• October 2018
  • A PUBLICATION OF THE SIOUX FALLS AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Five questions with Thomas Lee

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Thomas Lee is the new Executive Director for the Sioux Falls Sports Authority.

He recently moved to Sioux Falls after spending the last 15 years in Charlotte with Minor League Baseball and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Thomas, his wife Becky, and their two children, Sydney (3) and Nixon (2), enjoy outdoor activities, family movie nights, and are happy to now call Sioux Falls home. A graduate of West Virginia University, Thomas considers himself a lifelong Mountaineer and says the singing of 'Country Roads' by 65,000 fans after a home football game is one of the best traditions in college football.

Q: You've only lived in the area for a few weeks… what is your favorite thing about the Sioux Falls area so far?

A: There is a lot of charm to this city! I love that almost all the restaurants and shops downtown are locally owned. I even got my hair cut the other day at an actual barber's shop (thank you, Jerry!). The people are so friendly and supportive. Also, the incredible parks add to the city's appeal. Several people told us during our move from North Carolina how special Sioux Falls is and we are quickly starting to see why.

Q: How did you choose your profession?

A: When I moved to Charlotte, I had a job offer from a large company and another, very low-paying internship offer from the Charlotte Knights (Minor League Baseball). I thought to myself that I'll never regret not taking the corporate position, but there would always be a 'what if' had I passed on a chance to work in sports. Working for the Knights for six seasons got me involved in the community and allowed me to meet many great people, some that I would ultimately work with at the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Q: What makes a great leader?

A: Trust. Be an eternal learner. Be genuine. Create an employee-first culture. If the employees are happy and excited about the work we're doing, that enthusiasm will always extend beyond the office walls.

Q: Name a tool you could not live without. Why?

A: I absolutely don't want to say I couldn't live without my phone, but there is a specific app on my phone that adds much happiness to my life. My podcast app. I am always listening to podcasts in my car, unless my wife is riding with me – she has veto power.

Q: If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be and why?

A: I think it would be fun to go back and watch the Beatles play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool before making it big. They were paid $5 to play for the entire day and nobody in the bar paid them any attention. The group used these 'gigs' to practice and would become international sensations playing to sold-out stadiums shortly thereafter. It's someone's journey, not so much the destination, that will always interest me.

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