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Jim Pohlad, Chairman of the Minnesota Twins

What’s it like leading a family business that invests in everything from baseball to robotics to soft drinks?

We went to Minneapolis to talk with Jim Pohlad, chairman of the Minnesota Twins and co-head of the Pohlad Companies, about the balance between building for the long-term and the desire to “win now,” the process behind designing the Twins’ much-loved Target Field, and his family’s enduring commitment to its home state and town.

Jim began his career as a public accountant before joining the family business in 1970. Carl R. Pohlad founded the Pohlad Companies in the 1950s, and Jim now shares the responsibility for leading the business with his two brothers, Bill and Bob.

In this conversation, Jim talks about how he and his brothers stay close and make decisions as a collective while setting an example for the next generation. We also discuss how and when the family has decided to use its voice to advocate for social justice and meaningfully contribute to the Minneapolis community.

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Episode Transcript:

David Stiepleman: Hello and welcome to ‘It's Not Magic’, a podcast from Sixth Street about business building that strips away the pretense and gets right to the useful stuff. I'm your host, David Stiepleman. We use this show to talk to founders and industry leaders to get them to explain in plain English what they set out to do and specifically how they do it. In this episode, we're speaking with the co-head of a multi-generational business with operations and investments spanning sports to soft drinks, to cars, to movies, to robotics, to real estate and more. This is a highly successful family business with deep roots in Minneapolis where they've been outspoken proponents of social justice and where, of course, they were tragically thrust into the center of our national conversation on racial equality.

Jim Pohlad: And that's a dilemma for the Twins Organization going forward. And it gets back to your support of the community issue. Should a baseball team, the Twins, should we use our voice? And that's a really tough question and it will be more of a question going forward, whether it's in a sports team or any business.

David Stiepleman: Well, you guys have definitely used your voice.

Jim Pohlad: I think that's where we come down on this. So if you have a voice, you should use it and you should use it in a way that you and the family feels comfortable with.

David Stiepleman: That's Jim Pohlad, who along with his brothers Bob and Bill runs the Pohlad companies. The Pohlads span many sectors and they've owned the Minnesota Twins baseball team since 1984. In this conversation we'll talk about how a family business performs well and stays close, how an organization should decide when and how to use its voice, and we got a little philosophical and tried to figure out what exactly a baseball team is for. Succeeding as a family business means sometimes just letting things go, which can be hard to do, but it's not magic. So let's jump in.

Jim, thank you so much for coming on ‘It's Not Magic’. We really appreciate it.

Jim Pohlad: You're welcome.

David Stiepleman: I was advised by some folks who are close to me that I really should not talk about the New York Mets. I'm a New York Mets fan. We're not going to talk about the New York Mets. I just want to assure everybody upright.

Jim Pohlad: Why not? We can, but I mean we're Twins people, but we're baseball people second.

David Stiepleman: Fair enough. Where I want to start is at the Pohlad companies, at a multi-generational family business involved in so many different things – robotics. You're in the automotive business, you're in the real estate business, obviously baseball. I also want to talk about philanthropy, but I guess I would just start at what's it like to run a multi-generational family business?

Jim Pohlad: Well, I think it would be incorrect to say that I'm running it because I'm not. But I share those responsibilities with my two brothers, Bob and Bill. And we just divide stuff up because we're fairly diversified and some people might say, or I might say, that we're more of an investment company than anything because there's a series of investments, some of which we have management responsibility for. So that's more than just an investment, but we split it up and I think it's dependent upon the three of us getting along as far as governance goes. And we have successfully, knock on wood, so far done that.

David Stiepleman: How have you done that? I've heard, or maybe I've seen you guys talk about that, or people talk about the companies. You have an uncommon ability to build consensus and you get along and you keep your eyes on the overall mission. Are there things that you do to make sure that that works?

Jim Pohlad: No, I don't think there's anything we do proactively. I mean my parents must have done something right in raising the three of us because we've stayed pretty close. We're all really close in age and probably in temperament also, so that helps. But, anytime you try to build consensus, you're going to have to ignore some things from time to time just to keep the harmony part going.

David Stiepleman: Is there stuff that your brothers have to ignore about you?

Jim Pohlad: I'm sure there is. I just think that's the way it is. If you just get irritated by one particular thing, then that's going to cause a problem.

David Stiepleman: And do you make sure that you're seeing each other every 10 days or having lunch or talk on the phone?

Jim Pohlad: I don't think we sure that we are. That’s not very proactive either, but we do.

David Stiepleman: Right. Everybody lives around here.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, we live around here, and we all work basically in the same building. Bill is occasionally elsewhere because he is primarily in a different business.

David Stiepleman: Bill’s more in the media and film area?

Jim Pohlad: Yeah.

David Stiepleman: Got it. When we talk to founders or business leaders, one of the things that comes up again and again is, you got to have your eye on the overall mission, the North star, whatever you want to call it – principles – so that when you're making tough decisions or you're evaluating people or you're making strategic decisions, that you're weighing it against that basic set of rules.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. That may be giving me or us a little bit too much credit. And being so planful about that kind of thing. It's just seems to happen. I think we know by now what we have to do and how do we have to get along and how we have to govern.

David Stiepleman: When you're making decisions or when you're thinking about, ‘this is where I want to drive,’ whether it's a particular component of the Pohlad Companies or the Pohlad Companies overall, and again, you guys together, what's in your mind? Where do you want to go?

Jim Pohlad: I think over the years, and it's only been fairly recently when the three of us have had, since my dad passed away in ‘09, literal control over everything. So I just don't think we're that specific. We tried to be a bit more proactive recently in terms of setting goals for the companies and for the overall enterprise, but I don't think we really did that much before.

David Stiepleman: So, if you were forced to characterize the mission of the companies is it ‘let's just make some good investments’ or ‘have some fun together, try and generate a return, be good citizens of our city and our state’, all those things.

Jim Pohlad: I think for sure that last part ‘be good citizens of our city and state’ is very important to us. All three of us. The three of us are the so-called ‘second generation’. We have a third generation coming up and I think that's all important to all of them too.

David Stiepleman: How do you reinforce that with the younger generation?

Jim Pohlad: I think it's by example because young people are harder to tell things to and, I probably was also as a young person, hard to be told what to do or how to act. I think it's like the old saying: ‘as the twig has bent, so grows the tree.’

David Stiepleman: Right. Some people in your seat, they're not so worried about or concerned with the overall community. It's kind of like, ‘listen, I'm getting mine’. What do you think grew that?

Jim Pohlad: I don't know about that. I've been in Minneapolis, Minnesota my whole life. We worked a little bit away, I went to school away and then I worked in Chicago right after school and I can't imagine ever leaving here. So, it's our home and I suspect that many people feel the same way we do about our community when it's your home.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. I listed off a bunch of interests that the companies have and that you guys have. How do you study up or stay smart or stay on top of things? You can't be a subject matter expert in all of those things and like a lot of us who are running businesses with our partners, we're often not experts in (at least speaking for myself), in anything . But you have to ask good questions and you have to focus. How do you do that?

Jim Pohlad: I think sometimes you err in that regard. I think the auto industry and being involved in that would be a great example. We thought when we got into it 10-15 years ago, that it was going to be similar to our other businesses, particularly the soft drink business and that there was a franchise like the soft drink business franchise situation where you have exclusive right to do business within a territory and you have a so-called ‘parent company’ that supports you in product development and marketing.

David Stiepleman: And for people's background, Paul’s companies had a huge investment in one of the biggest PepsiCo bottlers.

Jim Pohlad: That was a big foundational investment for us.

David Stiepleman: Right.

Jim Pohlad: And we thought that the automobile business being a dealership, whether you would have that same thing but you realize it's way more complicated than that. And so we didn't really know what we were doing when we got into it. But we do like to learn and we have learned over all these years and professional management is a big part of that for us. It helps.

David Stiepleman: How do you learn? Do you spend time with professional management, peers, experts? What are your methods?

Jim Pohlad: It's just the passage of time. I don't think you go to a crash course in the automobile dealership area. I don't think there is such a thing, but you do spend time with management. We spend time overseeing management and then you pick up on things and you're learning what's important. But I would say the key is the management.

David Stiepleman: What are you looking for when you're selecting management or when you're evaluating management?

Jim Pohlad: That may be evolving a bit over time too. We really prized loyalty in our organization. I'm not saying that we overlooked performance because we didn't, but it was probably loyalty first and we still want loyalty. Everybody wants that. But I think we are more focused on performance than we used to be.

David Stiepleman: Got it. One of the things we focus on at Sixth Street when we're investing in companies, especially where we don't necessarily have control equity, is trying to be good partners and be accretive and be helpful. How do you do that?

Jim Pohlad: Well, I think that's really important. It's important to us to be viewed as a good partner and so it may be ‘how do you get along with your brothers?’ You can't dictate stuff individually all the time. You have to sometimes go with consensus and even though it may not be my literal feeling or my outlook, but you've got to let that happen. Management – these people know way more than I do about their businesses and their motivation. I think we try to channel their motivation in the same direction as ours and I think that's been successful. But their expertise is so important.

David Stiepleman: We'll move into baseball a little bit. There are things that at the end of the day, you have to have a view on – I would've thought. The rule changes in baseball coming next year.

Jim Pohlad: They ask for votes. So yes, you have to have a view.

David Stiepleman: So how did you get smart on the shift?

Jim Pohlad: Well, I go to most games. I've never so far anyway, in our seasons in Target Field – which is our first season in Target Field was 2010. So, I've basically gone to every home game since then. And that's a bit of an exaggeration only in the sense that I have to go to a wedding occasionally, but I've never electively said, ‘I'm not going to go to the game today’.

David Stiepleman: So, 81 games a year in Target Field. Wow.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, and then as a result of that, you pick up on stuff. I've learned probably a lot. I don't know if I've learned more about baseball than I knew in 1984 when our family first got involved in it, but I've tried to be an observer and pick up on things. But I think first and foremost I'm a fan and I'm sure that irritates the Twins management from time to time because I might give opinions and act like a fan also.

David Stiepleman: Well, that's interesting. One of the questions I was going to ask you is how do you handle being the person who's ultimately accountable for performance on the field, but that's not your expertise and you have to rely on management and every time you walk around the streets of Minneapolis, anybody with a baseball hat on as an expert?

Jim Pohlad: Yeah – including putting myself in that same category. Do I want to win more than anybody else involved in our organization on the baseball side? No, I know that. I want to win. I do believe that the baseball professionals do tend to take a more long view and I'm probably a game by game person – like a fan. You basically react to the experience you had and the emotional experience you came away with from the game before.

David Stiepleman: For sure. That's interesting. So your management team is saying, ‘Hey, here's our five or seven year plan, we got to build this.’ ‘This is how we're going to track pitching, this is what we're going to do.’ And your inclination like a fan is to say, ‘we got to win now. We got to win this year.’

Jim Pohlad: I tend to really try to avoid saying that, but that's certainly a mindset that I can fall into.

David Stiepleman: Do you take advice or have a kitchen cabinet outside of the organization so you can be skeptical and ask those questions in an informed way or you keep that all inside of the Twins Organization?

Jim Pohlad: We keep that all inside. There isn’t a group. I have social friends and I think they all have opinions on stuff, but I think it comes from the same place that mine does – a kind of ignorance and a lack of perspective.

David Stiepleman: Where you a fan in 84 when your family bought the team?

Jim Pohlad: I wasn't as much of a fan as I am now. I played most all sports in my life. I can do any sport, but none. well, – recreationally done most everything, but I'm not a baseball expert.

David Stiepleman: Right. What changed about your appreciation of baseball over the almost 39 years, that you've been in the seat?

Jim Pohlad: It is true what everybody says. It is an intricate game and it doesn't lack for subtlety, and strategy. So, you begin to appreciate that stuff a little bit more when you know what's going on. So, I would think that somebody that would come over here from overseas or where would go to their first baseball game, it'd be a tough one to learn to appreciate it on that initial experience.

David Stiepleman: I always remember coaching little league for my older son and explaining the game to kids is hard. It's not intuitive. And it's like, ‘why do I have to tag him out here but not here?’ ‘What’s the form?’

Jim Pohlad: That is hard because there are a lot of specific things like that that are so varied, but I think being able to watch it together with somebody, it's probably a lot easier to grasp it and explain it then.

David Stiepleman: So, how did you think about the shift – we should explain to people – the shift is a defensive alignment that teams have increasingly deployed over the last five to ten years. Basically, when you know that someone is going to hit to one side of the field, they'll move all their infielders to that side, and it cuts down on how many ground ball hits you can get.

Jim Pohlad: It's based on probability and I don't know if it was the Tampa Bay Rays that came up with this in the beginning, but they analyzed the probability of a ball going in a specific spot and realized that if only 10% of the time they hit it to the third basement in the conventional setup, that ‘let's move them’ because the other 90% of the time, it's going to go where we want them to be.

David Stiepleman: It's called the competition committee. When all the owners unanimously voted on that committee, abolish the shift for next year. All the players said ‘Yeah.’

Jim Pohlad: I don’t know if all the players said yes. I can't say that. There is a competition committee consisting of owners, there's the ownership group as a whole, and then there’s this thing called the ‘Joint Competition Committee’, which consists of owners, players, and umpires. And those are all groups that have to approve something. And the sequence, I think is the internal ownership competition committee, then the group of owners and then the joint.

David Stiepleman: Oh, I see. That's helpful clarification. So did you have a view on the shift?

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, I voted for these rule changes in retrospect because that came about from a particular team. I believe it was Tampa that came up with this concept and they did that, and it was innovative at the time, and then suddenly, I understand that they're not trying to be stymied in that regard by the rule change, but they are. Baseball is trying to make the game more interesting and make more action. So, I think that if the balls hit all the time to where somebody is, that doesn't make for a good fan experience because fans want to see hits, they want to see variation, not just outs all the time.

David Stiepleman: And did you talk to people to inform yourself on that particular issue? You're a fan, you know the game.

Jim Pohlad: No.

David Stiepleman: I had a surprising number of baseball free marketers in my house who are against the change I was for. I think the change makes a hell of a sense.

Jim Pohlad: It's those things where you try to solve a problem but that may not be what the original intent of the problem you're trying to solve was.

David Stiepleman: One of our investing themes in Sixth Street over the last couple years has been in sports for a variety of reasons. I think one of the reasons is that it's one of the few places where you and I can sit next to each other at a game and I don't know your politics, you don't know mine and we're going to high five for the home team. It's kind of a unifier.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. I don't know if you would be high fiving for the home team . How do I know that? I would be because I'm assuming we'd be at Target Field watching the Twins.

David Stiepleman: But more broadly as a unifier in a pretty fractured society.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, it can be that. But these days none of that seems to matter. Those other divisions become so apparent right away and become so tolerant or intolerant of other people.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. It happens very quickly. But inside the ballpark, it’s a safe space.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, I think so. That’s a dilemma for the Twins Organization going forward and it gets back to your support of the community issue. Should a baseball team, the Twins, should we use our voice? And that's a really tough question and it will be more of a question going forward, whether it's in a sports team or any business.

David Stiepleman: You guys have definitely used your voice.

Jim Pohlad: I think that's the where we come down on this. If you have a voice, you should use it and you should use it in a way that you and the family feels comfortable with.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. 2012 was a different era, but you were huge contributors to blocking the constitutional amendment here in Minnesota against gay marriage after the murder of George Floyd in your home city, which must have been a terrible thing.

Jim Pohlad: It was a terrible thing for George Floyd and all his whole family.

David Stiepleman: But, you were incredibly generous and intentional as companies. Did you weigh the ‘Jeez, is this going to be divisive?’

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, we thought about that, and it has been. I can't say that all our customers – you talk about the marriage amendment thing – I mean that probably is tipping our hand as to what our viewpoints are. It’s like you said, you can sit in the ballpark with anybody and watch the game, it doesn't matter what their background or their political views are. But outside, there is that, and some people take offense to a particular stance and that politics or social issues have no place in a professional sports team you can say that about Coke or Delta Airlines or any of these other people who have spoken up recently.

David Stiepleman: But your response to that is…

Jim Pohlad: If you have a voice, I think it's important in this day and age to use it.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. ‘You don't have to agree with this, but this is where we, this is where we stand…’

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, it's really hard. It takes a lot of energy to walk the line all the time and I suppose that could be something that could be advantageous from a business standpoint, but it's not really authentic if you feel differently.

David Stiepleman: Baseball, one of the appeals, at least to me and maybe to you as a fan, not to put words in your mouth, is that there's a tradition there. There's a long connection with our history as a country for good and for bad. How do you balance that – the Twins Organization was originally the Washington Senators a long time ago moved here in 1961 was the first season in Minneapolis. How do you maintain your connection with that? Is that important while making sure that you're not keeping the less wonderful parts of that, of those histories. Do you try and strike that balance?

Jim Pohlad: Well, you try to, because I think that there are fans that are interested in the traditional aspects of an organization like the Twins. Personally, I'm not that interested in that. Although I suppose as you get older you tend to. I was never really that interested in our genealogy for example, our family genealogy. But as I get older that stuff interests me a little bit more. But before, I could care less about that.

David Stiepleman: As a result of you becoming more interested, was it a harder decision to – I think you guys took down, the statue of the prior owner, Mr. Griffith?

Jim Pohlad: Yes, we did.

David Stiepleman: How did that discussion go?

Jim Pohlad: We were unanimous within the organization. I can't say that the Griffith family felt that same way because they didn't. But you have to act out your values. And that whole episode of the Twins era didn't really reflect our values.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. And for people's background in I think 1978, he said something…

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. He made some remarks…

David Stiepleman: Some racist remarks. Switching gears for a second. Cross learnings from either the Twins to your other businesses or vice versa. One thing that came to mind is hiring. We were talking about management, evaluating management. Again, as a complete amateur and a fan, I think about how do you evaluate baseball town and do teams evaluate for the right thing and what have you learned? And there's obviously the whole Moneyball movement and analytics, but there's plenty of other things that go into a player's makeup. Have you had those kind of cross pollinating conversations or do they not really apply it? Is that something that you have the different companies talk to each other?

Jim Pohlad: No. I mean they do, if there's not between the sports team in particular or sports team. Cause we also have an investment in the major league soccer team here in the Twin Cities. But mostly we would be talking about baseball. I would say there wasn't lot of cross talk – back and forth. And it may be that the other businesses don't view baseball as a traditional business, and they don't view it as that. But in my view, our best business manager resides at the Twins and I don't want to take anything away from other of our business managers, but Dave St. Peter, who is the president of the Twins, is just an outstanding manager.

David Stiepleman: What does he do well?

Jim Pohlad: He does everything well. He doesn't let anything go. He's a hundred percent follow up person and he's considerate. He considers everything and he seems to be out in front of things most of the time.

David Stiepleman: How do you spend your time? How do you allocate your time? How do you think about prioritizing your time?

Jim Pohlad: It's really hard to say now. I'm sure you all are experiencing this too, it's been so weird. Times are so weird. I mean, 2020 when there was nobody there. That was really weird..

David Stiepleman: That must have been bizarre.

Jim Pohlad: It was. I don't think there's any other way to describe it.

David Stiepleman: You were there by yourself, probably?

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. My wife and I were basically the only people in the whole stadium, besides the Twins, management, baseball management… and you could hear it was just… and they began to electronically put the noise in and they messed around with that for a while, and they got it down pretty well at the end. But it was weird.

David Stiepleman: For sure. Must been bizarre.

Jim Pohlad: We moved our offices right at about the time that people were supposed to be coming back to work when the so-called pandemic might have been waning and then it reupped itself again. . And so we're in new offices. I hurt my leg and people coming in or not coming in and I couldn't come in. So it's really weird. But I don't know going forward what's going to happen. I believe in the power of human nature and I think that humans are communal people. And eventually things will return to – in the social sense – in the social business sense – the way they were.

David Stiepleman: Are you participating civically in efforts to get people to come back to downtown?

Jim Pohlad: We certainly believe in a strong downtown and having the best deterrent to anything is having people here. So yes, we tend to get involved in that kind of thing. There may be a failing, but I don't know that there's a lot of concerted or unified efforts toward that regard. Each employer kind of acts on their own and we have some big employers downtown that can deliver – or not – a lot of people back to the core city.

David Stiepleman: Right. Last week of the season, you guys were looking great at the end of the summer and it kind of faded.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, I think you really got to look behind – that's a look behind the numbers one because I'm not sure we played that well except in a couple early months.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. And yet you guys were very injury plagued.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. And that's for sure. We lead the majors and then, I don't know why that is. That'll be an interesting thing to talk about in the off season.

David Stiepleman: Well, that's my question. So, the season ends, what do you do? What happens? You go right to work?

Jim Pohlad: The team, for sure, the management, the baseball operations people go right to work. They're probably doing that now because they don't like the way things have gone either. Like I've said earlier, I think I don't want to win any more than any other person. As a matter of fact, I'm sure that those that are involved, the players especially, want to win the most and they're the most disappointed by how the season turned out. And it's definitely a season turned out thing because we did have a lot of hope early on.

David Stiepleman: It's funny, when we were talking a little bit before about the mission or North Star, the purpose of an organization, I mean the purpose of a baseball team is to win baseball games and, but you can't win the World Series every year. One cannot.

Jim Pohlad: No. You're not going to.

David Stiepleman: How do you think about what is the larger purpose of a baseball team in that regard?

Jim Pohlad: It is an interesting thing and fan surveys have showed that the Target Field experience – this being our home games – is really important to people. And I'm not sure that people care on an individual game basis whether the team wins or loses, but they certainly care over a trend. Nobody wants to be associated with a losing team even though they might have lost a particular game the night before. But I think they really want to come and have fun and be entertained and there's a lot of opportunity for that beyond just what happens on the field.

David Stiepleman: You have a favorite feature of the ballpark?

Jim Pohlad: All of it. I love the ballpark. I love Target Field and that's been the most exciting part to me. And since I go to a lot of games, I sit there, and I look around a lot because of my viewpoint is to be able to see the whole park. Yeah. And so, you sit there and try to think, ‘well what can we do to make it a better fan experience’ and because you, it's like you said, you can't rely on winning or losing or winning all the time. It's just not going to happen.

David Stiepleman: Right.

Jim Pohlad: So, you want people to have fun.

David Stiepleman: For sure. I know you love the park in totality. There's no one favorite thing. But I think your dad was very involved and maybe your mom…

Jim Pohlad: No, they both became for sure, my dad was – my recollection – was mostly a football guy.

David Stiepleman: Yeah.

Jim Pohlad: But it became very important in their life.

David Stiepleman: But you were, I assume, all involved in the design, right?

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. At that point dad was becoming a little bit less involved and became ill and so forth.

David Stiepleman: But what do you remember about the planning that when you go to the park tonight, you look at, you're like, 'that was a great idea.’

Jim Pohlad: I remember going to New York and dad went with that and we sat with the architects, and they did what they call I think ‘charrette’ or something where you sit around and kick design ideas around. So this would've been pre-final? Well for sure. Pre-final design. But the key to the ballpark was letting other people manage the process because if I would've been involved, we would've been way over.

David Stiepleman: Yeah. Any regrets about of being an outdoor park?

Jim Pohlad: That was a big issue – whether it was covered or not, but in the end it came down to cost in 2007, 8, 9 dollars, it was probably 125 to 150 million dollars to put a roof on and it changed the whole aesthetic or it would. But then you looked around and saw that there were many other, teams and ballparks and climates not dissimilar to Minnesota's that didn't have covered…

David Stiepleman: Yeah.

Jim Pohlad: Yeah. And on a beautiful day sitting there, ‘do you regret it at all?’ No, I don't regret it on a, you know, April, but April's not kind to any team except for maybe the west coast teams.

David Stiepleman: Yeah, for sure. So, management is already going to work doing their thing. Are you going to watch a post season?

Jim Pohlad: Yeah, I’ll watch a post season. It's fun. I mean it's daunting because you watch that on tv, watch it from a particular viewpoint and you say, ‘boy these are people are really good.’ ‘These teams are really good. Yeah. Can we be that good?’ But you're only watching it from a certain angle and you're seeing the pitchers and the pitch go in and it's different when you're not just watching it on tv. But I will watch it, to answer your question. Do you want to talk about the Mets?

David Stiepleman: , I'll have you do that.

Jim Pohlad: The Mets are definitely an organization on the rise and it's going to be good and I think Steve Cohen's really committed and has been a really committed and involved owner so far.

David Stiepleman: Let's just keep rolling because I don't want to break my promise to people who care about me that I would not talk about the Mets and seem like a crazy obsessed fan, which I kind of am. But it's an interesting story right – in the sense that the culture seems to have changed there.

Jim Pohlad: I'm not so knowledgeable that I know what the culture was before I knew the Wilpons, both Fred and Jeff, fairly well. And I certainly don't know Steve Cohen anywhere near that and so I miss both Jeff and Fred and because I think they were really good for the game. Fred was hugely respected.

David Stiepleman: Oh sure.

Jim Pohlad: They had challenges, business challenges within the family and then they were the…

David Stiepleman: Was

Jim Pohlad: The second team In a huge market.

David Stiepleman: Oh, I see. Yeah.

Jim Pohlad: But I think that it's going to be really competitive going forward between the Yankees and the Mets.

David Stiepleman: I hope so. Your point about the fan experience and liking things and not necessarily worried about the individual result every single day I think is absolutely true in the way that that fan base feels about their team as a result of attention being paid to the tradition and the culture and the history and, having a little bit of a sense of humor about it. It's kind of great.

Jim Pohlad: The fan base is so important. It seemed like whenever the Twins made the playoffs, they'd have go to New York and play the Yankees and that wasn't a good experience because the fans are so passionate. They're not really that tolerant of visiting team fans.

David Stiepleman: There are all kinds of tradeoffs in your civic life and your baseball rapidness. Are you reading anything good?

Jim Pohlad: I'm a fiction reader and so I tend to read only when I'm traveling. So do I always have something? Yes. And I do now, and it's not current fiction, although it's not un-current. It's a living writer and I'm not trying to be secretive about it, but I hate to talk about it because everybody has their favorite book or books or literary experience. And not everything appeals to everybody. But I'm a fiction person.

David Stiepleman: Anything you've read in the last year without saying it's your favorite or without taking a position on one writer versus another that stuck in your mind?

Jim Pohlad: I really like this guy Dave Eggers a lot. I read two books. One is about a big tech merger in how that ultimately controls our lives, and it's pretty clear where he's coming from in that regard so that was really interesting. Then in an earlier book by him, it was the story of the so-called ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’. So that goes back into the eighties and so forth. But that was a totally new experience for me to hear about how somebody survived that.

David Stiepleman: Why do you like reading fiction?

Jim Pohlad: I think it's the characters and I like the writing. I'm not saying that nonfiction is bad, it's just more entertaining for me from a character standpoint.

David Stiepleman: Got it. Well, Jim, this has been a delight. It's super interesting to hear about you and your family and the poll companies and talking a little bit about the Twins and we can't thank you enough for being here. Thanks. This was great.

Jim Pohlad: You're welcome.

David Stiepleman: Really appreciate it.

David Stiepleman: That was Jim Pohlad. We spoke at the offices of the Pohlad companies in Minneapolis on September 28th, 2022, and then we had pretty good seats at Target Field to watch the Twins that night. We had a lot of fun. Here's what we learned. One, it's important to be good constructive partners. That's important to us at Sixth Street when we invest with management teams and it's important to Jim and the Pohlad companies for the same reason. It creates a better environment to learn, to have direct conversations and to get better together. Second, we've heard it time and time again that understanding your north star is crucial to running a business and it's how Jim and his brothers naturally remember that their family bonds and their community transcend any smaller or personal concerns. And speaking of community, Target Field, which is awesome, is the center of gravity for the city and the region and it's really important for that reason to the Pohlad's and it's a great reminder that sharing space and experience is so important to being human and tempering extremes. And it's a good reminder to business leaders who may be missing the point of work, when deciding their teams don't have to be anywhere in particular. Thank you to Jim and the Pohlad's and their team for such great hospitality in Minneapolis.

You've been listening to ‘It's Not Magic’, a Sixth Street podcast. You can read more about our guests on and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoyed today's podcast, please share it and follow @SixthStreetNews on Twitter. For more on the show and our firm. Thanks to Sixth Street’s production team, Patrick Clifford and Ritvi Shah, putting this together with Sound Engineering by Stephen Colon. Our theme song is, ‘It's Not Magic’, an original creation by Patrick Dyer Wolf. Once again, I'm David Stiepleman. Thanks for listening. The views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Sixth Street and Sixth Street is not providing any financial, economic, legal, accounting, or tax advice or recommendations in this podcast. In addition, the receipt of or listening to this podcast is not to be taken as constituting the giving of investment advice by Sixth Street. Please see additional disclosures on our website for more details.

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