Interesting Scribbles

Executive Speaker Series: John Tortora

October 20, 2019

Notes from a talk by John Tortora on March 5, 2019 at Young Catholic Professionals.

There’s just one thing you need to do: Do the right thing. I always remind new employees to remember who they work for. People have a strong emotional connection to the Sharks. Your actions matter. Do the right thing.

Part of being a leader is letting people know you trust them to do the right thing.

Many of the Pharisees were compliant with the law, but not committed to it.


Thoughts on raising minimum wage? A higher wage can help the poor. But it also means higher costs to the business, which can mean they hire fewer people. You can raise prices, but only so far.

For one game, we had a big group from a local Sikh community. There was concern about the ceremonial knives that they traditionally carry setting off the metal detector at our main entrance. One approach would have been to refuse to let them bring that into the stadium with them. What we ended up doing instead was setting up a private entrance for them, and using a wand instead of a walk-through detector for that entrance’s security.

Should we ever accept sponsorship from a marijuana company? Alcohol used to be illegal. Is a beer ad at a hockey game any different from a beer ad in 1940? We’re a public building. I don’t have to smoke it. Render unto Caesar… that is, follow the law. It’s legal.

I have an obligation to remove people who aren’t meeting the requirements of the job. That means I do have to fire people sometimes. It’s how you do it that’s important. Do you just show them the door and that’s it, or do you let them go quietly, giving them help to find another career?

How do you get everything done? I’m not sane, and I don’t time manage. It’s no different for me than for anybody else. There’s always one more thing to do.

Sports fans get emotional. It’s an expensive ticket purchase that they’re paying for from discretionary income. They feel a sense of ownership and a connection to the team. People don’t get emotional like that over other products and services — nobody gets worked up over their shampoo. People want to have you listen — they want to know that, when the Sharks don’t score, that you’re staying up at night worried about it the same way they are.

A few years ago, we had a season ticket holder who was in a wheel chair. The stadium is an old building, it’s not like modern ADA compliant buildings, so it was hard for her to navigate. But many of the staff found it annoying to accommodate her. It’s an effort for her to get out of bed and leave the house. The fact that she needs her parking space to be two inches wider, to fit her wheelchair lift, is a problem we can solve. We should be glad they she goes to the effort to come to a game, and pleased to be able to offer her a source of enjoyment.