The Olympic Spirit

29 Sep 2004|Davis Masten

It seems we all have an Olympic story. My story starts back in the Spring. It was at the board meeting of Mattson and Co. Mattson is the premiere independent food and beverage development company in the country. I have collaborated with Mattson for over 20 years and been on their board for a few. Anyway, Steve Gundrum, the CEO said he had an unexpected agenda item and he asked the Chairman, Pete Mattson, if we could start with this issue.

Steve explained that Lindsay, the daughter of one of Mattson’s long term employees, Kristie, was playing in the Olympics for the Greek softball team. The employee, a single Mom, could not afford to go to the Olympics. Steve wanted the board to discuss and get approval for a Greek food and beverage tour for Jan. She would stay at the home of Steve’s Greek relatives in Athens. She would also have to sample food and beverages and take notes on opportunities that might apply to Mattson clients. Mattson would pick up her travel expenses and provide a per diem. Most importantly, she could take the time to also be with her daughter and watch her play. We quickly approved the allocation.

We called her into the board meeting. She had no idea why and was obviously unnerved. She moved from foot to foot as she awaited some explanation. I could just imagine what was going on inside her head. “Did I do something wrong?” Why am I here?” “Am I being fired!?!” Steve, who I have never seen at a loss for words, was tongue tied. He could not say anything coherent. The emotion overwhelmed him. Pete tried to fill in but his heart immediately moved into his throat. In the meantime, she nervously sensed that something important was going to be said and was looking more and more anxious.

At this point, I chimed in. I started to explain her assignment. I spoke slowly, waiting for Steve or Pete to recover and take over. At last, Steve spoke up and gave the details. All of us were taken with the moment. I was not the only one shedding tears of joy.

While the Greek team did not win a medal, I feel the Mattson culture certainly won gold.

Below: A picture of a softball signed by all the members of the team including Lindsay.

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Daughter Lindsay playing in the Olympics while mother Kristie watches from the stands (near the MSNBC logo).

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