20210810_CEOAnnouncement_J9204367

Dr. Bill McGuire opening statement…

“Thank you, Kyndra [de St. Aubin]. I will try to be brief because this is not really about me. I do want to start, then we'll have a chance to revisit it later, again. But start by acknowledging where we are today, which is in a good place. A very good place. And thank Chris [Wright], who will be stepping down at the end of this season. And, his position filled by Shari [Ballard]. So, we should start by again thanking him for the really good position we are in today. And where Shari gets to begin her role.

"Briefly thinking back, 2012 watching the fence come down at the NSC, when the stars were going to the championship, or the playoff game. And sort of thinking this is pretty extraordinary, probably, all 300 of the people that were there on that night. The next year, we moved forward with an NASL team, two years later. In 2015, we were awarded a franchise by Major League Soccer, although not yet moved into where we are now at that time, the attendance of the games had risen up into the 5,000 7,000 8,000, maybe even 10,000. In 2017, we began play at TCF Bank Stadium, officially as an MLS team. And I think for everybody at that time, it was quite extraordinary to think back over the 40 back to ‘76. However, many years, all that had happened in that time and for the team to not only be alive and sustained, but growing dramatically with a huge throng of people that came out that first day in the snow. Just extraordinary, and will be in everybody's memories. In 2019, we opened our Allianz Field, as you all know, and I don't need to rehash, but I will say it again, the absolute preeminent soccer stadium in North America. And the home of the absolute greatest group of fans and the most wonderful fan experience around a sport of any kind that exists in North America. I hear they might challenge us down and Azteca, a few places south of the border, but pound for pound seat for seat. There's nothing else like it. The organization, the team, the group of people, the fans, everybody has come together over the years to put us in really a quite remarkable place. If you think back, how short the timespan, how great the accomplishments and where we stand now. A third year in which we're headed for the playoffs, and more after just a few… just extraordinary.

"We have to judge ourselves, really, about how we align ourselves for the future, knowing that anything we have today is potentially fleeting, and we need to keep building and becoming better at every aspect we do. The ownership group came together, talked a lot about what we thought would be needed. And, one of the big characteristics for us, was to find somebody from this community, somebody who shared a commitment to this community, someone that had the same values that we were trying to represent through soccer, and that this team and all of its members and fans were in fact projecting through this great game.

"I really can't say much to convince you, or try to tell you, who this person next to me is. You will see that. I will say that after many, many years as part of a very large and very successful company, having met many, many executives, both through that, and through the exchange with a lot of other great companies, both in the city, and in this country, I will tell you that there is not one of them, not a single company, that wouldn't be proud to have Shari Ballard heading it. This is pretty extraordinary for us. And, I think you will see that and I'm going to turn it over to her, because she talks better – and I'm a little hoarse – but truly extraordinary day for us. And I look forward to all of you meeting her and talking with her.”

Shari Ballard opening statement…

“Okay, we just violated like, set the expectations at a certain level. Hi, everybody. [I'll] maybe just say a couple things on the front end here. And then we'll get to whatever you all might want to want to ask. I'm just super happy to be here, thrilled. And I'll tell you why in just a second. But I just want to say thanks to Bill. And, Bill, there's a few of the other owners here who I just appreciate the opportunity ally appreciate the confidence you have and the work and energy you all put into helping me work my way through this and then deciding this was going to be a good fit for us.

"I just have a lot of personal gratitude. Thank you for that. And I looked around as I'm trying to find Chris, who keeps doing this today. Okay, I can see him now. I also just want to say publicly that you know that sometimes transitions can, we've all seen it, they can, you know, sometimes be hard. Chris, as you guys would expect have expected has just been a remarkable pro and human being in engaging, answering a billion questions, doesn't matter what I asked him, he gives me a straight up view on things, helping me learn very quickly, which I have a lot of learning to do, obviously, in this job. But I would also say more broadly, I do although our lives are different, I do know, a bit of what it feels like to put your whole life into something. You know, whether it's here, whether it's with the Timberwolves, but within this community, for something you care so passionately about, and then decide you're going to be done, and you're going to entrust it to, you know, the people that are there after you. You know, and on one hand, you hope that you get to walk away feeling like man, we've done some really important stuff. And then on the other hand, you know, it's now in somebody else's hands, and I just I'll say to you, we, you know, we're going to do our best, I'm going to do my best, the team is going to do their best. But you'll get everything I've got in terms of trying to honor what's been built here. And then you just keep taking it to newer and newer and newer levels. But what's been built here is utterly remarkable, and what your impact has been on the community as a result, not just the sports community, but the broader community and the way you the way you look at that, and what you've done with your career, you know, we should all we should all do so much. So, I'll start there and just say, say thank you, to you, Chris.

"So, of all the questions I've been asked today and all the various formats and it's kind of been one after the other as these things go, the most common one has been why Minnesota United. You know, why after Best Buy, and then, deciding you are you're not going to do that why this? So, I may start there. And then whatever you all would like to ask here, we can definitely do that. I think the first thing I would say is that the value system of the club, the values of the club and the value system of the club, were very much a personal and professional fit for me. I love winning, I love competing. So that aspect of the winning aspect of the club and what it takes to do that and to be in a world where, you know, you compete, I love that it's super attractive to me. I like the teamwork factor around the values. I'm a big fan of team sports, have played them love them. And I think you only get meaning by doing things with other people. And so the teamwork aspect of it is also really attractive. I think the constant pursuit of excellence whether it's, you know, each of us trying to be a better and better and bigger version of ourselves for our whole life which I think is kind of the point that is super attractive to me too.

"And you know, and there's aspects around this commitment and committing yourself to something that I also think, especially committing yourself to something that is larger than you, that drives meaning. And so that value system is attractive to me. The other component of it is to, you know, thinking about respect and diversity and acceptance and equity and how we go about engaging with each other and what our belief system is about what people are truly capable of, and, you know, kind of what the point of it all is, was really attractive on a personal and professional level. I know, for Bill, it would have been a deal breaker anyway, if it wasn't, but it would have been a deal breaker for me, too. So that's, that's kind of the first thing I would say.

"The second thing I would say is, when I left Best Buy, I felt very much like, you know, kind of, to whatever degree an adult in terms of like, understanding business, and, you know, I just spent my whole life there. So, it's kind of narrow and deep in that and felt like, at least hold my own in any conversation around it. But where the community was concerned, I felt, and I said this to the Best Buy team, when I left, I felt more kind of adolescent, you know, you Mariana and I've spent time in it, obviously, but I just didn't feel like I was close enough to it to really understand the issues of the community and to try to do whatever I could do to have impact big or small. And so, I knew when I left, it would be something that involved the community. And I've been super fortunate to get on some boards of great community companies. And I'm learning a lot of doing that, which makes sense, because my background is that. But the aspect of this, the fact that the club knows it has a responsibility to be a community citizen, a really good community citizen, cares deeply about the community, in particular, is committed to kids and youth and access, whether it's, you know, access the education, or whether it's access to soccer, and sports and what that will do for them. I love that.

"The stadium experience here is ridiculous. So, I mean, like ridiculous in a great way. It’s funny, I was just saying this to somebody after spending your whole life, trying to create experiences at scale, and like knowing how hard it really is to do that non-stop day in day out what's been created here, speaking of legacy and impact, I mean, you all will never have to worry whether you had an impact in the community. What's been created here, and what is created in the stadium experience is, I mean, I'm a complete Homer on it. But it is, it's magic. And so, who may not who wouldn't want to be a part of that. It's, it's wonderful.

"I love sports, I grew up playing sports, not at any elite level. But I'm a byproduct of team sports. And I think the things you learn in team sports, self-confidence, you know, you learn to understand what your own talents are. I think more importantly, you learn people around you have talents that you don't. You learn how to put those two things together in service of something larger than yourself. You get feedback, you learn peer leadership, I think all of those aspects of, of team sports and sports in general, you know, have shaped my life a ton, I think probably most people would say that in, you know, whatever we're doing, if we played team sports, we probably have lessons from that. So, I love the fact that it's sports. That's super attractive to me, too. And it's an opportunity fundamentally, to take something that's working at the core, and help it reach its next level of ambition.

"And, you know, retail was a daily knife fight in a phone booth, because it was so competitive. So, it's that for 26 years, and I loved it. And I also like the opportunity to take something that's fundamentally working with a group of really interesting, smart people who will know things I don't and, and figure out how we take the next chapter of the of the story here and try to have a positive impact in the community while we do it. So that's the that's the long answer to the why I think they grabbed my short answer when we were talking about this yesterday, if you told the 10-year-old version of me, I was going to have a chance to do this for a living, I would have thought that was amazing. And the 55-year-old version of me feels the same way. So that's what I would say.”

On her learning her own talents and what she would identify as her talents from her time at Best Buy, and how she’ll pull from those talents to learn here at Minnesota United…

“Kyndra [de St. Aubin] mentioned when she introduced us that she talked me yesterday. Kyndra has, unfortunately for her, been on Shari Ballard duty, for like, the last two days. She asked me that question earlier today, too. And what I would say, is, first of all, it feels a little bit, you know, to talk about what your own talents are, is, a little, you know, it's a little like, really? You'd want probably other people to do that for you. But, I think, what I would say is, in my time at BestBuy, I mean, I did a lot of different things, a lot of different things at the company. I started out in stores. I was in HR. I was in legal. I had the international segment. So, it just… it's like one of those stories where you just get a chance to do a lot of different stuff.

"I obviously am not a subject matter expert in all of those areas, and I wasn't. I mean, I'm not a trained lawyer, but I was responsible, at some point, for the legal team as an extreme example. And I think, what I learned in my time there, was more about the leadership side of things that the job essentially, and this was 100 percent true, as it got kind of bigger and bigger in scale, the job was very much a people job. Beginning, middle and all the time. And it was way more about getting the right people in the right roles, like, understanding what we really need in terms of experience and or talent, to drive what we're trying to get done. So, getting people in the right roles that had what you needed. Getting them truly, individually connected to the mission so that they could see. And I think this is really critical; they could see the results of what they're doing. That aspect is big. And then orchestrating the environment in a way, and the culture. And there's, I mean, that can sound like a soft word, there's a lot that goes with it, but orchestrating things in a way, so that you're getting the absolute best that somebody is capable of doing. Not because they're complying, but because they really do believe they're in the right role. They love the mission. They're being supported and growing and developing it. And they're giving you everything they got in ways you could never make them do from a compliance perspective. And, then they're a great teammate, too. They really do understand that we all impact each other's performance. All the time. Whether we want to admit it or not. And, they take that seriously and try to help other people learn, grow, collaborate. And, I would say, I learned it and had it reinforced over and over and over again. That that's the job of leadership. And I have never stopped being impressed by people who know things in areas that I don't. I have zero ego about it. I mean, I have ego, but it's not about that. And, in fact, I love it. And, so, that's what you do in these jobs. You know, you make sure you have the right people. You engage in it. You collaborate on decision making. You learn along the way. It's definitely a team sport, and it's not a hands-off team sport. So, I would say maybe that's a little bit of what I learned. And hopefully, you know, we'll find it translates. Thank you for asking, by the way.”

On similarities between retail and professional sports and what skills she can transfer to MNUFC …

“Yeah, I mean, I think and I started to learn this when I was referencing earlier, have had the chance to be on a few boards in the community since I left Best Buy. They're all in different sectors, you know, so I started to kind of get this reinforced, I mean, like, Allina obviously is in healthcare, the university is in education, Christos and team at Ecolab are in energy conservation, you know, food safety, water, water conservation, water safety. And so those are all, they're all new areas, in terms of the content of what it is that the companies are trying to do. But they also at the core, are, they're the same thing. They're a group of people coming together, trying to do meaningful things for customers. For us, it's fans, but for customers. And so, they are people jobs in that way. It's a little bit what I was just saying, when I was answering his question about, you know, when you break it all down, what are you here to do? I think those things will be, you know, kind of translate quite well, because it's, that's what we're dealing with here. But I'll also say that I think any kind of transition, whether it's a business, you know, a career transition like this, or personal transitions that we all go through in our lives. They also they require you to learn and grow as a person and as a professional, you meet new people, I'm going to get pushed in new ways. I mean, these guys know I've, there are things I hope I'm bringing to the team right away, but I had a lot to learn and you have to do that too as a person and a professional. And so, I think that aspect of some of the context that for sure is different. I'm going to have to learn. And I'm looking forward to it actually, we got some people here who have spent their whole lives in, in soccer and in sports so they know a ton. That will be great. And so, I think it'd be a good combination of learning new things. And then things that hopefully, are, are quite familiar and match up well with, you know, what I've spent essentially my whole adult life doing so I think that's what I would say. We could check back to like in a year or something and see how accurate I was or how wildly off I was, but I think it'll be something like that, I think.”

On how she will foster a relationship with and listen to Minnesota United supporters…

“I just met some of them, which was awesome. And I said, and I don't mean this in any disparaging way at all, because I think it's just, different. And it's a different level. But I don't, I don't really have any other examples that are this extreme of, of people believing and it being true, that the fans actually impact the outcome of a pro sports event. I mean, you do sort of in other games, you know, you're involved in you're trying really hard to, but there is zero question when you're in this stadium on game day, that the fans are impacting the game. You can see, I mean, the energy between the fans, the players, the players, the fans, and the organic nature of that is real, it's tangible, it's magical. And what these guys are doing with their lives, it was just fascinating talking to them. I mean, they basically take it upon themselves to [create the magical environment]. And I said, “How did you guys get into this?” One of the young men said, “I went to a game in Europe when I was studying abroad, and so I really wanted to try to play a part in bringing that kind of energy to my home state.” And it's like, okay, well, mission accomplished. So, it's like, it's that same thing. You know, it's people who have a passion about something, they have talent around it, they're taking their own initiative. They're in service of something larger than themselves, they also love the community and they're making a difference. And so yeah, I mean, I love it. So how would I engage in it? I mean, I enjoy engaging with people a lot. I like teams, I like, in my old language customers here fans, I am a I am a byproduct and believe that, you know, people who are generally speaking, interacting and closest to the customer in the product, sometimes have insights that other people don't have. Doesn't mean, I think it's always 100% right, but I do think the insights are important, and sometimes it is right. And so, I think on the front end here, I will very much enjoy engaging in that to be honest.”

On if she has seen Ted Lasso

“I love Ted Lasso. I don't know if in the Soccer World, like where that's your real job. Like, I don't know if when I just said this, these guys groaned at me. Like, 'Oh, my God, Shari, don't say that,' or whether they're like, 'That's okay, to like Ted Lasso,' but I will say I love Ted Lasso. And I don't know about you guys, but I feel like that kind of single handedly dragged some of us through the pandemic, just from like optimism in a big picture point of view and characters who are all messy but interesting. And I love, I don't know if Bill is a fan of Ted Lasso, but I love it.”

On professional sports and sponsorships, and the importance of in-stadium revenues to the business model and how she will look at these things and strengthen them …

“The short answer would be I don't know yet. I've done what you would expect me to do in terms of learning that. It was a lot of what I think we spent the front end of some of our conversations on… just me trying to understand, how does the business work? And, what's the model underneath of it, into how the physics of it actually work? So, I have done, and you would expect me to have done that. And, I did. But I think in terms of, you know, where do we go from here in those areas, whether it's, ticket sales, in a stadium that is, you know, sold out nonstop. Or continuing to grow our sponsorships. Tactics around that? I'm not sure yet. We have a great team here. Bryant [Pfeiffer] is excellent at that. And, I'm sure the team will have some ideas around it. But, there is no doubt. We have an absolutely amazing… I mean, I'm almost reluctant to say product, because it's so not, I mean, it is a product, but it's also like this living, breathing, human thing that's so amazing. And, we need to keep growing it, of course, because we want to build a sustainable club here. So, that will be part of what we figure out, for sure. Hopefully, I guess, I would say, Bryant has spent his whole life doing this, but I would hope maybe there's something from I've been on the other side of the table a lot, you know, so I've been on the business side of different people in the community wanting to partner or invest. At least in my experience, that always first has to come from a place of, you know, there are mutual things we're trying to accomplish. I think it would probably, hopefully, having been on the other side, being able to talk to some of the folks that we might be interacting with get a better understanding of, like, what are they actually trying to solve? Either, in their business, with their team, with their customers. And then, what do we have in all of our amazing assets that could help with that? And then, can we put those things together in a way that it helps grow the club, but it also helps them grow their business in a meaningful way. To me, that's the equation to be figured out. And then, economics, go along with that. But, that's the first end equation. So, you know, maybe there's something in what I've done in my life that will help with that.”

On her approach to diversity and how she plans to manifest it in the team…

“I think the first thing I would say is, we talked about this actually, in the large group section earlier in the large team session earlier today. I think it starts first with, you know, what's your assumption about other people, genuinely? Like, what do you as a human being believe? And do you genuinely believe that we're all in our various ways, gifted in some way, and utterly messy, and not gifted in other ways. We're all gifted, and we're all flawed, I believe that. I believe I hopefully have gifts, but I also do not bat 1000 as a human being. And so, I think for me, it starts with an assumption set, like, do you believe that? And then, if you do believe that everybody has something to add, then are you looking for it? You know, like, do you interact with people with an intention of figuring out where you disagree with them? Where they're wrong? Where you can pin them? Or do you interact with them, looking for something that you might have never thought of? Or where they might be right? Or what their intention might be? I think, those aspects, first and foremost of how we all think about ourselves and the world around us. I think there's a lot to be done there, right now, if I could just, be that direct with it, and I don't think the pandemic helps either. Somebody was saying this earlier and I thought it was so smart, when you spend, two years with yourself, the world tends to get really small. And maybe the best version of you might not always be coming out, and it might not be coming out, you know, through technology, and through a computer screen. I spent a whole bunch of my life putting a lot of those devices into the world, they're amazing things. But sometimes it amplifies the parts of us as, as humans that are not our best. I think the first part would be kind of starting with that and, you know, how do we see that from a value perspective? How do we see ourselves? How do we see others? Because I think the and we took what we just talked about this, I think that is also key to driving next level performance. So if you think about, you know, what's to be done here at the club, you know, it's to help the club build on success and keep reaching its next levels of ambitions. And to do that, it will take, no doubt, each of us as individuals continuing to be more excellent in what we're doing to know our talents better to keep learning, growing, developing. But it's going to also take us being better with each other in ways, and I'm not judging where we are now, we're probably great. But if you're going to get better, that has to get better, too. And that that has a lot to do with how do we interact with each other? What do we think of each other? And do we think people inherently have value? So, I'd say one aspect of it will be that in terms of our leadership, approach our culture, which I think very much, as I said, aligns with the values here. I don't think it's anything new I bring, hopefully, it's an amplification of what I know people here believe, and we'll just get better and better at practicing it because we're also messy humans. And then the other part of it, I would say is, the aspect of it where all of us can be a little too confident. Sometimes in why we were successful, and can contribute that to all of our great hard work and brilliance and miss the fact it doesn't start that way. We don't all have access to everything, everybody doesn't start out on equal footing. And so, to better understand that, and do everything you can as a club, and as individuals to try to help create access to more success, to options in life, whether it's educational, or like I said, through sports. I know the club is committed to that they're doing excellent stuff already. But I would say those are, this is my way of articulating, I'm not trying to change priorities for anybody. So, guys and gals, don't freak out. But I think there's kind of like two sides of it. You know, there's like us as individuals, and what's our work? And what are we doing in our interactions with each other every day? And then there's more broadly, how do we think about ourselves as a community citizen, and trying to level some of that stuff out for people and help people understand what their gifts are and their talents are, whether they're sporting, related or not? And, you know, achieve things that, you know, maybe they never thought were possible, either.”

On Allianz Field being in the middle of the Midway community, the fact that some fans in the Midway will never have the opportunity to be at an MNUFC game in person, and how the club can be better connected to the Midway while utilizing Ramsey County relationships…

“How nice is it of you guys to be here? Thank you so much! First of all, what I like in what just happened… it's actually a live example of what I was saying earlier. Like, that's the only way you learn and grow. Is to have people say, yeah, well, here's what I think about that. The direct answer is I don't know yet. You know, and that's the direct answer. I think what you hear from, I know, Bill [McGuire], and the team that's already here, and you hear from me, is not only the desire, but actions, being a better community citizen in terms of kind of the same thing you're saying back to me, that I said about business and sponsorship. Is what you're kind of saying back to me about the community. That, you know, looking for opportunities for that to be a win there, a win for us. Creates access. So, I don't know. I mean, I'm not going to say today, here's what I think, and the team's never thought of this. But, what I will say, is it's a clear priority. It's a clear priority for the club. A clear priority for me. And, the team knows this, but the first thing that I'll do here is meet one on one with every single person. Get a chance to know them a little bit. Get a sense of who they are, what they care about, and what they see from their own area and beyond of things that we're just doing great, and we're crushing it, and where there might be some opportunities to expand our impact. And, so, that's what I would say. I don't know if, Bill, you have anything you want to add to that or not? Or whether Chris [Wright] does? But, that would be how I would say on the front end here.”

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