MANKATO — A relaxed Glen Taylor answered questions about his upbringing, his early days at Carlson Craft and how he makes decisions about his multi-billion-dollar company and NBA franchise Tuesday night at a lecture at Minnesota State University.
Taylor was at MSU to give the annual Morgan Thomas Executive Lecture, sponsored by MSU’s College of Business.
But it wasn’t a straight lecture format. Taylor didn’t stand behind a podium and deliver wisdom from on high. Instead he was on stage sitting on one of two comfortable chairs. In the other was College of Business Dean Brenda Flannery.
The two carried on a dialogue that looked more like a conversation between two friends. Flannery, who turned out to be a skilled interviewer, guided Taylor through a range of topics that hit on his upbringing on a farm near Comfrey, his time as a math major at MSU, his first years at the Carlson company and the business acumen that led him to head one of the most successful companies in the nation.
Taylor talked about relationship Bill Carlson, the man who gave him his first great opportunity.
Taylor had majored in math and had planned a career as a math teacher. He’d been working at Carlson Letter Service while going to college, and he and Bill Carlson became close.
“Mr. Carlson asked me if I’d consider staying and helping him build the company,” Taylor said.
“Is that how he put it to you? That he wanted you to help him build something?” Flannery asked.
“Yes, that was clear. We’d had a special relationship. ... He’d said, ‘I don’t want to fire people. That would be your job,’” Taylor said, and the nearly full crowd in MSU’s Ostrander Auditorium laughed along with him. “When he said build it together, I think he meant for me to take on certain responsibilities that he wasn’t interested in.”