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5 Minutes With Miami Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel

 

 

How long have you been the CEO of the Miami Dolphins? How did you get here?

I’ve been the CEO since September 2013. I got here after years of learning from great mentors, working hard, and being very fortunate.

 

You previously worked in professional baseball – why did you make the jump from baseball to football, and how have your experiences differed?

Stephen Ross is the kind of person everyone in my position would love to work for so the decision to be here was as much about working for him as anything else. 

 

The fundamental responsibilities and challenges of the job including the business model are actually more similar than you would think.  In terms of differences, there’s a greater sense of urgency and intensity in football with 16 games instead of 162. 

 

What sports did you play growing up and/or in college? Did you always dream of working in professional sports?

I played football and basketball in high school.  High school football probably had more to do with my personal development as a young man than anything other than my mom and dad.  It taught me leadership, teamwork, commitment, resilience, and the confidence that if I worked hard towards something I could accomplish it.  When I first got out of college I knew I wanted to work in sports, I just didn’t know what that meant at the time, so I just set out trying to learn and get better every day and 22 years later I ended up here.

 

What is life like for the CEO of a professional sports team?

I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. It’s a privilege and a responsibility I don’t take lightly.  In many respects I’m more of a steward of a public trust than the CEO of a private business. The team belongs to the fans; it was here before I got here and will be here long after I’m gone.

 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your job?

Building one organizational culture and getting everyone focused on working together towards the same vision. I don’t think you can be a great organization until you have that - and most organizations don’t.

 

Complete the sentence, “People would be surprised to hear that …”

I listen to a lot of hip-hop, old and new. If you were a fly on the wall in my car, I think you’d be surprised by what I listen to every day.

 

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in professional sports?

Trying to build something great.

What advice would you give to a young person who wants your job one day?

Always be learning and growing, at work and in life.  Also, career progression is not linear. I never took a job because of title, geography, or money. I always went wherever the best opportunity was to learn and to produce results. If you’re producing results opportunities are going to present themselves and if you’re learning you will be ready for them when they come. In order to have an environment to learn and produce results you need autonomy, resources, great mentors, and a great team around you. No one can succeed alone.

 

What are your goals for the Miami Dolphins?

To honor the proud tradition of winning and doing things the right way that was established by Coach Shula and many others. 

 

Complete the sentence, “Miami Dolphins fans are …”

Generational, loyal, and hopeful.

 

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