Author: Todd Humphrey

How to Create and Energize a Fan Base

Building a Community of Engaged Customers, Stakeholders, and Employees with Tod Leiweke

I was super excited to sit down with Tod Leiweke, the first CEO of NHL Seattle, just a week before Seattle was awarded its new NHL franchise today.

As a former professional hockey player and an avid fan, hearing Tod’s plan on how he’s going to make Seattle a world-class hockey city is very exciting for me. His past successes of building teams, creating fan bases, engaging with stakeholders, and giving back to the community is something we can all learn from and use in our daily lives.

Tod has an incredible sports history. He has more than 30 years of executive experience in the NBA, NHL, PGA, and MLS organizations, and before he came back to Seattle, he was the chief operating officer of the NFL. Tod’s track record includes leading the Seattle Seahawks to the franchise’s first ever NFL Super Bowl appearance in 2006 and taking the Tampa Bay Lightning to the NHL Stanley Cup Finals in 2015.

It’s an exciting time for Tod, the NHL and, of course, hockey fans in Seattle. Being from Canada, this news is definitely the highlight of my month, and I could think of no one better to help answer the Todd Talks question: How do you create and energize a fan base to grow your business, brand, and culture?

Throughout his career, Tod has developed a reputation for building outstanding management teams that have built world-class franchises. At the core of these successful franchises has been Tod’s ability to create rabid fan bases, including his establishment of the 12th Man here in Seattle, reenergizing the fan base, and resulting in 60 consecutive sellouts at CenturyLink Field. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers called CenturyLink Field “a tough place to play” during last month’s game, and he wasn’t talking about the weather—he was talking about the fans.

It all starts with aligning everyone around a shared mission.

Tod shares that it is easy to win, but on any given day, half the teams lose. So, while we all want to win, other parts of a mission are important to its success. He talks in detail about three themes: creating a loyal fan base, building your brand, and making an impact on the community. He reveals one of his strategies to starting and growing his businesses has been to make every fan feel like they are stakeholders in the team and that their investment is in time and emotion, not money. In his industry of professional sports, the perfect circle is the relationship between fans and players. Fans inspire players, and when players become inspired, they further inspire the fans.

That’s the core of the relationship. Great organizations have a transparent relationship between the fans and the players, and that’s the unique connection. Think about this in your own business and the relationship between your customers and employees and how that can drive long-lasting loyalty and momentum. I see this even in business: our teams do amazing things when they feel inspired by our customers; our customers excel, and the circle keeps going.

Looking at your customers as fans also influences the type of people you hire and how you manage your team. Tod talks about how he believes honesty, morality, and authenticity are important for building out a great culture. He also values a deep commitment to serve. You really can’t go wrong when you have an inspired team who are ready to serve your stakeholders, whether that is fans, customers, partners, etc., to build something great. Tod says people don’t work for him, rather he works for everyone else, and ultimately, they all work for the fans.

Tod brings his teams’ influence as a brand far beyond the field. The communities in cities surrounding Tod’s teams feel the love, too. Community involvement is a huge factor Tod credits when I asked what makes his teams’ cultures so successful. The team is much more than just their wins or losses.

This speaks to me as an athlete, a father, and a sports fan in general. Considering the multiple ways the culture you create at a company (or in your life) affects those around you is a surefire way to build a solid foundation for any brand.

I can’t wait to see what Tod and his team create in Seattle. I know I will be counting down the days until that Canadian National Anthem rings out over the newly minted Seattle team mark.

Listen to more of my talk with Tod below.

Todd Talks is a monthly podcast brought to you by LiquidPlanner. Subscribe now on iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Google Play.

Have a topic you’d like to hear more about? Let us know!

Introducing Todd Talks


From the Desk of Todd Humphrey

Since joining LiquidPlanner 12 months ago, I’ve put my competitive spirit, passion for sports, and 20 years of technology startup experience to good use.

By taking the crown jewels of our technology—scheduling, tracking, and reporting—really exploring the opportunities in front of us, and talking to so many of our customers, I really feel like we can take our company to a new level.

I’ve been relatively quiet as we’ve been doing more listening and exploring this past year.

I look at LiquidPlanner as a restartup versus a startup. We’ve been well established for the past decade, with more than 20,000 users globally. In the last year, we restructured our business to drive effectiveness in our infrastructure, people, product, and culture.

Essentially, we are better, bigger, and bolder.

Now, I want everyone else to understand what we are and what we do and how we’ve made ourselves a leader when it comes to a 365-day rebuild.

One of the ways we’ll do this is with Todd Talks, a new podcast that offers insights on how to create a better company culture, grow successful teams, execute marketing strategies, and more.

You’ve heard of the 12th Man? The 12th Man is the extra guy on the Seattle Seahawks football field—the fans. Our goal with Todd Talks is to discuss how you build that in a company. How do you find that opportunity to create a culture and be able to build upon it?

Not only will we be talking about our successes at LiquidPlanner, but we’ll also have a slew of guests from various businesses lined up for the series. These people include CEOs, CMOs, and COOs from technology companies, the sports industry, and the arts scene. I plan to host Todd Talks that are specific to the project management field as well.

I’ll be talking to Steve Mattson, who’s running the redevelopment of Key Arena in Seattle. He’s running the entire project, and he’s got 24 months to figure out how to rip apart and rebuild an arena. From a pure project management standpoint, that conversation will have applicable takeaways for every listener.

We’ll also be talking about creating and building brands and managing projects, but at their core, Todd Talks are about how to elevate people and organizations and how to make everybody better both individually and collectively.

That elevation has actually been the focus of a lot of the work we’ve been doing here at LiquidPlanner.

I mentioned my startup experience and everything we’ve been doing at LiquidPlanner this past year.

Our restartup process at LiquidPlanner is a revitalization. We’ve been optimizing the business to drive efficiency, allowing us to approach decisions with a fresh set of eyes and to take risks and experiment while we have the security and stability of an established firm.

Essentially, we’ve been looking for ways to be better, to be bigger, and to be bolder.

Todd Talks is just one of the ways we’ll be showing you how we’ve done that. However, we’ve got more surprises coming in 2019.

Todd Talks is a monthly podcast, premiering in December.

Subscribe now on iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Google Play.

Have a topic you’d like to hear more about? Let us know!