence Day tragedy. These are the stories I’ve heard: he was always hard working; he would gather coal to sell after our Father died; he was the most affected by our family’s loss. Later Mother told me she had to beat girls off of him with a shelaighly, he was that handsome. I believed her, to me he was like Paul Newman. But more than looks, he carried a certain confidence with him. When Mike was around, things would get done. He had a natural talent for business. This much I knew, when he walked into a room, all heads turned and the room hushed. Mike had charisma. As we entered the Layfayette Club for dinner, he’d say, “I’m here to eat, not to dine.”

Whenever we all descended on his beloved Walter Place in Holly Springs, MS he was delighted. His beautiful wife Jorja always made his Yankee siblings feel loved and comfortable. At his daughter’s wedding a few years ago, Bob got to know him a little better. They were the early risers, and so had some good talks over coffee with hummingbirds circling the backyard porch. Always the businessman, they discussed health care reform and the future of the music industry. Mike loved hearing about the Rocker and was so proud of his daughter, an Opera singer. Oh and another story I heard, Mike had a wonderful voice. The Flapper played Frank Sinatra records in the house non-stop. Later, in Memphis, he befriended Elvis. I think there was a part of him that wanted to be in show business. For one of the Flapper’s birthdays, he arranged to have Cab Calloway play at her party. Imagine that.

A generous man, he took care of our Mother in her golden years. If you needed help, you would ask him. One brother left for the Air Force and landed in Germany, another brother became a psychologist, exploring the landscape of the mind. But Mike was the pragmatist, always figuring out the best, fastest most efficient way to make a deal. And with him, a deal is a deal! He was a man of his word, telling his sons to always do, “The right and proper thing.” We will all miss you Mike. You entered this world quickly, like you just couldn’t wait to get started. And somehow we thought, you would never leave. http://www.twincities.com/vikings/ci_21129418/tom-powers-there-wont-be-another-like-mike

My love to Jorja and their children and grandchildren for always and forever.

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